400kms and a South American Record

400kms and a South American Record

On November 25, 2016, I had one of the most exciting and technical flights of my career.

I had been in Brazil, in the state of Ceará, chasing long distances for over a week. It was the last day of the trip and had already had an amazing week so far, but I was still motivated to fly far.

The day was looking a bit overcast and there were a few small showers, but conditions were supposed to improve. The wind was supposed to increase during the day, so I decided to try and end my trip with a nice flight. After launching at 7:22am and reaching cloudbase, it was clear that the day was promising because the winds aloft were stronger than down below, and that would allow me to fly faster. I waited for almost an hour in the air until the cloudbase was high enough to fly over the terrain safely.

It's tricky to fly in the flatlands so early in the morning because conditions are mellow, cloudbase is low, there's a lot of drift because the wind is always strong. You have to plan every move carefully and take every climb you find, otherwise you can find yourself landing early and missing a good day.

The conditions kept getting better and I was covering ground fast but after around 70km, conditions changed drastically. There weren't any clouds towards the west, where we were heading and that would make it harder to figure out where thermals were. I also noticed the wind on the ground was strong and saw another pilot land flying backwards. Since conditions were still good and there were climbs everywhere, I decided to keep flying and make the most of the day.

The wind kept getting stronger but I was still finding thermals, so I figured it was safer to stay in the air rather than risk landing in less than ideal conditions. At around the 200km mark, my ground speed was 104km/h without accelerating - which is very fast for a paraglider!

After around 300km, the wind dropped a bit and I was less stressed in the air. Now, I could enjoy the landscape and be less stressed about landing. The air was very buoyant and mellow, and I reached almost 3500m ASL! That's almost 3400m AGL! I really felt like I was in orbit and the glide that followed felt like an eternity. Magical!

My flight came to an end at exactly 400km from take off. Before I touched the ground, I enjoyed the last sun rays on my face. After I landed, I was welcomed by a friendly crowd and shared with them the story of my flight while I waited for the retrieve vehicle to come.

I was less than 2km short of the world record, but I still broke the South American record and had an amazing flight that I'll never forget!

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