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latest Para-Newbie News-n-Pics, Sep07, Issue #0009, monthly.
September 26, 2007

Fresh Paragliding Stuff

Selected News, Image, Site Update

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Issued on Wed, Sep 26th 2007, Issue #0009

Table of Contents

  1. News of the Month
  2. Image of the Month
  3. Website Content of the Month
  4. More Paragliding Stuff

News of the Month

As usual, I scoured the Web using a number of world news resources and came across a couple of paragliding news items which might interest you. Here they are.

Firstly, are you one of the many Australian visitors to my website? If so, check out my summary of Lloyd Pennecuik's difficult experience at the recent X-Alps competition. This Aussie had a hard time of it, but not just because of the racing conditions! You'll have to read on to find out why ;-)

Secondly, there's a story from South Africa which, although reported this month, doesn't really relate to any particular recent event. It's just that a journalist decided to tell someone's remarkable story about a homemade paraglider and it's owner. A pretty special story that will touch anyone who has free flying in their blood.

As a bonus, there's also an extra small item that caught my eye.

The Only Aussie At The Red Bull X-Alps

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily, Australia

Date: 8 Sep 2007

Lloyd Pennecuik is a 42-year-old gold prospector from Noosa, Queensland. He was the only Australian entrant in this year's Red Bull race across the Alps. Apparently, Lloyd took up paragliding after skydiving just didn't do it for him any more!

If you've received a few of these newsletters before, you probably need no introduction to the Red Bull X-Alps race from Austria to Monaco. But I can't assume that, so I'll tell you in a nutshell. The race is an extreme test of endurance and skill, requiring the skills of mountaineering, long distance running and soaring flight. Competitors have a couple of weeks or so to arrive in Monaco, making their own decisions along the way about where and when to run, climb or fly.

Lloyd covered over 800 kilometers on foot, and had to battle fatigue and the pain of blistered feet during 16 days. To be competitive, athletes couldn't afford to sleep very long at night either!

There were challenges in the air too. On one occasion, Lloyd lost height rapidly all the way down from 3800 meters, in bad 'sink'. That's a large area of sinking air, and it can be caused by being on the lee side of a mountain or even being close to a thunderstorm. Another time, a storm front swept through, forcing Lloyd to take a wild ride for 20 kilometers in the wrong direction to stay clear of the storm cell. Lightning flashed less than a kilometer behind him as he fled the mighty vacuum cleaner in the sky ;-)

Finally, some Swiss police put a real 'spanner in the works', unaware or not caring that they were getting in the way of an elite athlete during a race. They made Lloyd get into a car while high in the mountains and then let him off, many kilometers off course.

Just as he was preparing to make the final flight down into Monaco, the race came to a close.

The Swiss police weren't the only human element which made things difficult. Lloyd had a German 'helper', called Monty. I'm not sure how Monty came to be Lloyd's right-hand-man, but it seems it will be the last time! Rather than expertly advising and aiding the pilot in every way possible, according to Lloyd, this fellow argued, complained and whinged for much of the race. It appeared to Lloyd that by the end of the race, this Monty bloke was actually working against him!

Despite all this, Lloyd Pennecuik still had a great time. He felt confident that with better support he could have even finished in the top 10 in this ultimate physical and mental sporting challenge.

Floating Fertilizer Bags - Don't Try This at Home!

Source: Johannesburg Sunday Times

Date: 19 Sep 2007

Before getting into this story, I'd like to say that I personally identified with it a bit. As a child, I became enthralled with the idea of slowly lifting off the ground under a man-made contraption. The feeling of flight was magical in my imagination, long before I actually experienced it. In my case, the inspiration was reading a school text book containing the story of the Wright Brothers and their Flyer. I ended up soloing in a Blanik sailplane at age 15, and eventually became a qualified instructor some years later.

Cyril Mazibuko was born in a small kraal at the foot of the Drakensberg range in the southern part of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa. As a child, Cyril would look up into the surrounding mountains and observe the local paraglider pilots in action. Totally inspired, he resolved to make his own wing and do what they did!

Starting with small models constructed from plastic bread bags and orange-bag string, Cyril made prototype after prototype and had great fun flying them with his friends. After the early models, he turned his attention to something that would carry him down a hill.

It took a dozen attempts or so, but finally he managed to copy the real thing to a sufficient degree that it actually flew in a controlled way. From a distance, it looked much like the real thing, although it was constructed entirely from fertilizer bags, rope and baling wire! Cyril also reproduced a basic harness, complete with wine-bag crash protection!

