Paraglider Returns to the Air After Breaking Back

A year after a nightmare paragliding crash, Tom de Dorlodot resumes an ambitious Alps project.
Adriatic Circle: The longest hike and fly © Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool
By Tarquin Cooper

One 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 journey of over 1,100 miles 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 later, the mission is a go once again. The pair are setting off this weekend to complete "the circle," and you can follow their progress live right here.

But first, check out video of the aftermath of the crash below, along with Tom's inspiring road to recovery.

“During my recovery I was always thinking about the Adriatic,” de Dorlodot 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.”

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.

Thomas de Dorlodot prepares for gliding © Kolesky/Nikon/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.

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 435 miles and could take around two weeks. But they are not going to go full-gas; they plan to use it as part of their training for Red Bull X-Alps. “That’s the main event for us this year,” says Tom.

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

Follow the pair of adventurers as they complete their journey.

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