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MAY 2008 Volume 38 Issue 5 $4.95



MAGAZINE STAFF USHPA, Publisher: Nick Greece, Editor: Greg Gillam, Art Director: Martin Palmaz, Advertising: Staff writers: Alex Colby, Steve Messman, Dennis Pagen, Mark “Forger” Stucky, Ryan Voight, Tom Webster Staff artist: Jim Tibbs Staff photographers: Josh Morell, Jeff Shapiro OFFICE STAFF Paul Montville, Executive Director: Rick Butler, Information Services Director: Martin Palmaz, Business Manager: Erin Russell, Office Manager: Michelle Burtis, Member/Instructor Services Administrator: USHPA OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Lisa Tate, President: Riss Estes, Vice President: Rich Hass, Secretary: Mark Forbes, Treasurer: REGION 1: Rich Hass, Mark Forbes. REGION 2: Dave Wills, Urs Kellenberger, Paul Gazis. REGION 3: David Jebb, Rob Sporrer, Brad Hall. REGION 4: Mark Gaskill, Jim Zeiset. REGION 5: Lisa Tate. REGION 6: Gregg Ludwig. REGION 7: Tracy Tillman. REGION 8: Gary Trudeau. REGION 9: Felipe Amunategui, L.E. Herrick. REGION 10: Dick Heckman, Steve Kroop, Matt Taber. REGION 11: Gregg Ludwig. REGION 12: Paul Voight. REGION 13: Dick Heckman. DIRECTORS AT LARGE: Leo Bynum, Riss Estes, Mike Haley, Jon James, Dennis Pagen. EX-OFFICIO DIRECTOR: Art Greenfield (NAA). The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Inc. is an air sports organization affiliated with the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), which is the official representative of the Fédération Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), of the world governing body for sport aviation. The NAA, which represents the United States at FAI meetings, has delegated to the USHPA supervision of FAI-related hang gliding and paragliding activities such as record attempts and competition sanctions.



HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine is published for foot-launched air-sports enthusiasts to create further interest in the sports of hang gliding and paragliding and to provide an educational forum to advance hang gliding and paragliding methods and safety. Contributions are welcome. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine reserves the right to edit contributions where necessary. The Association and publication do not assume responsibility for the material or opinions of contributors. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING editorial offices email: ALL ADVERTISING AND ADVERTISING INQUIRIES MUST BE SENT TO USHPA HEADQUARTERS IN COLORADO SPRINGS.


lengthy items. Please edit news releases with our readership in mind, and keep them reasonably short without excessive sales hype. Calendar of events items may be sent via email to, as may letters to the editor. Please be concise and try to address a single topic in your letter. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. If you have an idea for an article you may discuss your topic with the editor either by email or telephone. Contact: Editor, Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine,, (516) 816-1333.


The material presented here is published as part of an information The USHPA is a member-controlled sport organization dedicated to the dissemination service for USHPA members. The USHPA makes no exploration and promotion of all facets of unpowered ultralight flight, warranties or representations and assumes no liability concerning the and to the education, training and safety of its membership. Membership validity of any advice, opinion or recommendation expressed in the is open to anyone interested in this realm of flight. Dues for Rogallo material. All individuals relying upon the material do so at their own risk. membership are $270. Pilot memberships are $75 ($90 non-U.S.). Dues Copyright © 2008 Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine. for Contributing membership and for subscription-only are $52 ($63 nonFor change of address or other USHPA business U.S.). $15 of annual membership dues goes to the publication of Hang call (719) 632-8300, or email Gliding & Paragliding magazine. Changes of address should be sent six weeks in advance, including name, USHPA number, previous and new address, and a mailing label from a recent issue. You may also email your request with your member number to: HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING (ISSN 1543-5989) (USPS 17970) is published monthly by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc., 1685 W. Uintah St., Colorado Springs, CO 80904, (719) 632-8300, FAX (719) 632-6417. PERIODICAL postage is paid at Colorado Springs, CO and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to: Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine, P.O. BOX 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1330. Canadian Post Publications Mail Agreement #40065056. Canadian Return Address: DP Global Mail, 4960-2 Walker Road, Windsor, ON N9A 6J3

The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, a division of the National Aeronautic Association,

is a representative of the Fédération Aeronautique Internationale in the United States.

HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine welcomes editorial submissions from our members and readers. We are always looking for well written articles and quality artwork. Feature stories generally run anywhere from 1500 to 3000 words. News releases are welcomed, but please do not send brochures, dealer newsletters or other extremely

Cuzco, Peru. Photo by Matt Combs


Exploring the monster




















Ladies of distinction set their sights on Italy, where the big show awaits.






An exceptional book that looks into the wave phenomena.

by Tom Webster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

by Lisa Verzella. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

LA PALMA CHALLENGE Over the volcanic islands of the Canary chain off the coast of Spain, a year long competition keeps them coming back for more. by Nick Greece . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

PARAGLIDING WORLD cup newbie And you thought PWC stood for something else... Loosen up a little and get to know the cup. by Jeff Wishne. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

paraglider lines So there you were, suspended thousands of feet above the ground by little more than a thread. Shouldn't you know more about the kite string you hang from the sky with? Yes, you should.



ashington. Rainier, W t n u o M r a s it over ne Shapiro lay

by Steve Uzochukwu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


3 decades in the life of liz Liz Sharp is one of those legends that gave the sport color. Follow along as her hang glider color scheme becomes cool once again. by Liz Sharp / C.J. Sturtevant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42

back to valle The first in a number of stories about what is arguably the yummy taco stand promised land of North American paragliding. by Dennis Pagen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

HANG IN THERE You think you know how to botch a launch? You don't know the fifth of it. by Mark "Forger" Stucky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

The flying eye We've got the skinny on one of the greatest paragliding sites on the net by Nick Greece . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56



n my return flight from the board of directors meeting in Colorado Springs, I couldn't help but reflect on this experience and wanted to communicate to those that were not present, the unbelievable dedication and insight that our leadership provides to our growing band of pilots. Twice a year they spend their own time and money to help steer the national organization along its course with the hopes of bettering the sport for everyone. The level of knowledge and interest is staggering, and I highly encourage you to attend at least one of these meetings. The days are packed with discussion covering everything from safety and training to marketing as well as one of my favorites-competitions. The "financial redistribution committee" (aka poker), of which your editor seems to be a lead contributor, chaired by Paul Voight, begins its meeting around midnight. After careful explanation of the high/low aim points, members attempt, through the use of skill and cunning, to redistribute each participant's personal wealth. Beyond the late night camaraderie, the board meeting moved effortlessly with all participants working toward the common good. A new and extensive marketing plan, which you will hear more about in the coming issues, was unanimously approved. Also of note, a comprehensive U.S. site manual is almost complete and PilotConnect is now officially online. PilotConnect allows members to send email messages through USHPA while not divulging any contact information. All one has to do is go into the "members only" section and set up your account. I would like to thank all the contributors who have sent us great material and encourage others who have interesting stories and photos to do so. The flying season is upon us and we all look forward to hearing the twice-told thermal tales of 2008!

Inversion over Jackson, Wyoming. Photo by Nick Greece

New | Improved | Buzzworthy

community is inviting all pilots to come enjoy what the Tetons have to offer. Their will be educational seminars from some of the best pilots around, covering topics ranging from GPS use, to thermalling techniques, and site introductions. The event is slated for June 21-22 launching from the Bridger Gondola, 3,000 ft. agl. Fun events include a hike and fly, balloon drop, spot landing contest, thermal clinic, aerobatic demonstrations, and BBQ. Discount on lift tickets and lodging. Presented by Jackson Hole Paragliding and the Jackson Hole Free Flight Club. For more information:


FLX PASSES LOAD TEST AT 13G ▲ The new Felix Rodriguez Pro Model is here! Ozone created the ultimate acro wing for pilots who want to fly like Felix. Designed by David Dagault and Felix Rodriguez, the FLX has evolved over a year long progression of ideas and feedback. Finally, Felix is happy! What will the FLX do? The answer: Everything! More info:

APCO ANNOUNCES NEW CHUTES ▼ In line with the market appetite for lightweight equipment, APCO Aviation announces additions to their emergency parachute range. The Mayday 16 Light (LT) and Mayday 16 Superlight (SLT)-designed for pilots who wish to keep their equipment extremely light The time proven classic DHV certified Mayday 16 from APCO has undergone an intensive diet! Keeping the performance and quality same, but just slimming down the weight and bulk to incredible. APCO's Mayday 16 SLT is the lightest reserve on the market, in terms of canopy


weight for the maximum load it can carry-12.2 grams of canopy per each kilo load. The LT is exactly the same as SLT, but uses the PN1 cloth that is slightly heavier.

RUSH 2 AVAILABLE NOW ▲ The Rush 2 is now certified LTF 1-2 / EN B in the S, M, and L sizes. XS and XL will follow shortly. Ozone says that the Rush 2 is the highest performance 1-2 / B class wing they have ever produced, or flown. Designed for long XC flights, the Rush 2 features the same ultra-smooth and easy speed system from the Mantra M2, and Addict 2. It delivers easy and light bar pressure allowing you to use it with confidence all day, without tiring or wasting unnecessary energy. More info: AEROFEST REINVENTS ITSELF ▼ The 2008 AEROFEST at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is being re-invented this year in a major way. One of the most active flying communities in the country will be hosting this resort-backed event. The Jackson Hole

NEW SCHOOL IN TOWN The newest addition to the hang gliding world is Wings Over Wasatch, a full-time, full-service hang gliding school and business based at the Point of the Mountain in Draper, UT. Wings Over Wasatch plans to train and educate new pilots, as well as focus attention on helping current pilots progress through clinics and advanced instruction. As authorized Wills Wing, and Flytec, dealers Wings Over Wasatch is dedicated to providing sales and support to the flying community. For more information visit www.wingsoverwasatch. com, or call Ryan Voight at (801) 599-2555. RAT RACE MENTOR PROGRAM ▼ Rat Race 2008 boasts a great mentoring program hosted by two USA Paragliding National Champions-Len Szafaryn and Bill Belcourt. The mentoring format includes evening lectures in competition strategies, GPS use, and guest speakers. Pilots desiring to enter the competition scene, or improve their flying skills will be thrilled with the Rat Race system. Szafaryn’s, and Belcourt’s collaboration in organizing an evening of education will be well worth the entry fee.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


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Rants | Raves | Ramblings


The opinions expressed in the letters published in this column are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the magazine staff or USHPA officials. While every effort is made to verify facts stated in letters, readers are urged to check the accuracy of any statement before taking action or forming an opinion based on the contents of a letter.

MEMBERSHIP SURVEY ► Dear USHPA members, As part of the USHPA effort to grow the sport of Hang Gliding and Paragliding, the Membership and Development Committee have been doing some research. Several weeks ago we sent out an e-mail survey to approximately one-third of the membership, selected at random. We offered a prize of a 100-dollar gift certificate to the USHPA store as an incentive for completing the survey. We sent the survey to 1/3 of the members, rather than all members, because we intend to do other surveys in the future and do not want to cause “survey fatigue”. This survey was intended to help us learn about the demographics of our members, and to gain insight into the process of which people decide to become a pilot and why. The response was excellent! About 37% of those who received a survey completed it. We would like to thank those who completed the survey. Your feedback will be

used to help profile potential new pilots and grow the sport. We presented the results of the survey at the spring USHPA Board of Directors meeting, as part of our plans to market Free Flight. The presentation is available in the Members section of the USHPA web site. For those members who were disappointed at not getting to provide input on this survey, please be assured that we will select participants for future surveys from the pool of members who were not surveyed this time (and yes, there will be prizes). In the meantime, you should always feel free to send us your feedback. I can be reached at Thanks for your enthusiasm and support.

submitted by Leo Bynum Chairman, USHPA Membership & Development Committee


PHOTO SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Horizontal photos in slide or digital format with a MINIMUM of 3120 W x 2400 H pixels (7.5 megapixels), although 3900 W x 3000 H pixels (11.7 megapixels) is preferred. Please submit unaltered at the preferred resolution, if possible. Only submit photos taken after January 2006.

2009 Calendar Photos

Each submission MUST INCLUDE: Signed contributor agreement (1 per photographer) photographers name, mailing address, phone, email address AND a photo caption, location, site name, pilot name, wing type, month & year of photo.


Submission info & forms are found at:

WE NEED YOUR PHOTOS! Please send us your best-composed, most colorful horizontal-format 35mm slides or digital photos as candidates for the 2009 calendar project. Launching, landing, soaring, setting up, breaking down – if your photo represents the thrill and beauty of why we y, send it in. Don’t delay! Take advantage of winter’s down time and dig out those outstanding photos that you’ve been wanting to show off. Since our calendars are printed large format, we prefer digital submissions at the preferred resolution (3900x3000) or slides for the best reproduction possible. Please read the photo submission guidelines carefully. Contact Martin with questions at 1-800-616-6888 /


Please submit digital photos on CD or DVD if possible, but FTP is also available at the link above. Submissions deadline is May 31st. Send your photos to: USHPA Calendar, Attn: Martin Palmaz, PO Box 1330, Colorado Springs CO 80901-1330. All contributors will receive conrmation of receipt and photos will be returned upon completion of the project.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


USHPA is issuing its annual call for nominations to the national Board of Directors. Nine positions are open for election in October 2008 for a two-year term beginning January 2009. Nominations not required for incumbents. You may nominate yourself if you wish. Nominations must be received at the USHPA office by July 14, 2008. Nominations are needed in the following regions. Current Directors, whose terms are up for reelection in 2008 are: REGION CURRENT DIRECTOR 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rich Hass 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dave Wills 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Jebb 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mark Gaskill 5 . . . . . NOMINATIONS NOT NEEDED 6 . . . . . REPRESENTED BY REGION 11 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tracy Tillman 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gary Trudeau 9 . . . . . . . Felipe Amunategui 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Steve Kroop 11. . . . . NOMINATIONS NOT NEEDED 12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Paul Voight

STATES WITHIN REGION Alaska, Oregon, Washington Northern California, Nevada Southern California, Hawaii Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah Idaho, Montana, Wyoming Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, N.Dakota, S.Dakota, Minnesota New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont Washington DC, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, W.Virginia Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, N.Carolina, S.Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas New Jersey, New York

Ballots will be distributed with the October issue of HANG GLIDING and PARAGLIDING magazines. USHPA needs the very best volunteers to help guide the safe development and growth of the sports. Send candidate nominations for receipt no later than July 14th to: USHPA, PO Box 1330, Colorado Springs CO 80901-1330. Biographical information about nominees should be received no later than August 4th, for inclusion in the October election issue of the magazine. This should include the following information: name and USHPA number, photo and resume (one page containing the candidateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hang/paragliding activities and viewpoints, written consent to be nominated and willingness to serve if elected). Nominate by mail or at the USHPA website.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero


Mission | Policy | Membership | Involvement



Membership presentations To raise awareness and understanding of USHPA and the strategic plan, I started giving a “tour” of presentations to clubs and chapters across the US. Other goals of the presentations were to foster DEAR MEMBERS, better communication between chapters and the organization, to As you know, in October of 2005 the USHPA Board of Directors allow members to voice concerns and comments in an open, conunanimously approved our first comprehensive strategic plan. This structive environment, and to recruit volunteers with specific explan focuses the efforts and resources of the association on a goal pertise to assist in execution of plan. 32 presentations have been of proactive growth. given to chapters and clubs across the U.S. since 2005, with apWhile some criticized the plan and the association’s goals, the proximately 2500 members attending. BOD continued to steadily move forward with execution of the plan.  Mentoring program  In the strategic plan, we identified six key areas in which we need to This flagship program for the organization went online in 2008. It be successful if we are to achieve our goals. They are: addresses key issues with new pilot retention, as outlined in the • Develop & execute strong internal marketing strategic plan. Wayne Michelsen was appointed National Mentoring • Improve organizational efficiency and accountability Coordinator. For more information on this program, please see the • Develop & execute strong external marketing April 2008 issue of HG/PG Magazine. • Develop and support instruction Chapter support • Increase safety awareness The chapter support committee was reactivated in 2008 to assist • Expand and develop flight opportunities/ site preservation with the promotion of the sport at the local level. Ernie Camacho Our first goal was to stabilize the organization. This involved the accepted appointment as chairman of committee. resolution of highly volatile issues that were polarizing the organi- Internal marketing areas still needing attention: zation and our membership, such as the power harness issue and • Creating a higher value / perceived value of the organization to the membership. the name change. Let’s take a look at the six key success factors • Resolving conflict between hang gliding and paragliding communities. and where we are now: • Organizing an annual convention.

ORGANIZATIONAL EFFICIENCY The USHPA Board of Directors conducted our first-ever organizational assessment in 2006 with the Social Ventures Partnership Organizational Assessment Tool. This assessment, which will be rescheduled every two years, allows us to identify key areas for director training and weaknesses in our governance practices. To assist us in building a better board of directors and, therefore, a stronger organization, we created a schedule for director training and new director orientation to be conducted each spring for new directors and each fall for ongoing BOD training. We also developed collateral materials to assist directors and committee chairs in the performance of their duties, and we worked hard to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the BOD and staff. The BOD developed and executed strategies to comply with the California Non-profit Integrity Act and recognized non-profit “best practices”. An audit committee was established to create an additional level of financial oversight for the organization.

EXTERNAL MARKETING The reactivation of the marketing committee in 2006 failed due to a lack of professional marketing expertise on the committee. A new marketing work group was established with high level experts gleaned from membership and the BOD. The work group presented a summary of their work to date, along with a marketing plan, to the BOD at our spring 2008 meeting. This plan was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors. A copy of the work group’s presentation is available online at www.


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

DEVELOPMENT & SUPPORT OF INSTRUCTION Instructor insurance program: This new program, developed to address liability concerns of USHPA instructors, is fully implemented and running smoothly. It has a much higher success rate than originally contemplated. Scooter tow program: USHPA sponsored scooter tow instructor clinics in 2006 and 2007 proved to be successful and popular. The BOD approved a continuation of the program in 2008 with additional clinics and greater geographic distribution. Instructor support areas still needing attention: • Instructor certification: The strategic plan identified several problems with the current instructor program that still need to be addressed. • Instructor clinics and recertification processes need to be more accessible. • Professional and ethics standards need to be addressed.


Ongoing reporting in HG/PG Magazine with accident analysis and articles regarding public perception of sport are continously printed.

FLIGHT OPPORTUNITIES USHPA was able to assist aggressively in prevention of site losses at the national level in the case of Mt. Sentinel in Missoula, Montana. We are also developing a resource manual to assist local grass roots efforts in obtaining and keeping sites. USHPA initiated an effort to correct the incorrect classification of hang gliding and paragliding in a 1983 NPRM by meeting with Secretary of Interior, Dirk Kempthorne, his chief of staff, and NPS Deputy Director to discuss resolution of this issue.

SUMMARY We have made significant progress through phase two of the strategic plan implementation in the following areas: • Organization stability • Internal marketing • Organizational efficiency and governance • Instructor assistance Launch of next phase in 2008: • Internal marketing • External marketing • Site assistance • Additional instructor assistance Many projects are ongoing and several areas still need work. Stay tuned for how you can help!

Sincerely, Lisa Tate, President, USHPA

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


A Closer Look


by Dennis Johnson $GPRMC,154944,A,3401.8348,N,11810.280 5,W,58.6,199.8,130107,13.7,E*69 (CrLf) KG6GAD ,12345,,Dennis (Cr)

I have wanted for some time to put together an automatic tracking system for my hang glider, to make it easier for a chase driver to track me. Because I wanted to avoid putting a laptop in the truck, I decided that I needed to display my position on a GPS as a waypoint, and chose to accomplish this by using Icom V82 digital radios. The V82 transmits your current position by connecting it to a compatible GPS RS232 port and properly configuring it. The V82 can recognize three messages from a GPS containing position information (GPRMC, GPGGA, GPGLL). The device adds your call sign and a 20 character message to the GPS message before transmitting it, from every 30 seconds to every 30 minutes, to any location. Although the V82 will display the coordinates of a received message, it will not create a GPWPL(waypoint) message to display on a GPS. A messages from a GPS may look like this: $GPRMC,154944,A,3401.8348,N,11810.280 5,W,58.6,199.8,130107,13.7,E*69 (CrLf) 3401.8348,N is the Latitude. 11810.2805,W is the Longitude. The transmit radio adds the call sign and a message: $GPRMC,154944,A,3401.8348,N,11810.280 5,W,58.6,199.8,130107,13.7,E*69 (CrLf) Callsign,Message (Cr) I had to custom build the WC (Waypoint Converter) in order to display positions as


waypoints. The WC uses a PIC12F683 from Microchip, MAX202 RS232 driver, LM2931-D 5 voltage regulator, and ,of course, some capacitors, connectors, etc. In the truck, the WC is wired up between the GPS and the radio. I attached it to the back of the GPS. On the hang glider the radio connects directly to the GPS. The V82 has a few parameters that can be configured by using a dummy terminal (like hypertrm). It can have a group code to filter out unwanted receptions, an alternate name for the waypoint (instead of the call sign), and the capability of adding a number to the waypoint name at specific distances, thus creating a trail of waypoints. It can store two separate setups, each of which can be selected by a switch. A properly configured radio transmission could look like this:

KG6GAD is the call sign. 12345 is being used as a group code. Without the code, receptions are ignored. Dennis is an alternate name for the waypoint, which is easier to identify than a call sign. I do not use the same radio for both voice and data in my setup. I fly with two radios: one voice and one data on separate frequencies. After landing, I also can use the data radio for voice. I like the two part setup because I had a radio break down once when I really needed it. The WC has made it easier for the driver to track me and pick me up. I am able to give rough estimates of my position , allowing the driver to verify the general area of the location of the waypoint. Most of the time the driver will be able to pinpoint my location. Once, while I was flying in Ojai, California, my driver Erwin and I had lost communication because we were on opposite sides of a mountain. Erwin had a general idea of my whereabouts, which he used to get back into radio range. After we made verbal contact, Erwin was able to receive an update of my position from the GPS. He drove right to me by homing in on the waypoint. This is an example of how the V82 speeds up retrieval in unfamiliar territory.

[above left] GPS shown with the cable connecting it to the radio. [above] I mount the data radio to the hang glider cross bar. I run a cable down the left down tube to my GPS. [right] The GPS is connected through the WC to the V82 handheld radio for data reception. One of the waypoints is my position. The mobile radio is used for voice communication.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero

2008 King Mountain Hang Gliding Championships Moore, Idaho, from July 14 to July 19 The contest will begin on Monday and end on Friday, giving you time to drive home on Sunday! Come and stay for the week, and have a great time flying this popular and challenging contest. The competition will be open distance XC along a specified route with bonus LZ’s and handicap scoring. Best four out of six days will be scored. BBQ’s, pilot breakfasts, free camping, killer trophies, full color shirt, great daily prizes and tons of other fun stuff! Entry fee is $60 More information: contact Lisa Tate, (208) 376-7914 Information and registration forms are online at

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


Analysis | Preparedness | Incidents

SafetyBULLETIN 2007 ACCIDENT SUMMARIES ► This month we summarize accidents reported during 2007 that have not been described in our earlier columns. Anecdotal evidence indicates to us that this is but a small subset of the total number of mishaps that actually occurred in 2007. If you experience an event from which others could learn a valuable lesson (and virtually every mishap qualifies in this regard), please report it. If you experience one sufficiently noteworthy event that can fill an entire column, consider writing a “there I was” story. Help others to benefit from your experiences. We are all in this together. To retrieve an online accident report form, access the website: emailacc.asp. HG


Summary: After a 30 minute soaring flight, an advanced pilot attempted to land. The pilot circled the LZ, entered and completed the downwind leg of a DBF approach. While turning on final, the pilot determined the wind was cross, so he elongated the turn to correct his heading but lost altitude by prolonging the turn. This resulted in a low final approach. The glider hit a small tree with the left wing tip, turning the glider 90 degrees. The glider impacted the ground sideways, sliding 40 feet. There were no injuries to the pilot; the glider suffered a bent downtube. Lesson learned: Flying an approach with plenty of safety margin (altitude in this case) is the key to dealing with unexpected sink. Always maintain an easy glide well above obstacles into the field, even if sink is experienced. Lengthening the turn was the error the pilot committed. HG


Summary: An advanced rated pilot was attempting to land in a restricted LZ on a single surface glider during turbulent conditions. The pilot encountered wind shear and severe turbulence on final approach, resulting in a plunge from a low altitude and severe impact with the ground before the pilot had time to react. The pilot sustained shoulder and wrist fractures. The glider’s control frame was damaged.


by Bacil Dickert

Lesson learned: Be very wary of landing in a restricted field during peak thermal activity. If available, consider an out landing in a friendlier field, even though there is no real guarantee that the conditions will be less turbulent in the friendlier field than those in the initial LZ. A second observation is that there were no wheels on the control frame of this glider. Had there been sizable, preferably pneumatic, wheels on the control frame, there is a distinct possibility that a good portion of the impact’s energy may have been absorbed/dissipated by the wheels. HG


Summary: An uneventful tandem tow to 1,300’ AGL. A left-hand aircraft approach was entered. A long final ensued, with good speed through the gradient. The tow pilot executed a well-timed flare, but several steps were still required to run it out to bleed off the excess energy. The tandem pilot/passenger fell instead. The tandem pilot broke his humeral head and upper humerus bone. The tandem passenger sustained a spiral fracture of his right humerus. Lesson learned: From the tandem pilot: “ Although I usually foot land, I should have landed on the wheels, since we were at 5,100’ msl, with a light surface.” HG


Summary: An advanced instructor launched normally and climbed normally. At about 100 feet AGL, he began to over-fly the tow vehicle. Instead of increasing pitch, he elected to pin off. He fumbled with the release and the nose of the glider climbed. At that point, the towline was under very high tension. Upon release, the stored energy in the line and its tension departed from the glider. The glider whip stalled. The pilot did not have sufficient altitude to recover. The pilot suffered multiple injuries and spent the night in the hospital. Lesson learned: The pilot failed to control pitch during the tow and improperly released from the towline. Pitch control and properly releasing from the tow are critical to the safety of the tow. Other factors contributing to the accident were that the glider

was an older glider design with poor stall recovery characteristics and that the pilot was not highly experienced with towing, having had only a few successful tows in the previous two years. HG


Summary: The pilot was flying about 30 mph at 20-25 feet agl in preparation to land when the glider tucked and did not recover prior to hitting the ground, nearly vertical. An ER qualified surgeon and a paramedic were on hand. 911 was called immediately but was then cancelled when the pilot was found to be uninjured. It looked as if the glider had encountered a bullet thermal just breaking off (maybe invisible dust devil) and went over the falls without enough altitude to recover. The horizontal tail on the glider may have contributed to the problem. The pilot was not injured, but his chin guard was broken and his parachute container was torn from his harness. Initial inspection revealed that the tail of the glider was broken, the control frame was broken in many places, and a wing rib was broken. It was unknown at the time if the glider suffered more serious structural damage. Lesson learned: This incident may be classified as one where things happen out of our control. We do everything right, yet an unforeseen thermal lifts off right when we are on final descent to the round out phase of the approach. Luckily the pilot escaped injury, and the glider bore the brunt of the impact. One thing to consider is that with more performance comes less stability in pitch and roll. HG


Summary: During landing, the pilot overshot the LZ and impacted a tree. The LZ had a bit of a slope to it. The pilot came into the slight wind, but down slope. When he realized that the approach he was flying to fit into the LZ wasn’t working, he decided to fly between two trees and flare and the end of the green area. The glider clipped the left wing on one of the trees at about 10 feet above the ground. A left-turn ensued, induced by the tree clipping, with a little bit of nose up. The glider impacted into a pine tree (mostly dry branches on the lower half of the tree), about 10 feet from the ground. There was significant damage to the gliderbroken left leading edge, keel, and a ripped

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sail. The pilot did not suffer any significant injuries, other than minor shoulder pain that went away after a few days. Lesson learned: The pilot was distracted when the senior pilots were giving instruction on the various approaches used to land in the main LZ. He admitted playing around with his new vario while the approach instructions were being given. It was also a new site to the pilot as well as his first cliff launch. And to add even more to this dangerous cocktail, the pilot had been taking only paraglider lessons for a month and a half before this hang glider flight. HG


Summary: The pilot was warned 30 minutes before the accident about previously flying into an area that was known to have rotors. The pilot’s response was: “I have been flying here since 197?!” The pilot then flew again and crashed. He was doing wingovers and said he did a few too many at a low altitude. Realistically, he was doing wingovers behind the ridge on a south wind day. The pilot suffered a broken right clavicle, sore wrist, and a minor concussion. The glider suffered a

broken right inboard leading edge and right downtube. There was no sail damage. The pilot claims he was stupid and lucky. Lesson learned: Aerobatics close to the ground have very little safety margin. The small safety margin is further compromised if the surrounding air is not smooth and ideal. The pilot said it best.

launch was thickly vegetated, and the glider nestled in the greenery without as much as a scratch to the student or the instructor. Lesson learned: Conduct a more thorough and lengthy evaluation of launch conditions before developing launch tactics. Provide a greater safety margin before launching. HG



Summary: A blown tandem launch resulted in a gentle crash in the bushes below launch. The tandem pilot and 235-pound student were flying in mid-afternoon in moderately strong winds of 20+ mph. Due to modest ground handling problems w/ the large glider, the tandem instructor elected to wait for a conservative lull. The tandem pilot launched in what he thought was a momentary lull and start of another cycle of wind and was not adequately prepared for the large reduction in wind speed and the longer than expected duration of the lull. In retrospect, the tandem pilot launched in winds lighter than he was capable of managing safely. Although there was a significant potential for injury, the area below

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Summary: On an XC flight the pilot found himself scratching low and finally made the decision to land. The pilot did not heed his instructor’s advice about making sure he had plenty of altitude before setting up an approach, so he flew directly away from the mountain into final. The pilot flew slowly to extend his glide to get closer to the road. At under 100’ AGL, the pilot was sharply turned 180 degrees by turbulence. The pilot was 10-20’ AGL headed downwind in 5-10 MPH winds. The pilot aimed for a bush and braced for impact. The glider hit hard, causing the right leading edge and right downtube to break cleanly. Luckily the pilot suffered only scratches and bruises on the arms. Lesson learned: The pilot left the ridge


too late, sacrificing precious altitude that he needed to set up a proper approach. At altitudes near the ground you must have plenty of extra airspeed to combat turbulence and gradients. Flying slowly is not the way to go. HG


Summary: Two pilots landed at midday in thermal conditions. The first pilot reported turbulence on final. The accident pilot landed five to ten minutes later, aiming for dirt next to a cement runway. There were no problems until he was about ten feet above ground. The glider stopped flying forward, and began a near 90-degree progress to the left. The wings stayed near level, and the glider did not turn. The pilot pulled in, but did not try to steer into the new wind direction, planning to land crosswind. The glider came down harder than most landings, and the pilot could not run it out sideways. The pilot let the glider down on the basetube, but not without letting some impact of the glider dislocate his shoulder. The impact of the crash did bend the downtube breakaway bars. Lesson learned: Always try to land as much into the wind as possible. If there are wind indicators nearby (such as a windsock by an airport runway), try to land as close to the windsock as possible, if practical. If a pilot has already landed, try to have him indicate the wind direction repeatedly, especially if you are landing in midday thermal conditions. HG


Summary: The accident pilot got down in the slot but apparently not far enough and waited for the wind to decrease. The pilot cleared the gentleman on his nose wires, made sure the wings were level and started his run. About three steps into the run the nose just sharply turned down and the glider power whacked into the ground. The pilot ended up requiring ten stitches in his lips from kissing terra firma. Lesson learned: An accident eyewitness offered this explanation: “Mechanically, the accident pilot’s nose was simply too low. His wings were level and the winds looked good, but he put the wire person on his nose and kept the nose very low because he was worried about a strong gust lifting him. He then held the nose low after clearing the


wire person and started running with the nose too low due to the same fear.” HG


Summary: A student was attempting first mountain launch under instructor supervision. Conditions were typical for a summer evening first flight. There were occasional cycles in, a slight tailwind at times, but the conditions were mostly calm. The student seemed nervous on launch, which is not unusual for first high flights. The student said “clear”, and then began the launch sequence. The student’s launch was very weak. The glider never got up to launch speed, and it slid off the student’s shoulders and went nose high. The student continued off the ramp with no airspeed. The glider nosed over. As the student went down the ramp, the rear of the glider’s keel caught a safety net at the foot of ramp. This brought the nose back down. The glider went into the trees directly below the launch ramp and came to rest in treetops about 25-30 feet off the ground. A lengthy mountain rescue ensued. The student was ultimately retrieved from the treetop with no injuries. Lesson learned: The first mountain launch is a very trying experience. The latter of the two authors had the same thing happen to him (blown launch caused by nose high and weak run) on his third mountain launch (first time at site). The fundamentals learned on the training hill must be applied. The correct AOA must be established, the wings must be balanced, and a strong launch run must ensue when the time is right to launch. A nose high attitude coupled with a weak launch run is a recipe for disaster. HG


Summary: The pilot was foot launch towing on a dry lakebed using a payout tow rig. On the first tow the glider veered to the left upon takeoff. The pilot was able to correct for the turn before the tow was aborted and the rest of the tow was normal. Once the pilot landed, he disassembled and reassembled the glider in hopes of correcting the left turn. On the second tow, the pilot was connected to the release; the tow vehicle pulled out 200 feet, and waited for the start signal from the pilot. Instead of the start signal, the pilot gave the halt signal. After the pilot did some adjusting to his hang point and/or harness, a second tow commenced. Another

left-turn ensued. The pilot did not correct for the turn. The tow operator aborted the tow and released all pressure. The pilot leveled out and released from tow. At 30’ AGL, the pilot dropped out of the glider and hit the ground. The pilot was seriously injured, with a broken hip, arm, nose, and both legs seriously broken. Post flight inspection revealed the hang strap, harness, and carabiner were normal. Immediately after the accident, the pilot had no recollection of what happened. A week later his memory of the accident came back. He reported forgetting to hook into the glider. At the beginning of the tow, he knew he was not hooked in, yet still held onto the glider and released from the towline. Fatigue forced him to let go of the glider. Lesson learned: A preflight checklist is critical for verifying that the glider is assembled correctly, the towlines are connected and routed correctly, and the pilot’s harness is connected to the pilot and glider correctly. An observer with the pilot verified that the pre-flight checklist was run successfully. HG


Summary: This was an incident, not an accident. There was no crash. The pilot was scooter towing, using a particular brand HG double release with an over/under towbar bridle. The pilot had one uneventful launch with the bridle. The second launch had a knot in the V-bridle slip, causing the towline to come loose. The pilot tied a better knot, and launched successfully. At 200 feet the pilot tried to release the top line, but found it would not release. The pilot signaled to stop the tow, and the tow operator reduced power to let the pilot descend without overrunning the line. The pilot landed safely. Inspection of the release showed that the head of the release pin had gone through the loop of the final string of the release, making it impossible to release. The pilot had insufficient altitude to use his hook knife safely, so he did not cut the line. The design of the release was such that the release loop was about one inch too long, so that the head of the release pin could easily pass through the loop. The pilot’s tow operator and the pilot were aware of this problem, and they thought they CAREFULLY inspected the double release for correct assembly each time a launch was attempted, because they were in the

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habit of not trusting the particular release. The nature of the double release was that it often released both top and bottom lines when the top was released, so they were in the habit of thrusting the pins in quite far so friction would keep the pins in place during the tow. The tow operator commented that the pilot’s launch was quite aggressive, and that the pilot may have run faster than the towline at the beginning of the launch. They thought that the line slacked, and the release loop may have migrated from the front to the back of the pin. If, in fact, this would have happened with the bottom line instead of the top, the release failure would have been at the top of the tow, rather than 1/3 of the way up the field, and would have been much more serious. Lesson learned: Such releases should be designed so that there is a positive way to prevent the head of the pin from passing through the release loop. The manufacturer was made aware of the deficiency of his design prior to this incident. He said that it was not a problem and refused to change

the design. The pilot decided that he could prevent such problems by careful preflight, so he did not have it modified. The pilot was lucky that the in-flight failure was benign in its consequences. HG


Summary: The pilot’s primary glider was a single surface glider. The pilot took recent uneventful demo flights on two intermediate gliders at the pilot’s home site. On another intermediate glider demo flight, at a new site, the pilot set up for an out landing. The pilot stalled the base leg turn over power lines and sunk into a power line, striking the conductor with the leading edge of the glider, breaking the conductor, landing hard on the dirt field below. There was minor damage to glider-a broken keel. The pilot suffered lacerations to the face. Lesson learned: A dangerous cocktail is too many new things at once. The pilot was at an unfamiliar site, with an unfamiliar glider and attempting to land in an unfamiliar LZ. Ideally, a pilot should only introduce one

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new thing at a time in order to keep a sizable safety margin in his flying. The unfamiliar glider’s turn characteristics coupled with the unfamiliar LZ and its unfamiliar obstacles combined to factor in this accident. HG


Summary: The accident pilot launched in strong cycle, stalled, and got blown back to the left and hit the cliff. The pilot didn’t think to check the wind speed with a wind meter. The wind was strong and gusty. The pilot suffered a broken shoulder and a broken ankle. The pilot also required a knee-skin graft. Lesson learned: Launching in strong conditions increases the risk for un-commanded turns to occur during the critical time period from just leaving the ground, to flying directly away from the mountain with good control airspeed. Setting the correct AOA for the conditions and maintaining that AOA is critical for sufficient airspeed for maneuverability against un-commanded turns.


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ExploringTheMONSTER California’s Owens Valley is a place of superlatives. It’s the deepest valley in the United States, with an elevation difference of ten thousand feet from the valley floor to the highest nearby peaks. The mountains on the east side of the valley have the world’s oldest trees, the Bristlecone pines, some of which are more than four thousand years old. It’s also one of the most impressive landforms in the world. If you pull over at a scenic viewpoint near the Bristlecone forest, you can see the Owens’ defining feature from one end to the other: the Sierra Nevada range, an eighty mile long, two mile high wall of mountains and granite cliffs that looms over wide open desert scrub and a few scattered cowboy towns. The air above the Owens is known for its share of superlatives, too. In the early 1970s, hang glider pilots discovered that they could make cross-country flights like sailplanes, and the quest to find the ultimate hang gliding cross-country area was on. The Owens Valley soon became that ul-

by Tom Webster

timate destination. The mountains were big and open, the lift was well-organized, and the thermals were so strong that they met and sometimes exceeded the structural limits of the hang gliders. It became a proving ground for new designs and a gigantic theater in which to set distance records. The first hundred-mile and two-hundredmile hang glider flights were both done in the Owens Valley. But the history of record-setting flight in the Owens goes back further than this. In Exploring the Monster: Mountain lee Waves: the Aerial Elevator, Robert F. Whelan tells the story of a U.S. Air Force project that enlisted sailplane pilots in the Owens Valley to explore a newly discovered atmospheric phenomenon called mountain lee waves. The project began in 1950 and exposed the pilots to unheard-of atmospheric forces. It also allowed them to set several altitude records, and, in fact, helped set a new direction for record setting in the sport of soaring.

