ARTICLES
   
Canvas Duzi
"What a heart stopper"

Taking the plunge.....
David Briggs tackles a section of the Unzinkhulu river in Natal called :Thrombosis". It's all part of his training to tackle crocodile infested rivers and the highest waterfall in Africa in Zaire in a kayak next month. You can read all about it on pg 3. Picture by Bruce Yelland.
Kayak venture on Zaire rapids

ARTICLE APPEARING IN NATAL MERCURY 23/06/90

Two kayak adventurers are back in Natal after exploration of dangerous white water rapids in Zaire. The pair, David Briggs, 24, and Tim Biggs, 36, paddled the Red Gorge section of the Lualaba river, a tributary of the mighty Zaire. The last part was really hairy--the sides of the gorge are so sheer that's its impossible to scout ahead to recce the route, said Mr Briggs. Mr Briggs, a final-year student at the university of Natal and Mr Biggs, a well known Duzi canoeist and Ixopo timber farmer, flew up to Lubumbashi with a film crew on one of the direct Air Zaire/SAA flights. After an eight hour trip on the back of an open truck the South Africans later met up with a group of Belgians who guided them to the Nzilo (red) gorge. Briggs said that according to a British source to sea expedition of 1974/5 the 8-10km section of the gorge was totally unrunnable grade 6 stretch. "The first part was really superb, with one cascade following another and the sides of the gorge reaching 300m.' "The river narrows to about 5m in places, creating violent boils and severe class 6 holes. Eventually the sides attained such steepness that it was impossible to scout ahead." Luckily they found a precarious route out of the gorge and were able to pull their kayaks out with the aid of ropes.

INTREPID CANOEISTS HEAD FOR ZAIRE RIVER. by nerissa card. Crocodile infested rivers and the highest waterfall in Africa will not stop two Natal men from taking to the Zaire river in kayaks next month. David Briggs, 24, a final microbiology student at Natal university in Pietermaritzburg, and well known duzi canoe marathon contestant Tim Biggs, 36, a geologist and farmer in Ixopo, plan to navigate three main tributaries to the river in the South-eastern highlands of Zaire. They are gathering sponsorship to meet some of their costs and have undertaken to donate any excess funds to the pietermaritzburg child and family welfare society. The first river they plan to tackle, the Lafoi river, boasts the 370m high waterfall. "We may have to abseil down the sides of the waterfall with ropes to get to the plunge pool, from where we will launch, " said Mr Biggs. "We'll then move onto the Nzilo gorge on the Zaire's Lualaba river. One section has never been run by a kayak", he said. The Luapula river is the last stretch of water they will navigate where they are likely to come across crocodiles. "This is a big, fast flowing river which is channelled into a series of waterfalls with about 10km of turbulent rapids upstream and downstream of the falls. "Below these rapids the river calms and flows through the equatorial jungle. The big threat here is crocodiles. It's dangerous but all trips are like this he said. Mr Biggs recently took part in the first expedition to navigate the entire length of the Amazon from source to sea. The story was published in National Geographic.
High Flyer always ready for another Adventure
Natal Mercury - April 2003
Article by Barbara Cole

Nothing keeps Pinetown adverturer David Briggs down, not even a horror accident that might have cost him his left foot. And when after 13 months of recuperation and inactivity, he heard about an expidition to fly all way around South Africa by microlight, he decided it was high time for some action.

Briggs, a qualified biochemist, long ago decided to swap life in a lab for life of adventure. A diver, sometimes treasure hunter, canoeist and microlight pilot, he aims to do at least one ezpidition a year. He had been planning a solo flight to check out the ship wrecks along the West Coast, but decided to scrap the idea to join forces with a group of pilots for the 4500km flight around the country.

It was the first such type expidition by a group of pilots and Briggs was the only enthusiast from KZN. His friends at Joe Kools even paid for his accommodation and petrol expenses. Six pilots made the entire trip with several others joining on various legs of the three-week expidition. Briggs, who has been flying microlights for seven years, said he joined the expidition "As it was something different". "When you have been grounded for so long, you look for something different to bring back the excitement, and this trip certainly did that." Briggs who manufactures powered paragliders - parachutes fitted with motors- was test flying a paraglider for a customer when a fault caused him to crash. His foot was torn off, except for a few blood vessels and tendons, and though the doctors were able to reposition it with the aid of plates and screws, Briggs might eventually settle for a prosthetic foot if he cannot get better mobility. And things did not go exactly to plan on the microlight expidition either. As he flew over the Wild Coast "everything went wrong" he recalled yesterday. His instruments and radio were not working and then his microlight "gave up". It was at 5500 feet, which is pretty high enough, and high enough to give me time to find a place to land" he said. With his plane a wreck, he then hitched a lift with the expidition leader, Joe Standuhar of Springs. We took double seaters along for just such eventualities. I also took turns flying the microlight as one can pilot from the back seat. Briggs, who fulfilled his dream of spotting several shipwrecks along the Skeleton Coast, is now putting the video footage of his pictures on his web site for everyone else to share the adventure."The footage is absolutely unreal". And what about his next adventure, we asked?"I have been hankering to canoe down the Nile" came the prompt reply.

More on this adventure here

Paramotoring in Africa
Adventure Zone

 

The world's powered paragliding record stands at around 640kms. With that in mind Steve Camp and David Briggs figured that, with a good tail wind, it was feasible to fly a portion of the distance from Central Africa, around the base of Kilimanjaro (Africa's highest mountain), and south until they reached civilization. The idea came to us in 1990. Initially we thought that it might be exciting to travel through Africa on a motorbike, but after considering all the red tape we'd have to go through, what with border stops and tedious officials, we decided to take to the sky instead.

