Goedverwacht Paramotoring

Goedverwacht Microlight Air Strip on the fringe of Durbanville – between our hang-gliding ‘home hill’ (Rondebossie/Haystacks) and Fisantekraal airfield – was the focus of an informal ‘Fly & Braai’ for local paramotor pilots yesterday.  The strip is privately owned and used by a few microlights, but the farmer/owner generously made it and the clubhouse available for us ‘floppy wing’ pilots for the day – and a perfect day it was, too.  Everyone with an aircraft of any description anywhere in the Cape was out flying, if the airwaves and local airspace was anything to go on.  It was a challenge for paramotor pilots, though:  with nil to very little wind all morning and a waterlogged runway, takeoffs were not easy.


Once in the air, however, it was bliss:  Countryside a patchwork of yellow and deep green, dams and streams full to overflowing after the recent rain, birds and buck frolicing in the patches of wildflowers beginning to blossom in the uncultivated land, dark distant  mountains capped with sparkling snow under a cobalt sky.  Couldn’t be much better 🙂

Snow-capped Du Toits mountains

A fun challenge for the day set by our local guru – navigation without GPS (logging in a sealed pocket) around several turnpoints in the farmlands.  Before setting out, an estimation of leg and total times as well as fuel consumption had to be logged.  The fickle and unpredictable wind made the time estimation tricky, test-flying a wing (a Paramania Fusion) for the first time and leaving my cue-card on the ground didn’t help, but the task was still great fun and the views snatched between scanning the ground for my turnpoints and intermediate waypoints were beautiful.

Airborne over the canola

I guesstimated my leg times at 11, 10, 16 and 14 minutes respectively, and then flew 11, 9, 14 and 14 – not bad for a rank amateur.  (Click here for the tracklog on Leonardo).  In the end, between the trouble launching and the attraction of sight-seeing, no-one else took on the challenge of the 32km course, leaving me to win the small prize sponsored by Xplorer Ultraflight by default.  Oh well 😉  Much kudo’s to Keith/Xplorer for the trouble of arranging the task – it certainly made me appreciate the challenges faced by our national PPG team, currently on their way to Spain for the World Championship.

PPG Challenge turnpoint 3 - wind turbines

While some pilots who had been flying from early in the morning retired to build a fire and get the braaivleis sizzling, a few others decided to fly across the valley to Paardeberg to visit a friend.  I decided that the latter option sounded like fun, and I had another glider to test-fly – the MacPara MacJet.  After an aborted takeoff attempt featuring a switching thermal wind and an argument with the fence that left my ego and pants in tatters, I got off nicely and chased off after the group.  Unfortunately, despite the speed of the MacJet, by the time I reached the area they were inside having refreshments without a radio, and I had very vague directions and no GPS location.  Unable to spot them from the air, I went on a wandering XC tour of the countryside, with an equally vague plan of creating a triangle in the light northerly wind.  The wind, however, had other plans, and after experimenting with a southerly became quite fresh from the west.  Worried that it might become stronger and result in fuel issues, I worked crosswind back to Goedverwacht.  With the air so busy, I spent most of the flight below 600ft ASL and often less than 100ft AGL, enjoying the rich pastoral scenes interspersed with swollen streams, patches of wild flowers, small wild buck and countless birds.  Sometimes I followed the streams to see where they led; elsewhere I cruised just above the crops through the biggest fields I could find, dodging farmhouses and turbulence-inducing trees.  Magic.

Canola fields with Table Mountain in the distance

Even though it was well into the heat of the mid-day with notable thermal activity, I flew most of the way with the trims wide open in great comfort – kudo’s on this round to MacPara for a fast and stable reflex wing, which is a pleasure to fly.  I was surprised to land with a fuel burn of only 6 liters after 90 minutes in the air.  Imagine my added pleasure when MaxPunkte spat out a 52km FAI triangle  – another first.   Leonardo tracklog here.

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