"I love pushing boundaries and making the impossible possible."

Roland Brunnbauer, Acroli, is a professional acro pilot and, as a Zanier athlete, also provides us with important input for product development in the aviation sports segment.

“Borders only exist in people's minds.”

The sympathetic Austrian proves that boundaries only exist in people's heads - take a look at his crazy Instagram reels and you'll know what we mean. He not only demonstrates his skills spectacularly in international shows - or in eye-catching acts such as his stunt in GRIP Das Motormagazin on RTL II, where Roli lands in a moving car. He can also look back on many international competition successes and achieved 1st place at the Synchro Acro Paragliding World Cup in Ölüdeniz in October 2023.

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Wanna go skiing, kiting or flying today? YES!

Last year, we were also able to support Roli with his film project SKI, KITE & FLY on the Schafberg and therefore equipped him with Zanier gloves. The result is definitely something to be proud of:

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When the sky becomes a stage: Synchro paragliding & canopy-relative air shows.

At the end of 2022, Roland founded the "Airbound" synchro team together with his long-time fellow competition pilot, Nobert Winkler. Together, they not only perfect synchronized acro manoeuvres, but also master canopy-relative flying - a technique that is unique in the world for paragliders. What exactly is canopy-relative flying, how did Roli discover his passion for flying and what is particularly important as an acro pilot? We met Roli for an interview:

How did you get into paragliding and what specifically motivated you to acro flying?

„I was fascinated by flying from a very early age, but for a long time I didn't have the opportunity to live it out. During my community service, I met a friend whose brother used to fly paragliders. He showed us the sport and it was immediately clear to me that I wanted to do it! During the basic training course, I saw that you can do a rollover with a paraglider. When I saw that, I knew that I wanted to be able to do it too!“

In your opinion, what skills are crucial to being a successful acro pilot?

„What has driven me is the determination, but also the courage to do something new. If you then have the necessary endurance to master the individual stages of aerobatics, nothing stands in the way of a successful career - whether in professional or amateur acro paragliding.“

How do you deal with the risks and safety aspects of acro flying?

„Risk management is a very important part of flying. You can eliminate a lot of unnecessary risks in advance by being well prepared and having the relevant safety equipment with you. Unfortunately, I didn't have very detailed information about this myself at the beginning and there was only a community at individual spots at that time. That was also the reason why I set up the Austrian Acro League a few years ago. My aim is to make it easier for beginners to get started and to improve safety in our sport. I personally analyse new tricks very intensively at the beginning and reflect on them very carefully after the first attempts. This has helped me progress very quickly in my implementation.“

Together with Norbert, you have mastered canopy-relative flying. What exactly is it and why is it so unique with a paraglider?

„Canopy-relative flying actually comes from skydiving and is a very impressive form of flying together that is currently only performed by us, "Team Airbound". At the beginning you basically fly into each other, then you climb down the paraglider lines to your partner. This allows you to get into very unique formations. With the help of a connection system, we hang together tightly. From "stacked", where we can fly several maneuvers hanging together, slightly offset, to the downplane, where one pilot flies normally and the other upside down. There are no limits to the force of gravity here! This requires a great deal of teamwork and outstanding canopy control, otherwise it can quickly become dangerous. Our aim was and is to combine acro paragliding and canopy-relative flying to create the most unique show. The best way to get a better idea of it is to watch the videos on social media.“

What role does equipment play in acro flying?

„The right and appropriate equipment is not only crucial for acro flying, but also for normal paragliding. Whether it's a perfectly fitting harness, the right size paraglider or the right choice of clothing. Here you need the ideal, coordinated symbiosis in order to have the right handling. Control must be smooth, especially over the hands, to be able to perform the sport in the best possible way.“

What is particularly important when choosing gloves for flying?

„As the paraglider is controlled via the brake lines, which are guided by the hands, a good feeling in the fingers is extremely important. In winter you need thicker gloves, or in the best-case heated gloves, but gloves are also particularly important for a good grip in the transitional seasons and in summer. With Zanier gloves, I have found the best way to complete my sensitive maneuvers. I wouldn't want to be without them! I use three different gloves throughout the year: model Shredder for summer, the Laserz.tw for the transition period and in winter, and the Aviator.gtx when it's really cold. My synchro partner Norbert swears on the MyMountainpassion all year round. He's probably not as sensitive to the cold as I am... :D“

Can you tell us about aparticularly exciting or challenging experience during your acro career? What do you particularly remember?

„There are quite a few experiences that I can look back on and that I was able to experience, but that would go beyond the scope of this article. But what I will always remember is the moment when I jumped out of a helicopter with my paraglider for the first time a few years ago. The loud flapping of the rotor blades above me and the nod of the "jumpmaster" holding the packsack from which the glider comes out and telling you that you now have to jump was a really exciting moment. But also many of the projects I've already had the chance to do, such as being pulled into the air in a Cabrio with Matthias Malmedie and then landing back on his back seat in the moving car. Or the first time I did a downplane with Norbert and felt the forces acting on my body. I will never forget these moments and they are what keep me going.“

What do you do when you're not paragliding?

„In addition to my flying career, I also work as a social worker, where I support mentally impaired people and help them to achieve their goals in life. This gives me a very good balance.“

What's on the agenda for 2024? What can we look forward to?

„For about nine months I have been planning and preparing for a worldwide unique stunt from an Austrian landmark. I can't reveal any details yet, but it will certainly be one of the biggest milestones in my sporting career. Stay tuned! ;)

We are also training for the Synchro Acro Paragliding World Championships, which will be held in Turkey in the fall. In the meantime, we have also started filming a documentary about us as Team Airbound and canopy-relative flying. Various air shows in Austria and internationally and photo shoots are also planned for this year.

In any case, there is a lot to do...“

Photocredits: Alois Rettenbacher | Stefan Stöger | elevateparagliding | Kevin Philipp

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