The “mystery” of atmospheric waves goes back even further than that. In the spring of 1933, only a few years after thermal soaring had been discovered, two sailplane instructors in the central European town of Grunau shared a very perplexing experience. Wolf Hirth and Hans Deutschmann, while soaring near a 1,000 foot high ridge one day, found themselves able to climb thousands of feet higher than they expected and to maintain this height nearly three miles upwind of the ridge. They noted two more unusual things: they experienced extreme turbulence while being towed aloft, and they could not manage to find lift where they expected it, right in front of the ridge. When Hirth landed, he still had not figured out the source of the lift, but he suspected that the Reisengebirge mountain range twelve miles upwind of their gliderport had something to do with it. By 1937, a few more things were known about this phenomenon. It was often ac-

The Sierra Wave, looking south toward the town of Independence. Photo by Bob Symons.


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Photo by Honza Rejmanek

companied by a smooth, lens-shaped cloud of unknown height which didn’t move. The lift at altitude was turbulence-free. And it only seemed to happen in the presence of nearby mountains. On May 22, meteorologist and sailplane pilot, Joach Kuettner, organized an experiment during a sailplane competition in Grunau to test his hypothesis that the lift was due to standing waves. After analyzing the traces from the pilots’ barographs (recording altimeters), he determined that lift in the Grunau Valley on that day was organized into distinct bands, neatly organized downwind of the Reisengebirge. The data seemed to show that his hypothesis was correct. One band even extended to three times the height of the mountain range, lifting a pilot to a new world altitude record of 18,720 feet and breaking the old record by nearly a mile. Kuettner returned to Grunau in September and set another record himself, finally reaching the stationary wave cloud at 22,300 feet.

A mountain lee wave is an atmospheric phenomenon that resembles the rippling of the surface of a stream, just downstream from a rock or underwater ridge oriented perpendicular to the water’s flow. In the stream, water is deflected upward by the obstacle and then comes back down, back into equilibrium. But under the right conditions, with the right size and shape of obstacle and the right amount of water flow, the water behind the obstacle will bounce back up again, then down again, and so on, forming a long series of standing waves from just one bump on the bottom. Air is a fluid too, and so it behaves a lot like water. But it’s a gas, not a liquid, which accounts for some important differences. In a stream, the downstream waves are no higher than the first one, but atmospheric waves can extend many times higher than the terrain that generates them. At the peak of each wave, a long and skinny “wave cloud” is usually formed, oriented perpendicular to

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the wind direction. And the conditions required for a mountain lee wave to appear are fairly specific. You need: • gradual wind speed increase with altitude • wind direction nearly perpendicular to a ridge or obstacle • fairly strong low-altitude winds • a stable atmospheric lapse rate • ridge-top winds of at least 20 knots. The strength of the wind that creates the wave is important to consider, too. In many wave situations, the speeds are quite high, up to 100 knots, at altitude. And as the California sailplane pilots discovered, the area right behind the ridge contains incredible turbulence, or “rotor,” so much that they often feared for their safety while being towed up to the wave. For most footlaunched pilots, the best use of a wave cloud is as a warning that it’s too windy to fly. Some hang glider pilots in the eastern United States, though, have reported soaring in lift that is undoubtedly caused by


Photo by Honza Rejmanek

mountain lee waves. As hang gliders get faster and more efficient, using them for wave soaring becomes a more reasonable idea, but, obviously, great care must be taken. After the end of World War II, pilots flying in the Owens Valley started to become aware of waves. The first recorded encounter may have been in 1947, when a Cessna 140 pilot reported extreme sink and turbulence two miles east of the Sierra Nevada range, followed by 2,000 foot per minute smooth lift. By turning parallel to the mountain range, the pilot was able to stay in the wave and climb 4,000 feet with reduced throttle. Around the same time, another local pilot was able to feather the props on his seven-ton war-surplus Lockheed P-38, climbing in the wave to over 30,000 feet. The Owens is especially good for producing lee waves because of its shape and position. It is oriented roughly north-south, so the stable winter air masses can come in from the west, crash down the face of the Sierra Nevadas, and bounce back up to stratospheric heights. California’s sailplane pilots were also discovering this phenomenon in the Owens, which had become known as the Sierra Wave. One such pilot was a young


grad student from Los Angeles named Paul MacCready, Jr. MacCready would later go on to become one of the world’s most influential aeronautical scientists, but in the winter of 1948-1949 he was all about setting records. At that time, most sailplane pilots still assumed that altitude records could only be broken by climbing to the top of a mature thunderstorm, as a pilot in Sweden had done recently, gaining over 27,000 feet. MacCready was preparing to go to 40,000 or higher in the Sierra Wave. MacCready was part of a team based in the town of Bishop, which sits in the middle of the Owens Valley. The “Bishop Wave Camp,” as it was called, convened every winter for three years when wave conditions looked optimal. During the Wave Camps, the pilots made dozens of flights over 30,000 feet (high enough to see the Pacific Ocean), endured temperatures below -70F, and made several flights of over 200 miles. MacCready didn’t get a 40,000 foot flight, but pilot Bill Ivans did, reaching 42,100 feet in 1950. During the flight, Ivans faced plenty of obstacles. Frost covered the inside of his canopy to a depth of one inch, he nearly flew out the back of the wave while engulfed in stratus cloud at 33,000 feet, and he encountered some unexpected

and very unsettling turbulence near the top of the wave. Over the course of the project, MacCready did have a sort of revelation, though: he developed a feeling of intimate attachment to the stationary wave clouds. He saw them as friends; as he put it, “they were the only living thing you have with you up there in a very unfriendly world.” Meanwhile, the newly formed U.S. Air Force was developing an interest in the hazards of mountain flying. During World War II, U.S. pilots suffered many crashes while flying across the Himalayas between India and China, and they seemed to be related to turbulence above the peaks. Many other military and civilian incidents, including one in which a B-29 bomber nearly lost control of its altitude, added to their desire to know more about waves. It was also obvious that waves could affect commercial airliners. After the Bishop Wave Camp had established the existence of the waves beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Navy and Air Force began funding a new project called the Sierra Wave Project, and continued to research waves later on in the Jet Stream Project. The military combined pilots of the Southern California Soaring Association with some of its own pilots and scientists, including Joach Kuettner, who had immi-

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grated to the U.S. after the war. Why didn’t they use power planes for the projects? First, the limitation of fuel: gliders can stay up as long as there is lift, and since the point of both projects was to study lifting air, gliders had no disadvantage. Second, the absence of an engine greatly simplifies the problem of subtracting out the influence of the engines on the data the scientists wanted to measure. Once the performance of a glider is known, it’s simple to subtract it from the data measured by the barograph and the ground-based trackers to get a very accurate measurement of the motion of the air. The Sierra Wave Project revealed a startling variety in the sizes and shapes of waves generated by the mountains. They found single wave systems, multiple wave systems, traveling waves, cloudless waves, stacked wave clouds, and a huge range of updrafts and downdrafts. Some pilots reported lift in excess of 4,000 feet per minute (50 miles per hour, straight up) and equally strong sink. During the Jet Stream Project, pilot Larry Edgar had a very interesting flight one day. Even though the forecast wasn’t ideal, he towed up and released at 10,500 feet, just west of Bishop in the lee of Mt. Tom. He

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climbed out and flew south to the town of Independence, topping out at 39,000 feet, just in front of the leading edge of a wave cloud. He decided that conditions weren’t very good after all, and flew back toward Bishop. By the time he got close, the west wind had increased and the rotor area intensified, forming a “roll cloud” that now eclipsed the Bishop airport. Joach Kuettner had flown, too, and came in to land before Edgar, reporting incredible conditions: 1600 foot per minute lift followed immediately by 1000 foot per minute sink; quick changes in airspeed from 45 to 90 mph; and turbulence creating G-forces of over 4.5. Kuettner was nearly swallowed by the roll cloud, and came down in a “wide dark hall” of clouds with heavy drapes of black virga descending from the ceiling. Edgar was forced to follow, and suddenly flew into a wind shear so violent that the G-forces made him black out. Then, he felt himself floating outside the sailplane and managed to throw his parachute. When his vision started to come back, he was under canopy and could see some of the lighter parts of the sailplane drifting upwards past him. He eventually made a safe landing, minus his boots, helmet, oxygen mask and gloves. Doctors later estimated that Edgar

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had experienced a force of -20G. Whelan’s book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the contributions that these aerial pioneers made. They risked their lives to explore the dangers and opportunities of the atmosphere, in much the same way and in some of the same places as the early hang gliding pioneers. Sometimes the only way to learn about a mystery is to insert oneself directly into it, and hope for the best..

Exploring the Monster: Mountain lee Waves: the Aerial Elevator, Robert F. Whelan, 2000 Published by Wind Canyon Books, PO Box 1445, Niceville FL 32588-1445

TOMWEBSTER has been hang gliding since 1988 and paragliding since 1996. In 1994, he moved from North Carolina to Salt Lake City to get more airtime, and has remained there ever since. He has worked as a hang gliding and paragliding instructor, a hang glider test pilot, and a paraglider repairman. 23

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Women'sWORLDS FANTASY FLYING IN ITALY ► Antonio drives past the immense empty field in his stylish Alpha Romeo. Suddenly he spies a colorful hang glider emerging from the sky, rapidly coming his way. He watches the pilot leveling out, skimming the ground at a speed that nearly outpaces his car, and executing a perfect landing. Amazed and impressed, Antonio screeches to a halt and dashes to assist. The pilot whisks off her helmet and flashes a winning smile at the dark haired Italian as he approaches. Antonio’s heart races faster. As he begins to speak, another glider whooshes overhead and startles him. Another follows closely behind, both lining up for landings like airplanes on a runway. The womyn land, unhook, and toss their

by Lisa Verzella

hair as they remove their helmets. Antonio thinks he has died and gone to heaven. Quickly grabbing his cell phone, he texts his friends to spread the word of this spectacular event. Before the pilots have broken down their gliders, several locals arrive and they all share an evening of wine and stories. Far from fantasy (except possibly for the last part), this is a scenario that could likely take place this summer at the 11th FAI Women’s World Hang Gliding Championships in Segillo, Italy. From July 21st to August 2nd, 2008, the top female pilots from several nations will compete in daily cross-country tasks across the fertile lands of Umbria, hoping to bring home medals.

Three different launches may be used during the meet. Monte (Mt) Cucco in Segillo, Mt Subasio in Assisi, and Mt Gemmo in Tre Pizzi offer launches for nearly all aspects, each about 4000 feet (1200 feet) MSL. The Class 2 and 5 (Rigid) World Championships will be held concurrently. The United States team will be traveling light this year. The womyn have dropped nearly 500 pounds of equipment and body weight for the meet. Due to various reasons of logistics and desire, only 4 pilots, out of a possible 6, will be representing the US. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be any less competitive, having more than 50 years of competitive flying amongst them. The team will be comprised of 3-time Women’s World Champion Kari Castle, 2-time Women’s National Champion Linda Salamone, 2006 Women’s World member Lauren Tjaden and 1998 Women’s World Team member Lisa Verzella. Linda, Lauren

[top of page] Lisa Verzella on launch [far left] Lauren Tjaden tests the waters [top] Uber-champion and record holder Kari Castle [bottom] Lisa Verzella, aka "Speck Mistress" [near left] 2-time Women's National Champion, Linda "Gottafly" Salamone | photo by Tim Meaney


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

and Lisa will each be flying a Moyes Litespeed (shall we say the team is going to “L” this year?), while Kari’s choice of glider is up in the air. Joining the gals as Team Leader and driver extraordinaire will be hang glider pilot James McGuire. Kari Castle’s record speaks for itself. A long-time resident of Bishop, CA, she knows the famous Owens Valley inside and out. In addition to the world titles she holds, she has won the National title 15 times and bested an entire field of male pilots to win the 1995 Canadian Championships. Kari is the only US female pilot to have qualified for the male US National Hang Gliding Team. She also holds several state, national and world records. She’s also a paraglider pilot and an instructor, Kari has been a mentor to hundreds of pilots from around the world. Asked why she competes, Kari gleefully replies, “I love flying with people! I love the camaraderie, I love being pushed to fly better and I love winning!!!” Linda “Gottafly” Salamone, a Rochester, NY pilot, began flying in 1995. By 2002 she was competing, and won her first National title in 2006. She placed 6th overall at the 2006 Women’s World Championship, and recently broke the east coast women’s distance record with a 130-mile flight in Florida. Her reason for competing? “To be the best at what I love.” Linda figures her odds are 1 in 20 of winning big in this meet, possibly capturing the world title and helping to bring home a gold medal for the US. Sponsored in part by Moyes and 360 Wireless, she will be flying in a Moyes Matrix harness. Lauren Tjaden, another East Coast pilot, first tasted flight in 2001. By 2005 she had bagged her first win at the Florida Ridge competition in the sport class. Jumping to the open class, her next few comps earned her a spot on the 2006 Women’s World Team. She finished a respectable 12th in the World Meet and helped to bring home the silver medal. Lauren claims her reason for competing is that “It allows me to fly with pilots that I admire and learn from...but the REAL reason that I fly in comps is because it is the most fun thing in the entire universe to do.” Keeping it fun in competition is no easy task, so Lauren’s presence will be truly welcomed at the meet. The last of the Ls, Lisa “Speck Mistress”

Verzella, is a Utah cross-country pilot. She began flying hang gliders in 1989 and paragliders in 1998. Having found her niche forecasting the best route for downwind epic hang flights, Lisa has amassed a bushel full greater than 100 miles. A four-time winner of the Utah Cup for longest flight originating in Utah, she came within a mile of the then-state record of 190 miles last summer. A few weeks later Utah pilot Jeff O’Brien smashed it with a 219-miler. Competition holds many alluring aspects for Verzella. Gaggles (surely you mean “kettles”) dismay her, but the joy of pimping miles off her flying buddies more than makes up for that. Having an extended family that one can visit year after year is what makes meets like the King Mountain Championship so awesome. And getting to pit one’s skills against dozens of great pilots while flying in the coolest places in the world is ‘untoppable’. Lisa is sponsored in part by the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and her dad Nick Verzella. So, ready or not Italy, here we come. The team is grateful for the support and sponsorship of the Foundation for Free Flight, USHPA, the Oz Report, and Yesterday’s Sportswear. We are selling beautifully designed t-shirts via the website GOTTAFLY.html. You can also make a donation through the website or by sending a check to Linda Salamone at 115 Council Rock Ave, Rochester, NY 14610.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


photo courtesy

Competition | Gathering | Clinics


from December of 2006 to November of 2007. Those pilots who flew, and submitted their flights during that period, accumulated points for the final Challenge of La Palma (one point per kilometer flown plus 20%, with a maximum of three flights). The pilots with the highest scores qualified to enter the final round, taking with them the points they had accumulated from the first phase. The pilots who came via wildcards started with zero points, so they had a slight disadvantage. For example, the Valics had more than 30 points from the first phase, which made it difficult to catch them. In the second phase, the 50 pilots who

Porto Naos | photo courtesy

La Isla Bonita, also known as La Palma, is a magical volcanic ocean island off the coast of Morocco where the flying is technical and the terrain rugged. It’s the home of a year-long paragliding competition, the Challenge of La Palma, that boasts the largest cash purse in the world. Every year some of the world’s best pilots gather to race short circuit tasks spanning the length of the entire island, in order to determine who is going to leave the island with the big money. The first round of the Challenge is a qualification phase that consists of flying open distance in La Palma, a Canary Island. Last year, the window for competing was open

by Nick Greece

qualified from round one were ranked according to the average of their three qualifying flights. Slovenian pilot Aljaz Valic, who flew more than 380km in five tasks and carried over 38km from the first round, took home first prize from the 2nd Challenge: 8,000 euros in cash! The two Valic brothers, as swift as any, turned the final into a closely fought affair, with Urban leading the ranking the first several days but finally finishing a few kilometers behind his brother, Aljaz. Other top pilots were also in the running for the top prizes: Gin Team members Charles Cazaux and Hans Bollinger (former World and World Cup Champion) used all their experience, and expertise to try to catch the Valics. They finished third and fourth, respectively. Spanish champion Iván Colás, who set the La Palma distance record in November, was close on their heels and managed a strong performance. After a couple of errors, it looked as if he would have difficulty finishing in the top six. However, a decisive victory in the last task enabled Colas to climb up a couple of places in the ranking ahead of Stéphane Drouin (FR, Mac Para Magus 5) to finish fifth. Current world champion Bruce Goldsmith (Airwave FR4), started well by ending second in a task, but an accident while landing put him out of the competition after task three. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious and he’s now recovered. In the DHV2 Category, Paratrike World Champion

The Sierra Wave, looking south toward the town of Independence. Photo by Bob Symons.


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

Marcus King | photo by Nick Greece photo courtesy

Daniel Crespo (ES, Sky Antea) took first largest sum he had won up to that time. prize, while Belgian pilot Thierry Moreau The Challenge Organizer, Javier López, (Axis Vega 2) won the DHV 1-2 Category. was very pleased with the event, since it As the last task drew to a close, the elder surpassed the expectations of tourist proof the Valic brothers wasn’t the only happy motion for the Island as well as for flying. pilot: for the great majority it had been a “It’s been great for this sport: not only have fun competition with a great atmosphere the pilots had a good time and gone home and excellent tasks. The leaders flew any- happy, but also we’ve shown the PWC obwhere from 55km to 86km daily. Twenty servers that we are capable of organizing different prizes distributed a total of 24,000 an important event and they’ve taken it into euros over the three different competition account,” he commented. categories-the highest prize money ever It’s possible that in the future top pilots awarded in a paragliding event! will visit La Palma on the World Cup cir“This competition was very well orga- cuit, but the Challenge hopes to return in nized with lots of media coverage. La Palma 2009 to award more great prizes for flying is a small island but the excellent conditions in winter. facilitate fast flying, so you’re less depenMore information: http://www.paldent on luck. . A pilot’s skill and decisions m a c l u b . c o m / E n g l i s h / P a r a G u i d e /e are more important,” explained Aljaz. This paraguideservice.htm. prize is approximately “three times” the

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero





May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

My view of the Paragliding World Cup. May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero



 I

started competing three years ago at the Monarca Open, in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. My goal at the time was simple-to not hurt myself, or others. But competing swells the head and soon I was dreaming big-dreaming of flying in the worlds top meets. As a new naïve comp pilot, I thought that meant working my way up the rankings, joining the US national team and flying the world championships. I still want to make the team-Josh, Tom, Bill, and the 50 or so pilots out their who regularly kick my ass, you’re on notice. But until the day I can beat those top pilots, I’ve started flying a series of competitions that is both more challenging than the World Championships and easier to enter. The Paragliding World Cup is a pilot organized (no FAI here) series of five meets held at top flying sites the world over. And to confuse your typical tequila addled hypoxic comp pilot is referred to as the PWC-the C standing for Cup not Championship. It’s confusing to compete on the world level! The World Championships and the World Cup differ in several ways: The World Championships are team events; the World Cup meets are individual. The World Championships are a single meet every two years; the World Cup is a series of five meets annually, with cumulative scores crowning the male and female World Cup champions. World Championship team membership is determined by the national association of each competing country; The World Cup selects and invites individual pilots based on their competition track record. The World Championships are run by a bunch of crazy French people from the FAI- ranked pilots, it can bring only three male pilots for Fédération Aéronautique Internationale; the World the male squad, even though there are currently six Cup, on the other hand, is run by, well, a bunch of male Swiss pilots ranked higher than the highest ranked American. So while the Swiss have to take only crazy French people, not from the FAI. It’s specifically these differences that make the three of six pilots in the top 60, the US then invites its PWC both more competitive and easier to enter. The top three: pilots who are ranked 69, 112, and 127. Because each participating country brings it’s top PWC is more competitive because the organizers atno matter their international ranking, the field at the tempt to invite the top pilots of the entire world, reWorld Championships can be unbalanced with a lot gardless of country affiliation. A quick scan of the of top pilots, but many not-so-top pilots. The PWC FAI World Pilot Rankings (http://civlrankings.fai. is different. Pilots are invited in absolute rank order org/?a=312&ladder_id3) shows that most top pilots based on their performance in the previous year’s naare from the same few countries: Switzerland, France, tional championships and PWC meets. If you want to Italy etc... The World Championships invites a three men + know the gory details of how the individual meets are two women team from each participating country. ranked and contribute to the absolute PWC ranking This means that though Switzerland has many top (you get a higher ranking for doing well in the Swiss


