Aurora Borealis – the paragliding/geomagnetic storm video!


I finally did it! After travelling the north 4 times within the last 20 months and taking more than 20.000 pictures I was able to choose the 9000 best ones and create a time lapse! A short video of me flying the northern lights with my paraglider is also included at 1:30.

The story and some pictures of the flight you will find here.

youtube link in case embedding does not work

Soundtrack by Suduaya:
0:00 – Snow and Stars
8:30 – Scent of light

Must see:
1:30 – Northern lights Paragliding
12:25 – Geomagnetic storm at Oksfjord

0:00 – Ivalo, Finland
0:48 – Vadso, Norway
1:15 – Inari, Finland
1:22 – Sommaroy, Norway (cabin balcony)
1:26 – Abisko, Sweden
1:35 – Hilleroy, Norway
2:46 – Sommaroy, Norway (cabin balcony)
3:20 – Norskehavet, Norway
4:06 – Karesuvanto, Finland
5:25 – Sinetta (Rovaniemi), Finland
5:45 – (near) Tromso, Norway
6:40 – Langfjordbotn, Norway
8:28 – Jokelfjord, Norway
10:27 – Langfjord, Norway
12:25 – Oksfjord, Norway
13:41 – Langfjordbotn, Norway
14:48 – Langfjord, Norway
15:05 – Ivalo, Finland

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)

Beautiful Lapland!

Two days pass quickly in the shared room of the youth hostel in Kiruna and at Saturday I continue direction Abisko/Norwegian border. The Hostel in Abisko is fully booked so I go further to the next hostel at Riksgränzen. Also fully booked and I can get some use of my Arabic skills. The refugees are extremely kind but cant help me – and of course its not allowed for me to sleep here. But I get a hint to go to Björkliden-Fjällby, in between the border and Abisko. It has already been dark when I passed there but I had seen it and go back.

At the Gåmmelgarden I move into a tiny but beautiful single room. Symptoms of a flu become undeniable by now so I go straight to bed and only leave it at night when the sky is clear in the days to come. I experience several amazing Aurora Displays at temperatures well below -20˚C. When I get better I discover beautiful common rooms, a sauna, kitchen a real cozy place all around me!

Many people come for 2 days to see the northern lights and then leave again. Often they miss the best because of the cold and a lack of patience. A few days later when the forecast is god for Norway in the first half of the night I put two Turkish guys I made friends with in the car and we go. It takes a long time until we reach the first fjord on the snowy roads and we go on to another one for less light pollution. Unfortunately there are villages along the fjords everywhere so the light pollution just gets a little better. Finally at the bridge after Sandstrand I see the first Aurora of the night and show it to Emre and his brother. We try several spots, have some nice views and take some great picture of a relatively weak aurora.

Soon we go back to Björkliden and when we arrive there around midnight the sky is clear – but no displays all the way. The guys go straight to bed and in the hallway I meet Seth who has seen the weak Aurora from Sky Station in Abisko and is on the way to bed too. I warn all of them to stay awake because my guts tell me the best is about to come. Five minutes later when I go out to smoke and check the situation I meet Seth starring at the sky… It dances! I run back in, wake up Emre and Can and tell them to be ready in 10 minutes.

10 minutes later we all go down to the lake where we spend the rest of the night watching an incredible show in the sky. I cant resist to turn on some Psytrance and dance in the freezing night until my flu forces me back into the car. Its unbelievable amazing what nature shows us here!

Friday I have to go to Kiruna. The power stirring doesn’t work sometimes and sounds like Chewbacca. I am afraid it was damaged in my accident and hope I can do it until the Baltics where I hope to find cheaper mechanics. When I stop at the Mechanomen, the company the fixed my car in Sala, they tell me they don’t even have time to look at it before Wednesday and they recommend not to drive until then…. After some discussion they tell me to go to another mechanic who might have time. I like the guy at the QT8 petrol station near the Kiruna Forum immediately. He refills the stirring liquid (no I did not open the bonnet at -20 while having a flu) and all is fine. I give him a bottle of Jägermeister I had taken for occasions like this and he refuses any further payment.

