At speeds in excess of 100km/h, Aussie Jon Durand has flown above great white sharks, risked a massive ocean swell and powerful winds, tackled the unforgiving cliffs of the Great Australian Bite and glided over a rare morning glory cloud formation (a long, horizontal, tube-shaped cloud, in case you were wondering). Now officially the world’s #1 hang glider, you can see Durand in action on Red Bull TV as part of its Focus Series 2. We grab him for a Q&A while he’s on terra firma – hence why it’s a quick one!
When did you do your first ever hang-glide, and where?
My first flight was from Mt Tamborine in the Gold Coast hinterland. I was only 14 years old when I jumped off the 2,000ft-high mountain. It was the most amazing feeling, and from then on I was hooked.
What is your most memorable hang-gliding experience?
I think one of the most memorable experiences would have to be flying the morning glory cloud in 2009.
Describe the feeling while you’re up there in the clouds…
It is one of the most peaceful places to be; you are as free as a bird. My hang glider feels like a natural extension of my arms and I could just fly around all day long.
Have you ever been scared for your life?
There are always moments when you get scared, but I think that only keeps you safe.
We hear you battle in the sky with eagles – tell us more about this…!
I wouldn’t say that – we only dream to fly as good as one. But sometimes if we get low over their nest in mating season they will attack us.
You are grand champion of real-life Angry Birds – how is catapulting wingless birds at pigs translated into real life?
Good question. Although I have never played that game [on a smartphone] so it is hard for me to answer.
You want to be the first person to fly across Australia in a hang glider. Are you getting closer to that goal? Have you set yourself a deadline?
No deadline. It is a huge project and at this stage there is no deadline to achieve it.
Where is your favourite place to fly?
I have many favourite places around the world. Brazil, USA and Australia have some of the best flying places.
What do you do with your time when it’s not glider weather? How else do you get your kicks?
I spend about nine months a year competing so when I’m free I like to hang out with friends and family.
If you didn’t have the Red Bull glider, what would you adorn your wings with?
Red Bull gives me wings, so if I didn’t have them maybe I would be working in an office job.
Jon Durand stars in FOCUS Series 2 available now on Red Bull TV (redbull.tv)