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MARCH 2012 Volume 42 Issue 3 $6.95

On the cover, Lucas Bernadin flying from the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France during one of the best spells of weather in the history of fall flying in the Alps | photo by Nick Greece. Meanwhile, Jeff B. Johnson over US Hwy 60, Queen Creek Tunnel, Superior, Arizona.

MAGAZINE STAFF Martin Palmaz, Publisher: Nick Greece, Editor: Greg Gillam, Art Director: Terry Rank, Advertising: Staff writers: Steve Messman, Dennis Pagen, Christina Ammon, Ryan Voight, Tom Webster, CJ Sturtevant | Staff artist: Jim Tibbs Staff photographers: John Heiney, Jeff Shapiro

OFFICE STAFF Martin Palmaz, Executive Director: Robin Jones, Communications Manager: Eric Mead, System Administrator: Beth Van Eaton, Membership Services Coordinator: Terry Rank, Office Coordinator:


SUBMISSIONS HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine welcomes editorial submissions from our members and readers. All submissions of articles, artwork, photographs and or ideas for articles, artwork and photographs are made pursuant to and are subject to the USHPA Contributor's Agreement, a copy of which can be obtained from the USHPA by emailing the editor at or online at HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine reserves the right to edit all contributions. 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 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, editor@, (516) 816-1333.

Rich Hass, President: Ken Grubbs, Vice President: Bill Bolosky, Secretary: Mark Forbes, Treasurer:


REGION 1: Rich Hass, Mark Forbes. REGION 2: Steve Rodrigues, Urs Kellenberger, Bill Cuddy. REGION 3: Bill Helliwell, Rob Sporrer, Brad Hall. REGION 4: Ryan Voight, Ken Grubbs. REGION 5: Donald Lepinsky. REGION 6: David Glover. REGION 7: Tracy Tillman. REGION 8: Michael Holmes. REGION 9: Felipe Amunategui, Hugh McElrath. REGION 10: Bruce Weaver, Steve Kroop, Matt Taber. REGION 11: David Glover. REGION 12: Paul Voight. REGION 13: Tracy Tillman. DIRECTORS AT LARGE: Dave Broyles, Bill Bolosky, Mike Haley, Dennis Pagen, Jamie Shelden. EX-OFFICIO DIRECTOR: Art Greenfield (NAA).

The USHPA is a member-controlled sport organization dedicated to the exploration and promotion of all facets of unpowered ultralight flight, and to the education, training and safety of its membership. Membership is open to anyone interested in this realm of flight. Dues for Rogallo membership are $270. Pilot memberships are $75 ($96 non-U.S.). Dues for Contributing membership and for subscription-only are $52 ($63 non-U.S.). $15 of annual membership dues goes to the publication of Hang 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:

The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Inc. (USHPA) 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.

TO USHPA HEADQUARTERS IN COLORADO SPRINGS. All advertising is subject to the USHPA Advertising Policy, a copy of which may be obtained from the USHPA by emailing

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) 6326417. PERIODICAL postage is paid at Colorado Springs, CO and at additional mailing offices.

HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine is published for foot-launched airsports enthusiasts to create further interest in the sports of hang gliding and POSTMASTER Send change of address to: Hang Gliding & Paragliding paragliding and to provide an educational forum to advance hang gliding magazine, P.O. BOX 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1330. Canadian Post and paragliding methods and safety. Publications Mail Agreement #40065056. Canadian Return Address: DP Global Mail, 4960-2 Walker Road, Windsor, ON N9A 6J3

DISCLAIMER The publication of any submissions, articles or advertising in HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine does not constitute an endorsement of the authors, advertisers, products, services, apparatus, processes, theories, ideologies, opinions, advice and/or recommendations presented, nor does it constitute an endorsement of the authors or companies involved. The statements of fact and opinions as well as any product claims in the submissions, articles, advertisments, artwork and photographs appearing in HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine are those of their respective authors, contributors and advertisers and not of the USHPA. The USHPA makes no representation, express or implied, including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, nor assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, advice, opinion, recommendation, apparatus, product, product claims or process disclosed, in such submissions, articles, advertising, artwork or photographs. All individuals relying upon any materials published herein do so at their own risk. The USHPA is not responsible for any claims made in any submission, article, or advertisement. Advertisers may not, without USHPA's prior written consent, incorporate in subsequent advertising that a product or service has been advertised in a USHPA publication. COPYRIGHT Copyright (c) 2011 United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc., All Rights Reserved; no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without prior written permission of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc.

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.

