Another summer (in the northern hemisphere), more paragliding firsts and records broken! Here's a look at a sample of incredible and inspirational flights by paraglider pilots from around the globe which caught our attention in Scotland, Finland, US, Pakistan and Spain.
Scotland: new Scottish paragliding open-distance record!
On the 7th of June 2021 Triantafyllos Gkikopoulos (Trias) launched from Craigmore hill above the village of Aberfoyle in Stirling, Scotland to land 6.5 hours later near Lairg village in Sutherland, breaking his own Scottish paragliding open-distance record¹ with a 211km flight!
First +500km paraglider flight in Europe, new European paragliding distance record!
Then on the 11th of June 2021 Jouni Makkonen flew 508km from the south to the north of Finland on his Ozone Enzo 3 in just over 10 hours! This was the first flight over 500km by paraglider in Europe, and a new European paragliding distance record¹! Flight details on XContest
Flybubble Carlo met Jouni in 1998, in Valle de Bravo in Mexico, whilst on a worldwide paragliding competition circuit tour that year. Like many other paraglider pilots, they were there to crank up the airtime and hone their flying skills over the winter. They also took part the Monarca Paragliding Open, named after the famous long-distance flying Monarch butterflies who regularly holiday there. Since then Jouni continued on the competition and record hunting route, and took part in the Red Bull X-Alps race in 2011.
First +600km paraglider flight, new paragliding world record!
On the 20th June 2021, Sebastien Kayrouz tow-launched his Ozone Enzo 3 paraglider from the boondocks west of the Alamo Village movie set and tourist attraction north of Brackettville, Texas, United States. Nearly 11 hours later, he landed 615km (382 miles) 'as the crow flies' from where he launched—50km southeast of Amarillo, still in the boondocks and still in Texas! This was the first paraglider flight over 600km and a new world paragliding distance record¹! Flight details on XContest
New official paragliding altitude world record²!
On 18th July 2021, vol bivouac adventurer Antoine Girard reached 8,407m above sea level (ASL) on his Ozone Zeolite paraglider over Broad Peak mountain in Pakistan, which he later described as "The highest voluntary flight of ascent."²
See the 3D flight details on Syride
This flight was later ratified as a new official paragliding altitude world record²!
Antoine recounts: “We spent 18 days in the Baltoro to make this flight a success. There were very strong conditions, requiring serious commitment. The day of the summit there was 70kmh of wind. The XC flight to access Broad Peak and then return is around 80km. We passed over the summit on our 6th attempt on the mountain!"
For this par-alpinism combo expedition Antoine was accompanied by Francois Ragolski, Julien Dusserre, Sebastien Brugalla, Alexandre Jofresa, Fabian Buhl and Guillaume Omont, amongst others.
Longest ever flights with EN B and EN C wings in Spain, flying together!
On 18 August, Spanish pilots Jose Prados Carmona and Marcelo Sanchez launched from Arroyomolinos de Leon flying site in the province of Huelva in the southwest of Spain. Jose was flying his Niviuk Ikuma 2 (EN B). Marcelo was flying his Advance Sigma 11 (EN C) with matching Advance Impress 4 harness, a perfect combo. They flew close together almost the whole time, their flights lasted almost 7 and a half hours, with an average speed of around 39 km/h. Jose reached a maximum altitude of 3659 m and landed for 285 km, the longest ever flight with an EN B wing in Spain! Marcelo 287 km reached a maximum altitude of 3891 m and landed for 287 km, the longest ever flight with an EN C wing in Spain! Congrats to both pilots on their amazing flights! Flight details Jose | Marcelo
¹ All records pending official verification, blah blah! 😉
² There have been other 'involuntary' flights higher than this, but these not valid as official world records for technical reasons. For example, on 14th February 2007 Ewa Wisnierska climbed to almost 10,000 m (33,000 ft) ASL inside a cumulonimbus (storm) cloud in Australia in advertently breaking controlled airspace. Ewa's vario recorded vertical speeds of up to +20 m/s during this flight! She was extremely lucky to survive the extreme cold, lightning and lack of oxygen, falling unconscious for part of the flight. Sadly, Chinese paraglider He Zhongpin, caught up in the same weather event, was killed by a lightning strike. In 2010, ABC1 and France 5 made a documentary film about Ewa's story, entitled Miracle in the Storm: