Leandro Padua flew 507km in Brazil on Thursday 12 October 2017 – joining the elite group of paraglider pilots who have ever flown more than 500km.
Padua was in the air for 10.5hrs (track), having launched by tow from a small airfield in Caico, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
Padua is part of a team of six Swiss and two Brazilian pilots who are in the northeast of Brazil with the stated aim of beating the 564.3km FAI open distance paragliding world record. (Because of a quirk in how flights are scored by official record-keepers the FAI, the distance they need to score on XContest is 573km.)
Unusually for northeast Brazil, the team, which includes five-times Red Bull X-Alps winner Chrigel Maurer, is using a mobile winch to get in the air by towing.
The tactic, which avoids having to deal with the fickle conditions of world record site Tacima, seems to be working, with several 400k flights already in the bag.
The team includes Maurer, Christian Erne, Adrian Seitz, Michael Sigel, Jan Sterren and Patrick Von Känel from Switzerland, and Padua and Vagner Campos from Brazil. They are being supported by the Fly With Andy guiding service run by Andy Flühler.
Their campaign opened on 6 October, with Maurer, Padua and Campos all flying more than 380km.
Two days later on 10 October Maurer and Sigel both flew 413km, with Erne clocking 353km.
The pilots are launching at 7am and flying all day until sunset at 5.30pm. With retrieves taking eight hours for a 400km flight, it’s a case of one day on, one day off.
The record the team have in their sights was set on 13 October 2016 by the Brazilian Dream Team of Donizete Lemos, Rafael Saladini and Samuel Nascimento.
That was set after launching from Tacima, which is closer to the coast than the new towing site of Caico. It suffers from variable conditions – the world record was set last year after a 10 day wait for the right day.
Elisa Eisenlohr, a journalist and pilot in Rio de Janeiro, explained more about the decision to use Caico as a launch pad. “Last year Andy [Flühler] told me he wanted to find a place to tow for record breaking. And they found Caico in Rio Grande do Norte state.
“At first we were not so sure about it because Patu is right in the route, and some years ago they built a dam over there that messed up the conditions a little. But it seems that things have been working out well.
“Leandro Padua flew 507km and Chrigel 482km! Towing certainly is new for record-breaking in Brazil because it makes launching easier. The Brazilian Team usually takes off one-hour before actually leaving the mountain just to avoid the strong winds at take off. So towing will certainly help pilots save some energy.”
With peak season in Brazil happening right now, the world record could fall to this team of crack pilots in Caico.
Follow their live tracking at www.flywithandy.com/livetracking-brasilien