For change of address or other USHPA business call (719) 632-8300, or email








Girls Just Wanna Go Tow in Hungary! From the archives . . . . . . . by Patti Cameron

36 16

Flying with the Condors From the archives ���������������������������by Kari Castle


N. California Cross Country League A look back at 2011 . . . . . by Jugdeep Aggarwal



Great Ideas Students. Veterans. . . . . . by Chris Santacroce


2011 USHPA Awards Recognizing excellence ������������ by C.J. Sturtevant

























Safety is No Accident Aircraft limitations ���������������������� by Ryan Voight








Hawaii | Photo by Bill Hockensmith


he communities we have the fortune of being members of are an integral part of our flying lives. While many activities share common bonds, the free-flight group fosters unique connections stemming not only from our intense shared experiences in powerless aviation, but also from our ground-bound lives and travels together to all reaches of the globe. It is a wildly unique group to cherish and celebrate. This year, get a group of your local flying friends together at the beginning of the season and organize at least one event, put it on the calendar, and create a shared epic experience! I’m always partial to road trips to new flying locales, but if time is short, it could be a fly-in, barbeque, or even a movie night of free-flight films. Take the time to plan an event with your local community and send in the report! This month’s issue celebrates a number of outstanding members of the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA). Every year USHPA gives specific awards and commendations to peer-selected members who have gone above and beyond for their local communities, the sport, or the organization. The highest honor—the Presidential Citation—was bestowed upon two members: Lisa Tate, for her dedicated work for the sport and the association since the early days of hang gliding, and John Dickenson, for his contributions to hang gliding design. The awards committee is beginning its search for next year’s recipients, so if you know someone in your community who distinguishes himself or herself in some way, please inform USHPA. Rich Hass, USHPA’s president, discusses USHPA’s collecting of accident data and the changes in reporting that have occurred in order to better serve the promotion of safety through education. Joe Gregor and Jeff Greenbaum will be back shortly with updates for interested readers. We have an amazing gallery for your viewing pleasure from Sam Crater, winner of the 2011 Bettina Gray award for excellence in photography. Ryan Voight is back with his monthly column, Jugdeep Aggarwal reports on the increasingly successful Northern California League Series, and Chris Santacroce weighs in on receiving as much as he gives as an instructor. Due to a grave oversight, the ladies of free flight were omitted from the anniversary issue. We sincerely apologize and have added two stories from the USHPA archive in an effort to remedy that error on our part. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we did putting it together, and, as usual, we can’t wait to hear your tales from the coming flying season. Have fun and go far!






 



 

 


with two main risers and

ing system for telescoping


Flytec USA, working with

two floating risers. Swiss

poles used for attaching

The all-new UP cockpit has

top PG pilots Nick Greece

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more info, visit www.niviuk.

oped a zip-up speed sleeve

“When we realized the


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was very hard to keep it


arm panels are constructed

as a secret. We were very

In 2009, NOVA added

when zipped up, protects

of a 4-way stretch, fleece-

impressed with what Niviuk

the Juniors Team to their

your instruments from the

than the previous version and comes with a lid that,

lined nylon to provide

had achieved with a wing

established Nova Pilots

elements. When unzipped

warmth, wind resistance

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Team. Its target is to sup-

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and aerodynamic fit. The

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as belt loop, allowing you to

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are under 25 years of age.

attach the cockpit to your

minimize back overheating

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This worked pretty well, but

chest strap. Webbing and

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plastic buckles run from each side of the front of

torso fit and less restrictive

I can honestly say it is the

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arm movement. The zip-up

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fine-tune the exact angle of

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manufacturer is looking

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ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE I am writing to take issue with a few points presented in the “Higher Education” series installment in the December issue. Since the basic premise of the series is to provide information to students and teachable pilots that will help them become the safest and most successful pilots possible, I feel the need to provide an alternative point of view. What is safe and wise is often quite subjective, and so proclamations about what is and what isn’t safe and wise should be weighed with alternative perspectives. After all, it’s a well known fact that hang gliding and paragliding are seen by the vast majority of people to be unsafe and unwise, so where we draw the line for ourselves is a very personal decision, not one that should be so firmly etched into everyone’s mind equally. In sports that are considered “dangerous” and “crazy” who are we to point fingers at one another to say what you do or what I




do is worse or better? In the article, “The Foot of God,” the authors present quite a bit of fantastic information, and I applaud them for that. However, my complaints are as follows: Several times the authors point out things that they say “looks really cool, but are not the safest way to fly.” The criticism of practices that are targeted as safety issues include, but are not limited to, aerobatics, flying without wheels, without full-faced helmets, without face shields, comp pilots that fly with less than optimal safety equipment, comp pilots taking greater risks and pushing the limits in their quest for points, diving at the ground at very high speeds, learning and flying without instruments, without altimeters, without airspeed indicators, and so on. While some of these may be common sense, others are merely their own personal preferences and not verifiable safety risks, and it can also be argued that some recom-

