Paragliding – 2013

Last year I successfully completed my paragliding license and yes, I’m super stoked. In fact when I sit down and think back to the last few months of my life a wry smile creeps onto my face and I can kick back my feet with a feeling of deep satisfaction over the events that have transpired. Not only because I am flying but just because life is bloody good in general of late. It has not been without effort though, but the missions have been very worthwhile. The only irritating thing has been the serious lack of big, hollow waves. But hey, you can’t have it all.

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There is so much to mention of what happened, where I flew, how it was, that to put everything into one article will potentially be boring for you to read, or I’ll simply never get the time to put it onto “paper” at all. But before I reminisce I must just say thank you to Barry Pedersen and Tom Webb for their unabated enthusiasm and guidance in making us skilled, safe pilots. I’m still very glad to have done my paragliding license through Birdmen Paragliding and because of the variety of sites we have flown that are both inland and coastal, soaring and thermic, we as beginner pilots have a nicely rounded training which makes one realise two things. One is that it is better to train in winter when conditions are mild and you don’t get those hectic thermals which can really rip you around and potentially frighten you – this is why Birdmen only trains in winter. And two, there is a crap load more to learn about the art of flight, and cross country… If I were to train all over again, it would definitely be through Birdmen Paragliding again. Professional, friendly and Barry has the ability to inspire confidence into many different types of people. Great learning experience.

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Barry Pedersen. DSC_0049_E1 copy

Chris Bond playing at Langebaan.  DSC_0098_E1 copy

Chris still playing.  DSC_0112_E1_CR

A slow landing on the slopes.  DSC_0146_E1_CR

Me cruising north of Langebaan.  DSC_0184_E1_CRPMe doing big ears. Photo by Tom Webb.

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Hermanus.  Hermanus_7Sep13_62_E1 Hermanus_7Sep13_63_E1 Hermanus_7Sep13_64_E1_CR

Me launching at Hermanus on a busy day – the ramp was full. Photos by Graeme Wiley.  Hermanus_7Sep2013_SS_09_E1

Big ears. Nothing to be afraid of.  Hermanus_9_Nov_2013_01_E1Flying high above Hermanus.

Memories include flying on a Sunday with a huge hangover after the Gatskop event in Porterville and getting an asymmetric wing collapse on the right which I (in hindsight….) reacted incorrectly to and threw me into a small spin. Needless to say I crapped myself and for the next 30 or 40 minutes I was shaking like a leaf. Still I soldiered on and managed to fly for about 12,5 km if memory serves me. It was still a good flight and thermalling up was really incredible.

Another fine memory was flying at Hermanus and thermalling nicely when suddenly Barry came straight towards me. He jerked hard to his right to avoid me (he was in the wrong  ) and I had hit hard right and fast. The wing collapsed and opened, then collapsed again and opened with a huge bang which everyone heard on the ground. Needless to say I was a little shaken up but not so bad. I had learnt my lesson of flying with hangovers! And also one learns what can happen when you input into the wing, well, suddenly!

These memories are obviously only the scarier ones, and paragliding really isn’t that scary most of the time. Summer and powerful thermals can be but one flies within one’s limits and in the beginning it is important to take it easy. After qualifying is indeed the most dangerous time for a pilot because bravery far outweighs skill. I have been taking it easy though I think. I’m all for pushing personal limits and doing dangerous things, and have done so much of my life, but first I need more experience in paragliding so reactions come natural and without conscience effort. If I had paddled serious rivers from day one of my kayaking I would definitely have drowned a long time ago. So with flying I tend to err on the side of caution and that approach has always worked for me in everything I’ve done – more or less.

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Bevan at Hermanus.  Hermanus_25Jan14_36_E1 copy

Self portrait – Hermanus. Hermanus_25Jan14_180_E1 copy

Hermanus. Hermanus_25Jan14_196_E1 copy

Hermanus. Hermanus_25Jan14_200_E1 copy

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Chris above me. Hermanus. Hermanus_25Jan14_232_E1 copy

Road side beauty at Hermanus.  Langebaa_2_Nov13_76_E1_CRP

Low level at Langebaan. Langebaa_2_Nov13_114_E1_CR

Big ears on the dunes. Langebaa_2_Nov13_120_E1

Flying the dunes north of Langebaan.  Langebaa_2_Nov13_124_E1_CRIdling. Pic by Tom Webb.

I’ve not been flying much the last two months. Been windsurfing as much as possible and being in the water all the time because of my ear operation – surfers ear. I’ll be landed based for a while now so will be back in the air as soon as I can put a helmet on again. Looking forward to flying this year with all the awesome people I’ve met so far! Roll on the good times.


Coming in to land after my second Lion’s Head flight.  Lions_Head_8_Nov_2013_05_E1

Above Cliffton after Lion’s Head. Lions_Head_8_Nov_2013_08_E1

Dirk, totally stoked!!!  Llundudno_4Jan14_SS_02_E1

Llandudno flight.  Llundudno_4Jan14_SS_11_E1

Llandudno flight.  Pikenierskloof_1Sep2013_SS_13_E1

Pikenieskloof.  Sedgefield_23_Dec_2013_SS_08_E1

Sedgefield.  Sedgefield_23_Dec_2013_SS_14_E1

Kleinkrantz.  Sedgefield_23_Dec_2013_SS_17_E1


Kleinkrantz. Gavin Lay ahead of me.  SS_9Aug13_01_E1First flight with my new Swing Arcus 7 wing which was quite some time ago.

Video I made:

Take care,



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