Bear's Heroes

Fabian Equey

A multisports athlete, committed tandem paraglider pilot and outdoor sports photographer.

Competed in the Paragliding Acrobatics World Cup 2007-2009, later a judge, test pilot for acrobatic wings and Swiss Paragliding Acrobatics League coach. Progressing to smaller, faster wings, added to a solid background in telemarking and snowboarding, Fabian started speed riding in 2009 and participated in the 2014's Swiss Speedriding Championships. Always in the look for new challenges, skydiving and BASE jumping seemed natural choices when reaching for new limits in airsports, and through extensive travel around the world and discovering other climats and elements, kitesurfing, surfing and freediving keep him busy in warmer time zones.

In addition to being an avid sports man, in the past few years, Fabian has gained merit for his photography skills that started out as a hobby when practicing extreme sports and following friends to document their adventures and partnering with film crews. In his images, he is always looking to combine the passion for sports and unique settings, ultimately hoping to share part of the experience and pleasure to discover places and people with others.

What was the path that lead you to today?

Since a kid, I've been led by curiosity and passion for different types of hobbies and activities, starting with fishing, skateboarding and snowboarding. With a growing appetite for these 'addictions' and when the possibility to discover the world outside of my comfort zone came at the age of 20, I took off for my first adventures abroad, on my own, and discovered another, soon-to-be new addiction: traveling. In addition to the incredible feeling of discovering new cultures and frontiers, it was then that I was also confronted for the very first time to myself. Probably around that same time I started to realise how important it is to listen and follow my heart.

Who inspired you to do what you do?

I don't think I have been inspired by one person in particular but rather a number of friends and individuals that I've met throughout my life and shared mutual interests with. To give you an example, Raul Rodrigues (paragliding acrobatic legend) inspired me by pushing the limits of paragliding. I've always been a follower, not a trend-setter or innovator, but luckily there are folks like him who have made things possible by being the first one to try. I have a lot of respect for people like Raul, also because he is just such a nice person.

What have been the biggest obstacles you have encountered?

Like most people in sports, I've suffered from some injuries. It's really a mental game to recover and be at 100% again. Taking the time and patience needed can be very hard and frustrating. Having said that, I feel really lucky compared to many who are fighting injuries or sickness every day and whose health is affected way more seriously than mine ever was.

Another big obstacle for me would be time. No matter what, time is still running and we're getting older and our bodies aren't working the same way as when we were young.

Biggest triumphs?

Something really insignificant to the world but really amazing for me, was the day when I finally mastered the 'Infinity Tumbling' (a maneuver in paragliding where the pilot goes over the vertical line of the wing in successive loops and the where pilot has to face up to 6G in every rotation ). Before performing it, I remember staying awake at night thinking about the timing to get into the manoeuvre and visualising the movements that I had to do. I've practiced different extreme sports like Skydiving, BASE Jumping and Freestyle Snowboarding but none of those activities gave me that adrenaline rush as did the Infinity Tumbling. But my biggest triumph of all, though, is the fact that I can make a living out of paragliding as a part-time professional tandem pilot and outdoor sports photographer, both of which I feel so passionate about.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Already at a young age, I quickly came to realise how precious life is when two of my close friends passed away at the age of 16 and 18, due to an accident and drug abuse. Later on, through BASE jumping and paragliding, I met quite a few people who were taken by these sports and again, way too early and young. Recently, I lost my mom who had been suffering from a rare and difficult sickness since several years that made it impossible for her to enjoy the last years of her life.

All this to say that what life has taught me, is that life should not be taken for granted. Obviously, with sever health issues, or practicing risk averse sports, the probability that things might go wrong increases significantly, but you can also be the healthiest person and die from a heart attack for no reason or get hit by a car when walking on a sidewalk. Personally, the most important thing, is to try and have no regrets, whatever the end looks like. For me, that means to lead a life that is as healthy as possible and to be surrounded by genuinely good people. If I have to die tomorrow, I'll have no regrets at all.

What are the things that help you get through each adventure and why?

