If Tom de Dorlodot had a day job, his office would be a paraglider harness. Tom is one of those rare breeds of professional paragliders and paramotor pilots, who spend their time travelling around the world seeking for new adventures. Tom learned how to fly as a teenager, skipping some essential rules while testing new skills; he flew his paramotor over cloud layers before he could even navigate. This forced him to find his own way back home after questioning locals who were more confused than he was. Once he gained sufficient experience, Tom de Dorlodot became the first pilot to fly over the Machu Pichu in 2008. However, he also became a 24 hours “guest” in the local jail…
Two years later, he broke the record distance in La Caeja (Mexico) and managed to land, during a beautiful sunset, in Sahuayo; one of the country’s most dangerous ganglands. He was kindly escorted out of the city by a truck driver who, though politely, insisted he should get the “hell out of here”.
So what does Tom’s life look like when he is not beating world records in Pakistan or competing in the Red Bull X-Alps?
Lets just say his thirst of adventure never ends, leading him to fly over the Maya pyramids in Guatemala, travels with his paramotor from Belgium to Istanbul, and cross the African continent (north to south) in search of the best flying spots. In addition of a committed adventurer, Tom is a keen pilot with a major talent in photography and cameraman.
All those adventures around the globe inspired Tom to develop the idea and concept of the SEARCH projects. Together with his production crew, he travels the world with his fully equipped AMAROK. Thanks to those trips, the SEARCH crew portrays unique paragliding footages, emphasizing each country’s beauty and habitat.
When and why did you begin paragliding ?
I started to fly in 2001, I was 15 years old.
I wanted to know how everything looks from above and have fun with my friends.
What is your greatest sporting success ?
I guess it was when I covered 226km in 8 hours in Pakistan. Flying at altitude of more than 6000m and in temperature below -25°…
It was great to fly most of the day with my friends Hernan Pitocco and Horacio Llorens.
At the end of the day I realized I had just broken the Asian/Himalayan distance record.
What is your mountaineering experience ?
All together I spent 9 months of my life in the Himalayas (India, Nepal, Pakistan).
I have been in expeditions in Pakistan many times where I stayed in high altitude
base camps in order to fly at high altitude in the Karakoram.
I reached 7320 meters + above the Concordia glacier near the K2 with O2 and 6626m without O2 in the Hushé valley.
I also climbed 3 summits above 5000 meters in the Andes a few 5000meters in Pakistan and many others in the Alps (Mont Rose, Mont Blanc,…)
What does your typical training week consist of ?
Once in a while I come back to my Belgian base camp and use this time to prepare for the next trip.
My preparation includes a lot of training. I use my bike a lot and I go for a run every morning to wake up.
But most of the time I am abroad. I spend my life in mountain ranges around the world,
always traveling with my flying gear and hiking to the take off. There are no better way to train than to fly as much as possible.
I try to follow the seasons and I spend most of my winters on the other side of the globe…
I am also supported by a professional coach who follows my physical and mental preparations and gives me advices to improve myself. It is quiet a program.
What are your best and worst sporting memories ?
My best memory was when I flew above the Victoria falls for the first time with my mate Horacio Llorens.
That was quiet a flight! The worst is sadly related to the loss of a friend due to a paragliding accident.
What is the best advice someone ever gave you ?
I met Mike Horn on a Himalayan glacier, he told me that I should learn to enjoy the difficult times…
Carlos Sainz once told me that the most important at the end of a trip was to come back home in one piece…
What is your favorite flying spot ?
Atitlan lake in Guatemala for the view. Tanzania’s active volcano,
Ol Doinyo Lengaï for the incredible conditions, the Marquesas Islands for the scenery and Nanga Parbat base camp for the thermals that take you to 7000m…
What are you favourite flying gears ?
My Gradient Aspen 5 and my Sup’Air DelightII. Light is right…
What would you take with you on a lost island ?
A paraglider and a Red Bull can..
What are your next projects ?
Now that the SEARCH is on, we are just starting to explore… I would love to prepare an expedition boat and travel around the world in SEARCH of the most incredible flying spots…