Head in The Clouds: The Best Stories From 50 Years of Free Flying is a new book that captures “the heart and soul” of free flying.
Published in September 2023 it is a unique collection of stories and essays that documents the first 50 years of free flying – the adventure sports of paragliding and hang gliding.
Featuring some incredible tales of flying adventures around the world, the book is packed with the best writing in the sport.
Co-editor Hugh Miller explained: “Since the pioneer hang glider pilots took their first tentative steps into the air in the 1970s, free-flight pilots have enjoyed a golden age. Face in the breeze, arms outstretched, following the birds and soaring high up to the clouds. For 50 years we’ve chased and achieved humankind’s oldest dream.”
In this exclusive hardback collection of 50 stories, pilots describe the highs and lows in free flying firsthand: from the beauty of sunset soaring in the mountains to tales of epic adventure and the fight for survival.
Whether traversing the Himalaya, being swept to 20,000ft inside a storm cloud and surviving, or simply the sheer fun of thermalling like a bird to the clouds, the stories convey the joys and challenges of this unique sport, which is enjoyed by tens of thousands of people worldwide.
The book is edited by Cross Country Magazine’s Hugh Miller and former BBC journalist Andrew Craig. Together they have 50 years of free-flight experience between them.
“Free flying is adventure and exploration at its best,” explained Hugh. “These stories represent the very best of our sport, the heart and soul of free flying.”
Highlights from the book include:
- The story of the first pilot to fly 300 miles by hang glider in the USA
- The pilot who crossed the Atlantic in a microlight – and survived
- The man who got swept up by a dust devil on launch in Australia
- The Dangerous Sports Club member who flew a home made hang glider from Kilimanjaro in the 1970s
- The woman who traversed New Zealand’s Southern Alps by foot and flying alone
- The Canadian who followed the migration of the Monarch Butterfly from Mexico to British Columbia
- The Welsh climber who became the first paraglider pilot to circumnavigate an 8,000m peak
- The search for Kiwi Johnston – the New Zealand pilot who ‘simply vanished’ in the Nevada Desert
- The English baronet and Sanskrit scholar whose second home is a paragliding paradise in the Indian Himalaya
- The ‘Touching the Void’ style story of survival of a pilot who crashed in the US wilderness
- The epic sporting battle between two great friends as they fought to set a world record in Texas
“The stories in Head in the Clouds include plenty of unmissable heart-in-your-mouth stories, but they also include ones that will catch the back of the throat, or make you laugh,” Hugh said.
“Our aim has been to capture a range of great tales from across our sports and across the decades. I hope we’ve done a good job that will entertain pilots and armchair-pilots alike.”
Head in the Clouds in published by Cross Country International Ltd, a specialist independent publisher based in the south of England. As well as Cross Country Magazine, an international magazine about free flight, the company publishes best-selling free-flight techniques books.
Head in the Clouds is out now and available from bookshops, free-flight retailers and online through the Cross Country Shop.