From in-depth botanical observations to flying 1400 metre high
09. Sep 2021
When did you start paragliding?
Vera: I took up paragliding in July 2020, after a two-day introduction weekend. On the second day, I was already sure that I wanted to learn the sport, so I started the training afterwards.
András: I started the course in March this year, but I had been thinking about flying in some form for years.
Do you do paragliding or powered paragliding?
Vera: We fly without an engine, which gives us a great sense of freedom, as we can stay up in the air thanks to natural conditions, which can be downwind or thermals (warmer, rising air currents).
András: I also fly without a motor in a paraglider. I don't really want to try the powered version, because it wouldn't give me as much freedom.
Why did you choose this hobby? Why is paragliding attractive to you?
Vera: I've always been fascinated by the world of aviation, and to this day I always look up when I hear the engines. Gliding has always seemed to me the most beautiful and relaxing form of flying, and perhaps the easiest one for all to learn.
András: I wanted a hobby that would be both physically and mentally challenging, and flying is perfect for that. Within this, I chose paragliding because it is one of the most flexible forms of flying. A paraglider is relatively easy to transport, fitting into the boot of any average car.
Who would you recommend this hobby/sport to?
Vera: I think what really matters is the love of nature. When paragliding, we are outdoors all the time, and anyone who goes paragliding feels that it is important to pay attention and take care of the environment. At first glance, many people might not realize, but you need to be fit for this sport; experienced hikers have an advantage here.The equipment, weighing almost 16 kg, has to be carried up to the starting point several times a day, which can be a 40-50 minute hike uphill. I would recommend this sport to adventurous candidates who have a good deal of stamina and are basically rule followers.
András: I would only recommend it to those who are prepared to carry a not so light equipment up to the starting points. You need basic physical stamina – and a bit of madness, let's face it...
I should also mention that this sport comes with huge responsibility. Flying a flying machine is not like running in the forest. Here, on the other hand, there are serious rules, and the pilot is responsible if they are not respected.
What was your most memorable paragliding experience?
Vera: I had a great experience with my first high altitude flight at the Nagy-Eged mountain, which is a popular spot for many paragliders, because it has 3 wind directions, so you can take off in different conditions. It was also very memorable when I had the opportunity to practice thermalling in Slovenia. You can gain altitude by circling in the rising warm air.This is also a great experience, because the air is typically more turbulent in thermal times and you can feel the movement of the parachute better.
András: On my first day, when we were just learning ground parachute handling in a flat area, a sudden gust of wind hit my parachute and lifted me several floors high in just a few seconds. I was not expecting it at all, and it was an unforgettable experience.
Have you paraglided in any unique locations?
Vera: The foreign locations were the most memorable for me. In France, we started from Mont Gross, where you can see the panorama of Monaco from the starting point and the landing point is right on the beach; it's a great experience to land on the Cote D'Azure. Slovenia was also very memorable, where I managed to set new records in both duration and altitude.
András: I've only flown in Hungary so far, but I've also been to places here that I would never have visited if I hadn't taken up the sport. There are beautiful places in Hungary too.
How high do you fly?
Vera: It varies depending on what the weather conditions allow on any given day. The highest altitude I have managed to reach is 1400 metres; after starting from 1000 metres I managed to climb 400 metres with the help of thermals.
András: As I'm still in the very beginning, my maximum has been barely 200-250 metres, but I hope to go a bit higher in the autumn months.
Have you had a particularly exciting or dangerous experience during one of your paragliding flights?
Vera: I haven't had any particularly dangerous experiences, and I'm working on not having any. I don't think you can do this sport without humility. It's never a shame to say no, pack up and walk off the mountain if the conditions don't allow you to fly; I've done it several times.
András: Fortunately I have not had a dangerous experience, but I have flown over trees with my foot hanging in the canopy. Once, during a failed take-off, I fell and hit the ground with all my strength, and then – as the parachute kept moving – I was able to do botanical observations at ground level for another 20 metres before I managed to stop it. The helmet had already paid for itself that day.
Are there any paragliding experiences that you have used in your work afterwards? If so, how has it affected your work?
Vera: For paragliding, I would say it's a multifaceted story, a lot of things influence the parameters of flying on a given day. Perhaps what comes most from the sport in my work is the perseverance it takes to make a flight happen.
András: I need to have the same kind of skills in my work that I use when paragliding: situation analysis and then a good decision at the right time After the aforementioned fall, I got up and set up for take-off again. This is an essential trait that I also rely on at work. Wherever people work, there will be mistakes, you have to overcome them as soon as possible and focus on the solution.
Is there a goal or level you would like to reach in paragliding, or a destination where you would definitely like to paraglide in the future?
Vera: I currently have my first "A" exam, with this qualification I can do practice flights in non-turbulent weather. I would like to accumulate the necessary 30 hours of flight time for the next "B" exam, which will allow me to fly in turbulent conditions and perform long-distance flights alone. I would also like to participate in training sessions where we can practice different emergency situations. My future destinations include Italy and the island of Madeira.
András: I would like to fly in the Alps, and there is a branch of the sport called "hike and fly" that I would like to try. It combines flying and high mountain hiking, so it would be the ideal sport for me.
What was the experience/feeling of your first flight?
Vera: It's an unforgettable feeling when your feet leave the ground for the first time, it's very exciting when the parachute comes up over your head, you run to gather speed for take-off, and then you're up in the air.
András: I really enjoyed my first flight at high altitude, but I also had some serious thrill. The meadow I had to land on looked very small from above, but I finally landed successfully after my first high-altitude adventure.