The story of Timo Leonetti's 562km South African record flight

We managed to catch up with Timo Leonetti after his amazing South African XC record (562km):

How did you decide to go to South Africa and how was it for logistics and support?

I had been thinking of going to South Africa for a year but it was a problem to find an organization to tow and retrieve there. I was in contact with Damien and Clément to try to organize something. But in the end it wasn’t sure that we could get 2 winches working for us so I let them both go with 1 winch and decided to stay in Corsica. But while were they were there in South Africa, we found an old winch belonging to my uncle that he had brought from South Africa 25 years ago to tow Antoine Montant for acro in Corsica. We also noticed good conditions coming in South Africa. In three days we managed to get the tow operational and my parents were able to tow and do the retrieve for me. We bought the plane tickets the day before leaving, with the winch as baggage. We arrived in South Africa on the 8th, but had a problem with the rental car. We finally got a car at midnight. On the 9th at 5am we took the road to Bradvlei. At 10am we tried towing (the first one for my parents, my mum driving and my dad at the back of the car for stability). I was able to find a small thermal and finally touched my feet on the ground 10 hours and 562km later! 30 minutes later my parents found me for the retrieve. A lot of emotions and some tears after this flight and all the story that made it happen.

How was the day for flying?

The day started blue with light wind. It was very turbulent and thermals were difficult to find. After that, the wind picked up to 40 to 50kmh and we were faster. I had one scary low save with 55kmh gusts. Afterwards, we got up to the high cloudbase at 5700m. Very fast flying with groundspeeds up to 120kmh. As I was not carrying oxygen or warm clothing, I had a little hypoxia with a few minutes going in the wrong direction at 5600m. But after some deep breaths I felt good again. The last base was at 5000m at 18:30 and then I had a beautiful 1.5 hour glide into the sunset.

Do you think it is possible to do 600?

For sure it’s possible to make 600 there, just need to stay safe with the conditions and terrain because it can turn into a very dangerous situation. Let’s see tomorrow!

How do you like the Boomerang 12 there?

As always I love the Boom 12, simply the best glider I have flown. Easy to turn in some very wild thermals. And not overshooting too much in some crazy turbulence.

See Timo’s flight on XContest