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

Newbie PWC

or South America), enough people can’t come that being top 200 or 300 is good enough to get an invite. If you are like me, it’s easier to be top 200 or 300 in the world than top 3 in the US. MY FIRST SPANKING: IBERAKI, JAPAN

[previous page] Andi Aebi on course in Brazil during the pre-PWC | photo by Martin Sheel. [this page] PWC start gaggle over Cornizzolo | photo by Martin Sheel.


championships than the US), the PWC rulebook, at 42 pages, makes for fine reading: pdf. If, like me, you aren’t into reading 42 page PDFs, you can take my word that the PWC tries to invite the best pilots in the no matter where they happen to live. The process is simple: the PWC will invite as many pilots as a competition site can handle, usually 130 to 150. If you receive an invite, you have a few days to accept and pay your entry fees. For each invited pilot who can’t come to a meet, a slot is opened and those further down the list will be invited. Repeat until the meet is full. Given that there are so many good pilots in Europe, this means you really need to be top 150 to fly any of the ‘local’ European meets. But for ones that would require Europeans to travel (e.g. those in Asia

he first 2007 PWC was held in Iberaki, Japan. Iberaki is far from Europe and has a reputation for long stretches of un-flyable weather. Just what a low ranked pilot needs for an invite. Arriving on launch for our first (and only) good task the increased level of competition was immediately evident. At most North American meets, you see a mix of competition gliders (maybe 10 to 20), DHV2-3 gliders (also 10-20), a whole bunch of DHV2s (80 or so) and a smattering of DHV1-2s. I arrived in Japan with my new speedy Gin Boomerang Sport, the first DHV2-3 I’d flown, and discovered that at a PWC, 80% of the pilots are riding competition gliders. The remainder of the gliders are not DHV2-3s, they are prototype competition gliders-even faster and squirrelier than the ones the manufacturers end up selling. What about DHV2-3s? In Japan there were about 10. Meditate on this for a moment. In a typical meet, the serious pilots are flying the comp and DHV23s. New comp pilots are on DHV2s. The DHV1-2s? They’re just boating around having fun, not really competing. At a PWC, you pull out a DHV2-3 and they give you a look that says: “How cute! Little Jeff has come to play with us!” That first task, I got spanked. I got spanked so hard that I didn’t even know I’d gotten spanked. I flew fast (or so I thought). I made goal. I was pysched. When the results were posted, I was 88th of 120. To goal. Fast. 88th place. Them’s the big leagues, folks. The rest of that meet was a wash-one more scoring day, but about 80 of us bombed out (weather was crud) and a lot of cancelled tasks. The Taste of Glory: Argentina After Japan there were two PWCs in Europe to which Jeff was not invited, and one in Turkey that I had to miss for work-damn that job! When the invite arrived for Argentina, land of tango, beef, and frustrating light thermals, I cleared the work thing out of the way and sent in my entry fees. Then I started contemplating the previously un-

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


“In competition, when your glider no longer scares the crap out of you, it's time to move up.” imaginable... a competition glider... Japan had tors hate individual starts. changed my perspective. I went from thinking The Americans present-myself, Josh Cohn, “Comp glider? That’s for nutjobs!” to “My DHV2-3 Matt Daddam, Todd Weigand, Eric Reed and seems so gentle and slow” Brett Zaenglein-all launched toward the end of the Plus, Gin, maker of the best gliders in the known launch window and therefore found ourselves behind universe, had just released the Boomerang 5 and it most gliders. With no idea how I was doing, I concenwas getting rave reviews for performance and stability. trated and getting know my glider and figuring out Plus my good, sage friend, and sky god, Josh Cohn, to weight shift in a pod. I played with my speed bar offered me this advice: “In competition, when your enough to understand that I needed to play with it a glider no longer scares the crap out of you, it’s time lot more. And I played a game-I couldn’t tell how well I was doing, but I could try to catch and pass whatever to move up.” GULP. And the kicker, the very good folks at glider I saw ahead of me. I made goal and the next day was shocked to learn SuperFly ( offered to that I had come in 12th. 88th place on my first PWC sponsor me. I’ll cut short the story of hand wringing task. 12th place on my first task with real competition and sweaty sleepless nights, and say simply that I argear. I know it isn’t all about the glider, but clearly the rived in Tucumán Argentina with Superfly sponsorship, a brand new, flown once (ridge soaring at the glider (and pod) make a difference. Dumps) Boomerang 5 and a matching, flown once (at the Dumps) Gin Genie Race pod harness-my first and TASK TWO: SCRATCHFEST. only pod. Unlike Japan, this PWC was a real competition. he second valid task was too tough or maybe conThe best in the world were there. We flew four valid ditions were too light. We flew, but no one made tasks. And I was on a competitive glider. Here is a goal and the day was worth almost no points. I short rundown of the 4 valid tasks. came in 21rst and earned 8 points (out of a possible 1000 for a good task).

[opposite] Chrigel Maurer, the overall PWC winner for the last two years, climbing up off of launch at the Cornizzolo PWC event in Italy | photo by Martin Sheel.




hroughout the entire meet conditions were light and tended to worsen or shut off through the afternoon. Because of these concerns, the organizers chose individual starts for task one. Usually, competitors launch in a short (hour or so) launch window and gaggle up until a shared start time. Then we all race at once. The first one to reach goal wins. With individual starts, you launch, and start the course whenever you want. Your start time is when you enter the first turnpoint cylinder. With an individual start people tend to launch, get high, and head out. Without the hour or two of jockeying before a shared start time, individual start tasks tend to finish early-before conditions get dangerous or shut down. The drawback is that as a competitor, you have no idea how you are doing. You could be the lead glider, but someone 10 minutes behind you who started a half-hour after you is kicking your butt by 20 minutes! Conversely, you can be in the back of the pack with the advantage of seeing lots of gliders ahead and be winning. Most competi-



he third task started out looking a lot like the second. After much desperate scratching-let me tell you, scratching light lift in a gaggle of aggressive PWC pilots on comp and proto gliders is scary-the day improved and 35 of us made it to goal. I got confused by my new Flytec 6030 (did I mention I was flying a new glider, new harness, and new vario?). In the last thermal I climbed way too hightaking those extra circles to guarantee a glide into goal. I lost a lot of time and came in over goal with at least 3000ft of altitude that I didn’t need. The result? I was second to last in goal. But hey, I was in goal and 34th for the day. TASK FOUR: SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS.


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

ask four was frustrating and instructional, a teacher from the school of hard knocks, and a great example of one more way that a PWC is 33

[left, from top] Matt Dadem, who took sixth place at the PWC in Argentina, stays hydrated | photo by Brett Zaengelin. USA's delegates at launch at the PWC in Argentina | photo by Josh Cohn. Tucuman PWC Argentina | photo by Josh Cohn. Josh Cohn, Todd Weigand, Barbara Burue, and Walter Sochek discuss tactics at the very serious PWC evening de-briefing. Matt Dadem celebrating at goal | photo by Brett Zaengelin. [opposite] PWC pilot practicing in Anzere, Switzerland | photo by Martin Sheel.

different from all other paragliding meets. The quick summary: the conditions were light. No one made goal. I fought, but dirted toward the middle of the pack at 49th place. Because of the nature of PWC scoring, the day was worth a full 1000 points for the winner and my 49th place finish dropped me out of the top 20 down to 22nd overall.

fully-valid (1000pt) and worthless (like Task 2). And worthless tasks are very rare. This puts far more pressure on pilots to make the most out of every day. No matter how bad the weather or how crazy impossible the task (temporary task-committee insanity is not uncommon, see the first couple of tasks at the 2007 US Nationals), you must fight to the end. It’s probably going to be worth a 1000 points that day, and every PARAGLIDING WORLD CUP SCORING extra kilometer makes a big difference. To quote an American classic, the motto for a PWC is “Never give o understand PWC scoring, the final major dif- up. Never surrender.” ference between the PWC and all other compeI was disappointed when I bombed, but after titions, it’s important to understand how most screaming some choice words at the sky, punching a comps are scored. tree (it deserved it), and watching Russia’s top pilot Typical FAI sanctioned meets use a scoring system ride a pony with rifle slung over his shoulder (you have called GAP. GAP uses a complex set of formulas to entertain yourself while waiting for retrieve), I deto value each task. A ‘good’ task being worth 1000 cided that I like PWC scoring. It’s cold. It’s unforgivpoints for the winner and a ‘bad’ task being worth ing. But it’s pure. less, maybe significantly less. A lot of factors go into determining good vs. bad-gory details are here: http:// WAITING FOR MY LETTERS In general, if a bunch of pilots make goal, and the very year the PWC assigns pilots a two letter rest have a pretty good day, it’s a good task. If very few rank-AA to XX. These letters determine the or no pilots make goal, and a lot of people dirt early, order in which you are invited to a meet. I’m it’s a bad task. The general goal of GAP is the normal- waiting for mine and am eager to fly the 2008 PWC. ize scores across all tasks in a meet and all meets in the It really is the peak and purest form of paragliding world so that the results can feed into the FAI World competition. There is no cost to register for the PWC. Pilot Ranking System and produce a fair world-wide You pay entry fees only if you are invited to and choose ladder. The idea behind devaluing a ‘bad’ task is that to attend a meet. If you are a competition pilot and results on a bad day have a lot to do with luck-maybe are comfortable flying DHV2-3 or comp gliders, you everyone got flushed but one guy launched into a lucky should register for the PWC regardless of your FAI good cycle and flew off to goal-and can’t be compared ranking. You may not make it into the European to results from ‘good’ tasks. Although GAP strikes me meets, but any PWC is a great competition. 2008 regas fair, it has the unexpected side effect of taking pres- istration is open at sure off of the pilots to fly as well as they can. On a bad day, like Task 4, where no one is making goal, with GAP scoring you can slack off. Get lazy. Bomb out. You know the day won’t be worth much and won’t greatly effect the overall score. The PWC, the bad-ass of competitions, follows a different scoring scheme-gory details in the PWC handbook (link above). The key difference with PWC scoring: total available points to the winner in a PWC is 50 x number-of-pilots-passed-validation-distance. So if 20 pilots make it a bit along the course, it’s a 1000 point-to-the-winner day. Because of PWC scoring, PWC tasks generally fall into only two categories:





May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero


photo by Peter Volf


araglider lines are a major modern while also minimizing the amount of line technical achievement. Your life used to cut down on drag. Gliders used to could be hanging by a thread, or have one line per cell that were combined that may be the view of the people who together lower down in the cascades to cut just asked you what you are flying at your down on total line consumption, but after local site. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It looks thinner than parcel string/fishing line!â&#x20AC;? they exclaim. All the non-flyers see is something that looks like very thin string or possibly dental floss, but paraglider strength when new is getting to be pretty good these days. Some gliders have recently resisted up to 16 G when tortured on either the DHV or Aerotests load vehicle. The credit for this goes to the cloth and the lines and the way in which they are finished and connected. In the past few years, paraglider pilots have talked a bit about the cloths their gliders are made from but hardly at all about the lines that connect them to the glider itself. A modern paraglider has between 300m and 450m of line, in several cas- diagonal ribbing came into common use in cades, going up to the sail. A paraglider has the mid 1990s, the lines were placed every no rigid structure, so the problem for the two or three cells (again combining them designer is to spread evenly the load via a lower down), resulting in a huge reduction number of connection points to the glider, in drag. The reduction in A lines from 5



per side down to 2 or 3 meant the lines had to be much stronger than they had been previously. The amount of line used in the modern intermediate glider has almost halved since the introduction of diagonal ribbing, but the paradox for the line manufacturers is that the market now demands much stronger, thinner line, which costs more to make. Consequently, the manufacturers of paragliders buy much less line for the same number of paragliders made. Understanding the process that leads to the finished paraglider lines helps a lot in caring for them. The cost of a replacement set of lines can call into question the life of a paraglider, as an older one may end up beyond economic repair. Cousin Trestec, one of the largest manufacturers of line for paragliders, is located on a factory site in the northernmost part of France near Lille, adjacent to the canal that marks the Belgian border. This 150 yearold family owned business makes high tech lines and ropes for a variety of specialist applications. These include yachting ropes,

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero

& im word

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Lines climbing ropes, various ropes and lines for mountain rescue and other emergency services in addition to paraglider lines. The site is Europe’s biggest braiding machine park, with over 60,000 spindles at work! Cousin Trestec has a turnover of ten million Euros and is part of the Cousin group, owned by the Cousin brothers and Jacques Ferrant. Paraglider lines are made by using rope construction techniques. The most basic rope construction technique involves twisting the fibers together to form a strand. Braiding, a more advanced technique, involves the individual strands being passed over or under each other in a mechanized process to form a line or rope more like that in Fig. 1. Using both twisting and braiding techniques produces Paraglider

lines. An unsheathed line is produced as a single braid. If the line is sheathed, the outer is then braided around the core in a second process. Twisting and braiding improves strength and makes for a line that is easier to handle and that doesn’t separate. There are a large number of brand names for the high technology fibers used in lines; therefore, it’s important to understand which names are similar in order to make a comparison with other brand names of the same base polymer. The outer sheath is made from polyester. In the early days of paragliding, the whole line was made from braided polyester. Factors contributing to the end of polyester as a main load bearing material were its stretchiness and its low strength compared to modern materials.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

photo by Xavier Murillo


THE ANATOMY OF A LINE For the majority of pilots, a line has two distinct parts, an outer sheath, primarily for protection, and a load bearing inner core. For competition pilots or sometimes for the upper cascades in a canopy, the manufacturer may specify unsheathed lines, usually to reduce drag. The down side of this is a reduced resistance to UV degradation and abrasion, but abrasion is not usually a problem for the lines in the upper cascades as it is unlikely they will touch the ground.


It’s used for the outer since the outer only accounts for 10% of the total line strength. There are now two main materials used as fibers in the core; these are Dyneema, a high modulus polyethylene, and Technora, Kevlar or Twaron, all brand names for aromatic polyamide or aramid. From now on, we will refer to the two main fibers simply as Dyneema and Technora, as Technora is the brand that Cousin uses in their finished products. It’s easy to tell the difference-a sheathed Dyneema line has a white core, whereas the Technora line has a brown yellow center to it. Other possible materials are Vectran and Xylon. Vectran is a liquid crystal polyester with very low stretch characteristics but high weight compared to Dyneema. It is still in use and specified by a few PG companies today. The other fiber, PBO or Xylon, has fallen out of use due to its extremely poor UV resistance. Dyneema has high strength, low weight, low stretch, very good UV resistance and is great at resisting fatigue and bending damage. Dyneema is lighter than water, which can be a major asset in sailing and kite surfing, as the line will float. On the downside, it’s not that heat resistant, [softens at 144 C and melts at 165 C] and suffers more permanent elongation than Technora, although Cousin has a combined post braiding heat and stretching process that reduces elongation quite significantly. This process, whose details remain a closely guarded secret, needs to be done under very tightly controlled conditions to have the desired effects. Technora [an aramid similar to Kevlar] is stronger than Dyneema, has very good heat resistance [it doesn’t burn or 38

melt] and very low stretch, where again it bests Dyneema. Technora is five times lighter than steel on an identical strength basis. On the minus side, it’s heavier than Dyneema, less resistant to UV and fatigue and bending damage. The current push in development is to get Dyneema to the point where it has negated all its disadvantages compared to Technora. However, just like the choice of materials for a glider sail, paraglider manufacturers don’t use only one material for lines; they tend to use variety. We might have a mixture of sheathed Technora, sheathed Dyneema and unsheathed Dyneema in a typical DHV 2 or 2-3 glider. Now that you know what the yarn is made of, let’s have a brief look at the processes that Cousin Trestec applies to the material coming into their factory: The filaments of yarn arrive in bobbins that are checked at this phase for quality and continuity. The bobbins are loaded onto the braiding machines. These produce a core, or the finished braided line, in the case of the unsheathed lines. To produce a sheathed line, a second braiding process is required that entails the core’s outer sheath being braided over the inner. Both braiding processes are continuous and result in a long length of the line being wound onto a bobbin. The newer style of unsheathed lines are dyed and coated with a polyurethane compound. This improves UV resistance as well as the way lines handle, making them less likely to tangle. The end product is very different from the unsheathed lines made at the turn of the century. A second process for the unsheathed

Dyneema lines involves stretching them under very carefully controlled conditions, including closely controlled temperature and stretch rate. This process results in an increase in strength and a reduction in permanent elongation under load as well as a reduction in the diameter of the lines. This new process has some interesting results: • Stretch of the line under a 12kg load reduced by 78% • Breaking strength increased by 19% • Abrasion resistance increased by 10% • Bending resistance increased by 9% • Diameter reduced by 5% The sheathed Dyneema lines also undergo this process, but only after the second braiding operation, at which time they have the sheath applied over the inner. Samples taken from the finished line will be subjected to a number of tests to ensure the quality of the product, including a steady loading to failure, shock loading and the DHV bending test where the line is subject to 5,000 bends of 150 degrees each way before being tested for load resistance again. The lines, and all the necessary information on the bobbin that allows them to be traced back via all processes to their origin, then leave the factory for the paraglider manufacturer. This traceable quality control is part of the process required for the ISO 9002 certification, for quality, held by Cousin. The finished lines are amazing. An unsheathed line made from Dyneema with a diameter of 0.66mm [yes, barely over half a millimeter] boasts a breaking strength of about 56 kg, and after 5,000 cycles on the DHV test would still hold out until 54

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

kg. If you go up to 1mm [1.12mm], the strength increases to 172 kg, with failure after the DHV aging test reduced to 153 kg. The figures for sheathed lines are still pretty amazing, but they include a less strong polyester coating, so their figures are lower. Even then, strengths of about 128 kg for a 1.1mm sheathed Dyneema line are the order of the day. The sewing process at the paraglider manufacturers, along with the small diameter of maillion the line passes around, reduces this strength somewhat in real life, so the lines will be specified by the paraglider manufacturer with this in mind. Looking at gliders like the Airwave Magic 3, they have managed to sustain +16G on the test rig, so the sums done by the paraglider designers are correct! Lines are a very high tech piece of manufacture, but need to be well maintained to keep up their strength. Advice from Cousin on caring for your lines: • Don’t leave your paraglider near heat sources in winter such as radiators or a fireplace. In summer, avoid leaving your wing in trunk of your car. • Never store a damp wing, and avoid humidity when putting your wing away. Don’t dry a wing in direct sunlight-put it

the shade. • Don’t drag your wing across the ground. • Don’t leave your wing out on take off for too long. • Avoid kinking your lines and don’t knot or braid them for storage. • Maneuvers [ears, spirals, b line stalls and any form of acro] accelerate the ageing process and weaken lines. Frequent use of these maneuvers will require that you accept the consequences of more frequent line replacement. • After a big shock [like a very big collapse], a line check will be needed. • Any newly acquired but used paraglider should be subject to a line check. • If your lines have heat shrink protection, examine with great care the end of the heat shrink-the edge leads to damage and fatigue. • A stored paraglider that is not used still ages. • Be wary of ultra-thin or unsheathed lines, especially on competition gliders. They are easily damaged and will require more care. Reprinted with SkyWings permission.

THE CHEMISTRY BIT Aramids are from the polyamide family of organic compounds, which also include Nylon. They are comprised of polymers, which are very long chains of repeated organic units called monomers. Polyethylene is simply another name for polythene. The molecules in the compound used to make Dyneema are much longer chains than the stuff that’s used in the bags supplied at the supermarket to take your shopping home in. Polythene bags have a lot more branching on their molecules, as well as shorter chains. This results in lower intermolecular forces, and hence lower tensile strength. Polyester is another long chain organic compound, but with an ester as the basic building block. It has found widespread use in fabric for clothes, as well as free flying applications like Dacron and Mylar [hang glider sails] and Teijin Tetoron, a fabric widely used in the early days of paraglider manufacture. Polyurethane [PU], the coating used for the newer unsheathed lines is a plastic, and helps protect the lines from UV and abrasion damage, as well as improving the way they handle.