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mendations are more dangerous, not less. I agree completely that precise airspeed control is very important, and pilots should work hard to understand all the variations in airspeed and try to master precise airspeed control, but I do not think that flying with an airspeed indicator is necessary or advisable for newer pilots. While someone with General Aviation experience will naturally draw parallels from GA towards hang gliding, hang gliding is an entirely different beast with non-parallel aspects that can have detrimental results when people try to merge them together. For example, using an airspeed indicator and altimeter for landing is fantastic for an airplane, since airport patterns and airplane flying speeds are more consistently applied to basic numbers. Pattern altitude at 1,500 feet, pattern speed at 70 knots, descent speed at 60 knots, and so on. Hang gliders are not like airplanes in that sense, and the speeds we fly at will produce wildly different results in zero wind versus 8 mph wind if we attempt to use similarly specific altitudes and airspeeds for landing. Teach a HG student to set up a landing pattern at 200 feet in no wind will result in his being short in a stronger wind. Calculating all the variables in “indicated” altitude and airspeed necessary for us to negotiate huge differences in penetration and glide angles is far more complex than learning by sight. Recommending pilots learn by instrumentation, and then translating that to sight adds an additional and more complex procedure to the mix, and also adds a mental and visual distraction for the student. Focusing on an instrument detracts from the sound and the feel of the wind and the glider, which are both far more important than the arbitrary numbers being presented. Taking the eyes off the traffic, off the LZ, and off the target in order to check airspeed and to check altitude is not the best advice to be giving new students. In

Love Canopy Flight?



How big was it?




a powered plane the pattern can be several miles and take quite a few minutes to negotiate. There is plenty of time and opportunity to be checking instruments and good enough reason to be doing so, since airplanes don’t have the same sort of feedback hang gliders do. But in a hang glider the pattern can be quite small and take only a few seconds to negotiate, requiring far more attention and focus to navigate, make adjustments, and complete. The way the article is framed, one would think that those who learn, and fly, without instruments have somehow been extremely lucky to have survived. I think it is just the opposite; those who learn to fly without instruments learn their gliders better, learn the air better, and suffer far fewer distractions at very critical times in our flights. Instruments do not make hang glider pilots safer. Developing good judgment and technique does. Instruments do not provide either, but they can fine tune our advancing capabilities once we have the fundamentals down solidly enough. I am not against

instruments. I think everyone should call the best flying and the best landing pilots Flytec and order up the best they can get, and latch onto them, learn what they and use them, but only after they have learn and strive to be as good as they are. learned the basics. Aaron Swepston, #25633 And, finally, there’s nothing wrong with being an advanced pilot, an accomplished KEEP IT LOUDď‚„ Given so much good pilot, a comp pilot, or a pilot who exceeds advice, I feel churlish to disagree. Yet disagree I must. Many more crashes the minimum standards set by someone come of approaching landing with too with a more conservative attitude. While little airspeed than with too much. At it has been said that more advanced twenty feet, one is still plenty high to flying styles and preferences are less safe, get hurt, but not high enough to recover and that those pilots are not setting a from a stall. To round out at twenty good example for newer pilots, I disagree feet is not generally safe. If one were with that statement as well. Those pilots to fly into a mass of moister or hotter work hard to get where they are; they air (“super-adiabatic layerâ€?), one’s stall are not daredevils “showboating.â€? If they speed would lurch upwards. If one were were, they would not have made it as to descend through a wind gradient or far as they have. They would not stand suffer a gust from behind, one’s airspeed as exemplary examples of judgment and skill. Yet they do. Comments like that are would drop. In either case, one is safer to bank some extra airspeed until down into like telling others not to strive to be the ground-effect. As they teach in sailplanes best they can be, strive to be as ordinary “all landings are loud.â€? The good ones are and unremarkable as they can be. I say, loud because the wing is screaming. The DO look to the comp pilots as examples bad ones get quiet...then they get really worthy of modeling after. DO look to loudâ€?. advanced pilots as examples worthy of Barry Levine, #63942 modeling after. Pick the best launching,

In the October 2011 issue, we omitted several crucial articles about the amazing women of free-flight. We would like to remedy that oversight in this issue. Our sincerest apologies, and we hope you enjoy this look the USHPA annals.























