Tag Archives: ozone

Altona PPG

Great flight for two hours on a beautiful morning today.  Took off over mist-shrouded fields and landed 82km and two hours later back at the Altona airstrip to find a large group of PPG and microlight pilots chatting in the sunshine… and offering me a fresh up of coffee.  Can it get better?

Watch in HD if you can!

Snow Hill Island Expedition Postponed

Dear friends and followers,

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to inform you that we will not be departing for Snow Hill Island in the next few days. We’ve been forced to make the difficult (and costly!) decision to postpone the trip by a season or two for safety considerations. This is not an easy call to make, especially with the heavy emotional, financial and time investment we all have made in the expedition, but we believe it is the right course to follow.

As you are no doubt aware, the ice conditions in the Antarctic are at a record high this year, which has made the approach to the Antarctic Peninsula uncertain within our time-frame. This led to the two team members doing penguin research to withdraw or risk losing their research window this year. After a lengthy discussion and much examination of the ice data, the remaining 6 team members decided to continue with the expedition.

It came as a heavy blow when (only 10 days before departure) one of the core team members was also forced to withdraw at the eleventh hour due to a life-threatening illness in his immediate family. Faced with unusually bad ice conditions and a team now dangerously reduced in numbers, we have elected to postpone the expedition. Effectively, this means we will have to try again next October or the year thereafter.

We see this not as a failure, but as a challenge and change in schedule. We are now in a stronger position, having laid the groundwork for all the logistics, gathered vast amounts of data, done endless preparation and provisioning, and ironed out many potential problems with equipment. The knowledge, contacts and systems we have developed will facilitate our next effort.

For our planned physiological research, we see this as an opportunity to expand the conceptual basis. We have already (in the last week) embarked on two projects which were deferred to get the expedition underway, but will actually enhance our fieldwork. Taking a long view, this may be a blessing in disguise. We have already opened some doors (through the Snow Hill preparation) that may accelerate the research far beyond what we envisioned on this expedition…exciting times ahead.

On a personal note, Franelise and I will still be traveling to the Falklands in a few days, where we will sort out, store, and recover some of the expedition gear. We’ll be meeting with role players there and putting the pieces into position for the Snow Hill Island Expedition to come. Thereafter we’re going to disappear into the mountains and fjords of Patagonia for a well-needed break 😉

We are deeply indebted to the individuals and companies that have been so supportive of the expedition, and will be doing our utmost to meet your expectations now and in the future. We take to heart the words of Roald Amundsen: “Obstacles are merely things we overcome”.

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.

 

 

Greyton to Botrivier PPG

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.

Greyton from the air.  Photo courtesy of The Aerial Perspective
Greyton from the air. Photo courtesy of The Aerial Perspective
After completing consumption of our comestibles we went looking for a launch area.  The Greyton Sports Club had a nice field, but it was still very wet and surrounded on three sides by trees.  A foray down the other end of town was more fruitful…well, too fruitful, in fact.  Not only did we find a great little field, which was slightly raised and offered a puff of wind, but it was also downwind of the dump and sewage settlement ponds.  To complete the scene, a large herd of splendidly flatulent bovines stood contemplating us from over the fence.  Perfect.  Although the field was small and the ponds large, the light wind was conveniently blowing across the corners, offering a decent run and space to climb out.  We rigged quickly, and then I helped Ant launch so that he could get the photography done quickly.  I was rapidly ready to go, and then in my enthusiasm flooded my engine and had to take if off to get it restarted.  By that stage, the wind had almost disappeared, and what little remained was now blowing directly over the ponds, across the short axis of the already short field.  Eish.

…and first flight for 2013

A strong sou’westerly dropping to moderate in the late afternoon had me take a chance and walk up Lion’s Head with my paraglider.  The Gradient XC3 is quick, and can thus tolerate a bit more wind than the average glider, but until I saw some tandem pilots sitting at the lower launch I wasn’t sure if I was going to be completely alone or not.  Fortunately, Stephan on his very quick Ozone Enzo launched just after I arrived, and showed the wind strength was acceptable…

…just 😉

Table Mountain looks inviting, but the clouds tell a story of a tricky southerlyTable Mountain looks inviting, but the clouds tell a story of a tricky southerly
Table Mountain looks inviting, but the clouds tell a story of a tricky southerly.

