07 May 2024

Junior records of François Montuori - when you are lucky at first attempt!

FAI has received the claims for Hang Gliding and Paragliding European Junior records of 328,6 km Free Distance and 335,3 km Free distance using up to 3 position checkpoints made by  François Montuori (France) on Ozone Zeno 2 in  Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer (France) on April 23, 2024. If ratified they will supersede the two records of 307 and 310 km respectively made by Timo Leonetti about a year ago. We have contacted François to get more info on how it happened.

How long have you been doing free-flight sport?

I began paragliding at the end of 2019 and started XC flying in 2021.

What made you begin?

I was doing a lot of mountain sports (trail running and mountaineering especially) and had some knee problems making downhill difficult on foot. So when I had the opportunity to learn to fly with lightweight wings, I took it immediately!

Where did you learn to fly? 

I learned to fly in Annecy with Carpe Diem, a school specialized in single-skin paragliders.

Who were the people that inspired you in your life and sport?

As a kid, the trail running star Kilian Jornet made me dream a lot! I did not know anything about paragliding before getting into it, so I discovered and actually met some legends of our sport without knowing who they really were. 

What are your achievements, and titles before breaking a record?

In 2022 with less than 3 years of experience, I did two >300km flights in the Alps and finished 13th in the overall XContest. I am Serial Vice French champion and Serial Junior French champion. I also ended up 8th at the French Hike & Fly Championship.

What flying conditions make your record different from the previous one?

Such records are just a matter of conditions and availability. My flight was not exceptional as I landed while there was still a lot of potential on that day. The previous record was set on a day when conditions were not as good as the ones we had on the 23thd of April.

How long have you been flying in this area?

It was my first flight in the French flatlands, and the only one until now!

How long did the preparation take?

No preparation on this one, a last-minute idea!

How many failed attempts have you made before you set this record?

First attempt

Who worked with you during preparation?

We had precious help from the French Free Flight Federation, especially from Julien Garcia and Charles Cazaux who organized all the logistics. And with all the pilots from the group, we worked on airspaces the evening and morning before taking off.

Have you launched alone or in a company? How far have your companions managed to fly?

There were a lot of pilots on take off, about 20 of our group. 6 Pilots managed an incredible flight of >460km, unfortunately, I was one of the last to land and could not finish the flight with them.

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.

The flight was quite interesting. Take-off required a bit of focus because there were a lot of people on take-off, the wind was quite strong, and not a lot of space. The extraction above take-off was easy because we could soar while waiting for the cycles which were numerous. The ceiling was comfortable with already good vertical speeds and we rapidly approached 50km/h of average speed. The first hours were perfect, 20-30km of wind, super good thermals with sometimes 4m/s thermals under amazing little cumulus clouds. Then it became more tricky, with a lot of shade, a lot of distance between thermals, and lower vertical speeds. Before I landed, we started to glide at cloudbase and we did not touch any thermal for more than 20km.  During the day the ceiling was comfortable, we were often navigating between 1000 and 2000m AGL with a low save at 200m AGL. Temperatures were really cold with -10C at the cloud base. ¨https://www.xcontest.org/world/en/flights/detail:FrancoisMontuori/23.4.2024/08:31

What was the most tricky thing in breaking this record?

The trickiest thing was dealing with the changes of rhythms and large zones with no thermal and shade. There are also a lot of airspace restrictions but with good preparation, good use of instruments, and anticipation during the flight it was not too restrictive for our flight.

What was the most difficult part of the flight?

The most difficult part was probably our low save at km 275.

Was there a moment when you were ready to give up?

I am never ready to give up, unless if it is a matter of safety.

Was there something unexpected? Frightening? Funny? Any unusual happening?

We had the visit of a huge plane of the army which passed us on the left, the noise of the motors was really scary!

What were you eating and drinking in the flight (if you were)?

I drink and eat a lot during such flights. I have an isotonic beverage and eat some cereal bars and compotes.

How did you celebrate the record? Who was the first to congratulate you?

I did not celebrate because I would have preferred to share the record with Justin Puthod and the other part of the group that flew 460km. Justin Puthod and Julien Garcia were the first to congratulate me.

What is your next goal to achieve?

We will see! There are a lot of better record pretenders than me, and records are far from being my focus. But if there is an opportunity one day, I will take it.

Any advice to pilots, interesting notice, or some share of experience that you gained while breaking this record?

Don’t think you’re trying to break a record, just give your best in any situation and be fully focused on the present moment!