Blick News - English Translation

SpeedFlying Death

What had happened? "no-one had witnessed the accident" said Renato Kalbermatten, the Valais district police spokesman.

The professional Paraglider and Speed­flyer pilot from Thun first checks everything is in order. He takes a few flights in easy terrain. Successfully. Then ha takes the mountain railway up the 3111 meters high Hockenhorngrat in the in the Lötschental. From there he skis to the viewpoint west of the mountain railway station. There off-piste he spreads out his small, incredibly fast paraglider. Just as required.

Later various skiers sight his lifeless body between the rocks below the starting point. The alarmed rescuers could  only confirm his death. "He must have collided somehow with rocks", says the police spokesman.

The sport professional and repeated Snowboard world champion Ueli Kestenholz is puzzled. He believes to know, how the accident could have taken place. By chance the cheif of the piste had watched the start. Kestenholz: "Mathias was not only an outstanding pilot. He was also a tireless improver. Through the worse of the winter he had had developed a new wing which should make longer gliding on the skis possible", says Kestenholz.

On Friday Mathias wanted to make a further test flight with this new wing, which he had only flown before two or three times previously. Kestenholz: "Evidently during the starting phase not all the air chambers had filled and the wing did not fly properly when Mathias came into the rocky Couloir."

Mathias Rotens flight ended in tragedy.

"now he's gone, without saying goodbye", said Kestenholz sadly. I have lost a friend, not only one united by a big passion for the Speedflying.
"Next Wednesday (12/03/08) we were meeting. We wanted to discuss our next projects. I wanted to show him more amazing mountains that we could glide into the valley ", say Kestenholz.

He will never forget his unfortunate friend...

"He was an extremely positive man, who had infected me with his passion. He has lived the saying "Carpe diem" (Seize the day) "Mathias leaves a great void. Not only to his family, but also with his friends."

Whenever in the future Kestenholz goes Speedflying, the memory of Mathias Roten will be foremost in his mind.

The two experienced the most unforgettable joint adventure almost exactly one year ago. In one single day they started from the summits of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and shot like darts to the valley in minutes.

This Speedflyer Marathon is part of the spectacular Sports Documentary "Play Gravity" from the director Samuel Gyger. In the motion picture film one sees also, how Roten with another acro pilot perform so far unequalled synchronous Acrobatics.

In the past more than once the strong minded Mathias Roten mastered risky situations of bravely. Last summer he  collided during a Paragliding-Synchron-Acro-show with his partner. During this he threw the emergency parachute, the professional Roten stabilized his main glider and landed laughing as usual.

The industry is shocked. Mathias Roten was one the best of his kind. He was a test pilot for paragliders and speed wings, active Worldcup-pilot, Worldcup team and synchronous Acrobatic winner.

In the group of the Speedflyer still small compared with the Paragliders he ranked among the experts. In early 2007 he demonstrated in "10vor10" with Ueli Kestenholz, the new sport. Here you can see how the speedflyers with speeds of over 100 km/h and almost as quickly as gliders swoop over cliffs, forests, rocky cliffs, and also between them.

"The dangers with this admitted extreme sport are the nearness to the ground and the speed", says central Swiss paraglider expert Hansruedi Koenig. "Mistakes happen with lightening quick consequences. Speedflying resembles more parachuting - in the landing phase more than that comparative gentle paraglider flights."

Mathias Roten is not the first prominent victim of the small, fast speed wings. More than one year ago the Walliser mountain guide Sébastien Gay (28) in full flight slammed into a rock face and died before the eyes of his prominent wife Géraldine Carnival (24)


Sorry if I have made errors in the translation - I dont speak German so have used online translations and a little help from one of my parents who can (read and unsterand German a little)

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speed flying

I hope every Speed-Flying beginner has an expert assistant.