Monday, 10 April 2006
Bluffers Guide To: How to fake being a Fly Boy
Photo and article by Jacques Marais
Let’s face it, Biggles sort of cocked up the flying ace image for a while, but since Top Gun every guy wants to be a fly-boy again. Thing is, on a rand budget, your chances of buying an F1 Tomcat are as remote as Bafana-Bafana holding aloft the World Cup in 2010. So here’s Plan B; for as little as R30 000, you can win friends and influence people by performing death-defying stunts with your very own hang glider.
Ask the Pro:
If you ask me, the man to speak to is Mister Extreme himself. Anton Brown is not only a hang glider of note, but has dabbled in rock climbing, super-bikes and various other risky pastimes. As one of SA’s foremost gliders, he is undoubtedly on top of his game. Says Anton, “If you want to be a hang glider, you need to identify with this joke … How do you know there’s a hang glider at your party? He will tell you!” Another free tip? “You know what to drink if you wanna get wiiings”.
Let’s start with the underwear: good old Jockeys are way cool if you end up in hospital, and always get a thumbs up from the nurses. A rad pair of baggies will protect your knees when landing, but don’t get them caught in the zipper of the harness after take-off. Add a Tee with a foreign language slogan and an image of a hang glider, and slip on a pair of Nike “Air” Pegasus to keep your feet comfy. Finish it off with a pair of Oakleys and a bumper sticker on you 4x4 that says, “Hung like a hang Glider pilot”.
First off, you need a hot ship, and you can’t beat a Topless (with no top rigging, you now have a sleek wing ready to carve up the sky). Next up is your harness; although you’ll end up looking like Flip, the grasshopper, you’ll at least be super-aerodynamic. Stow pockets will also hold key equipment, including a parachute (if things go pear-shaped) and a drogue chute for landing in tight spots. A carbon-fibre, purpose-built helmet, GPS and Variometer with built in barograph is mandatory for scoring in comps.
Talk the Walk:
Drop the sprogs: Mention this around glider pilots for instant respect – all about tweaking the reflex and washout adjustment to up your glider speed.
Turkeying: You didn’t get up and had to land in a drop-out field aptly named the ‘Turkey Patch’.
Sled Ride (or Top-to-Bottom): Describes a flight that ended up in the ‘Turkey Patch’.
Blew a take-off: This would have hurt - if you’re around to talk about it, you’d have the scars to prove it.
Loops, spins and spirals: Aerobatic stunts resulting in many a complimentary beer from admiring peers.
Cool Moves: How to assess flying conditions:
You might not be a fly-boy yet, but you could fake it by looking knowledgeable about conditions on the day. When is the right time to take-off, when to leave a thermal, choosing a route with maximum lift, gauging the competition and flying speeds will determine success on the day. Wing it by commenting on cloud formations, wind strength and direction, time of day and the flight patterns of birds of prey.
Worst Possible Faux Pas:
Enough with the cheesy call-signs; if your handle is ‘Eagle Eye’, people ARE laughing behind your back!
Where to hang out:
After a long-distance, up-country flight in the Porterville region, the Citrusdal Hotel rocks for a swim, a few Bulls and a hamburger with attitude. If you’re out pulling aerobatic stunts, you obviously want people to see this, so touch down at La-Med in Camps Bay for an afternoon of summa styling.
Who da man?:
Manfred Rhumer: This cat from Austria is the world cross-country record holder (with a 700km, straight line flight), and is also the current hang gliding world champ.
John Heiney: He really pushed the limits in aerobatics before anyone else, and owns the world record for the most loops (over 50!) after dropping from below a balloon at serious altitude.