Born in the Sicilian region of Catania, Angelo early envied the eagles' flight and decided to follow them.(Click to enlarge)
Angelo was a different bird. He dreamt and acted on his dreams. We never heard him claiming to be the Best or the First, although he was, again and again. (Click to enlarge).
Angelo's most spectacular achievement was in 2004, when he astonished Everest summiteers by soaring above them in a hang-glider. The feat gained him international recognition and his Over Everest expedition was awarded among the Best of 2004 by ExplorersWeb. (Click to enlarge).
Angelo's research led him to unique achievements in the skies of every land he ever flew over. By following desert hawks he became the first man to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean in free flight without using a motorized aircraft; he crossed Siberia migrating with Siberian cranes; he flew over Everest with Himalayan eagles; and soared over Aconcagua following the path of the condors (click to enlarge).
To improve his own flying, Angelo had long studied and imitated the instinctive flight of great gliding birds. (Click to enlarge).
Wherever he went with them, the birds rewarded Angelo with gold for his attention. Not the case for Sidney, hoping to be the first Spider above 8,000 meters.
Birdman Angelo D’Arrigo nodding from above.
Over Everest: The attempt was very bold. Skeptics believed that the air would be too thin and too cold - an Antarctic helicopter pilot veteran called the attempt flat out "impossible" (click to enlarge).
"We were at a height of about 9,000 meters, I was 500 meters south of Everest. I released what was left of the towrope and headed for the peak, flying over it soon after. This was the moment, flying over Everest."
Maya and Inca, the young condors, will have to fly alone. Angelo personally fed and taught them to fly since they were born in captivity. The birds, currently growing up in Sicily, were going to be set free in the Peruvian Andes later this year.
Maya and Inca, the young condors, will have to fly alone. Angelo personally fed and taught them to fly since they were born in captivity. The birds, currently growing up in Sicily, were going to be set free in the Peruvian Andes later this year.
Desert hawks offered a record flight over Sahara and the Mediterranean, Siberian cranes took him over Siberia, Condors gave a world record over Aconcagua - and Eagles, finally, led Angelo to the top of the world: Himalaya.
Angelo became the first man to fly over the summit of Everest in a hang glider. During this same project, Angelo also released the Himalayan eagle in Everest's National Park.
Over Everest Birdman Angelo dArrigo: The man who climbed the sky

Posted: Mar 28, 2006 06:30 am EST
(MountEverest.net) Man can fly. Italian Angelo dArrigo proved it. Eventually, he even showed birds how to do it. Through his life and his deeds, Angelo followed his dreams all the way up to 9000 meters.

Angelo was a different bird. He dreamt and acted on his dreams. We never heard him claiming to be the Best or the First, although he was, again and again.

The entire purpose of ExplorersWeb is to show to the world people like Angelo and the true values of the spirit of adventure. Now the Birdman is gone, but his beautiful legacy remains: Explore for your heart - not for your peers.<cutoff>

<b>The kid who envied the eagles' flight </b>

Angelo's most spectacular achievement was in 2004, when he astonished Everest summiteers by soaring above them in a hang-glider. The feat gained him international recognition and his Over Everest expedition was awarded among the Best of 2004 by ExplorersWeb.

But there was much more to Angelo, one of the most remarkable athletes in aerial sports and ornithological research.

Born in the Sicilian region of Catania, Angelo early envied the eagles' flight and decided to follow them; and to see the world from above.

<b>Base camp at the flanks of a fiery Volcano</b>

A graduate of the Parisian University of Sport, Angelo d'Arrigo was devoted not only to flight but to all places high: He was a mountain guide and ski instructor, as well as a licensed hang-gliding and paragliding teacher.

Angelo wanted to unite his two passions climbing and flying - so the idea to fly over the world's highest peaks was a no brainer. The difficult part was <i>how</i>.

He started with the Alps (Mont Blanc, Cervino, L'Aiguille Verte to L'Aiguille du Midi, etc). While making a documentary for French TV, Angelo flew over Sicily's Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, just as the active peak had an eruption.

Attracted by the contrast of elements (earth, wind and fire), Angelo decided to stay: He set up a hang-gliding school on the flanks of the volcano.

After years of professional sports and two world titles, Angelo withdrew from the competitive circuit, and turned his attention to a different kind of flight.