By Saturday I feel healthy enough to think about flying. I had mentioned it at the reception several times and the seemed not really to understand what I want. Today I talk to the ski teachers and they get me immediately. Well it was my fault as it took me a few days to find out I am in an amazing little skiing area as I was awake usually at night and the days are very short and sometimes white out. At the moment there is a Blizzard pulling up but for tomorrow the conditions seem to be better to do a daylight flight at least. The guys are really interested and motivated to support me. I am really glad to be here.

In the evening I find out about the “Bastu”, the sauna. As ours is broken at the Gåmmelgarden we are welcome to use the hotel sauna. As I find out this is the social place in Sweden where to meet people and make friends. Like the hot springs in Iceland. I love it! (And it seems to help with my flu either!)

Sunday morning I meet Anders and one of his colleagues to make a first daylight flight. Conditions seem to be perfect so we get dressed, get the snowmobile and up the mountain. The sunrise is absolutely stunning and I cant wait to get up into the air. Unfortunately we got all permits and are up on the hill there is wind from the back – I can’t start up here.
Back at Gåmmelgarden I look for Katharina and her friend, the two Swedish girls who have never seen the northern lights before. Its Katharinas 60s birthday today and I recommended them to get up early as the forecast predicted clear sky in the morning. It had been clear when I got up but unfortunately not before and for the coming night – their last one here, it was predicted to be cloudy again. They seem to be not here so I go back to bed to rest and get healthier.

Sleeping until 5 I go out to smoke around 6pm. I look up and see stars and an incredible Aurora hardly visible because of too much light pollution. I run inside, tell everybody, find Katharina and her friend in the piano room and put them in the car. I am really happy to have found them, even more when they tell me they haven’t seen nothing last night. When we arrive at the lake a special birthday show starts and I am extremely happy to share the experience of the first Aurora again. Its just such an amazingly wonderful planet with such an incredibly beautiful nature!

Out of the blue and into the black

Sorry, I was too busy travelling the last weeks to update the blog. I am now sitting in a Hostel near Abisko in northern Sweden. After being invited by dear friends in Amsterdam and northern Denmark the first day in Sweden was really crazy. I was really stupid too, should know better and am really glad and happy nothing worth happened. After crossing N60˚ (at night) the street became snowy and I was too tired and unfocused to switch on the 4WD. After a crazy guy overtook me way to fast I just put a small impulse on the stirring wheel and started spinning. Second later I was lying on the side of the car next to the street. Fortunately without a scratch myself, only catching a flu while waiting for somebody to pull me out. Fortunately some people stopped immediately and helped me out after they got rid of the people who had called the police. (Nobody injured, no road blocked, cold outside – the refused to come anyway). After being towed to the next mechanic I just have to wait 6 hours for them to open – the right moment to find out that the gas heating I got at Falle camping store in vienna does not work…. FUCK!

However, the damage on the car is not so bad and it will be done by next day evening. I get a room next to the train station and spend the afternoon in the oldest, beautifully kept in style, café in Sweden – no change for more than a hundred years ran by a south African lady. Anyway it seems to be hard sometimes to find Swedish people in Sweden and when I ask them about it they just tell me they got more than enough work here for everybody – I am impressed. In the afternoon I get a sim card for internet and less than 24h after the accident my cell phone stops working! What a day! On every journey there is a point when it can only get better. Guess I am exactly there now.

Next day afternoon I get back my car and in the morning after I leave. Never driving faster than 75km/h I go all the way to Kiruna (1200km) within 24 hours and just make it to the bed in the youth hostel there. Next night I spend outside to see the first Aurora of the year – amazing! And on the way back to town I see my first moose – out of the white in the middle of the street – the extra lights I installed before leaving just fully had paid!