Incredible Speed Flying Mont Blanc

This post was written by jd on June 12, 2013
Posted Under: Recreation


The above video was shot twice, the morning video had to be scrubbed because one of the speedriders crashed into the mountain in the morning.

Speedriding or SpeedFlying, what ever you want to call it, looks impressive and thrilling to say the least!

Speed flying is a unique hybrid sport that has combined elements of paragliding, parachuting, and even skiing to create a new sport. Like paragliding, Speed flying is done by launching from a slope with the wing overhead, already inflated by the incoming air. The main difference between speed flying and paragliding, is that speed flying is meant to create a fast, thrilling ride close to the slope, while the point of paragliding is usually to maintain a longer, gentler flight. The fast landing technique for Speed wings is similar to that used in parachuting. However, parachuting or skydiving is done from a plane or fixed object (BASE jumping), and the wing is designed to arrest the free fall. Newer designs of hybrid-wings (also called mini-wings) are now being produced to allow a high speed “hike and fly” from mountainous areas. They can be soared in strong laminar winds and thermalled similar to paragliders, and may also be trimmed for a more traditional Speed flying descent.

Because of the fast flight speed (30–145 km/h or 20-90 mph), and close proximity to the slope and obstacles, injury and death are considerable risks in this sport. Over 25 pilots have already suffered fatal injuries worldwide since 2006. Also, because of its small size and high wing loading, the wing responds quickly to little pilot input which makes professional instruction very important. However, the high velocities help the glider remain pressurized and resistant to collapse even in turbulent conditions. Proper equipment such as helmets, padded harnesses, and reserve parachutes can help reduce injuries. Advanced wing and ski training, and thorough knowledge of site conditions and hazards are imperative to practicing this sport safely.

Even if provoked, a collapse would open fast without much disturbance. So if you start and land on skis, stay away from the terrain during the flight and work a bit on your landing technique, then you could try one of  these mini-wings with a relatively low risk (but still with great fun!)
The problems only begin when you go from Speedflying (staying above the ground) to Speedriding (Touch and Go’s with your skis) as very good judgment is needed how your glide path will come out, wether you will make it over that rock or tree or wether you might hit the ground in a curve etc.  Great caution and discipline is necessary: you should learn to know your wing step-by-step, before you start to touch the ground more often.

Anyhow, good luck, I don’t think I want to start speedriding, what do you think?
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