Tag Archives: hout bay

Around Cape Point by Powered Paraglider

Yesterday yielded the opportunity to do one of the premier Cape powered paraglider flights – Cape Point. The PPG is an incredibly portable and versatile aircraft, but with a cruising speed of only around 25 knots and maximum sustainable speed peaking at 37 knots for the fastest XC wings, we need ideal wind conditions to attempt routes such as these. We have specifically been watching for forecast conditions that would allow a new first – flying around the peninsula, down one side and back up the other. To date all flights (only 4-5 other occasions that the flight has been successfully completed) have been exclusively along the western side. 30 April 2013 had a forecast for light ESE in the morning with light to moderate SW in the afternoon. As all pilots know, forecasts are completely trustworthy… or not.

Crossing Noordhoek towards Fish Hoek
Crossing Noordhoek towards Fish Hoek

We launched in the late morning from Hout Bay in a very light breeze; anything helps when you are foot-launching with a full tank of fuel.  Climbing over the neck between Noordhoek and Chapman’s Peaks, we climbed steadily to 2000ft, and then overflew FAR139 (the controlled airspace around the Simonstown Naval Base) with pre-arranged permission.  The views flying south along the coast were beautiful; False Bay at peace with the encircling mountains hazy in the distance.

Paramotors over False Bay:  MDK (Powerplay Scorpio with Nirvana 190) and ANT (Ozone Speedster wit PAP Moster 185) flying south along the Cape Peninsula
Paramotors over False Bay: MDK (Powerplay Scorpio with Nirvana 190) and ANT (Ozone Speedster wit PAP Moster 185) flying south along the Cape Peninsula

The hands-off flying was rudely interrupted when we reached the end of the Klaasjagersberg ridge, however: an increasingly strong north-west breeze threw turbulent air off the peak and caused a few minutes of tachycardia.  Flying closer to Cape Point, it was apparent that the wind was persistently NW, and strong enough to cause pause for reassessment.   Prevented from flying lower by the restricted arispace over Cape P0int Nature Reserve, we crossed high from Diaz Cross to Diaz Beach to Diaz Point.  Feeling that discretion was better than a long lonely swim, we didn’t fly beyond the point in the northwest wind.

MDK at 2000' over Cape Point with False Bay in the background
MDK at 2000′ over Cape Point with False Bay in the background

A long and slow but beautiful flight back up the western side of the peninsula followed; only beyond the reserve could we dip down below the inversion at 1000ft and find the forecast southerly.  Climbing again from Kommetjie, we bypassed the long white sands of Noordhoek Beach and routed directly into Hout Bay with dwindling fuel supplies.  The breeze in Hout Bay on the ground was still SE and brisk enough to allow a three perfect landings on the doorstep of Dunes, where we were welcomed for a celebratory cold drink.

Crossing towards Hout Bay with Table Mountain in the far distance
Crossing towards Hout Bay with Table Mountain in the far distance

A little over two hours flying, 75km distance covered, a fuel consumption of 9, 10 and 12 liters for the three paramotors = priceless new experience.

Track log on Leonardo.  More images below – click on a thumbnail to go to the slideshow.

 

 

Winter soaring bliss

Long Pete on the Aspen 4 overhead Judas Peak
Long Pete on the Gradient Aspen 4 overhead Judas Peak

UPDATED:  This time of the year (late August through to October) is one of the best for soaring flights along the Cape Peninsula and surrounding mountains.  As the frontal systems make their march to the south for the summer, the cold fronts lessen in intensity, with more more moderate prefrontal north-westerlies and lingering postfrontal conditions.  The air is cold and moist but the sun begins to reappear, leading to beautifully smooth soaring interspersed with the promise of good instability and thermal flying.  It is certainly the ‘high’ season for the Cape pilot’s classic route:  Signal Hill/Lion’s Head across to Table Mountain, southerly along the Twelve Apostles, and then back for sundowners or onwards into the lesser-flown for the brave (and those with dedicated retrieve drivers!).  For many years this route was more frequented by the hang-glider pilots with their better glide and speed range (the NW can exhibit a strong wind gradient as one climbs), but as paraglider technology has improved it is now achievable by pilots on almost any wing.  Come along on a tour, illustrated with my photos from today…

Continue reading Winter soaring bliss

I need your vote…

…in an initiative/competition run by Garmin. They are looking for stories of how people “Live Beyond” in various categories – outdoor, fitness, automotive, marine and aviation. I’ve entered our Cape Point paramotor flight in the aviation category, and now need votes. Click here to visit and vote for my entry at LiveBeyond.co.za

While you’re at it, why not add your own?

WildMedic on PPG over Cape Point
WildMedic on PPG over Cape Point - Photo copyright Ant Allen www.aerialphoto.co.za

Cape Point PPG Flight – First Photos

To date, only two people had ever done it: a powered paraglider flight around Cape Point, the “Fairest Cape of them all”, the Cape of Good Hope: the Cape of Storms. Today, that number was doubled. The Flying Ant (one of the original two) escorted Neil and I in a gentle, cold but perfectly smooth north-westernly on the flight down the peninsula to the very south-western tip of Africa. It’s a long way – the entire tip forms Cape Point National Park, meaning we have to launch north of the boundary and then fly at least 2500ft and offshore all the way – and the weather has to be perfect, but the incredible sights make it all worthwhile. A detailed story and many more photographs to follow, but here are some to whet your appetite:

Whale Shark Aerial Photos

Yowzer…I loaded the same pictures from my last post onto Facebook last night, and the response has been phenomenal.  Imagine my surprise when I get a forwarded forwarded forwarded email from the surf community including my picture as evidence of a huge shark terrorising the surfers at Noordhoek!  Well, lads and lasses, a big shark it was, but the terror is misplaced: you can’t see it well on the Facebook photo, but it’s a gentle giant – a Whale Shark.  That makes it much more special than “just another” Great White (something I prefer to see from the air than the water, unless I’m on the bottom with a regulator in my mouth), as a sighting of a Whale Shark in the Atlantic is rare.  Wikipedia will tell you all about them and their tropical/subtropical range – seldom south of 30 degrees – but I was very tickled to learn that the species was first described when one was harpooned in Table Bay.  Yay for African science, bummer for environmental consciousness.

A couple of pictures from the flight:

Kommetjie from the air
3000ft on the powered paraglider, working on my sunburn
Lots of surfers in the water at Noordhoek
Whale Shark and surfers

 

There’s been some bruhaha about the species and size of the shark, so I referred it to our guru, Johan Anderson, of Wings and Whalesharks fame.  Johan flies all sorts of things (and is the man behind the Zee PHG pictured above), but one particular project of his is flying a microlight in the Seychelles for whale shark research and spotting program.  He confirms that it is indeed a whale shark (not a great white) and not quite the 7m monster suggested by some sources.  As whale sharks grow to around 12m, this is a smallish specimen.  For comparison, I’ve cropped together (at precisely the same scale) the shark and surfers, so that you can decide for yourselves.

Whale shark and surfers cropped to the same scale

What a great sighting, and a lovely flight.

Heading back to Hout Bay at 3500ft to avoid the turbulence from the mountains

UPDATE:  This just in – get the story from the surfer’s seaside perspective on the Wavescape website, as well as some expert opinion from more shark experts.  Compelling reading…I can imagine the guys in the water had a good tachycardia.