1. How do we stay aloft?
Paragliders are ultralight aircraft that allow people to harness solar energy and soar like birds. However, they lose altitude to be able to fly forward, and so we pilots continually need to top up our altitude in order to achieve distance.
This is made possible by learning how to harness thermals, columns of rising air that form because the ground heats unevenly when being warmed by the sun. Which then, in turn, warms the air the ground it is in contact with–and what does hot air do?… exactly! The concept of thermal flying still blows my mind…
We can climb at speeds of over 33 feet per second! That’s faster than most small aircraft. Imagine that. A drag race against a fossil fuel aircraft to cloud base, and then winning using 100% green energy–we’re living in exciting times!
Here’s a flight visualization showing you exactly how I used thermals this summer to climb just as a condor would.
We can use these thermals to climb up thousands of metres, and even fly into clouds. Here is a piece of GoPro head cam footage taken as I flew out of a cloud while flying over Soca Valley, Slovenia.
2. What do we take with us?
While on vol-biv expeditions, we hike up mountains and then fly with everything we need to survive for days/weeks at a time. Because we need to be able to hike with our gear and have limited space in our bags, deciding on what to bring with us is a challenge. It all depends on where you are flying, the time of the year, and your intended flight route of course, but essentially here’s what we bring:
* rescue parachute
* hiking poles
* fishing line & hooks
* pots & camping gas
* first aid kit
* sleeping bag
* emergency location device
3. Why is this so amazing?
We can cross huge mountain ranges with a 5kg flying machine, which fits in a backpack, and uses the sun as an energy source–what’s not cool about it!?
Ok, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Sometimes we get pinned down by bad weather, have to brave rough sleeping conditions, and scare ourselves silly when flying into turbulence.
But with that said, the experience of vol-biv paragliding is like any other. I’ve personally found it to be one of the purest expressions of freedom. Man and wild caught in a gravity-defying dance. Crossing terrain. One thermal at a time.
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