A thermic winter site. ‘Lone Tree Hill’ stands forward of the rumpled border-hills of Swaziland. The White Cliffs behind takeoff provide good height gains (2000m), though big sink between thermals makes for slow flying.
NW – NE
+- S25o48.083’ E31o03.367’
A rounded grassy hill, (often burnt in winter) with a short section of cliffs to help you to get up and away. Timing is critical here – launch at the beginning of the thermal to get above the hill and on your way to the ‘white cliffs’.
Launch is 430m high (1290m ASL).
The ‘rough’ to the left of the golf course, just north of the Golf Club house. Avoid interrupting any game in progress, and avoid landing on the green at all costs. An emergency landing area is the little path in the junkyard, below and to the left of takeoff. It is not ideal, being thermic and filled with hidden obstructions.
If you scratch more than 50m below takeoff, you run the risk of not reaching the Golf Course landing on your glide out over town. Leave early – there are very few options on the way out, with trees and narrow streets.The fields that look so green from the air are filled with sisal plants, an absolute nightmare to land in. Sisal has sword-like leaves that will cut you and your glider to shreds – avoid at all costs.If you do distance S or SE, take your passport – you’ll land in Swaziland or Mozambique!
From Johannesburg drive E to Witbank, then Nelspruit. Turn right (S) in Nelspruit to Barberton. The road heads into Barberton, then turns right at the traffic lights, becoming the main road through the business section of town. Follow this road on, and follow the signs to visit the Golf Club (last turn right at the edge of town) to check out the landing and parking area. Travel past the Golf Club turning on the main road, heading west out of town for about 2km, then turn left just past the cablecar wires into the SAPPI Forestry Reserve. You will have passed a small hill on your left, called Abbott’s, which is a good ‘rescue ridge’ to save a doomed flight. There is a boom halfway up the road to Lone Tree Hill which is locked unless permission has been organised. After this, veer left at intersections until you reach the parking behind the ruined house on the Lone Tree Hill.
Mpumalanga Club, LSSC, Alan Livingstone (082 808 9673)
Site fee gets you keys for the boom. Keys and permits are available from Hi-Tech security. To get there, drive out of the golf course and turn left at the first road. Turn left at the 4 way stop. After a gentle turn to the left, take a big road right, where Hi- Tech is within a few hundred meters on the left. Please read the conditions on the back of the permits carefully. Before going to Barberton check with SAPPI (013 7123591, Wilma van Rensburg) if the site is open (closed for fire hazard or logging).
Barberton Caravan Park has camping facilities and chalets, but beware of thievery. 013 712 3323 www.barbertonchalets.co.za. Out of town is better.