World record high above Lake Achensee
Tirol’s largest lake offers an abundance of outdoor activities in summer and in winter, ranging from cross-country skiing to surfing, from downhill skiing to diving. In addition, the region offers some spectacular sports such as paragliding, ballooning or freediving. Time and again, athletes achieve peak performances and records at the “Tirolean Sea”. Like Mike Küng, who leaped into the world record books again with a 7,100 metre head-over jump from a hot-air balloon over Lake Achensee.
Freezing cold on the ground and the best conditions in the air prevailed in Achenkirch during a special record attempt. On 21 January 2020, Mike Küng ascended with the Achensee hot-air balloon from the parking lot of the Christlum lifts to the world record attempt. At an altitude of 7,100 metres, Mike Küng, who originally hails from Vorarlberg, climbed to the edge of the basket and let himself fall headfirst into the depths. A “head-over”, as it is called by insiders, which has never been done before. Küng finally landed near the Bavarian town of Bad Tölz.
Küng’s world record was realized in cooperation with balloonist Andy Nairz (alpine ballooning – austria/tirol), who is also in charge of the annual Achensee Ballooning Festival: “I congratulate Mike on this world record, he is really a ‘daredevil’. It was a bit ‘chilly’ up there, but we didn’t mind the cold. I would also like to thank the air traffic control in Innsbruck, without their support this world record would not have been possible”, said Nairz after landing near the Walchensee.
The technique – challenging and spectacular
Quite often, paragliding flights from a hot-air balloon are done with a D-Bag, where the pilot hangs from a bag underneath the balloon basket. However, in this case Küng did a head-over, meaning he jumped directly out of the basket. “The special thing about the head-over jump is the particularly intense jump and free-fall feeling that you don’t experience in this form with the D-Bag. A head-over is also a bigger challenge than a D-Bag when it comes to technique,” says Küng. The new world record holder completed the balloon ride and jump without the help of artificial oxygen.
Mike Küng is an established fixture in paragliding sports: Born in Vorarlberg, he has performed high-altitude paragliding since 1987. In 2000, Küng experienced his international breakthrough with his victory at the Acro World Championship in the USA. This triumph was followed by crossing the English Channel by paraglider in 2003, and the following year he set an altitude record (10,100m) in a hot-air balloon.