Brand name

Material Type

Owner of brand name


High modulus polyethylene

DSM High Performance Fibres


High modulus polyethylene

Honeywell Performance Fibers


Aromatic polyamide/aramid

Teijin Ltd


Aromatic polyamide/aramid



Aromatic polyamide/aramid

Teijin Ltd


Liquid crystal polyester

Celanese Acetate LLC

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

Paraglider performance has improved massively since the first retrimmed jump chutes were flown off the French Alps in the mid 1980’s. A good deal of this improvement in glide and sink rate has been achieved by drag reduction. Compared to the early 1990’s, line consumption is down on the average intermediate by about 40%. Line thicknesses have come down from 4mm on some early retrimmed sky diving chutes to the 1.9/1.5mm commonly seen on the modern intermediate rigs. Total canopy airtime has extended from tens of hours to hundreds and maybe even thousands, in the case of some test gliders used by manufacturers.



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Southside high flying | photo by John Heiney.

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Decades in the life of


n April Fools’ Day, 31 years ago, an almost-middle-aged woman showed up at Golden Sky Sails in Golden, Colorado, for her first-day hang gliding ground school. Instructors Al Godman and Bill Sloatman surely had no idea that this petite student would go on to become one of USHPA’s most deeply involved members. Here, in mostly her own words, is her story.


by Liz Sharp as told to C.J. Sturtevant Photos courtesy Liz Sharp

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

“At age 39 I decided, for once in my life, I had to risk life and limb and it had to be then – one more year would be too late,” says Liz Sharp, USHPA #22004. “I chose hang gliding because a television news report branded it as the most dangerous sport ever invented by man. So I bought a lesson package to do flights on the training hill, which would get me a Hang-1 certification.” Liz and her three fellow students had their first hands-on lesson on April 4. “We all came back after that first day with different aches and pains. The guys had sore legs, we girls had sore arms and shoulders, but we soldiered on.” During her lessons, Liz says, “I was still struggling with, ‘Why am I turning myself into a pack mule for three to five seconds of airtime?’ Then on July 1 I snuck off to the top of Green Mountain with some of the more advanced students and had my first unsupervised flight. As I ran down the hill, eyes locked on the horizon, my peripheral vision made me aware that the earth was falling away from my feet, more quickly and more distant than it had ever been before. I was hooked. Being a pack mule became a badge of honor. “Al and Bill made a great teaching team,” Liz recalls. “Al always started the day with ‘OK, people, this

is what we are going to do today…’ and Bill ended the day with ‘Great! Next time why don’t you try [whatever was the next step up the learning ladder]?’ “After my flight from the top of Green Mountain, Bill said, ‘Great!’ and Al said, ‘You looked like a sack of potatoes.’ They were the best team: One kept me reaching for the clouds, the other kept my mind grounded while my body soared. “I soon earned my H-1, but I still had several more lessons paid for which I wanted to use up. That resulted in my H-2 and a friendship with Debbie Duree, who was also finishing lessons at the same time. She needed someone to fly with so we hiked our gliders around the south point at the North Boulder flying site and waited for launchable winds for high-flight sled rides. “Debbie and I would also drive for the advanced pilots at Lookout Mountain in Golden. One day Glen Crowder, then the safety director for the local hang gliding club, said he would sponsor me off Lookout. At that time, the LZ was in the highway median where US 6 and Colorado 58 enter the foothills of the Rockies. The open area was a bit shorter than the length of a high school football field. I landed just past the far goal posts, but not on the highway.

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[opposite] Liz and her VW bus “Max” scanning the skies for pilots at Coaldale goal, Owens Valley Classic, 1982. (Only one pilot made goal that day) | photo by Bettina Gray. [above] Liz launching WW SuperSport “Orion” at Williams Peak, Colorado, Sept. 1994 | photo by Brad Koji. [left] Liz at the 1979 America’s Cup, Lookout Mt., Tennessee.


[below] Liz and her Condor at 17,500’, Telluride, Colorado, 1979. [below right] Leroy Grannis with Liz on Gold Hill launch, Telluride, Colorado, 1979 | photo by Leroy Grannis.

long and across fields of loose “The next day, my instructor rock. The guys helped carry my Bill said, ‘Great!’ but Al said, 39-pound glider. ‘You don’t have a H-3; you can’t “I was on my Seagull Seahawk, fly Lookout.’ A meeting behind and everyone else was on highclosed doors followed, and I got performance gliders (Seagull 10s, my H-3 (only seven months after Electra Flyer Olys, Delta Phoenix starting – remember, this was 8s, Sensors, etc.). Somehow I was 1977) and I continued sponsored able to cross Hayden Pass and get flights at Lookout Mountain. as far south as the Orient Mines Because my H-3 came so early, I where I turned around and flew took time (another year) getting back. Only one other pilot made my H-4. During this period, we it out that far, and he also made lost the highway median LZ to it back across Hayden Pass. I highway construction, and it didn’t and landed about ½ mile was not possible to fly Lookout short of the LZ. unless you could commit to landing on top. I would “As I was folding up my glider, I could see that the watch Charlie Baughman: If he didn’t land at Charlie’s Last Chance, it was soarable and top-landable, and I other pilots were coming in to land. As soon as I had my glider in the bag, I started walking to the LZ. The would fly.” In a sport dominated by athletic males, there are closer I got to the LZ, the more feverish was the acsurprising challenges and crazinesses that arise from tivity to fold up gliders and pack everything on the being a small female. “Very early I learned not to out- trucks. I was within shouting distance when they all fly the more macho pilots, or if I did, not to rub their jumped into the vehicles and took off, leaving me with noses in it,” Liz recalls. “During the summer of 1978 a a three-mile walk to the restaurant in Villa Grove. “But most of the time the guys were great. During group of Denver pilots traveled to the north end of the San Luis Valley (Colorado) to fly from Galena Peak, my first soaring flight at the South Side of Point of above the current Villa Grove flying site. The hike was the Mountain in marginal conditions, Mike Tingy

“Very early I learned not to out-fly the more macho pilots, or if I did, not to rub their noses in it.”

and Larry Tudor always gave me the best part of the lift band. Mark Axon set everything up for my first flight from Mount Lemmon (Arizona), suggested the flight plan (which I was able to follow) and picked me up at the high school athletic field in Tucson. Keith Nichols drove 60 miles (round trip) to pick me up in Gardnerville, California, with only congratulations, after my cross-country flight from Slide Mountain.” Having been around since the early days, Liz was contemporary with many of the legends of hang gliding, and she has first-hand experience with the challenges of early competitions. “My first competition, in 1978, was working with Sean Dever for the Region 4 Championships at Crested Butte. I must have done a good job there, because Dave Rodriguez asked me to help with the Invitational he was organizing at Moab, Utah. Surrounded by all the top pilots, I was in heaven. They were in their 20s or early 30s, very buff and the weather was hot… “Then, as now, one of the biggest problems in competition was providing an equitable start,” Liz continues. “One of the lower-tech solutions used at a Canadian competition I attended was a large clock (30 to 40 feet in diameter) laid flat on the ground, driven by a motor in the center with the clock hands sup-

ported by wheeled trucks riding on a big circular track. This is when we were using cameras instead of GPS, so the pilot had to be low enough for the position of the hands to be readable in his photograph, thus recording his exact start time which would be relevant to all other start times. He could keep retrying until he was in a thermal that would get him up and on course. “We also used pylons and pylon flag wavers. Pilots had to round the pylons low (so the pylon judges to read the competition numbers on the underside of the sail) and then climb out again. Often the pilots would shout ‘Hi’ and then start working to get back up.” In 1985 Liz received USHPA’s Exceptional Service award, in appreciation of her administration of USHGA’s competition programs and her role in coordination of the 1985 World Team. With perhaps a note of nostalgia, Liz comments, “The use of GPS in competitions is making it too easy for the pilots. And spectators don’t get to see the scraping and scratching that really separates the men from the boys. Competition shouldn’t be all get high, go fast…” Everyone has their “ favorites” in their flying career, and Liz is no exception. Regarding sites, “While I was still flying, my favorite flying site was the one I’d last flown. The summer after I injured my ankle, the whole

[above left] Liz rolling the flat battens into the sail of her UP Condor “Plieeiades,” 1979. [above] Liz and her Condor, 1979 | photo by John Coyne.

“The use of GPS in competitions is making it too easy for the pilots.”

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[inset]Liz landing her Condor at “Seizure” LZ, Telluride, Colorado, 1979. [opposite] Liz with the latest communication gear at the 1979 America’s Cup.


state of Wyoming became my favorite flying site: one large LZ punctuated by windy mountain launches – no running necessary. If I were still flying, I’d pick Cathedral Bluffs in Colorado as my favorite site. Alas, this year the oil companies have picked it, too. It’s a 20-mile top-landable ridge out in the boonies with a road that runs most of the way along the top (now providing access for the oil rig crews) and access roads in several places at the bottom.” As for her favorite wings, “First was my UP Condor, ‘Pleiades,’ which I took to the 1979 American Cup at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and on which I had some fabulous flights in Venezuela. Second would be my UP Comet ‘Halley’ which glided me through my Owens Valley cross-country clinic with Chris Price and my longest flight (49.5 miles), and many others in Wyoming.” Not many pilots can boast of such a long and intense involvement with hang gliding, both in the air and on the ground, as Liz can. She admits that her close association with the sport for the past three decades is mainly due to “my obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you fly, you have to have it or you won’t survive. I can’t just do it. I have to do it better.” She offers some examples: “In 1980, the USHGA was only seven years past being the Southern California Hang Gliding Association, and as many people have noted over the years, it was still being run as a club, not a business. Ah, lots of room for improvement there! Again I was hooked. “Now (2008) the association finally has a strategic plan to guide further growth (not my doing), and the current president is insisting that the elected directors attend training sessions to become more professional in their volunteer work for the board. The current board has a better understanding of the prerequisites and requirements of board membership (also not my doing, but encompassing the standards and responsibilities I hoped for).” Liz has attended USHPA BOD meetings regularly from February 1980 through 2007, and served as USHPA secretary from 1982-1984, 1988-1989 (managing the headquarters move from California to Colorado) and again from 2004-2007 (to sup-

port the strategic plan initiative). She has also served as competition administrator, as chairman of the Bylaws committee (2003-2006) and chairman of the Competition Sanctioning subcommittee (2004-2007) – an involvement with the USHGA/USHPA board that is arguably longer and at a deeper level than any other [Dennis Pagen is longer but not as “ intense”] member! She is much encouraged by recent trends in USHPA director education and training. “With a professional board that knows where the sports should be headed and what to do to get us there, the association will be able to better serve both hang glider and paraglider pilots,” she points out. “Through annual training sessions, president Lisa Tate is slowly improving the level of competence and expertise of the members of USHPA’s BOD.” Liz retired from active flight 11 years ago (on June 30, 1997), and at last fall’s board meeting she declined to run for another term as USHPA secretary. She’s moved on, with passion and energy, into another field: “I have returned to my teenage love of horses. I am fortunate in finding an excellent teacher and mentor in Loveland, Colorado, close to my home in Longmont. In the last year, I have attained my Equine Touch Level 3 student certification and by the end of the year I hope to be an ET practitioner. By working over major equine muscle groupings, the Equine Touch procedures may help relax the muscles and tendons in the area around soft tissue injuries (sprains, strains and lacerations), which calms the horse, and makes it less fussy while recovering. I also used the technique successfully in correcting a learned behavior problem in a large Belgian-Shire horse. When horses are large (close to one ton), it is good to have them well-behaved!” With Liz’s retirement from her position on the executive committee, USHPA will certainly miss her meticulous record-keeping at board meetings, her in-depth knowledge of hang gliding’s roots and development, and her tireless devotion to making the association and the sport “better” wherever she could see a need for improvement. Judging from hang gliding history, the local equine population is in for a treat, now that Liz’s passion has drawn her into their lives!

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Back to



as I ready for this? It had been some time since I’d flown powerhouse thermals, having been stopped by a shoulder operation that said, “Slow down boy-by any definition, you are no longer a boy!” We had set up our hang gliders just behind the famous launch at El Penon, near Valle de Bravo, Mexico. The valley of the brave would certainly test our mettle. The air was cool, the sun was hot, and I was in a lather as I carried my glider to the launch point. Thermals were cycling through, the vultures were taunting, and a few gliders were showing just how robust the thermals could be on a fine Mexican afternoon. Was I ready for this? Yes! That’s the word that swept through my blissed-out brain as I was wrenched away from terra firma by an ineluctable, invisible hand. I held speed for seconds before I felt brave enough to turn in that first roundhouse punch from the pugilistic thermal, and when I did, I was already a hundred feet over launch and rising fast-a thousand FPM and more. This close to the ground, such a climb is visually dramatic. I was a bit player in the scene, overawed by the experience. I topped out, played with my aerial friends (both avian and human), and flew to the house thermals. Then I went on a little cross-country


trip to a huge grass field an hour and a half later. All the while another question kept nagging me. To wit: “Why did I stay away so long?”


Valle the Town

headed to Valle de Bravo in midFebruary, 2008, to catch the last of the paragliding Pre-Worlds and a bit of the fine winter flying the place has to offer to an air-horny pilot. I had been there twelve years ago for nearly a month and knew lots of pilots living there. I intended to meet my friends, Dutch pilots Koos de Kejzer, Daphne Schelkers and Leon Seeters in Mexico City for a few days of adventure before reporting to Manzanillo on the coast for the annual meeting of the CIVL-the international governing body of our sport. Because severe ice storms shut down the East Coast, I arrived a day late. No problem. I bussed to Toluca, then on to Valle. Total cost for the several-hour excursion: $17.50. And that’s with a depressed dollar. The bus trip illustrates one of the big attractants of flying in Valle: the stretch of the peso. My hotel cost $25.00 per night in the high season, including the luxury of hot water and a bed. When you fly all day and party all night, what else do you need? Valle has an abundance

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

of great restaurants with trout as a specialty. (Did I mention that I’m a piscatarian?) But my favorite food comes from the local street vendors. They serve authentic tacos with a choice of ingredients and salsa that’s guaranteed to put hair on your chest. Sure, the guidebooks tell you to stay away from the local food, but how else are you going to get the authentic Mexican experience and learn about the compelling dance, the Aztec two-step, and the mighty King Montezuma? Valle is perched on the hills next to a large, quiescent lake. A takeoff is situated above the town with a landing field right beside the lake. Paragliders and local hang glider pilots land there regularly, but, because it’s small, a special technique with a favorable wind is needed to pull off the feat. I saw even a Pre-World meet paraglider pilot get dunked there. Right next to the landing field is the Boga Boga Bar and Restaurant, owned by long-time pilot, Alex Olazabal. He is also a partner in Fly Mexico, a business specializing in flying trips to Valle. But the real action is up in town where the square virtually throbs at night with caballeros, viejo hombres, nubile señoritas, dueños, disapproving priests, familias, peddlers, hawkers, mariachi bands, troubadours, floral displays and street performers. Life emanates from the heart of a Mexican town, and Valle, with its special rep as a resort for the nationalistas, is especially vibrant. The number of ex-pat US pilots who have moved there gives a clue to its quality of life. I could be happy in such a place, where my net worth instantly triples and my net airtime quintuples.

a good two grand of altitude for thermals to stretch out, gain a hearty head of steam and sweep by launch. It’s not hard to find one of these passing freights and latch on for a free ride. During my previous visit to Valle, we flew 22 days in a row and went XC every day. This time, an inversion was hovering about 1500 ft over takeoff, so we had to work. Some thermals were wrenching boomers, but many were the type that allowed a few turns, then a “goodbye, Charlie.” When things got tough, it proved wise to hug the hill and keep a sharp eye out for the paragliders who acted like bobbers on a fishing line. When there was a bite, they tended to be the first to feel the tug. In most cases a little patience paid off, so we cooperated and elevated. The smart money at El Peñon works the launch area until about a thousand feet are in the altitude bank, then drifts to the right along the ridge. Eventually, you come to the elbow-a 90-degree bend that tends to harbor thermals. Get up there if you can, but if not, preserve your altitude and keep sidling along the ridge until you come to the “wall.” This is a vertical rock face, which tends to trigger thermals. Top up there if you can, but your ultimate goal is the G spot. This point is a little pass that funnels full-steam thermals up from the front, but also connects them to the heat feeding off the open-field plateau in back. If you can’t get your jollies at the G-spot, you likely ain’t getting jolly. Once you gain, say, two to three thousand feet, it’s good policy to head out. There are numerous routes away from El Peñon that have been thoroughly covered by comp pilots, but us casual tourists usuFlying ally head east, contrary to Horace Greeley’s he big attraction for pilots is El recommendation. There the roads lead to Peñon. The site is named for the im- the mountains and the open fields. No posing stone monolith that towers in one is setting a world record around Valle, front and to the right of launch. There is so I like to proceed at a leisurely pace and


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

sightsee as I bob from cloud to cloud. At Valle, no-pressure XC is the flying for me. On many days, once you’re on track, the horizon’s the limit. And if your driver is lost or non-existent...just take a taxi back to the ranch for about $3 from anywhere.


Launch and Landing

well-maintained road takes you to launch. There is a dusty set-up to contend with, but that’s the price we pay for desert-like thermal conditions. The launch itself-a slot in the trees I found twelve years ago-has been improved by the construction of a retaining wall and more than 800 loads of dirt. A huge open area now invites multiple para and hang gliders to get in position at the same time. I find it expedient to use caution when choosing both the launch point and time, as the rogue-bull thermals stir the air vigorously. A controversy has arisen at the launch point. One of the local interests, headed by Alex Olazabal, has acquired financial control of the launch by paying rent to the locals. He initiated a charge for flying; this doesn’t sit well with the pilots who have long used this site gratis. Accusations fly on both sides of the issue, but the issue will eventually be resolved since everyone wants Valle to continue to attract a horde of world pilots. The cold, hard truth that has visited even this flyer’s paradise is “there is no free launch.” The landing below takeoff is sardonically known as “the piano” (as in flying like one if you land there). The landing field has also been changed from when I last visited. It is now in a long field that is rented by the same group that controls the top. It has a notorious sink hole at the near end that grabbed at least one pilot when I was there. I was determined never to land in the piano (remember the 100% XC flying on my previous visit), so, of course I did. It wasn’t bad, since there was ample room, 49

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but I did find the sinkhole and landed wa-a-ay short. A subsequent landing (which I refuse to admit I’ll have) will be better since I know the lay of the land.

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Flying Royalty & Flying Windows

fter flying at Valle revitalized our winter-weary system, we had a couple of little experiences that were like icing on the cake. On the way back to Mexico City, we stopped in the fir forest where millions of Monarch butterflies spend the winter. There, they store up energy, hang out with their friends and breed, while waiting for the go-ahead signal to start the long journey north. We were awed by the gentle, trusting nature of our fellow flying creatures. They colored the forest burnt- orange and black; they whispered on the wind and sent a subliminal SOS. It is tragic that the dual forces of illegal deforestation in Mexico and the heavy use of herbicides in our county are destroying them. The latter practice has gone into high gear since Monsanto developed a genetically engineered soybean that can withstand the chemical assault of herbicides that eradicate the Monarch’s sole food source: milkweed. One of the problems for those who want to preserve the Monarchs is that they are not a keystone species, meaning that nothing will crash if they disappear. They have little economic impact, but they are unique in that they are the only butterflies that migrate and live through the winter as adults. The fall Monarch soars over 3000 miles in thermals and mountain updrafts to find its winter haven. Surely pilots will lose a bit of their own soul when this lovely creature disappears. Our final stop was in Toluca. There we visited El Cosmo Vitralthe Glass Cosmos. This attraction is a large former train station that has been transformed into a huge greenhouse-the largest in the world. Inside, plants from all over the world are festooned over the landscape. The building’s walls and ceiling feature huge stained-glass windows depicting the birth of the cosmos and the ascent of man. The artist, Leopold Flores, clearly had a fascination with flight and birds- men are floating and birds are taking to wing in nearly every panel. Most of the birds are raptors, and I was rapt as I shot an orgy of photos from all angles. Who would have expected such a treat in the old working town of Toluca? My Mexican journey ended like all such journeys: a hard trip back to the reality of work and the daily ground (as in no flying). But I did recharge my batteries and refresh my memory of how truly special Valle de Bravo is. My visit was too short, but I resolved not to stay away so long next time. I have put the little flier’s Mecca back to the top of my list of winter getaways. My advice: you should, too. For the inexperienced traveler, there are several businesses running tours for pilots to Valle. Look in the ads in this magazine. Once you’ve been to Valle, your heart will be tugging you back.

