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Microlight Flying Experience Essay

20 minute Microlight Flight Experience, KZN

  • Experience the thrill of flying with the wind in your face
  • Fly low and slow, drifting effortlessly through the sky
  • Be at ease knowing your pilot is an experienced instructor
  • See the scenic rolling sugar cane hills

Take to the sky with this Microlight flight, flying from Groutville Airfield to the most scenic coastline in Kwazulu Natal. After getting kitted out and a safety briefing, you’re good to go! You’ll experience for yourself, the fantastic feeling of flying in one of these robust microlight aircraft.

After a briefing on your flight and carrying out full pre-flight safety checks, you’ll taxi out for takeoff.

Once you’re airborne, you’ll turn out for the coast line 2km away, and experience stunning panoramic views of the sugar cane hills and the Indian Ocean. You are assured a safe, highly professional and fun experience. You may take your camera on the flight, as long as it has a strap to secure it. Throughout your flight you will be able to talk to your pilot through the intercom system.

The following sea life is seen on almost every flight, depending on the season:  Note, we are not able to guarantee sightings of marine life.  The flight is about experiencing simple, uncluttered flight.  The marine sightings are just as a result of our flight path which takes us along the coastline.

Whales – August, September and October

Dolphins – daily, with limited sightings during the Sardine Run, as the dolphins head south to feed on the sardines.

Leatherback turtles – all year, very common

Sharks – all year round.  Common sightings Hammerhead and Reef sharks


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Ballito Microlights in South Africa

Quickly climbing in altitude, farm houses began shrinking in size as the wind whipped into my face. Every banked turn we made felt like we were about to fall out of this thing.

After a 15 hour intercontinental flight from New York to South Africa, the last thing you’d think I’d want to do was fly again. But that’s just what I did. Turns out flying in an open-air Microlight over the Indian Ocean is pretty damn fun too.

What is a Microlight? It’s a small, lightweight fixed-wing aircraft that can carry 1 or 2 people. They can also be called Ultralights. Most of them look like hang-gliders attached to giant tricycles with a big motorized fan on the back.

Earl from WanderingEarl.com and I met with the friendly folks of Ballito Microlights in the vast sugarcane fields outside of Wilderness, South Africa for this unique flying experience.

Praying to the Zulu Gods (photo courtesy of Earl)

What, No Helmets?

We met with our pilots who went over some basic microlight safety tips with us. One safety issue when flying these vehicles is the potential for stuff to get caught in the single propeller that sits right behind you. It’s imperative to ensure everything you have on you is secure.

Dropping your camera could mean disaster for this little aircraft!

You actually sit on the microlight like you would on a motorcycle, resting your feet on a pair of pegs. A single seatbelt is all that keeps you from falling out. We also received goggles and a headset to speak with the pilot.

Cleared for Takeoff

After strapping ourselves in, our pilots fired up the large lawnmower engines that would take us into the sky. Ok, maybe they weren’t actually from lawnmowers, but it sure felt that way. :D

We taxied out on the grass airstrip and prepared for takeoff. With our headsets on, not only could I talk to my pilot Christopher, I could also listen in to air traffic control over the radio!

Listening to the radio chatter was very cool.

It made you feel that much more involved with the flight.

Wandering Earl has No Fear

Flying in a Microlight

Christopher hit the gas and we sped down the runway. The surge of airflow lifted our craft off the ground and towards the clouds. This wasn’t like any other flight I’d ever been on! The wind rushed past my face as I scanned the area with a 360 degree view of the landscape.

The best way to describe the experience is feeling like I was sitting on a flying motorcycle. Any turns we made were banked, also just like a motorcycle.

My seatbelt is the only thing holding me in!

The first leaning turn was a bit nerve-wracking as I looked down 1500 feet below, but once my body realized that I wouldn’t fall out, I relaxed and just enjoyed the ride.

Incredible Views

Initially we flew over expansive fields of sugarcane, macadamia nut and lychee fruit trees. Farmland that stretched out towards the Indian Ocean. Then it was time to turn and fly parallel with the rocky coastline. The turquoise blue ocean water reminded me of the Caribbean.

Waving down to people on the beach, we made our way South past homes and hotels perched on the beautiful cliffs of Wilderness.

Earl was in another aircraft at the same time, and we flew alongside each other in a microlight air race! My pilot spotted some dolphins in the ocean, but I only caught a quick glimpse of them. You can often see whales and Great White sharks in the crystal clear water below.

The views of the South African coast were spectacular from this height.

Microlight View of the South African Coast

Awesome Microlight Experience

After about 30 minutes of flying, we began heading back. But first we climbed in altitude to have a little fun. On the way down to the airstrip, Christopher suddenly cut the engine’s power!

We dropped from the sky in a glide and my stomach jumped up into my throat for a second…

But then we’d motor along again for a while, before he’d reduce power yet again so we could glide down.

I was having a blast!

The ground got closer and closer as we swung around to set up for a smooth landing. Flying through the sky in a microlight aircraft was an awesome experience that I can’t wait to try again some day. Who wouldn’t want to ride a flying motorcycle?

Only next time, I want to be the one flying this thing.

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Specific Details

Location: Wilderness, South Africa
Company:Ballito Microlight Tours
Total Cost: $92 (30 minute flight)
Notes: Microlights are actually very safe. It may seem scary at first, but you quickly get over it. If the engine ever failed, all you’d need to do is glide down to earth and land! Did you know you can buy a microlight for about the same price as a nice motorcycle? And it only takes 2 weeks to get certified to fly one…

*This adventure was made possible with help from South African Tourism. However, as you probably know by now, all opinions & thoughts are my own. Learn More..

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