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My Te-Mata paramotor flights

My Te-Mata paramotor flights

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Published by Jonn Smalberg

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Published by: Jonn Smalberg on Jun 21, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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I arrived at North Havelock (30 k southof Napier), then drove to Te Mata (aregional park with a 400 m (approx 1200foot peak) where hang glider ramps anda paraglider launch site were evident.Sheer limestone cliffs. Breathtaking.Scary. Found the landing zone, anddrove down to see the return road route.Looking up at the launch site was scary.Just a short Vee-shaped indentation inthe cliff. Called the local paraglider instructor. Met him at 2 pm, cause hehad a tentative tandem customer. Whilewe waited he briefed me on the launch,winds, where to soar for lift, (and wherenot to). Naturally there was a largeaudience. I laid out the wing whilestanding on the cliff edge. Scared todeath! (Much more dramatic launch sitethan anything in Hawaii.) Reverselaunch. Raised the wing, pumped it, turnand launched to great cheers. First timeI'd been applauded on launch. I soared!Great lift working figure 8s along thecliffs. Good ridge lift, and thermals aswell. I settled in and worked the lift.(Remember -- altitude is your friend!) Iincorporated several suggestions thatDave, the instructor from Lyttleton gaveme. Then as the sea breeze waned, andthe cumulus clouds gathered I easeddown, doing a few spirals and easy "S"curves, and landed nicely in the paddock (field) near the road, packed my wing,sat on the top of the stile and watchedthe next paraglider set up. He reset hiswing numerous times before launching, but he caught more lift than I did after launch.Well now my car is back at the peak, so Ithumbed it, catching a ride with a NZPost (Office) rural carrier to the base of the park, then another ride back to the peak. Weather had changed as it alwaysdoes in NZ, and rain threatened. Didn'twant to see if my wing will fly as it fillswith rain -- so I went looking for a backpacker bed.Happy Good Friday,Thursday started overcast, but aroundnoon, the sun burst through, and Iescaped the Napier prison to fly away.After stopping in town for aMacDonalds breakfast (a rare treat) Idrove up to Te Mata. Low patches of mist scooted toward the peak from thePacific 3 miles to the east, hitting theridge at about 3/4 the height, thenaccellerating up and over. Talk about"reading" the wind. I could see it in theaction of the mist. After observing for about an hour, the low misty clouds werereplaced by sunshine, but the windremained fairly strong. I laid out mywing for launch, and almost got blownup over the mountain. So I gathered it upto lay it out on the parking lot. Hadanother chance to "read" the wind.Several spectators held the leading edgeof the wing up (that's the opening wherethe air enters the wing, becoming"trapped" by the closed trailing edge,thus forming a aerodynamic shape thatwill fly), and the trailing edge actuallywas blowing back to me! That told methat the wind blowing so strongly fromthe east and up the cliff was creating avacuum, sucking the air from the top of the cliff from the west. Interestingreading. I noticed several lulls in theeasterly winds, so, with help I laid thewing out again to launch. When the windrose, I pulled the wing up by the "A" linerisers, did an about-face, and I'm flyingstraight up and out. What a launch!! (butno cheers and applause from thisaudience). I need to sell tickets if I

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