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Pilot: Paul Farina Photo: Greg Dewenter

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May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

Technique | Safety | Training | Flights


by Mark “Forger” Stucky

TIWTIWGD! ► Anyone who has been hang well, we set out to try to tow to the maxigliding or paragliding for any length of mum possible altitude. time has heard some “there I was, thought My goal for this autumn flight was to get I was gonna die” stories. These stories are high enough to do a couple of 360º turns. common topics for online forums, so much That was unheard of back then but would so that they even have their own chat room be required if I were ever going to catch abbreviation, “TIWTIWGD”. Perhaps you a thermal off of tow. In order to get to the have had a TIWTIWGD experience your- highest altitude, I backed the glider all the self. I’ve had a few. What follows is the story way to the fence at the foot of the field. Just of the day that I probably set the all-time behind the fence, running parallel to the world record for multiple TIWTIWGD ex- rear of the field, was an array of tall power periences per flight hour. Like all of my lines. One of my friends questioned starting stories that are composed from notes and so close to them, but I replied with great aulogbook entries, this one is 100% true. Last thority, “What’s behind you isn’t important!” month you read about my experiences of trying to people-tow from a moving vehicle. This time I decided to try to people-tow by people power! It was October 1978 and I was looking for a way to get more air beneath my wings in the flatlands of Kansas. I planned to tow from a large 1/4-mile square campus intramural field on the outskirts of town. I decided to use the same simple loopedcord-around-the-control-bar thumb release and arranged for five friends to tow me. Once again, I was being inventive. The original people-tow article had only two people pulling. I wanted to have a reserve After the rope was laid out and the for multiple attempts and decided that a glider set, everyone was ready. I gave the few more wouldn’t hurt. But these weren’t “go” signal and off they went. The accelerajust five ordinary people; most were fellow tion was tremendous; these guys knew that members of the Kansas State University I wanted the highest tow possible and they track team. Yep, they ought to be able to were out to give it to me. I only took a step or get me up. I briefed the team on my signals: two and shot skyward, literally in a lockout a running motion with my legs meant speed from the moment my feet left the ground. I up, opening and closing them in a jumping tried my best to pull in and stop the arcing jack motion meant slow down. After I had left turn, but it was rapidly getting worse. I several successful short flights with partial should have released before I took off, but rope lengths where everything was working now it was too late. If I released, I would May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

whip stall without sufficient altitude for recovery. I didn’t have a TIWTIWGD experience yet, but I was very concerned. While desperately trying to signal the team to slow down, I continued to fight for control. But I might as well have been hooked to a team of stallions with blinders because they were off to the races without looking back! Within a few seconds I had reached the apex of the lockout and - like a child’s bat kite gone awry - the glider was about to begin a fatal arcing dive to the ground. TIWTIWGD #1 - Tow Lockout. There I was 110 feet AGL (don’t ask me how I knew that butI distinctly remember thinking I was 110 ft up and knowing I was going to die from a tow lockout). Estimated flight time about seven seconds. I knew it was fruitless, I knew that I had waited too long. If I released, I would sideslip for about 75 feet while the nose swung downwards, and I would then dive to my death without enough altitude to pull out. I had to try something so I lifted my thumb and the towrope disappeared. TIWTIWGD #2 - Sideslip and Dive to Death. Total flight time eight seconds. Since I knew there was no way I could recover normally, my brain flashed another option that I had never thought of before. I pushed out abruptly and fully, while swinging my legs to the high side, in an attempt to get the glider to spin. In what seemed like a fraction of a second, the glider snapped into a 1/4-turn spin, instantly changing heading 90º while the wings leveled. Incredibly, I would not die from a lockout nor would I sideslip to my death, for I had the altitude for a straightahead recovery! If only it could have been that easy - those huge power lines that I had so authoritatively declared “not important” were now looming a few yards in front of me. TIWTIWGD #3 - Electrocution. Total flight time twelve seconds. Luckily, a single cable crowned the multiple wires and only that top wire was rapidly approaching my face. I pushed the bar out to try to zoom over it, but without excess speed, the glider descended onto it. I hit it at a cross angle and sequentially lifted my hands as the control bar base tube slid along the wire. (The sound that aluminum makes sliding along a thumb-sized electri-


fied steel cable is not a sound I ever want to around 50 feet AGL. hear again.) As the control bar slid off the TIWTIWGD #4 - Severe Low Altitude cable, I arched my back as much as I could Stall. Total flight time fifteen seconds. while pulling my legs up as high as possible. I knew that if I let the nose drop, I would My body cleared the wire but the glider dive steeply without room for recovery so was in a mushing descent, and the power I must NOT let the nose drop. Holding the line was now sliding along my left side wire control bar with arms spread wide, I agtowards the wingtip. The line then hooked gressively threw my body around, fighting on my lower deflexor post, and I seemed to to keep the wings level as I dropped rapidly hang in the sky for a moment as the glider in a total parachuting-type stall. “Don’t put rotated around it towards the network of your legs down,” I thought, “stay prone.” So lines strung out below me. I figured there that is what I did. Lastly, I moved my hands was no way that I was going to escape from the base tube to the uprights just prior them. Suddenly, with a TWAANNGGGG, to impact in order to keep me from smashthe glider’s momentum overpowered the ing my fingers into smithereens on the road deflexor’s grasp on the line, and once again below. USHPA ad 08 proof 1 2/14/08Since 2:58 PM Page I KHK was free! Except now I was3:Layout not only stalled, I always flew1with my feet well I was flying backwards at about 5 mph at above my head in an effort to reduce drag,

the only part of my body that could touch the cement would be my chest. And that is where I had mounted my large Windhaven reserve parachute. I stayed prone and never stopped the balancing act until I slammed into the roadway. It took me a second to realize I was not only OK-the glider didn’t even seem damaged! Just then my incredible sense of relief was shattered by the loudest squeal in the world-the squeal of locked brakes and tires, the squeal that comes when a hang glider drops unexpectedly into the fast lane of a four-lane highway. TIWTIWGD #5 - Being Hit By a Car. Total flight time twenty seconds. My sense of impending doom lasted for what seemed like an eternity, yet I couldn’t

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May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

PHotos: Till Gottbrath

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bring myself to turn my head to watch my demise. Then I realized that the ear-splitting noise had been replaced by the sound of an idling engine. As I peered out from under my right wing, I saw a car bumper literally inches from my leading edge. I quickly stood up, hoisted the glider onto my shoulders, gave an apologetic look to the very surprised driver, and carried my gear clear. Final score was five TIWTIWGD incidents in the span of about twenty seconds, which equates to a ratio of 900 per hour. Hopefully, none of you will ever come close to breaking that record. Once again, I had failed to predict all the ramifications of my plan. The combination of my buddies’ excess power and the attachment of the towline directly to the control bar generated aerodynamic forces that were beyond my ability to control by weight shift. I also did not foresee that the tow team would fail to look for my signals. But as any paraglider pilot who has done a

forward inflation off a restricted cliff launch knows, it’s very difficult to run aggressively without looking forward fulltime. Incidentally, you don’t have to touch power lines for them to be a danger. In 1995 I was living in Houston when the local hang gliding club was invited to do tow demonstrations at an event at the Johnson Space Center. The winds were calm and the road was short so the club staged the tow rig as far back as they could, directly under a humongous set of high voltage wires. I pointed out the danger and suggested it would be more prudent to demonstrate a shorter tow than to start so close to the wires. After the club president declined and positioned his glider on the trailer, I heard the hum and crackle of the build up of static electricity and felt as if there were about to be a lightning strike. As I began backing away, the pilot reached out to grasp the nose release ring in preparation for launch. As he did, he got the shock of his life, causing his muscles

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero



to contract involuntarily and pull the release. The glider immediately rotated backwards and fell off the stanchions, breaking the keel. Suddenly everybody agreed that the tow should be further up the road! Electricity is invisible, instantaneous, and can be an ugly way to die. We have lost too many hang and paraglider pilots to electrocution over the years, yet there still remain a significant number of flying sites that expose our members to this deadly risk. We should not be satisfied simply to maintain access to such sites; we should work with our communities and utility companies to divert or bury the lines to make our sites safer. Lastly, although my guardian angel was working overtime on that TIWTIWGD day, it was not my scariest hang glider incident. That fateful day was still several years away.


Films | Books | Sites | Links | Gear

TheFlyingEYE Five years after the launch of this website devoted to Paragliding and Paramotoring, is one of the most popular sites for pilots worldwide. Available in English and Spanish, it receives nearly 2500 visits a day. On you can find a vast amount of information, such as the latest news, articles on popular flying events, online coverage of continental and world competitions, and a large collection of pictures and designs inspired by flying. Daniel Crespo and Claudia Riquelme are the passionate pilots behind this project that has become the focus of their lives. The idea for the website originated with a drawing made by Venezuelan-Spanish pilot Daniel Crespo during one of his long wanderings around South America. At that time Daniel visualized a symbol of a wideopen eye with wings as representing the way he was seeing the world (mainly from under –or above– his glider). He knew that he wanted to use this symbol to convey his observations to other pilots… But how? It


would take a couple of years, some luck, and a partnership to realize his dream. “I met Claudia at the Festival of St Hilaire in 2000. She had just arrived in Europe from Iquique, Chile, to live in Spain. Months later we met again in Madrid (where both of us then lived) and we became friends. We ended up working together for a Spanish paragliding magazine, which provided good training for starting Ojovolador. com,” recalls Daniel. The magazine closed and soon after, Daniel quit his activities with the SAT team with whom he had produced 3 successful acro videos. He and Claudia decided to join forces and start their own communication venture under the name of Ojovolador (The-flying-eye). They envisioned it being more than a collection of articles; they wanted to create a space where they could express what flying inspired in them and other pilots. And they decided to use a distinctive visual design, including profession-

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

ally produced written content related to paragliding. “We didn’t really know how, or if, we would make money from our venture; we just felt that we needed to create because nobody else was doing anything like that in 2002. And we could!” tells Daniel. The response was promising. The couple witnessed the visits to their site growing each week as they increased their efforts to post new material as often as possible. “Because we had run out of money and had no income, we decided to show what we could do as professionals through our website (with the hope that we’d get some paid work). Those were hard times, but we refused to give

up because Ojovolador was exactly what we wanted to do for the paragliding world and for our means of support. “It still is”, explains Claudia. Both Daniel, a creative graphic designer, and Claudia, a journalist and English/ Spanish translator, were determined to survive in the flying world. Patience paid off. Soon they were asked for design and communication work by manufacturers and companies related to paragliding, and event organizers invited them to cover topics and events on Later, they decided to introduce publicity advertisements, which helped support the work and expenses involved in posting the site. Nearly five years after that overture, over 20 advertisers sponsor activities on this site and some collaborators help with contents and information at Ojovolador. com. The site is defined as a “true independent online magazine devoted to paragliding and paramotoring.” Claudia and Daniel now live on the Gredos range in central Spain; their house, which faces the take-off slope, is only a ten minute drive from the paramotor field. Theflyingeye has also opened an online

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

shop where pilots can buy original T-shirts and other paraphernalia produced by main paragliding brands. This affords Claudia and Daniel another way to support the communication work that demands. “There is more competition now; many websites are trying to attract pilots and few new sponsors are willing to help us pay for the cost of keeping our site updated. But we are confident that we’re doing a good job. And, unlike many sites, our work is professional: we have degrees in journalism, communication and graphic design as well as many years of work in these fields related to paragliding. We also have more than 10 years of experience as pilots, with good results in international paragliding and paramotoring competitions,” says Daniel. Over the next few months, Ojovolador plans to completely revamp the site in order to make it more dynamic and easier to navigate. A new section will be dedicated to paramotoring news, and other surprises will be in store for readers both old and new. Visit them on or www.



May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero




May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero


cott Harris and Matt Combs of Jackson Hole Paragliding went to Iquique, Chile, in January of 2008 with P-3 pilot Mike Crothers. The purpose of the trip was to film and shoot pictures as part of an advertising promotion for Evolve Capital, which is owned by Mike. They report that the flying was consistently good, even though they arrived late in the season. Each morning they made the short drive to the Alto Hospicio launch, which was 2,000 feet above the landing zones on the beach. After a flight or two, they had lunch and took a swim before heading out to the evening site of Palo Buque. This site is a 150-foot dune where they were able to kite and bench up to the 2,000 ft ridge behind. Scott described the beauty of the area: “The setting sun on the red desert sand contrasted with the blue sky and ocean, creating an amazingly spectacular sight.” The food was excellent, the local people friendly, and the local pilots were fun and helpful. Sascha and Cristian, from Iqairus Paragliding, showed them Pisaqua, and La Oasis–two flying sites north and east of Iquique. Those were some of their favorite days of the trip. They met Gabor of Just Acro, who was there to practice; he threw down the Infinity Tumble, the first time they had seen this maneuver in person. The trip was a success. They shot thousands of pictures and many hours of video; they flew every day and met an incredible number of amazing people. If you can, plan a flying trip to Chile; you will not be disappointed!

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero





May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; www.USHPA .aero


CALENDAR Calendar items will not be listed if only tentative. Please include exact information (event, date, contact name and phone number). Items should be received no later than six weeks prior to the event. We request two months lead time for regional and national meets. For more complete information on the events listed, see our Calendar of Events at: Sanctioned competition HG June 1-7 ► Ridgely, Maryland. 2008 East Coast Hang Gliding Championships. Registration opens March 1, $225 before April 15, $275 after for Class 1 & 5. $175 before April 15, $225 after for Sport Class. More information: PG June 8-14 ► Woodrat Mt., Ruch, Oregon. West Coast Paragliding Championships. Registration opens February 15, $325 until April 15, $395 after. More information: HG PG June 29-July 4 ► Chelan, Washington. Chelan XC Classic, crosscountry flying for hang gliders and paragliders. Score is best 4 out of 6 days. Registration $80 until April 30, $100 after, or come for part of the week and pay $25/day. Includes T-shirt and barbecue. Best 4 out of 6 days. More information: PG July 6-12 ► Woodrat Mt., Ruch, Oregon. Paragliding Rat Race. Registration opens February 15, $395 before April 15, $450 after. Introduction to competition with education and training in GPS use and competition strategies, mentoring program, evening classroom discussions, much more. Additional information:


June 5th-8th ► Vail, Colorado. Teva Mountain Games Paragliding Competition. Fun Competition, Cross Country Race to Goal. This will be a Showcase event in an effort to make it a regular part of the Teva Mountain Games. Hopefully sanctioned next year. The dates are June 5th-8th. There will be give-aways, drink specials, parties galore, and mingling with other extreme athletic enthusiasts. Prizes will be medals for the two divisions-open and serial class. Sign up will begin on the website March 1st, More information: call Greg Kelley at 970-376-0495, or write to HG July 14-19 ► King Mt., Idaho. 2008 King Mountain Hang Gliding Championships, in Idaho’s Lost River Range, near Arco and Moore. Open, recreation, and team classes, driver awards, raffle, trophies and more! Collectors-edition shirts designed by Dan Gravage! Free camping, BBQ’s, prizes, and tons o’ fun...PLUS some of the best XC flying the sport has to offer! For more information and registration forms, go to or contact Lisa Tate, (208) 376-7914, HG PG

July 27- August 2 ► Boone, North Carolina. 3rd Annual Tater Hill Open. XC and Race for paragliders and low performance hang gliders w/ concentration on new XC pilots. Registration opens April 1, $275 until August 1. Per day rate for weekend only. More info: or contact Bubba Goodman at 828-773-9433.

PG July 28-August 2 ► Chelan, Washington. Chelan Paragliding XC Open. Registration opens March 15, $285 by June 26, $325 after. More information:

HG September 25-28 ► Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lookout Mountain. 2008 Women’s Hang Gliding Festival. Join us for a celebration of women in hang gliding. Beautiful mountain and aerotow flying, clinics, discounted training, fun flying tasks, raffle prizes, food, parties and camaraderie. Lots of non-flying activities for family members. Registration is Thursday afternoon. All female and male hang glider pilots welcome. More information: www. Contact: Jen Richards, 706-398-3541 or



August 2-9 ► Big Spring, Texas. Big Spring International. Registration opens April 15th. Entry fee is $325, late fees TBD. More information: HG August 17-23 ► Lakeview, Oregon. Hang-on Hang Gliding Nationals. Registration opens March 15, $295 postmarked by May 15, $350 postmarked May 16-July 31, $425 after. More information: PG

September 14-20 ► Bishop, California. Owens Valley US Paragliding Nationals. Registration opens April 1. Contact: Kevin and Kristen Biernaki. More information:

September 28 - October 4 ► Dunlap, Tennessee. The 2008 Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge. Pilot check-in and registration starts Saturday September 27. Competition strategies with a focus on mentoring, and fun. More information: HG PG

October 31- November 2 ► Puebla, Mexico. Vuela Puebla 2008, Paragliding and Hang Gliding Open Championship. FAI/CIVL Category 2 Events. Competitions will occur at same time at two different launches. Great flying, and cool colonial city. 75$ entry fee. More information: www. Fly-Ins

Competition PG

May 17-18, June 21-22, July 19-20, August 9-10, September 6-7, October 4-6 ► Dunlap, Potato Hill and Owens Valley, California. 2008 Northern California XC League. $10/task for pre-registered pilots. Prizes awarded on Saturday nights. For more information email Jug at, or go to PG May 31- June 1 ► Rifle, Colorado. SOUTH WEST CROSS COUNTRY LEAGUE at the Rone cliffs. Adventure Paragliding will once again host the SWXC League meet. This league meet is a low-key fun event for everyone with tasks ranging from 20-40 km. It will be a two-day event this year, entry fees are $30 plus local club fees.Entry fees include transport, camping at LZ, beverages and instructional seminars. The flying at the Rhone Cliffs can be epic and we encourage everyone to come and join us for a fun event. For more info


HG May 2-4 ► Glassy Mountain near Greer, South Carolina. South Carolina Springtime Fly-In! Come and enjoy flying and competing in spot landing, duration, X-C, and balloon toss events at this beautiful south-facing mountain. Plaques awarded to all 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in all competitions (except balloon toss). $20 entry fee for competition flying, and $10 for fun flying. Fly-In T-shirts available. Contact: Paul Peeples, (828) 553-3777, or Paragliders cannot be flown at this site due to tree restrictions at launch. HG PG May 24-26 ► Ruch, Oregon. StarThistle 2008 Fun Fly-In. Woodrat Mountain, big thermals and great flying! More information:

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

May 24-26 ► Alamogordo, New Mexico. 28th Annual Memorial Day Fly-In. The Rio Grande Soaring Assn would like to invite you to a traditional fun fly-in at Dry Canyon. Great flying this time of year with events such as spot landing, race to goal, duration, bomb drop and x-c for the serious pilot. Sunday evening will be an awards and banquet dinner. Entry fee is $35 and covers everything, including a t-shirt, but not a ride up the hill. Contact George Woodcock (575-585-4614) or any contact on the RGSA website at

May 3-4 ► Santa Barbara, California. Competition Flying Clinic with US Champion Dean Stratton and Eagle Paragliding. Review strategy and tactics for competition flying, and participate in task meetings before we fly the task together. More information:


May 9-19 ► European Alps. The first annual Nova XC Flying Camp organized by Nova team pilot Kay Tauscher and Peak-to-Peak Paragliding. Join Kay and some of her fellow Nova team pilots to learn XC flying skills or become a better cross-country pilot in places with amazingly consistent XC conditions. For P-2 through P-4 pilots. Space is limited and the trip is already filling quickly. More information:, email, phone (303) 817-0803.


