A new national paragliding record (507km) has been set by Sebastien Kayrouz in Texas this week, and also marks the first 500km paraglider flight ever in the USA. After launching by foot from 2,000 foot Caprock Mountain, Kayrouz was able to ride with the wind an astonishing 315 miles northward. He was in the air for over 10 hours, linking together rising columns of air while gliding through the sky with his avian neighbors.
Notably, Kayrouz completed the route in a 3-line EN D rated wing (the wing is the parachute looking part) instead of the more common 2-line style competition wing. EN D wings are also competition rated, but having only 2-lines facilitates an even more streamlined and precise interaction with the air while gliding and catching pockets of air. These specialized wings allow for picking efficient lines from cloud to cloud.
Texas is a globally popular destination for gliding and is starting to receive more attention than the mecca of gliding itself, Brazil. Gliding depends entirely on the weather, so sunny days are important to drive convection. The advantage of precious sun-time goes to Texas; in summer the Texas sun can shine for around 14 hours, compared to just 12 in Brazil.
This is not the first gliding record that’s been set in Texas. The current world hangliding record was also set in Texas in July 2012 when Dustin Martin and Johnny Durand flew 761km from Zapata, Texas. Impressive stuff.
To the onlooker, paragliding might look like a half-baked drawing that Da Vinci crumpled up and tossed in the corner. But then again, it’s 2020, and humans are really proficient at making our wildest dreams come true. With the current technologies deployed by the gliding industry, the sky is the limit for folks who want to fly.