Having a positive mindset helps me a lot. Being a curious person who loves learning new things, I've rarely been shy to jump into something unknown. Whatever you're doing, if you do it with your heart and a big fat smile on your face, it's already a win. I also enjoy a mutual motivation, so sharing an adventure with someone makes it even more exiting. In general, I see an adventure as a positive experience with very little 'obstacles' to overcome or get through. I like to think of adventures as equivalent to trips and journeys, with cool surprises to look forward to along the way.

What scares you and how do you deal with fear?

One of the things that really scares me is to end my life alone. I have been traveling quite a lot and been away from the people that I love the most for extended periods. During those times, my friends and family continued to live their lives, while I was living mine. Despite the distance, I hope that true friendships will last and those friends will be there all my life, no matter what happens and even after long periods of separation. What makes me sad, is when I see elderly people with nobody there for them. Apart from my brother, I have no family left. I hope that we will always be close. Moreover, I also strongly feel that fear can be a strength in certain moments. When you decide to go beyond your comfort zone, fear can help you focus even more and push your mental capacity to the extreme. However, too much fear can be dangerous. If you are affected too much by your fear, you can easily loose perspective and your focus on the action, both vital to successfully execute a complex performance, for example. I would step back, at any time, if I felt that my fear does not help me.

Why is getting outdoors so important in modern life?

It's a no-brainer that getting outdoors is an important factor contributing to our wellbeing. A very simple example that demonstrates this quite basic human need is the recent global pandemic virus, forcing a lot of people to stay inside for weeks. Without doubt, those that have access to nature and outdoors, are mentally and physically less affected by the whole situation, for multiple reasons. In general, there are so many people who do not have the possibility anymore to connect with nature because of lack of proximity, others due to laziness, or some just not realising or underestimating the positive impact that it has on our overall wellbeing. Perhaps, if I would have grown up in a big city surrounded by nothing else than high building without green areas, I would not think too much about it either but luckily, growing up in a small town like Geneva, Switzerland, with mountains and lakes, being outside was part of my upbringing.

I think that even more importantly now, when it's so easy to virtually discover the beauty of this planet through the Internet, it's becoming increasingly vital to keep in mind that nothing can replace a real experience of being outside and enjoy the natural playground that we have in front of us, all the while respecting it.

Amongst all the adventures you have been involved with, which is the most unforgettable and why?

One of the most memorable ones, was when for the first time I went to Chile for 6 month to train in paragliding. I remember one specific day, when doing a distance flight, landing in a mine field that was used for military trainings. That was basically the only zone not to land in, as it was also full of unexploded bombs. I had to find my way out by following Jeep tracks with my paraglider unfolded in my arms (FYI, mine was 28 m2 at the time, so you can imagine how practical that was to carry and clearly not very discrete...). But the most unforgettable part of the same trip wasn't the paragliding episode, but the fact that I had to learn a new culture and language, so that I could communicate with the locals. Their English was not great and mine probably even worse. All in all, the whole trip really changed my life forever and I have returned multiple times to see my friends and paraglide.

Who has been an unsung in your life?

There are a bunch of them. For example, all those folks who are devoting their lives to help others or drive great causes, remaining completely anonymous and without the deserved recognition. Also, ordinary people like Cyrille, the guy who first brought me paragliding 17 years ago. It's incredible how people like him who are just enjoying their passion, can transmit it to others without even knowing that they just changed the entire life of a dude like me. Thanks to him, today, I am being truly happy and content in my profession. It was the best gift ever and I sincerely hope to share at least some of that happiness with the people that I'm flying with.

What's next for you?

My girlfriends keeps bugging me that I should make more home-made pizzas (another addiction that I have - I even came up with a country named 'La Pizzanie' in French, that would be 'Piazzania' in English, I guess), so I'll probably have to focus a bit more on that. No, but seriously speaking, I would love to take my photography to the next level, challenging myself to go to new undiscovered places and elements with the help of some of the people that I have met through Xtreme sports. Again, the nature offers us such a big playground that is just waiting for us to get out and go discover. Apart from that, I'm someone who is most of the time focusing on the present and hope that I continue meeting interesting, kind people, and have many more years of fun ahead. In any case, it's the daily surprises and adventures that finally lead you to the adventures that you will remember the longest.

Do you have a motto you live by?

Eat pizza and don't do to others what you wouldn't want others to do to you.

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