19 Juni 2014

Flying over Nevado de Toluca - the video


Since I saw the gigantic volcano in the year 2000 on my first trip to Valle de Bravo, I always dreamt of flying over Nevado de Toluca. What does it take to get up there? First, you need a really high cloud base, as the mountain is almost 4700m high. Also you need a rare day of low wind speed to not have too much turbulence around the crater walls. Good organisation and ground crew is important, as you might land out any time on the trip. It helps to have other pilots around, so you find the thermals faster and more reliable.
It was a day during the pre-pre-worlds competition when we had a turnpoint merely 10 km away from the Nevado before going to goal. Until then, we had already passed plenty of tiger country, but with cloud streets at around 4500m msl, that didn´t seem to bother anybody. I first tried to fly up the Nevado from the north, where our turnpoint was, but I sank out and got low - one pilot landed up there. I sneaked around to the south western side where I saw a fire and climbed up again, all the way until I reached the clouds at almost 5000m. I didn´t want to stay too long up there, as I didn´t have oxygen with me. Luckily with my job as a flight attendant, Im used to working at about 2300m of "altitude", at least the air pressure in the cabin is reduced to that height. I felt fit and comfortable, so I headed towards the peak.
My heart was beating fast when I finally crossed into the caldera and saw the two lakes. All those different shades of the rocks looked beautiful in the afternoon sun. There was no turbulence, but also no climb above the caldera, so I just did one big turn and headed out to the south, towards goal.
When I arrived at Rudy´s father´s airfield, the goal of that competition day, I was the last pilot who made it, but I also wore the happiest smile. When I told Rudy what I did, he told our other Mexican friends, and they celebrated with me - they said I was the first pilot who ever made it in a hang glider without a motor, just by taking off from the Peñon and flying there with the help of thermals.
I´m glad I had this chance, I´m happy that I realized it on the right day, and just took it, no matter what. The flight of a lifetime!You find the video here on youtube.

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