Meet Director Apprenticeship Both USHPA and pilots want more flying competitions in the United States, but the only way that will happen is by enlisting more people to become meet directors. Pilots who frequently attend competitions often organize and run them; consequently, many of the same people are being expected to do all of the work every season. In the coming seasons, we have a critical need for others to volunteer to become meet directors. The USHPA Meet Director Apprenticeship Program is designed to give training to individuals who are interested in directing a sanctioned competition but have no previous experience. Currently, USHPA will provide funding of up to $500 per approved apprentice that can be used to offset travel and lodging expenses for apprenticeship training. These funds are payable directly to the apprentice after his/her successful completion of the apprenticeship and apprenticeship checklist. Receipts are required for reimbursement; expenses must be reasonable, necessary, and prudent. Apprentices may not serve as meet directors, safety directors, or launch directors and apprentices may not be competitors in the competition for which they are apprenticing. They are expected to be helpful, present and in training for the entire competition. After successfully completing this program, individuals will receive a USHPA Meet Director appointment and, thus, will not be required to pay a bond fee as a meet director at a USHPA sanctioned competition. Anyone wanting to gain experience at, and insight into, a USHPA sanctioned competition for the 2012 season should submit an application for an apprenticeship. Information on all the

scheduled hang gliding and paragliding competitions can be found on the website. After completing the apprenticeship, an individual will be qualified either to organize or direct sanctioned competitions. Ace events provide an excellent arena to hone your skills for running sanctioned competitions. These events are not eligible for national titles or determining our USHPA world teams. ACE events are being organized all over the country by clubs like the Tennessee Tree Toppers and individuals who have organized cross-county league meets for paragliding in Northern and Southern California. The AAA Sprints in Utah have been a great success, as have the weekend comps organized in the summer by pilots throughout the West at All of these events are a wonderful opportunity to fly and learn a great deal, while having a good time with the sky tribe. After running an ACE event or two, raise the bar on yourself and sign up for a Meet Director Apprenticeship. Once someone has organized his/ her first successful event and earned a good reputation, he often will get good attendance year after year. Those who plan well and have organized budgets can make a decent profit. Make no



mistake. These events are a great deal of work, and these organizers deserve to succeed financially for their efforts. Meet directors often get a large number of volunteers to help, which keeps costs down. Realize that there are all kinds of niches you can create within the competition you decide to organize. The Rat Race is labeled as a training competition and divided into two segments that run simultaneously for two different skill levels. The Big Springs Hang Gliding Comp for 2012 will be a combined event for race to goal and open distance. The Flytec Race and Rally is an event that links XC flights with a different and unknown course each year. So, you see, there are many ways you can be creative and develop a concept to run a big or small competition. USHPA has developed a document called “Comp in a Box” to assist organizers in running a competition. The document takes you through the steps necessary to organize all aspects of a competition. The Competition Planning Checklist and a Public Relations Guide are also available to help you plan your competition or event. Anyone interested in the USHPA Meet Director Apprenticeship Program should contact Robin at robin@ushpa. aero, and complete the USHPA Meet Director Apprentice Application.

“After completing the apprenticeship, an individual will be qualified either to organize or direct sanctioned competitions.”







Accident Reporting System by Rich Hass, USHPA President One of USHPA’s primary purposes is the promotion of safe flying. Promoting practices for safe flying is central in USHPA’s Mission Statement, and it should be a core value for every pilot. Feedback from past member surveys suggest you agree; one of the most valued membership benefits is the Accident Reporting System. In recent years, participation in the program has fallen off dramatically, prompting USHPA to take a fresh look at the structure of the Accident Reporting System in order to evaluate how it works and identify ways USHPA can make it better. This effort is underway. Once the review is complete, USHPA will resume delivering pilot report-based safety information on a regular basis, as we have in the past. There are two ways you can help. First, if you’ve been involved in or have witnessed an accident firsthand, take a minute and share your knowledge via the online accident reporting system. Alternatively, the accident reporting form can be downloaded and returned by mail. Second, if you have suggestions for improving the system, please let us know. Simply put, the purpose of the accident reporting system is to learn from the

mistakes of others before we are called on to learn from our own. Our challenge, then, is to encourage a pilot culture where value is placed on reporting accidents so others may learn from them. The Accident Reporting System is dependent on pilot participation. Without good information, the Accident Review Board can’t do its job. We’d like to think that participation in the program has fallen off in the past few years because there are fewer accidents, but, anecdotally, that doesn’t seem to be the case. USHPA is evaluating ways to encourage better participation, and we would like your ideas. Can we make the system more user-friendly? Are the policies and procedures for reporting accidents conducive to good, accurate reporting participation? Can we learn from other sports or other types of aviation? Can we better educate pilots on the value of the Accident Reporting System and how the system helps USHPA provide an important membership benefit? Ultimately, is USHPA making best use of the information being developed by the system and reporting it to members in a meaningful and informative way? The challenge to our members in reporting on accidents is

