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FLYING IN THE WEST
a sneak preview
extracted from the book
The Fresh Air Site Guide
This information is copyrighted.


 

SITE NAME

Best in GRADE Altitude
 Porterville W Basic 800
 Hermanus S Basic 180
 Lion's Head SW Basic 450
 Table Mountain N Sports 1000

For another preview of sites click FLYING IN THE SOUTH
For a good overview read PARAGLIDE SOUTH AFRICA


 Porterville            GRADE : BASIC.(after 2 guided flights)
DESCRIPTION : Porterville is Cape Town's premier xc site. Hardy scrub covers the dry and rocky mountain range. In summer, the fields below are barren browns and blacks, having yielded their grains to the yearly harvest. Ground temperatures can soar well into the thirties (*C) motivating good thermal activity and healthy height gains. The front ridge offers a unique beginning to some epic Cross-country flying. The Cedarberg Range which towers behind the front ridge has only recently been explored by paragliders, and then only very tentatively. It is a dry and dusty environment on the ground, but once airborne one can appreciate the true beauty of the land. Wild, untamed mountains. Plains stretching out from the foothills to the western horizon. Hidden, inaccessible valleys (stay high!). Blue skies above. Almost unlimited landing areas out in the flatlands. And thermals that leave you with no doubt that they are going UP. You can almost be guaranteed flying here between November and March (averages at 4 good days in 7). If you are proficient at thermalling, 20km xc is an easy goal. In winter (June - Sept), just after a cold front has passed, some thermic and soaring conditions are still to be found over a much greener Porterville valley.
WIND : W – SSW + anything thermic             GPS : +- S32º55΄37.4˝  E19º02΄10.9˝
LAUNCH : At the top of the DASKLIP PASS is a hangglider ramp and a cut-away. The launch is covered with shade-netting, and is just above the road. It is the regular site of competitions. I prefer to use the alternative launch, PAMPOENFONTEIN, which is higher and faces more directly into the prevailing thermic cross-wind. The primary launch is a cliff-launch, so is better suited to pilots with good ground-handling. The thermals are usually stronger so you can get away quickly. A wide ledge has been cleared and netting laid down. There is a large amount of space in the surrounding fynbos as well, and an easy top-launch. Toplanding is possible.
ALTITUDE : 550m high (800m asl), with airspace ceiling at 2900m asl.
LANDING : Directly below launch is a field to the right of a square forest (Grootelsbos). Land either side of the gravel road coming in from Porterville. From Dasklip launch, land on the field across the junction at the base of the pass. Most farmers in the area have no problems with us landing on their lands. Simply avoid livestock, be friendly, and don't bring your recovery vehicles onto their private land.
CAUTIONS : Make sure that you check the wind-direction around the back of the mountain. Sometimes the takeoff site is in the lee of a strong south-easter, and flying is not recommended until the heat of the valley has raised the inversion high above the ridge. Midday thermals can become incredibly strong, especially the house thermal to the left and right of takeoff.  The rocks below the launch-site are gnarly – avoid fiddling in your harness and maintain good glider control until well clear of the ridge. In strong thermic conditions it becomes difficult to judge your launch timing due to the ledge which obscures your view – use an assistant if possible. Expect your glider to surge as it bites into the wind.
DIRECTIONS : Take the N1, then turn left onto the N7 and drive for 100km to Piketberg. At Piketberg, turn right towards Porterville. Turn left at the T-junction and continue north. The first turning right is signposted 'Cardouw / Dasklip Pass'. After following this gravel road for 10km, you'll reach the base of the pass (tarred). If you are going to park here to catch a ride up with friends, please ensure that your vehicle is well off the road (up against the fence), as the locals complain if we constrict the dangerous intersection. When you reach the top, you will see a hangglider ramp on your left. The paragliding launch site is directly above this. To reach Pampoenfontein, continue on the road past Dasklip takeoff around the back. After +- 3km, turn right (uphill). Road climbs out to the front of the ridge.
SITE RECORDS FROM THE AREA : 151.4km N (Simon Green), 112km S to Franschhoek (Greg Hamerton), 72km W (Allen).
ACCOMODATION : Pampoenfontein -available on farm. Call Gemma Carlsson on 082 564 5500.  Dasklip - Flyer's Lodge (Manzoni - 082 788 4398)
CARETAKERS : Cape Albatross HG Club, Glen PG Club, the Carlssons. Dasklip - Rob Manzoni.
PERMISSION : Pampoenfontein - site fee of R20 payable in site fee box and sign the indemnity. Dasklip - site fee R35 payable to Rob Manzoni.


Hermanus                    GRADE : BASIC

DESCRIPTION : Basic grade. Thermic and soaring. A long ridge shaped like a gentle wave provides consistant flying conditions. Ridge-lift with a healthy sprinkling of thermals makes for some interesting flying. Hermanus is generally a relaxing place to fly, although the thermals and wind-shears can sometimes be quite strong. In springtime, you may see whales in the bay.
WIND : S - SE, (SW on the western end).            GPS : S34º24΄06˝  E19º14΄33˝
LAUNCH : Clearly defined area on the right of the scenic road, with windsocks, netting, and benches for spectators. Please confine your preparations to the area demarcated by the yellow rocks. In a SW, it is possible to launch to the west side of the radio tower at the beginning of the ridge, to soar the bowl overlooking the white pillars which marked 'Rotary Way' on the drive up. The landing is then the soccer field across the main road.
ALTITUDE : 180m asl, with airspace ceiling at 2300m.
LANDING : The school fields, avoiding the cricket pitches (special strip of hardened grass in the centre of the field). The rugby fields closer to the ridge are okay, though beware of wind-shear as you approach the protected lower layers. An emergency landing field is slightly to the left below takeoff, a long, open plot between the houses. It is also possible to slope-land at the base of the ridge, though be careful of the powerlines strung along a third of the way up the slope. The field beside the graveyard is also open and easy to negotiate. Toplanding is to the left of the takeoff site, close to the road, or behind the fence.
CAUTIONS : Please do not land on any portion of the golf-course. Beware of a prevailing Easterly wind; it wraps deceptively up the takeoff site, but is in fact side-on to the ridge (from the left) and extremely turbulent. Beware south-westerlies, which will become very turbulent as well.
At the end of the first unbroken section of the ridge to the left of takeoff sits a white trig beacon. This point produces some heavy turbulence if you fly above and behind it - be careful here, and stay clear and in front.
When top-landing, be careful of crossing the ridge too low, as the cliff edge produces strong rotor turbulence near the front of the the ridge to the left of the takeoff site.
Flying to the right of takeoff and crossing the first big gap in the ridge, there is a set of high-tension powerlines which run down the mountainside. They are difficult to see, especially in the afternoon.
DIRECTIONS : Take the N2 towards Caledon. After Sir Lowry's Pass, and Houwhoek, you will descend the Houwhoek Pass and see the rolling hills before Caledon. Turn left off the N2 on the R43, signposted 'Hermanus'. After some distance you enter the outskirts of Hermanus, and an area of cheap labourer's cottages on the left (behind a row of trees). Turn left at the white pillars which are marked 'Rotary Way, scenic route'. Follow this tar road until it becomes gravel, and continue for another 1km. You will see a signboard beside the road 'Paragliding', and an obvious launch site overlooking the town and the sea.
RECORD : 50km E (Abraham Meyer), 25km N to Caledon (Phil Bristow)
Ñ HG : 100km route - Stanford to the E, Hawston to W, back to the launchsite.
CARETAKER : Glen            PERMISSION : none needed, no site fee