Cyril and his friends managed to fly many times off a small hill, sometimes soaring back up to the top in strong wind, or just gliding down to the bottom in gentler breezes. All very risky I might add, with such a crude paraglider. But they were kids, and never got far off the ground. Just as well.

One experienced paraglider pilot who observed the young Cyril and his flying experiments was Jonathan "JJ" Bass. He was amazed at how closely the bag-and-rope contraption was modelled on real paragliders. While acknowledging that the wing was very cleverly put together, he determined to introduce Cyril to a safer version of the sport of paragliding. Eventually, through the generosity of other pilots, Cyrill received some good training and a real paraglider to fly.

And so it was that Cyril Mazibuko finally became a paraglider pilot, thus realizing his childhood dreams. At the age of 26, Cyril is the only black South African currently registered with the sport's ruling body. Having done a lot more training and flying since receiving his first wing, Cyril is now a flying instructor.

EXTRA A Very Quick 1000 meter (3000 ft) Climb!

Source: The Vancouver Sun, Canada

Date: 8 Sep 2007

Just a little snippet here, but as an ex-glider pilot who used to think 4 meters/sec was a pretty good thermal.. An extreme-sports movie maker by the name of Peter Chrzanowski returned from Peru recently, after judging entries in the Inkafest Mountain Film Festival.

However, his most exciting moments were probably while thermalling over Cuzco, where he experienced a rate of climb of 12 meters-per-second (2400 fpm, 23 knts) from an altitude of 3,800 meters (12500 ft) up to 4,800 meters (15700 feet)! Wow.

Image of the Month

There's plenty of paragliding imagery on the Web these days, much of it so-so. Thanks to some paraglider manufacturer friends of mine, I can bring you some great pics that you might not find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy this month's featured picture, below.

Just click on it to enlarge.

This photograph was taken in the Chamonix region of Northern France. The pilot is Jean Charles, flying near Mount Blanc in an Ozone Mojo 2. Just look at those nice cumulus lined up in the background, perhaps marking the start of a long street of lifting air. That cloudbase would be at well over 3000 meters (10000 feet), perhaps over 4000 don't you think?

Website Content of the Month

Pages are always being added to the site, and I usually highlight just one page here. This time I've picked a page that was posted to update an older section of the website. Paraglider manufacturer Apco sent out a newsletter earlier in the month, spreading the word about their latest harness, the Chairbag..

Like the name suggests, the harness is both a chair to sit in while flying, and a bag to store all your gear when you are on the ground. Wing, helmet, everything. This kind of ultra-light-weight, convertible harness is where paragliding harness technology is going now.

More Paragliding Stuff

A Good Book For Free-Flight Paragliding

Paragliding - A Pilot's Training Manual Do you have at least a few hours of soaring experience under your belt? Keen to learn much more? This book will fill out your knowledge nicely. Just remember it doesn't take the place of your instructor!

Complete Reference For Powered Paragliding

Powered Paragliding Bible. This is one of a couple of good books that people are using before and during taking up power paragliding. It's great if you want a really complete reference book about the sport. Authored by Jeff Goin and Dennis Pagen and published in April 2006. That Pagen name pops up a lot in light aviation literature!

Some Interesting Paragliding DVDs

There's a few decent powered paragliding DVD titles all grouped together in the one spot on my site. See what you think. Most are for region 1 only, although one does play in all regions.

Another group of paragliding DVDs might be interesting if free flight is more your thing. This page is put together much like the PPG one, and all the DVDs are Region 1 format only.

A Couple Of T-Shirts

What do you look for in a paragliding t-shirt? Are you visually oriented? If so, you might be interested in a shirt displaying a reproduction of a great photo. The title, if any, doesn't matter so much.

There's No Place on Earth... is the title of one such t-shirt. Check out the giant growing cumulus in the background! It draws you in, saying 'stop for a moment and imagine approaching cloud base under this thing, at 3000 meters.'

Maybe you're the type who likes the pithy slogan that says it all in just a few words! Here, the graphic design doesn't matter so much, except to make clear that the subject is paragliding.

Gravity Sucks don't you agree? It cuts short so many flights in weak conditions, and it really sucks when you have a collapse in strong conditions!

As for actually buying a shirt from CafePress, I bought one just before Christmas 2006. I can't say I had any complaints. It arrived a few days late, but that was understandable considering the workload CafePress has around that time of year.

Bearing in mind that this paragliding newsletter and in fact most of the website is really for 'newbies', any constructive feedback is welcome! In particular, what would you really like to see in this newsletter? Just reply to this email and tell me your thoughts.

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