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?
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.
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.
Cape Albatros Hang-Glider Club mate Adam and I decided on a whim to head to Porterville on 30 December despite the so-so forecast. He had a brand new Wills Wing T2 to get to know, having done only one flight on it at the training hill. I was keen to try some more XC on my trusty Moyes Sonic. Conditions at Dasklip Pass were good for a launch, with climbs up to about 1500m ASL predicted: not high at all for Porterville in summer. Deciding that any flight is better than no flight we quickly rigged and took off. Adam immediately hooked a good climb and spent most of the flight high above the ridge; I struggled low down and fighting hard for the first 20km before getting a good climb to 1400m. By that stage the topless T2 was well ahead, so I carried on at my own pace and crossed over into the Citrusdal valley at the N7 pass. I had forgotten to take my hydration pack, and the rough thermals and heat low on the ridge made me dehydrate fast. Past Citrusdal town the headache and nausea overtook the fun and I took a long last glide from 1700m ASL to land just short of 50km at Constriction – my new personal best. Adam, in the meantime, was having an awesome flight despite being very new on the glider. He worked hard most of the way to Clanwilliam and then found a sweet spot in the sky, flying from there nearly all the way to Vanrhynsdorp with very little stopping to thermal along the way, for a total distance of 140km. A long retrieve followed, but worth every moment!
A couple of GoPro frame grabs:
Unfortunately, I don’t have a tracklog, as my GPS was stolen the day before and the ThermGeek iPhone app crashed just after takeoff (just the app, not me). However, Adam’s log is here and is far more impressive than mine would have been. Next time 😉
Here are some details regarding this weekend’s WCPGXCL event. This month’s task will be held in Porterville, to coincide with the yearly Gatskop fun competition (which is on the weekend of 19-21 October). Two tasks have been set, to allow for winds that are north or south of west. Looking at the Saturday 14:00 weather forecast, it will probably be the Northbound task this weekend.
Take Off/start: PL1080 – Pampoenfontein (Radius 400m) – 32°55.630’S 19°02.189’E
Click the link above for all the GPS files compatible with any GPS (in the Porterville Turnpoints .zip file) as well as the Google Earth file for both tasks. Please let Eugene Claase know if yo need any help either loading the TP files onto your GPS or programming your device manually. He will be at the Glen Club tomorrow afternoon from 17:30 until 18:30 to help anyone setting up their devices.
A few important notes about this weekend’s flying:
1. Pilots are all meeting at 36 on Main (Coffee shop in Porterville) at 10:00 Saturday morning. There will be time for a quick tea/coffee and to sort out the recovery & site fees for the day. Note: Yearly site subscribers to Pampoenfontein and/or Dasklip do not have to pay any site fees. The Recovery vehicles will leave from 36 on Main taking everyone up the mountain at 10:45.
2. There is a possibility of a lift to Porterville from Cape Town (courtesy of Ant Allen and the Aerial perspective Vito bus) on Saturday morning leaving Cape Town at 08:00, coming back either Saturday afternoon, or Sunday afternoon, depending on everyone that wants join the group. Please call me Eugene and let him know if you would like to take up the offer – cost will depend on numbers.
3. There will be a possible 3 Turkey recoveries, driving back up the mountain during the day. The exact times will be decided on the mountain.
4. There will be a site and flight/task briefing on take off (most probably Pampoenfontein) at 11:30 by local site guru Paul Penning.
There are 8 pilots confirmed for the weekend so far… I’m committed elsewhere but wish them all good luck!
The weather didn’t co-operate and allow a task to be set this last weekend, so we’ve set one for the rest of the month. It’s a classic route and the best time of year to do it: a flight along the Twelve Apostles on the Cape Peninsula, with awesome views of Table Mountain and the western seaboard…if you can do it 😉 In order to make it accessible to both junior and senior pilots, we’re allowing takeoff from three different sites. The top pilots can launch at Signal Hill and fly an out-and-return, entering the start cylinder from the air, while pilots without a Sport license can launch at Llandudno for a shorter but also challenging flight, scoring the same points.
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…