Red Bull Bird's Eye: beauty of the Balkans

Paragliders explore Bulgaria and the Balkans from above.
Rafael Goberna during the golden hour. © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool
By Josh Sampiero

"We have some of the best paragliding in Europe. Incredible conditions, and so many places to fly from," claims Bulgarian paraglider Veso Ovcharov. Despite that, the beauty of the Balkans has rarely been seen from the air. Red Bull Bird's Eye looks to change that – with world-class acrobatic paragliding thrown in for good measure.

Rafael Goberna swoops in. © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

Together with Rafael Goberna of Brazil and Petar Loncar of Serbia, Veso took to the air, while photographer Predrag Vuckovic shot from the hillside, from a plane, and also from a paraglider.

Light pierces the clouds above the Balkans. © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

Due to the wonderful flying conditions, the sport of paragliding has become increasingly popular in the eastern European country. "We have thousands of pilots," says Ovcharov. "Last year we hosted a world championship, we've just had an acrobatic competition at the coast, and soon, we'll have one directly in the capital city of Sofia!"

Bulgarian paraglider pilot Veso Ovcharov. © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

The first Bird's Eye photoshoot – pictured here – encountered difficulty when the weather unexpectedly turned for the worse – but in the hands of the skilled photographer, it simply adds drama to a location that has historically seen plenty of it.

Ovcharov and Goberna, synchronised acrobatics. © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

And they're not just only flying in beautiful places – they're pushing the limits of acrobatic paragliding. In addition to highly synchronised manoeuvres such as wingovers and infinity tumbles, they'll be parachuting down from tandem rigs and 'd-bagging' out of planes (a method in which the paraglider opens similar to a parachute, although generally immediately after jumping rather than mid-free-fall).

Hiking to the takeoff. © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

We caught up with Veso just minutes before he was about to launch his paraglider. Although eager to get in the air, he was happy to tell us about further plans for the Red Bull Bird's Eye project. "We've been to the highest mountain in Bulgaria, Botev Peak," he says. "After that, we'll head to the sea for coastal flying, and then to the famous Seven Rila Lakes, before a final shoot where we'll land in the capital square!"

Veso Ovcharov, Rafael Goberna and Petar Loncar © Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

They'll not only be shooting pictures, but making a short movie that will be due out in just a couple months – so stay tuned for the Red Bull Bird's Eye footage and more photographs from the other incredible paragliding locations!

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