Features

‘My 300k Day’: Paragliding in Copperton

Monday 15 January, 2018

Dry, high, and the sky goes on forever… Kelvin van Baalen takes us with him on a 300km flight from Copperton, South Africa

My name is Kelvin van Baalen, I am 19 years of age and live in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’m a student at WITS University, although I spend most of my time staring at the clouds instead of listening to my lecturer.

I have been flying for three and a half years, although my father has been flying for over 15 years so I grew up on mountains. I’d even make some extra pocket money by laying out the wings at local competitions.

The flight this article is about took place on 19 December 2016. Leon Viljoen and I were in Copperton, which is a small town about 200km west of De Aar in South Africa. We (him more than I) have been scouting out the area for big flights and the possibility of breaking the world record for some time, and this time of year seems to be the most promising.

Before the big day we had been in Copperton for two days, but unfortunately the winch line had snapped the day before and only Leon had flown. He had managed to scratch out 212km that day although the conditions didn’t seem epic, but rather just very windy.

We had also made a trip out to Copperton about two weeks prior to this for a week, but the conditions weren’t as good as we had hoped and we only managed a couple of 200km flights with base being low and stable, cloudless conditions.

I woke up at around 6am due to the blistering heat – 30 degrees Celsius. This is an early rise for a teenager and to top it all off, I woke up to a howling wind, gusting at 60km/h on the ground – and it was north. I felt like crying; this was meant to be the day?? No forecast predicted this… WTF!!

Read the rest in Cross Country 187 (Feb/March 2018)

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