'Birdman Angelo d'Arrigo reached 9100m (29,850 feet) as he flew over Tupungato volcano in the Andean Cordillera (Range), breaking his very own Everest 2004 altitude record. Once again towed by his team mate Richard Meredith, Angelo's Tupungato flight took place on January 6th. Image courtesy of Angelo d'Arrigo (click to enlarge).
Among Angentineans, Angelo is already known as the Aconcagua Condor - at least as far as the media is concerned. d'Arrigo has accomplished two record-breaking flights in the Aconcagua region. Image courtesy of Angelo's Aconcagua XP 05 team (click to enlarge).
Birdman Angelo d'Arrigo breaks Everest altitude record: 9100m reached over Tupungato volcano

Posted: Jan 17, 2006 04:00 pm EST
The "Aconcagua Condor", as he is known among his fellow Argentinians last captivated media and fans everywhere when he soared over the highest peak of the American continent on Dec 31st 2005. For ExplorersWeb, Angelo d'Arrigo is still known as âBirdmanâ â the guy who flew among flocks of geese across Siberia, who followed Step Eagles above Tibetan plains, and who astonished Everest 2004 summiteers by flying over them in his hang-glider.

Now, just days after Aconcagua, d'Arrigo reached 9100m (29,850 feet) as he flew over Tupungato volcano in the Andean Cordillera (Range), breaking his very own Everest 2004 altitude record.

The second flight of the Condor

The flight over Everest, awarded one of the Best of ExplorersWeb 2004, set a new altitude world record in towed-up free flight. The record (untouched for two years) has finally been beaten â and by Angelo himself!

Once again towed by his team mate Richard Meredith, Angelo's Tupungato flight took place on January 6th. He described the weather conditions that day as 'optimal'.

Surfinâ the air waves over the Andes

''I targeted my second goal in a week'', d'Arrigo would explain later. ''I had to leave the Aconcagua area due to forecasts for very strong winds; so I moved south-eastwards, to the Rivadavia zone".

"Up to 5000m we had strong turbulences," Angelo told Los Andes newspaper. "I was released above 9000m. I free-flew using ondulatory air currents from the Pacific Ocean which rise up as they hit Tupungato Volcano and the Andean Cordillera. They are the very same currents the condors use for their own flight."

Eventually, the hang-glider reached a speed of 160 km/h, enduring 90 km/h winds and -48ºC temperatures. The flight took 2hours and 55 minutes.

âChildrenâ waiting back a home

The record of 9100 meters was registered in a sealed barograph which will now be taken by the Italian Aero Club for confirmation by the World Federation.

Mission accomplished, Angelo is now back home in Sicily where his adopted condor chicks, Inca and Maya, were anxiously awaiting their surrogate parent.

Angelo has fed and nurtured the condors since birth. He has even taught them to fly using his condor-shaped hang-glider. Both Inca and Maya have already flown along side Angelo around Mt. Etna. Once the condors are ready, they will be released in the Peruvian Andes.

Next up: Antarcticaâs roof

Apart from his Condor project, Angelo is already thinking of his next high altitude flight. Next peak up: Mt. Vinson, the highest peak on Antarctica. dâArrigo hopes to fly over the mountain in 2007.

In 2001, Angelo guided a migratory eagle over the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea, completing the first âfree flight Sahara crossingâ in hang-gliding history. The event caught the attention of many scientists.

Russian biologist Alexander Sorokin invited Angelo to work on his Siberian Cranes Project and one year later they were defining strategies for a sort of migratory birds âflying schoolâ. Flying in his hang-glider, Angelo would teach these birds the ways of migration.

Supported by Moscowâs ARRINP (All Russian Research Institute for Nature and Protection) and Washingtonâs ICF (International Crane Foundation), they guided a flock of cranes across Siberia from the Arctic Circle. Besides being a huge advancement in science, it was also the longest free flight ever performed at the time.

With "Flying Over Everest" in 2004, Angelo fulfilled a dream that was four years in the making. He prepared extensively for the project by working in hypobaric chambers and testing gear in a wind tunnel. Angelo became the first man ever to fly over the summit of Everest on a hang glider. During this same project, Angelo also released a Himalayan eagle in Everest National Park.

On the last day of 2005, Italian Angelo dâArrigo fulfilled his dream of flying over Aconcagua. In his condor-shaped hang-glider, Angelo was towed by a micro- light piloted by Richard Meredith - the very same who helped the Italian in his 2004 flight over Everest. At around 7000m, Angelo broke free from the tow and kept ascending thanks to some strong thermic currents. He reportedly reached 7453m.

On Aconcagua, Angelo is fulfilling the first of two expeditions that together will make up d'Arrigo's "Wings of Condor" project (National Geographic will be shooting a documentary on both). Both expeditions will be linked with d'Arrigo's Condor Research Project:

At home in Italyâs Etna region, Angelo is caring for and giving flying lessons to two 'adopted' condor chicks: Inca and Maya. Next year, the condors will be released into their natural environment, in Peruvian Andes.

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