Watch Serious Speedflying Through Narrow Canyons

It took Valentin Delluc thousands of hours of training to be able to pull off such a run.
By Dom Granger

Ever dreamed of slaloming between mountains? Valentin Delluc, known for his speedflying videos where he flies 75 mph above an avalanche, just pulled it off. (Watch his full run, flimed on a GoPro, above for a POV experience like no other.)

But this kind of run isn't just for anyone. What the video doesn't show are the thousands of hours of preparation where the Frenchman zigzags between rocks, even adding plenty of loops into the mix.

Delluc chose the Dévoluy massif in France, in the Isère region, for a speedflying run at 9,150 feet of altitude. The location, named Grande Tête de l’Obiou, is a stunning canyon with moon-like rock formations that makes the perfect playground for a high-performance athlete like Delluc.

You really have to have all the right conditions to be able to get in the canyon like that.

Valentin Delluc

We caught up with Delluc to learn more about this incredible run. How did you first come up with the idea of speedflying there?

Valentin Delluc: I’m an instructor for ultralight planes, so all summer long I bring people on flights in the area. I had already flown over this mountain range and I thought it was very beautiful and unique; the landscape is almost moon-like. I found the place during an Ultralight flight, maybe one or two years ago, but I really started looking into it about three months ago and that’s when I really spotted the canyon that I rode through. After that, I went by foot to take a look at the landing zone, to check if I needed to cut some trees a bit and I also went to check the launching zone.

How do you prepare for such a run?

Well, first of all, it takes many, many hours of training. You have to know your wing by heart. You can’t go into such a run with a fairly new wing you don’t know that well. Next thing, is to make sure it’s not windy. In a canyon like this, dangerous winds could change your trajectory all of a sudden. I flew over it three times before getting into the canyon. I went a bit higher on those three runs, testing the air masses and how it was all moving around the canyon. I got my landmarks during those three runs, so I'd be able to go down in the canyon a bit later.

You can prepare as much as you want, but if you try to do runs like this every day, after a while there will be an unintentional mistake, which could make you hit something. I did it, but I’m not going to do it 15 times in a row. You really have to have all the right conditions to be able to get in the canyon like that.

What goes through your mind during a run like this?

I’m really just focused during the run. I try to anticipate, think ahead, know exactly where I’m going to go and always be ahead of the next move. My whole mind is focused so I can be as precise and clean as possible. I think a lot after the run and before it. Before launching, I visualize my whole run and I already know what I'll be doing. If I don’t feel it, I don’t go. I have a flight plan. But if there is one aspect that doesn’t work out, I’ll just come back another time.

If there's something I don’t feel, I just don’t do it. You have to be able to say no.

Valentin Delluc

You really trust your instincts. If there's something you're not feeling, you don't push your luck?

Exactly. For me, that’s what safety is all about. I went there before to do this run, but the conditions weren't good and I wasn't really feeling it, so I didn’t go. I really waited for the day where all the conditions and aspects were right. If there's something I don’t feel, I just don’t do it. You have to be able to say no.

How does it feel when you finally touch ground? 

I’m happy to have done it. During the first few moments, I’m happy that everything went well. But after about 10 seconds, I just want to go back and do it again!

(For more awesome aerial adventures, follow the Red Bull Air Force in the Miles Above video series on Red Bull TV.)

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