Alsace from the sky – 7 aerial activities to try out

Updated on 2024-04-23
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Laurène
Laurène
Laurène is the blog's creator. Originally from Brittany but now living in Alsace, she has fallen in love with her adopted region and loves exploring its every nook and cranny to unearth great ideas to share with you!

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Fancy a trip to Alsace? Baptism of the air or initiation to piloting, ULM paramotor, ultralight plane, helicopter or paraglider, the team made up of Vincent, Vivine and Laurène tested different aerial activities. What do they have in common? Offering superb panoramic views of Alsace! You’ll see, Alsace from the air is magnificent…

Tandem paragliding flight at Markstein, between the Vosges and Alsace!

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This experience was made by Vincent – A notification appears on my phone: “Hello, your flight for tomorrow is confirmed”. It’s taken three attempts since I booked, all aborted due to the vagaries of the weather, but this time it’s done… my paragliding flight in Alsace is confirmed! After a good night’s sleep and an early wake-up call (the flight is at 8:30 am), by car to Oderen. It’s a beautiful day ahead, the air is warm even early this morning and the sun is shining. I am welcomed by Vincent (easy to remember for me) on the terrace of the store, he will be my flight companion!

Where to go paragliding in Alsace?

Direction Oderen in Markstein, not far from Mulhouse, where the Cumulus school center is located, offering paragliding lessons in Alsace.

Ready for the first flight and the paragliding jump?

After about 20 minutes on board the van, we arrive at the bottom of the Trehkopf (just next to the Markstein, in the Alsatian part of the Vosges). Another short walk with our sails and seats on our backs (the opportunity to exchange a few words with our partner) and we arrive at the takeoff spot. Vincent unfolds the sail on the ground and equips me.

He explains to me how the takeoff will happen and what I will have to do (and not do). Pretty easy: just run at the right time and sit down! For me, three or four steps were enough and we took off almost instantly. So all I had to do was sit down and enjoy the moment and the view, which was majestic that morning. The low light on the trees is magnificent, as is the view of the Bernese Alps in the distance.

The freedom of paragliding

The sensation of paragliding is very pleasant. I thought I would be shaken up but in fact the free flight is very smooth. We make small turns while flying over the treetops. We are above the Ferme Auberge du Treh. We take advantage of the view on all the valley of Thann that the Grand Ballon overhangs proudly. I am not cold despite the wind created by our move.

Vincent explains to me that the quality and especially the duration of a paragliding flight depends on the weather conditions, and particularly on the temperature contrasts. The more difference there is between cold and warm areas, the longer the flight can last. He tells me that the French record for a flight is 410 km: I am impressed.

I’m trying to savor this moment, because I already know it’s going to pass (way) too quickly.

A bit of adrenaline during the flight

We continue our descent and see in the distance the school center. Future paragliders take off from a spot below, a ballet of sails very nice to observe from up there.

Vincent asks me if I want to make some turns… I say yes, of course. And here we go for the little acrobatic figures (Wing-over for the connoisseurs)! Pressure, speed: at this moment, it is sure, we feel more sensation! This is also what we came to look for.

We are now close to the valley, we distinguish very well the church of Oderen, the track of the school center and the small camp-site which is beside. I suspect that the moment oflanding is approaching. Vincent gives me the instructions: first lift the legs (important) then run until the sail falls behind us. A last turn to put us in the axis and we go down. The arrival on the ground is also done gently: nothing complicated, nor sporty, nor painful! All we have to do now is to step aside and fold our veil.

As you can see, I really enjoyed this free flight experience! So if, like me, you want to change air, to take height, to test a different activity… and to be invaded by an intense feeling of freedom while enjoying splendid views, I think you know what you have to do… A paragliding experience!

  • Feeling of flight
  • Convenient and responsive sms contact
  • Very nice instructor
  • Nothing, or the fact that it seems too short maybe

My pictures of the discovery flight with Cumulus

Introduction to airplane piloting in Colmar

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This experience was performed by Vincent – An initiation to airplane piloting in Alsace I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time! The asphalt is still wet from an autumn rain when I take the road towards Colmar this October morning. As the voice on the phone told me the day before, the clouds have lifted and finally the light atmosphere is rather soft and pleasant. Arrived at theColmar Houssen airfield, I met Yves again, the voice of yesterday and especially the pilot who will have the heavy task to initiate me to piloting on this flight!

The briefing before the initiation to piloting

Yves is a passionate person, you can feel it right away and there is nothing more pleasant than to talk to someone who is passionate about his passion. He quickly presents me the context: the Colmar airfield, the runways and their functioning. Let’s go to the aircraft: he shows me his plane, the superb Savage Club, explains its flight characteristics (light and easy to handle, ideal for flying over the Alsatian vineyards or the Vosges mountains) and then its controls. I am a bit impressed when Yves tells me that I am the one who will operate them during the coming flight: I take the famous stick for the first time and operate it “in the air”… In a few minutes when I do the same thing, the plane will change direction by splitting the air.

Immediate take-off

Shortly after, Yves puts us in the plane and asks me to start the engine. At this moment I realize that I am really going to fly this plane. After a few adjustments we are “ready to take off” as he says on the radio. We are heading towards the runway. The plane takes off and we leave the ground: the serious things begin even if, I reassure you, it is Yves who makes the plane take off. Soon enough, he encourages us to take the controls. The advantage of dual controls is that I can let go of them from time to time to take pictures. Despite theadrenaline of flying the plane, I couldn’t help but take a few shots.

Is there a pilot in the plane?

A little impressed, I hardly dare to move the handle for fear of shaking the device. Little by little I manage to gauge the force at which to move the control to turn as I wish. After a few timid movements, Yves encourages me to do a little turnaround. I launch the turn by actuating the stick more seriously: what an incredible feeling ! Yves reminds me that we also have to think about straightening the aircraft because we are losing altitude (there is no trim on these aircraft to see if the plane is heading down or up). I pull the stick and we go up until the altimeter stops its variations. The physical sensations linked to the movements of the plane and the excitement of piloting are mixed with adrenaline: we feel free and happy!

The most beautiful landscapes in Alsace

I couldn’t not tell you about this. How can we remain insensitive to the autumnal beauty of the landscapes we have crossed? Alsace is a beautiful region, especially in this period. We fly over the most beautiful villages of the Wine Route: Katzenthal, Kaysersberg, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, the three castles… The climax is reached at the arrival near the Haut Koenigsbourg. Perched on its rock, it stands proudly above the vines which are adorned with gold in this season. A superb experience orchestrated with a master hand by Yves who distils comments, anecdotes and bends over backwards to offer you the best viewpoints!

Images and memories full of head we land already. “Flying an airplane over Alsace with its autumn colors“, it is in a way a dream come true. I am still a bit dizzy from this experience and the beauty of the landscapes but Yves has to leave me, his next “pupil” is already here.

  • Yves the pilot, pedagogue, passionate, available and nice
  • The incredible feeling of steering a plane using the control stick
  • Nothing, or the fact that it seems too short maybe even if 40 minutes of flight is still quite long

My pictures of my initiation to airplane piloting

Paramotor ultralight baptism near Colmar

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Do you know theparamotor microlight? To put it simply, it is a kind of paraglider equipped with a motor: itis the smallest motorized aircraft! The engine is not used to move forward as in an airplane, it is simply used to go up in altitude. Otherwise, it is the sail itself that allows you to fly. You can make a paramotor flight experience in Alsace easily, just a great experience!

Flight with Luc Warth from Alsace Paramoteur school in Ostheim (Haut-Rhin)

I tested a tandem paramotor flight with Luc Warth, a qualified instructor who has been running the Alsace Paramoteur school since 1997. Never having been on such a machine and sometimes prone to vertigo, I went with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Once I arrived at the field of Ostheim Maison Rouge, near Colmar, my apprehension quickly subsided. Luc is professional, friendly and avoids me to think too much by showing me how to prepare the paramotor, by associating the sail with the cart. On one side, the cart where we will be installed, with the engine. On the other, the impressive sail. It must be correctly unfolded and its lines (threads) well untangled so that it can inflate properly.

I then put on a suit that makes me look like a real pilot (and incidentally allows me to stay warm, it can be a bit cold up there), goggles to protect me from the wind and a helmet that will allow me to talk with Luc during the flight. Here I am, ready to go!

I am surprised by the short distance needed to take off (we think we are running into the corn of the neighboring field, but in fact we are not) as well as by the smoothness of the takeoff. I was even more surprised to see that I have absolutely no fear of heights. A priori this would be explained by the fact that the feet have no contact with the ground. It is in any case very pleasant and I can simply enjoy this magic moment.

