Friday, December 31, 2010

3rd time unlucky....

Paragliding the Wilderness coast is meant to be one of the best flying experiences in South Africa, or so I have heard. This week I accompanied some fellow pilots and drove 4 hours up the South Eastern coast to avoid the howling South East gales that have been pounding the Cape Town and surrounding areas for nearly 3 weeks now. Like any addiction, there comes a point when enough is enough and you need to make a plan!!!  According to the forecasts it was meant to be perfect conditions for 2 days, so right direction and strength for flying the coastal slopes.... We knew it would be overcast, but that is no matter, fly we must!

After a 4 AM start from CT, a quick rendevoux in Hermanus at 5:30 to collect  2 more desperates, we hit the road! Arriving there around 8:30, we tumbled out of the bakkie eager to get some air only to find that the wind was running the length of the beach instead of apposing it which meant NO AIR TIME! We ground handled on the beach for a while and played on the dunes with very little satisfaction before we packed up damp and sandy wings (a big no no) and head off to find beer and beds....

We booked into The Beach House a great little spot that has recently been "made over" where we recieved fabulous food, cold beers, hot showers, and brilliant white linened beds at a very affordable price. The following morning we woke up to mist and rain and strong winds so decided to head back to the sh1ty city.

That was officially my 3rd trip to the Wilderness to get some flying in and the 3rd time nothing happened, with no refund available! For now I am happy with my Hermanus mountain and hoping the forecast is correct for new years day.... if not, at least it will only be a 4 min drive wasted!

Line Checks...

Watch Out...

Bottom of me Boots

Game Over!
Happy New Year to all and wings up, thumbs up for 2011!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nothing like the first time!

Apologies to "ground dwellers" I am afraid this is paragliding blog.
With the weather being rather blustery of late and blowing in the wrong directions, the flying opportunities have been a little rare. However, yesterday while heading home after work along the main road from town - a road littered with various business' flying their flags (great for reading wind direction and strength)- I noticed that they were all flapping gently in a SSE direction which means that it would probably be just about right for flying the Southern tip of our local mountain range!  A quick change of clothes at home and a wheel spin later, I was up on the hill staring down a cliff I had not yet flown. Adds a few more beats to the old heart rate - but nicely so! My wind sock confirmed good direction and my wind meter read between 8 and 10 mph.... a couple more clicks would have been better because  if I sunk out to the bottom, this was going to be a long haul back up the mountain!  

With one spectator on the bench, the show was on. I moved my truck to a safer place, (not down wind from take off) and prepped my glider for take off. Kept my eye on the grasses and bushes dancing in the wind, and pulled on the "A's" and walked off the front. An immediate bank to the right found lift and off I went. The site has 2 little tight bowls right next to each other, probably about 100m in length each, so not a massive range of flight but with a few thermals punctuating the beat now and then I enjoyed a good half an hour while watching the 5 o-clock traffic queue up below me.

Eventually I realised that my hot spots for lift were failing me and I was losing height - being just below the ridge now, there was no chance of top landing, I looked for the preferred landing site that I had chosen prior to take off and then looked at the path that wound up the mountain - It was long! I scouted the front of the hill and saw a small but level outcrop with the path running through it about 2/3rds of the way up the hill and decided to head for that! It's always a good feeling when you have managed to land safely on unfamiliar terrain but even better when you have managed to fly a new site for the first time! Now I can happily add  a Southerly to the list of flyable winds in "my own back yard!"  

Monday, November 8, 2010

debut blog...

Not being one for ever having read a blog in my life, right now I am wondering why I have just opened a blogging account? I suppose it's a fun way of writing "a diary" of sorts and letting others. (if they want to) read now and then... and if folk don't enjoy it, they can navigate away and I will still have enjoyed spilling words -

WARNING!: I am not always near a pc or the internet so there is a good chance there may be extended intervals between blogging!

... and if nothing comes of this I will look at the positive side, it will be great typing practice!

As a keen paraglider pilot living in South Africa, perhaps this may also pose as a "Paragliders Column" more than anything else, (apologies ground dwellers) where I can describe new flying sites, adventures, lessons learnt and hopefully some humour to keep the readers reading!

Blog one done!