Author: Mika Pousi

First, I want to thank Tristam and Arthur for making it possible for me to join in on this trip to Paulpiet. As Tristam mentioned in his previous newsletter, I was on my way to SA for the first time since I moved out in September 1997. After that I have flown in all the Scandinavian countries, of which Denmark and the mountains in Norway have been the best.

Arthur, Tristam, Gavin and me drove on 5th December, Saturday morning to Paulpietersburg. We arrived there at noon and met Brett Powell, Shaun and Gavin Robertson, Stefan Els and Grant Fairley, who were already laying out on the eastern take-off of Dumbe Mountain. This was the only take-off that we used during the visit.

We took off quickly, one after another, and found the weather to be very thermic. I experienced for the first time a half wing collapse, and soon after that a full frontal collapse. It seems that my Edel Saber is pretty safe in this sense, because as soon as I felt a collapse and looked up and started to correct, it was already on it's way back to normal. Almost everyone else also had collapses. Cloud base was very low. I got only 240 ATO. Tristam and some others managed to creep over the top and do 5-15 km cross country.

All in all, our 5 day stay was very nice, we got some nice flying, but the conditions were not at all good for Cross-Country. The highest ATO was something like 600 meters, except Tristam who got 1000m ATO ! The weather overdeveloped on most days, followed by rain. At best, there were seven of us up in the air at the same time. It was very nice to fly with you guys ! On one day the wind was blowing hard enough to give nice reliable ridgesoaring. So we were able to fly along the ridge to look at the old bus abandoned close by. On this particular day we all top landed on the lower part of the mountain.

The form of the mountain became very familiar, since often we had to fly close to the ridge and wait for a good thermal to take us up. Often we startled a group of crows, and used hawks and swallows to find the thermals.

If we had to land down, we tried to do it close to the road (350 below take off) next to the railroad, from where it was easy to pick us up. It was actually pretty quick to drive down and pick up those who had landed down. There was always someone to drive the car, and if no volunteers, the driver was picked up by throwing a coin. It was also very pleasant to have Matthew from Johannesburg with us for the last three days.

Personally, this trip was excellent. I managed to do 10 flights, and almost 6 hours of flying time, which was a 30% increase in my flight time. I managed to top land half of the flights.

I wish you all a Happy Year and Safe Flying.

Mika Pousi (Sweden)