Red Bull quite literally gives Jonny Durand wings and when the hang glider descends on a so-far-undisclosed Australian location next month he may also score a host of new world records.
A multiple Australian champion, world champion and world record-holder, Jonny is the Chaz Michael Michaels of hang gliding. For more than a decade he’s risked life and limb to fly like a G6 and this summer he’s attempting to etch his name in the record books for good with a project that can only be described as epic.
We can’t say what exactly it is, but chances are if you haven’t heard of Jonny Durand yet, you’ll know of his exploits in coming months. The man is bat-wing crazy… Too much?
“I can’t say too much about the project other than it’s in Australia, it’s going to be big and there are a few more risks involved than your ordinary flight,” Jonny says with a laugh.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting. We pitch a couple of ideas in every year to our sponsors and this one I’ve had for a little while and this year it got the green light. I’m very excited.
“I’m heading out to a spot marked “x” next week and it’s a matter of time and patience from there. If all goes to plan, it’ll happen late January or early Feb and we should get some pretty amazing footage.”
And he’ll be sporting a brand spanking new kite, which he just completed construction of in Sydney this week.
“I just built myself a brand new glider and am testing it out down at Stanwell Tops, south of Sydney this week,” he says.
“I literally just finished it on Wednesday and hopefully it goes all right. I’m hoping to use it for the project, so here’s hoping the tests go well.
“I’m at Botany Bay until we perfect it and then on to our secret location.”
While the glider is being fine-tuned, Jonny himself is in fine form. An unlikely early landing saw him lose a long lead at last weekend’s Australian Titles and finish eighth overall – but he made up 14 positions to do so.
“I wasn’t too stoked with it but not that shattered – I was flying well,” he continues.
“I just had that one bad day when I landed really early and I went from first to 22nd place. And I spent the rest of the event trying to catch up. There were too many pilots flying too well to get back to the front. But if I didn’t have the one bad day I would have won by a good length.”
No big-e – Jonny has claimed six of the past 10 wins at the event. And post this month’s project he’ll be off to Mexico to contest the Pre World Championships – the every-other-year event that alternates with the World Championships.
Basically, competitors get to fly and compete at the course the year before it’s used for the World Championships.
In the meantime however, mum's the word. So don't expect to be hearing from Jonny anytime soon.
Jonny Durand flies into 2014