Richard Gallon began flying in 1985 in Hilaire du Touvet and by 1989 had begun to experiment with the new sport of acro paragliding. Alongside Andy Heidiger, Sebastien Bourquin and the Rodreguez brothers Richard was to become one of the sport's founding fathers.
Richard went on to work for UP, Edel, Skywalk and many others. About 4 years ago while working as a test pilot for Skywalk, Richard was in need of an acro wing. Skywalk weren’t interesting in making one so Richard decided to do it himself “just for fun”:
“I gave it the name of one of my daughters, it was like a personal pleasure for me, just for fun… Afterward some friends tried the wing and said ‘not bad, can I have one?' and I said yes, why not and it continue and I fell in the trap…could not run away. So my team got bigger and I got a lot of help from all around... it motivated me.”
3 years on airG has grown, but is still a small player in the paragliding world. Asked how involved he is in the design and manufacturing process these days Richard told us
“It’s just me and RR (Raúl Rodriguez)... I am alone, lonely poor cowboy. Ahaa, no no, it’s all ok.”
So what makes airG stand out from the croud?
“Nothing at all... maybe the good mood and the uncomplicated way we do business, and also a fair price. The problem with the acro world is it’s a very small world and a big family, so I think we have to act like a kind family friend.
I invest money I don’t have in sponsoring, quite a lot for my little company, and I think it is quite important still, like it used to be long time ago. This team gives so much help and feedback to make us more attractive, but we don’t stand out from other companies. I think people who know me, they know that I have my style, so it is just a different kind of style… not so serious I think…”
Today Richard’s own interests have shifted a little away from acro, he told us:
“acro is a short kick but xc is all day long, I enjoy it very much…”.
and how does it feels to fly a wing he designed himself?
“For me nothing, my lovely wing right now is my Boomerang 9, the best wing I’ve had until now, my acro wing comes in second position but I like to see pilots smiling and having fun with my wing, this is cool…”
So what’s next for airG? Well, the company is also looking beyond acro to other niche paragliding markets, they’re currently working on a tandem acro wing as well as a specialist mountain wing, so it sounds like there’ll be no rest for Richard anytime soon...
“There are still possibilities, I think that we can still increase the safety of the high performance wings, which means that the little progress we make regarding safety we can spend or give back for more performance.”
“I always thought that it will be hard to improve more but in fact there are so many little different ideas possible, yesterday for example I thought about an amazing idea to increase safety for competition wings and high performance wings… now I have to translate it into a prototype…”