#Dominique CrucianiA life spent up in the air
He was one of the first pilots in France to offer to take people on tandem hang gliding flights.
Dominique Cruciani figures among the sport’s pioneering generation who started it all in the 1970s; this breed of visionary risk takers, enamored with the freedom of flight, experimented a great deal during hang gliding’s infancy. His passion for flying led him to teach a wide variety of gliding sports, including monoskiing, surfing, sky diving, paragliding, base jumping, ultralight aviation, and even piloting helicopters. Today, he is the CEO of Delta Evasion.
Time to meet him…
“When I was only 17 years old, I set off to explore the freedom that the sky, mountains, and sea had to offer.”
When he arrived in the region, Dominique started by taking off at Col de la Forclaz pass alongside the icons of flight at the time: Noël Veyrat (aka “Nono”) and Michel Tagliabue, who took Dominique under their wings. “Hang gliding only started in the 1970s, so was in its infancy and at the beginning of an amazing adventure.”
“We flew, but it was pretty dangerous at the time. We had to DIY everything,” he remembers, “Today, the situation is completely different, the gear is of the highest quality and extremely reliable,” he adds.
© Delta Evasion / Dominique Cruciani
From one adventure to the next
Dominique first started flying in 1976 and joined the French national hang gliding team in the 1980s. Very early on, he started to offer tandem hang gliding flights, taking off from Col de la Forclaz Pass (above Lake Annecy) in the summer and from the Alpe d’Huez ski area in the winter, thus finding a way to earn a living through his passion for flying. “At the time we flew without any form of certification, since there was no such thing.”
Unable to sit still, he experimented with anything that could fly. In Alpe d’Huez, he organized sky dives from a helicopter, thought up ways to connect Alpe d’Huez to the neighboring Les 2 Alpes ski area, and had a ton of ideas on how to grow tourism at the resort, which opened up the opportunity for him to run the helicopter base for fifteen years.
© Delta Evasion
Ten years ago, he decided to move his entire business to Col de la Forclaz Pass and Doussard. Paragliding and hang gliding wings all the same color, decaled vans, staff t-shirts, and a women’s team referred to as the Delta Girls.
Dominique, a visionary, is one of the first to develop a communications strategy to provide his business with a much more professional image, steering away from paragliding and hang gliding’s traditional “beatnik – hippie” reputation.
In the process, he created Deltaland in Doussard, next door to the paraglding landing area, which now serves as his base camp as well as a place to relax, with trampolines, a trapeze school, and a snack bar where he often organizes private events. He also has a passion for his new toy, an ultralight helicopter with a panoramic cockpit, ideal for exploring the uniquely beautiful landscapes of the Lake Annecy basin. Add to all that aerial utility services, aerial photos, and sightseeing flights, Dominique keeps busy to say the least.
© Karine Dupureur
“When I fly with geese, I’m no longer piloting an ultralight, I’m a bird. I’m the lead goose.”
His latest pastime is flying with geese, an idea planted in his head after he participated in the filming of the documentary Winged Migration in 1998. The adventure lasted four years and offered him the chance to travel all over the world.
© Delta Evasion
“I drew inspiration from the documentary Winged Migration, by Jacques Perrin, for which I served as an ultralight pilot to take footage. We flew with imprinted geese. I said to myself that it would be neat to recreate the experience on my own at Deltaland.”
He started by raising his own geese, right from birth, taking advantage of the imprinting instinct where chicks consider their mother to be the first individual they see after hatching, and with whom they form a strong bond. Dominique starts by getting them accustomed to the sound of the motor, having them waddle next to the ultralight. Next, little by little, they take off with him and escort him ever higher and ever longer.
Today, the symbiotic relationship he and the geese have developed allows them to fly together, and to better draft, they usually position themselves alongside the wing. And sometimes, they lead the flock to guide the way. Dominique had to equip the motor of his ultralight with a cage to keep the birds from flying into the rotor. “When I fly with geese, I’m no longer piloting an ultralight, I’m a bird. I’m the lead goose,” he states. “People come from all over Europe to take part in this unique experience. These flights are always filled with wonder and emotion.”
No doubt, flying early in the morning over Lake Annecy and its inlets, the marsh in Doussard, Duingt Castle, Roc de Chère Nature Reserve, and Talloires Bay is a magical experience.
Flights are put on hold during the geese’s molting season, from around mid-July through the end of August. Flights begin again in the fall.
After more than 45,000 flights, we can count on the fact that Dominique will never lose his insatiable appetite for aerial exploration.
© Delta Evasion
Paragliding/hang gliding landing area & Deltaland – Route de la Plaine – DOUSSARD
Annecy Folie – 20 rue Perrière – ANNECY
Tel.: +33 (0)6 08 32 49 59
- © Delta Evasion
Journalist: Aude Pollet-Thiollier
Translation: Darin Reisman