Paragliding On The Rocks: How To Become An Early Riser


hey good morning first of January 2020
let the flying begin I hope you get lots of flying this year I intend to fly as
much as I can so we’re at a new site trying to give you a little site
briefing and we’re gonna have a flight it’s very early in the day so it’s earlier
than I normally would fly but hey let’s see if I can stay up I’ll talk you
through it maybe you can learn something about catching weak thermals early in
the morning and staying up at an unfamiliar site. Let’s look at the hazards we’ve got a
nice launch site here you can see there’s a step or a changing angle on
the launch site you want to be flying at that change of angle and that gives you
some space to abort you don’t want to go off here
you know just running still so close to the rocky area you want to be sure that
you’re gonna clear it nicely we’ve got some pretty big rocks which could kick
off some turbulence the danger is if there’s a thermal coming up on the other
side of the rock it’s likely to just go straight up and you’re gonna get the
turbulent wash at the backend of the thermal so I’d be very very cautious if the
wind was coming from this direction be very very cautious of taking a collapse
somewhere around here which would then turn you behind the rocks so I would try
and make sure that I’m going through a clear channel or I’m keeping the glider
pointed into wind and keeping very good control active flying keeping my legs
down and not getting into the seat early this is really a tricky transition in
the first phase. the prevailing wind normally comes in from over there which
makes it a lot safer because you haven’t got that rock step and there you can do
the same thing you want to keep your legs down and just get clear of this
transition before you get out there. other hazards? a classic hazard in the
afternoon … you can see that big spine up there. the wind normally comes in from
that direction and you can expect to get very powerful dust devil thermal
in that gully because it’s kind of in the lee. the wind will be pushing along
and then whipping into that gully so you don’t want to be low in there
you’d want to use the spine, or be up on the back face, or come right forward
onto the front. if you get something that comes off from the valley it goes up the slope and sends you up that way. we are also at a low point in the terrain the
mountain range has a low point and then it continues and that usually means
that all the air tries to move through that low point so you get a bit of an
acceleration of the wind in the afternoon. fantastic plains out there so if you’re
still here about afternoon then you want to head out into the plains give
yourself some space or go over the back into the back valley where the wind will
be less. so I’m not expecting hazards for the morning flight
except that thermals tend to be quite narrow and punchy early in the morning
because you only get one little area heating up so you get like one field or
maybe a roof of the farmhouse or some rocks and the thermals are quite small
and haven’t had time to build a big reservoir of warm air so you get a
little pump of hot air and a little bubble and they can be
quite choppy on the edges and very tight so I’m expecting to turn tight and
I’m hoping to stay up otherwise I’m gonna be walking from the bottom of the
pass which is not a bad thing because this year is the X-PYR coming in June I
think so I need to get these legs a bit stronger than they are and the only way
to do that is have many flights and do lots of walking! ok see you in the air. I pretty much always reverse launch even
in zero wind because it allows you to check that you haven’t hooked any of
your lines on anything. keeping the legs down as we’re clearing
the obstacles and I’m staying in tight just to see if I can find anything. I’m
not expecting to get anything on this Ridge yeah but maybe I’ll get something.
otherwise I go for the farm house. it’s likely that this early in the day the
flats are working better than the ridge you see it’s choppy here and that’s
due to cool air in the rocks and that was my last little taster here just on
this Ridge I’m just gonna try this little cliff … what’s happening here? still
zero, so I’ll stay with it come around the corner. the shape of the
ridge is letting this thermal track up and I can see movement in the bushes
ahead so I’m continuing. It might have been a mistake. I think it’s still very light
here so I’m gonna go back for that other Ridge where it’s working and keeping
my turn really flat, trying not to lose too much height in the corner. going back
into this area where it was working somewhere around here and just light
brake on. so I had lift to here and I can start the turn trying not to drop the
inside wing I’m keeping both brakes on and I’m just
converting into the lift, then full weight shifting out and starting my turn out.
okay I could have turned a little earlier there I’m speeding up, I’m weight
shifting and then I’m braking. that gives you a very flat smooth turn nice
and tight. There is still a little bit of juice in here I think … I’m weightshifting away, my
speeds high so I’ve got a good turn if I need it. that’s the edge of it there and
I’m at the front coming around. now this is starting to weaken out I think I’ve
gained one or two meters there I’m weightshifting and I’m whoa I’m out of
the front of that. I should have turned earlier all the way around in sink now so that’s
a change … there’s a little bit of lift here but not much really, not enough. so
I’m going to continue straight now and hope that the thermal has pulled
something else along the ridge and that there’s another little core to work in
the next gully. I’m just staying close to ride the
updrafts if there are any and I’m looking for another corner I need one
pretty soon … nothing much here. I’m keeping my speed high so I’ve got
control for my turns and I can swing out easily and quickly. I’m pretty close now.
this is closer than you should really be unless you’ve got a lot of experience
at doing this. I’m keeping the speed high again coming around into a similar
position to the last thermal it was this sort of a shape with a little Ridge
where the thermal was running up so we can try this little gully. nothing there.
I’m speeding up keeping my speed high now on this transition because it’s not
lifty so I want to just glide through it I don’t want to waste any time.
I’m trying to cover ground now to get to the next good thermal. there’s a little
bit of lift there. turning back for it maybe I’ll probably lose more height on
the turn than I’ll gain on this little piece … there was sort of three seconds of lift here … one, two, three … and then it’s petering out. Swinging around losing
a lot of height in that corner so we go back through the lift again
one two three and see there back through it again one last time one
two I’m letting it drift me closer before I do my turn … that turn is a bit late
it’s a bit sinky. I’m crossing the ridge in the lift
and I’m weight shifting already and now I can swing the turn back but late again. same again over the ridge weight
shifting get the turn back again run through here one two and turn. I’m still falling out the side of the thermal every time it’s just in the middle here
so one two and there I should turn, I’m just trying to ride the bit of the ridgelift. not
much there I’m gonna go back for our other part of the ridge while I’ve got a
little bit of height. Bit of lift there but not really enough to turn in so let’s
just do this transition again back to our cliff and hopefully that’s given it
enough time to generate something, another lift cycle. I don’t see any
movement in the bushes so I don’t expect anything here and it’s early so it’s all
shaded so the air itself would tend to just not move or slide downhill. I’ll only get something if there’s some
warm air coming up from the valley all right so this is where we had lift
before … I’m ready for it looking for this transition … there! is it enough to
turn in? maybe a little turn. At least it wasn’t sinky in the turn. I’m coming over
the ridge line there to get this turn far back so that I use the maximum
amount of this lift there and I can just scooch over the top and bring it
around nice and smooth same again using the top of the ridge to
sneak my turn in a bit tighter at this point so I’m not coming out the
front of the lift when I’m here at its best point. right
now I’m going to try and transition back onto this back face a bit to see what’s
there. It feels a bit lumpy … very lumpy … and run back onto this little knorpel …
there’s something there, there’s a little bit here, now I’m using the warm face of
the rock I think, it’s just giving it a bit of a boost, it has been baking in the Sun … round we go I won’t do a 360 I’m a little bit too tight
in here and there is the lumpy air. I’m not getting much, sort of headwind at the
moment which means the thermal is pulling off this side a little bit. there’s a bit
of a lump and just swing it around again moving forward to catch some of that lift. Let’s go onto the back rock, to the back rockface, hopefully there’s
something kicking there. it’s very lumpy so I’m a little bit too close for
comfort and there’s our launch site! right a
little bit of something there … and there you go! so I’m slowly maintaining and
managing to climb up. I’m gonna keep doing this and try and stay aloft until
the real thermals come through later in the day. I hope that’s given you a good
idea of how to stay up in light conditions. bear in mind I’ve got lots of experience at flying close to terrain so if you
don’t have the experience don’t be so close but hopefully this has given you
some ideas of the principles and how you can use those to stay up in light
early-morning conditions. Stay cool, stay flying, thanks for watching,
thanks to the patrons and I will catch you in the next episode. safe flying.
Cheers!

