Tandem Pilot / BASEjumper
I was walking with my wife and kids in Newlands forest when I received a message from Stephan – “TM?”.
Hmm…Ok, I’m in – See you at 11 at the Table Mountain Cable Station. A bit of miscommunication and inability to drag my wife and kids out of the forest and I rock up at the Table Mountain Cable Station at 12 noon to find the rest of the world clamouring to get up there. I had to park miles down the road, as there were so many cars, and then hiked back up to the Cable Station.
Stephan and Pete were already up on the front face reporting light winds and thermal cycles. Eventually, after paying R95 for a one way trip up the mountain, and walking 15 minutes along the McClears Beacon route, I found Stephan and Pete sitting at the front face with what seemed like the perfect breeze coming up the face. I had noticed the crows soaring as I walked to the launch site.
I have been in Cape Town for six years now and have only gotten off my ass once to go paragliding from Table Mountain, which ended up in not flying from Table Mountain and catching the cable car down as it was too windy that day.
Anyway, we assessed the conditions – looked good! Butterflies in stomach – Table Mountain front face is pretty awesome, big drop straight down.
Stephan had lent me his Gradient Freestyle acro glider for the day since I am between solo gliders at the moment. Sorted out the lines, clipped in, pulled up and I was off! There was a bit of scrappy lift on the face but nothing substantial. Pushed out towards Devil’s Peak but found only sink – vario screaming in my ear. Not keen on sinking out in that direction I headed towards the Cable Station – vario sink alarm screaming even louder. Tiny bits of lift here and there that you couldn’t really turn in. Glide was pretty shocking but that wasn’t surprising given the glider is only 22m2. Flew out over Clifton beaches and threw the glider around a little bit. Quite interesting doing wing overs on an acro glider – very dynamic. Landed at La Med and packed up. Stephan had taken off after me and flew across to the Eastern side of Lions Head. He managed to soar a bit and then flew out around Bantry Bay and landed.
It was a beautiful day. The flying was not quite as good as we had hoped and we realised we should probably have launched from the McClears Beacon side to benefit from the wind direction. Ah well, another day. was fun!
We went flying together at Stanwell Park, and I was very impressed by his effortless reverse launching, and superb control of the paraglider not only in a strong wind, but also in a small space between several hang gliders lying flat on the ground. Mark spent a good half-hour explaining his technique to me, and when trying it out I felt like a student learning to fly again. But, as it was for me, I am sure that for most pilots it will be worth spending the time to get accustomed to this new technique: I call it the Mitsos Reverse Launch.