On The Fly With PGI: A Behind The Scenes Look Into The Life Of A Professional Paraglider

Brought to you in partnership with Paragliding Interlaken.

The beauty of Interlaken, the Swiss town sandwiched between the sensational blue of Lakes Brienz and Thun, can best be seen from a bird’s eye view. Enter paragliding, the human version of spreading your wings and renowned adventure sport in which a wide canopy (think parachute) is attached to a person’s body by a harness in order to allow them to glide through the air.

We flew with with one of Paragliding Interlaken‘s professional paragliders, Dominik Wicki, and asked him a few questions about living life On The Fly. What inspired this lifestyle? Most memorable moment in the air? Why is Interlaken such a magical and unique place to fly?

Leila: How did you first start paragliding?

Dominik: First, I start[ed] paragliding [about] 15 years ago, here in Interlaken, and you know, if you grow up in Interlaken, that’s basically like you [watching] football, and in Interlaken you start paragliding. It’s a normal sport here.

Leila: Do you remember the first time you flew?

Dominik: Oh yeah! You never forget the first time. I think for all people that do even the tandem flights, they will never forget that experience.

Leila: What do you remember most about it?

Dominik: Ummm… It’s the feeling… flying, like a bird. It’s not [like] you’re in a cockpit, you have no engine noise. It’s really like free, free flying. Floating over the mountains.

“It’s the feeling…free flying. Floating over the mountains.”

Leila: What’s the record number of times that you’ve been up in a day?

Dominik: In a day? The most I’ve been up has been 9 times in a day.

Leila: Is there a limit on how many times you can go up in a day?

Dominik: Ehhh…It’s a limit [in] the day time, and summer, we have much longer days and we have sunset at 10 pm here, and that allows us to do more flights than in winter time. 

Leila & Dominik on their flight above the Swiss Alps.

Leila: Have you gone paragliding in other parts of the world?

Dominik: Ah, yes actually, all over the world. But I think Interlaken here is one of the top spots for sure.

Leila: What makes it one of the top spots? What makes it so memorable to fly here?

Dominik: It’s because of the scenery around here, as well as the winds; they are very special. The whole valley is made for paragliding with all the micro-wind systems, and that makes it very special.

Leila: What is the best reaction you’ve gotten from someone who is new to paragliding and went up for the first time?

Dominik: Um… it’s… not even the words, you see it in their faces. [When they land], they are completely happy, and they are proud of themselves. And it’s the whole experience actually, not even the flight. Even if you come up here to the mountains, you’re in mountains, and everything already makes it… like special…something special… and the flight. It’s just incredible.

“It’s not even the words, you see it in their faces. When they land, they are completely happy, and they are proud of themselves.”

Leila: What’s your favorite view when you’re flying over Interlaken? A view of the lakes, or is it the city?

Dominik: Actually, the cool thing about paragliding in Interlaken is that you see everything. You see the famous mountains, and even in summertime, you see the snow up there. Then you have the lakes, and the color. The color of the lakes are very, very special. And you see all across Interlaken; it’s a beautiful way to explore Interlaken and to see the area around.

Leila: How fast can you fly through the air?

Dominik: So, our travel speed, it’s about 40k an hour, it’s about 30 miles, maybe? But that’s a gentle flight. And if you want to go do some tricks, rollercoaster style, spiral diving, or kind of upside down, then you reach speeds more of around 100k an hour.

Leila: But it’s possible for someone who is a little more scared to go faster, to just float all the way down ?

Dominik: Yes, exactly. That’s the cool thing [about] paragliding. There’s something for everyone. There is easy floating, or you can go be more crazy.

Leila: And what’s the best part of your job? What’s your favorite part?

Dominik: The favorite part? It’s the whole package! Out in nature, happy people, flying through the air. For me, it’s a dream job.

“Out in nature, happy people, flying through the air. For me, it’s a dream job.”

Leila: Why have you chosen to work with Paragliding Interlaken?

Dominik: Paragliding Interlaken, it’s actually the oldest company here. It’s the biggest one, and it’s very well-organized, and the team. It’s just awesome… I am happy to be on the team.

Leave a Reply