Early morning adventures:
Our day started way before dawn, it was an early (4am) start, for a somewhat unusual experience. Red eyed and armed with coffee flasks, we left Pretoria and headed for Hartbeespoort dam. This was going to be an exhilarating experience, one to tick off the bucket list. We opted for an early morning paratrike and arrived at the paragliding club to see the sunrise and enjoy the views from the skies. I have been skydiving before, but this was going to be my first flight, taking to the skies in a car. The Skywalk paragliding club came highly recommended by my sister in law, so I had to try it.
I was going to do a tandem paratrike ride with the chief Instructor of the club, Ronnie. I was given a suit to wear over my clothes as the temperatures are a lot cooler in the skies at that time of the morning. You also wear a helmet with a clear visor and a headset, so you can communicate with your instructor. I hoped into the trike and after some brief safety instructions, we were ready for take off.
Take to the skies:
With the engine going, we drove down the field for a short bumpy ride on the grass towards the dam. While my brain was still processing the fact that I about to take off in a car, we quickly ascended and were airbourne. We chose a perfect day, as there was very little wind. The wind does not affect the trike ride too much though, as the paratrike has an engine and does not solely rely on perfect wind conditions or the Highveld thermals in order to fly.
The fresh breeze in my face and roaring engine made for an absolutely thrilling flight. I love being in the sky and the hot air balloons lifting off in the distance made this experience even more magical.
A unique view:
I was given the risers to steer the paratrike for a short while, under the guidance and watchful eye of Ronnie. It was so much fun flying through the skies in a paratrike, I was keen to fly higher. The maximum altitude a paratrike can fly at is in this area, is 7500 feet. Somehow being in the sky is so peaceful and for a moment I felt as free as a bird, admiring the beauty below. The flight offers the uninterrupted views of the Hartbeespoort dam below and the Magaliesberg mountains beyond.
All good things must come to an end:
My flight lasted about twenty minutes. It was such a smooth ride and landing was effortless, I could hardly feel us touching down. When my flight was over, I was not ready to get out, but another first-time flyer was waiting their turn. The sound of the para motor engines droning above was already calling me back to the skies.
Paratrike Flight Tips:
Wear closed shoes, gloves and long-sleeved clothing, there is a chill in the air that high up, especially if you are on an early morning flight.
There are low ride and high ride options. If you are afraid of heights and still want to try this, the instructor can fly slightly lower. The owner Ronnie, whom I did the tandem with, is safe and reassuring, perfect for nervous passengers.
Take it all in and enjoy the flight, after all, it’s not every day you get to take to the sky in a paratrike!
The club I flew with is the Skywalk Paragliding school, click here for details. I’ve added paragliding to my bucket list and hope I get to do a tandem flight sooner than later.
Until next time, adventure awaits.