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New Paragliding World Record 159 KM Tandem

Ključne besede:  out-and-return flights, record in tandem
Vir:  Tomaž Eržen
Datum: 10 2007

Tomaž Eržen, po poklicu programer in dizajner aplikacij v podjetju PRONET Kranj, je zopet dokazal svoje odlično znanje v letenju z jadralnim padalom. Poleg svetovnega rekorda v dolžinskem preletu s povratkom v tandemu (159 km in 8 ur brez pristanka), ki ga je postavil že leta 2007, se je v letu 2013 zopet zavihtel na nič manj kot prvo mesto na slovenskem tekmovanju.

Več o tem si lahko preberete tule:
Rezultati SLO 2013
Svetovni rekord – FAI
Potek leta

The out-and-return flights from Soriska Planina have always been a challenge for me. Every year, we pushed the limits further and further. I still remember when I first flew from Soriska in 1994. It was only to Bohinj, but at the time I thought it was really crazy and unimaginable. The following year we flew to Bogatin and back, and others flew to Krn. At the time, we thought that it would be difficult to fly further, but newer gliders, better understanding of the weather conditions, and experience made it possible. First we flew to Kobariski stol, Montemaggiore, Mali vrh, Campon , and then further along the valley. To break the current solo out and return record requires professional flying, great weather, familiarity with the terrain, motivation, and a very fast flying.

This spring and the beginning of the summer weren't very good for long distances. Lack of time and motivation were the main reasons why I didn't make any flights from Soriska. At the beginning of July, Tanja gave me the idea of trying to beat the world record in tandem that she and Klemen flew two years ago. I had thought about this idea, but never had the motivation, time, courage,... only excuses. After the Slovenian nationals we decided to give it a try when suitable weather appeared. We didn't have much time because the days were getting shorter, and we also need a proper glider. With my old bomber, such flights are impossible. Luckily Valter had a new Pasha 3, and agreed to lend it to me. We were now just waiting for a good weather forecast.

Wednesday, August 1st seemed like the day we had been waiting for. In the evening I looked at the map; selected the waypoints; read the rules for the record on the Fai web site, and called my boss to tell him that I wouldn't be coming to work tomorrow. On Ratitovec and Vogel there was a north wind, but it was too late, at 10 o'clock we were already on launch. The wind was great, and the forming cumulus were going south. The wind on Vogel was, in my opinion, still too strong from the northeast. At 11 o'clock the conditions were pretty much the same, and we decided that we wouldn’t start and would try some other time. During the next few days, we tested our glider on Gozd to avoid surprises on Soriska. Although I was accustomed to my own glider, I was pleasantly surprised by the new tandem. The breaks were light, and felt much like a solo glider. My spirits rose.

Monday, August 6th – the weather forecast was good. We checked the wind forecast and Aladin – and became nervous. This time there were no dilemmas, we would fly for sure and see what happened. I had been expecting more pilots on the take off, but there was only Jure, who planned a 200 km flight. We started at 10:40 a.m. and found a wind-blown thermal on the eastern side. We reached the top of the hill, and from there headed towards the start point that I had placed to the west of Soriska and a bit lower, because I didn't want our final glide to be short of the finish. Only 80 km to the turn point. On Kobla we topped up our height, and so we arrived almost at the top of Crna prst.

The first cumulus began to form but, as is usual at this early hour, they were not well organized. We flew relatively slowly to Vogel, but without complications. On the eastern side of Zabiski Kuk we didn't find any thermals, so we crossed to the west side and rushed towards Tolminski Migavec. We didn’t find anything useful on the way, and crossed the valley containing the Tolminka river at 1400m. This isn’t low, but is not very safe in this area. We moved slowly, making figure of eights to the top of Grusnica. Finally the thermal strengthened, and we reached 2000 m before we soared on. We topped up height on Rdeci rob, and flew below the mountain refuge on Krn. I wanted to be as high as possible for the transition, because I didn’t want to finish the flight early at Stol, as had happened to me one day when I was flying solo. Although we didn't have a much altitude, we glided to Stol, and towards the antenna where a beautiful cumulus and a strong thermal didn’t disappoint me, and I shot straight to cloudbase. As we progressed towards Campon, everything went smoothly, and a cloudstreet ensured good height. We had to top up on height before attempting the largest valley crossing. At Campon we got to base (somewhere near 2200 m). Before the lake, between hills M.Brancot and M.Simeone, we caught a thermal that took us to 1500 m, and we arrived at the far side almost at the top. We were 8 km away from the turn point, but had no problem reaching it because the cloud base was 2400m. We had flown for three and a half hours, and we were half way. We still had enough time, and if everything went smoothly we wouldn't be back too late. We lost height until we reached M.Simeone. I had been playing with the idea that we could get back to Campon, but I didn’t dare take the risk. So, as usual, we flew to Muzce where we met Jure. Before we reached Boka we climbed to 2300 m, and I had the feeling that there would be no problem getting to Polovnik. Jure climbed a little higher on Boka, but it seemed a waste of time for us. Gasper joined us on the way to Polovnik. He had flown from the north, and was returning to Drazgose. We took photos and chatted a little. We slowly lost height. Everybody knows that you should fly towards Polovnik further out, and only before the end you should fly closer to the ridge. Many flights end here because of the usual eastern wind or not knowing this rule. I thought we had done everything right, but towards the end of the ridge the conditions were not that good. Gasper had no problem with his competition glider, and he flew to Polovnik and was already in thermal. We, on the other hand, were going down. We arrived at 750 m, and we are in trouble. We didn’t encounter any usable thermals, and by the time we got to Trnovo, we had lost an additional 100 m. Jure was above us, and we were practically on the ground. ‘Is this the mistake of the day?’ I couldn't get this thought out of my head. Doing figure of eights, I tried to use any weak ascendence, but for 10 minutes didn’t get anywhere. We were quiet as mice, hoping that we wouldn't land before time. We slowly rose for about 100 m, and finally the thermal consolidated, allowing us to soar to the top of Polovnik. This was a great relief, but we didn’t have time to ponder it: we had lost half an hour already. The day was ending and we were still 30 km from achieving our goal. We moved along the ridge, circled above Krasji vrh, and then glided to the westerly wall of Krn that still had a cloud above it. Slowly we located the thermal that shot up to the highest altitude of the day – 2600 m. When we reached Tolminski Migovec we didn’t encounter any problems, and slowly climbed to 2300 m. It was 6 o'clock in the evening. Instead of following the hills, we flew directly towards Zabiski Kuk. At first it seemed we would pass over it, but this soon proved to be impossible. We had to go round, and encountered rotor and again lost more altitude before reaching the east side. We followed the ridge exactly, and tried to use every light termal, because without those we wouldn’t reach our goal. Before Rodica we took the last lift. Our instrument showed that we would arrive 80 m above the goal, but we knew we couldn’t fully rely on that. We got low on Crna prst, under the Kobla ridge. It was going to be a close call. Luckily it was already so late that there was no wind that could hinder our arrival. Our instrument beeped: we had made it with 100 m to spare. It was lucky that I had placed the point on the west side, otherwise we wouldn't have reached it. Just in case, we flew further into the sector. We couldn't land in Sorica anymore, so we headed to Podbrdo. We searched for possible landings. The pastures were too small. The train station would be possible, but we were not too enthusiastic about this idea. We decided on a steep pasture 100 m above Podbrdo, and we landed after 8 hours and 20 minutes.

It is hard to express our first feelings, we were exhausted. After 8 hours in flight we drank our first liquid. We packed our glider and walked towards the valley where Gasper picked us up and took us back to Soriska to get our car.

Although the last part was pretty technical, I thought that it would be harder. The glider was excellent, the weather was perfect, and we were also blessed with a little luck. The key to a flight like this is, of course, is having a passenger who doesn't change her mind during the flight, cooperates with the pilot, and knows what to do in diverse situations. That is why I thank Tanja for her patience and persistence!!
Record: out-and-return flight
Distance: 158.97 km
Time spent: 8h and 3 min
Pilot: Tomaz Erzen
Passenger: Tanja Kompan
Glider: MacPara PASHA III

Ratified by FAI: 05. 10. 2007