May 24-26 • King Mt., near Moore, Idaho. 2008 Spring Fling at King. Welcome the mountain XC season with this fun-filled event. Open XC with 1st place cash prizes for hang gliding and paragliding. All-you-can-eat outdoor buffet, with dessert. More information from or (208) 0390-0205. PG June 20-29 ►Girdwood, Alaska. Join the Arctic Air Walkers for the 6th Annual 10 Days of Solstice Fly-In. Open to all P-2 pilots with 75 + flights. The main flying site at Alyeska Resort has Tram access to launch 2,000 feet above a large easy to reach LZ. The 270 degree main launch has spectacular views of Turnagain Arm and Glacier Valley. With 20+ hours of daylight you can soar with the eagles at midnight! Weather permitting there will be a helicopter accessed flight from a glacier in Glacier Valley at 6000 feet. elevation for a scenic 6 mile flight back to Girdwood. Depending on conditions other sites including Eagle River and Hatcher Pass will be flown. Chris Santacroce will hold a 3-day Maneuvers Clinic at Horseshoe Lake after the flyin. Go to: for an article on a previous fly-in. For Anchorage area flying sites: http:// For more information about the fly-in e-mail Arctic Air Walkers at: arcticAirWalkers-List-Server@ PG

June 21-22 ► Jackson, WY. Aerofest 2008. Come and fly from the Bridger Gondola at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, 3,000 ft. agl. Fun events including a hike and fly, balloon drop, spot landing contest, thermal clinic, aerobatic demonstrations and BBQ. Discount on lift tickets and lodging. Presented by Jackson Hole Paragliding and the Jackson Hole Free Flight Club. More information: Friends and family welcome as there are many activities in and around Teton Village besides the great flying! PG

June 21-29 ► Girdwood, Alaska. Come fly under the Midnight Sun! Peak to Peak Paragliding Kay Taushcher will lead a trip (experienced P-2s and up) for some amazing flying during the Arctic Airwalkers’ annual flyin. For details see or contact Kay at (303) 817-0803 or HG July 3-6 ► Lakeview, Oregon. Umpteenth Annual Festival of Free Flight. Hang glider and paraglider pilots will compete for cash prizes and a chance to catch the thermals that rise over the high desert. This year’s festival includes a flour bomb drop, as well as a pig roast for pilots and their families. Cash prizes for the hang glider trophy dash from Sugar Hill to Lakeview, and spot landing for both hang gliders and paragliders. Paraglider pilots compete to accumulate the most air miles during the contest. More information at

clinics, meetings, tours May 1-22 ► Jackson, Wyoming. Maneuvers training courses. Come tow at the beautiful Palisades Reservoir with the Jackson Hole Paragliding Team. Contact Scott Harris, (307) 690-8726,

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

May 9-11 ► and May 16-18; Central Utah. Over the water maneuvers courses with Chris Santacroce. Contact:, (801) 706-6076.

May 15-18 ► Tow XC Clinic. This is the easiest way to get high and go far. With our payout winch expect to get 3000’ high and just start turning in lift. Parasoft has offered these clinics since 1999 and seen pilots rated P-2 and higher fly many miles XC. See details at lessons/xc _ clinic.php. May 15-25 ► France, Switzerland, Italy. Experience the Alps where it all began! Join Luis Rosenkjer and Todd Weigand to fly world-famous sites every day: St. Hilaire, Annecy, Chamonix, Mieussy, Verbier, La Madeleine, Les Saissis and more. Luis has been guiding international pilots to France for the last six years – last year one group was able to fly from the Aiguille du Midi on Mont Blanc, launching at 12,000 feet and landing in Chamonix, 9000 feet below! More information:,, or Todd at, www.paraglidefrance. May 24-25 ► Salt Lake City, Utah. Point of the Mountain Demo Days. Demo gliders, demonstrations, and informative sessions. Contact: pomic@, (801) 706-6076. May 24-26 ► Owens Valley, California. Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding joins American free flying icon Kari Castle for a three-day clinic. Clinic includes site introductions, and thermal and cross-country flying with Kari in her own backyard. More information: May 28-June 2 ► California. Over the water maneuvers clinics in southern California with Eagle Paragliding. Top all around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state of the art towing set up. More information: May 30-June 1 ► Jackson, Wyoming. Tandem clinic. Presented by Scott Harris at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. (307) 690-8726, June 5-8 ► Utah. Cross-country competition clinic; a friendly introduction to cross-country flying with instruction from US and North American XC record setter, and 2005 US XC Competition Champion Bill Belcourt, and Ken Hudonjorgensen. All aspects of XC & Competitions will be covered. Utah XC sites. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information: June 6-8 ► Jackson. Wyoming. Instructor clinic. Contact Scott Harris, (307) 690-8726,


CALENDAR June 20-22 ► Salt Lake City, Utah. Hang gliding aerobatics clinic! Mitch McAleer joins Wings Over Wasatch hang gliding to teach the in's and out's of aerobatics in a hang glider!!! More information at www.wingsoverwasatch. com, or call Ryan Voight at (801) 599-2555. June 21-22 ► Utah. Mountain Flying and learning how to pioneer new sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information: June 27-July2 ► California. Over the water maneuvers clinics in southern California with Eagle Paragliding. Top all around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state of the art towing set up. More information: July 18-19 ► Utah. Central Utah Mountain flying and site pioneering with Stacy Whitmore and Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information: August 9-21 ► French and Swiss Alps. Join Rob Sporrer, Jamie Messenger, Bob Drury, Nick Greece, and our local guide and weather guru for amazing flying during what is typically the most consistent part of the Alpine summer. This annual tour to the Haute Alps, will be based in Grand Bornand, at our own flying lodge, we will work on cross-country flying strategies and tactics in the finest terrain imaginable. Every night eat five star meals after our debriefs. Plan on flying at least six different sites ranging from Grand Bornand to Interlaken depending on the weather. More information: August 28-30 ► Utah. Central Utah Thermal Clinic with Stacy Whitmore, Ken Hudonjorgensen & Bill Belcourt. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information: SeptEMBER 6-8 ► Utah. Thermal Clinic at Utah flying sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information:


September 13-16 ► Ridge Soaring Clinic, near Grand Junction, Colorado. Otto's Ridge is an undiscovered ridge-soaring paradise. We soar above our tents in the morning, midday we tow up in building thermals, and in the evenings we enjoy glass-off flights. P-2 pilots will learn to ridge soar and tow up into thermals. Details at ridge _ soaring _ clinic.php. September 23-28 ► Santa Barbara, California. Instructor Certification Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding. This three day clinic is open to basic and advanced Paragliding instructor candidates, and those needing recertification. More information: SeptEMBER 27-28 ► Utah. Mountain Flying and learning how to pioneer new sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information: October 3-5 ► Santa Barbara, California. Instructor Certification Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding. This three day clinic is open to basic and advanced Paragliding instructor candidates, and those needing recertification. More information: November 1-5 and 5-9 ► Phoenix, Arizona. Come to warm Phoenix for some last flights before winter. Parasoft offers pilots rated P-2 and higher a chance to improve your skills in warm thermals. Fly into Sky Harbor on these dates and we will take you flying nearby. We have hotel, transport and guiding all arranged. Details at phoenix.php. Nov 8-15 &/or Nov 15-22 ► Iquique, Chile. Flying sites w/Ken Hudonjorgensen , Bill Belcourt and local guides. A great trip to what many pilots consider to be the best place to fly in the world. Phone (801) 572-3414, or email More information:

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero


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May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

0806 Eipper | Valle | Grecian Getaway | Felix Woelk

CLASSIFIEDS CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING RATES - The rate for classified advertising is $10.00 for 25 words and $1.00 per word after 25. MINIMUM AD CHARGE $10.00. AD DEADLINES: All ad copy, instructions, changes, additions & cancellations must be received in writing 2 months preceding the cover date, i.e. September 15th is the deadline for the November issue. ALL CLASSIFIEDS ARE PREPAID. If paying by check, please include the following with your payment: name, address, phone, category, how many months you want the ad to run and the classified ad. Please make checks payable to USHPA, P.O. Box 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1330. If paying with credit card, you may email the previous information and classified to info@ushpa. aero. For security reasons, please call your Visa/MC or Amex info to the office. No refunds will be given on ads cancelled that are scheduled to run multiple months. (719) 632-8300. Fax (719) 632-6417 HANG GLIDING ADVISORY: Used hang gliders should always be disassembled before flying for the first time and inspected carefully for fatigued, bent or dented downtubes, ruined bushings, bent bolts (especially the heart bolt), re-used Nyloc nuts, loose thimbles, frayed or rusted cables, tangs with non-circular holes, and on flex wings, sails badly torn or torn loose from their anchor points front and back on the keel and leading edges.

INSPECTED RESERVES - For HG or PG $199+up. Used Quantum, all sizes $475+up. Some trades accepted. (262)-473-8800,, www.,

BUSINESS & EMPLOYMENT BRIAN WEBB, experienced Australian tandem paragliding pilot looking for tandem work during August / September 2008. Email NORTH WING DESIGN - is accepting applications for metal shop/wing and trike airframe mechanic. Also accepting applications for sail maker and sewing machine operator. Send App. To: 3904 airport way, E. Wenatchee, Wa. 98802 or Fax 509-886-3435 (www.northwing. com)

HARNESSES HARNESSES - 5’0”-6’5”. Cocoons $125+up. High Energy Cocoons $200+up, Pods $200+up. Inventory, selection changes constantly. Some trades accepted. (262) 473-8800,,,


PARAGLIDING ADVISORY: Used paragliders should always be thoroughly inspected before flying for the first time. Annual inspections on paragliders should include sailcloth strength tests. Simply performing a porosity check isn’t sufficient. Some gliders pass porosity yet have very weak sailcloth.

EDEL QUANTUM paraglider wing and pack. Used only 50 hrs. Large. Excellent condition. Contact:, (757) 229-2209.

If in doubt, many hang gliding and paragliding businesses will be happy to give an objective opinion on the condition of equipment you bring them to inspect. BUY-




LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - The best facilities, largest inventory, camping, swimming, volleyball, more. Wide range of accommodations., 877-hanglide, (877)-426-4543,


FLY HIGH PARAGLIDING.COM - over 10 years of experience, offers P-2 certification, tandem flights, towing, new and used equipment, the best weather to fly in USA. (480)-266-6969.

EVEN-UP TRADES - Looking to move up from your beginner or novice glider, but can’t put up cash? (262)-473-8800,,,



FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in beautiful Santa Barbara! USHPA Novice through Advanced certification. Thermaling to competition training. Visit www. (805)-965-3733. THE HANG GLIDING CENTER - PO Box 151542, San Diego CA 92175, (619)-265-5320. MIKE BUTLER HANG GLIDING SCHOOL - Training hill just 30 minutes west of Yosemite National Park.Wills Wing and Flytec dealer. (209)-742-8540 MISSION SOARING CENTER - Largest hang gliding center in the West! Our deluxe retail shop showcases the latest equipment: Wills Wing, Moyes, AIR, High Energy, Flytec, Icaro. West Coast distributor for A.I.R. Atos rigid wings including the all-new VX Tandem Atos. Parts in stock. We stock new and used equipment. Trade-ins welcome. Complete lesson program. Best training park in the West, located just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. Pitman Hydraulic Winch System for Hang 1s and above. Launch and landing clinics for Hang 3s and Hang 4s. Wills Wing Falcons of all sizes and custom training harnesses. 1116 Wrigley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035. (408)-262-1055, Fax (408)-262-1388,,, Mission Soaring Center, leading the way since 1973. TORREY PINES GLIDERPORT - Come soar in San Diego! This family-owned and operated flying site offers USHPA certified instruction, advanced training, equipment sales, tandem flight instruction, motorized pg/hg instruction and site tours. We also have an extensive pg/ hg outfitting shop offering parachute repacks and fullservice repairs. Bring your family for our amazing sunsets and dining at the Cliffhanger Cafe. Importers for Paratech and Independence gliders. We also carry AustriAlpin, Center of Gravity, Crispi and Sup’Air. Check us out online for sales and questions at:, or call toll-free at 1-877-FLY-TEAM (359-8326). Also, tune in to the Internet Paragliding Talk Show at www. every Tuesday 9-11:00 a.m. (PST). WINDSPORTS - Don’t risk bad weather, bad instruction or dangerous training hills. 350 flyable days each year. Learn foot-launch flying skills safely and quickly. Train with professional CFI’s at world-famous Dockweiler Beach training slopes (5 minutes from LA airport.) Fly winter or summer in gentle coastal winds, soft sand and in a thorough program with one of America’s most prestigious schools for over 25 years. (818)-367-2430, www.

FALCONS CLEARANCE SALE - School use, one season. Falcon 1s and 2s. All sizes $1,250-$2,500. (262)-473-8800,,,

AIRJUNKIES PARAGLIDING - Year-round excellent instruction, Southern California & Baja. Powered paragliding, clinics, tours, tandem, towing. Ken Baier (760)-753-2664, `

PULSE II-11 METER, SP Bar, Pneu. tires, PDA20 chute w/ Paraswivel, Cacoon, V-bridal, 4020 Vario, Helmet w/ radio. All excellent. No BS. $1800/ 321-604-9991.

DREAM WEAVER HANG GLIDING - Competitive prices, state-of-the-art equipment. Complete lesson programs. Northern California Mosquito harness dealer. Ideal training hill. tandem instruction. USHPA Advanced Instructor Doug Prather (209)-556-0469, Modesto, California.

AIRTIME ABOVE HANG GLIDING - Full time lessons sales and service Colorado’s most experienced! Offering foot launch, tow and scooter tow instruction. Wills Wing, Moyes, North Wing, AIR, Altair, Aeros, High Energy, Finsterwalder, Flytec, MotoComm, and more sold and serviced. Call for more info (303)-674-2451, Evergreen Colorado,

EAGLE PARAGLIDING - SANTA BARBARA offers the best year round flying in the nation. Award-winning instruction, excellent mountain and ridge sites., (805)-968-0980

GUNNISON GLIDERS - Serving the western slope. Instruction, sales, service, sewing, accessories. Site information, ratings. 1549 County Road 17, Gunnison CO 81230. (970)-641-9315, 1-(866)-238-2305.

WW SPORT AT 167 nice, Sport Euro 167 bad sail, harness parachute etc…Make offer. Florida. More information: , (352) 481-3322.




May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

PEAK TO PEAK PARAGLIDING LLC - THE Front Range paragliding school, located in Boulder, Colorado. Offering excellent state-of-the-art instruction. Specializing in over the water & safety training. Equipment & tandems. Phone 303.817.0803

FLORIDA FLORIDA RIDGE AEROTOW PARK - 18265 E State Road 80, Clewiston, Florida (863)-805-0440, GRAYBIRD AIRSPORTS — Paraglider & hang glider towing & training, Dragonfly aerotow training, XC, thermaling, instruction, equipment. Dunnellon Airport (352)-245-8263, email, LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Nearest mountain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations., 877-hanglide, (877)-426-4543. MIAMI HANG GLIDING - For year-round training fun in the sun. (305)-285-8978, 2550 S Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove, Florida 33133, QUEST AIR - #1 site for US competition & the biggest flights on the East coast. No-wait, 1-on–1 lessons from first tandem to advanced XC training. Towing 8amsunset everyday. All amenities including on-site accommodations, time-honored clubhouse, pool, hot tub and private lake. Demos, rentals, sales, storage & repairs. Minutes from Orlando in Groveland, FL. Phone (352)-429-0213, fax (352) 429-4846,, 1-877-FLY-QUEST WALLABY AEROTOW FLIGHT PARK - Satisfaction Guaranteed. Just 8 miles from Disney World. Year-round soaring, open 7 days a week, six tugs, no waiting, every direction. 50+ nice demos to fly, topless to trainer gliders: Laminar, Moyes, Wills, Airborne, Airwave, Exxtacy, La Mouette, Sensor; also harnesses, varios, etc. Ages 13 to 73 have learned to fly here. No one comes close to our level of experience and success with tandem aerotow instruction. A great scene for family and friends. 10 motels & restaurants within 5 minutes. Camping, hot showers, shade trees, sales, storage, ratings, XC retrievals, great weather, climbing wall, trampoline, DSS TV, ping pong, picnic tables, swimming pool, etc. Flights of over 200 miles and more than 7 hours. Articles in Hang Gliding, Kitplanes, Skywings, Cross Country and others. Featured on numerous TV shows, including Dateline NBC, The Discovery Channel & ESPN. Visit us on the Web: Please call us for references and video. 1805 Dean Still Road, Disney Area, FL 33837 (863)-424-0070, phone & fax,, 1-(800)-WALLABY. Conservative, reliable, state-of-theart. F.H.G. INC., flying Florida since 1974

HAWAII FLY HAWAII - Hawaii’s hang gliding, paragliding/paramotoring school. Mauna Kea guide service. Most experience, best safety record. Big Island of Hawaii, Achim Hagemann (808)-895-9772,, ALOHA! ISLAND POWERED PARAGLIDERS/THERMALUP PARAGLIDING - The Big Islands only choice for USHPA certified instruction. Both free flight and powered tandems year round. Dvd of your flight included. One on one lessons from our private oceanside launches and training facilities. Contact Yeti, (808)-987-0773, or Aloha PROFLYGHT PARAGLIDING - Call Dexter for friendly information about flying on Maui. Full-service school offering beginner to advanced instruction every day, year round. (808)-874-5433,

INDIANA CLOUD 9 SPORT AVIATION - See Cloud 9 in Michigan


TRAVERSE CITY HANG GLIDERS/PARAGLIDERS Put your knees in our breeze and soar our 450’ sand dunes. Full-time shop. Certified instruction, beginner to advanced. Sales, service, accessories for ALL major brands. Visa/MasterCard. 1509 E 8th, Traverse City MI 49684. Offering powered paragliding. Call Bill at (231)-922-2844, Your USA & Canada Mosquito distributor.

NEW YORK AAA MOUNTAIN WINGS INC. - New location at 77 Hang Glider Road in Ellenville next to the LZ. We service all brands featuring AEROS and North Wing. Contact (845)-647-3377,,, FLY HIGH, INC. - Serving New York, Jersey, and Connecticut areas. Area’s exclusive Wills Wing dealer. Also all other brands, accessories. Area’s most INEXPENSIVE prices! Certified instruction/service since 1979. Excellent secondary instruction! Taken some lessons? Advance to mountain flying!, (845)-744-3317.

DOWNEAST AIRSPORTS - paragliding & hang gliding instruction using tandems & scooter towing for easy safe learning. Quality equipment sales., in _ a _, Marc (207)-244-9107.

LET'S GO PARAGLIDING LLC - Paragliding flight school offering USHPA-certified instruction for all levels, tandem flights, tours, and equipment sales. More information:, (917) 359-6449.

