14 Aug 2023

The continuity of generations in Hang gliding worlds

Though Hang gliding has always been considered as a sport for the grown-up people there is quite a significant age range of participants in the World Championships of 2023 - the oldest pilot being 68 and the youngest being 28. We asked the two extremes from each age group a few questions about their sports career and flying preferences.

Takashi Matsuda, 68, has been flying for over 40, almost 45 years. His first Hang glider was Japan-made Razor. Currently, he is flying  A-I-R ATOS VR. He has been flying a Class 5 hang glider for almost 20 years. "Since I switched to Class 5, I have never flown Class 1 anymore", - says Takashi. His most preferred place to fly is the European Alps. But when he is in Japan he likes to fly in Ashio. He recommends it and the Nishifuji area as the best place to fly there. Here you can see Takashi at the briefing of the HG Worlds 2023.

Jiri Nadvornik, 67, has been flying since he was 20 years old. His first glider was Rogallo. He is still flying Class 1 gliders. Now in Wills Wing T2 C. He prefers to fly in the flats of the Czech Republic launching by aerotowing, especially in Rognitsa 40 north of Prague. Jiri is the third time competing in Krushevo. His first time was in 2015 in the PreEuro and after in 2016 for the European Championship. Here is the original interview translated by the Czech team leader Dan Vyhnalik. Dan is also a legend in the hang gliding sport. When young, he was competing together with Tomas Suchanek.

Jeremy Soper from the United Kindom is the youngest pilot in Hang Gliding Worlds 2023. He is only 28 years old but has already been flying 10 years. He started in 2013 but it took him long to learn as the weather is not so good in the UK. Remarkably when he started flying he was the youngest pilot in Britain and he is still the youngest pilot in Britain. He says it happened because many young HG pilots moved out of Great Britain to places with better weather. Originally he was following wing-suiters on youtube, was obsessed with it, and wanted to practice. But since all of the people he was watching online kept dying and there was no decent place to try that in Great Britain - no high enough mountains - he tried to search for another sport and discovered powered hang gliding. Jeremy wanted to fly a trike to go anywhere like a car. So he enrolled into powered hang glider school but the teacher said that you need to learn to fly without power first. Jeremy agreed so it happened that the first time he saw a hang glider was the time he clipped into it for the first lesson. So this is how his hang gliding career started. As for powered hang gliding, he gave it a go too. He managed to make several interesting flights including one in the snow, which is impossible with an unpowered hang glider. But his addiction to the free flight has grown. Now Jeremy can fly longer and further without an engine. Besides hang gliders Jeremy has an airplane and a helicopter licenses.  His best achievement so far was winning Guatemalan Open in 2019. You can listen to this fascinating story on CIVL Facebook channel.

Damien Zahn from Switzerland is the second youngest pilot in the competition. He is 28 years old but also has over a decade of experience by now. He started very young like 16 years old. As Damien is originating from a hang gliding family free-flying for him was a natural choice. His father is a hang gliding pilot and his uncle has a hang gliding school. When a kid Damien was not very impressed with free flying. Having been forced to spend hours on take-offs instead of going to the beach for a small boy was not really attractive. But when he grew up, his uncle offered him to come to the training at his school to have a try. And since he tried he has never stopped flying. He has participated in many competitions all over the world. Last year Damien became the Swiss HG champion. His most beloved flying site is Ager in Spain. "It is beautiful and has various terrain, - says Damien. - I just can't wait to go there for the next World champèionship." It is his second competition in Krushevo. You can watch an interview with Damien here.