Monday, 10 April 2006
S.A. Extreme Sport How To's: Microlighting
By Jacques Marais
Although microlighting is a relatively new activity on the South African adventure scene, the history of these ‘flying trikes’ date back to the early 60s. Originally developed as a Parasev (or paraglider rescue vehicle), the microlight soon attracted a faithful following of commercial and leisure pilots. Today, these incredible little flying machines have morphed into versatile and safe recreational craft that can travel at speeds of up to 150km/hr and at an altitude of up to 10 000m.
Although there are a number of annual, organised flying events in South Africa, most microlight enthusiasts use their trikes as a means to get away from it all and clock up air smiles.
However, those pilots keen to hook up with like-minded aeronautical types should opt for gatherings such as the 2005 Kalahari Bundu Bash. This event will see fly-boys (and girls!) from all over SA converging on the Northern Cape for five days of good air (more information is available at www.otto.co.za/micro).
If you’re the competitive type, diairise the date of the annual SA Microlighting Championships. You’ve missed your chance this year (the event took place from 24-30 April in Ladysmith, Kwazulu-Natal), but be there in 2006 if you want to stake your claim for the SA microlighting team. Formal flying competitions such as these will test your day-to-day flying skills and, in the end, make you a better pilot.
For the ultimate adventure, follow in the footsteps of out there adventurers like Ricky de Agrela, who circumnavigated the world during his recently completed Freedom Flight.
At approximately R80 - 150 000 for a used microlight in good condition, you will need a sizeable bank balance if you want to invest in your own trike. These usually come packaged with all the mod-cons, usually kitted out with an airspeed indicator, altitude meter, Global Positioning System (GPS), headsets, intercom system, radio, hangar cover and safety parachute.
Before you can take to the skies though, you will need to attend flying school (make sure that the programme is CAA-approved) and complete your pilot’s licence. The costs and requirements depend on a variety of factors, but they do not come cheap and will take up a huge amount of your free time.
No time or money? Get the buzz by booking a flip with a licensed pilot and get airborne right away. You might not be flying the plane, but you still get to soar like an eagle. What are you waiting for – the sky’s the limit!
Microlighting Resource: Everything you need to know about microlighting in SA - www.otto.co.za/micro
Official Microlighting Web Site: Home page for the sport’s sanctioning body in SA - www.misasa.co.za
W/Cape: Safaris, introductory flights, instruction and aerial photography – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gauteng: Training, flying school and flips near Johannesburg - www.microlightadventures.co.za
KZN: Get all your flying needs catered for in Pietermaritzburg - www.pmbaeroclub.co.za
E/Cape: Contact the Algoa Bay Flying Club in PE – www.algoafc.co.za
Weather: Get a forecast before you fly by dialling (082) 162 - www.weathersa.co.za