Watching these guys will make you yearn to fly

When this crew return from an adventure – it’s always with epic tales to tell. This is no exception.
By Tarquin Cooper

The Search crew are on a quest to seek out the most remote and incredible places in the world to fly. No trip is the same – every one has its challenges and difficulties. But they always return with epic stories and even more epic footage and images.

Their recent trip to Madagascar is their latest adventure. Watch the video above and you'll see what we mean.

It's really hard to get in to the mountains – there’s only one road

The goal was a simple one. Get the crew together and do a mission to that remote island of Madagascar off east Africa.

“I have a world map at my place which I love to look at,” says mission chief Tom de Dorlodot. “For a long time I’ve always looked at Madagascar thinking it’s got a huge ridge, winds from the ocean, it must have high potential.”

The Search crew doing what they do best – exploring new places to paraglide
Coastal flying at its best © John Stapels

So did the flying live up to its promise?

“It was complicated in terms of access,” he says, “really hard to get into the mountains, very hot and there’s only one road going north to south, the rest are tracks off the beaten trail. To cover 100km takes five to seven hours by 4x4.”

Once you were in the air it was amazing

Getting about in the country was hard going for the team. Here they are held up by muddy roads
Covering 100km could take 7 hours. © John Stapels

The rest of the crew consisted of paraglider pilots Horacio Llorens, Theo de Blic, Tom’s brother Harold and filmers and photographers Benoît Delfosse and John Stapels. For the team, the adventure was as important as the flying. They weren't disappointed – just getting to some of the launch sites was a challenge in itself.

hiking through a jungle
The team hike through jungle to reach a launch. © John Stapels

The guys hiked, drove for hours in a 4x4 and, for one part of the island, the only way to access was via a pirogue – or traditional boat like the one below.

 

Sailing by Pirogue in Madagascar
The adventure was as important as the flying © John Stapels

They also needed to get special permission to visit some parts of the island. Amazingly, the authorisation was typed on an old-fashioned typewriter.

Official types up authorisation
In Madagascar they're still waiting for Windows 95 © John Stapels

Meeting the locals was another big highlight of the trip, says Tom. One memorable scene of the video shows Theo taking a local fisherman for a tandem flight.

“He was really cool,” says Tom. “He took us to a flying spot after we explained what we were looking for and afterwards we took him flying in return to thank him. After that he was a local hero – everyone wanted to know what it felt like.”
 

Tom de Dorlodot shows off his acrobatic paragliding to watching locals
Showing off some acro skills © John Stapels

But the best part?

For us, it’s all about sharing. Places like this? It's the adventure that comes first and being to immerse youself in the local lifestyle. You really get deep into it and learn how the people live. It's very interesting. Paragliding is great for that, it's a great way to break the ice.”

 

cooking over a campfire
The adventure life: cooking over a campfire. © John Stapels

Photographer John Stapels and both Tom and Horacio took some epic shots from the region, which thanks to the fact it's been completely cut off from mainland Africa for thousands of years, is totally unique. These images barely do it justice.

Hiking to launch. Madagascar offers great flying – but the launch sites are remote and hard to reach
Hiking to launch © John Stapels

No trip is complete without the obligatory sunset shot. This one, taken by Tom, is pretty magical. Until the next time...

paragliding into the sunset in Madagascar
Flying into the sunset © Tom de Dorlodot
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