Ground Launching Speed Flying Sports: What is Speed Flying?
What is Speed Flying?
Speed flying is flying small and fast speed gliders or high performance parachutes. Its one of the most extreme non-motorized sports ever conceived by man. It’s an exhilarating sport for both participants and spectators. Speed Flying has taken the slopes by storm, attracting more excitement as it sweeps around the world!
Where did Speed Flying come from?
Speed Flying is a descendant of parachute swooping, also known as "Canopy Piloting". In 1996 "Bladerunning" competitions began and parachutists started ski and foot launching their small high performance parachutes from mountains in Montana, USA. A group of pioneers from this era formed a parachute exhibition/expedition team called "Team Extreme".
Eager to show the world this new form of high speed flying the team organized a expedition to Switzerland in 2001 to speed fly "swoop" down the Eiger mountain. The following year the team led an expedition to summit of Mont Blanc in the Chamonix valley of France in 2002.
During the France expedition the team ground launched their small parachutes (5-6m) from locations all around the Chamonix valley. The team also jumped from a helicopter and landed their small parachutes on the summit of Mont Blanc itself. The team produced a DVD of their adventures called "Out of the Blue".
In 2004 Team Extreme member Jim Slaton, the 1st US National Champion of Canopy Piloting, opened a ground launching school in California called the "Ground Launch Center". Jim started teaching people how to fly small and fast parachutes down mountains with Ultra (fast) Gliders like the "GLX". Jim and his instructors used a short flight paragliding harness called the "Radical" which was made in France.
In 2005 Jim produced several videos of them mountain swooping "Speed Flying". Before long everyone in the paragliding community was talking about the crazy parachutists that were "Speed Flying" with the paragliding harnesses. Videos like "the Radical" and "Gravity Pilots quickly spread throughout the paragliding community. The videos inspired a whole new style of flying that paragliders eventually coined "Speed Flying".
The new sport of Speed Flying caught on fast in Europe, France first. The french were the first to see the videos of the American's swooping down mountains (aka speed flying) and France was the place where Team Extreme did their famous "mountain swooping" expedition in 2002.
By 2005 Speed Flying spread across Europe from France and around the world. Almost every major paragliding manufacture in the world now makes some form of a Speed glider. The Speed Flying community has continued to grown holding its own speed flying competitions around the world including the "Speed Flying Pro" in France and the "Speed Fly league" in Switzerland.
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