It is with great sadness that we report the passing of paragliding legend Richard Gallon, who died on his 47th birthday, 12 June 2020, after a long illness.
Richard started flying paragliders in the mid ‘80s at St Hilaire where he had grown up. By the end of the decade he was a member of the French team and a regular at the top competitions. He became PWC champion in 1993.
Along with Andy Heidegger and Sebastien Bourquin, Richard was one of the fathers of acro paragliding, and images of his acro flying are iconic for pilots who remember the early days. Many of us grey-haired pilots were inspired to explore the dynamic side of our wings by films such as Flamenco Dune, starring Richard. When Raul and Felix invented the SAT manoeuvre and the SAT team was born, Richard was a central member, drifting out of cross-country competitions in favour of acro.
Richard worked as a test and development pilot for many brands including Firebird, UP and Skywalk. In 2008 he wanted an acro wing but the company he was working for wasn’t interested, so he created his own wing “for fun” named after his daughter Emilie. Friends tried the wing and asked to buy one, and the brand AirG was born.
Despite being small, AirG supported and sponsored upcoming pilots. To Richard, acro paragliding was a family and he wanted to support it as much as he could. When he became ill in 2017 he handed over the company to the young pilots he had been working with.
After the creation of AirG Richard returned to the cross-country competition scene, becoming a regular on the circuit and taking a Paragliding World Cup win at Val Lourens, France in 2015. In an interview with France’s Parapente Magazine last year he said he still wanted to discover new places to fly, and dreamed of a return to the long competition tasks of old.
Richard will be remembered most for his spirit and his generosity. He was a top pilot who always had time for others in the sport. As he said to Parapente Magazine, “The more I fly, the more I realise that whatever the era or the people, we are all the same. We all have the same emotion at the landing. We can all understand each other.”
He will be missed by our family of pilots. We send our heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and the team at AirG.