“Many pilots don’t realize information they provide is confidential and used for statistical analysis and review purposes only. The information cannot and is not to be used for revocation of ratings or other disciplinary actions.” 22




this: We need your help. USHPA can’t do its job without good information. Discussions at chapter meetings, forums, email and social media may contribute to a sense of being wellinformed about accidents and may have contributed to pilots believing the need for reporting no longer exists. While these venues do provide an opportunity for discussion and shouldn’t be discouraged, they don’t accomplish the goals of the USHPA system in a disciplined manner. That is, they don’t track the data and evaluate the details. There are some common misperceptions as to the purpose of the Accident Reporting System. Many pilots don't realize the information provided through these reports is evaluated for both statistical analysis and for reporting on accidents and safety issues in the magazine. The data analysis and reports do not identify pilots or accident sites. Accident reports aren't used for disciplinary actions such as revocation of ratings or instructor appointments. In fact, the USHPA standard operating procedures prevent such use. The Accident Review Board is a subcommittee of the Safety and Training committee. The two co-chairs for hang gliding and paragliding are Joe Gregor and Jeff Greenbaum, respectively. Under their leadership, USHPA is looking for ways to bring more value in the Accident Reporting System to every pilot. Much of their success will be dependent on your support in providing good, detailed reports. Reports for accidents over the past year or so can still be filed by logging into the Members Only section of, where you can click through the member forms and find the online accident report form. You can reach Joe and Jeff with ideas and suggestions for the program at accidents@

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Use your own photo. Apply today at: The USHPA Visa card program is operated by UMB Bank, N.A. All applications for USHPA Visa card accounts will be subject to UMB Bank N.A.'s approval, at its absolute discretion. Please visit www. for futher details of terms and conditions which apply to the USHPA Visa card program. Donation made when card is used once within 90 days of issuance. After this period a low variable APR will apply. Powered by CardPartner. The #1 provider of affinity credit card programs.

HIGHER EDUCATION by Drs. Lisa Colletti and Tracy Tillman


ins to the Left, Fins to the Right…Welcome to Fin Land! (Jimmy Buffett, refs 1,2).

Tracy: It’s no secret that we are serious, probably obnoxious, parrotheads. In fact, you’re a famous parrothead. Your picture made the Tampa Bay Online news when we were there for a concert last year (ref 3). Lisa: Yeah, we really enjoy going to Jimmy Buffett concerts, and we’ve held way-fun annual “MargariTOWville” fly-ins here at Cloud 9 for years. Jimmy’s current concert tour is called “Welcome to Fin Land.” We figured that would be a good title for this month’s article, since our topic is about the use of fins on hang gliders. Tracy: “Welcome to Fin Land” is perfect, because our flying site is located in the frozen tundra of the north, and because nearly everyone who aerotows with us here at Cloud 9 flies with a fin on his/her glider. Lisa: That’s true. Even though we don’t require the use of fins, almost everyone in our club flies with one. It’s a main factor contributing to our record and reputation for safety. Last year, our



club received the National Aeronautic Association’s (NAA) Safety Award for hang gliding. The use of fins on gliders is a huge part of why our club has been able to maintain such an outstanding safety record over the years. Tracy: It might be good for us to explain why most pilots here at Cloud 9 fly with a fin on their gliders. Lisa: There are several reasons: (#1) it makes towing safer, easier, and more likely to get to release altitude without a problem; (#2) the right-sized fin enhances handling and performance, (#3) our club has a culture of safety; and (#4) our best and most experienced pilots fly with fins, which make them good role models for new pilots. Tracy: OK, let’s look at reason #1. Why does flying with a fin make aerotowing safer, easier, and more likely for the pilot to get to release altitude? Lisa: A fin adds directional stability. Think of what it looks like when someone rides a unicycle compared to a bicycle. Because hang gliders are flying wings, they have a certain lack of directional stability as compared to airplanes or sailplanes, which utilize vertical stabilizers for directional stability. Pilots towing hang gliders without fins don’t have much directional stability, so they