After obtaining permission to fly from air traffic controllers in all, the countries we planned to visit, and getting Fiat to sponsor our car, we set off. Our adventure began in the Serengeti National Park, at the base of Kilimanjaro. All seemed well until we were detained by the Tanzanian military, and were forced to spend six muddy, leech covered hours in a bush camp, walking free only after we'd paid a hefty bribe. The flat land of Tanzania offered wild flying, with up to eight dust devils visible at a time. (Dust devils are whirl-winds resulting from heat being released from the ground. These travel along or above the ground in a vortex motion, and are capable of collapsing a wing in a moment). We would launch, gain height and follow (what would with a little imagination) be considered a road, until we ran out of fuel whereupon we would glide down to the main road, a suitable field or riverbed. Taking off from such situations would have been madness, and would certainly have resulted in a few amputations - not to mention a broken propeller! The best option was to use the back-up vehicle, and drive to camp! The move to Malawi was definitely the highlight of the trip. Apart from the deep blue beauty of the lake, we experienced some very enjoyable flying. The going was extremely smooth just inland from the 600km lake, because thermal activity was limited from this envelope.

During this part of the journey, we were able to link up with numerous overland expeditions from Cairo and London, slowly making their way down the length of Africa. We hopped between the camps stationed regularly along the lake, enjoying the scenery and meeting new people. Our final stop was Zimbabwe. Having never seen an aviation craft like ours before, the civil aviation authorities were very curious; not to mention doubtful that we would be able to make it across the Victoria Falls. Never the less they were extremely accommodating, and imposed very few air-space resrtictions on us. In fact all other commercial operations flying over the area were ordered to stay far away from us. We proved those Zimbabweans wrong, becoming the first people to paramotor across the Victoria Falls.

Craving our creature comforts, we loaded everything back into the Uno and started the long haul back to South Africa. One thing I learned from our trip; paramotoring may not be the most efficient mode of transport, but it's one of the most accessible, and definitely one of the most fun!

Featured in the Adventure Zone publication

It's a fact. The bolder and more visible a logo, the greater impact it will usually have, aside from the subliminal aspects of advertising. Add this to the ability to take branding directly to your specific target market - eliminating the drawbacks of static advertising - and you have what most advertisers spend their careers trying to get right. With powered paragliding as an advertising tool, all the above are met over and over again. Man's desire for excitement, even if it is an armchair capacity, means whenever the product is rememered or something similar is brought into subconscious, an immediate image of that initial stimulus will be triggered and instead of remembering an unmarked powered paraglider, he will remember "that Gunston powered paraglider" or motorised "parchute thing" with Joe Cools on. Subconsciously it is a unique form of flying that is brought to the surface by a variety of stimuli, but when consciously aired, inevitably the branding takes over.

A number of options are available when using PPGs as advertising tools. Letters are usuallu attached to the under surface of the wing. It is difficult to screen print on paraglider material because of the silicon protective layer that overlays the rip stop nylon, so each letter is cut out by hand and attached. These may be removed and replaced with new branding. It's also feasible to tow a banner although a banner has less surface area for branding than a canopy. The flag is either rolled up and placed in the harness pocket and take-off undertaken with it laid out on the ground. It's vital to remember the rotating prop which, given half a chance will suck in anything it can. The banner has to be weighted to ensure it "hangs" correctly, normally two metres below the seat. Remember this if you feel the urge to buzz a mate while flying a banner - you might take off his head. A word of warning - clients are often fanatical about having their branding in the air, and are prepared to pay huge fines for having their branding taken where they'll get maximum exposure. This may involve flying overgolf courses, main streets of towns, beaches and stadiums. If the legalities do not faze you it's still good to remember that engines do stop and rotor turbulence - caused by wind rolling over an object - does exist. I have seen gliders up telephone poles, on top of buildings and in the sea. Propellers have broken off, pulleys have sheared off and, in the early days, bits of engine have been lost. You are usually over high profile events with a lot of very expensive material below you. The client's reputayion (and yours) is at stake, and if you want new or repeated business, and to avoid expensive litigation, don't screw up. The client usually carries third party insurance, but make sure it covers aerial advertising. If negligence can be proved on your part, the insurance will more than likely not be paid anyway. The next problem is how to take branding into controlled airspace, from which most microlights are exculed. Simple - get a transponder. When programmed, this gives the nearest Air Traffic Controller a direct indication of where you are and at what altitude you are flying at, so don't tell them you're at 500 feet when in fact you are at 3 000 feet and 20 kilometres from where you're supposed to be!The transponder is attached to your harness, powered by a 12v battery carried in the harness pocket and an aerial mounted on the frame. You need to carry an airband radio to communicate with the respective airport. You will also have to submit a flight plan, informing ATC of all your intentions such as flight time, route and altitude. A bit of effort and additional expense is now required but you can recover these costs through sponsorship. Sponsorship is a great way of flying for free. Depending on the deal, the client either purchases the entire set up, or pays for the wing. A paramotor and canopy costs around R30 000 new, and R20 000 second hand. Adding logos and lettering will cost another R1 500. A wing costs around R8 000 new and R4 000 second hand. With a sponsored deal, you are then contracted to fly at specific events or on and off throughout the day, either for a fee or as part of your obligation. As mentioned this may be in designated areas and you may need additional equipment. Because of the impact and uniqueness, a few short flights throughout the day seem to be far more effective than one or two long hauls. If the client pays for just the wing or the branding, the deal is different. What you need to do is to provide them with a list of prospective locations that obviously will provide exposure such as beach events, running, cycling races and gatherings, or even an undertaking to spend an agreed amount of time every month orbiting over a shopping centre. This is a less stressful and more pleasant way of obtaing a free set up. As far as the client is concerned, the cost of the equipment and promotion is tax deductible as it is a form of advertising. Some people have also attached their own company logo or name to their wing and made the entire set-up tax deductible. To create an unforgettable impact, attach an orange smoke canister with a steel cable (not rope as it will burn through this in seconds) to the frame of your set-up. Once in the air, crack the seal and let it hang below. In seconds vast plumes of coloured smoke will be emitted. Bear in mind this will drift with the wind so avoid flying upwind of blocks of flats. Remember too that, like the banner, the steel cable is hanging below your feet and you will need to cut the engine before landing. If you don't do this, the canister hits the ground before your feet do and jumps back into the spinning prop. So there you have it. Not being able to afford motorised paragliding is certainly no excuse for not flying.

