Taking off in a microlight for the first time takes guts, but once in the skies, you get an exhilarating flying experience. “It’s like a motorbike in the sky,” says Roy Gregson, owner of Johannesburg Flying Academy. “It feels like you’re sitting on a dining room chair in the air. The beauty of microlights is they can take off and land in small areas, and you have an engine, so you don’t need to climb mountains like paragliders do.”
Gregson is passionate about microlights, having flown them for pleasure and in competitions for years. His company trains people to get their licence, so they can take to the skies solo. “Once you’ve had 25 hours of flying time, and passed the theoretical exams, within a month you can be flying 5,500ft above sea level anywhere in the world,” he says. “You can travel a whole country this way.”
Luis Ramos, a 39-year-old IT consultant from Johannesburg, got his licence with JFA six months ago. “I’d never done anything like this,” he says. “At first you’re scared, they take off like a bat out of hell. But as soon as I started training that bug bit me. The first time you fly solo feels like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. It’s terrifying, but then the feeling you get is indescribable. Once you have your licence you just want to take your friends up and show them this amazing new world you’ve discovered.”
Prices start from £3,357/€4,215 including transfers, accommodation and all tuition, based on a 30-day stay.
Advice from the Inside
“You don’t have to be super-fit to do this, but you have to be reasonably healthy,” says Gregson. “It is a strenuous physical activity, as microlights pick up turbulence easily and you’re changing height and direction by moving your body. You’ll find as you fly it’s workout enough to quickly get you where you need to be.”
After The Flight
Stay active on the ground around Joburg
Now go down: try plunging 70m through the air inside the cooling tower of a decommissioned power station with SCAD Freefall.
After the highs of flying, canyoning, known as kloofing in South Africa, will take you to new lows, scrambling, abseiling, jumping and swimming your way to the bottom of a ravine in Magaliesberg.
Explore the rugged scenery of Daytona Adventure Park in Gauteng province with a little added adrenalin. Ride a quad bike over rocky terrain, dirt tracks and through forests.