Signal Hill

Original content sourced from Greg Hamerton’s ‘Fresh Air Site Guide’, 5th edition, 2006.

Description

SANParks Activity Card is required. Guidance by a local pilot at this sensitive site is essential.

The ideal Sunday afternoon soaring site. A long ridge that is the body of the animal that forms Lion’s Head. Signal Hill forms a smoothly sloped obstruction to the north-westerly wind. The lift band is usually wide but not too high, peppered with the odd thermal. Hang Gliders tap into the real magic of Signal Hill when the wind is really strong, soaring high in the laminar flow.

Signal Hill is also used extensively by a large group of Tandem Flight Instructors who will be there on any flyable day.

If it’s too light here, go to Sir Lowry’s Pass. If it’s too strong at Sir Lowry’s, come back here.

Weather

  • North West (The Carpark)
  • Light West (The Carpark)
  • Strong West (The Bench)

Location

  • GPS: +- S33o55.07’ E18o24.15’

Launch

The Carpark is suited for NW winds, drive all the way to the end of the road, and park there in the public parking. The launch is from the green mat just to the south of the carpark.

The Bench launch is 500m South along the ridge, and is more suited to Westerly winds. Go up from the tar road via a little gravel turnoff. The layout area is behind the scenic bench.

Landing

Fly out over the city and land on the grassy promenade in front of the Winchester Mansions Hotel. If you are caught in a Southerly, you may land on the fields near the stadium, however be aware of strong rotor.

Cautions

This site has caught experienced pilots out so many times. It looks safe, do not be fooled into flying here before you have a Sports licence.

Conditions are usually pre-frontal when you fly Signal Hill, so expect wind-gradient and rapid wind increase. There is nowhere to run to should the wind increase.

Avoid flying in Berg (NE) conditions, or soon after the wind has swung from NE to NW (be wary of gusty NW winds). The Berg air does not dissipate immediately.

Slope landing is more difficult the lower you get. The best place is on the N spur, where your groundspeed will be less. Gliding out too low or against an unexpected headwind to land at the Sea Point Promenade can mean a forced landing amongst buildings.

There is sometimes a strong, turbulent S blowing below 100m, creating shear turbulence. Wind from the left at the Bench (SW) will be very turbulent and not much fun.

Directions

  • GPS: +- S33o55.07’ E18o24.15’

Caretaker

SANParks Activity Permit

All pilots flying in the Table Mountain National Park are required to apply annually for a TMNP My Activity Permit (Level 2 – Hang-gliding and paragliding) which currently costs R455pa. These are issued at the SANParks offices.

Crossing to Lions Head

When the wind is strong (PG: 20kph+, HG: 30 – 40kph), NW to WNW on launch with a non existent or high cloud base above the Apostles, it’s a good day. Crossing to Lions Head requires 150m above take-off at the Kramat in a NW in order to reach the biggest bald rock patches above the trees.

These rocks require a little patience in order to get up in light conditions, but work most of the time. You should be able to climb easily above the top of Lion’s Head (100m). The Apostles can be tricky when flying in unstable, moist Westerlies.
The flying can be great but requires dodging big patches or rain & cloudsuck. Avoid the strong venturi effect in the gullies between each Apostle. If you don’t get up don’t bother trying to come back – rather just go to Clifton Beach or land on the fields at The Glen.