A White Man's fallen from the Sky
Sunday Tribune

In a rural school on the shores of Lake Malawi a teacher was writing on the blackboard when one of his pupils burst out: "A white man's fallen from the sky!" This was the typical reaction from the hordes of villagers wherever Steve Camp and Dave Briggs of KwaZulu Natal landed their powered paragliders during the aerial odyssey from the top of Lake Malawi to Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls which ended last Sunday. Not so typical was the reaction from the game guards in a Tanzanian park who held them for four hours and fined them US$30 for flying over the national park without permission. The two men are members of Durban's Skytribe Paragliding Club and originally intended to fly from Mt Kilimanjaro to Cape Town. Faxes and phone calls flew between the countries they intended to fly over to get the necessary permission. Said Camp: "We both enjoy adventure airsports like parachuting and paragliding and powered paragliding seemed a natural progression. "Dave manufactures motors which enable you to take off without going to the top of a hill, which obviously opens up new horizons." They set off with friend Derek Crous as back-up driver and refueller and started at the top of Lake Malawi. "The motors are 210cc and are strapped to our backs," said Camp. "They're like a little lawnmower with a pull start and a five-litre tank with a range of about 30kilometres. Sometimes we overestimated things, ran out of fuel and had to glide in search of a landing spot. "Cross-country gliding is fairly difficult. Weather conditions can change suddenly and you can get into very strong thermals. We averaged a height of about one kilometre but sometimes flew a lot lower."We felt like the Pied Piper".

 

 

 

Every time we stopped we were swamped by hundreds of locals who'd never seen anything like it. We generally tried to land on roads but once landed in a schoolyard where all the pupils came running out. "Just as we were taking off from one road outside Arusha in Tanzania we were arrested by game guards who said we were in a national park and didn't have permission. We hadn't realised this.""They held us for four hours and then fined us about US$30." The cherry on the top was a flight at 300m over the "Smoke that Thunders", Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls where bemused Air Traffic Control Authorities said they didn't know what a paraglider was. They called us the kamikaze pilots," he said.

 
Bluff man shoots 'peeping' paragliders
Daily News

Two paragliders flying over a stretch of beach on the Bluff have been shot at with a catapult by an irate resident, accusing them of being "peeping toms." The resident allegedly swore at them and threatened to shoot them with his firearm he was brandishing. Paragliders Dave Briggs owner of Sky Tribe paragliding school, and Pete Lategan were flying at about 30 m above the edge of Marine Drive when a man assailed them with a sling shot. One of the shots hit Mr. Lategan on his helmet. "I shouted to the man that he was crazy to act the way he was but he got angrier. That's when I told my partner we should get out of there fast. The man had a gun and was frantically waving it at us. "We landed on a piece of ground about 2.5 km away when suddenly a BMW pulled up and an angry man with a foreign accent rushed toward me. I was still strapped to my seatbelt when he lunged at me. I hit him hard and he fell. He got up and ran to his car, swearing and shouting abuse," Mr. Lategan said. He has laid an assault charge and one of pointing a firearm. A senior Brighton Beach Policeman confirmed the incident. He said statements were being taken from both parties after which they would be presented to the senior prosecutor for his decision. Last week, residents of Marine Drive accused the paragliders of invading their privacy. They are busy engaging an attorney too, in a bid to legally keep paragliders out of the area. Mr. Lategan denies the Peeping Tom allegation. "There is no time to enjoy the view when you are flying at 30 metres because your concentration level has to be very high to keep afloat and avoid plunging to the ground." Asked whether he would continue flying in the area, Mr Lategan said: "Definitely. We never fly over people's property in terms of the regulations."

 
Hang-glider crash riddle
The Mercury

If anyone has lost a hang-glider after it crashed into a cliff on Sunday afternoon north of Pinetown, they may reclaim it from the police search and rescue unit. This is the message from Sgt Try Allison, who responded to a report claiming that a pilot was stuck in his hang-glider after it had crashed. At the scene, policemen found no trace of the pilot. Anyone with information regarding the matter may telephone Sgt. Allison at XXX-XXXX.

Duo to try African Odyssey in Paragliders
Sunday Times

Walking from the heart of East Africa to the tip of the continent is a daunting task, but anyone flying a powered paraglider from Mount Kilimanjaro to Cape Town will need to set a new world record to succeed. "That's exactly what we intend to do, said Steve Camp (34). We think it will take us around 35 to 40 days to achieve it.: Camp and team mate Dave Briggs will attempt to fly their 210cc solo-engine powered paragliders from the base of Africa's highest mountain via Victoria Falls to the "Mother City". Camp who is the training and education manager at Umgeni Water, and Briggs - a biochemist - are part of the Fiat Uno African Powered Paraglider Expedition. Camp will drive with his ground crew chief, Derek Crouws, to Kilimanjaro, and then Camp and Briggs will start their attempt on the world's powered paragliding endurance record in a series of long hops due to the limitations imposed by the small fuel tanks.