Lion's Head        GRADE : BASIC (after 4 guided flights).
DESCRIPTION : Soaring. This is the home of the Glen Paragliding Club, a consistent and beautiful site to fly, offering a superb panorama of Clifton, Camps Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Twelve Apostles. As the sun moves across to the West in the afternoon, Lion's Head begins to heat up and generate a thermic, upslope breeze. Best flying is from 3pm onwards during windshadow conditions. Parking is on the back (Cape Town) side of Lion's Head, then a stiff hike is required up the gravel road and around to the front side. Because of the spire-shape of the peak, the wind diverges quite dramatically around it, causing a strong venturi (increase in wind speed) at both takeoff sites when it is soarable. The wind is usually crossed from the left (south) at the topsite and very strong, and crossed from the right (north-west) at the lower Silvertree site. Please do not pioneer a new launch site somewhere else on the mountain - it is a Nature Reserve.
WIND : W - SW soaring, thermic in the wind-shadow during SE winds
LAUNCH : Lower launch is reached after 10minutes of walking. It is a challenging launch through a silver-leaf tree grove. This is where the path narrows from a jeep-track width into a hiking track with steps. Takeoff is clean - a new gabionned stone-mattress has simplified the launch somewhat. This is where to launch if there is soarable south-westerly wind blowing.
The 'Top site' is reached after another 10minutes of brisk walking, and is a rocky launchsite with a stone/netting surface. The wind is usually crossed from the left here, making good ground-handling and committed launch techniques essential for a safe get-away.
ALTITUDES : Topsite is 450m asl, with ceiling at 1200m asl.
LANDING : On the grassed playing-field in front of LaMed, at the Glen Country Club. The field is sometimes rented to the Camps Bay High School, so try to have a minimum impact on any sports being played on the field. The Camps Bay High School field (above the main road, to the left of the big swimming pool) can be used as an alternative if it is not being used. During the summer season the Municipality has asked us to please avoid landing on the beaches (Camps Bay, Clifton, Glen) There is also a median strip of undeveloped land between the upper main road and the lower main road, just above LaMed. The lower slopes of Lion's Head can be used to slope-land in an emergency.
DIRECTIONS : Drive up through Cape Town and take Kloof Nek road up to the pass between Lion's Head and Table Mountain. At the intersection, turn right to Signal Hill and continue until the road levels out. You will find a gravel carpark to the right of the road. The path to takeoff is on the left as you reach the carpark.
CARETAKERS : Glen Paragliding Club
PERMISSION : Guidance by a local pilot at this highly visible and sensitive site is essential. If you’re a regular here, you're expected to get a Wild Card which supports the organisation who built the launch-sites - the Cape Peninsula National Parks.


Table Mountain   
GRADE : SPORT (no Basic pilots, >200flights + local instructor guidance needed).
DESCRIPTION: Soaring. The most awesome and complex of the Peninsula sites, overlooking Cape Town city. Table Mountain has a presence, an energy that commands respect the moment you step outside the cablecar. The wind swirls around the mountain in shifting currents, making takeoff judgement critical.
WIND : N, WSW, SE            GPS : it's not that hard to miss. Look up.
LAUNCH : A treacherous cliff-launch. N-wind : 'The Runway' is on the front face, looking out over Cape Town, just beyond Platteklip Gorge. The layout area is near the edge of the cliff, on flat rock. Expert handling of reverse launch is essential. As you run towards the cliff, be prepared for the lip rotor and turbulence that can cause sudden sink. Leaning forwards in the harness, ready to run is essential, as you cannot afford to go off the edge with a slack glider. SW wind : 'The Gully' faces SSW, and is behind the cable-car station. You have to walk away from the station along the top of the mountain for a few minutes to reach the launch site. Layout over the low bushes and rocks. Immediately after takeoff, you will find yourself in a gully, soaring along the south-facing north side of it. You soar out of the gully and onto the main rock faces which form the Twelve Apostles. Light ESE : Maclears Beacon' site is 100m E of Maclear's Beacon, just below a rocky ridge (30 minutes hike from the Upper Cablecar Station in an E direction).
ALTITUDE : 1000m asl, airspace ceiling is at 1200m.
LANDING : LaMed, or the more challenging rugby field in Upper Orange St.
CAUTIONS : Don't take a chance if you feel unhappy. This site is extremely unforgiving, and local knowledge is invaluable. Two signoff flights are required from each launch site before going completely solo, it's that difficult.
DIRECTIONS : Follow the signs through Cape Town to the Cable-car (up Kloof Nek road, turn left at the crest).
CARETAKER : Glen PG Club (who keep the register of Approved TM pilots).
PERMISSION : You need to be properly licensed and guided to fly here. 2 guided flights are needed from each launch site before flying solo. If you tell the ticket office that you are paraglider when you buy your Cable Car one-way ticket (up) you should be able to get a free return ride (down) should you not fly. Regular pilots should buy a Wild Card (covers all sites in Cape Peninsula Park).


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