My good mate Ant of The Aerial Perspective was very kind to invite me along to Greyton, where he needed to take some pictures. We cruised out there in the Vito early this morning to find the town dead still (wind and street-life) with heavy dew on the ground, and so we stopped at a local coffee shop for tea and toast. Greyton is as pleasantly bucolic as I remember, albeit somewhat more developed these days.
Eish… the work, she has been too much.
I have been nose-to-grindstone for quite some time, but the experience has been incredibly rich, with a number of firsts. Some of those stories will follow, I hope, but the blog takes a back seat at these times. Unfortunately, the flying has also been exceptionally sparse. In the absence of my own escapades, I stumbled across this video. It captures much of the essence of PPG in South Africa. Enjoy.
En septembre 2012, Cyril et moi sommes allés en Afrique du Sud pour visiter au sol, mais surtout pour survoler en paramoteur ce magnifique pays. Nous y avons rencontré des pilotes ayant un haut niveau de maîtrise de notre sport. Ces derniers nous ont grandement facilité la tache au cours de notre voyage et nous en sommes reconnaissant. L’Afrique du Sud est un pays offrant des paysages et une faune unique. Ce petit vidéo sans prétention relate quelques vols que nous y avons fait. C’était mon premier voyage dans cette région du monde et je ne souhaite qu’une chose, c’est d’y retourner.
In September 2012, Cyril and I went to South Africa to visit the country from the ground but also to fly with our paramotor over some magnificant places. We have met pilots with high skill level who help us along our trip through the country and we thank them. South Africa has a unique wildlife and landscapes to offer. This unpretentious little video present some flights that we have done. It was my first trip to this part of the world and the only thing I wish is to go back.
There’s been plenty of pressure and activity on the work front recently, which always results in an immediate decrease in flying opportunities. Consequently, over the last few months I’ve grabbed any chance to get airborne and do my favourite type of aviation: exploration. To discover new wild places from the air is a distinct thrill; changing seasons and the marks of man create new vistas in previously visited spots; even well-known areas release new secrets to a pair of curious aerial eyes. My new Ozone Speedster paramotor glider has rewarded me with some fantastic flights so far, including the maiden PPG flight in the Witteberg. While I’d love to write a dissertation on every one, the time escapes me, so as a compromise here are some quick vignettes with flight track logs and a few photos. I’ll provide links to the longer stories if and when I write them…
A flight of discovery in the remote Karoo replete with solitude, wildlife and tense fuel calculations becomes my best FAI triangle to date…
Explorations 2 – Zandvlei
No firm plans, a whole big sky, and lots of familiar places to explore from a new perspective: I fly Muizenberg, the beach, mountain and wetlands, meet up with a flying friend for an aerial photo shoot, and end up with a 40km FAI triangle.
Explorations 3 – Dolphin Beach to Atlantis Dunes
Any given Sunday with a westerly you can find PPG’s flying at Dolphin Beach near Blouberg. After enjoying the coastal dunes I head inland to Atlantis to play in it’s weird white-sand desert. It was an odd juxtaposition: sand-boarders, quad- and motorbikers, 4WD enthusiasts, a microlight and my PPG all weaving through the dunes.
Regular blog readers may recall that we travelled up to the Augrabies area on the Namibian border some weeks ago to take part in a shoot for the new Mazda BT-50 TV commercial. It was a long distance made oh-so-worthwhile by the chance to fly in and over the spectacular Riemvasmaak desert and through the Kai Garib gorge. After a long day of waiting, conditions finally allowed a launch about 2 hours before sunset, and we flew every last minute we could, generating hordes of footage… of which about 3 seconds makes it into the ad 😉
This is the ‘Making Of…’ video, which gives a good feel for the vibe, and features the commercial at the end. Would I do it again? Of course… you only live once 😉
…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?
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:
It’s been quite a while since the flying that generated this footage, but I finally set aside a rainy Saturday and cut together a rough montage. The story can be found in the blog archive, so I won’t repeat it here. In essence: some magic crack-of-doom flying in the middle of summer, when the sun rises early enough for me to get a flip in before I have to be at the hospital. Not many better ways to start the day. Watch it on high quality if you can or come round and see it in 1080p HD at my place over a cup of coffee!
I went on a lovely post-call aerial meander today. While I caught up on sleep during the morning the wind turned light north-west; cold sea air began to replace the more boisterous south-easter and most of the PPG fraternity were congregated at Dolphin Beach. I joined the crowd around three o’clock and was airborne shortly thereafter with a vague plan to join a group flying up to Melkbosstrand along the coast. Unfortunately, a stubborn pressure-knot in my lines forced a quick circuit back to the field to sort it out, so I ended up chasing after them on full bar and open trims, idly watching the surfers below. By the time I caught up they had passed Big Bay and encountered a bank of sea fog just making landfall. The group turned back.
My natural wanderlust extends to airborne endeavours, and I knew that I’d be frustrated flying around Dolphin Beach until the mist arrived there and shut things down completely, so I decided to fly over to Blouberg Hill and survey the options from there. The hill peaks at about 700ft and features some old military ramparts, which are now being converted into nature reserve accommodation. I used some ridge lift on the NW side for a free ride to the top and examined the options. The sea fog looked as if it was thinning out to the north, and experience has taught me that while the sun shines if rarely makes much progress inland. I’d already discovered (to my surprise) that there was very little turbulence over the hill. I decided to venture a little further into the farmlands, make a big loop to which ever side felt good, and try my luck later with the fog at the beach – there are always plenty of landing options elsewhere for a PPG.
The link to this video has been circulating the flying community, and it explains the thoughts and feelings behind flying powered paragliders so nicely that I have to pass it on. If you have a fast connection, click the settings (cog wheel) and watch it at 720p – it’s worth the wait.