Close Encounter
The Independant on Sunday

CLOSE ENCOUNTER The Independent on Saturday Jet skier Rob Smith and paraglider Dave Briggs meet off the Durban beachfront in a publicity stunt for the Extreme Sports Expo at the Point Waterfront. The expo forms part of the Easter Affair

Hang-gliders are accused of invading privacy
Southland Sun

Pete Lategan, an experienced paraglider sustained a head injury when he was shot at with a catapult. This followed threats by a Marine Drive resident. Pete Lategan and Dave Briggs were flying about 30-metres above residential property in Marine Drive, when a resident allegedly shouted obscenities and shot a projectile at them. The third shot hit Mr. Lategan on the head. The resident followed the paragliders when they decided to leave, after he threatened them with a firearm. They landed a few metres away and were allegedly accosted by the man. "A BMW pulled up shortly after we landed and an angry man with a foreign accent rushed towards me. I was still strapped to my seat when he lunged at me. I hit him hard and he fell. ASSAULT "He then got up and ran to his car, swearing and shouting abuse," said Mr. Lategan, who has laid a charge of assault and one of pointing a firearm, against the man. Neighbours witnessed the incident. Residents on Marine Drive have long considered the nuisance of paragliders and hand gliders an invasion of their privacy. Marine Drive home owner, Mr. Bernard Houdet, is spearheading the resident's campaign to have something done about the paragliders and hang gliders. We cannot go on accepting this infringements of our rights," said Mr. Houdet. He said he has received more than 100 complaints in the last week, from upset neighbours who feel invaded by the constant bother of paragliders "peeping into our backyards." A petition has been drawn up and will be available for signatures shortly, at Katz Coffee Shop, Bluff Pick 'n Pay Centre. Legal sanction has been sought by residents, to have hand-gliders and paragliders banned from using the area, and a restraining order is being considered. Don Hunter, chairman of the South African Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association (SAHPA), is incensed at what he sees as "paranoia" on the part of the residents. "We enjoy this sport purely because we love flying," Mr. Hunter said. It is a quiet, beautiful, tranquil sport undertaken by professional people." He has slammed last week's incident as "absurd", stating that 'paragliders are not peeping toms out looking for suspicious sights.' He said problems between residents and the paragliders go back about 25 years, only recently having reached a climax. "Residents clearly have no rights in terms of air-space, as all air control regulations are met by members of the club," said Mr. Hunter. "The air traffic controller (ATC) at Durban International Airport is notified when gliders will be in the air, and redirects air traffic away from the zone, Mr. Hunter said. The club operates under a valid licensing permit. Following last week's incident the club is considering an application for a court-interdict against residents. A recent survey undertaken by the SAHPA, in the area, showed the majority of residents enjoy the gliders, according to Mr. Hunter. HEIGHT A compromise, including instituting a minimum flight height of 50 - 100 metres above the residential property by SAHPA, but this has not been accepted. "I personally contacted Col Wilkens, officer commanding of the recce base, for permission to use air space over his unit, as an alternative. This has been denied, due to the area being a security zone, with a shooting range on the base which would pose a threat to the hang-gliders' safety," said Mr. Hunter. "An amicable solution is being sought, in conjunction with the residents, but we have no option but to continue using facilities on the Bluff." Alternative sights, including Umdloti, Shongweni, Wyebank and Bulwer have been looked into, but are not conducive to paragliding and hang-gliding, because of the adverse wind conditions and rough terrain in some of these areas. Mr. Hunter said 70 percent of the paragliders and hang-gliders in Durban, launch from a site at Bulwer. "Legally residents have no right in respect of the airspace above their property. Although Marine Drive residents, because of their prime position, are afforded stunning views, they have no exclusive rights to these views," said Mr. Hunter. "It is there for all to enjoy."Mr Hunter said the incessant noise which emanates from barking dogs is a problem to gliders. Gliders require a good deal of concentration which is affected by distractions. Incidences involving residents and pilots amount to three reported cases in four years.

 

DEFYING GRAVITY
ADVENTURE ZONE

Paragliding is the easiest and safest form of flight. Not to be confused with parasailing (behind a boat) paragliding involves flying off elevated areas such as hills of varying heights, using efficient aerofoil type "parachute." The world record set in S.A. now stands at over 300km. The sport is a must for any modern day Adrenaline Junkie. Imagine spending a relaxing weekend with your feet off the ground? Sky Tribe is the largest registered Paragliding school in South Africa, and is run by Dave Briggs who offers introductory courses for those eager to try out for the first time. Courses are run in the Durban area with monthly trips up to the Bulwer and Drakensburg areas. Most beginners prefer to complete the 25 initial flights required before obtaining an international licence, and then spend a weekend away flying. Also available is complete backup and retail of all accessories available. From paragliders to helmets and various others to name a few. Courses can be arranged at any venue should numbers permit. Sky Tribe has also introduced a novel idea of advertising in the air, by means of a motorised Paraglider. (as seen in the attached photo.) They will manufacture a custom canopy with your name, logo, and telephone number underneath. Developed from the idea of banner towing over the beachfronts, their idea is a lot cheaper and creates much more of a spectacle wherever it flies. Keep an eye in the sky for Sky Tribe, they might be watching you from above. The course itself starts with a low pressure learning system where most of the first day is spent on flat ground learning the basics of canopy control, and aerodynamics. Gradually students, as confidence progresses, get higher and higher until they are flying on their own. Should someone take a little longer to pick up the basics, a tandem flight with the instructor is then necessary, until such time as the student is confident enough to fly on their own. There is no time limit on the course, and it can also be done on a part time basis. Sky Tribe offers a variety of options ranging from tandem flights, standard paragliding through to motorised paragliding and microlighting. Intro Courses You are introduced to the basics of flight (theory and practical) and you will experience 10 flights from varying heights. This is upgradable to the full license course, should you wish to attain the international licence Tandem Flights You will experience an actual take off with a S.A.P.H.A. Natal instructor and glide around the sky for a while. Ideal for those with a few hours to spare.

