The happiest day of my flying career.
Arriving in South-Africa on the January 20 , I hooked up up with an old flying buddy. We set off on our own little encampment. To break our personal best records (Dirk’s 89km and mine 38km).
We arrived at a town called Porterville (160km north-east of Cape Town) at 11hoo in the morning and set up camp immediately. We were in a hurry to get up the mountain and do some flying(scouting)
We launched at 12h30 in winds (or rather thermals pumping up the mountains) 30km/hour gusting to 35km/h. The strongest winds I have ever launched in. I launched first and hooked one right away that took me to cloudbase(12o0m asl) Launch is at 380m agl. Dirk launched 10 minutes later (after assisting me and being assisted by a bystander) in a sink cycle and almosted landed.
Together we worked the ridge to the south (the ridge runs from north to south – 800m above the valley floor)) for 25 km in what must have been the scarriest hour in all of my flying carreer. The dog’s arse with the hat on has new meaning to me.
Sitting in a thermal (+6m) and the sidewires goes slack all of a sudden is not fun.
Imagine a big hand grabbing your paraglider canopy and jerks it up and down.
Turning around and reaching launch again (50km) I motioned to Dirk that I have had enough and was going to land. (no, we did not have radios or water) He did not see my sign and just continued(?). What was I to do but continue. Cloudbase was now at1600 asl. My shoulders were then aching, I was thirsty and was suffering from a little hangover. (Did I mentined earlier that we were at a house party the night before?)
At least we had a tailwind quartering from the back and I decided to take the lead. I was going to fly till I land. We were now doing 70km/h along he ground. Up to now and for the rest of the flight was always a combination of ridge lift and THERMALS with capital letters. We had two low saves but managed to get up again. 20km west of launch we decided to turn back as the ridge got lower and we spotted a huges blue whole in front of us.
Coming back was now against the wind and any thermal you hook will drift back. Cloudbase was now 1500 and getting high was difficult. At one stage I was standing still(not pulling in though) and Dirk was going backwards. This was only a “compression” I learned later and soon we were going forward again at 10km/h.
We arrived together at launch again and headed out to the local para/hang clubhouse 12km straigh upwind south. Traditionally, whoever lands here (goal) gets a beer and boy, was I thirsty.
We really struggled. Remember we lef the ridge at 1200 and all of a sudden found ourselves at 200m with 200m to go agains a headwind. I didn’t really care either. BOOM and a thermal takes us by the scruff and we only need to turn 3 times to gain the altitude needed.
Both of us landed in front of a crowd of say 12 paragliders (they did not fly today:-( ) They cheered us and a nice very skinny blonde girl brought us the coldest BLACK LABEL (local beer). We were still in our harnesses then. What a treat! Thanks to Rob !
Feeling 6 feet tall and covered with hair (does this sound familiar?) I had a couple (read 6) of beers.
My mission was complete. We had flown 104km in 4h19 min. Our bodies was sore, but hey, what the heck.
Max vario 6.3m\s (ave 20 sec) with a spike of 6.8m. Max sink 4.5m/s
2 weeks left of my holiday and I cannot wait the fly Sai Chia. See you guys soon. Any news?