Let’s go for the first flight over Alsace and Vosges!

Even if the sky is a little cloudy, the show is grandiose and allows to discover Alsace under a different angle. The view on Alsace from the paramotor is superb. We are above the Alsace plain, with the Wine Route and the Vosges on one side and the German Black Forest on the other. On a clear day, it seems that we can even see the Alps and the spire of the Strasbourg cathedral! We fly over the fields, the forest as well as the Ill (the river) and Luc comments by radio what we see: Colmar, Ribeauvillé, the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, Illhausern… We have a completely different view of things from up there! It must be said that we gradually climbed up to 500m of height.

It’s time to go back down and Luc cuts the engine. The descent is then done quietly. I even get to steer the sail for a few minutes, which feels really funny. We pull to the right, it goes to the right, we pull harder, we turn and go down faster. Impressive! The landing is then made smoothly.

My flight lasted 20 minutes (which went by very quickly, there are so many things to look at!) but Alsace Paramoteur offers flights from 10 minutes to 1 hour. In 1 hour, you can for example go above the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg or the citadel of Neuf-Brisach! That makes me want to go there next time. Because it is the only concern of this baptism: I believe that one takes taste with this fabulous flying machine, it is an unforgettable moment! And if you’re keen to learn, Luc can also teach you to fly a paramotor microlight.

  • Fly and enjoy a superb panorama of the Alsace landscape
  • No sensation of dizziness
  • Luc’s welcome and professionalism, who shares his passion with enthusiasm
  • Nothing!

My photos of the paramotor ultralight flight near Colmar ( Alsace, Grand Est)

Baptism of the air and initiation to flying an ultralight aircraft in Mulhouse

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After having tried paramotor and helicopter, I had to test another aerial activity, the ultralight plane! The ultralight plane is a multi-axis microlight. To the uninitiated, it looks like an airplane, it’s just smaller. I took part in a flight with Aeros Air, based atMulhouse-Habsheim airfield and led by the friendly Hugues. A great opportunity for a first flight, I assure you!

Meeting point at Mulhouse-Habsheim airfield

Hugues, passionate about aviation since his youth, is a certified airline pilot as well as a microlight pilot. As soon as you arrive at the Mulhouse airfield, he takes you along with him in his passion: explanations on the flight you are going to make, characteristics and functioning of the plane, maintenance of the latter, safety rules… Everything is clear and we feel a great experience on his part, which is always reassuring! There is even a parachute for the plane, in case the engine fails over an area that does not allow for a safe glide and landing.

Baptism of the air or initiation to piloting?

Then, let’s go for the flight! I actually tested several formulas at the same time that day, since we made a tourist flight with a part of initiation to piloting.

It is indeed possible to book different activities: tourist flights of variable duration allowing to fly over beautiful corners of Alsace(Wine Route, Neuf Brisach, Valley of Munster, Grand Ballon…), but also initiation flights to piloting. Like a driving school car, the plane has dual controls. Fun and interesting, it’s a lot of fun to fly the plane yourself.

Alsace seen from the sky from a multiaxis microlight

Alsace is beautiful from the sky, and during the flight you can enjoy a great show to discover the region from a different angle! Don’t forget your sunglasses, they can be useful…

  • Nice little plane
  • Very friendly and educational pilot
  • Interesting initiation to piloting
  • Flying over Alsace is always a wonderful moment!
  • Nothing!

My photos of the ultralight flight

Helicopter flight in Colmar

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A helicopter flight This is an original way to discover Alsace and to experience new sensations! It is possible to do it fromColmar-Houssen airport. The proposed itineraries allow you to fly over the Alsace Wine Route, the Munster Valley, to admire the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle or the Mont Sainte-Odile… So many beautiful places!

I tested the 15 minutes baptism, which allowed me to go to Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr and Kaysersberg. It seems astonishing, but the helicopter flies at 240km/h: you cover the distance quickly.

Time for take-off!

Caroline, the pilot, explains us some safety rules and then we get on board. We are two passengers that day, the helicopter can accommodate three. After communication with the control tower, the authorization to take off is given. Amazing detail, a runway is assigned to us, runway that we reach by flying already! It’s a funny feeling. The take-off is quite impressive as the helicopter tilts, but it’s quite fun!

