Red Bull X-Alps

Tom reaches new heights in Pakistan

Tom de Dorlodot went on a mission to break a world record.

© Tom de Dorlodot
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Tom de Dorlodot has been flying in Pakistan, aiming to break the record for the highest flight – he reached an impressive 7458m.

The 2015 X-Alps athlete’s flight is now second highest, and a personal record for him. He spent six minutes in a 6,900m high cloud. That was as tough as it sounds – his paraglider froze and he entered a state of hypoxia.

This was pretty much expected, he’d trained at altitude alongside flying for periods with his eyes closed so he could get used to flying with no visibility. This is all part of an effort to reach 8,000m and break the world record.

He says: “For me it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the whole adventure to try and break new ground. Many pilots are trying to reach 8000m and it isn’t easy. You need dedication, motivation and preparation and for me that’s the great thing. It’ll be interesting to see who makes it first.”

The experience of flying so high is also a pretty unique one, especially with the spectacular scenery of Pakistan. It can be dangerous too, but incredible, Tom says:  “It’s an interesting challenge and really plays with your mind, you have to be totally into it. You fly so high and need to use oxygen cylinders, so you are looking at the cylinder knowing that if it falls then you have to make a quick descent, so you have to be so focused and prepared. But when you come out of that cloud cover at 7000m the view, I could see the whole Karakoram range, it’s impressive. When those clouds open…it’s impressive.”

He was flying with a group of pilots, which is important in such a flight to stay safe. “Altitude flying can appear like something you do alone,” he says. But I have been there with a team and it’s important to take care of each other while flying. This personal record isn’t really so personal at all.”

There are other pilots with the same goal in their sights, but if no one breaks it then Tom will be back in Pakistan next year. This summer he’ll be travelling around the Alps and Pyrenees in a ‘home is where you park it’ flying tour. He’s also got a pretty awesome sounding trip to Albania planned for September.