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Hidden lines

There are places we can venture, where there is no room for error. Hidden lines draw a route, but they must first be found. Bill Belcourt, Matt Dadam, Chris Galli, and Phillip Russman, take us for a ride over the wilderness of the Uinta Mountain Range, in Utah, USA. To experience the Uintas, stars must align. Perfect conditions, the right team, modern equipment, and real commitment came together for this team, recently:

Of their flight, Bill Belcourt says, “There is only one road that bisects the first 25% of the range and after that you are a long ways from anything. Conditions have to be perfect to fly this line and it does not get flown much (as in, almost never). The range is notorious for over-development, wind, and the plateau is so high and broad you can easily sink out at over 12,000ft (3650m). The walk out could take days… A few of us have been deep in there before, but this flight was the first time we had a posse (6 pilots, 4 on Zenos). That made it way more fun and easier to handle the depth of the range. The place is mind blowing on so many levels, and this was certainly one of the best flights of all time for us.

Chris Galli says, “The strange thing about this flight is that you can start a long XC flight by traversing across the rugged and remote mountains in Utah, and end the XC day flying across the starkness of the southern Wyoming high deserts near sunset”

We think the photos are worth a few more words. Thanks for the ride, guys, keep charging. Cheers, from all the Team

3 Big Walls | 2 Flights | 1 Day | No Rope Project

On the morning of August 8th, Austrian Alpinist, Hansjörg Auer embarked on an adventure with a few essentials: his small paraglider, a light paragliding harness, his climbing shoes, a jacket, a pair of thin gloves, a headband and his chalk bag. Hansjörg shares the story of his latest project, 3 big walls | 2 flights | 1 day | no rope:

“Already as a young kid I was fascinated about mountaineering in general. For the last 15 years I’m playing the game of free solo climbing and back in 2007 I took off with a paraglider for the first time. To combine those three elements within a day and to experience a different kind of physical and mental limit was something I was thinking about for a long time.

While searching for the right mountain range the Italian Dolomites were my first choice. Choosing then Marmolada, Piz Ciavazes and Sass dla Crusc for the climbs was pretty logical. It’s simply the faces where I always felt at ease. Equipment wise I used a 18L backpack, filled with my wing, a light paragliding harness, my climbing shoes, a jacket, a pair of thin gloves, a headband and my chalk bag. To do the project without any stashed gear was obligatory for me.

But the whole journey would have been impossible without my brother Matthias, who gave me his full confidence even during the moment before my last free solo climb on Sass dla Crusc when it got difficult to stay concentrated. After the final pitch I felt relieved to see Matthias sitting on the rim waiting for me. He looked calm and relaxed, while I felt tired and exhausted. After 15 minutes walking we reached the last summit together and enjoyed an amazing sunset with three cans of beer”

Hansjörg flew his Ultralite 3.

Congrats and cheers from all the team at OZONE.

Lex and his first 300+ Km FAI Triangle

The European summer has been packed with amazing flights and we have received stories from all over. The next story comes from the South Tyrol in Italy where Lex Robe follows his instinct and, against the odds, finds his way to his first 300+ km FAI triangle from the Grente in the beautiful Antholz Valley, Enjoy:

“On our way to the takeoff we were a bit unsure about the weather. Hardly anyone of my flying mates followed my public Facebook “Grente-invitation”, heavy rain from Emberger Alm until Italy and finally just us 6 Austrians and just 2 locals with a tandem believed in the day and climbed to the summit of Grente Alm above Anterselva. Although we started a little late we were rewarded with an already turned on airmass and especially with plenty of height alreday in the first thermal. So the initial risk of early takeoffs to bomb out was successfully defused and the way to the Großglockner (highest peak of Austria) was a no-brainer: High cloudbase and low winds allowed a safe extension of the first Turnpoint to the east.

After tagging it, battling 10-20km/h headwind along the 120km from Großglockner to the end of the Ridnaun valley was the name of the game. While all other pilots aborted their flights due to the westerly wind, we on our High-Performance Ozone wings were able to surfe the skies rather comfortably – and even in a very efficiant manner: These 120 headwind-km took me just over 3:35 h with an average speed of 31 km/h – also including the long soaring-period which was required to overcome the completely shaded and therefore thermically dead Ridnaun valley. As I was early enough I was completely motivated to find my way somehow through to Sölden, but the starting sleet shower destroyed that dream prematurely…

I had to glide all the way back to Rosskopf near Sterzing to find some heart- and hang-warming sun again. But flying was easy now as the Westerlies were now helping a lot and combined with the high cloudbase of 4000m fast progress towards the Dolomites was a nobrainer.
The south saw its typical strong development, but today the voice of overdevelopment was silenced: I was able to make cloudbase at 4400+m and simply glide with the North-Wersterly winds towards South. At trim speed to minimize my sink on my path into the blue. As it was still early for this high summer day, I dared to even glide to a monumentally huge Rockface I have not even known before: the Civetta. A vertical mountain shell that looked like a 1000m eroded coral. Just insane. And I was soaring it. Close by. What a moment!