Powered Paragliding

Unpack your car - unroll your glider and a few minutes later you are airborne. The beauty of powered paragliding allows one to take off from level ground such as beaches, fields or even your own doorstep and experience the freedom of South Africa's vast and alluring skies. Powered paragliders, which are probably the world's smallest aircraft arrived in this country around eight years ago out of a need to eliminate long walks up mountains to take-off areas. Today, with powered paragliding, there are no more long waits on top of mountains for the correct wind, no more runways or re-examinations for licenses. Pilots are now able to launch even if wind is non-existent and the canopy control is exactly the same as in paragliding. Squeezing the hand-held accelerator, which is strapped to your hand (squeeze to go up, release to come down), regulates height. If the engine dies for some reason while in the air, one simply glides down as a paraglider would. Take-off distances may be as little as a few feet and landing usually is no harder than stepping off a step. Flying speed will depend on the type of canopy being used and the weather, since one is flying either with or against the wind. If you are flying against the wind, you may find yourself flying at walking pace, however flying with the wind, speeds in excess of 80kmph may be obtained. Typical forward speeds are around 30-40 kmph making this one of the safest forms of aviation around. Powered paragliding compliments conventional paragliding very well. Usually your existing paraglider may be used by simply clipping in onto the backpack - which holds a small propeller and engine - pulling the canopy and squeezing the accelerator. Powered paragliders consist of a flexible wing or 'parachute' which is slightly different from regular parachutes in material, and overall design. Paragliders are in essence long and thin in shape, while parachutes are fairly square. The backpack or motorised part of the paramotor, consists of a propeller attached to the engine, which in turn is mounted onto a cage, which holds the seat the pilot sits in. In powered paragliding, the propeller's primary function is to regulate height, and once the chute is connected to the backpack the pilot has only three controls: the accelerator to ascend or descend and two toggles connected to the canopy. Pull the right toggle to go right and the left toggle for left - and that's it. The type of engine a paraglider will use depends on the pilot's weight and will vary from 100cc to 312cc, with complete overall and kit weights between 15kgs to 30kgs. Once flying however, all the weight is taken up by the canopy and no weight is felt by the pilot - so even tiny women may master this sport quite easily! Tandem or duel flying with a passenger may be undertaken, with the passenger strapped on in front of the pilot. A bigger canopy is needed and the take off distance may be slightly longer. Usually between 6 - 10 litres of fuel is carried (normal pump gas and two stroke oil) and depending on the amount of throttle application, between one and two and a half hours of flying time is possible. Powered paragliding allows one to experience the reality of true flight. Once a thermal (rising hot air) has been located the engine may be terminated (and restarted later) or left on idle. Providing one utilises these thermals, it is possible to travel a few hundred kilometres (the world record stands at over 600kms without landing). Flying may be undertaken at a constant one metre off the ground or heights of a few thousand may be attained. Rated powered paragliding instructors undertake training, and students are usually in the air within a day or two.

Second hand units vary from R10 000 to R16 000 while new units start at R19 000.

New canopies are in the region of R8 000 while good second hand ones are in the region of R4 000.

Not bad for your own portable air-craft that fits in the boot of your car!

POWERED PARAGLIDING
Insanity or pure unadulterated pleasure?

You've heard about them - those lunatics that strap an engine and a propeller on their back, attach a parachute and launch themselves off the ground, and within a few steps are flying above the ground. So, you think that they have a death wish.

As with any sport safety is dependant on attitude and familiarity with one's limits and those of the environment. if one is irresponsible and flying beyond one's means, you will probably die. powered Paragliding however is certainly one of, if not, the safest form of aviation known. The potential problem with conventional flying stems from the problem of engine failure, this in itself is not serious if there are places to land, however the risk factor is usually proportionate to the speed of the aircraft. In other words, a high airspeed aircraft requires speed to remain in the air, and hence speed to land safely. This in return dictates a longer landing area, which is usually not all that accessible in times of emergencies. With powered paragliders, the true airspeed varies between 25 and 60 km/ph. At this speed one can in all reality, crash land even downwind and usually still walk away. If the engine stops you may even land in someone's backyard or even continue flying as a paraglider. Therefore, engine failure here is not a big deal.

The great safety feature is in itself a subtle disadvantage. When wind picks up, one proceeds backwards fairly quickly. (In other words - because you are flying so slowly one cannot penetrate into any significant wind.) Higher speed aircraft are able to fly in higher winds in comparison to powered chutes. Flying downwind will certainly obtain you distance, however bear in mind a recovery driver is probably a good idea else you will be hitching a ride home.

So, what really can go wrong with these portable aircrafts that fit in the boot of your car?

Well remember, as with any parachute or paraglider, there is only air within the wing above your head. Air is not constantly flowing in and out of the wing. Once inflated by the air blowing in, this tends to stagnate and forms an inflatable wing above your head. In severe turbulence however (a situation you should not get yourself in), this may become expelled and part of your chute collapses. This will either re-open by itself or by following certain procedures, the pilot will induce a re-opening. So with a flexi-wing, stay away from turbulence and choose your flying sites and times well. (Still early and evening flights will usually be incredibly calm. Middle of the day usually involves some thermal activity - hot rising air - that is usually synonomous with turbulence. However, with a bit of practice this rising air may be used to obtain vast height gains).

