local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Fly Sun Valley paraglider pilots Jamie Messenger, Abe Laguna and Honza Rejmánek strike a pose with D, the duck. Rejmánek, right, shows how he gets home following a cross-country flight, like his record-breaking flight Sunday that took him to eastern Idaho from the summit of Bald Mountain. Express photo by Willy Cook

Local paraglider sets record

Rejmánek hopes to reach 100 mile mark

Express Staff Writer

The skies of Idaho are Honza Rejmánek’s playground and his record setting arena.

On Sunday, July 11, Rejmánek became the first paraglider pilot to fly a record 88 miles from the summit of Bald Mountain, breaking his old record of 57 linear miles by 31 miles.

After he landed in a field near Monteview, near Mud Lake, approximately 40 miles northwest of Idaho Falls, the 29-year-old held up a sign advertising "GLIDER PIOLOT NEEDS RIDE TO CAR" and hitchhiked home.

The six-and-a-half hour round-trip ended with his safe return to Sun Valley at 10:30 p.m. The flight took him four-and-a-half hours, traveling up to 60 mph at times.

"That wasn’t the original plan, but that’s how the day developed," Rejmánek said with a shrug.

At about 2 p.m., Rejmánek and fellow Fly Sun Valley paraglider pilots Abe Laguna, 29, and Jamie Messenger, 29, launched from the top of Bald Mountain. Their initial plan was simply to fly to Sun Peak near Sun Valley to ride thermal currents the mountain generates. But conditions were favorable. Before they knew it, they were flying at 16,000 feet and crossing over the top of Trail Creek Summit.

The Boulder Mountains tumbled north. The Pioneers were to the south. And the Lost River Range, the next downwind mountain range and the next significant source of thermal air currents, lay to the east.

As the three pilots traveled over the sweeping Big Lost River valley, they lost altitude by as much as 1,000 feet per minute, which they said is not uncommon.

"I’ve been at 17,000 feet and been on the ground 10 minutes later," Rejmánek said.

But not this time.

As Laguna and Messenger safely touched down in clearings in the upper valley, north of Mackay, Rejmánek managed to catch a small thermal current that carried him through to the Lost River Mountains, where he worked the rising air currents to attain 16,000 feet again.

He flew south along the range and, at 14,000 feet, turned east near Darlington. From there, he gradually began a long descent that took him across the southern tip of the Lemhi Range at about 7,000 feet. He eventually landed along state Highway 22, about 10 miles northwest of Monteview.

Had he gone straight over the top of the Lost River Range, and then the Lemhi Range, he might have been able to fly into Montana, he said, adding that his ultimate goal is to break 100 miles.

In paragliding, the United States Hang Gliding Association keeps track of records in a number of categories, including record distances achieved from a particular site, like Bald Mountain. The Idaho state record for straight-line distance is just more than 100 miles, said Chuck Smith, owner of Fly Sun Valley and a fellow pilot.

Smith said flying cross-country is more difficult than the layperson might first guess.

"It incorporates all your skill, all your knowledge," he said. "You have to have good skills and good technical judgement."

At the same time, Smith offered a simple explanation for the sport.

"We just try to do the most with the least," he said. "We’re just up there with our big bag of nylon and trying to go places. It’s pretty darn satisfying, though, when you land."

Laguna pointed out that pilots always try to have an escape hatch. They look for potential landing sites within their glide distance. He also said they usually follow roads to ensure they can land somewhere and have an easy return route.

But that’s not to say they don’t ever fly over untouched country. Last year, Rejmánek and Messenger loaded their gliders with camping gear and headed out for a multiple day, cross-country flight. They camped by night and flew by day.

The allure of paragliding is something Laguna described as "incredible."

"The views, the feel of it—there’s nothing like it," he said. "It can be as pleasant as a gondola ride, or as hair raising as a double diamond ski slope."

As commercial pilots, the Fly Sun Valley crew, which has been working together three years now, cater to tourists who want to fly tandem trips from the top of Bald Mountain and land about 30 minutes later at the mountain’s base. They’ve flown clients from 3 to 93 in age. They’ve flown a local photographer for aerial photos of the Wood River Valley. They’ve flown blind clients, deaf clients and one who was a quadriplegic.

The biggest secret to becoming a good pilot, they said, is to practice. But it doesn’t hurt to be an amateur meteorologist, too.

To fly long distances cross-country, there’s a little bit more of an intangible element.

"You’ve got to find the thermals. You’ve got to use them efficiently," Rejmánek said, adding that the Bald Mountain site record could be broken at any moment.

Smith offered the following explanation for Rejmánek’s penchant for airborne distance.

"It’s Honza, man."



City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.