The magical mayhem of the Coupe Icare takes place on the third weekend of September at Saint Hilaire du Touvet and the Lumbin landing field near Grenoble in the south of France.
This year’s festival pays homage to the great Leonardo Da Vinci, who died 500 years ago! There will be an exhibition at the church of Saint Hilaire and shows on the theme of the great Italian inventor.
A huge trade show takes over two large marquees as well as outdoor stands; demonstration flights from all sorts of craft fill the sky, and the fancy-dress fly down is one of the event’s biggest draws, with some truly crazy costumes. Don’t forget the all-important film festival that runs throughout the long weekend. As well as all of this, the south take-off becomes a children’s wonderland, with activities from kite-making to science lessons to meeting birds of prey.
Paragliding from the sites during the daytimes is restricted to fancy-dress competitors and authorised pilots, but plenty make the early-morning hike to the Dent de Crolles if conditions allow, for a morning fly down among hot air balloons.
Test out new lightweight equipment, speak to manufacturers and join in the group hike-and-fly sorties, under the watchful gaze of Mont Blanc. Or atop it, if you are really, really lucky!
The 4807 Flying Light salon at Saint-Gervais-les-Bains is now in its twelfth year and supported by 14 major paragliding equipment manufacturers. It’s grown in duration to a five-day event, and is one not to be missed if you love hike-and-fly in high mountains.
It’s free to enter the trade area, €10 to test out material.
If you’re in the South of France on 19 October 2019 and in the mood for an adventure race with a difference, check out the Walk Fly Pedal race at the Mont Sainte Victoire near Aix-en-Provence.
The eighth edition of the X-Berg Challenge will take place from 24-29 March 2020 with Extreme (three-day) and Mini (two-day) versions.
Paraglider pilots race mountain bikers and runners around turnpoints in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa / Lesotho. The route distance depends which way you go, and typically only 10% of competitors make it to the finish of the Extreme Challenge.
2019’s Extreme winner was mountain biker Jon Kirkman who finished in 24 hours and 43 minutes; second in were biker team Justin Armstrong and Peter Joughin, a day later.
Between Heaven and Earth, who organise the event, are offering complete travel packages from Johannesburg International Airport to the 2020 X-Berg Challenge event, along with return transport, accommodation and add-on travel packages including trips to game reserves, Cape Town and Wilderness retreat.
Gruyère Fly is a weekend-long hike-and-fly event that takes place in the Fribourg area of Switzerland over the last weekend in May.
It’s open to “suitably experienced” pilots with IPPI 4 or 5 qualifications who are at ease with flying unknown terrain. You can choose your level and enter in Compétiteur or Mobilité douce categories. The latter allows the use of public transport including ski lifts. Assistance is allowed for either category, but not compulsory.
The Eigertour is a high-level hike-and-fly competition that takes place in the Bernese Alps, starting at Grindelwald.
It’s a four-day event with Challenge (100-200km via 14-18 turnpoints) and Pro (180-300km via 12-22 turnpoints) categories. The latter is reserved for very experienced pilots – think X-Alps competitors and factory test pilots. Participants are vetted before being accepted for either category.
It’s unsupported – mountain refuges are used for turnpoints and overnight stops, which makes for sociable evenings and a convivial atmosphere.
The dates for the 2020 Airtour, Saint Hilaire’s seven-day hike-and-fly race, have been set: 13-21 June 2020.
It will be the seventh edition of the tour. The route is likely to be some 300km long, starting from Saint Hilaire, the exact details to be disclosed nearer the time.
2020 is an X-Pyr year! The fifth edition of the hike-and-fly race across the Pyrenees starts on 21 June 2020.
If you’d like to be among the pilots selected to race 500km across the Pyrenees from west to east, you’ll need to submit a pre-application on x-pyr.com by 31 December 2019.
Vercofly is a four-day hike-and-fly event that takes place in the Swiss Alps, using mountain refuges as turnpoints and night-stops meaning there is no need for assistants.
It’s run by Twistair school and the competition arena is the Anniviers and Hérens valleys, with the finish at Twistair’s base in Vercorin.