Finsterwalder & Charly is a reputable name in the realm of air sports equipment, serving the community since 1974 with an extensive range of hang gliding and paragliding equipment.
This longstanding business originated with the entrepreneurial spirit of Thomas Finsterwalder, who at the age of 16 embarked on a venture producing white-water boats and kayaks. The designs were revolutionary and later contributed to Olympic victories in the realm of racing kayaks. The journey from water to air began in 1972 when Thomas purchased an "Alpine Glider," marking the inception of a deep-rooted passion for gliding that would soon translate into a business venture1.
By 1973-74, Thomas developed a glider of his design named "Bergfex" (mountain freak), a light-weight glider that could be disassembled in eight minutes to a length of 1.80 m without the use of tools, thus marking the beginning of Finsterwalder's innovations in the air sports equipment domain. The following years saw the development of several gliders including Bergfex, Superfex, Jetfex, Windfex, and Minifex, each with unique designs and features catering to the evolving needs of mountaineering pilots1.
The brand has cemented its place in the industry not only for its gliders but also for a variety of other products. For instance, Charly, the helmet brand under Finsterwalder & Charly, has been a market leader for air sports helmets for over four decades, with its helmets being available in flight schools worldwide2. Furthermore, their hang gliders, particularly the "Fexes" from Finsterwalder, are experiencing a renaissance, with over 1000 satisfied leisure pilots, indicating the enduring appeal and quality of their products3.
In recent years, they introduced the Paralock 3, a universal paragliding carabiner emphasizing safety, which underscores their continuous effort to enhance safety and functionality in their offerings4. The enterprise continues to operate out of Munich, Germany, where the headquarters focuses on the wholesale and the acquired brand Charly Produkte since 1990, displaying a blend of tradition and modernity in their operations5.