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latest Para-Newbie News-n-Pics, Feb08, Issue #0014, monthly.
February 26, 2008

Fresh Paragliding Stuff

Selected News, Image, Site Update

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Issued on Wed, Feb 27th 2008, Issue #0014

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Table of Contents

  1. News of the Month
  2. Image of the Month
  3. Website Content of the Month

News of the Month

After the usual scouring of the Web using a number of world news resources I found another altitude-related story. Last time it was a daring German in a powered paraglider, flying over Mount Cook in New Zealand. This time, it's about someone from the other side of the Channel. A free-flight descent from one of the world’s highest mountains.

Englishmen Launch From Mount Aconcagua

Source: The Express and Star, U.K.

Date: 19 Feb 2008

Acon ... Ac ... Aconac ... boy what a tongue-twister that is, the first time you read it! Mount A-con-ca-gua is located in the Andes, in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. In January, this imposing mountain became the focus for a team of 8 men from the south of England and Wales. Their aim? For at least some of them to reach the summit and paraglide back down to base camp!

The Man

This account is based on the story of one man in the team, who successfully completed the challenge. Kevin Bigland, a property developer by profession and also a keen paraglider pilot, decided to make the attempt to raise money for a charity. At 43, he must have been in very good shape. Most of us at that age wouldn't make it halfway up the slopes of a large mountain I bet...

The Climb

Climbing at high altitude is no picnic. Most of the members of the team experienced severe altitude sickness and sleep deprivation. Adding to the physical drain was the weight of paragliding equipment which several members took with them. Ahead of them was a climb of 6964 meters (over 22,800 feet). In fact the climb was so tough that only 3 men actually made the summit. I bet viewing the Andes from that vantage point would have been absolutely magic! What a high point (pun intended) after 15 gruelling days of effort on the way up from base camp.

The Glide

So there they were, 3 men and their paragliders. Paragliding Poms proudly pondering the precipice ;-) But it wasn't just a matter of inflating and floating off into the blue. No, the so-called Aconcagua Express had to blow for a while, at speeds up to 160 kph (100 mph) before there was an opportunity to launch. Even then, only Kevin Bigland and one other man were able to leave the mountain. I guess the 3rd one might have wished for a Speed Riding wing at that time... It would have been a long lonely trek back down for him.

According to Kevin it was his all-time most exhilarating flight in a paraglider. Incidentally, these were the first 2 British men to ever paraglide from the summit of Aconcagua.

The Purpose

Having succeeded in his quest, Kevin was also successful in raising £3,000 for Unicef. Although the climb was the toughest challenge he had ever faced, he was pleased to have helped out a good cause to such an extent.

A Good Book For Free-Flight Paragliding

Paragliding - A Pilot's Training Manual. Do you have at least a few hours of soaring experience under your belt? Keen to learn much more? This book will fill out your knowledge nicely. Just remember it doesn't take the place of your instructor!

Complete Reference For Powered Paragliding

Powered Paragliding Bible. This is one of a couple of good books that people are using before and during taking up power paragliding. It's great if you want a really complete reference book about the sport. Authored by Jeff Goin and Dennis Pagen and published in April 2006. That Pagen name pops up a lot in light aviation literature!

Image of the Month

There's plenty of paragliding imagery on the Web these days, much of it so-so. Thanks to some paraglider manufacturer friends of mine, I can bring you some great pics that you might not find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy this month's featured picture, below.

Just click on it to enlarge.

Here's someone enjoying some exuberant mountain flying in a Nova Ra. This glider is a DHV 2 rated wing, from 2006. But the photo took my eye, so here it is! The picture was taken almost exactly a year ago. The camera was a Canon EOS 30D. Wouldn't the original image make a great poster!

Website Content of the Month

Pages are always being added to the site or updated, and I usually highlight just one such page here. This month I decided to update a couple of pages which list the current FAI world records for paragliding. Both free flight and powered. The straight distance record for free-flight was extended to over 460 km in December! Here's a few notes on the record-breaking flights. Yes, flightS plural since no less than 3 pilots completed the distance, landing together at the end!

What's more, the 3 pilots were all Brazilians, flying SOL Tracer competition wings, in Brazil. All 3 men are on the flying team of the SOL company which manufactures paragliders in... Brazil! The initial location was Quixada, which already has an excellent reputation for good cross-country flights. This area is in the North East region of the country.

The interesting aspect to this very long distance adventure was the great amount of time spent in the air. Skill, local knowledge and paraglider performance have been steadily pushing back the starting times of cross-country flights in this area of the country. At the other end of the day, GPS flight verification now means that pilots don't have to land before sun-down to prove they have covered the claimed distance. Previously, photographic evidence was required and of course it's a bit hard to make out land features after dark!

Bearing in mind that this paragliding newsletter and in fact most of the website is really for 'newbies', any constructive feedback is welcome! In particular, what would you really like to see in this newsletter? Just reply to this email and tell me your thoughts.

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