I dared to fly even a little further south before I turned my head north again to the take-off, which was still 50km away. At 6:20p.m. sun was still high and burned onto the perfectly ligned West-faced Ridges ahead of me. So I always believed it could be possible to get back again, as the forecasts showed southerly winds in the lower regions. And that was definitely what I needed. Though I was never forced to survival mode, I was happy to find myself supported by the correctly forecasted winddirection. Conditions were still “on”and after a conservative entry at the Kreuzkofel mountain range, I knew I had it: a well-formed cloud with still a high base-level at almost 4000m was helping me to get the last climb I needed for the loooong and always so rewarding glide back to the LZ.
And just like the cherry on the cake, the Northerly wind in the height has completely vanished and the glide ratio made me even scream for joy. I made it, my first 300km-FAI triangle of my life! Another time proven: Never dismiss a good but complicated day too early, never!
When you look at the final glide picture you can see, I still was landing somewhat early for that day, the clouds were still working! At 8:20 p.m, I put my feet on the ground again, after ten and half hours of carving the South-Tyrolean Skies. With the Zeno I could average at 29,6km/h – great especially with the longest leg in headwind…

I’m still stoked. Thanks Ozone for creating such a pleasurable wing to fly!”

For Lex’s track, click here

Congrats from all the team at Ozone.

Red Bull X-Alps 2017

Red Bull X-Alps, the world’s toughest adventure race has returned for its eighth edition. Starting in Salzburg, 31 Athletes of 20 nationalities are racing a straight-line distance of 1,138km across the Alps to Monaco via 7 turnpoints in 7 different countries, including a turnpoint in Slovenia for the first time in Red Bull X-Alps history.

Over the years, the race has attracted some of the world’s top adventurers and has pushed them to their limits. It demands not only expert paragliding skills but extreme endurance, as some athletes will hike over 100km a day and gain 1000’s of meters in altitude while flying.

Some of the pilots are flying our new Z-Alps, an ultralite high-performance wing for the most experienced vol-biv adventurers. We wish them well on this fantastic adventure.

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more on the X-Alps 2017!

For live tracking, click here

Dave Turner and “The king Line”

Ozone Team Pilot, Dave Turner, Knows La Sierra like few people do. In 2014, Dave completed an 820 km traverse of the California Sierra, starting in Ventura at the Pacific Ocean and finishing north of Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He is also the only person to have ever crossed the Sierra, going from east to west in 2013 flying over Sequoia National Park.

Last Monday Dave added a new “insane” flight to his list of achievements in his beloved Sierra by flying 196 jaw dropping miles (316 km) from Walt’s Point to Lake Tahoe, what Dave would call “The King Line”. Dave has set (again) a new California distance record. In his own words:

“The flight was epic. I had been dreaming of this flight from Walt’s to Tahoe ever since I first started thermal flying, and I have always referred to this route as the ‘King Line’ of the West Coast. To fly the entire High Sierra in one go, south to north. It felt so good to finally nail it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s over- on a better day, one could fly from the far southern tip of the range all the way north past Reno to the terminus of the range, for the entire tick. Let’s see how far we can push it… BTW The Zeno crushed it, and was a breeze to handle in the rough air.
Big thanks to Jarred, Reid, and his girlfriend for coming to grab me from the landing, and taking me to their place for dinner and a bed. And a very special thanks to Tawny for coming to pick me up and bringing me all the way back home”

Congrats Dave for another unmatchable line and cheers from all the team at OZONE.

Across Bulgaria, x2

In 2015, Nikolay Stoyanov had the idea of crossing Bulgaria flying from the most easterly point of Stara Planina to finish at Kom Peak in the western Balkan Mountains. During his journey he was able to fly every single day, starting with an amazing 115km flight. After landing, he’d continue walking around 6 to 7 hours a day to complete the route in a total of 5 days. He was the first pilot to hike and fly this specific route in Bulgaria.

This year Nikolai decided on a repeat, but this time in the opposite direction, flying east from Kom Peak and finishing on the coast of The Black Sea, in Burgas. This time the weather was less cooperative, but he still managed to conclude the route after flying 168km and hiking 303km in a total of 7 days. Nikolai finished his 2017 challenge on the same glider he flew in 2015, his trusty LM5.

Congrats Nikolai for crossing your country (again)!
Cheers from all the team at Ozone.

Spring has Sprung in the western USA

The 2017 season in the US has started with two amazing flights by two usual suspects.

On May 6th, Josh Cohn started the 2017 party with an impressive 164km flight in a rare location, taking off from the city of Vallejo north of the San Francisco Bay. He landed six hours later close to Merced, in the Central Valley of California. He shares his experience:

“it was an unusual forecast, with cold post-frontal air leaving little marine inversion. I thought we would fly straight East at first but that involved crossing a lot of swamp and the place we topped out put us closer to the SE line to cross toward Concord. We had to skirt the Concord airspace for a ways and got low. We got a save in the shady lee of some hills at Port Chicago. Eric Ams and I worked those hills toward Mt. Diablo but then he landed in Clayton. I then crossed the hills to the E low and followed a spine for a ways with a quartering SW tailwind until some birds showed a good climb and then it was on, fighting cold fingers and avoiding airspace in the San Joaquin valley until the sun got too low. On landing next to an orchard a very friendly family with women in prairie dresses showed me to their immaculate front lawn to fold up and offered to share their dinner. I declined because I knew Eric and Kurt would be there before I was finished packing up”

To continue the new season celebration, on May 13th, Nick Greece visited Nevada and set a new state record with a 278 km flight. After his seven hours flight he had just one thing to say: “Nevada holds 400 kms in it easy, I’m looking forward to getting back there”

Josh and Nick flew Zenos.

