Progressing in paragliding – meet François Montuori
In order to follow François' adventures during the season, let's first try to understand the evolution of his progression over the last 4 years. Xc pilot and very recently competitor, he is currently flying a Flow Paragliders Fusion and a Skywalk Range X-Alps cocoon.
So here we go!
Hi François! How did you start paragliding?
I do a lot of trail riding and some summer mountaineering, and like many I think I was attracted by the possibility of flying down without getting tired! I did an initiation course in September 2019 and immediately bought a UFO, the day after my initiation course I made my first solo flight from Planfait: that’s it, paragliding is part of my life! I then did a lot of dives and during the summer of 2020 I discovered thermal flying first with the monosurface and then with a Gin Yeti which led me to my first mini cross country flights. In February 2021 I received my first cross country wing, an Airdesign Soar which opened the doors to longer cross country flights, and it was from spring 2021 that I started to really build volume and progress in distance flying!
Today you are doing cross-country flights of more than 100km, how did you reach this level of flying?
There are a lot of factors that made me progress to this level. A 100km cross country race is achievable by any motivated pilot with almost any equipment.
I’ll share the points that I think have catalysed my progress. The first thing is to be observant: even when you are not flying, observe the birds, the moving leaves, interpret the phenomena you observe and make connections. Learn about the theory from other pilots, books and videos in parallel. The second is to fly without instruments at the beginning. When I bought my first vario, I already had more than 100 hours of thermal flying. I think it’s fundamental to sharpen the sensations and learn how to roll well. When you buy a vario afterwards, you use it for what it is really useful: selecting the Vz, optimising the climb, getting back into the thermal, knowing when to leave it, etc…
Another thing that helped me I think was my “scientific” approach to cross country. Analysing the tracks in the smallest details, understanding a maximum of things and especially learning to make links between the choices made by the pilots and the conditions / configurations observed. Second last point: to make a SIV quickly and to progress in piloting. Being able to concentrate on your choices and having your brain available to observe other wings, birds, moving leaves rather than worrying about turbulence or a wing closing is essential in my opinion. The last thing, which in my opinion is one of the most important, is knowing yourself. Being aware of your limits, knowing what you are capable of, being progressive and in control of the steps you take and not wanting to do too much is essential in my opinion. I really thank my sports background for this, because you learn to recognise your level of control of the situation thanks to the mental load it gives you. It always helped me to know if I was doing sh** or not.
Looking back, what were your best flights?
The first one that comes to mind is a take off and soaring from Mont Blanc! The most beautiful long distance flights in Switzerland for sure, I keep an incredible memory of the crossing of the Bernese Oberland, the most beautiful for the landscapes. And then there are the long cross country flights, the ones where you land after a day of flying. Last month, to finish after 260km and 10 hours of flight in the valley, all quiet and in the shade, after having flown over several alpine massifs was a great satisfaction!
This year you are starting the competition, what motivates you?
I am mainly motivated by the learning experience that competition represents at first. Without necessarily having precise objectives for the moment. To do the best I can and discover this universe. This ties in with the point about self-knowledge that I was talking about. I don’t know myself as a paragliding competitor yet. I don’t know what my weaknesses are, what my strengths are and I’m not able to evaluate what I’m capable of. With a little more experience I hope to be able to set more precise goals for next season!
Is there a particular flight you would like to do in your life as a pilot?
There are many of them all over the world. I really like the idea of using paragliding as an excuse to travel. Without it being a goal (but rather a distant dream) to take off from a summit of more than 8000m. And flying in Brazil too! For the landscapes and the very big flights on the plains possible in the Sertao.
”Thank you François for sharing your vision of progress!Lorenza
We wish you a good first season of competition!