03 May 2023

Paragliding Pre Euro 2023: from 16 to 76

Pre-European Paragliding Championship that goes on in Pegalajar Spain enjoys not only great international representation but also a great difference in age. It shows that paragliding truly is a sport for all  - the age difference between the youngest and the oldest pilot is 60 years. We are happy to present you these participants.

The oldest pilot in the competition is Francisco (Paco) Arenas Hernando from Spain. He is 76 years old and has been paragliding for over 45 years. The first wing he started to fly was Marbore GypaAile and the first flights he made were only from top to bottom of the hill. He started to fly because he saw the first paraglider in Spain. " I saw a person flying. I thought I got to do it" - said Paco. "The evolution of the paragliding is tremendous - Paco tells in his interview to CIVL - In all levels: from the performance to the security." The first cross-country flight that Paco made was in the first-ever Spanish championship in 1991. He managed to fly 3-4 km at that time. His first FAI-ranked competition was in 2004. Since then he has been flying in 3-4 competitions every year but mainly in Spain, progressing to the 1000 best pilots in the world. His personal best was in the Spanish championship in Pedro Bernardo with a flight of 165 km long. He also trained other Spanish paraglider pilots. In his 76 he feels fine at the comps and is not going to stop. Paco likes to stay with his friends and former students. So they come together to all national competitions.

The youngest participant in the competition is Marcos Sancho Fernández - a 16-year-old pilot from Spain as well. He started flying when he was 13 and has taken part in competitions since 14. "It runs in the family  - he says in his interview to FAI CIVL - I started to fly because this is a passion of my family." Marco learned to fly in Loja initially in tandems with his father and later continued on his own. His first competitions were in the Andalucian league (non-FAI weekend comps) but very soon after he progressed to FAI 2 events of the Spanish National League. He competes both in Paragliding Cross country and Accuracy and is already among the 50 best junior pilots in the world. Together with other young pilots, he came to compete in Spanish League and PreEuro that is currently going on in Pegalajar. The support that these juniors have for each other is remarkable. They always stay together, help each other progress and they take part in the competitions also together.

We wish Marco the same long sports career as one of Paco and hope to see him with his friends paragliding 50 years later.