Zell am See-Kaprun at your feet
They glide through the air like colourful birds with bright yellow, pink and green chutes. Seemingly effortlessly, the paragliders take off from the Schmittenhöhe, let the wind carry them and watch the world from above. Sounds like an adventure you might enjoy? Then a tandem flight is the right thing for you!
Sepp Nindl has been flying from the mountain to the valley by paraglider for more than 17 years: The experienced paraglider pilot tells us what is important on a tandem flight, how long you can enjoy the view in the air and why Zell am See-Kaprun is the perfect region for beginners in this sport.
“The local mountain of Zell am See - the Schmittenhöhe - has become a paragliding hotspot, especially in recent years. This is partly due to the particularly favourable thermal, especially in the summer months of May, June, July and August and even into September," says Sepp Nindl. The Pinzgau native runs his company "Falken Air Tandem Paragliding" in Zell am See-Kaprun and offers tandem flights in the region all year round. In addition to the optimal thermal conditions, there is also the scenic beauty that delights Sepp every time. You can see more than 30 three-thousand-metre-high peaks during a flight!
I want to fly too! What do I have to bear in mind?
The start to the tandem flight is very comfortable: with the Schmittenhöhebahn cable car. The starting point on the Schmittenhöhe is ideal because there are three take-off sites here. This makes it possible to take off in almost any direction, depending on the wind. "You don't actually need any specific prerequisites for the tandem flight," says Sepp Nindl. "At take-off, you have to walk a few steps together with the pilot before you take off. If that is not possible due to physical limitations, we are happy to try to find an individual solution." Children aged 5 and over can also enjoy a tandem flight.
Can I make a spontaneous decision on taking a tandem flight?
Because weather and wind conditions cannot be predicted in the long term, spontaneous bookings are no problem at all. The pros decide "to fly or not to fly" at the earliest one day beforehand. The guest and pilot are well protected with a helmet and secured with a tight harness. Before take-off, there is a detailed briefing by the pilot, and then you are ready to go. Once in the air, the motto is: Enjoy, see and be amazed!
How long can you enjoy this view?
That again depends on wind and weather conditions: "We offer the Classic Flight from the Schmittenhöhe down to the valley, which takes about 15 to 30 minutes," says Sepp. A wonderful introduction with plenty of time to enjoy the panorama. But if this adrenaline kick is not enough for you, the Action Flight is a good choice: This is a bit shorter at about 10 minutes, but it is peppered with loops, spirals and extreme wingovers. For all flights, however, the preferences of the guests are paramount: "We always focus on the individual wishes of our customers and adapt as much as possible during the flight."
If the thermal is right, a longer flight is also possible: "That is then already a small cross-country flight. We are in the air for just under 40 minutes, sometimes reaching an altitude of over 3,000 metres and flying over peaks and valleys." Target at the end of all tandem flights is the landing site near Kaprun.
And how do you keep track of the route?
With almost 20 years of experience and countless flights from the Schmittenhöhe, Sepp Nindl is of course a pro. Nevertheless, he is not on the move without electronic support: In addition to the obligatory flight electronics, Sepp also uses his SUUNTO watch: It shows him exactly the metres of altitude mastered and the distance flown. Thanks to smart battery modes, the watch can track continuously for up to 120 hours. Routes can also be pre-planned with the SUUNTO watch. "This is particularly useful for Hike & Fly," says Sepp.
Event tip: The toughest race in the world
The SUUNTO 9 Baro in the Titanium Red Bull X-Alps Limited Edition accompanies not only Sepp Nindl, but also the extreme sport athletes who push their limits at the Red Bull X-Alps. In the "world’s toughest adventure race", the participants cover a total of 1,138 kilometres - running, hiking and paragliding. Starting on 20 June 2021, they will be on the road for a maximum of 12 days and have to get from turn buoy to turn buoy (the so-called turn points) in the most difficult alpine terrain. Starting in Salzburg, they will fight their way via Kitzbühel and the Tyrolean Zugspitz Arena to Switzerland, and then on to France and the Mont Blanc. From there they will return via Piz Palü and Italy. The finish of the race is Zell am See - and the last flight leads from the Schmittenhöhe to the landing island in the middle of the lake. A true spectacle!