Frank Brown on the new World distance record: 514km in Brazil

On Friday 9th October, Frank Brown, Donizete Lemos and Marcelo Prieto flew for 11 hours across the north east of Brazil to set a new paragliding world distance record of 514km. Frank was flying his GIN Boomerang 10.

We caught up with Frank to find out how he did it...

Q. What kind of planning and preparation was involved?

We (Marcelo Prieto, Donizete Lemos and I) have been planning records since 2002 when we travelled to Texas (Marcelo Prieto and I). At that time I flew 350km and Marcelo broke the world record with a flight of 402km. But 30 mins later, Will Gadd passed him and made 423km.

We have been coming to the north east of Brazil since 2005 to check the best routes and the best season. Years like this one where we got El Niño, it's better to come earlier because there is a big possibility to have the rain very early here.

All pilots have SPOT trackers and we have 2 retrieve vehicles. We also have contact with some rescue helicopter crews, due the big possibility to land in an area without any roads.

Q. There must have been some difficult moments in the flight...

Many—the start was very hard. At 7:45am and heavily loaded due to the 40 km/h wind, we were sometimes flying backwards. It was so hard that Rafael Saladini had to land at 8:00am. The strong wind made it feel like being on a small boat in a strong river. It was like just floating and being carried along by the current.

Q. The record is a fantastic team achievement, what team rules did you have?

The rules were simple. If all of us could make the record, we had to land together. If somebody got left behind, sorry but "no pain, no gain"—you are on your own. But if somebody in front of you makes the record, you must land with them. The idea was always to make the record and land together.

Q. How did you manage 11hrs in the air, mentally and physically?

It was hard as hell!

Thank God that I was flying with a very comfortable harness—the Genie race 3—and an easy-to-control glider, the Boom 10. The glider is so easy to pilot, climb and glides super good and is fast as hell when you're facing gusts of 45km/h on take off.

We took plenty of hydration and food for the flight. Also, you need mental discipline in order to support 10-15 days of just waiting around for good conditions!

Q. Do you have any plans to try to go further this season?

Yes, yes!! We are still here but the season looks very strange. There has been rain in the desert and no possibility for the last 10 days. Maybe it's the end of the season due to El Niño..

Thanks, Frank! Huge congratulations once again to all the guys—Frank, Donizete and Marcelo.


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