Last week I spoke a bit about the Wingsuit BASE scene in South Africa, this week we will be looking at Speedflying. This is an extreme sport that is a combination of paragliding and base jumping, speed flyers typically take flight from a mountain peak or hillside, then fly very close to the slope as they descend down the mountain, and some even take it to the next step and do some aerobatics while flying at high speeds. Wings can reach speeds in excess of 100km/h in the hands of the top Speed Flyers but normally are flown between 35 & 70 km/h and unlike Paragliding you don't have a reserve/safety parachute if anything goes wrong.
Speedflying has been making some global news lately with flyers flying crazy lines and pushing themselves to the next level, even so much that some Basejumpers say they prefer basejumping. It’s quite a big sport in the States and in Europe, but Speedflying in South Africa is a very different thing. As there is no regulation for Speedflying in South Africa, it kind of makes it a Cowboy sport and this could be very dangerous. Flying a Speedwing really good, makes it look easy to everyone else, and lots of people think they can just go out and buy a wing and launch themselves of a mountain without any proper training, and trust me, the same goes to when you look at people skydiving, skydivers always make it look easier than it is because they have many jumps and years of experience. And experience and knowledge is key to keeping yourself alive, especially in this sport.
The right way to approach Speedflying in South Africa would be to go directly to your closest Paragliding school and get your paragliding license, even though the two sports are a bit different from each other, you can still learn a great deal of information that you will use in the future from doing a Paraglider course. There are big differences in the types of flying, with a Paraglider you focus more thermals and altitude, with a Speedwing you focus more on speed and proximity. So be sure that you know what type of flying you want to do before you begin with Speedflying.
Once you're ready and trained to fly your Speedwing, you will find that Speedflying can be one of the most exciting, liberating, and beautiful sports on earth. Not only do you get that adrenaline rush kick, but you get to feel that with some amazing views, not even to mention that it becomes even better when you share this feeling with your mates.
For today’s video, me and some friends had a blast playing at Llandudno flying our Speedwings down Little Lions Head. Check it out! Its super fun :P