50 thoughts on “Paragliding On The Rocks: How To Become An Early Riser

  1. When transitioning between lift areas you say, "Keep my speed high" a couple of times. What does that mean? Are you using speed bar while that close to the terrain, or are you just going hands-up?

  2. i know the place when flying to Rhnosterhoek. Lucky for me, i nearly has always a lot of thermals here. Without thermal i always landed near the farm. This is often the area where a good flight stops, when you try reaching Rhnosterhoek. Problem is going over the highway and reaching Sprit Kopf(Piekenierskloof Kardosie) for the next waypoint.

  3. Thanks Greg ! Quick question here : you say not to fly close to terrain if not experienced (which I think is wise), but how to get experienced with it if avoiding it ? (newbie pilot still in training with only 21 solo flights).

  4. Again a fantastic video and some amazing flying skills!! Just a question: in such small conditions, how much do you break on the inside brake ? Is it mainly weight shift to avoid loosing too much height ?

  5. So grateful for your video’s Greg! Your ability to fly and give explanatory comment is amazing. I have not just learned so much from these video’s but they have also inspired me and my flying buddies. Please do keep the video’s coming!!!!

  6. God these videos are good. Thanks for sharing your skills. I was on the edge of my seat watching the work get put in and the strategies paying off.

  7. Hello there! Congratulations for your work on this channel!
    May I ask how you record voice for the videos during flight? Thank you!

  8. Wow… smooth operator!!! In brazillian portuguese "suave na nave"… impressive! Thanks for sharing…
    I can see myself doing this in the same way.. but the result i dont know….lol

  9. Thank you Greg. I'm learning so much of this particular video, as it is quite similar to my flying site.
    I found myself inadvertently weightshifting on my sofa.

  10. "Don't take off over those rocks on the right…." he says … "takes off, over those rocks on the right" 😀
    I let you off though, love watching you fly! But I do miss your 3rd person Insta360 video camera angles.

  11. always inspirational. some people would think all that effort to get 300 foot above launch site a waste of time, I see it as tuition and payback for the rest of the days flying.I would sell my ppg in a heartbeat for some of this, unfortunately getting up on the motor is all too easy, Please, someone volunteer to teach me free-flight, you could make a video, no hope to some hope to high hopes for teaching free flight to a total noob, I can see it now, " Greg takes on a basket case and gives him wings" OMG , im sold,

  12. You write "keep the turns flat and tight". How do you generally do that? A strong brake impulse (to turn tight) will cause a larger angle (non-flat turn). Do you try to weight shift inside as much as possible to avoid using the brakes, or do you lean outside to keep the wing flat?

  13. These kind of little videos are good as gold. Preflight site overview and inflight decision making.

    I feel like I there with you learning about the new site. There more sites we learn to read with you, the better pilots we all become where ever we live in the world.

  14. This video is very helpful video. This winter I tried to ridge soar by making the broad passes along the ridge and finding some lift bands. By the time I got back to the lift bands locations they were gone. So instead of soaring I landed since there were more sinking areas that lifting (like 2/3 sinking and 1/3 lifting). Now I try to hang around these sweet lift spots.

  15. Explains in depth a thoroughly analysed, backed up by decades of experience flying paragliders, delivering a practical and theoretical correct way of which areas to avoid after takeoff in order to avoid rotor and possible low-level collapses over rocky terrain. Then takes off straight into the aforementioned area ….. 😉

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