Soaring over a rock in the Atlantic Ocean

Madeira is the Maui of the Atlantic – which means it’s simply awesome for paragliding.
By Daniel Woods

“Not all the launches are bad,” laughs Veso Ovcharov. “It's paragliding paradise. It's a big vertical rock with 80 'official' take-offs and countless 'un-official' take-offs."

"It's not a great place to learn – because if you throw a rescue, you'll be swimming – but it's a great place for intermediate to expert pilots.”

See for yourself in the video below

© Veselin Ovcharov

With the help of the owner of the local paragliding school, Ovcharov and Petar Loncar explored all over the sub-tropical island.

“It's a lot like Hawaii, but not volcanic, and not as densely vegetated,” Ovcharov said. “And also less rain! It's got the second-highest seaside viewpoint in the world.”

Petar Loncar and Veselin Ovcharov paragliding over Madeira.
Paragliding over Madeira © Veselin Ovcharov

The trip wasn't without hijinks. There were more than a couple of questionable beachfront landings in swirling winds, but the biggest mistake of all was when a tour guide neglected to fix the handbrake on the car after driving uphill.

It rolled backwards… and fell 250m down a cliff, with everyone's paragliding gear inside. Even worse – it fell between houses. “It could have easily been a tragedy,” Ovcharov said. “Fortunately, no one was hurt!” Kind of makes it seem a little safe up in the air!

Petar Loncar and Veselin Ovcharov paragliding over Madeira.
POV paragliding over Madeira © Veselin Ovcharov

All in all, Ovcharov and Loncar can't wait to return. “There are not many pilots, but they are welcoming and friendly!” he says. Just be careful with the car!

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