The First Malawian XC

June 16th, 2014 - Mulanje, Balaka, Malawi

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I never thought it could happen to me.

As I scoured Google Maps in search of Malawi's highest peak, my objective was to train the first Malawian to paraglide, have him fly from there, and make a film about it. It was an epic 'top-to-bottom' and we all went home satisfied.

Three years later and I have returned to this magical land with a deep hunger, no longer to teach others, but to teach myself. The lesson: Fly far and high in a land no paraglider has ever explored.

After a three hour hike in, my team and I found ourself perched 500 metres above the valley floor. The thermic cycles were strong and frequent so we wasted no time. Within ten minutes of launching, I was wishing I had setup my in-flight pee tube; not because I had forgot to go earlier, but because I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.

My wildest of dreams had come true! The great Mount Mulanje, upon which I often gazed while training Godfrey years back, was allowing me to fly along its beautiful body: A medley of ancient spires, massive caves and painted cliff faces. Throughout the entire flight, I had a feeling that this rock knew something I did not, suggesting that I tread lightly for this incredible mountain commanded the respect of a dinosaur.

As the short winter's day came to a close, I landed on a dirt road to the tune of hundreds of cheering villagers. They had all whitened something they had never thought possible. So had I.

For more photos of the great Mulanje, follow us on Facbeook: http://facebook.com/schoolofdreams/

View this flight online or in Google Earth here: http://www.paraglidingforum.com/leonardo/flight/922361

A Gem in the Cloud

Last week, we set out to fly from the east lookout of the Zomba Plateau. It's a unique spot in the south of Malawi with a paved way to the top.  Upon arrival, the weather changed for the worse. The clouds and wind consumed us. For a white, we felt defeated and, just as we were about to leave, MacDonald, the man we met selling precious stones at the lookout asked us to stay longer.  'We have to go because we have run out of food' we reasoned while packing up our gear.  'Don't worry, I will feed you as long as you stay to fly' he pleaded with us.  Because of his hospitality, we ended up staying three more days. Every day, he walked six hours to and from his village to get food for us. MacDonald's support made us feel right at home.  On the third day, the sun came out for 15 minutes and Ben managed to fly down to Zomba town. Seeing him fly made him jump with excitement. He wanted to run all the way down to shake his hand.  The search for great Paragliding sites continues and I feel insecure about where we will find them. Regardless, it's heartwarming to discover the love and support people and communities are offering, as they resonate with our passion for free flight.  Godfrey

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Flying a site with two lives.

Recently we found a flying site along Lake Malombe, beautiful as it was, it surprised us with it's two extremes. Life while soaring high above the lake was unspeakably amazing. It didn't take long for the stunning lake view to get me thinking that this place was a perfect location for The School of Dreams.  This thought vanished as we touched down and experienced life on the ground. As we packed our gliders, the youth, with endless energy, ran from one Baobab tree to the other, making noise and showing disrespect to Ben and Erica and I.  After a night of decompressing, we realized that, while a place like this might not be an ideal location for the school, that IT IS the kind of place that would benefit tremendously from the school's travelling programs.  These youth have an abundance of energy like I have never seen before. At the same time, it is clear that they have no place to focus this energy. The School of Dreams outreach programs will help these kids discover the things they are most passionate about and provide them with the ongoing motivation they will need to fully realize their dreams.  I am becoming more and more inspired as it becomes clear, the gap that The School of Dreams will fill across our great nation.  G :)

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