Flight of the month for December went to new pilot, Arjan de Kock, for his first XC flight at Dasklip. A really special moment for any soaring pilot. Well done!

Arjan's story:
It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m at a climbing competition in Cape Town. This is supposed to be my element but I look around the plastic walls and people that came here to compete. I feel completely un-inspired... its hot... climbing walls is a futile pursuit & I’m drained from driving countless hours from Namibia... Trying to keep face, I try engaging in this madness, but I end up wasting my time... clearly my energy was directed elsewhere!

I had made a "date" to fly Porterville with Grove and Adam on Sunday, and I was completely psyched on the idea of "big sky"!!! After many grueling heat-stroked thermal hunting flights in Namibia I was getting desperate for some known-thermal-spots... So there we were rigging on takeoff... perfect situation... two Porterville Boffs, straight West wind, cumulus popping in the sky, and a new U2!!!  Standing on takeoff, Grove & Adam gave me the complete lowdown on how to fly the spot safely, they decided to send me off first "for my safety", but most importantly as a wind dummy as they both turkey'd here last session... So I scratched and scratched but couldn't stay up and turkey'd! With the others now a tad hesitant on conditions, they waited another 45min before launching as I de-rigged in a rush!

Driving back up for another shot I was graced by the sight of them sharing a thermal after takeoff and slowly climbing up above the ridge! With such a sight set for my second launch I was amped to take off and find myself one of those elevators in the sky! Launching in a strong cycle I shot up as I ran off the ramp getting some nice height, I flew on only to find myself in a bit of a lull. Getting really really low running down the ridge I learnt one of my most valuable lessons in freeflight... get high and stay high! Luckily I hooked one from low and climbed up to a decent 2000m AGL, I was stoked! This is how it feels to ride up in a fat, multi-cored thermal!

 I scoped the ridge for the others but didn't see a spec, I was winging this one and seeing what happens, knowing the obvious route is the N7. So I climbed and sank... climbed and sank... until I was in a fat one climbing at close to 7m/s to cloud base, drifting East over the ridge! By now the sky was filled with Cumi's and I knew there was only one thing left to do... try fly to Namibia... With the wind from the NW I was not making good ground, but I pressed on, by the time I hit Citrusdal I was only 1000mAGL, doubting If I was going to see another thermal again, I pressed on to the ridge with obvious cell tower, thinking its a text book trigger. Like clockwork I flew over and found another bomb that took me to over 2000m, I spotted Grove ahead... but very low! Unsure if he had landed cause of strong winds, or running out of lift, I took out my phone and started phoning Adam...

 Having quite some troubles flying the glider with one hand and taking with another (no headset) and trying to hear something with the wind noise, I decided to just fly on and see what happened, flying toward constriction the pumping NW wind was a clear indication why Grove had landed where he did. I turned and ran back toward Grove, arriving quite high I had a massive need to urinate and nothing better to do, I found a nice mellow thermal, unzipped and had one of the best hang loose releases ever (downwind from Grove of course)!!! I dove around the sky with all the altitude I had, trying some steep turns and some pathetic attempts at wingovers. I circled down to just to spot a falcon in the field climbing up in a nice core.... I couldn't resist sharing this with him! I banked and got right in the same core, but going the opposite direction we almost connected mid air with the bird diving out at the last moment! 

 After 3hours of flying & seeing Grove on the ground I decided to pick a spot next to him on my return to earth, I came in in the most hectic turbulence I've had to put a glider down in, 25km/h winds turning over 4pm thermic air, it was a nice wrestle. Keeping wings level, I landed next to him with Adam and Bradley also in the field. 

 Another fantasy has turned into reality... I no longer dream of flying, I feel it... I've lived it!