Check, Mate: Kelly Farina interviews Thomas Walder

Sunday 13 July, 2014


The day was dying and I was unable to climb high enough on the last mountain before Krimml. In desperation I tried to just go for it but it was late and the day was almost dead, with no valley wind it was a long shot.

Cross country flying is aerial chess: you have to know how to play the game and you need to make the right moves at the right time.

Thomas Walder stunned the paragliding world in June when he flew a 325km FAI triangle – shattering the previous record, becoming the first pilot to fly a 300km FAI triangle, and setting the bar extremely high as he did so.

As the world stopped and scratched its head – “Thomas Who?…” – one man wasn’t surprised at what had just happened.

Kelly Farina is an alpine paragliding guide who is well known for his Austrian Arena flying courses and tours. He’s known and flown with Thomas for years, and has often discussed ‘Big Triangles’ with him – talking about them, researching them and flying them.

When the news came through he was straight on to Cross Country magazine. “Do you want me to interview him? I’ll go up tomorrow while it’s fresh in his mind.”

Never mind it was a five hour drive and the middle of Kelly’s working season, he wanted to talk about this amazing flight – and Thomas’s two other near-300km triangles that he flew over the following two days – face to face.

The result is an arresting interview that explains exactly who Thomas Walder is, and describes the flight and the detailed planning that went into it. This was no full-bar epic hammering along alpine aerial motorways – this was big glides, light climbs, long transitions and all at the very edge of two-liner performance.

The full interview is in Cross Country issue 154, July/August 2014.

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