Tag Archives: XC flying

Flying to the mystery island

04.05.2017: They fly and explore various places around Malaysia with their engine powered wings during weekends, public holidays or special events. Being an adventurous spirit, I frequently join them for cross-country (XC) flying trip around Malaysia. Exploring and gliding through the airspace and seeing Malaysian’s landscape from a different perspective.

My alarm went off at 5 am that Sunday morning.

Earlier than usual as I needed to rush to the pre-planned take-off site of my next flying adventure. I had my quick shower, grabbed my camera bag and my flying equipment then drove for an hour to Antara Gapi, Serendah, Hulu Selangor.

Our take-off site was a public area. An open area up on top of a small hill in the middle of Antara Gapi’s town.

Heart of the eagle

A small group this morning, 6 paramotor pilots and me as a tandem passenger to one of them. They seemed to have something in common with me, an explorer spirit and I labelled them as my explorer PPG friends. They glided gracefully through the airspace exploring our Malaysian tropical landscape with their motors neatly tucked behind their back and their wings on top of their heads.

Riding on a paramotor tandem trike is different from riding pillion on a motorbike or on an aeroplane, as the passenger sits in front while the pilot sits at the back as he needs to control the glider and the throttle. So, passengers have a first class view of whatever in front of the trike.

We were heading to Sungai Tinggi Dam, Hulu Selangor, 33 km away from our take-off site. It would take approximately 45 minutes of flying hours to reach the place and another 45 minutes to fly back. As usual, I would be riding tandem with PPG pilot Tazza. I tagged along with them whenever they need a photographer to help capture their flying adventure.

Tazza would check on his pre-flight checklist while I would get into my seat; reorganized my cameras and my radio; set my prayers and wait for the clearance to takeoff.

A flock of bird

The clock was pointing at 7:30 am and morning lights started to rise from the horizon, pilots would take their turn to spread their wings, fire their motors and take-off safely from the ground. The air tends to be calmer early in the morning and as the light hiked up higher on the horizon, thermal heat could rock their gliders. So, they need to be fast because the air could be unpredictable.

Our adventure started when every pilot has successfully airborne, as they would glide out of Antara Gapi in one group. We were heading to Selangor river, approximately 6.3km northwest of Antara Gapi, and we would trail along the river.

We flew above small towns, some housing areas and lingered around hundreds of fishponds along the river bank. Hundreds or maybe thousands of birds loitered around the ponds probably looking for early breakfast and as the pilots glide through the area the birds ran berserk fearing the sound of their engines. It felt so good flying side by side with the birds, you could almost feel that you were part of the flock.

We were cruising along the Selangor river until we reached the North-South Highway and we then headed up to the North, flying parallel along the highway for about 10km. Once we reached near Bukit Tagar, we then crossed over the highway heading northwest to Sungai Tinggi Dam.

The view was way beyond words. I have travelled and witnessed countless beautiful landscape around the world but I have never expected to experience such rich and mesmerizing views from a place just 1-hour drive from my home.

Such peace and serenity filled the air and the landscape right beneath was such an amazing sight. I could see layers by layers of hills with a sign of thick mist in between the gaps.

Immersed in nature

Hulu Selangor area has a very diversified landscape. The area is relatively unspoiled, surrounded by mountains and secondary tropical forest. Flying with paramotor over the area is another option for the adventurous explorer who wishes to experience a variety of landscapes in 1 hour and 45 minutes.

When you are flying above at a certain height, your brain may get a bit lost on trying to figure out the right direction. It was a free highway up there hanging on the air,  as there were no physical road and signboard to guide the way. It is critical to be 100% sure on the direction as ppg pilots could not refuel gas while they were on air.  Getting lost was not an option.

So, it is crucial for them to depend heavily on GPS, altimeter and whatever mobile app that could track their flying routes and location.

The mystery island

As the pilots glided forward, I noticed a change in the atmosphere around me, the air felt much colder and windier. And, as I turned my head to my right I saw the mesmerising view of Sungai Tinggi dam. Dramatically, at that time the morning light was super golden.

The place felt mysterious. I understand now why the pilots called this place the “Mystery Island”. I had the urged to scream, not that hysterical scream but a delightful scream.

“What is this place? What is all this?” I screamed through the radio and my pilot friends were screaming and cheering at the same time too. What a beautiful moment. Honestly, the view from high above has yet to disappoint me, amazing experience.

Each cross-country flight that I tagged along was always a unique experience and it never felt the same to me. I blamed it on the character of the air, the moment of the light and the altitude of our location. We spent another five minutes hovering around the dam before the leader decided that it was time to turn back to Antara Gapi.

Time to hit the ground

We followed a different and shorter route on our way back, as we needed to save on our fuel.

The flight back was as smooth as I could remember like a breeze. We were all in a joyful mood as we have once again achieved our target for the day. Once we reached Antara Gapi safely, we flew a few rounds above Antara Gapi’s town and successfully landed back on the take-off site. To be able to experience flying especially via paramotor is a true blessing, a privilege and addictive too.

Flying cross-country requires detail planning on both the route and the safety of the journey. Of course, they have to comply with certain rules and regulation before they could start their trips. Proper NOTAM needs to be requested from the authority and if the rules stipulated that they could not fly exceeding a certain height, then they need to adhere to the rules.

