skyglider: across the alps

Oliver Furrer wanted to break the record for the longest freefall distance tracking ever made on a board. He envisioned to start his glide high above the Aletsch glacier, then turning north and passing the Jungfrau and Silberhorn with the aim to pull his main canopy overhead the Lauterbrunnen valley.

However, before his dream could become reality, several test jumps had to be made. During the first jump along the planned route it was so cold (-35°C) that the photographer’s (Karsten) visor froze. During the next round of practice jumps, it was possible to resolve the remaining problems. While testing the SkyGlider, both Oliver and Karsten wore special clothing to protect them from the freezing temperatures. In addition, Karsten attached a double visor on his helmet to ensure it would not freeze.

On November 29th, 1998 the stage was set for the attempt to break the existing record. The media and the whole team, along with families and friends were present. However, the weather did not cooperate. The ceiling was too low and after a test flight in a helicopter it was decided to postpone the record attempt. On December 2nd, 1998, the weather was perfect - blue skies, unlimited visibility. The ‘Lama’-helicopter took off and Oliver anxiously awaited the experience of a lifetime. The helicopter quickly reached 19,700 ft/ASL. Despite of the low oxygen level at this altitude he managed to keep his brain clear. The view was incredible. Oliver was on top of Europe, overlooking the big glaciers and watching the world below. The pilot gave the ‘ready’ signal and the jump began. He started his glide over the Aletsch glacier, heading north. He pulled the main canopy after 114 seconds in the valley between Stechelberg and Lauterbrunnen. He did it! After a very cold canopy ride, he landed safely in front of the helicopter-base. There to greet him were his friends and family as well as the media. All of them very happy and proud of what he had accomplished. Oliver had tracked 2.55 miles (4.1km) overhead the Alps. His dream had become true. He believes that the SkyGlider project will help to open new dimensions in Skydiving and that his record breaking glide has shown people the beauty of the sport.

skyglider record passing the Swiss Alps Bild vergrössern