FAI Hang Gliding and Paragliding Commission (CIVL)

17 Feb 2023

4 records of Tomaz Erzen - you need to find the right take off

On August 4 2022, Tomaz Erzen launched from Bela Peč in Slovenia and that flight of him led to 4 simultaneous records: 2 European and 2 World. On his Enzo 3 he made 304,9 km of Declared out-and-return distance and 311,0 km of Free out-and-return distance. These records were ratified by FAI at the end of the year. We contacted Tomaz to learn more about his flight.

How long have you been doing free-flight sport?
I started flying in 92, so 30 years.

What made you begin?
Just wanted to fly and paragliding seems to be the most accessible option to fulfill this dream of flying.

Where did you learn to fly? (Schools or trainers or club)
In nearby club, Krokar Železniki.

Who were the people that inspired you in your life and sport?
If I concentrate on the sport for sure my club friends and mentors who took us, youngsters, under their wings and learned us about flying, weather, and decision making,… That was Roman Lotrič and France Megušar. I also admired and learned from good Slovenian XC and competition pilots Domen Slana, Marko Novak, Matej Jocif, Bojan Marčič. From international pilots, John Silvester was an inspiration for me.

What are your achievements, and titles before breaking a record?
I made tandem out and return the world record back in 2008. Best XC flight of the year 2021, 2022, some XC nationals titles

Why did you decide to break that very record in that very place? 
I can consider this place as my home place. I live really near and I fly and explore this route for 30 years. So 300 km out-and-return was an obvious decision.

What is the previous record and where?
In 2015 Swiss pilot Philipp Steinger, made 292 km as out and return distance. In 2018 the four Slovenian pilots - Bojan Gabersek, Jošt Napret, Primoz Susa and Dušan Orož - made  302,1 km on the same route. The only difference was, that my start and end point was 15 km more to the east than the usual Sorica take-off for this route.

What flying conditions make your record different from the previous one? 
No special different conditions on that flight. Important is that the day holds on with no shower and cloud coverage in the afternoon. Of course tail wind for all of the flight, helps a lot.

How long have you been flying in this area?
For all of my flying career.

How long did the preparation take?
As I fly this area for so long, no special preparation was needed. Some exploration was needed for the western turn point, also some failed attempts.

How many failed attempts have you made before you set this record?
I think 7 from the Sorica which is the usual take-off for this out-and-return route. After I move my start point more to the east, this was my first attempt ))).

Who worked with you during preparation?
I can say all my pilot friends who fly and explore this route for so long.

Have you launched alone or in a company? How far have your companions managed to fly?
For this flight, I launched alone. There were some pilots on the take-off but with different plans and they took off after me.

Tell us about the flight, launch method, your speed, wind speed, thermal strength (from-to), lowest point, and highest point. If possible provide a link to live tracking replay or xc-contest.
Bela peč take off is really small. Just big enough for one glider, so take-off can be tricky.  But is facing east and that’s what you want for the early take-off. You need to be in the air by 9 am to make a 300km flight. The wind was quite perfect, SE in the morning turning to the SW in the afternoon. Not as strong as I was hoping, but OK. My average speed slightly increased during the flight, so I was confident to finish the task. No extreme lows or heights. Check it out at: http://xcglobe.com/flights#show-flight/2499819/

What was the most tricky thing in breaking this record?
Stay motivated to still try after failed attempts.

What was the most difficult part of the flight?
The first hour in the air was the most stressful because it was early and the thermals are weak.

Was there a moment when you were ready to give up?
Never. I didn’t have any problems during the flight, so giving up was not an option.


Was there something unexpected? Frightening? Funny? Any unusual happening?
The flight went really smoothly what is unexpected. You can expect a lot of problems on such a long flight but when all pieces are on your side, then it looks easy.

What were you eating and drinking in the flight (if you were)?
I ate two candy bars and I drank water.

How did you celebrate the record? Who was the first to congratulate you?
My club friends followed me on live tracking during the day. So they were already at the landing waiting for me. It was a nice feeling landing on a “home” landing field with friends waiting to celebrate with me. Yes, we had a beer or two )).

What is your next goal to achieve?
I think it’s time to take a break from this route for a while. I’m interested in some straight-distance flights, starting in Slovenia. Will see.

Any advice to pilots, interesting notice, or some share of experience that you gained while breaking this record?
Never give up! There is always another day.