For Josh’s Track log clik here
For Nick’s Track log clik here

Congrats guys and let the party continues!

Victor “Bicho” Carrera joins the ozone team

Ozone welcomes Victor “Bicho” Carrera to the team.

Victor is a rising star from Chile, and the best acro pilot in the Americas. In 2016, during the last Acro Paragliding World cup in Annecy, Bicho finished 5th overall competing against the best pilots in the world.

Free flying has been Victor’s passion since he can remember. His dad, one of the first paragliders in South America, took him for his first tandem flight when he was 11-months old. At the age of three, he gave him a present that would define Bicho’s life: a small paraglider to play with.

In Victor’s own words:

“I grew up surrounded by the flying community and I am super lucky to have my own take off in my backyard. Maintencillo, my home site, has been my main inspiration, this is the place where I learned to fly and where I can try a bit of everything . I love to play close to the ground but also love climbing up above the sea cliffs and glide as far as I can over the ocean. There is nothing like waking up at launch and share the same passion with my family every single day”

Welcome to the team, Bicho!

Follow Victor’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram

JACK PIMBLETT JOINS THE OZONE TEAM

Jack Pimblett is the youngest acrobatic paraglider pilot in the UK and one of the most progressive performance pilots the UK has produced. He was sucked into the sport from his very first experience aged 3, joining his father on almost every flight after ward before making the switch from passenger to pilot aged 15. Jack’s rapid progression is a result of his obsession with flying and training at every opportunity.

Cheers, from all the Team!

Follow Jack’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram

Seiko’s Husband Flies, Too!

For many years our ninja pilot, Seiko Fukuoka, has been taking free flight to a new level. What you might not know about Seiko is that she is part of a partnership with someone who is not only a great pilot, but also a source of great support and encouragement for planet Earth’s most accomplished female pilot. Seiko’s other half, and her life partner, so to speak, is a pioneer in French paragliding: Pierre Naville.

During their last visit to Australia, Pierre, as usual, was taking care of ground details to ensure that everything went well and Seiko had the best chance of breaking her own records. After a few days down under, it was Pierre’s turn to relax and get towed first. This story finished 440 km later.

Pierre shares his experience:

“On thursday we drove to Wilkannia, a small aboriginal village in the outback with a catchy slogan “The Midlle of Nowhere but The Center of Everywhere”, well now I knew what to report where I landed: I am in the middle of the center of…

We took off from a dirt road with the help of the towing, once I got in the air I was lucky enough to climb with the morning thermals and found myself at 1000m AGL. The wind was coming from the North and there was not a single cloud in the sky yet. I follow the road down wind to be sure that if I landed it was in an easy spot to be retrieved. After 30 km flying down wind the first difficult decision arrived – I had to cross a huge forest with only a single small landing, I didn’t hesitate and committed to this crossing. On my transition I finally started to see small cumulus forming at 1800 to 2000 meters above the ground, conditions started to improve and now I have many possibilities ahead of me.

I keep flying trying to keep the dirt road on visual and four hours later I arrived to Ivanhoe a small town 180 km from my take off. At this point cloud base is at its best 3500 m but i just climbed to 3000 m to respect the Australian rule that requires Oxigen after 3000 m of altitude.

Now something happened, I started to witness the first perfect cloud streets I have ever seen in Australia! Now I can see my route for the next several kilometers. With the help of this beautiful white street I crossed two of the biggest flooded spots in the area where landing would be lethal unless you were Crocodile Dundee! This crossing takes time but after the 280 km mark I felt more comfortable and start to see more options for landing, I increased my pace and got in sync with the conditions.

I took a moment to absorb the beautiful terrain around, checked my numbers and the feeling of a 400 km flight hit me: “hard to believe but I think I will make it, I may even go farther”. Suddenly a big cirrus showed up, all my long distance dreams started to vanish and, I got on my survival mode and changed my tactic. It is time to use every bit of lift to stay in the air and keep moving forward, I pushed against the wind now between 1000 to 2000 m above the ground for a few hours and after 9h and 17m and 440 km I decided to land close to a village in the middle of nowhere but the center of everywhere.

After 30 years of flying I have to say that I was happy to have the Zeno on this flight. It is by far the best glider I have ever flown.

It is funny how things happened, this day Seiko wasn’t feeling good and Charles had some issues with the tow… I am sure that if they were in the air, they would have broken the 500 km mark…

Merci beaucoup Australia, until next time!”

Congrats Pierre, for such an amazing flight, from all the Team at Ozone. We’re happy that your Zeno is treating you well!