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A True “Bird’s Eye View” of Cape Town

Of all the things people told us were the Cape Town MUST-DOs, the most popular seemed to be the climb to the top of Table Mountain. Whether by rotating cable car or on foot, we heard countless times that we simply couldn’t miss getting that panoramic view of the city from such a height.

Instead, we decided to tread off the beaten track and try something crazy.

We woke up at 6:00am our first morning in the Mount Nelson so that we could make a phone call to someone in Malmsbury, a farm town just outside the city. The man’s voice on the other line assured us that the weather was clear enough for flight and that he would pick us up in an hour. “I’ll be driving a red car and wearing a black flying suit.” He wasn’t lying, and when we hopped in the car with this interesting character, everyone in hotel reception couldn’t have looked more confused.

Trygve Skorge is a local licensed microlight pilot and turned out to be one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Among his wide range of talents & interests, he does a fair amount of aerial photography as well as runs a private scenic flight tour under the name Aquila Microlight Safaris. I stumbled across his website ( a month or so earlier, and thought it’d be a way more exciting way to get a bird’s eye view of Cape Town.

(You might ask: What the &%#@ is a microlight? Here’s a hint: You probably saw Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels use them to lead a flock of orphaned geese southward from Canada in the movie “Fly Away Home.”)

I signed Frankie & myself up for the one-hour coastal flight on the small open aircraft. Since the microlight could hold only one passenger besides its pilot, we flew one at a time while the other waited in the private airfield’s “clubhouse.” Donned in a full flight suit, a helmet, headset, and goggles, I took the first turn in the passenger seat with nothing but a lap belt to keep me from falling out.

It was a surprisingly smooth takeoff from the farm’s gravel airstrip, and the rapid ascent was incredible. Everything below us continued to get smaller & smaller until we reached an altitude of around 3,000 ft., and from there, you could see everything without so much as a windshield to separate you from the open sky. Below: green pastures, migrating game, schoolyards packed with kids, neighborhoods, sand dunes, and in the distance: sprawling vineyards, white-beached coastline, Robben Island, and a perfect silhouette of Cape Town’s three famous peaks.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much better, Trygve launched the plane into a tight downward corkscrew. Now giddy from the added g’s, I realized we were just meters from beach sand, and eventually, the beachgoers watched as we & our glider skimmed the incoming waves.

During the ride back, Trygve insisted I grab the bar and try flying the microlight myself. This experience lasted long enough for me to realize that I had just enough innate talent to keep us headed in a very general direction, but no more than that.

It was nearly noon by the time the aircraft was back in the hangar and we were headed back toward town. Once the car-ride conversation got on to favorite foods, Trygve decided to stop at the West Coast Ostrich Ranch. Over a delicious lunch of the “world’s biggest scrambled egg” (scrambled ostrich egg), farmhouse homemade bread, and Namibian Windhoek Lager out on the patio, the three of us discussed philosophy, politics, the meaning of life, etc.

Talk about a unique Cape Town experience.

A True “Bird’s Eye View” of Cape Town

(Megan is our friend from Colorado who won a fabulous dream vacation to South Africa & is sharing the experience with us)

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