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Friday, October 31, 2008

Looking for a new slope challange.

I'll be the first to admit , I really like slope flying, and Volksrust as a slope is hard to beat as it has the (big five) no not the game , but ...
1. access to the top.
2. permission to use the slope.
3. several slope faces.
4. accommadation close by.
5. windy area.
So in seeking a new slope to fly it needs to fill this criteria as well as some others, such as a landing zone, and within a reasonable drive, searching the highveld hills , one struggles to find
a good site, there are a few but with problems.
On a recent business trip to Durban I spotted two varied but interesting potential sites.
Van Reenens pass, serious slope, good wind, accommodation , but landing difficult and and about the same distance as Volksrust. Its probably worth a try and next trip down I'll pack a plane or two and test it, I am sure its been flown before? Anyone been there done that, show me the t-shirt.

The guest farm at windy corner appears to be building chalets on top of the slope, if and when these become available one could fly straight off the veranda, outlandings below would be a big problem.

I could really feel the wind here as it is compressed in this valley/bowl. It could produce adrenaline flying ... of the best kind.

Second slope catching my interest also meets 3 or 4 of the (big five) accommodation is not available, close by (maybe Warden 35km away?) and permission.

What it does have is an access road to the top to service the towers, several slopes to the prevailing winds and what appears to be landing zones on google earth (27deg 29min27.51sec south and 28deg51min27.92sec east).

It is about the same height as Volksrust at about 540 to 622ft or 180/200mtrs from the surrounding flatland. It is situated north of Warden and about 178km from Johannesburg.

It's worth checking out and if anybody is travelling that way and has some time , to do a detour and see if it can work as a slope destination please check it out, it is a few km north of the Reitz/roadside offramp and a shop complex called Makiti.

I am sure huge thermals blast through here on a hot day, and this could be a great venue for soaring.


PS No I dont have a one track mind ... I occasionally also think of SEX like you.
Sorry, I retract that statement ... some only think of BEER.
Oh and Piet, please explain to Erika what is a sailplane and what is a glider.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The versatile BERG team.

The BERG cricket team in action

Another ball gets dispatched to the boundary.

Once again we had a good thermal day on the BERG field on Sunday. The day started of slightly overcastted and damp after Saturday night’s good rain. So the morning lift was slow to build up but the fresh breeze that we had soon blew away the clouds and by midday we were experiencing good lift.

Like last Sunday we had a good turn out of BERG members. My 4 year old Tsotsi (No 1) is now working overtime to help training the new members. With the condition improving as the afternoon went by, I stayed longer than I normally do and it was just amazing to see the late afternoon activities happening on the field.

Tsotsi no 1, now working over time, this time Lorain is hanging on for dear life.

Gordon arrived at around 3.45 PM and showed us his new lightweight winch that he purchased from Ricky Mitchell in Welkom.(Under 10 Kg). Also of interest was the 2 Meter Fling that Gordon flew.

Gordon's new 2 Meter fling and new wlightwight winch.

The Para-gliders men turned up and as soon as they were air born and disappeared over the horizon, their kids promptly started a local cricket game. Gordon entertained Zimmy and Wolfgang (with his J3 electric Cub), sitting in their chairs, smoking cigars passing on comments. By the time I had everything packed up and ready to go home it was 6 PM.

The Zimmy pose
only to be seen and heard
after a good landing)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can you Imagine this one on Volksrust

Now lets see if Glen from Durbs can guess this one right.
I am already one beer down but if he can't get this one right
(One guess only) then I win my beer back.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In the mean time back home

A thorn amongst the roses ( Debbie on the left and Lorain on the Right with Tony in the middle hanging on to his E-Tsotsi for dear life)

With a busy MGA calendar this year and many a weekend busy in the workshop or blown out by the wind I have neglected to go and fly with local BERG lads at the berg field.
Saturday afternoon and night brought this seasons first thunderstorms and rain and on Sunday morning the sky dawned slightly overcast but clear after the rain. More important the wind look calm. My first thought was that at last it look like a good thermal day and so it turn out. Clam in the morning and a little more windy in the afternoon.