<b>Angelos metamorphosis</b>

To improve his own flying, Angelo had long studied and imitated the instinctive flight of great gliding birds (migratory, vultures, birds of prey, etc). Now, after 15,000 hours of flight and countless hours learning from birds, he figured out a way to serve science though his own discoveries and to break some records along the way.

He started a project called "Metamorphosis" which basically consisted of flying with the Earth's great gliders in order to uncover their flying technique and routes.

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

<b>Birds rewarded Angelo with gold</b>

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 flying school. Flying in his hang-glider, Angelo would teach these birds the ways of migration.

Supported by Moscows ARRINP (All Russian Research Institute for Nature and Protection) and Washingtons 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.

Wherever he went with them, the birds rewarded Angelo with gold for his attention: Desert hawks offered a record flight over Sahara and the Mediterranean, Siberian cranes took him over Siberia, Condors gave a world record over Aconcagua - and Eagles, finally, led Angelo to the top of the world: Himalaya.

<b>Sidney's take</b>

Yet not all were fans of his birds. When Angelo set out to fly over Everest, the expedition included Sidney, who hoped to be the first Spider above 8,000 meters. A protégé of FlyMicro pilot Richard - Sidney described (transcribed by Richard) his meeting with Angelo's Steppe Eagle:

"I can tell you it was a very unpleasant experience. Before I could escape, the eagle grabbed me in his beak and in a moment I was pinned on the ground in his claws and he was trying to rip my legs off!"

"Richard wasn't being much use all this time, just leaping around shouting 'no no no' a lot, which didn't have the slightest effect on the eagle. Luckily he did come to my rescue in the end though, just as I was about to be swallowed whole he grabbed the eagle round the neck so I wouldn't go down its throat and I was spat out. I can tell you I was away out of range as fast as my eight legs would carry me, and apart from a few bruises utterly unscathed. Angelo told me later that the eagle was disappointed to have missed such a tasty looking meal, but otherwise quite unharmed."

<b>Flying over Everest</b>

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. The attempt was very bold. Skeptics believed that the air would be too thin and too cold - an Antarctic helicopter pilot veteran called the attempt flat out "impossible".

But British Microlight pilot Richard Meredith-Hardy and Italian hang-glider pilot Angelo didnt give the nay-sayers a second thought. The team contacted ExplorersWeb for weather forecasts already one year prior to their project - and learned how to read the reports to greatest detail. Their diligent preparations and intelligent planning paid off: At the first signs of a slight weather window late May, they went for it. Angelo described the moment:

"On the 24th, I woke at 3.30 am as usual. I could see the stars, but the most important sign was that we were no longer immersed in the mist. We were out of the clouds, and, looking south, I could see the Khumbu valley, also clear. This important sign was precious, because it was the first time that it had happened during our time there, and it showed that the air humidity conditions had changed."

<b>All of a sudden, the guys just took off</b>

Angelo, towed by Richard in his Flymicro, headed for Ama Dablam, crossed the glacier and moved towards the buttress between Lhotse and Nuptse. They crossed the crest and moved towards the Everest Icefall, then headed directly towards the peak of Lhotse.

Awaiting news on his climbers summit push, Ellie, the BC manager of Alpine Ascents suddenly dispatched: "We are also being treated to a rare sight this morning - there are a couple of ultralights flying around up toward the Western Cwm..."

At ExplorersWeb offices in NYC, we jumped up from our predawn summit push slumber. "Flymicro! Flymicro!" we shouted. It was unexpected. There was no warning, no build up. All of a sudden, the guys just took off.

They stunned the entire mountain as they came soaring toward the summit. Wide eyed climbers near the top and below awed at the sight of a strange bird flying up Mount Everest West Face.

<b>"This was the moment, flying over Everest"</b>

The gliders waved at the climbers and then they were gone. Well, at least Angelo was:

"We gradually attained an altitude close to 9,000 meters. While we were in the last stages of our long climb, just downwind from the peak, we encountered some particularly strong turbulence, with notable wind shear. (At these heights, one may even find jet stream currents)."

"Near the South Col of Everest, close to the peak, we ran into a gigantic area of rotor turbulence, which dragged the microlight violently downwards, projecting me in the hang-glider upwards at the same time. This caused the towrope to break, at the safety link, which I had regulated at 200 kg (about double the normal setting)."