The other major area of any worthwhile interest involving caution revolves around that aeodynamic chunk of spinning wood behind your back. Although it is safely hidden within a cage, the odd finger has been lost through careless practice. Again, if correct briefing and operating procedures are adhered to, there should be no major mishaps. One sometimes does trip during take-off or one forgets to terminate the engine on landing, resulting in a chipped or broken propeller. This can usually be fixed easily with quick set epoxy, resin or body filler. Occasionally while pulling up the canopy or while deflating it, due to casual operating procedures the spinning prop may snag a line. Bearing in mind that each line may have a breaking strain of between 80 and 170 kilograms they may or may not completely break. Now, depending on the type of glider in use it is usually possible to either tie them back together (following certain procedures of course) or splice in a seperate line, measuring this against the same corresponding line on the opposite side.

Potential problems may also stem from incorrect equipment. Although your existing paraglider may usually be used, it is a good idea to try to remain within the weight specifications. Remember you are now adding between 20 and 30 extra kilograms. If the pilot is under the recommended weight range, you will find that your sink rate will be quite appealing, however the glide ratio (the distance you will be glide forward - expressed in metres forward in relation to metres down) will be poor and vice versa. A light pilot will possibly experience slightly more wing tucks due to the light wing loading. I personally prefer a slightly larger glider meaning that the forward speed may be less. However, the amount of accelerator used to remain airborne is also reduced as one is sinking at a slower rate.

There are also many options when choosing an engine set-up. Size and pitch of prop, reduction ratios are all considerations. Depending on the design, heavier pilot have the advantage of changing the exhaust set up to an expansion box type. This will increase the horsepower and hence the thrust. Ceratain modifications are available that allow easier starting including electric starts. Barrels, inlet and outlet ports may be modified to create more efficient engine operations. An underpowered engine will mean your take-off distance will be longer than usual, especially when flying from elevated take-off areas. This in turn will either mean you may not clear obstacles in front of you or not become airborne at all. Conversely, too much power may become potentially damaging. Light pilots may become completely spun around by numerous "turning" effects resulting from the rotating prop. If your motor is over-powered just take care. Ease the power on slowly on take-off and be aware of your direction of run in relation to the direction of canopy flight.

Now bearing in mind that former office chair executives have developed compulsive tendencies, marriages have disintergrated, duties have been abandoned and assets have been sold to cater for this magnificent for of micro flight, one really must ask yourself "Are you scared or just afraid to live?" Remember that at all times, powered paragliding can be deceptively easy, and that air can be very treacherous in its uglier moods. To enjoy powered paragliding to the full, one needs some of the "many" qualities which so many women possess and which so many men lack and which has nothing to do with macho-ism. Willingness to learn, think, a cool head, the ability to pass up a flight if conditions are risky and at least some familiarity and sympathy with nature is always a good idea.

Line Shrinkage & Incorrect Line Length
Depending on your line composition, this may or may not concern you. Nowadays paraglider lines are usually composed of minimum shrinkage composition however it is a good idea to be aware of the implications or check the line lengths, especially the rear ones (especially if you are flying in moist, humid coastal conditions) . A typical example of a glider with shortened rear lines is difficulty in inflating, especially under forward start conditions. I was having a problem once attempting to inflate my tandem wing that had not been used for near on a year. The next day we measured and stretched the lines, noting around four center meters of shinkage . So what does rear line shrinkage mean??
Well firstly many manufacturers are lengthening the rear risers and slightly shortening the front risers to compensate for the increased angle of attack created by the pendulum motion of adding power on motorised paragliders. It is extremely important not to undertake any such procedure unless qualified to do so. By shorttening the rear lines one is effectively increasing the angle of attack which in turn takes the glider closer to the critical angle (the angle at which it stalls)

Here is an example of what exactly may happen should your lines be drastically shortened. I was test flying a new glider that flew quite well under non powered conditions, as there is no drastic change in the angle of attack. I had just taken off and undertaken what certainly was no radical powered turn when I felt the wing start to spin. I immediately came off the power and released the toggel. The glider then progressed into a parachutal stall. Realizing I was about to hit the ground with an extra 30 kg`s I attempted to drag the wing using power away from the edge where there was more height to play with. Looking back this probably worsened things. The way out of a parachutal stall is to decrease the angle of attack (and not increase it) by either pushing on the speed bar or gently on the front risers and or releasing the trims. Anyway there was not enough height and I hit the ground. I immediately attempted to stand up and realized this was impossible. Looking downI was amazed to see the under neath of my foot looking back at me and the tibia(the lower leg bone)which had disjointedfrom the ankle joint, had come out the side of my leg and now was firmly implanted into the ground (which had occured as I tried to stand up). The fibula (the other lower leg bone) had snapped under the impact. The veins and arteries had also balooned out where looking as if they were about to explode. Not managing to secure a chopper I was loaded into the back of by van and transported over a dirt track while one of my mates held the ankel and leg together which was attempting to disjoint it`s self from each other over every bump. Back on the hill life was returning to normal after a bout of nausea, fainting and chain smoking events. This was hurried along by a visit to the local pub before returning to the scene, where the remains of my lower leg, now looking like a piece of leather where found. Well a plate with 6 screws and a number inside the ankle joint plus a 20 cm skin graft later I`m waiting to see the out come.

LETS LOOK BRIEFLY AT WHY THIS OCCURED??

With the rear lines being shortened, as one powers into a turn you are already entering under an unusually high angle of attack (from the short lines and the pendulum motion of the engine). Added to this the one sides angle of attack is being increased even more, due to the turn which resulted in the one side stalling(and stopping flying). With the other side flying around this stalled side, a negative spin was induced, with massive height loss.