MARYLAND SCHOOL OF HANG GLIDING - Sales, service, instruction since 1976. Specializing in Foot Launch. (410)-527-0975 Proudly representing Wills Wing & Moyes

major manufacturers. Ultralight instruction and tours. (252)-441-2426, 1-877-FLY-THIS,

SUSQUEHANNA FLIGHT PARK COOPERSTOWN NY - 40 acre flight park. 160’ training hill with rides up. 600’ MARYLAND ridge-large LZ. Specializing in first mountain flights. Dan Guido mailing address 293 Shoemaker Rd Mohawk HIGHLAND AEROSPORTS - Baltimore and DC’s fullNy 13407 Home (315)-866-6153 cell (315)-867-8011 time flight park: tandem instruction, solo aerotows and equipment sales and service. We carry Aeros, Airwave, Flight Design, Moyes, Wills Wing, High Energy Sports, NORTH CAROLINA Flytec and more. Two 115-HP Dragonfly tugs. Open fields as far as you can see. Only 1 to 1.5 hours from Rehoboth KITTY HAWK KITES - FREE Hang 1 training with purBeach, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia. Come chase of equipment! The largest hang gliding school in Fly with US! (410)-634-2700, Fax (410)-634-2775, the world. Teaching since 1974. Learn to fly over the 24038 Race Track Rd, Ridgely, MD 21660, East coast’s largest sand dune. Year round, tion, foot launch and tandem aerotow. Dealer for all

MICHIGAN CLOUD 9 SPORT AVIATION - Aerotow specialists. We carry all major brand hang gliders and accessories. Cloud 9 Field, 11088 Coon Lake Road West, Webberville MI 48892., http://members. Call for summer tandem lessons and flying appointments with the DraachenFliegen Soaring Club at Cloud 9 Field. (517)-223-8683, DFSCinc@aol. com,

GEORGIA LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Discover why 5 times as many pilots earn their wings at LMFP. Enjoy our 110 acre mountain resort., 877-hanglide, (877)-426-4543.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

OHIO CLOUD 9 SPORT AVIATION - See Cloud 9 in Michigan

PUERTO RICO FLY PUERTO RICO WITH TEAM SPIRIT HG! - Flying tours, rentals, tandems, HG and PG classes, H-2 and P-2 intensive Novice courses, full sales. (787)-850-0508,

TENNESSEE LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Just outside Chattanooga. Become a complete pilot -foot launch, aerotow, mountain launch, ridge soar, thermal soar., 877-hanglide, (877)-426-4543.




AUSTIN AIR SPORTS - Hang gliding and ultralight sales, service and instruction. Steve Burns (512)-236-0031, Fred Burns (281)-471-1488,, WWW. AUSTINAIRSPORTS.COM.

BAJA MEXICO - La Salina: PG, HG, PPG by, He’ll hook you up! site intros, tours, & rooms bajabrent@bajabrent. com, (760)-203-2658

GO...HANG GLIDING!!! — Jeff Hunt. Austin ph/fax (512)-467-2529,,

UTAH AIR REVOLUTION FLIGHT SCHOOL – WITH BILL HEANER AND THE REVOLUTION INSTRUCTOR TEAM Learn true wing mastery from some of the greatest instructors in the world. We offer P1-P4, T1-T3, tandem flights, USHPG Instructor Certification and paramotor training. Camping and hotels within walking distance from our shop. Contact Bill Heaner (801)-541-8341,, CLOUD 9 PARAGLIDING - Come visit us and check out our huge selection of paragliding gear, traction kites, extreme toys, and any other fun things you can think of. If you aren’t near the Point of the Mountain, then head to for a full list of products and services. We are Utah’s only full time shop and repair facility, Give us a ring at (801)-576-6460 if you have any questions.

VIRGINIA BLUE SKY - Full-time instruction at Blue Sky Flight Park near Richmond. Scooter, platform and aerotowing available. All major brands of equipment, with Mosquitos and Doodlebugs in stock. Steve Wendt, (804)-241-4324,

WASHINGTON AERIAL PARAGLIDING SCHOOL AND FLIGHT PARK - Award winning instructors at a world class training facility. Contact Doug Stroop at (509)-782-5543 or visit

WISCONSIN FREEFLIGHT AVIATIONS – The Midwest’s largest hang gliding school. Using both aertow tandem and onsite training hill, 7 days a week, April through November. For the traveling hang glider pilot, rental equipment is available. (920)-728-2231,,

WYOMING JACKSON HOLE PARAGLIDING - Come to Paragliding Paradise and enjoy alpine flying at its absolute best. Ten sites in a ten-mile radius including the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Lessons and Guide Service Daily. Maneuvers Training at the Palisades Reservoir on Tow Tuesdays. More information: (307)-690-8726 (TRAM).


MEXICO - VALLE DE BRAVO and beyond for hang gliding and paragliding. Year round availability and special tours. Gear, guiding, instruction, transportation, lodging - all varieties for your needs. 1-(800)-861-7198 USA

PARTS & ACCESSORIES ALL HG GLIDERBAGS, harness packs, harness zippers and zipper stocks. Instrument mounts and replacement bands. Mitts, straps, fabric parts, windsocks, radios. Gunnison Gliders. 1-(866)-238-2305 BIG EARS PTT - $99.95. Includes speaker and microphone, radio connection, sealed finger switch. Choose the full-face or the open-face model. www.bigearsptt. com (805)-965-3733. CARBON FIBER BASETUBE - For 06 Moyes Lightspeed 5 Zoom frame. Perfect cond. Low hrs. $400. Contact: (406) 253-7078. FLIGHT SUITS, FLIGHT SUITS, FLIGHT SUITS, Warm Flight suits, Efficient Flight suits, Light weight Flight suits, Flight suits in twelve sizes. Stylish Flight suits (503)-657-8911 FOR ALL YOUR FLYING NEEDS - Check out the Aviation Depot at featuring over 1000 items for foot-launched and powered paragliding, hang gliding, stunt and power kiting, and powered parachutes. 24/7 secure online shopping. Books, videos, KITES, gifts, engine parts, harness accessories, electronics, clothing, safety equipment, complete powered paragliding units with training from Hill Country Paragliding Inc. 1-800-664-1160 for orders only. Office (325)-379-1567. GLIDERBAGS - XC $75! Heavy waterproof $125. Accessories, low prices, fast delivery! Gunnison Gliders, 1549 County Road 17, Gunnison CO 81230. (970) 641-9315, orders 1-866-238-2305. HALL WIND METER – Simple. Reliable. Accurate. Mounting brackets, control-bar wheels. Hall Brothers, PO Box 1010, Morgan, Utah 84050. Contact: (801) 829-3232, MINI VARIO - World’s smallest, simplest vario! Clips to helmet or chinstrap. 200 hours on batteries, 0-18,000 ft., fast response and 2-year warranty. ONLY $169. Mallettec, PO Box 15756, Santa Ana CA 92735. (949)-795-0421, MC/Visa accepted, OXYGEN SYSTEMS - THE WORLD CLASS XCR-180 operates up to 3 hours @ 18,000 ft. and weighs only 4 lbs. Complete kit with cylinder, harness, regulator, cannula, and remote on/off flowmeter, only $450.00. 1-(800)-468-8185

RISING AIR GLIDER REPAIR SERVICES - A full-service shop, specializing in all types of paragliding repairs, annual inspections, reserve repacks, harness repairs. Hang gliding reserve repacks and repair. For information or repair estimate, call (208)-554-2243, pricing and service request form available at, TANDEM LANDING GEAR - Rascal™ brand by Raven, Simply the best. New & used. (262)-473-8800, www.,, http://stores. WHEELS FOR AIRFOIL BASETUBES - WHOOSH! Wheels™ (Patent Pending), Moyes/Airborne & Wills Wing compatible. Dealer inquiries invited. (262)-473-8800,,, http:// WINDSOKS FROM HAWK AIRSPORTS INC - 1673 Corbin Lake Rd, Rutledge, TN 37861, 1-800-826-2719. World-famous Windsoks, as seen at the Oshkosh & SunN-Fun EAA Fly-Ins.,

PUBLICATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS SOARING - Monthly magazine of The Soaring Society of America Inc. Covers all aspects of soaring flight. Full membership $64. SSA, PO Box 2100, Hobbs NM 88241. (505)-392-1177,

REAL ESTATE 10 ACRES IN THE BEAUTIFUL LOST RIVER VALLEY, close to King Mt HG/PG site. Super glass-offs! Fenced. Partial payment toward well/septic. Don @ 208-554-2405.

MISCELLANEOUS WORLDWIDE INTERNET PARAGLIDING TALK SHOW — WWW.WORLDTALKRADIO.COM. Listen live or to the archives! Live Tuesday 9-11:00 a.m. (PST). Call toll-free, 1-888-514-2100 or internationally at (001) 858-268-3068. Paraglider pilots and radio hosts David and Gabriel Jebb want to hear about your stories, promotions/events or insight; they also take questions!

STOLEN WINGS AND THINGS STOLEN WINGS are listed as a service to USHPA members. Newest entries are in bold. There is no charge for this service and lost-and-found wings or equipment may be called in to (719)-632-8300, faxed to (719)-632-6417, or emailed to for inclusion in Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine. Please call to cancel the listing when gliders are recovered. Periodically, this listing will be purged. GPS GARMIN 76 CSX. The last day of the Rat Race, after the track log information was downloaded, someone picked up my GPS from the table. It had white tape in the upper left corner with my pilot number 326 written on it. If you discover that this GPS in your possession, please contact me at USHPA. Martin 800-616-6888. This GPS was borrowed from a friend, so it would be an enormous relief to have it returned.

May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero




GRADIENT ASPEN - My paraglider equipment was stolen from my vehicle on November 7th in San Diego, California. The wing was a red, gradient Aspen 26m, SOL Large CX harness, SOL 33 CELL reserve, Ozone red and gray backpack. REWARD no questions asked $250 or please contact me with any information regarding the equipment. David Thulin 307-690-5792 or Thank you. STOLEN FROM THE ANDY JACKSON AIRPARK CALIFORNIA, MAY 14TH 2007. FALCON 195 #25038. Silver leading edge, red bottom surface white trailing edge. If found please contact Rob or Dianne through or (909)-883-8488. GEAR STOLEN FROM MEXICAN PILOT IN MEXICO NIVIUK HOOK XXS (45-65Kg) wing, in orange and white, s/n C20664, and an Ava Sport XS harnes, in blue and black. The reserve is a Firebird R5 S; I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the serial number of these last two. If this equipment is found, contact me or her directly: Vinda Levy, +52(312)3097665


photo by Nick Greece


H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-3 H-3

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P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-4 P-4

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Felix Rodriguez | photo by Wendy Smith.


I’m Matt Gerdes, and I quit flying acro this weekend. Not because I was scared or bored. I

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quit because acro is no longer acro as it was when I flew acro, just last week. Ok, I still find myself in the occasional loop, or sat, or wobblecopter, but that no longer counts as acro. Sorry. The bar has been raised too high. This weekend, I watched Antoine Montant link 122 Infinite tumbles. It was pretty damn cool to see. First, he hopped out of a helicopter over a crowd at the largest paragliding event in the world, the Coupe Icare. St.Hilare, France. Then, he wound into a steep spiral and simply reversed his weight-shift, added some right brake, and held on. What happened next is this: he used a lifetime of paragliding experience to finesse weight-shift and precisely timed brake input to tumble directly over the middle of his wing 122 times. And he could have kept going! You can’t even begin to comprehend how hard this is, even if you think you can. There are now almost twenty pilots in the world who can make at least ten or more turns of “The Infinite.” These guys come from places like Hungary, France, and Spain. They have names like Pal, Antoine, and, of course, Raul and Felix. They smoke cigarettes, they sleep in vans, they can out-drink you when they want to and they can go without beer when they have to. They’re disciplined like that. They are the best at what they do, and they love what they do. They train full time. They have no other job besides paragliding. They throw their reserve parachutes at least a few times per year. How many times did you throw your reserve this year? Three times, four times? No? Then you’re not even close. Pilots who had this maneuver perfected before you even knew it existed have thrown their reserves more times in the past year-training-than you have in your entire life. That’s a measure of both how good they are, and how hard this maneuver is. Do you smoke? Drink beer from a can and live in your van for half the year? No? Then you’re even further away than I thought. Statistics show that you are 96 times more likely to infinite tumble if you spend at least three months per year training in Organya, Spain, and six months per year on the road doing the Acro World Tour in the European Alps and South America. You haven’t even heard of Organya? Then it’s hopeless. I’m sorry. You might as well quit trying right now. ( And don’t think that starting smoking is going to help, either. I was just kidding about that.)

This is no t me .

How many wings did you burn through this year? One? None? It’s just a fact that real acro pilots need up to four wings per year, due to the stress this maneuver exerts on their wings. In fact, Antoine Montant used his wing harder yesterday than you do in five years. Unless you can actually fly hard, in which case I probably know you, in which case I don’t apologize for this article because you know my sense of humor. Here’s the kicker - even if you begin to understand it, you’re probably gonna need two more new gliders by the time you get close to doing it for real. I hope you’re sponsored, although I can’t imagine why you would be. Think you’re getting close? Get into the middle of the hardest maneuver you can do, maybe a pretty vertical high-speed tumble, then tape one of your eyes shut. Now what? Lost, confused? Pretty hard, isn’t it? Well, Felix can infinite tumble with one eye. That’s how much better than you he is. And don’t give me that crap about how he’s had most of his life to adjust. I don’t want to hear your excuses. Have you ever fallen into your wing? Then you’re not trying hard enough. No one has ever learned the infinite tumble without falling into at least a part of his glider. Want to keep trying? Go ahead. So you can’t do the infinite tumble. Don’t let it get you down, especially if you’re over thirty. Are you? Then forget it, again. Every one of these guys was nailing consecutive high-G tumbles and perfect off-axis Mc twists in their mid-twenties, if not their teens. If you’re still wondering why you can’t, or thinking that maybe you can, let me tell you what else is wrong with you. Your first problem is that you haven’t flown with these people. These men are driven by something. They’re mad. You don’t know what it takes to do what they do. I’d rather jump off of a three thousand foot cliff in the arctic wearing a squirrel-suit, and I did, and they weren’t that impressed: that’s how intense these guys are. They’re mellow, most of the time, sure. Raul and Antoine have an almost Zen-like calm about them. And Felix is just such a nice guy, right? You have no idea. I’d tell you more about them if I thought I could get away with it. I have to live near these guys.

Your second problem is that you have a job. A stupid, lousy job that takes up all of your time. You have to quit that crap, and start loving paragliding more than anything else. You have to devote one hundred percent of your time (or at least 96%, since there’s one other important thing in life), to training acro. You’ll also need to learn a bit of Spanish and French to fit in. Finally, you’re just not that good. By now, if you’re any good at all, you’ll have known about the infinite for at least two years, which has been long enough for every pilot who is capable of doing it to learn it. The moment I heard about it I knew I’d never bother to try. The new guys getting it are young. They’re the guys that just started flying a few years ago. They’re the guys that didn’t even have hair on their nuts when you started flying. Seriously, some of them weren’t even born then. Not to worry: you can still have fun. You can still loop and SAT and do those old-fashioned easy-cheesy tumbles. But just so you know: there are hardcore leading acro pilots and then there’s pond scum, and it’s important to know yourself. Don’t get confused, and don’t misrepresent yourself, because now everyone knows the difference. I’m glad these boys showed us what the difference is. P.S. I’m joking, simmer down. MATTGERDES is a former amateur acro enthusiast who has flown in more than 20 countries around the world, and lived in the European Alps for most of the past eight years. He loves speed flying, all forms of paragliding, BASE jumping alpine walls, skiing M to XXL sized mountains, candlelit dinners, walks on the beach, and (especially) puppies. Matt loves you, say hello at

Thoughts | Dreams | Impressions

“Hey Sam. You know that place you fly that’s right in some dude’s back yard? I By Steve Messman would love to fly that site with you one day, man. I want to write an article about it.” “What an article that would be; a discovery “Hey! OK Steve. I think that idea is just of private flying sites.” the bomb. Lots of people know about a And off I went in pursuit of my passions: few of those little sites. I’ll give you a call first, an 8-mile cross country flight, second, to come on over. You’ll love it. It’s so cool.” research with my friends to try to locate a That was July. This is December. No call. few more of these sites that no one but the No surprise. very special knew anything about. Toward the end of August, though, I reMy initial shot was the email thing. alized that flying Sam’s site wasn’t going to “Hi all. I have a really cool idea. I would happen. So I thought I would try a more love to write an article on all the good work direct route with another friend. “Hey we do in opening up those little-known George. I’m ready to go fly that site you places that we all value so much. You know, talk about all the time. How about this those small places like Sam and George fly weekend? I’ve already checked the weather. all the time. Sam has that cool place where It looks good.” George was more than ache literally flies out of some guy’s back yard. commodating. “Hey. Anytime. I’m up George has that huge mountain that’s a for it. Meet me at the normal gas station at 7:00 Saturday morning. It’s early, but it’s a long hike.” At 6:45 Saturday morning I pulled into the gas station. At 8:00, I drove out, without George. That night I got the email. It contained the most beautiful picture of George’s mountain I had ever seen. And, there was George, flying his Oasis in the foreground. The email said “Hey, man. I waited at the Texaco until 7:30. Where were you?” So, I responded. “TEXACO??? I photo by Nick Greece waited until 8:00 at the Shell. hike and fly, but he holds it pretty secret. Thanks a lot!!” You know the one I’m talking about. It’s And that is exactly how all my research the one where he launches early and flies went for this article. The names have been down to the lake. A few of us know about changed to protect the innocent. It would a couple of those places. How about help- appear, also, that the names and locations ing me out and giving up some informa- of those very personal flying sites have tion? I need an invite to fly and take some been adequately protected. I tried. I really pictures.” did. But, all is not lost. I’ll tell you how Initially, the responses from my crew to get to my private flying site. Just drive were surprisingly supportive. A couple down that big road that is on the right side of them sent a return email that went a of Puget Sound when you look at the map. lot like “Hey. Cool idea, Steve. Go for When you come to the little town with it.” That was it. No invite. No directions. that no-name gas station, turn right past No names. Just support. So, where was the Texaco. Go a bunch of miles through the information I needed? Where were the the woods until you come to another town invites to fly? Where were those driving di- that has both a post office and a gas station. rections? Those remained as mysterious as Turn right at the gas station until you get the flying sites. And the later responses to to the gated timber territory. Wait at the that email? There were none. gate. I’ll be there to open it for you in a So, then I spoke directly to my friends. few. You’ll love this site.



sat on the mountaintop, just studying. I often sat for an hour or more. I mostly watched the weather. Today, the winds came directly from the coast, warm and wet. That moist air caused the clouds to explode like giant popcorn kernels. I watched seeds too, the soft fluff of fireweed to be specific. Passing thermal disturbances jiggled them loose by the thousands from their mother plants. The passing flocks of minuscule fairies danced on invisible currents toward the mountain’s face; then, cloud destined, they soared straight up. The clouds, the seeds, and the predicted lapse rate promised thrills and chills that would be measured in thousands of feet. The valley floor sat nearly 3000 feet below, expectant, waiting. The clouds, a good 2000 feet above launch, showed excellent prospects for a decent cross country flight. The valley floor might just have to wait. I wished aloud for another pilot to share this beautiful day, but none were here. None were ever here. This was, for whatever reason, my private mountain. I have tried to share this mountain, and I continue to try. It is out of the way, tucked into a small rural forested area next to pretty much nothing. To get to the mountain you have to drive through a couple of small towns with barely a gas station. There’s not a restaurant within 30 miles, unless you count the one gas station that also fries chicken gizzards and jos. The site has no nice landing areas. The launch is barely large enough to unfold your wing. But I love it, and I fly this mountain as often as I can. I opened it. I got permission to fly there from the timber company. That permission applies to any certified pilot, H3 or P3. No one ever comes with me. This particular day, as I unfolded my wing, ready to take a private flight with whatever hawk or eagle would join me, it dawned on me that there were a number of these private sites. I had heard many a pilot talking about them. “So,” I thought,


May 2008: Hang Gliding & Paragliding – www.USHPA .aero

Profile for US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol38/Iss05 May 2008  

Official USHPA Magazine

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol38/Iss05 May 2008  

Official USHPA Magazine