World record holding, Red Bull hang-glider Jonny Durand has become the first man ever to perform aerobatics, and to be professionally documented, riding the spectacular 'Morning Glory' cloud above the remote wilderness of the Gulf Of Carpentaria for the Red Bull Glory Glide film project.
The Morning Glory – a dangerous, rare and unexplained weather phenomenon – is a moving tube of cloud that stands between one to two kilometres high. It stretches from horizon to horizon and can drive a pilot at speeds of 140km/h, or send him spiralling, hopelessly out of control, to the earth below.
"..TSUNAMI IN THE SKY."
“It was the best moment of my life – but it could have been the scariest as well. It’s like a tsunami in the sky. It’s unpredictable. I really didn’t know what that thing would do. Were we going to be able to outrun it?” said Jonny, 28, who was towed to altitude by a purpose-built ultralight aircraft.
RIDING TWO 'GLORIES'
“We went through a little bit of fog and cloud, and then all of a sudden we came out into the blue in front of it. Then I turned to my right and there was this wall, 2000ft high, and literally I’d just been towed into the crest of the biggest wave in the world.” Jonny rode two “Glories” on consecutive days, covering over 100km, near Burketown, QLD. The Queensland athlete has been Australia’s top rated hang-glider pilot since 2002. Jonny was ranked first in the world in 2006 and last year set a world distance record for a foot launch, flying 518km from his Gold Coast base.
Despite extensive study by meteorologists, the Morning Glory’s formation remains a mystery. Up to 1,000km long, the cloud acts like a moving cliff, blasting air upwards at its face to generate extreme lift. The air in the middle and at the rear of the cloud is wildly turbulent and unpredictable, creating violent air currents that shudder downwards at 1500ft per minute. Its consistent formation over the Gulf is unique in the world.