often have to make relatively severe and quick movements to keep the glider near the center of the cone of safety while on tow. People on a unicycle sort of look like that, too. Pilots in free flight don’t need to maintain such a high level of directional control and precision as is required when on tow, so the lack of directional control is not as noticeable in free flight as it is on tow. The pilot can let the glider wander all over the place in free flight, and they won’t really notice. But that’s not case when towing, especially aerotowing. From the view of the tug pilot, some hang glider pilots towing without a fin often look like a RaggedyAnn doll on the end of a rubber band, bouncing all over the place while trying to maintain control on tow. Whereas, when pilots use a fin to enhance the directional stability of their glider, they tend to be much more smooth and rock-solid on the centerline during tow, and they are not moving and bouncing around during tow nearly as much as a pilot who is not using a fin. It puts less stress and wear on the weak link, and it is more likely that the pilot will get a successful tow to release altitude without a weak link break or lockout—which makes it more likely for them to get a great soaring flight. This

is a positive reinforcement system, as it contributes to building the confidence of the pilot, making him/her more likely to fly more often—which results in building more skill, more confidence, and more flying. That’s what a safe, fun flying experience does. Scary, dangerous flying experiences drive people out of the sport. Pilots who get scared or hurt have a negative experience. They’re not having fun, they lose confidence, and they are less likely to continue flying. Tracy: And worse things can happen. Pilots who lockout near the ground, crash, and die have a more significant negative experience and don’t continue flying, either. OK, what about reason #2—why does the right-sized fin enhance handling and performance? Lisa: The key is having the rightsized fin for a particular pilot/glider combination. Single-surface gliders usually have more directional stability and don’t need fins. However, some— especially newer—pilots flying a singesurface glider may have trouble with

pilot-induced oscillation (PIO) and will benefit from use of a fin. There has been a recent trend for some manufacturers to reduce directional stability in their newer single-surface glider designs, in an effort to enhance light handling for experienced pilots who may prefer to fly a single-surface glider. However, this just makes the glider harder to fly for new pilots, especially by tow. Because of the reduced directional stability in some newer single-surface gliders, it makes sense to put a fin on them for first solo flights. Then there is the issue of pilots moving up to a more advanced-level glider. There is a tendency for pilots to PIO when moving up to a higher-performance glider, because they have gotten used to the stability, roll/yaw coupling behavior, lighter weight, and quicker response of their lower-performance glider. Higher-performance gliders are heavier and have more aspect ratio, meaning the wings are relatively longer in span and thinner in chord, and thus tend to

be stiffer—meaning harder and slower to turn. Designers usually have to make them less roll stable to try to make them easier to turn. The result is that pilots new to a high-performance glider may over-control and oscillate. PIO is even more likely to occur when towing a hang glider as compared to free flight, because of the higher speed of towing and the physics of the pull of the tow line on the glider and pilot. Pilots should use a fin when they are transitioning to a higherperformance glider, especially if they are going to tow it. Using a fin makes the transition safer and builds confidence in the pilot who is new to a glider. Tracy: First impressions are important. If a pilot gets scared or hurt flying a new glider, he/she may never like it. He may get frustrated, sell her new glider, and perhaps leave the sport. Whereas, if a pilot has had a good experience with a new glider and feels safe in it, he/she is likely to be more confident and fly more often, maintain currency and skill, and stay in the sport. A good

experience in a new glider also helps to boost the reputation and sales of that glider design for the manufacturer. Lisa: When an instructor/dealer orders a new double-surface glider for a student or customer, he should ask the manufacturer to prep it for a fin. It would be good for the customer to also order a fin with his/her new glider. But even if he doesn’t, the instructor/dealer can mount a rental fin on the glider for the pilot’s initial flights in it, since the keel has already been prepped at the factory for mounting a fin. Wills Wing makes fins (ref 4) and can prep the keels on their gliders to accept fins at the factory. This has probably helped to increase sales of Wills Wing gliders, relative to some other glider manufacturers who do not produce fins or prep their gliders for fins. Having a glider prepped to accept a fin at the factory eliminates the need to use an additional keel extension/adapter later on for mounting a fin, and having a glider prepped to accept a fin enhances resale of the glider—both of which are good reasons why it is smart to get the glider prepped for a fin at the factory in the first place. It is important to remind the factory to pin or bolt the stinger to the rest of the keel, so it won’t freely rotate when a fin is mounted on it. If the manufacturer does not offer prepping of their keels for fins, then the