Article appearing in “Money standard”- A First national bank publication.

You get flying doctors- so why not flying advertisers? Trained biochemist Dave Briggs had been paragliding for 13 years when he decided to do something different. While most people turn to adventure sport to escape the daily grind, adventure sport IS his daily grind. Well, perhaps thats not quite the right terminology for the sound of the motorized paraglider as Dave takes off to earn his living. Based in Durban, Dave met up with the concept of advertising using motorized paragliders while in Australia in 1992.

Clients pay per hour or a lump sum for a wing to be branded with their company logo, and the paraglider takes to the sky at 5 km an hour. It`s a particularly effective form of sky advertising says Dave, because of the slow speeds. instead of trailing a banner past people as fast as airplanes do, the paraglider gives people plenty of opportunity to take it in.

Despite its effectiveness, people are afraid of change and the demand for his services is not as big as it could be, says Dave. “The potential is huge, but this fantastically simple concept needs more marketing”. The start up costs are not crippling. R24000 for the motorized part (5l of fuel and hour) and it will cost a client around R8000 to “buy” a wing.. Although Dave does not fly every day, he does get regular monthly and weeklybookings, usually from corporations seeking advertising at particular events.

His customers include Vodacom, Gunston, Coca-Cola and Yamaha and he also has branded wings from Suburban Roofing and Hyperama. “I mainly deal with big corporate firms because they can afford to take the chance and carry the cost of a potential mistake”.

The risks?. “If you fly into turbulence, you become a meteorological nightmare”, says Dave. Plus there`s all the red tape. “I have to ask the aviation authorities for ‘air space’. And then there`s power lines, big ocean waves, and even stray missiles from the odd gun.”. But when you can spend each day airborne, barefoot and in a pair of shorts, the risks are worth it says Dave.

IS IT STILL SAFE TO FLY?

A father's determination to get to the bottom of his son's death led to the uncovering of a pilot-licence scam that has sent shock waves through the travel industry.
Excepts from the Fair Lady (August 2, 2000) article.


Spirits were high among the nine passengers of a small Piper Chieftain aircraft as it taxied on to the runway at Germiston's Rand Airport, just after dawn one Monday in late December. The energetic young people - all employed by a hip Johannesburg computer company - were off on one of their last weekly work stints in Namibia for the year. Life, like the brightly lit runway, was stretched out before them, full of hope and promise.

Less than two minutes later, they were all dead. In South Africa's worst air crash since the infamous Helderberg disaster, the aircraft plummeted and burst into flames as it crashed shortly after take-off. This was the start of a chain of events that led to the uncovering of tragic similarities in the facts surrounding the Germiston crash and what is potentially the worst scandal ever to hit South African aviation. Fresh out of the airforce, Kobus had told his father just before the Mozambique trip that he was uncomfortable at being asked to fix an aircraft that he, although competent, was not technically licensed to repair. But he was afraid of losing his job if he refused. Civilian life takes some getting used to, explains Manie, a seasoned pilot who was a senior policeman for many years before starting a construction business. "I'm a reservist with a police rescue unit and I was on my way to help a drowning person, so I asked my son to wait. Half-an-hour later, he phoned me back and said, "Pa, the pilot and the others want to go now. Don't worry, I'll be back on Saturday." Kobus died that Sunday, April 2, after the return flight had been delayed. The aircraf in which he had been traveling crashed 600m from the runway. Against the airport's regulations, Kobus and the pilot were traveling at night. Manie went to fetch his son's body in Mozambique. When he learnt that the plane had gone down 1 minute 32 seconds after take-off, he knew something was wrong and decided to bring the plane back to South Africa at great cost, for further inspection. "Either the aircraft or the pilot had a problem." While investigating, Manie noticed striking similarities between the East and accident and the one in which Kobus had been killed - including that the company Flightline Charter Services was linked to both. As he put his finely honed detective instincts to work, Manie stumbled on evidence that pilots were flying passengers around the world without proper licences. One pilot, Louis Maloma, confessed that he had bought an exam paper from a corrupt official. He needed to pass the qualifying exam for the most senior flying licence, which would entitle him to become a captain for a commercial airline. The aviation licensing system is tiered - the more passengers an aircraft carries, the more skilled its pilots and engineers need to be. And they have to pass stringent practical and theoretical tests as they advance to bigger aircraft. Manie has compiled a damning 700 page dossier about the whole affair. He has enlisted the help of an attorney in his fight to make those who are directly or indirectly responsible for the death of his son and other 11 young people pay and has laid charges with the police, relating to fraud, corruption and contraventions of the civil aviation laws. At least 8 people have been arrested in connection with fraudulently acquired license including 3 SAA pilots and an SA Airlink pilot. Others facing further investigation or charges are key people in the CAA. More arrests are expected. Pilots flying in neighbouring countries - at least 2 will be arrested if they land on South African soil. Among the claims being investigated by police and an industry panel of inquiry are that:

Pilots have been buying exam papers and cheating to obtain flying licences.

CAA chief Trevor Abrahams's qualifications are not above board.

The CAA has not checked on aircraft maintenance standards for at least 2 years.

Dealing in pilot's licences has been going on for several years.