For those who yearn to experience a different way to explore the surrounding of Hulu Selangor, Malaysia you can always try a tandem flight via paramotor from this group of explorer PPG pilots. They can be contacted at https://www.facebook.com/janjifly.janjifly.

Thank you for spending your time reading my experience and journey. Till we meet again.

Cheers

MM


Land of the soothing wind

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”

NEP_6878-Edit-Edit

I have been home bound for months now. My last trip outside Malaysia was to Mongolia and Lake Baikal, Russia in March early this year. I am still not sure where is my next destination yet. I am ok with just anything …

Yeah … I do miss my traveling moment for sure.

The quietness, the feeling of being lost, the discovering, the learning and breathing the air of strangers land but I do believe in not exaggerating or over indulging upon something. Maybe because I get bored easily, too much of anything could kill my interest.

Well … I was not basically just sitting at home for this past few months. That travel addiction still stings me badly and I have a ‘secret’ way to sooth it down before I turned mental. I tagged along with my other adventurous soul group … my paramotor friends of course.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 12.59.35 PM

At Kuala Selangor … enjoying the morning light

Of late they are into cross-country flying aka XC flying with paramotors.

I didn’t expect to experience such a rich and raw exploration moments while hovering low in the airspace. The landscape from high above is dreamy and mesmerizing, the air smells differently … it felt as if I am physically not here in Malaysia but somewhere traveling across different continental within 1.5 to 2 hours of each flight.

We would be in a deep forest for 10 minutes, in urban cities in another few minutes, on acres of acres of orchard, on some mysterious island, in a blue looking lake and sometimes just hover around a small town around Antara Gapi for maybe 10 minutes.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 11.52.38 PM

From Kundang to Bukit Beruntung, Kuala Selangor on 2017.07.23

We flew in a small group … most of the time with well-experienced pilots, around 4 to 7 of them. As usual … I would be in charge of capturing the moments of us, flying. We started very early in the morning before the morning light is out, took-off from our flying base around 7:00 to 7:30 am so that we could catch the early morning light from the horizon … morning light is always our favorite.

For me …. the best way to end a hectic week is not through snuggling on your bed for the whole morning on the weekend but to do all this lol … mental? Yes …

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 10.30.20 PM

Inside a cloud at Tekah Airfield on 2017.04.15

 Unlike paragliding, thermals are not our best friend. The wind tends to be calmer early in the morning and we would experience the heat around 10 am when the sun is fully out. The heat created thermal heat on the airspace and our wings would swing according to the heat flow which is not good (dangerous too) for flying low.

So, by 10 am we are expected to land safely at our starting takeoff base.

And yeah … sometimes we drove out of Kuala Lumpur to the east and west part of peninsular Malaysia with our engines and wings and join our local flying friends from those areas.

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 12.21.05 AM

Kuala Besut, Terengganu from up on the air on 2017.07.16

Is it dangerous? Hmmm …

As I mentioned earlier in my previous post about paramotor, any extreme sport requires you to have a certain level of skill to ensure safety. And that skill is acquired from hours and hours of flying training or flying experience. And planning is very important.

Apart from making sure that the engines and wings are in its best condition … we tried to minimize our risk by ensuring proper planning before and during each flight with the help of technology.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Is it scary?

Honestly yes … sometimes lol … but when you are already up there on air, your thought mostly would be on how to ensure that we are well prepared for the worst. I call it the survivor instinct …

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 12.17.51 AM

The shoreline of Kuala Besut, Terengganu on 2017.07.16

Flying cross-country gives us the opportunity to see the world in a way that most people would never will and it is a privilege for me to be a part of it.

And, sharing the beauty version of layers and layers of landscapes from up above through my lens with my viewers is very self-fulfilling. Some might get personal seeing me mingled around comfortably among my ppg friends … get it over with, after experiencing life I believe that there is more to it than getting hitched, In Sha Allah kot ha ha ha.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 4.02.14 PM

From Kuala Besut to Perhentian Island, Terengganu on 2017.07.17

I might appear bias or might have inhaled too much dust while flying but I think it is a privilege for a human being to be able to fly at will either with a light-aircraft or a wing and glide on air doing paragliding or with an engine attached to a wing like a paramotor.

And I am not sure when this flying privilege could last as air regulation might change according to technological change or cost hike on flying kill enthusiast or in an extreme case, political change – so I believe that it is very fortunate for us to be able to fly at our own will today.

Sharing some snapshots from our GoPros during a few of our XCs here in today’s post as an inspiration and motivation for ourselves … fly high peeps! create your own moment.

To view photos from this post in better resolution … please click here

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 5.25.52 PM

Sunset flight from our takeoff base at Pulau Indah to Jugra Hill on 2017.08.13

Gotta run … tc and bye

MM

ps- some of our flying videos on youtube at here:

XC Kuala Besut- Perhentian Island

Exploring Antara Gapi, Kuala Selangor

Exploring Bukit Tabur, Klang Gate, Selangor

Tekah Airfield Taiping, Perak at 10,000 Feet MBOR challenge

 

 


%d bloggers like this: