440 kilometers in Brazil
When you wake up at 4:45 AM and you feel good, after 5 days of trying, you tell
yourself "today is the day." The feeling is shared my teammates Clement Latour
and Reynald Mumenthaler. They are motivated, expectations are high.
We got towed up at 6:49 AM after seeing the first thermal signs. Released, let's
fly like a team to find lift. We got nothing, and agreed to land back on the
airfield to get towed again as fast as possible.
Flying with Andy's crew is super efficient. We got back in the air again at
07:06 AM. It seems like we are again not in the right tempo, we are sinking out
backward until we touched something at 50m above ground. Reynald lands out
again. If I had to bet on somebody to land, it would not have been him.
Even while surviving, we are drifting well. Slowly we get out of the low layer
and finally find some comfort. Top speed on the second hour at 97km/h, yes, yes
it's a good day, and so far our average speed can bring us to 500km. After the
low save, the third group is catching up to us, and with five pilots together we
are efficient. As I think the day is good, I'm trying to play it safe, being an
Clement is there, helping me, encouraging, reminding me to drink, eat, to keep
my mind clear for a 10 hours flight.
Conditions are really good until we hit the downwash of the thermal in Quixada.
It gets critical, we have to get out of here, the margin is getting smaller and
smaller. There's something we just have to find it.
Bam! Clement is telling me he has something. Tension at its highest,
concentration also, we also find the thermal with Peter Kleinman and Pascal
Bissing. Clement is higher. Cloudbase. 300km mark passed. We still have
time, now I just have to stay high, follow the cloudstreet, take every lift we
find and let us drift away.
And then, the mistake. I want so much to stay higher than the others that I'm
taking too slow climbs, the others are flying away, Clement tells me I'm too far
behind. And he is right. In the next thermal I'm in the end of the cycle, lower,
alone. Clement is telling me to calm down, take my time to get to cloud base
again. He is waiting me like a satellite, I can see on my oudie that in the
upper layer it's climbing better.
My confidence is leaving me, I need to recenter the core, and have no clue where
is that damned 4m/s. Finally got it. Cloudbase.
Now it's getting late, weak. Passed the 400 km mark. We still have some nice
cumulus even if the sun is getting very low. We are taking everything. The day
ends like it started. Drifting in 0.5 m/s climbs. Anything we can take will
bring us further. This feeling of gliding away while the sun is going down with
my boyfriend by my side is so great. Which mark will we hit?
There is a landable spot by a lake surrounded by forest. Bearing to the lake.
Wow, we can glide further. Football field. We still have some meters to gain. We
turn right so we can keep a landable spot, and end up next to a farm. The farmer
is coming. I am trying to imagine how we look like for him, coming from the sky,
two persons not speaking his language, and him not knowing what paragliding is.
That must be really strange.
We are packing before all because night is coming. A school bus arrives. We have
the farmer's friends coming around, they are curious, they want bring us to
their home, we are showing them pictures. Zoio arrives. We will pick up Reynald
who relaunched and flew 410km alone and go to sleep in Santa Quiteria.
When we find him, he has also stuff to tell about his way out of the Pampa. We
are laughing, having dinner and a beer. We will celebrate later. I am mostly on
my phone, reading all the messages, with a feeling of accomplishment.
I would never be enough thankful towards Clement. He is a real model in the way
he flies and he was always there when I was in trouble, encouraging on the
radio. I still have a lot to learn, so I am happy about this performance shared
Too bad Reynald was not there, but we got one more week so we will have other