During a recent spectacular photo shoot with Mark Watson, Red Bull hang-glider and world record holder Jonny Durand became the world’s first athlete to surf the notorious Australian roll cloud called ‘Morning Glory’.
A hundred meters long, between two and four kilometers high and moving at speeds of up to 60km/h, the massive wall of cloud sweeps across Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria when conditions are just right. The stunning phenomenon is not called the ‘tsunami of the sky’ without reason, driving pilots to speeds of up to 140km/h.
Ranked first in the world in 2006 and setting a world distance record for a foot launch last year, Queensland athlete Jonny Durand was the perfect man to face the challenge. He had camped out in the area waiting for the right conditions for days. When the roll cloud finally started to show up, Jonny managed to ride two “Glories” on consecutive days, covering over 100km.
"It was the best moment of my life," he said after his feat. "But it could have been the scariest as well. It’s like a tsunami in the sky. It’s unpredictable!"
The breathtaking action was documented by Australian extreme sports photographer Mark Watson, whose outstanding images have been captivating his audience for more than 11 years.
Watson mounted a Nikon D300s and 10.5mm fisheye lens to the nose of Durand’s hang glider and customized the camera’s triggering system to allow both video and stills to be captured remotely. A fantastic making of video can be found on Watson's website.
His special construction was rewarded with a spectacular set of images, which you can check out below or view the full photostory on Red Bull Photofiles here.