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Soaring the Invisible Line

by Ryan Lill in June 2013 - Xcape

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going... but if you catch it at just the right moment, you can ride its invisible pathways along the skies.

Now if you’re anything like me, or millions of others since the dawn of time, at some stage you’ve dreamed of being able to fly. The feeling of soaring beyond the confines of the everyday mundane and up into the infinite blue window of the universe.

Fortunately for us we live in an age in which this has all become possible - for you, for me and for pretty much anyone who’s keen! Sitting back, we can observe the world pass by; clouds whisping underfoot as we ascend on invisible waves in near silence. Welcome to the incredible world of paragliding!

If you live in Cape Town, two of the most common places you’ll get to fly are Lions Head and Signal Hill. Although situated only kilometers from each other, each offers its own unique magical flying experience.

Flying from Lions Head starts with a twenty to thirty minute walk up the mountain leading to the launch site. This will give your child-like excitement more than enough time to have you raring to go!

If walking seems all too much for you and you’d prefer just stepping out of your car, right into a harness and up into the air, then Signal Hill is the spot for you.

So the common question, “Which is the best place to fly?” Well, simply put, “It’s most definitely where you can soar the longest!” On the day, this will come down to wind direction and speed, two fundamentals of any paragliding flight.

I’d call the flight off Lions Head "natures flight". Soaring off the back of Lions Head you rise and soar toward Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles peeking over Kloof Neck as you pass by. Turning right you float out over Camps
Bay before coming to land at La Med Country Club near the beach.

Signal Hill could be seen as the "city flight". Starting at the top of Signal Hill you glide the ridge above Sea Point looking out toward the stadium, Waterfront, Robben Island and back over toward Table Mountain, finally landing on
the Sea Point promenade.

Either location the wind chooses for you on the day, your experience is guaranteed to be one you’ll carry with you for life and will always look back upon with fond memories, which may well go something like this:

All strapped in and ready to go... “When I say run, you run! And don’t stop!” Grant reminds you seconds before take off. Eyes forward and face toward the wind, we wait in eager anticipation.

In a second, a fluster of wind, a pull of the lines and almost effortlessly the majestic twelve metre wing arcs overhead... It’s time to fly! “Ok and run!” Grant says excitedly. One's heart drops gear and leads the charge forward until in a matter of meters you’re up and running on air!

Bidding farewell for now to that which once held your feet in place; the ground quickly drops away beneath you as you settle into a comfortable seated position in the harness.

After the first minute or so your heart rate has found its way back to status quo and you begin to realize other things like the gentle breeze passing by all around you and the massive smile spread right across your face!

Looking ahead, the blue horizon bends away, stretching out before you as it holds the skyline in place. To the left, one soars eye to eye with one of the seven natural wonders of the world, embracing its beauty and marveling at its
grandeur. From behind you and then off to the right, Lions Head appears and keeps a watchful eye over the path which you’ve just flown.

Down below, a hive of activity; little lego people go to and fro in the busyness of thier lives. Gazing upward they’re inevitably caught in the daydream “Wouldn’t that be nice!” Up above, the flow of everyday life is witnessed from your floating armchair on top of the world. One’s heart soars as you grin down as if to respond, “If only you knew just how nice!” Such as it is with all good things, far too soon the flight draws to an end.

Your senses having drunk their fill, you float gently back down to earth. Finally your feet touch the grassy banks
and you look back heavenward thinking, “Wow, let's do that again!”

So whether you’re an adrenalin junkie who wants to dance on the airwaves above the city or someone who just wants to sit back, chill out admiring the views and life from a new perspective, paragliding is the experience you need. If you’ve ever thought about it, it’s time to stop wondering life away and just get up there! Fly unpowered and experience Cape Town in its most natural beauty.

Special thanks to Grant and the Hi 5 Paragliding Team. Please call or email for more information.

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