Monday was a hot day with a West wind blowing. On Monday evening someone set fire to the grass at the bottom of the 600. It raced up to behind the peaks as we were watching, and we thought the whole mountain would burn for sure. On Tuesday morning at 05h00 the fire was slowly creeping down from the peaks towards take off. Around 06h00 mist moved in for the whole of Tuesday so we had no idea what the status of the fire was. On Wednesday morning the mist had cleared and we had a tri-colour mountain. On Wednesday the wind was strong North in the morning and it swung to a strongish East in the afternoon. On Thursday the wind was West all day and today another weather system moved in bringing 100 percent cloud cover and a strong ESE wind. It looks flyable, if chilly, for the weekend.
Over the long weekend we were fully booked with bikers entering the Man on Machine offroad race. We also had some visitors from Bloemfontein, Lambert and Hentie, with their friend Erard doing his first bit of paragliding. The weather was inconsistent and mostly short flights were done. This weekend we had Anwar and Mark from Durban doing their first paragliding. On Saturday the wind was North to Northeast in the afternoon, and the two new students had smooth first flights from the saddle. Sunday was a good paragliding day for all and the guys logged two more flights each. Today was stable and the wind only really picked up for a bit of thermic and valley release after two o'clock
So far the weather forecast for the weekend looks good. It has rained this morning in Durban but we have had only strong Westerly wind and frost. No snow up here. After last weekends bad weather it cleared up and was flyable most days this week. Every morning started with a catabatic wind and as the valley heats up the wind swings to an anabatic straight up the mountain.
A sizeable cold front came past South Africa yesterday and left us with some snow on the Drakensberg. There was a spattering on Bulwer mountain's peaks which melted pretty quickly this morning.
Barberton Report My plans had been to share a lift with Calum McComb and Jonathan McCilvenny from the Karkloof to Barberton but that was not to be. My ass was hauled to Johannesburg on Friday by Airlink so that I could sign off all the last minute licence renewals for all the pilots entering the Barberton Comp. The SAHPA meeting “to be” attendees were dealing with Car trouble. So we had some beers with Fezter and co. who were making Jaco's Bachelors party not as wild as one would imagine. Saturday, Lots of people had great flying late in the day, once the clouds from a cold front had moved in. I did not because the glider I was meant to pick up was locked in Tom's car and he was still sleeping. I had a great time yakking with all the old mates that paraglider pilots are. Sunday was electing the task committee and safety committee. Once again I was put on the safety committee. On the hill the forecast looked too strong West. Henry Shurink, Grant van Rooyen and I decided to can the task because we have experience with the West wind. Then it got too strong and some folk wanted to free fly. I pushed in in front of everybody, waited for a lull and pulled up, got airborne, went sideways off the hill in what must be my best worst takeoff ever. Whilst this was happening the thought that it was not a good time to be trying out a harness for the first time crossed my mind as I couldn't get to the speed bar to get out of the compression. Well it turned out ok and Andre Rainsford also took off in the lull. I maintain that as safety officer I had to go and show that it was unsafe, and I'm sticking to that. Monday was similar but Fezter called it a three (1= safe 2= maybe 3= unsafe) afer the first thermal. Others joked with him about it but actually felt the same. Tuesday was a whole bunch of parawaiting, the wind came right for a short while a task was held and the winners scored a massive one point each. Wednesday to Saturday we had great flying. Basically all the tasks were 7 km to Agnes mine, 3km back to zigzags. Then to a point on the front ridge that was different everyday, we crossed Duncans Donga once. Then to the back ridge, then the look out tower B18 and then to Goal at the golf course. Wednesday I flew only 2hrs, conditions shut off at exactly 3pm and I landed 6km short of goal, About 10th for the task. I had played catch up all day for nothing due to instrument problems, but that it a story for another day. The next three days were better and the flying was awesome for all four of the last days. I made Goal on the last 3 days. I managed to convince my travelling mates, Mac and Calum, to use much more speed bar and control via the back risers. They did and made goal on the Friday after having had mediocre to alright flying the previous two days. Saturday Mac made goal not too late, Calum was just short and Ollie Esplin managed a nearly 3 hr flight, his best ever. On two of the days I got to Goal high enough to do a SAT and some decent wing overs. It was a great week of socialising with some very nice flying, seems like the KZN team will be a little bigger next year (I hope so) I got in more than 10 hrs airtime and did some decent distances. What more do you want?
A cold front came through on Friday and Saturday. There is snow on the top of the Drakensberg. Sunday started with a strong North/Northwest wind at about 14h00 the wind swung more Easterly and flying conditions improved to allow a few hours of nice flying.
This weekend was quite nice paragliding at Bulwer again. On Friday some pilots got to around 900m above take off. Saturday was quite thermic and nice lift especially in the afternoon. The guys got about 300m above take off. Sunday was a lot more stable but Hans managed three tandem flights and top landing.
It was another beautiful autumn morning. The wind is light East it looks like a nice day for paragliding.
Its been a really good week. Students Rudi and Corne logged 25 flights each in four days flying. On Saturday Rudi Cronje got to 1900 meter above take off flying from Centocow and flew to Sani Pass. Yesterday Josh flew to Underberg, Himeville and back to the triangle dams. Philip was 1km short of the Sani Pass Crossroads.
We had a great weekend with students logging some good flights at two different flying sites, Centocow and the Bulwer 1000.