PAZNAUN PEOPLE: ELMAR GANAHL, FLIGHT PIONEER

You could call him a true hang gliding pioneer. In 1976 Elmar gained his pilot’s licence and in 1978 he qualified as a flight instructor. He has since hung up his hang glider. Alongside his great passion, flying gyrocopters, he continues to run the Silvretta flying school in Galtür.

PHOTOS: PHILIPP HORAK

What does Paznaun mean to you?
First of all, home. The word “home” (Heimat) has gained in importance in recent times, and it can’t be taken for granted any more. I have seen many great things travelling in other countries, and hopefully I’ll experience many more. At the same time, there are many things currently giving me food for thought.

The Paznauners are often described as hard-working and industrious, but also a little stubborn. Can you identify with these terms?
We are straightforward, open people who have been shaped by our history and the conditions of the Alpine environment. Life calls for stubbornness and assertiveness, but used considerately.

Is there anything in particular which makes your valley special?
The community spirit in Galtür since the events of 1999 is very palpable. That makes me proud to be a Paznauner.

Which of the four seasons do you prefer?
I see it as a privilege to live in an area where you can enjoy these wonderful seasons so intensively. My favourite season, though, has to be spring. After a usually long winter, it starts to get warmer, and with the arrival of the thermals, the flying season can start.

Do you have a favourite place, perhaps seen from above?
Yes, the Kopsee at Zeinisjoch. It’s a wonderful place to relax. Seen from the air, there are of course many places in the valley I’ve been able to fly over and enjoy during my many years of flying.

How has Paznaun and its people changed over the last 20 years?
There’s been a lot of positive developments due to the continuous expansion of infrastructure. Roads and lifts have been built. Tourism is developing rapidly. The internet has connected the valley to the world. But there’s also a downside. The process of globalisation and the current underlying economic conditions have made it extremely difficult for the younger generation in Austria to reasonably be able to continue their parents’ legacy. This is where I hope politicians will make the right decisions and amendments.

Do you have a particular wish for the future?
The revival of the thermal project in Galtür. And, of course, good health.


Elmar Ganahl was born in Ischgl on 24 March, 1951, and grew up in Galtür. In 1972 he married his wife, Rosmarie, with whom he has two children. Together they run the “Silbertaler” guesthouse in Galtür. His interest in flying dates back to his military service days.