But even more important was to see that we had a good turn out with Tony his daughter Debbie, Tony son in-law, Garth, Mark, Jason, Johan and his girlfriend Lorrain and a Group of 4 visitors that stayed until I was the last one to pack up at 3.45 PM. Even better was the fact that both Debbie and Lorrain had a turn to fly Tony’s Tsotsi and after 3 flights Lorain mastered the rudder control and with me controlling the elevator, she managed two straight in to wind (with the wings level) landings and afterwards Johan told me that club has just gain another BERG member.

(Photo above)

From Left to right Lorain, Johan and Tony and Jason in back ground left.

Flying his trusted electric Jason was also having a good time and we hope to see him a round more often.

Jason (long time no see)

I flew my Ellipse gliders and a proud Mark DeKlerk his first home build balsa and foam wing home build glider that flew really well but unfortunately crashed on his last flight after the horisonal tall plane hit his hand on the winch take of and made a half roll before in went in inverted. The wing was intact but the fuselage and tail had some damage but I am sure that Mark will be back again.

Anway it was nice to fly themal again and can only hope that we will start having more flying day's like we had on Sunday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Midday ,Outside, Bright Sun- (The Photographers Nightmare)

Picture(above) taken without flash

Picture(above) taken with Flash ( now see how that proud young mans smile just lights up!!)

Reading Derek post and particularly about the harsh condition for picture taking at midday, many a picture taken of the PSS winners revealed deep shadows over the faces of the pilots holding their models.

I had a similar experience photographing young Blake with his “ Rooi gevaar” . But I always take a look a the picture afterwards if possible to see if the basics are ok. ( This time I cloud see that there was a deep shadow over his face and immediately retook the shot with my flash setting forced to on).This has the effect to lighten the shadow on the person face but in general there is so much light available that it should not effect the exposure settings on the camera. Anyway the camera’s today takes care of the exposure so all you need to do is make sure that your flash tigers when you take the shot. Another point to remember is that this will only work as good as you flash is. So you can not stand very far away.

Failing this you can use any reflective surface like a white sheet or a foam sheet or if you have a reflective umbrella (like pro’s have) to reflect some of the light on to your subject.

I apologies if this posting is slightly of topic but we all like good ,crisp and sharp pictures when come to our models, but then again this is the Berg Blog read all about it.!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A bit more PSS and some Lizards

Group photo - all the PSS entrants on Tamatieberg VolksrustTrophy winners Piet, Herman and MikeAbove and left my best group photographs. Shooting was extremely difficult in our midday sun, bright blue sky and dull brown ground conditions. Hopefully we will have our summer clouds back soon here on the highveld.

It was great to see so many beautifully finished models out for the event. Lots of effort went in to each and every one of them and such a pity we couldn't see them fly. However, I'm sure plans are already being made to get out to Volksrust and get them airborne in December.

Impressive realism - Airliner on flypastAll foam airliner performed well in the light windNot really PSS: Norbert's flying wing and the moon (focus on the moon) late Saturday afternoon - well worth the dash to the east slope when the wind picked up

As our premier Slope Scale event is named after these reptiles, here is some interesting information on the Sungazer Lizards:

On Sunday morning we all went to Oom Louis' farm for breakfast and on the road out from the farm to the main road we were priviledged to see the Sungazers in their natural habitat. If Mike hadn't brought them to our attention, we probably wouldn't have even noticed them. These large lizards stay near their burrows and from a distance look just like sticks sticking up from the ground. On foot we managed to get about fifteen meters from them before they dashed into their burrows. I managed to get one good photo:

Sungazer Lizard in characteristic pose outside it's burrowHere is an extract from the National Museum Bloemfontein website on these fascinating reptiles:

Sungazers are a CITES species, listed in the South African Red Data Book - Reptiles and Amphibians. Sungazers are endemic to South Africa and occur mainly in the Free State Province, with smaller populations occurring in south-west Mpumalanga and a small population in north-eastern Natal. This is the largest of the Cordylus species and can grow to a total length of 376 mm.

The Sungazer burrow
The Sungazer derives its name from its habit of anterior body-up posturing, and thus raised on its forelimbs, gives the impression that it is gazing at the sun when outside of its burrow. The Afrikaans name "Ouvolk" means old person, and has most probably been used because this lizard spends considerable sitting outside its burrow in an inactive state, either thermoregulating, or waiting for passing prey. Sungazers inhabit loamy grassland and live in, often winding, self-made burrows, which may be up to nearly 4 m in length. The orientation of most burrow openings is east through to north-west. One to two young are usually born every second year and are much brighter than the adults with bright yellow and orange markings. Agriculture and development are major threats to this species.

