AIRBORNE. Back Country Basejump Multi Sport Mission
I'm on an aerial hunt for new cliffs to jump in the Southern Lakes region, using the recently built microlight to search for these potential sites.
This Tuesday I flew a recce among the valleys & alps, west of Lake Wanaka. One reasonable cliff has stood out so far, nestled in a high, snow covered, alpine valley, adjoining the Wilkin River.
That's why I built a plane, for back country adventure.
Further potential sites were spotted today. The hunt is on.
Come November, I'm getting together with the Red Bull Team to complete a multi sport mission of Base jumping a new site followed by flying to a remote location & catching my dinner.
AIRBORNE. The latest news.
After a month of planning & preparation, the Airborne mission got underway.
Phase one saw me taking to the skies in our Rans S6S microlight, heading westward across the rugged Southern Alps mountain chain. Destination Martins Bay on the remote West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. What an amazing flight among the mountains, valleys & lakes of this beautiful, scenic region, flying past glaciers & waterfalls that had just been marks on a map to me, until now. Arriving at 'The Coast' I descended above Lake Alabaster then followed Lake McKerrow to the wonderful back country airstrip at Martins Bay.
The Red Bull crew picked me up in a helicopter flown by local Wanaka legend, Toby Wallis who flew us further south to a stretch of coast known to be good for it's sea food. Trading an aircraft for wetsuits, Toby & I plunged into the southern ocean in search of the local delicacies, paua (abalone) & crayfish (rock lobster). We dove among the rocks & I was thrilled to come back to the beach with my first crayfish caught while snorkelling.
This had been my dream while building the plane & my smart reply to people who asked "what will you do with the plane when it's finished?" It's almost hard to believe I had achieved such a goal, one that kept me working away in the shed for the last three winters.
Phase two of the mission got under way the next morning. The mission; to find a new cliff from the plane (done that) & go base jump it. I flew the plane up the glorious Wilkin Valley on a beautiful morning to land on the Wilkin airstrip, nestled below the surrounding mountains. Toby picked me up in the heli & relocated us to the head of the adjacent Wonderland Valley where my new cliff waited to see some action. While the mountain guide Davie Robinson rigged ropes for the camera crew, Toby fired up his pressure cooker made from a beer keg & cooked a fine lunch from some crayfish caught the day before. How extravagant, a crayfish lunch before base jumping!
One highlight of the day was the heli drop off to my launch point on a sloping rock outcrop, 700 feet above the cliff I was about to jump from. With the crew all in position & cameras rolling, it was my time to perform. Wahoooooo. There's nothing like jumping a cliff for the first time, testing the waters, so to speak. OK.... 3, 2, 1, go. Yippeeeeeeee. What fun to be in the air for those brief, few seconds, taking in the spectacle as I free fall down the face of this new cliff before opening my parachute. Yeeharrrrrrr, I fly down to land on an area of flat shingle beside the stream that flows with glacial melt water from the mountains above. What a cool place. I pack & go back for more. Now that the first exploratory jump has been done, I can relax a bit & throw backflips on the next two jumps. The visuals when backflipping, looking back at the cliff while upside down, accelerating toward the ground are hard to describe, but so much fun to do. Wahooooooooo.
I had realised yet another dream, to find a cliff from the plane & go jump it!
Airborne. What a great mission. I got to fly to places I've never been, catch a feed, find a cliff & go jumping.
Big thanks to the Red Bull crew. I think they enjoyed the adventure as much as I did.... & the crayfish too.