Into the black

Monday morning! According to the forecast tonight is the last chance to have an Aurora flight for several days. I need some help to collect my camera after I started and to illuminate the landing area. Anders is of duty today and the staff of the hotel is incredibly busy with thousands of guests who came by the weekend. I try to find somebody all day but not really successful. At the evening its windy and cloudy so I go towards Kiruna with some other guests where we enjoy a pretty nice show in the sky. When we come back later the sky is clear at Björkliden – but no Aurora. A little later the Tirolean guys who came yesterday arrive, we have a short chat, they help me and we go to the upper end of the skiing slope between reception and camping area – 100m elevation only – but enough in a pitch black night.

When we arrive at the launching area there is a light breeze from the back coming down the mountain, hardly any Aurora visible…. I wait until the wind is a little less and start. Its an amazing flight in the dark, no problem at all and I feel totally secure. The landing site is full of light and I come down without a problem – I am only unsatisfied because I hardly saw any Auroras while flying.

Next day morning I check out. I start to really love this place but I’ve been here too long already. Arriving people believe I am hotel staff which is a proper sign to go. I contacted some paragliders in Norway who helped me a lot finding better chances than last night. Especially one guy in Tromso was very helpful and told me a site about 25km west of Tromso – without light pollution and far away enough from any airport to make it perfectly legal to fly there at night.

All the way it snows a lot, all is white and there is nothing else but white. No shadows, no contrasts only red sticks make the side of the road visible for much of the way. When I arrive at Tromso I am done. First choice of lonely planet is full and another hotel recommended by them either. Staff of the smart hotel in Tromso is very kind and tries to find a place for me. “Do you have a car?”. A little later I drive to the west, to a small island called Sommaroy where they have a room for one night. Approaching I unexpectedly see the first stars.

Road map

When I arrive at the hotel I quickly move into an amazingly beautiful room with huge windows. I test the bed but as soon as I switch of the light I see Auroras dancing in the sky. Time to explore the Island. Being maybe 500m in square Hilleroy the neighbor Island where I am when I step out of the hotel is pretty easy to be overviewed. The flat north part is protected from the light pollution of the village by a mountain, a hill, actually by a huge rock rising out of the north Atlantic. Just water between me and the North Pole!

Its totally dark but there is one small road with strong street lamps on the island – straight for about 200m leaving a flat space of maybe 20m to the sea – perfect for landing at night. The hill seems to be flyable either… Before I go to bed I have a little talk with Evva, the kind receptionist and tell her about my planes, asking if there might be a possibility to stay more than a night (“I have a Yogamat and a sleeping bag, I just need a warm place”)– she promises to check until next morning and I go to bed.

Wednesday morning the flag in the garden is hanging down 45 degrees, it seems to become a sunny day and after a little breakfast I check out my room and make ready to fly. Before I leave Evva tells me she has found a solution, one of the fishing huts for two days, same price. Its an amazingly beautiful place I move in, I just don’t really recognize at this second because in my mind I am in the air already.

The rock seems to be perfect with starting possibilities to all directions. 200m elevation are possible to be done as there is a rope to handle up all the way, still only for people who have alpine experience. Up there I see the low sun to the south and the cold, clear, blue and beautiful sea to the west. Wind is NNW so I start pretty much towards the open sea. The flight is just beautiful! It is February, I am 350km north of the Arctic Circle and paragliding at the edge of the continent, the low sun is shining in my face and I don’t feel cold at all in my 7 layers of clothes.

After landing I meet Gökay who is here from turkey and made an amazing slow motion movie of me flying. Tonight is the night and I ask him if he can make a movie at night too – he can. In the afternoon I talk to Kjell who seems to be a manager here – we have kind of the same hair style and travel habits, we like each other immediately. When chatting with him in the afternoon I miss the time and am late to get up the hill.

At this point the contact details of this place as it is for sure one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! It must be an amazing place to soar the rock in the midnight sun of summertime as well as to fly in the northern lights… and for sure it is for fishing, hiking, kayaking, whale watching, … even diving in summer time between colorful coral reefs of a crystal clear sea! Ah the contact: and of course they have a facebook account!

Little wind, clear sky, Aurora is starting to dance. When I arrive at the climbing path next to the tunnel for the military to drive up the Aurora is dancing in the sky. I hurry and when I arrive at the top a stiff and cold wind from the south is blowing in my face. I didn’t look for southern starting possibilities at all but manage to find one. Wind from the south means its blowing out to the sea….hmm.

At the first attempt to get out the wing the wind takes it and several lines get tangled. I have taken wood with me but think the wind will be less very soon so I don’t make a fire. I am busy to untangle the lines anyway which keeps me warm. When I make a break I take a drink out of my bag, drink half of it and by then the other half is frozen. All over my stuff ice crystals are forming and everything turns white.

Above me the Aurora is dancing while the wind keeps blowing, I should have made fire! I keep in contact with Gökay via phone and tell him every now and then how the things are. Around two hours after my arrival on the hilltop the wind calms down, The Aurora is dancing beautifully and I put my headlamp in my pocket as the batteries suffer a lot from the cold, the Gopro remains an ice block doing nothing but some beeps like crying for help. I will be in the warm car in 5 minutes is pretty much all I can think when making last preparations to start and two minutes later I’m airborne to enjoy the most incredible flight ever!

Its even more magic than I have imagined, I don’t feel cold at all anymore, as soon as I am away from the mountain I switch of the head lamp which is getting already lower again by the cold and just enjoy the unbelievable scenery! Much too quickly I am landing but this experience I will for sure never ever forget. I am done but overwhelmed, get the stuff together and go to the hotel.

At the reception I meet Gökay who seems to be a little shocked because he has lost sight when I switched of the headlamp in the moment he dropped a battery. I try to calm him down, fortunately all the others were not so shocked as I had appeared pretty quickly. What can I say…. YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES! DID IT!!! YEAH!

This flight is dedicated to the starman – David Bowie (before watching the pictures please click the name)