CALLING all past and present Flugtag contestants - Jonny Durand needs your help. And he's running out of time...
After undergoing a full knee reconstruction last month, the man who makes hang-gliding look even more dangerous than it already is has been officially grounded. And with one of Australia's biggest two tournaments coming up in two weeks he's in a race against the clock to get his wings back or risk losing his Aussie No.1 ranking for the first time in a decade.
The event also acts as qualifying for the 2013 World Championships, to be held in Australia, and Jonny is desperate to get back in time - even if it is seven weeks ahead of schedule.
"It's 12 weeks before I can even run so unless I come up with some way of launching myself off a mountain without running, I'm grounded," he says with a laugh. "I'd hop if I could but I don't think I'd get enough speed up. I've got 40-50kg to carry off the hill as well as myself, then I've got to try and get to a flying speed so the aircraft actually flies - I don't like my chances!
"Maybe a roller blade or a skateboard... there's no protocol for launching, so long as you get off the hill."
And what about the landing?
"Okay, I'm dreaming. But I'm good at dreaming," he says. "But let's just say, no one would be surprised if I did do it. If the weather was perfect and I thought I was up to it, I may think about. But realistically, November is likely to be my first event in about six weeks' time."
It's been rough year for the Gold Coast lad. Heavy rain and super strings winds turned the World Championships in Europe into a hectic two-day sprint, contestants spending the remainder of the two weeks with clipped wings in Italy. He ended up 13th and was about as happy as them Wall Street protestors.
"It was still a valid competition because the minimum we have to fly is two days. But it doesn't make it much of a competition," Jonny says. "I ended up 13th from 150 but there were a lot of people at the top who wouldn't normally have been up there had the competition gone to plan. It's so close on our scoring system that after two days it's very difficult to really judge who is best. A normal competition goes for a week but for the worlds we try to make it two weeks because the cream always rises to the top eventually."
But the cream soured in the torrential Italian downpours and now Jonny, busted leg and all, is stranded on one leg begging for chips on a Gold Coast beach like a token wounded seagull.
Well, not exactly. He's already walking, has his stitches out and has 100 degrees of movement in his troublesome leg.
With strict physio and chip-free diet, he's planning on a comeback tour in little over six weeks' time. Unless one of you can design a launching apparatus for him within the next fortnight...
Visit Jonny's official website HERE