What a great (unofficial) long-weekend. We left Durban at the crack of dawn on Friday morning and headed up to Pietermaritzburg to pick up Brett Powell. We had breakfast at the Mooi Plaza Wimpy and continued with our journey. We arrived in Paulpiet aound 11am and went straight to the Information Centre to organise the Security Guard for the Campsite and sample some of the local Tea & Tipsy Tart.
By 12.30pm we were on top of the mountain. The road is the worst it's ever been! Conditions were light and thermic. By now our group consisted of; Alan Sneedon, Debbie Mulder, Jimmy & Stephanie Fourie, Kevin Storie, Ryan Peo, Brett Powell, Brian Lister, Mark Bray, Gary Prince (from Jhb), Billie Jennings (from Piet Retief), Arthur Gemperle (who flew up on his GyroCopter) and myself.
We all take off and scratch around in the light, thermic conditions. Everybody eventually drops-out, so Debbie & I head down to collect everyone. By the time we get back up, the Valley-release is just starting. We scramble into the sky and enjoy almost 2 hours of Dumbe Mountain's afternoon speciality. It's impossible to go down in the bouyant conditions, so we even set mini-tasks for the students to fly from 1 end of the mountain to the other.
The day looks really promising, with little "cumes" starting to pop at around 1000m ATO. Our group has now grown to include Nir, Robo, Phil & Josh. Ryan takes off first, and after dropping really low, he thermals up to above take-off. This is the signal for everyone else to launch. What great conditions! Thermals were a little broken, probably due to the ground-wind, but up to 5m/second, so we were still able to get 1000-1200m ATO. Billy got a good thermal over the back, so I sent him off on his first XC in the direction of the airstrip. I followed him from a height of 1000m ATO. Nir, Robo and Josh also did some small distances, while Phil and I managed somewhere around the 15km mark. After I'd landed and packed-up, the Robertson brothers; Sean & Gavin arrived and gave me a lift back to the Campsite. After Debbie had picked-up all the stragglers, we drove back up the mountain. Unfortunately, the wind had by now picked-up too much, so we called it a day. A fantastic day's flying was had by all.
We all went for GyroCopter flips with Arthur in the morning. The North-Westerly then came blasting through too strongly to Paraglide, so we broke camp and enjoyed a slow, lazy drive back to Durban.
All in all, it was an excellent weekend for the students and experienced pilots alike. Everybody enjoyed the strong thermic conditions. Safety was the name of the game and there were no incidents.
|A good shot of Brian||One of the locals!||The wind was so strong on Sunday it blew this trailor over.||Arthur cruising down the main street of Paulpiet.||At the filling station.|
|Debbie returns from her flip||Brian, Kevin & Allan in the valley-release.||Billie above the tandem.||Kevin tries his new wing||The gang!|
|Brian, Allan and some others||Billie & Ryan||Beautiful Maketeers at sunset||Ryan on his Matrix||Sunset shot|
|Billie above the tandem||Allan enjoys the view||A busy afternoon||Phil observes the conditions||Coffee-break|
|Arthur gets a police-escourt through town||After action; satisfaction||Hey man! It's strong...||Para-waiting for the wind to drop||Braai on Saturday night|
|Para-waiting for the wind to pick-up||Para-waiting for the wind to drop||A good place to be: 1000m ATO and Maketeers in range||Phil goes for a flip with Arthur||Approaching Maketeers in the GyroCopter|