"We were at a height of about 9,000 meters; I was 500 meters south of Everest. I released what was left of the towrope and headed for the peak, flying over it soon after. This was the moment, flying over Everest. I had succeeded in the attempt to fly my hang-glider over the highest mountain in the world."

Did you notice? No First, no Best. Just a dream come true.

<b>Success according to Angelo</b>

These days, adventurers sometimes employ PR agents and 'pan' the adventure statistics to find even the slightest grain of a world record to blow out of proportions. Often, they are just following in the steps of others - not even acknowledging their pathmakers and/or support team. Angelo became the first man to fly over the summit of Everest in a hang glider. True to his spirit, Angelo described his success:

"The team is the most important thing for this sort of project. I was the person that flew over Everest, but this would not have been possible without the extraordinary professional skill of a supporting team. Each member of the team had a specific role, and each was indispensable in attaining the final result. Success would have been impossible without the team."

"First of all, the tow pilot Richard Meredith, who actually established an extraordinary record in the height that he reached, never attained before in a microlight. I have known Richard for years, and I consider him one of the finest pilots of all. A long time ago we were adversaries in microlight competitions, but we later became friends. He now works with me whenever the opportunity arises."

A few months back, it was time for the two mates to fly together again: On the very last day of 2005, Angelo flew over Aconcagua, in his condor-shaped hang-glider, once again towed by Richard. At around 7000m, Angelo broke free from the tow and kept ascending thanks to some strong thermal currents and reached 7453m. In January this year, Angelo reached 9100m of altitude over Tupungato volcano, in the Andean Cordillera, thus breaking his own altitude-record set over Everest.

<b>Maya and Inca will fly alone</b>

Angelos next challenge was to fly over Mount Vinson, in Antarctica. He also hoped to set free two condor chicks he had personally taken care of, fed and taught to fly since they were born in captivity. Angelo had adopted the role of condor-mother; wearing a black mask and teaching the chicks to fly from a condor-like custom designed hang-glider and para-glider. The birds, currently growing up in Sicily, were going to be set free in the Peruvian Andes later this year.

But Maya and Inca, the young condors, will have to fly alone. The man who had reached the edge of the atmosphere in a non-motorized hang-glider was lost in an accident during an exhibition in Comiso, Italy. He was not even piloting the plane. His friend General Giulio de Marchis, a retired 70 year old general, who also died in the crash, was in the pilot's seat when the plane fell from about 400 feet.

Angelo was only 45 years old when the skies finally claimed his soul. Just as sudden as he had soared over Everest, the remarkable explorer left us - with a last flap of wings. We miss him badly.

<i>Angelo dArrigo died on Sunday, March 26, 2006 in an accident during an air show in Comiso, Italy. He was a passenger in a small Sky Arrow plane piloted by Giulio de Marchis, a retired military general who also died when the aircraft fell 200 meters to the ground. He leaves behind his wife and three children.

Angelo's research led him to unique achievements in the skies of every land he flew over. By following desert hawks he became the first man to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean in free flight without using a motorized aircraft; he crossed Siberia migrating with Siberian cranes; he flew over Everest with Himalayan eagles; and soared over Aconcagua following the flight of the condors.

<b>FLYER'S PRAYER</b>

When this life I'm in is done,
And at the gates I stand,
My hope is that I answer all
His questions on command.

I doubt He'll ask me of my fame,
Or all the things I knew, Instead,
He'll ask of rainbows sent
On rainy days I flew.

The hours logged, the status reached,
The ratings will not matter.
He'll ask me if I saw the rays
And how He made them scatter.

Or what about the droplets clear,
I spread across your screen?
And did you see the twinkling eyes.
If student pilots keen?

The way your heart jumped in your chest,
That special solo day-
Did you take time to thank the one
Who fell along the way?

Remember how the runway lights
Looked one night long ago
When you were lost and found your way,
And how-you still dont know?

How fast, how far, how much, how high?
He'll ask me not these things
But did I take the time to watch
The Moonbeams wash my wings?

And did you see the patchwork fields
And mountains I did mould;
The mirrored lakes and velvet hills,
Of these did I behold?

The wind he flung along my wings,
On final almost stalled.
And did I know I it was His name,
That I so fearfully called?

And when the goals are reached at last,
When all the flyings done,
I'll answer Him with no regret-
Indeed, I had some fun.

So when these things are asked of me,
And I can reach no higher,
My prayer this day - His hand extends
To welcome home a Flyer.

Patrick J. Phillips</i>

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