instructor or dealer should prep it when the new glider is delivered, or at least have a clamp-on fin available to put on the glider for the customer’s initial flights in it. Tracy: What about the size of the fin? Lisa: Just as gliders come in various sizes, it makes sense for fins to come in various sizes, too. Wills Wing makes just one size fin, a fairly large one. It is an excellent size for adding a significant amount of directional stability, which is good not only for pilots transitioning to a more advanced glider, but also for some pilots all of the time. However, some pilots may not like or need that much directional stability, particularly if their glider is already fairly stable and/ or stiff in roll. We have found that a fin that is about 30% smaller is a great size for use on stiffer comp-level gliders and some smaller gliders. It significantly enhances tracking and smoothness while on tow, but does not adversely affect handling or performance off tow. Tracy: Why does a fin not adversely affect performance in free flight? Lisa: Think about it. The keel of a hang glider is not like an arrow flying straight through the air. The keel is dropping nose-high through the air as the glider flies forward—it drops through the air at some particular glide angle, because the wing’s airfoil must


have some angle of attack to produce lift. That is why some pilots will try to fly head low—to keep their body as streamlined as possible with the upward relative airflow. Because the keel is dropping through the air—not flying straight through it—the fin that is mounted on top of the keel is flying in the resultant wake above and behind the keel. The fin is not really going to add drag and perhaps may even help to streamline the swirling air above and behind the keel and thus reduce drag. Your university students’ fin design is somewhat long and not very tall; it is shaped like a fairing at the base and provides a streamlined shape down a long portion of the top (wake-side) of the keel. Tracy: In reality, the effect of streamlining the top of the keel probably doesn’t reduce drag very much, but it doesn’t hurt, either. The bottom line is that a good fin design does not hurt performance. Lisa: Also, some gliders have a tendency to start oscillating on their own at higher speeds, such as on fast glide or while on tow. Flying with a fin can help to reduce or eliminate these problems, both on and off tow. If a glider is not flying smooth and straight on a high speed glide, its glide performance is not going to be optimal. If a pilot has to constantly move his/her body around to try to keep the glider flying straight and


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smooth on a fast glide, his/her body will produce more drag in the airstream and thus reduce glide performance. In addition, when a pilot is constantly moving his body around, battling his glider for control, he/she will get tired quicker and flying performance, judgment, and ability to land well may become impaired. Tracy: But what about pilots who claim that a fin makes their glider stiffer and more work to fly? Lisa: First, a lot of pilots who make that claim have probably never actually put a fin on their glider—they don’t know what they are talking about, especially in a towing environment. However, if they have tried using a fin on their glider and found it to be stiffer and more work to fly, they simply used a fin that was too big for the glider. Wills Wing makes just one size of fin. It’s a big one and can be too big for some gliders. If a right-sized fin is used, it will not make the glider stiffer and harder to turn—rather, it will make the glider

easier to tow and fly at high speed, and, thus, less work to fly. Tracy: Actually, a fin can make a glider easier to thermal and climb faster. You and I and other pilots here at Cloud 9 know and understand that. Lisa: That’s right. Most pilots everywhere know that high-performance gliders usually need to be high-sided while holding turns in thermals. Because high-performance gliders have long, thin, heavy, high aspect ratio wings, designers of high-performance gliders must decrease the dihedral or add anhedral to make them less roll stable and easier to turn. Because these gliders tend to have negative roll stability (and thus reduced directional stability), pilots must high-side the glider to maintain a certain bank angle and turn radius while thermaling—otherwise, the glider will continue to roll into its bank more and more, and turn tighter and tighter on its own. Usually, more high-siding is required as more VG is added. This

forces many pilots to circle in thermals with less VG, and get lower climb performance—or try to hold themselves farther out on the high-side while trying to fly the glider with more VG to get a more efficient wing and better climb performance. Trying to do that is a lot more work and makes the pilot get tired faster. In many cases, it takes too much work to try to circle in thermals using much of any VG. Most pilots don’t realize that a fin can allow them to circle in thermals with more VG and less high-siding and get better climb performance with less work. It is obvious, both in theory and in practice, that a fin does the same thing as high-siding, as it helps to keep the glider from tightening the turn while circling in a thermal. A right-sized fin will not impair handling—rather, it will help handling in thermals. With a right-sized fin, a pilot can use more VG in thermals, get better climb performance, be more relaxed, and get less



