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Vertiginous feats above Lake Geneva

Vertiginous feats above Lake Geneva

Chuck Berry in action

MEDIA RELEASE 14th June 2006

Vertiginous feats above Lake Geneva

New Zealand Team set to take part in 1st FAI World Hang Gliding and Paragliding Aerobatic Championship.

From 18 to 27 August, the world’s best aerobatic hang gliders and paragliders will converge in Villeneuve for the Red Bull Vertigo. Taking part will be a New Zealand team including Chuck Berry (Queenstown- Hangglider) Dominic Eller (Paraglider), Dan Stevens (Paraglider), Jamie McMurtrie (Paraglider).

This year the event, at which competitive acro-flying is considered to have originated, is the first official world championship. The titles at stake are for the disciplines in hang gliding solo, and paragliding solo and synchro (teams of two).

The acro-pilots who meet every year in Villeneuve for the Red Bull Vertigo are the wild minority among hang gliders and paragliders. What they demonstrate with their aircraft takes both the equipment and pilot to their limits. While the paragliders are utterly hurtled through the air and rotated in inconceivable directions by their equipment, the hang gliders present elegant, high-speed variations of free-flying aerobatics. Thanks to the trails of smoke left by torches which are fastened to the flyers, the spectators can follow their winding flight paths – although it is often virtually incomprehensible as to how they can possibly carry out some of the manoeuvres.

The first world championship

From the beginning, the aim of the Red Bull Vertigo was to promote aerobatic hang gliding and paragliding and to offer the perfect conditions to the best pilots of the world. Thanks to many years of lobbying on the part of spokesmen from the aerobatic scene – by Red Bull Vertigo organiser Alain Zoller, among others – there are now regulations which are internationally valid and an aerobatic world cup for hang gliders and paragliders.

The Red Bull Vertigo has been held since 1997 and contributed significantly to the development of the discipline. Safety regulations, competition formats, jury criteria, all of this was worked out, tested and continually developed on the Waadt Riviera.

"After we brought the world cup into being with competitions in Italy, Norway, and the USA and here in Villeneuve three years ago, it was a logical step to request the permission to hold the World Championship," explains Alain Zoller.

A major step for acro-flying

The World Championship is also particularly special for André Hediger. The Swiss paraglider, who grew up on Lake Geneva and now lives in Argentina, is regarded by many as the founder of paragliding aerobatics. As a test pilot he began to expound on certain manoeuvres, thus creating the breathtaking figures that he and his colleagues have been performing for the spectators in Villeneuve year after year. "The World Championship is the result of many years of commitment to acro-flying on the part of the organisers. It is an honour for me to fly in this event, even if it may seem a bit odd that in spite of the fact that Montreux is my birthplace and Villeneuve my former residence, I am starting for Argentina."

Heinz Zwyssig was issued a written warning because of " dangerous flying” from the Swiss Hang Gliding Association in 1978. “That was the beginning of hang gliding aerobatics for me,” he comments with a smirk. The repeated winner of the Red Bull Vertigo is now the trainer of the Swiss national team of hang gliding aerobats. He is also looking forward to the first World Aerobatic Championship: “This means that aerobatics has been recognized by the World Federation, and that is a huge step for us.”


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