Governador Valadares is a Mecca for paragliding. Talk to anybody who knows anything about paragliding! If you mention Brazil most people will think of Valadares, famous throughout the world for its good, consistent, cross-country flying. That is the main reason why so many national and international competitions are held here, year after year. Valadares once again hosted the PWC in March 2009.
Ibituruna is a huge lump of volcanic rock, towering 990 metres above Valadares and the landing field at Feira da Paz. Because of its height above the surrounding landscape, it tends to act like a magnet, drawing towards its peak all the thermals in the vicinity. It is an exceptional starting point for those big XC flights.
The take-off is well maintained and has plenty of room. During the Brazilian Open competition, which Valadares hosts every year, it can accommodate more than 150 pilots. Valadares has also been the venue for the World Air Games, and the PWC a few times. We always try to avoid flying these sites during competition time. Not surprisingly, some people can find being in the air with that many pilots very intimidating. If it can’t be avoided, we will take off after the competition pilots have all gone. It can be quite educational, and sometimes entertaining, to watch them all fighting for pole position.
The main landing field in Valadares is massive. You could easily lose a football pitch inside it. It is situated close to the city centre. Only 10 minutes walk from the hotel and about 2 minutes from the nearest bar.
In addition to the main landing field there are massive bomb-out fields before getting to the river, so having insufficient height for the crossing should never be a concern.
As far as the flying is concerned, one of the best things about Valadares is its consistently reliable weather.
During February, March and April the thermals are usually big, smooth and relatively calm. It’s a fantastic place to develop and fine-tune those thermalling skills. With cloudbase normally reaching about 6,000' above the ground, you’ll have plenty of time and space to polish up your technique.
Later on in the year, particularly in August and September, the conditions can get noticeably stronger. Cloudbase frequently exceeds 8,000' ASL (approximately 7,500' above the landing field) and climbs of over 8 metres per second can be found. This is not the time for inexperienced pilots but the more adventurous ones may achieve some big distances.
Whether you come here with 10 hours, post CPC, or hundreds of hours, Valadares has a lot to offer and provides an excellent opportunity to increase those personal bests. Valadares is generally considered to have some of the best cross-country flying in the world. The record for this take-off, set in February 2006, is currently 206km. Flights of 100km are quite common and it is not unusual for pilots with relatively low air-time to come here and fly 50km.