Sunday, December 09, 2007

Paragliding / Slope Soaring Guinea Pig -- Sinjun Weston

The first question comes to mind, what the hell is a paragliding / slope soaring article doing in the SAMAA news??

Well this is my experience with both!!

+-300 Km's from Johannesburg, lies a beautiful valley. The Bambi Paragliding Club operates from a 220m high Slope and for all those Non-Power Peasants out there, the valley release is indescribable.

What is valley release you might ask?? Aha - I see you swing a prop from time to time. No, it's not some vintage wine of the 90's just waiting to be opened.
Come 15h00 in summer and 16h00 in winter, the 15 km long valley releases all the built up heat it's collected during the day. The heat flows out the sides of the valley in the form of waves of lift. Sometimes as much as 6m/s on a good day
The lift is like silk and usually extends sometimes as much as 500m away from the slope. Height gains of over a km can be attained but the average is about 300m

This is where the slope soaring Guiney pig came into his own. Usually on a good day, there would be around 10 paragliding pilots all kitted up and ready to roll. No-one of course would want to go off first, the reason being that if the valley release had not started or was still too weak, one would end up with a very long climb back to the top of the mountain. Usually with 20kg of equipment on ones back.
To top it all, one would miss out on some good flying in the process

At this point, my trusty old Aquila would be launched and within a matter of minutes, I would be able to 'paint' the sky with the lift patterns. On some days, I would get it wrong and the first PG pilot to take off would scratch and curse all the way down to landing. Ah well they didn't listen in class!!!!

By the time they got back up the slope, I'd be at 300m above ground level and soaring like an eagle.

Sinjun Weston

I'm sure the pilots visiting the Volksrust site have noticed the "Valley Release" effect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article, you do get valley release on the north western slope of Volksies especially in winter,
Piet from BERG calls it Champaigne
air , light smoooth and bouyant, superb soaring conditions.
Also good at Rosendal I believe, when the rock face releases heat,providing strong lift well into the dark.
Mike May

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