An environmentally conscious company such as Eskom can be commended in their efforts to protect and save this species. Around 1983, the development of Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga, threatened the survival of a large number of Sungazer colonies. Eskom then put aside land for a Sungazer reserve and, with the help of the then Transvaal Directorate of Nature Conservation and the contractors, managed to remove over 1500 Sungazers from the power station site and very successfully relocate them to the new reserve.

Welcome Nicholas

B.E.R.G. has its newest and youngest member, he is Nicholas and he is 2 days old.
Warm wishes from all of us at BERG to Charl and Emma on the birth of their 1st son.
Lets hope Charl teaches him well and he flies Mode 1 .
Well Done.

J3Cub Tug for AeroTow

Just recently there has been some talk of Aero Towing and trying to find the right Tug for the job.
Well I recon this one should do the job and easily pull Mike's 8 met Discus up, no problem.
Now we only have to convince Mike.

The contact person is Chris Roets at

He is also busy with the design and building of a 1/3 scale K7 glider and is very enthusiastic about the aero towing aspect.

Wanted: Action shots at Volksrust- ETB PSS Oct feast

All foam Airbus soaring off in the light lift we had at Volksrust

If you were one of the lucky persons to took some nice action shots like Phillip Otto did and also want to see it up on the Blog front page send me a email with a low res picture file to
Please only Select one Picture of your collection. I will then select some and request you to send me the picture in hi-res.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

ETB October PSS Fest

Well at last the time came to drive down to Volksrust for the inaugural ETB PSS October fest.
We managed to get away from work on Friday at 3 PM with Mike and his family about 1 and half hours before us. We knew that we would arrive at Volksrust after 5PM and therefore did not attempt to go up the mountain for a late afternoon flight. Mike on the other hand had sufficient time to go up the mountain and managed to get a flight in on the east slope with his Jart and it so happened that we arrived at our overnight accommodation at the same time.

This meant that we were 7 in total that slept over on Friday night, and making the Saturday not so tiring have to be on the road at 6AM and to arrive on the slope at around 10 AM so you can sleep in a bit on Saturday, and arrive on the slope at 10.30 with out having to rush.

When got the top at +/- 10.30 Paul Carnall form the ETB club and Event Organizer was already there.

From then on the cars started to stream in at a steady pace and +/- 30 PSS planes went on Static display on Saturday and about 24 on Sunday.

Around midday Paul called all the pilots together for a pilots briefing. Afterwards some general flying started and then wait for the strong wind that we needed begun.

This did not happen and in fact some most of the pilots shifted over to the South Slope when the wind died down and turned south later in the afternoon.

Some really beautiful scale gliders were on display but unfortunately not many of then could fly in the light wind we had on both Saturday and Sunday and therefor the stunning trophies that Paul made at ETB had to be awarded going by static judging only.

Even so I think that the PSS Fest are hear to stay and that this event will be on the flying calendar next year.

I am sure that in the next few days you will be seeing many a report and pictures of this event on various blogs. So for now take a look at all the some of the pictures that I took.

Friday, October 10, 2008

HTL #7 White Hills

Deon and Herman on the way back from a great flightLionel starting off a round in styleSorry to interrupt all the PSS fun happening out there at the moment guys, but the HTL series goes on regardless.

On Sunday the 5th October we flew the second last leg of the HTL for 2008 at White Hills. Despite the weather being ugly dry and windy, we had a really great laid back and fun contest.

Again the MMS and ETB teams outnumbered us considerably with only Gordon and myself flying for BERG. Top three positions were Craig, Michelle and Deon with Gordon and I ending up too far down the listings to mention.

Not much more to report here, but below a few more pics from the event. Please guys, don't miss the final contest of the HTL to be held out at Heidelberg on the 7th of December. Rules will be the traditional Team Triathlon Saw-tooth rules originally devised by John Nevin. Hope to see you all there.

Geriatrix team in action - Trevor ready to launch for RodneyDeon preparing to launchHerman launching for Deon
Craig digging in on landing
Harman guiding Jason to the liftJason digging in on landingMartie catching up on some beauty sleep while the tuck shop is quiet
BERG Team in action