Wildest Dream Trip: Break the Paragliding Distance Record in De Aar, South Africa

When settlers first glimpsed the scrub deserts of De Aar in South Africa’s Northern Cape, they probably saw nothing but empty rangeland. But modern-day paragliders see something else: a flier's paradise with perfect conditions for the Earth’s longest flights. Here, heat rising from the desert creates massive currents of warm air that keep human fliers aloft, and indeed paragliders have established many of the world’s long-distance records here. However, famed glider Petra Slivova has never tried.

“My paragliding dream now is to find a very big flatlands with long thermal day with good conditions to fly in South Africa,” says Slivova. “They make a long distance flying competition every year in De Aar, and I would try to beat the record officially.” For Slivova, though the record is a tantalizing goal, the sheer freedom of flying over wild new landscapes with nothing but a sail is the most alluring prize of all.