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:
From a book I picked up today (which is proving to be a pleasant, thoughtful and humorous read):
I want to talk about fear. We let it hold us back too much. Fear is a funny thing. I always think of it as a disease: it is natural, evolves with society, it can affect us at any time, everyone has different tolerances and triggers, and it is infectious. Of course, you will get over it, and it is treatable. Sounds like a disease to me.
– Nathan Mullins, “How to Amputate a Leg”.
I think most people live with too much fear, and worse: they live with a great fear of fear itself. To paraphrase a friend: “Know your pathology”; know it and don’t let it rule you.
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’ve uploaded another two talks onto the ‘Presentations’ page. These are lectures I gave recently as part of the ILS Aviation Health Care Practitioner’s course at the Red Cross Air Mercy Service here in Cape Town. The should be considered introductory, and there is a lot of (verbal) content not in the presentations, but the framework may be of interest. I’m getting more familiar with using Prezi and liking it more every time. Click the arrows to advance or rewind through my sequence. FYI – You can click, drag and zoom freely at any time, and return to the sequence by clicking on the arrows again. Enjoy!
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.
Great PPG flying on the West Coast today. We met at Grotto Bay and flew north along the coastline to Yzerfontein – 30km of almost uninhabited and deserted beach, with the occasional wild ostrich for company. After an extended coffee break at Yzerfontein to assess what the wind was doing (a NE land breeze meeting the forecast NW sea breeze) the general consensus was to head back to Grotto rather than chancing a flight to Langebaan. Fortunately, help was at hand in the form of Dave, who offered to drive my Pajero as a support vehicle, and so I invited him to drive it all the way to Blouberg, said goodbye to the others at Grotto Bay and flew the whole stretch back in one go – more than 70km cross-country flight if you allow the small detour around the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station restricted airspace which I had to make.