Gliding with a Difference
Soaring Safaris facilitates unforgettable gliding holidays soaring the high, wide and open skies of South Africa.
This exciting soaring is not just for the select few pilots, it is available to glider pilots with all levels of experience. We provide the expert help and the guidance necessary for you, to safely enjoy the excitement of gliding in South Africa – Gliding With a Difference. The core of our 2016/2017 season will be our Summer Performance Camp at Bloemfontein that will start on 13th November 2016 and continue until 11th February 2017. Our season is starting two weeks later than usual because of our involvement in the Sailplane Grand Prix Final that will be held in Potchefstroom from the 5th November until 12th November. Over the last fourteen years, we have learned, that there is a wide time window when long flights are possible. This begins in mid-November and continues until the middle of February. To illustrate the point, on the 5th Nov 2013 we enjoyed the best day ever, four gliders managed a 1200km flight in our area at an average speed of 160 kph! On the 12th February 2016, Anders Andersen set a new Danish 1000km triangle record at 156kph! So whether you are just starting out with your cross-country flying or you are going for your 1000 Km, Bloemfontein is a great place to be.
This is dependant on the expedition that you book.
Dress code is casual and comfortable.
All bookings must be made well in advance.
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Soaring Safaris is run by Dick Bradley and Shaun Lapworth.
Dick has been involved with gliding since he went solo in June 1960. He is a passionate competition pilot who has flown in virtually every National, regional and club competition in South Africa since he and his wife Brenda emigrated to South Africa in July 1969. He has been National Champion 7 times and represented South Africa at 6 World Championships and continues to fly in regional and National Championships.
Since his arrival in South Africa in 1969 he has been very active in the organisation of South African gliding as a club chairman and subsequently the Chairman of the Soaring Society of South Africa. He was the Director of the very successful 27th World Gliding Championships that were held at Mafikeng in December 2001 and has subsequently been Chief Steward at many World and Continental Gliding Championships.
Once upon a time he had a job in the “real” world where he was the Managing Director of a software development company that produced payroll and time management systems that were used by more that 6000 companies in South and southern Africa. After 15 years as the company’s CEO he elected to take early retirement to pursue his dream of developing a full time gliding operation in South Africa. Going into the 15th year of his new vocation he still does not regret this decision.
We have a truly international flavour to our Soaring Safaris team with a healthy mix of local, African continent and ex pat colleagues from Europe to help make your gliding holiday memorable and trouble free.
In the early 80’s Bloemfontein was used for record camps and some of the first 1000kms flown in South Africa were flown from Bloemfontein.
Since then we have completed many declared 1000km flights and there have been as many near misses, besides the 300’s, 500’s and 750’s.
Outlanding conditions within a few hundred km’s of Bloemfontein are very straight forward and present minimal risk to even inexperienced pilots. The visibility is excellent and being able to see 100km is not unusual.
The flying area is vast, and varied with few restricted areas. We have to fly west to clear the Bloemfontein TMA, there after we can fly south and south west into the dry areas of the northern Karoo or north west right up to South Africa’s border with Botswana or we can fly east to the Maluti Mountains and the northern Drakensburg. The scenery in this area is magnificent.
The south and south west is the only area where there are not so many out landing fields, in the rest of the flying area there are enough out landing fields to be able to fly without any concerns.
Weather conditions at Bloemfontein are excellent for gliding. The site was used for the SA Nationals in the late 60’s and early 70’s and again for the 2002/2003 SA National Championships when competitors enjoyed 8 consecutive days of challenging competition flying.
The average cloud base is in the range 11,000 to 14,000ft AMSl, with the ground elevation being 4,500ft. The mean thermal strengths of 2.5 to 3m/sec. One third of the days are likely to be blue, particularly at the beginning of the season. On above average days, the cloud base may be as high as 18 or 19 thousand feet with rates of climb that exceed 5m/sec. Days can start as early as 09.30hrs, but generally it is likely to be 11.00hrs before you can start soaring. If the ground is dry you will get thermals right up to sunset between 18.30hrs and 19:00hrs, though they may be weak.
Thundershowers are very much part of our summer weather pattern. Generally storms are isolated and have relatively high bases and are reliable sources of strong thermals. In some conditions storms can form fronts or squall lines that are 50 to 100km long. These provide really exciting flying and are great for pushing up your average speed.
In the early 80’s Bloemfontein was used for record camps and some of the first 1000kms flown in South Africa were flown from Bloemfontein. Since then we have completed many declared 1000km flights and there have been as many near misses, besides the 300’s, 500’s and 750’s. Outlanding conditions within a few hundred km’s of Bloemfontein are very straight forward and present minimal risk to even inexperienced pilots. The visibility is excellent and being able to see 100km is not unusual.
The flying area is vast, and varied with few restricted areas. We have to fly west to clear the Bloemfontein TMA, there after we can fly south and south west into the dry areas of the northern Karoo or north west right up to South Africa’s border with Botswana or we can fly east to the Maluti Mountains and the northern Drakensburg. The scenery in this area is magnificent. The south and south west is the only area where there are not so many out landing fields, in the rest of the flying area there are enough out landing fields to be able to fly without any concerns.
New Tempe Airfield Bloemfontein.
Soaring Safaris is based at New Tempe airfield Bloemfontein for their summer camp from November to February. We have a shade net hangar to accommodate 9 gliders with a convenient water ballasting system, and a conventional hangar for 4 15m wing span gliders.
The club house has a swimming pool, bar and restaurant facility to serve light snacks during the day and suppers on the dinning in nights. The surrounding trees create a wonderful atmosphere for dinning out under the clear Freestate skies.
We have three grass runways 36/18, 27/09, and 31/11 and two tar runways 01/19 and 28/10 on the airfield that is 4,500ft AMSL. Runway 36 now has 300m tar strip that greatly reduces the dust on takeoff. For the majority of wind conditions we operate exclusively from the grass runways, however should it be necessary the tar runways are available. We use Cessna 182’s as our tugs and these aircraft give good rates of climb in our hot and high conditions.
The airfield is surrounded by landable fields that would offer a safe landing in the event of a failed tow. Given the right weather conditions we are able to climb to FL145 overhead the airfield.The airfield is just 6km west of the city boundary and within 10 minutes drive of our recommended guest houses and hotels.
GPS Co-ordinates : -29.033227, 26.162503
Orient Airfield Magaliesburg.
This is Soaring Safaris home airfield where we spend our autumn and winter months and it is positioned 70km west of Johannesburg just on the edge of the Johannesburg TMA. There is an excellent club house, bunk house, swimming pool and braai area that have an uninterrupted view over the Magaliesburg hills to the north. The airfield is set on 120 hectares of grasslands at 5200 amsl and has all grass runways 36/18 and 29/11. It is the home of Magalies Gliding Club and there are 130 gliders based on the airfield.
All Soaring Safaris gliders are equipped with parachute, basic instruments, electric vario, final glide computer, an IGC approved GPS Flight Recorder, Flarm, a map of the area and oxygen. Please note that because they are so fragile we do not provide PDA’s.
We have no minimum requirement for flying our Standard Class gliders LS4, Discus b, and LS7wl, but require you to complete the booking form so that we can make an assessment based on your experience.
Before flying our 15m class gliders, LS6c/18, Ventus b.16.7, and ASW27b we would like you to have cross country experience in a similar type of glider, and pilots wanting to fly the Open Class gliders should also have open class cross country experience.
In all cases we reserve the right to decline a booking or require a dual check based on our assessment of the pilot’s currency or experience.