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  • Soaring Safari

    by admin - Posted on 2004-02-17

    In early February, while Benson airport slept under a layer of snow, I had the rare pleasure of flying an ASH-25 in hot South Africa for a week with Dick Bradley, the country’s seven-times national soaring champion.

    Soaring Safari, Dick’s operation, is outside the town of Bloemfontein, a four-hour drive south from Johannesburg. Located on a high plateau (airport elevation 4,500 feet), with average daytime temperatures around 100º F, thermals can go to 18,000 feet. Conditions were excellent, and we were able to fly every day. The group was quite international, with pilots from England, Austria, Finland, and Denmark the week I was there, their first ever American. Our day started with a 9:00 a.m. detailed weather briefing, after which the day’s tasks were set on the computer, based on the expected weather development. We flew 300-400-500 km polygons. In November-December when the clouds develop earlier in the day, 750-1,000 km tasks are common. They have an excellent fleet of high-performance gliders, and run a very professional, safe operation.