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.
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 😉
Some photographs from the first PPG flight in the Witteberg Private Nature Reserve. I sneaked in the flight at sunset as the gusty daytime winds died off. By the time it came to launch, there was not a breath of wind. This was a serious test for my new Ozone Speedster – zero wind reverse launch at 3000ft ASL. The pictures tell the story. Credit to John Roos for the shots of me flying:
…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
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: