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Seiko’s record report – in her words

December 12, 2016

Our resident ninja team pilot, Seiko Fukuoka, just broke one of her own records in Australia. Seiko flew a new record free distance using up to 3 turn points of 393km, breaking her prior record of 378 km set last year in the same playground.

Yesterday, Seiko sent us a quick report on her latest record flight:

The weather forecast showed an unstable day with strong wind, it seemed like the thermic activity was going to start earlier than never. Cloud base didn’t look so good but it was the best report so far.

We arrived at the launching field at 9 am, the wind was strong and gusty, I have never taken off in that much wind but for some reason I felt confident. I had just a single thought “this could be a record day”

I paid more attention to the cloud developing and a new thought hit me “it may be already too late to fly for a record”

Suddenly all the thoughts and doubts vanished and I ran to get ready. The wind was blowing hard so most of the team came on my help to anchor me. As soon as I started to inflate my glider kaboooooommm! I got lifted up from the ground aggressively, I fell right away and started to fly backwards.

My husband, Pierre tried to catch the tow line to bring me back to the ground but he injured his hand badly. The only thing I could hear was “She is flying back, she is flying back…”

After all this chaos I finally got some altitude and realized that there was a tasty cumulus forming above me. I kept climbing up and once I reached the 1000 m mark I freed myself from the tow line.

The air felt great, and I shared the news with my team. Unfortunately after my launched there were some problems with the tows so it took at least 20 minutes for the next pilot to get in the air.

I am by myself, just a few eagles joined me for the first part f my flight. It has been wet in the flats this year so I had to be careful, I could end up landing on a deep lake.

Four hours had passed, the wind had decreased and I had covered 210 km. At this point all the clouds had disappeared and my pace slowed down. The transition between thermals started to take way too long, and the thoughts came back “should I look for a good place to land?”. The wind was still quite strong closer to the ground and it was quite difficult to climb up from the low layers.

I kept drifting with the strong flow and slowly found my way to reach 360 km. I still had three more hours to fly but conditions had deteriorated. Ahead of me there was a forest that I had to cross but it looked too risky so I decided to go for my final glide and landed.

It was 6:00 pm when I got back to the ground. I had two and half more hours to fly, but I was happy with my decision, I have landed safely and I had set a new World record three-point free distance of 393km.

I was lucky enough to get a great invitation for dinner from an awesome couple. He used to be a commercial pilot so it was another dinner, with a lot of flying stories to tell. This kind of random encounters reminds me how grateful I am to be part of this community!

Eight More days to go… Looking forward to getting back there and go!

Congrats Seiko from all the team at Ozone!