Skydiving and BASE jumping are wonderful but fleeting pastimes. For those Adrenalists who want to spend prolonged periods sailing high above the clouds, thousands of feet in the air, paragliding is a dream come true. By manipulating a system of rope lines attached to the paraglide sail, athletes can use the wind to travel hundreds of miles, ascending and descending as they wish. Paragliding is, without a doubt, as close to avian flight as one can get.
Watch 5 of the most extreme paragliding videos below.
We’ve seen tandem skydives and BASE jumps plenty of times, but paragliding pals who repeatedly detach and re-attach to each other is more rare and totally rad to watch because of that very novelty. For us, there are three key awe-inspiring elements in this paragliding video. First is the proximity with which each paraglider travels to the other. The skill and coordination necessary to glide as close as they do, at 1:09 for example, without getting tangled or colliding is impressive. The second part of this video that we find mind-blowing is the natural beauty it depicts. An important aspect of the paragliding lifestyle is taking in the wonders of the natural world and this video really gives us an authentic exposure. Last, but not least, is the landing in a city square. That’s got to be as challenging as it is stunning to watch.
568 Flips At 20,000 Feet
To be fair, there were lots of stunts in the tandem paraglide just covered. Totally true. But none were world-record-setting; this stomach-turning series of somersaults pulled off by paraglider Horacio Llorens was. On December 21, 2012, in a feat undertaken to commemorate the Mayan’s end of the world prediction, four-time aerobatic paragliding world champ completed 568 loops after jumping out of a plan sailing 19,700 feet above Guatemalan ground. Wired reports that an acrobat performing this somersault at this height, otherwise known as an “infinity tumble,” experiences six times the force of gravity. That’s for one somersault. Llorens did 568 times that many.
Oldest Paraglider Of All Time
While not as extreme a take on the tandem glide as we saw in our first paragliding video, this selection earns serious street cred because of the astounding age of the gliding Adrenalist. Last May, Margaret McKenzie McAlpine set a Guinness World Record for becoming the oldest female to paraglide tandem, at a breathtaking 104-years-old. McApline’s daring is truly inspiring. Despite her years, she’s committed to living life to the fullest and not letting age get in her way of experiencing the wonders of living extreme. We should all hope to be so healthy and courageous.
You may remember multi-talented Adrenalist Will Gadd’s name from an earlier piece in which we profiled his ice-climbing prowess. Today, we turn our attention to Gadd’s extreme paragliding skills and, more specifically, to a world-record-setting trip he took in Zapata, Texas. Here, Gadd set off on a grueling 10-hour, 38-minute-long expedition in which he traveled 263 miles, the longest span ever covered with a paraglider. Recounting the journey that, at times, he says he was uncertain he’d be able to safely complete, Gadd writes: “I continue to dream about flying into the sunset Texas Hill Country; some nights I climb out into the light like an invincible hawk, on others I crash painfully into the shadows and awake with the knowledge that, while I flew well, I also rolled the dice-and won.” Rolling the dice and winning–it’s the classic paradox of any worthwhile success. (Though we couldn’t find video of Gadd’s record-setting trip, we’ve provided a clip where he makes a daring, albeit shorter, voyage across the Grand Canyon.)
Would you be able to swallow your fear long enough to complete your first ever motored paraglide, all alone, above a daunting body of water? How about if you were 13-years-old? That’s exactly what this brave young man did. Receiving directions via headset, the novice glider launched and landed a trip that would make many more experienced athletes proud. With this feat, young Kenton became the youngest paramotor trike pilot in the world. He’s also the youngest pilot to ever foot launch a powered paraglider. Pretty sensational.
Know any other extreme paragliding videos that deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comments below or @DegreeMen on Twitter.