Flying with the birds

ParaglidingIs it a bird?

Is it a plane?

No, it’s Apple and Eve !

Have you ever watched birds, especially the larger birds of prey, gliding effortlessly and graciously through the air and thinking by yourself – “I wish I could do that”? Well, I have to admit that I do that very often. Jaunine naturally picked up on this and decided to do something about it by arranging for the two of us to go tandem paragliding as a birthday gift to me!

It was with great anticipation (and admittedly, some trepidation) that we arrived at the  launch site, located at the top of Signal Hill and overlooking part of Cape Town and the Atlantic ocean. It was a magnificent summers day with clear skies and very little wind, with excellent visibility and only a trace of haziness on the horizon.

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The paragliders being prepared by one of the pilots while Jaunine looks on, all kitted out with helmet and flight harness.

The flight procedures were explained to us while we were kitted out with helmets and harnesses, all adding to already high excitement. Once everything was ready the launching of individual paragliders began and it was soon our turn with Jaunine launching first, with me following shortly after her.

Following are images that will give some indication of what we saw, but it does not quite capture the pure joy of flight – for that you will have to go try it yourself!   A few were shot by the pilots themselves using GoPro cameras mounted on monopods, and the rest I shot using my trusty little Nikon V1.

Enjoy the ride with us!

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Jaunine starting her launch.

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Picking up speed down the ramp with nowhere to go other than UP 🙂

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And then there’s liftoff !

Once Jaunine got airborne my pilot and I got ready and soon launched with Jaunine clearly visible in front of me, heading towards the ocean!

This is the view that awaits you soon after launch, once the hill that you launched from drops away below you.

This is the view that awaits you soon after launch, once the hill that you launched from drops away below you.

Jaunine's smiling face as captured by the pilot soon after launch.

Jaunine’s smiling face as captured by the pilot soon after launch.

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She even managed a broad smile at the camera!

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I was not too far behind Jaunine and could see her in the distance.

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The view over my left shoulder.

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The view to my right, showing the sport stadium that was built for the 2010 World Soccer Cup, and part of Cape Town harbour.

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That’s Jaunine out in front of me, about to head out over the ocean.

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Yip, I had my camera in front of my eye most of the time!

Our pilots treated us to some sharp turns, doing figure eights, and going in all sorts of directions in rapid succession while we were over the ocean, just before heading back to the Sea Point promenade for the landing.

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Approaching the landing site where Jaunine has just landed safely.

Our flights ended all to quickly, but it did manage to meet and even exceeded our expectations. Both of us enjoyed it tremendously and are planning to go do it again later in the year when flying conditions will allow us to stay longer in the air.

Thanks Jaunine for this magnificent birthday gift !

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