By some accounts, CAA records are in a shocking state: a number of pilots with proper qualifications are not registered as having them, while others have been credited with extra qualifications. The latest revelations have sent shock waves through the travel industry and have sparked fears that it's no longer safe to fly a southern African airline. So far, the local airline industry has managed to avert a passenger boycott or attract international controversy. SAA has attempted to allay fears that it's passengers have been, or are, in jeopardy by saying the arrested pilots have not been in command of planes. The South African Airline Pilots Association (Saapa) is adamant that passengers of major airlines are in safe hands. It's spokesman, Oliver Stratford says, "We're concerned about these allegations against our members. We'll defend and support them and will continue to do so, unless they're found guilty. There never was a safety risk at SAA. It's a multi-crew environment. Pilots undergo practical tests at least twice a year. Besides, he says, the safety regulations of airlines are more stringent than those required by the CAA. Says CAA spokesman Jackie Mfeka, "It's for the public to decide whether they should be concerned or not. I believe we're doing something about all this. Whether it's enough is a matter of opinion. Airline safety consultant Graham Rochat says, "Compare the licences these pilots bought with a heavy-duty motor vehicle licence. These pilots had heavy duty licences for vehicles they had not yet driven." He adds he would happily fly with reputable carriers but would definitely not fly on a charter or smaller aircraft. 'Youngsters are flying the smaller aircraft. They have less experience. I would not fly with a pilot who's just got his licence. On an SAA aircraft, for example, there's emphasis on the weight and balance and the way it's packed. You can generally forget this attention on a smaller aircraft. The government is taking the issue seriously. Police manpower and money have been thrown at the case. Minister of Transport Dullah Omar has called in the National Intelligence Service to probe the matter. He also asked the world's foremost aviation authority, the Montreal based International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to return to South Africa to help untangle the web of deceit. The ICAO apparently failed to pick up irregularities when it 'audited' the CAA that December. Also taking this matter seriously is Miles van der Molen, the chief executive officer of Flightline Charter Services, whose plane went down at Rand Airport. He says he is no longer prepared to undertake air travel unless he's flying himself around. Even his own friends - the two dead pilots who worked for him - deceived him, he says. The CAA has suspended Flightline Charter Cervices' operating licence. Marco Granelli, who lost his younger sister, Nicola, in the Rand Airport crash believes travelers should be concerned. 'There are pilots out there with other people's lives in their hands. Things can go wrong.' So far all the people implicated in this scandal should be considered innocent until they are found guilty in court. However if they are found guilty of fraudulently acquiring their licences, they should be charged with the murder of all those who died. Until all the facts have been disclosed , a question mark will linger over the safety of flying in South Africa. It will take some time, possibly years for the full extent of the aviation scandal to become known. Police have to complete their investigation and take their case to court - often a lengthy process..........

REMAINS OF AN IVORY SMUGGLING BOAT ALSO FOUND IN DEEP WATER
DIVER DISCOVERS MORE SUNKEN TREASURE

Picture appearing in the Daily News December 8, 1995

A diving instructor discovers several wrecks near the spice island on the African coast, writes Ismail Suda from the Daily News.

A Durban scuba diver who spent several months on contract in the spice island of Zanzibar has returned home with small treasures removed from the wreck of a British warship sunk by a German destroyer during World War 2. Mr David Briggs of Universal Adventure Sports, was in Zanzibar working as a diving instructor when he reasised there were more wrecks that he thought. He found wrecks in water between 12m and 30m deep. "Some of the wrecks that could be reached were from a British destroyer sunk by a German warship while travelling up the East African coast". He found found artifacts like brass locks, ammunition boxes, bullets, shells and explosive warheads scattered over the sea bed, he said. When he dived to the wreck of the british destroyer he found artifacts such as old brass locks, cannon shells and even a brass shaving stick, still with the original shaving soap intact inside.

A wreck of another British destroyer lies in about 15m of water. The ship was involved in the seige of Zanzibar, said to be the shortest war in history. "The remains of an ivory smuggling boat was also located". The boat collided with a local dhow whilst trying to leave port in the middle of the night and sunk with a full load of ivory in about 19m of water. Mr Briggs said although he dived to the bottom he could not locate the ivory as the dhow was badly srushed and hige pieces of the vessel blocked access points.

Four years ago, Mr Briggs said a large container ship carrying a consignment of Toyota Cressida cars apparently sank in waters ranging from between 30m and 80m deep. The ship collided with another container ship. One sank while the other limped to port. He got this imformation from a local fisherman who saw the vessel sinking.

More artifacts, Bullets, pottery and locks.



Bullets, Shells and Locks


The original Shaving Stick from Colgate New York,still intact with frangranted shaving soap inside.

 

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Make your own Syphon Shaker.

D.I.Y. Plans to manufacture your own Syphon Shaker.
A new revolution in petrol / liquid syphoning
No more spillage or funnels
no more mouths full of petrol,
no more spontaneous combustion.


 

 

 

 

Featured
Product

 

It's not just about Madness

Dave Briggs, a legend among enthusiasts of extreme events in South Africa. It's not just about madness is a rollicking account of various exploits, sometimes hilarious, sometimes hair-raising, told in episodic, campfire-tales style, to bring- as he puts it- some fun into our lives, while it also asks and answers, the question "Why?" So fasten your seat belt and enjoy the raw energy of a sometimes bumpy ride with a pilot who is equally ready to face the challenge of the mighty Colorado River as to express his own frank views on the world he sees around him.


 

 

 

 

 

Featured
Product


An Insight into Powered Paragliding.

by David Briggs

Now available on disc and printable from most home PCs. With every purchase of this book you receive a free SkyTribe video.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured
Product

 



Assemble your own Full Face Helmet.

(DVD)

Customized helmets for BMX, motor bikes, paragliding and hang gliding among many more uses. A step by step guide on how to assemble your own helmet designed for you. All templates available as printouts. We include a complete full colour guide to making your own syphon shaker with each purchase.

 

 


 
Copyright 2002 Skytribe - Developed by Insynch Solutions
 

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