Portrait - Oka Manuel
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
OM: I had been fascinated by all things flying since I was little and always wanted to be in command as a pilot someday. Some 30-odd years later I made it happen by picking up paragliding and never looked back. On the ground I am an architect and photographer in Munich.
When and how did you learn paragliding?
OM: After spending many years in various cities around the world I eventually ended up back in my birthplace Munich in 2014. The following year I decided to finally realize my dream of flying and went to a paragliding school. I immediately followed up my training with a few guided paragliding trips and an SIV, which let me progress quite quickly. The SIV then laid the founding stone for an interest in acro.
What is your kind of paragliding ?
OM: I try to dip my toes into all the kinds of paragliding that I come across. So far, I have participated in a few beginner competitions, chased some big lines (for me) across the alps, gone on a few short bivvies, soared coasts and dunes, and made some progress with acrobatics. All of these disciplines inform and profit from each other so I usually pick whichever is most promising for any given situation.
Could you share an interesting paragliding memory with us ?
OM: My most cherished memories aren't necessarily of my longest but often of the technically more demanding flights. Returning from a flight with a low cloudbase or strong headwind, taking off from a tight spot after a long hike or pushing far into the snow-covered mountains early in the season come to mind. My most recent such flight happened in the Dolomites where I managed a challenging top-landing and take-off and then really pushed myself to complete a triangle against strong headwind.
What are your upcoming projects ?
OM: I am preparing for a crossing of the alps or just a longer flight-biv somewhere in the mountains next year. Also, the list of maneuvers to learn in acro is still pretty long.