Paragliding came in Patras early in the 1990’s. Since then, Patras has become one of the busiest paragliding areas in Greece.
The closest and most easily accessible paragliding take-off site is Omblos, a small mountain of 800 meters, in the southeast suburbs of Patras. The site is approached from the classic winery Achaia Clauss towards Omblos Monastery. The take-off site is located at 720 meters, oriented west, with capacitance greater than two streams and safe tilt (2:1).
The landing site is located at the foot of the mountain, is spacious, but needs some attention due to its slight slope and topography, which sometimes lead to the presence of an ascending air mattress.
Weather in Omblos and the region
The weather conditions in the region allow flights most days of spring, summer and autumn. The area of Omblos is not known for epic flights, but is famous for its availability on most days of the year, mainly due to the sea breeze which is the dominant micro-meteorological phenomenon in the region. Specifically, during November, December and January, the days with sunshine stability prevails. However, in spring and autumn flights with remarkable heights are often achievable.
Epic flights are possible with moderate N-NE winds, which, blowing along the coastline, prevent the development and movement of the sea breeze, allowing the neighbouring mainland to develop its small local low. Under these conditions, the development of thermals is unopposed, with minor inversions and high cloud bases occurring because of the dry NE air mass.
The record of acquired height is above 3,000 meters in Cold Lake conditions, in the middle atmosphere.
During the summer months, when the sunlight is strong and the air mass stable due to high pressures, there are strong inversions, especially over the tops of hills and mountains, thus creating turbulence during the warmest hours of the day. Perhaps the evening flights are more fun, especially for the less experienced pilots.
If the pilot is interested in touring the region, there are two options: one to the north and one to the south. The northern tour is the nearest and easiest; it is a simple transition to the Great Rock, about 4 km NE of Omblos take-off site, at a height of approximately 750 meters. This rock is a source of rising air throughout most of the day, sometimes harsh on hot days. Based on the rock, one can get height and either make a ride north to the nearest hills, or try to strike the inversion and stick on the slopes of the adjacent Panachaikon (altitude 1,921 meters), where he can relatively easily circle to 2,000 meters and over.
The south tour includes flying over the low hills south of Omblos until the end in the village Chalandritsa. From there, a transition normally free from updrafts and through a 10 km valley, leads to the northern outskirts of mount Erymanthos. Erymanthos is an elongated mountain with many peaks, the highest of which reaches 2,220 meters. From there, one option is to fly along the mountain for around 25 km to the village Skiadas, next to high peaks and alpine scenery. Another option is to turn east to Kalavryta and Helmos, a flight which is clearly more demanding and more profitable.
Bear in mind that the local record is 173 km, with take-off from Panachaikon and landing to Githeio, a flight made by Domenico Pizzi in 2012.
The three take-off sites of Erymanthos are located in its north, middle and southern edge. Features are those of typical of +2,000 meters mountains. It is a place safe enough, with large plain in front of the mountain and several landing points in the adjacent plains. The base is often low, especially in spring and autumn, due to the proximity to the sea. During the summer, however, the base rises considerably.
Kaloussi (38°02'26.66" B 21°47'49.53" Α) is a relatively low take-off site, at about 800 meters and sometimes effort is needed to detach from the low and catch the high peaks.
Kalentzi (37°56'48.80" B 21°45'56.22" Α) is located almost in the middle of the mountain with a height of about 1,150 meters and is a wide, almost horizontal take-off site covered by short grass.
Skiadas (37°53'05.58" B 21°41'08.16" Α) is located at the mountain’s southern edge with a height of about 900 meters.
There are multiple possibilities for cross-country flights towards all directions. West to the mountain Skolis (see Santomeri below), north to Panachaiko, south to the lower hills of Ilia, while to the east we have the most interesting flights to Kalavryta and Helmos, Mainalo, Parnon, etc.
Santomeri is a village located about 40 km southwest of Patras, in the western foothills of mountain Skolis (approximately 1,000 meters high). The mountain is oriented from north to south and extends for about 10 km in length. There are safe landing sites in the adjacent plains west of the village. The sea breeze usually prevails here, ensuring flights with relative ease along the mountain and restricting the development of thermal currents over the top. In days of good instability, high altitudes as well as opportunities for large distances from Santomeri are achievable.
For the patient pilot who will stay in the air until the dusk, the plain between Skolis and the opposite hills creates a magic lift, a romantic finale after a dynamic flight in the hot hours of the day.
The ambitious pilot can gain height and try going east, above the plain with low hills, for about 18 km, and reach Erymanthos, where options for XC increase.
Velia is a mountain 1,500 meters high (with several mobile phone antennas), east of the town of Kalavryta. The conditions of the region can be characterized as alpine, given the presence of high mountains in the region. Considering the fact that the area is located in the centre of a peninsula, it is affected by sea breezes from almost all points of the horizon, depending on the instability of the atmosphere, the time of year, inversions, direction and intensity of the wind etc. Points of remarkable convergence are not at all rare in the region.
There are also take-off sites on the slopes of the ski resort Helmos.
The approach to the take-off site of Velia is by the provincial road Kalavryta – Ski Resort – Kleitoria.
More info at the website www.sky.gr and