I launched the XC3 ahead of some tandems getting ready and climbed immediately.  Stephan on the Enzo had flown far out to the south, almost over the sea, losing very little height and penetrating slowly into the wind.  I cut into the smooth fast lift on the SW face and rocket up to the top of Lion’s Head, where I found my ground speed into wind was less than a walking pace.  The XC3 has a great response to speed-bar, however, so I was safe to climb steadily above the peak.  The air was cold and beautifully smooth.  Judging from the clouds and wind direction at this level (around 650m ASL) it looked too southerly to fly Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, but I always get itchy wings when over Lion’s Head, so I gave it a try.  The sink was potent in the last section of the crossing, and I arrived at the bottom of the cliffs near Kloof Corner.  I could see the Enzo back at Lion’s Head; Stephan was biding his time and seeing if I got thrashed.  It was certainly turbulent, with southerly flow wrapping around the cliffs from Fountain Ravine, but I worked the lifting patches and played the little flows until just below the top.  There I found some southerly coming over the mountain, which made Sexy Lexi (the XC) very unhappy… she tried a few times to climb back into her bag.  Deciding that the moment was not optimal, I flew out parallel to the Apostles to see if there was a band of lift to be found.  Far below, the Enzo had made the jump, arriving with no more height but perhaps slightly further into the ravine than I did.  Stephan also climbed steadily, but soon also made the decision to skedaddle back to Lion’s Head and the razor-thin Enzo writhed unhappily above his head.

Watching the sun set over the Atlantic from the air
Watching the sun set over the Atlantic from the air

My efforts to find a lift band along the Apostles failed miserably, so I tucked into a south-facing ravine to try scratch back up.  Nothing!  With the contour path approaching fast I turned and went on glide towards Camp’s Bay, thinking it was soon to be over.  The great glide of the XC3 still surprises me, however, and turning downwind with some speed-bar added soon had me back at Lion’s Head, albeit below takeoff.  Here the crisp handling and speed of the glider came into use, and I scratched back up again.  I spent the next hour in cycles of climbing high, enjoying long periods of smooth hands-off contemplation flying out and practicing spirals and wingovers – I’m still getting used to this on an EN D glider!  Finally, it was time to watch the sunset from the air, crank a spiral and land at the Glen for a well-earned libation.  Here’s to 2013!

Final glide out over the sea before heading to landing at the Glen Country Club
Final glide out over the sea before heading to landing at the Glen Country Club

 

Speedster Explorations

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…

Explorations 1 – Witteberg Private Nature Reserve

A flight of discovery in the remote Karoo replete with solitude, wildlife and tense fuel calculations becomes my best FAI triangle to date…

Flight track from Leonardo – click on the image to link to the story and track

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.

Click on the image to see the flight track log on Leonardo

 

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.

Crankin’ & bankin’ in the Atlantis dunes
Click on the image to see the flight track log on Leonardo

A Dinghy for the Drake

Lots of interest brewing about our October expedition, with most people not quite getting the idea 😉  To dispel  some of the confusion…

  • Yes, it’s a private, self-funded expedition whose primary goal is that we have a holiday…doing some research along the way.  Isn’t that how everybody relaxes?
  • Yes, we really are going to be as close to carbon-neutral as you can get for flying half way around the world – we are pulling sleds with wind and man-power (and woman power).
  • Yes, we will be camping.  Refer to my comments about how everyone relaxes.
  • No, we are not going on a cruise ship – we are using the wind and taking a yacht down to the ice.

For your interest and edification, here is some info about the Golden Fleece, the yacht we will be using.

Golden Fleece at South Georgia. Photo by Ryan Holiday, mountaininterval.org

Ozone XXLite

Single-surface ultralight (<1.4kg) paraglider in development launched in the last week by Ozone.   Sounds like a very special animal – official information is here on the FlyOzone site.  One has already top-landed on Mont Blanc during testing.  Need I say more?

UPDATE:  Found this launch video, too.  Sureal location, too.

Are you listening, Ozone?  This is all I want for Christmas.

On Gliders and the Ozone Speedster – First Flights

Avid blog-readers who have already realised that I will likely name my future children after paraglider brands will also know that I’ve recently completely refreshed my stable. The wonderful and capable Swing Mistral 4 that has served me since 2006 went into hibernation last year when I acquired a MacPara Eden 4 for paramotoring, which (embarrassingly) outperformed the former glider in unpowered flight as well – no doubt due to a 5-year advantage in newer technology. The Eden is a great wing, and deserves its accolades as an ideal single wing for flying with and without power, but over the course of a year of paramotoring I came to realise that (like in free flying) I love long cross-countries and exploration, and the reflex paramotor wing technology has proven itself to be ideal for fast, stable, efficient flying. I began to research PPG wings, and test-fly everything I could. My desires: a wing capable of good top speeds (65km/h or more), which is still easy enough to launch that I can get away at altitude (5000’) carrying a full fuel load, DSLR camera and emergency supplies, and is fuel efficient. If possible, I wanted a wing that can be flown free (without motor) on occasion, so that I only have to take one wing on trips where packing space is an issue.

Continue reading On Gliders and the Ozone Speedster – First Flights