The beauty of Alsace from the sky

We can then enjoy the spectacle ofAlsace from the sky: the villages, the vineyards, the Vosges, the Alsace plain and in the distance the Black Forest. Beautiful! Caroline explains us which places we are flying over, which is very useful because it is not obvious to recognize the villages at first sight!

The 15 minutes pass very quickly and it is already time to return to Colmar, beautiful images full of head. The flight was more beautiful in real life than on the pictures, I had a little trouble because of the reflections of the windows and the sun.

  • Being amazed by Alsace from the sky: just splendid!
  • Speed of the helicopter, which allows to see a lot of things in a short time
  • There is so much to see that the time passes much too quickly!

My pictures of the helicopter flight in Colmar

Microlight autogyro flight in the center of Alsace

This experience has been tested by Vivine – Ready to admire Alsace from the sky? With the return of the warm weather, I was reminded of an incredible experience I had last summer that I’d like to share with you… Flying over Alsace like a bird! Direction to the runway of Kogenheim, where are proposed first flights in a gyrocopter… Before discovering it in a gift box, I didn’t even know it existed! I would define theautogyro as an open helicopter or a flying motorcycle, but for the technical details, I leave you the Wikipedia definition!

Thrill-seeker, perfectly secured in the cockpit, I fly during the 20 minutes of the flight over the Rhine’s banks, between nature and small villages – with a small glance at Europapark (in Germany, elected best amusement park of the world). Good to know, I could also have gone to the Villé Valley or, with a little more time, to the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle near Sélestat.

The weather is beautiful – it’s a take-off condition! – hair in the wind but it’s not too noisy and above all the passionate pilot gives me lots of explanations and anecdotes, a delight! I even learn that he organizes flights with his geese that he tames 🙂 At the landing (rather soft, compared to a hot air balloon), I stay on my little cloud for a few more minutes, freezing this unforgettable memory… And you, ready to fly too?

  • The view, of course
  • The almost unreal feeling of freedom
  • Not for everyone, but a great gift idea

My photos of the first flight of a microlight in Alsace

Virtual Flight in Châtenois, flight simulator on Boeing 737

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Here’s an activity that’s a bit different, since you won’t be taking off for real… Have you always wanted to get into a cockpit and see how an airliner was flown? This is possible thanks to a flight simulator. I have been testing for you the Virtual Flight simulator located in Châtenois, near Sélestat, which reproduces the dashboard of a Boeing 737-800 and its various functions.

An ultra-realistic flight simulator in Alsace

At the head of Virtual Flight is Michael Schueller, who has been an enthusiast since his youth and built the flight simulator himself. A job that took him 3 years! A difficult but successful challenge: a Boeing 737 airline pilot who came to test the simulator was impressed by its high level of realistic accuracy: apart from a few functions that are not useful in a simulator (message to passengers, for example), everything has been exactly reproduced, with functional controls. Panoramic images on high-definition screens reflecting the exterior landscape also increase the sense of realism. It is for example possible to make simulations with engine failures, a flight in bad visibility conditions thanks to a customizable weather forecast, an emergency landing, etc… An excellent immersion really bluffing!

You are the pilot!

The challenge when you are at the controls if simulator? Bring the aircraft and passengers to a safe landing, after having had a complete briefing from the instructor. Depending on the chosen formula and its duration, you will have to face different situations and can land on different airports (the most daring will try for example to land on the old Kai Tak airport in Hong-Kong, one of the hardest in the world!)

For my part, I made a quick flight between Basel and Strasbourg airports. Note that the scenery on the screen is a model of reality and that the weather during the flight corresponds to the weather in real time! So I learned how to put the throttle, take off, fly the plane, land… And I can tell you that it is not easy! I landed before the runway (oops) and think I would have made all my passengers sick during the flight because of my difficulty to keep my course!

Throughout the flight, Michael explains a lot of things to me and I discover a really fascinating universe. I came out of the simulator with a much better idea of how to fly an airliner: an interesting and impressive experience!

  • The realism of the flight simulator: impressive!
  • Discover how to fly an airliner
  • Michael is a true enthusiast and you can feel it!
  • Nothing!

My pictures of the Virtual Flight simulator (Boeing 737)