Portrait – Raul Rodriguez
Can you introduce yourself in a few words?
RR : I am an inventor, a discoverer, I need to know what’s further, to discover something new every day, that’s what paragliding brings me, to always be able to discover something a little further than what I know.
When and how did you learn paragliding ?
RR : I started flying in 1987. My father had learnt to fly a year before, it was one of the first initiation courses in Spain. I was 11 years old and seeing him fly made me want to. Afterwards, my father set up a school and I spent a lot of time there with him, until I was 12 years old and he finally let me fly. We only had big gliders, I flew when there was little wind, I did some top to bottom flights on an 800m drop site near Albacete.
What is your kind of paragliding ?
RR : I like the technical side of paragliding, the search for perfection. I also like to be aggressive, to take advantage of the energy and speed of the glider to do manoeuvers in flight or close to the ground. What I like most is freestyle near the ground, using the wind to play with the mountains while passing close to the ground. I particularly like to play with my skateboard, on the sand or snow, mixing skate, snowboard and paragliding, it’s a territory that I haven’t explored much yet but which gives me incredible sensations. But what has always given me the most sensation is acrobatics in synchro, with Felix or Horacio, and discover manoeuvers in which you are really close.
Could you share an interesting paragliding memory with us ?
RR : A lot! The most hallucinating in terms of sharing with nature was a flight to Chile in 2000, with the whole SAT team. We took off on an active volcano, at almost 3000m. The wind was tailwind, it was quite turbulent, I fought my way over the volcano and the crater. Seeing the lava, the magma, in the hole below was amazing. I landed at the top, found another place to take off again, it was completely crazy.
If we are talking about acro flying, 2 come back to my memory. The first is the flight where I discovered the SAT. I was doing negative turn, and I discovered that you can do turns by changing the centre of rotation with the glider open, I already knew that we were going to be able to do it above the glider. The second was when I discovered infinity, after 4 years of working to turn the glider until I was in the perfect axis of the wing. At the beginning we were only doing one turn, I didn’t think we could maintain it. The first time I did infinity I was in Granada and it was an incredible surprise to see the wing pass once and then again and again below my feet without ever losing energy.
TD : I would like to develop a new style of piloting with skateboarding, on snow, sand…I also have projects in climbing, I would like to climb with the base rig on my back, without a rope, but on a cliff where if I fall at any time I can open my parachute. And many other projects…