It´s a warm summer day, the birds are chirping, the sky is blue. There is a boy on a train on his way back from school, his eyes gaze at the horizon where some colourful pieces of fabric are flying in circles over the mountain tops. This boy is me, Somi, back in 2009. Ever since I could think I was fascinated by things that aren't attached directly to the ground without falling back to it immediately; in easier words: everything that could fly. From normal planes, over helicopters to rockets... you name it. At the age of 14 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start paragliding training at a nearby flight school. From the first second of leaving the ground I was addicted, even more than before! From this moment on I put all my effort and free time into this sport, into this passion. Soon "straight" flight from the takeoff directly to the landing got boring so I started to do bigger turns with more and more bank angle, higher pitching and more dynamic in general which leads to what we know today as acrobatic paragliding. Acrobatics is the mastery of pure wing control. All with just the few steering inputs you have on a paraglider: just 2 lines you can pull and weight shift. With the combination of timing, speed and amplitude it's possible to create mind bending maneuvers in the sky. Thanks to the fact that the center of gravity is far apart from the center of lift its possible to perform tricks that normal planes are not capable of doing. That makes flying acro with a paraglider really unique and special to observe. In my eyes it's also the best thing anybody could do to improve wing control and flying in general. Also the most important thing: it's so much fun!
After some years of flying I discovered the beauty and challenge in big cross country flying. Step by step I got started to fly further distances and therefore understand how it's achievable to move through the landscape as fast and efficiently as possible. Little did I know that my past years of acrobatics helped me a lot to improve fast in cross country flying. Because wing control and thoroughly understanding this flight machine is the foundation of proper cross country flight. Additional to that there is also knowledge of weather systems, thermals, wind, and a lot of experience required. So I spent many rainy days reading books about weather and flight tactics. The effort paid off quite quickly; I started to compete in cross country flying and became Austrian champion in 2018, the first full comp season for me. At the moment I'm also competing on an international level in the World Cups and I'm a member of the Austrian national team. Racing with more than 100 other pilots at once I still learn a lot about tactics and efficiency; especially if the weather conditions are not perfect a pilot needs the right strategy to outplay his competitors. So competitions on a high level are similar to a game of chess. A game of chess with the brute force of nature.
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