The Fassa Sky Expo 2017 took place in the Italian town of Campitello di Fassa over the last weekend in September, with cloudbase at 3,400m and pilots flying to the summit of and toplanding the famous Marmolada (3,343m), the highest summit in the Dolomites.
September and October is peak season for paragliding in the Dolomites, which are famous for their spectacular scenery and feisty thermals.
Hundreds of pilots from around the world flocked to the town to fly from the stunning take-off at Col Rodella (2,360m) and attend the annual event, which showcases – and allows pilots to sample – the latest equipment. Manufacturers including Kortel, Gin, UP, Icaro, Niviuk, Bruce Goldsmith Design, Skywalk, Nova and Digifly were among the exhibitors.
But the expo, organised by the local Icarus Flying Team, is ultimately about the simple joy of flight.
The three-day event got off to a booming start on the Friday, when the cable cars from Campitello to Col di Rodella were packed with eager pilots. The thermals were kicking off by 10am and clouds of pilots were soon circling over the beautiful peaks of Sassalungo, Piz Boè and, of course, Marmolada. A tour of the region’s main summits is known as the “big chicken run”.
At the heart of the action was celebrated pilot – and two-times European and PWC champion – Jimmy Pacher. “This is the perfect time to fly the Dolomites,” he said. “And we’ve had some amazing conditions this week.”
The flying continued on Saturday, as did the carnival atmosphere around the landing field, with music, beer, barbecues, laughter – and a raffle with some amazing prizes.
“It was always my dream to fly the Dolomites,” said Cross Country en Espanol’s Joanna Di Grigoli. “It was breath-taking to see such a beautiful landscape from the air and I feel lucky that the weather cooperated and made that dream come true.”
Organiser Enzo Lorenz said: “It was a great success. The event will be back next year.”
Flying in the Dolomites at the Fassa Sky Expo 2016
Words: Matt Warren
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