XC Media

Cross Country

Cross Country June 2020

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Cross Country is the world’s leading voice for hang gliding, paragliding and paramotoring pilots. Ten times a year, our magazine content reflects our obsession with flying, and we express it by packing each issue with the most imaginative, inspirational photography and writing we can lay our hands on.

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United Kingdom
XC Media
10 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
flying is an escape

“It’s been an amazing spring. Week after week of high cloudbase and light winds here in the Alps. Unfortunately we have been inside, looking out!” That is typical of some of the emails I have had this past month. Brilliant conditions, but grounded. Like a kid at the fairground without pocket money, it’s been look but don’t touch. Lockdown. Hope for the best. During our lockdown we took the opportunity to talk to pilots about what they were up to. Pál Takáts was on his mountain in Colombia ready to go self-sufficient. Jocky Sanderson was at home taking the time to enjoy the beautiful spring. Yael Margelisch was on her balcony in Switzerland chilling out. Dr Matt Wilkes was working in an intensive care unit: “Not the great flying season I had…

1 min.

John Stapels is the lucky photographer who got to travel with Tom de Dorlodot and Horacio Llorens on their trip to India last year. A long-standing member of the Search Projects team he packed his biggest boots to get the cover shot and more in the Himalaya, p46. instagram.com/johnstapels Benjamin Guindre started paragliding in 1994 while in the French army at Chambéry in the Alps. Now based in Carcassonne, he is a professional photographer. His photographs of members of the mountain commandos on p58 will have you reaching for your night vision goggles. benjaminguindre.com Stephan Stiegler lives in the Austrian Alps and has been flying for decades – he was world champion back in 1995. Now owner/designer of AirDesign, he was the perfect person to ask about flying the famous classic route…

4 min.
how lockdown hit flying

Free flight took a big tumble in the month following the coronavirus lockdown. Data from three sources shows how free-flight pilots were forced to stop flying and as a result stopped logging their flights online – although flying didn’t stop completely everywhere. 1. XContest XContest is the big online XC league. Around 15,000 paraglider pilots, 600 hang glider pilots and 250 paramotor pilots use it to log their flights. As well as the overall World XContest it hosts 27 national contests and dozens of club contests each year. Typically, a good weekend day in March or April will see more than 3,300 XC flights logged as the European season starts. However, the month from mid-March to mid-April saw a big change in behaviour, with the busiest days only seeing 600 flights logged. The…

3 min.
the naked pilot veso ovcharov

I’m good at home. I live in Sofia, Bulgaria and we have a 2,000m mountain just outside the city. From downtown to take-off it’s 30 minutes. It’s been blocked by road, but we are allowed to hike-and-fly. You can ski, snowboard, mountain bike, fly all on this mountain. It’s an oasis. I learnt to snowboard there as a kid and learnt to fly there in the late 1990s. I was 17 when I first flew. I remember on my first day I was with two friends, waiting to meet the instructor at a tiny car park. He was late and my friends wanted to go, but I said, “No, wait, he’ll be with us any minute, I know it. He’s going to land right here.” I had the feeling that if I…

3 min.
why go to… austria in june

The route This is a classic route along an Alpine paragliding highway, and is accessible for most XC pilots. The classic out-and-return is from Höhenstrasse to Zell am See. It’s 70km one-way, so 140km there and back. If you start from Wildkogel it’s half that, so 70km out-and-return. Where to start I live in Zell am Ziller in the Zillertal Valley, and launch is above the village, from 2,000m on the Zillertaler Höhenstrasse, a road that runs up the mountain. You can get a bus to launch – the take-off is next to the bus stop. For beginners it is simpler to start further east at the Wildkogel, as this cuts out the tricky valley crossing at the start of the route. The Höhenstrasse works early because the slope faces east – sometimes thermals…

2 min.
making seven days later

Brett Hazlett is a Canadian pilot and filmmaker who has flown for 25 years. His latest paragliding short is Seven Days Later, about the Pan-American Championships in Brazil in March. The title comes from the fact that seven days later, WHO declared the coronavirus pandemic. Brett, we know a lot of your films are nostalgic, but this is at another level – it connects straight to why we fly. When I was younger, everything felt like a trend – straight lines, going on forever. Now I’m older, I appreciate the cyclical nature of life. The returns, the endings, the hello-goodbyes. I think also at my age I now experience things more intensely, with more joy and sadness than ever – and a part of that is sometimes having this lingering ache in…