As we celebrate our 200th issue, Cross Country is all about people dreaming, planning and doing, whether it’s top-landing Aconcagua or ridge-soaring the local dunes. Whether you’ve been reading since the first issue in spring 1988, or you’ve just started flying, keep aiming high. It’s what we do!
“As I made my approach to land at around 6,500m, my eyes were attracted by a yellow-brown mass – a faded mountain jacket washed out by the sun. It was the body of a perfectly preserved climber, a reminder that here, there was no outside help.” No one had ever flown over 6,963m Aconcagua, the highest point in the Americas – until Antoine Girard did just that this February. He tells us his incredible story.
“So how do you get people to wake up and understand what’s going on with climate change? We wanted to take pictures of glaciers in the most carbon neutral way, which meant not renting a helicopter, and flying over them under a paraglider instead.” Documentary film producer and pilot Malcolm Wood reveals how free flight is helping him tell the story of Earth’s disappearing glaciers.
“In the northern hemisphere, a five-day forecast is now as good as a three-day forecast from the 1980s. Even more impressive is the fact that a southern hemisphere seven-day forecast is also now as good as a 1980s three-day one.” Cross Country’s resident meteorologist Honza Rejmanek looks at the great leaps forward that are making weather forecasting an ever more exact science.
“At 4,100m, the ridge ended and we had to cross to the Matterhorn with only the power of the engine. But the views were incredible, with all the glaciers and lakes stretched out below us. In the distance, we could see Mont Blanc. In fact, we could see 300km.” Two decades ago, Adi Geisegger dreamt of flying over the Matterhorn. This April. He finally managed it.
“There are more restrictions around than you might think. In addition to all the fancy-coloured shapes and symbols on air maps, practically all countries are covered by layers of controlled airspace, which affect free-flight pilots.” Flying close to airspace can be tricky – but help is at hand. Stefan Ungemach unravels the puzzle and explains all you need to know.
“I’ve sometimes got a friend to rest a spirit level on the underside of the pod, to ensure it is exactly horizontal. By all means ‘sit up’ with your back and head quite upright, like you’re in an office chair, but do try and get your legs level.” Thinking of moving into a pod harness? Three of our expert reviewers share their top tips for finding yourself the perfect fit.
“My friends and I have been flying together for 30 years and I suspect we’ll still be getting together in 20 more, to laugh, share a few beers and fly. The weather doesn’t always play ball here, but that just makes it more special when it does.” Veteran pilot Mads Syndergaard has flown in some of the world’s most spectacular aerial playgrounds – but sometimes nothing beats the quiet coastline of his native Denmark.
“My one piece of advice for students? Do it seriously. Of course, you must have fun – but focus on developing your skills and consider carefully everything you do. Always have a plan.” As he prepares for the Red Bull X-Alps, Marko Hrgetic talks the rush of competition flying and training for the world’s toughest adventure race.
“The final two turnpoints of the task were set out on the flats in classic Chelan conditions, with plenty of +7m/s climbs, and the mighty, almost psychedelic, dust devils that define this unique flatland flying experience.” 50-something comp pilot, James “Kiwi” Johnson, returns with the latest yarn from his Magical Mystery Tour attempt to reach the 2019 FAI World Championships in Macedonia.
“I am expecting the next revolution any day now – and paragliders will probably hate it. Those with long memories will recall how sailplane pilots hated hang gliders, and hang gliders hated paragliders. I’m sure the future will bring similar sentiments.” Bruce Goldsmith ponders the fast evolving future of accessible personal flight – jetpack, anyone?
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