This month's flight of the month went to Ian de Vries, for his class-winning flight at the recent Gatskop competition. Ian's story:

climbing under a cloudy sky at Dasklip (photo A. West)

So after a quite a few Rondebossie trips, and two weekends of no flying at Porterville, I was pretty fired up to fly my hang glider there.  The long range forecast looked really good the whole week, which helped build excitement, and it turned out accurate. So Saturday dawned and it looked fantastic. 103 pilots registered and a great atmosphere at Pampoenfontein, with goal being set at Eindekuil. Pilots already going down ridge by about 10:30. Eric, Grove and myself went off to Dasklip and I rigged as fast as I could with a continuous stream of paragliders flying past overhead going down the ridge. A priceless moment that will stick in memory permanently (well as long as memory lasts at least) is when one of those paragliders turned out to be my lovely partner Maylene on her second cross country ever. She cheekly called out as she flew overhead that she would see me in goal! (She did not make it but made it to bumpy which I was very impressed with). Continuing on rigging, I was testing out a pod harness, which I had tested from a hang point and seemed to fit great. However, with reserve, kit, and water it was reeeally tight but it was all I had and I wanted to fly.  So I was first up at launch (second launch ever from Dasklip) and thanks to Eric and Grove who were a great help. Wind was very cross as usual, but launched in a good cycle it felt great. Fly into a real bumpy thermal straight afterwards, and I wanted some clearance from ridge to get into that pod, so decided against working it until I was in pod. Flew straight out of it, managed to get into pod, but did not zip up. Flew back to ridge but nothing so made a decision to fly straight for gulley in front of rescue ridge where I know there is a house thermal. I had to work the gulley in front at zero lift for a bit, but slowly managed to find something more solid. Pretty soon I had some PGs with me, but flew with "very strong" intentions so they gave me some space. Unfortunately the space was usually vertical space as they easily out climbed me  :<(. I climbed out above rescue ridge and I finally got brave enough to do up my zip and try get comfortable in the harness, which I managed to some degree. I feet and knees seemed really squashed but I figured that it must be normal. Back to flying. I had already decided pre flight that I was going to take it slowly and stay up at all costs, as I wanted some airtime in the HG. I also very quickly realised that there was no way I was going to scratch in the low foot hills like I would in a PG, so I would need all height I could get. It was a light wind day with nice big cumulus, but also large areas of shadow. This meant a little strategic flying. I had a great bonus in that I had string of thermal markers in front of me in the form of danglers. With all this in mind I watched clouds and danglers down the ridge. I was now at end bit of the rescue ridge where there is a low saddle for a stretch in the ridge. Usually easy to get a thermal at end of that saddle, but now there was a whole gaggle of danglers scratching in the foothills and shade. Decided to bide my time and stay where I was in lifty areas (mostly zero) until I saw then getting up and then I would use that speed I had to cross. This worked out great, as when PG's just started to climb, I went for it and actually got there at roughly the same height as they were, in a nice thermal. After that it became a little easier to stay up, but a lot more hard work to keep glider at reasonable attitudes. I must admit that I feel a lot more comfortable in turbulence in a HG (if I have some height) than in a pg. It is not comparable though in the amount of physical work you have to do. Just before bumpy found a reasonable thermal at made it 1600m asl. PGs were still higher than me which was a little frustrating. Decided it was a good time to go flatlands and aimed to cut the corner of end of dust road - and join up with the other dust road coming from the N7, and chose a route under best looking clouds. From then on it was quite easy as over the dirt road I finally managed to climb to cloud base 2000masl. At cloud base I pulled in bar and "zoomed" towards goal.. yehaa that was a really great feeling .. eating up km at speed and not having to worry about frontals.. from then on did not need to turn and just picked route under clouds. I did go "over the falls" though for first time and then into hectic lift where it felt that I had to stuff bar to my knees at least to stop going over backwards ..but afterwards had a good laugh at myself. Arrived at Eindekuil still at 2000masl.. considered going down road to mouth of valley but was physically and mentally quite tired so decided to call it a day. Flew around town a bit trying to lose height and eventually went looking for some sink. I was still very high and decided to unzip and stretch my legs.. thank goodness I did. My feet and ankles were not asleep, they were comatose. I suddenly became very good at flying with one hand and massaging ankles with other hand until I got some feeling back. Picked a big field with PGs in and did a reasonable landing in almost no wind. Carried glider to edge of field and then lay on ground for at least 30 mins to get enough energy to derig.  It was my second flight at Dasklip, a PB in a hang glider and overall very enjoyable flight.