Watch nightmare crash to inspiring recovery

A year on from breaking his back while paragliding, Tom de Dorlodot resumes alps flying adventure.
By Tarquin Cooper

A year ago, adventurers Tom de Dorlodot and Paul Guschlbauer set off on a bold mission to hike and fly across the Adriatic. The plan was to make a 1,800km journey across three mountain ranges, finishing with a paramotor trip across the Adriatic Sea. But everything had to be put on hold after Tom’s paraglider collapsed in strong winds and he suffered a serious back injury. A year on, it’s mission go again. The pair are setting off this weekend to complete ‘the circle’ – and you can follow their progress live right here.

First, check out the dramatic video of the crash below and Tom's inspiring road to recovery. 

© Paul Guschlbauer

“During my recovery I was always thinking about the Adriatic,” Tom tells us. “This is something I have to finish. A part of me doesn’t want to go back, but I know with Paul, we are the right team. It’s what I have to do to put the accident behind me.”

This is something I have to finish

The goal is to return to the crash site of Claro, Switzerland, and pick up from there. Tom admits he has mixed feelings about going back.

Adriatic Circle: The longest hike and fly © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool

“It’s like that feeling you have after partying hard and you smell alcohol again – you don’t want to go near it.”

But he knows that it’s still a great adventure that has to be finished. “The main goal is to finish in one piece,” he adds.

Thomas de Dorlodot prepares for gliding © Kolesky/Nikon/Red Bull Content Pool

It’s also unfinished business for Paul Guschlbauer, who decided he would not continue the journey alone but wait for Tom to make a full recovery. “At some point in my life I know it should be completed from beginning to end. But for now with Tom, we have to finish what we started together.

“I’m really looking forward to going back with Tom,” he adds. “I think it will be a good experience and we’ll have a good time.”

Thumbs up! © Paul Guschlbauer

The pair believe the rest of the journey is a straight line distance of around 700km and could take around two weeks. But they are not going to go full-gas but use it as part of their training for the Red Bull X-Alps. “That’s the main event for us this year,” adds Tom.

It’s still an arduous challenge with a sting in the tail. The crossing of the Adriatic sea – which they’ll do on paramotors (motorised paragliders) – is still a massive challenge in its own right. “The wind is really crazy there,” adds Tom.

Follow the guys as they complete their journey on our live Scribble feed.

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