ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A pair of French para-gliders made their way across the Rocky mountains with only their gliders and their feet. The two just wrapped up their four-month trek Friday. These 22-year-olds have been paragliding for six and seven years, respectively. They called it the XRockies Project. As you can imagine, these men travel light. They never retraced their steps or took a ride and they camped wherever their route took them.
At nearly 15,000 miles, it’s a unique view. It’s one these two Frenchmen can’t get enough of.
“Paragliding is a very good way to travel,” says Thomas Punty. “You can just go in the mountain, inflate your wing and then take off and go in the sky.”
They do it for their love of flying and the opportunity to see the landscape from above.
“It’s a beautiful country, seeing it from the sky, it’s crazy,” says Punty.
The two kicked off their tour in British Columbia. From there, they hit Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado before making their way to New Mexico. On a good day, they can travel 50 or 60 miles in the air.
“When we walk, it’s about 30 miles, 20 miles. Depends on the conditions,” Punty says.
They rely on warm air for lift and local paragliders and hand gliders for guidance.
“When we arrive in one new spot, one new place, we try to call a local pilot and to ask, do you know this landscape? Which mountain would be good for take-off?” says Nelson Defreyman.
Yet, when it came to Albuquerque, the pair already knew flying would be a breeze.
“Albuquerque is pretty much on the way, so it was the perfect option for us because we heard of this wonderful flying condition over here. You’ve got the hot air balloon festival. It’s very good for us for paraglider which is very similar,” explains Punty.
Once the two took off from Sandia Peak, they glided to the Air Force base. From there, they had to walk 10 days through the desert. The men say both of them had satellite phones in case of emergency.
The paragliders posted videos of their journey and say they were thankful to those who cheered them on along the way on their website xrockies.com. The two say they hope they inspire other pilots to explore the America West.