tired on longer flights. Tracy: I’m sure a lot of pilots will not want to believe that a fin can help them fly better in thermals. The key is having the right-sized fin. Based on our early experiments of flying with differentsized fins on various sizes and models of gliders, as well as years of additional experience verifying the results, the advantages of flying with a fin when thermaling are obvious to us. But, the fin must be the right size. Are there any other flying qualities that are enhanced by use of a fin? Lisa: Yes, it makes the glider behave better when hit by a cross wind on take-off and when landing. If the glider gets hit by a cross-wind gust when taking off from a launch cart, the fin will make the glider momentarily yaw and weather-vane a bit to help it more correctly maintain a crab angle into the relative wind behind the tug. A fin helps to yaw the nose of the glider into the wind gust, which makes the upwind wing slow down a little and the downwind wing speed up a little. This helps to keep the upwind wing from lifting and will help to prevent the glider from entering a downwind lockout near the ground. This momentary yaw can help the glider stay on the centerline of tow, or help keep it a bit on the upwind side of the centerline of tow. Staying on centerline is best. But if a glider gets off the centerline of tow when launch-


ing, there is more room for error and more time to recover if the glider is on the upwind side of the centerline, rather than the downwind side of the centerline. A lockout can happen very quickly if an upwind wing lifts at take-off and the glider gets on the downwind side of the centerline of tow. In addition to the downwind roll, the crosswind will even more quickly push the glider away from the centerline of tow, toward a lockout. If the glider is on the upwind side of the centerline, the crosswind will push the glider back toward the centerline, away from a lockout. Tracy: And then there is the additional effect of wind gradient. If the upwind wing gets lifted through the gradient into a higher speed of crosswind, the high wing will be lifted up even more, be harder to keep down, and more likely to progress into a lockout very quickly. Whereas, if the downwind wing lifts through the gradient into the greater crosswind above, it will tend to be pushed back down to level and help to avoid a lockout. Lisa: A fin helps in a similar way if you get hit by a crosswind gust on landing. The fin will help the glider’s momentary yaw into the crosswind gust, which will help keep your upwind wing down as you are leveling off in your round-out and it will help point the nose of your glider more directly into the wind so you can land with minimal


ground speed and so the wind doesn’t get under a wing and lift it when you flare. Tracy: What about fins on rigid wings? Lisa: Rigid-wing hang gliders have more dihedral than high-performance flex wings, which adds roll stability and aids directional stability. But, in spite of having more dihedral, a rigid-wing hang glider is easy to roll because it has aerodynamic control surfaces. Rigid wings are usually much more stable and controllable on tow than high-performance flex wings and don’t need a fin. But, instead of needing a fin to enhance directional stability, many rigid wings need to have a horizontal stabilizer mounted on the keel for pitch stability— which can prevent the mounting of a fin. Tracy: Are there any high-performance flex wings that don’t fly better with a fin? Lisa: Based on our experience, a right-sized fin will enhance the flying qualities of any high-performance flex wing and make them significantly easier to tow. Tracy: As we’ve said, most of the pilots who fly in the club here at Cloud 9 have a fin on their glider. It is not so common at other flying sites. Can you explain to our readers why that is? Lisa: First, for many years we have been consistently teaching our students and new club members about the

benefits of flying with a fin. Second, it helps when you and I provide a positive example by flying with fins on our own gliders. Third, we are able to provide right-sized fins for the range of gliders our pilots fly. Fourth, you and I have tried to create a culture of safety here (a) by example, (b) by teaching, and (c) by financially rewarding pilots who meet our “Safety Mentor” criteria—part of which includes using a fin if flying a double-surface flex-wing glider. And fifth, it helps when most other pilots who fly here also have fins on their gliders and prove the value of having a fin by towing smoothly, having great flights, and making good landings. Here, it is “cool” if you fly with a fin and “not cool” if you don’t. Tracy: Peer-pressure and leading by example make a big difference. New pilots will emulate experienced pilots and those who get the best flights. It is relatively easy for a club, school, or flying site to create a culture of safety if the best and most experience[d] pilots demonstrate safe flying practice. We can’t eliminate all risk in flying—but with a culture of safety, it is less likely that something bad will happen. If instructors and advanced pilots hot dog and do dumb stuff to show off, and otherwise lead by bad example, it will result in a culture at that flying site of other pilots following that example and doing dumb stuff, too. That kind of culture makes it more likely that something bad will happen there, sooner rather than later. Lisa: As pilots, we accept the baseline risk of flying because flying adds quality

to our lives. However, in addition to quality of life, it is good to have quantity. There is no quality of life if you “aren’t.” There are many risks in flying that can be prevented and/or minimized to reduce our overall risk (ref 5). It takes the right attitude, good training, good equipment, and risk-minimization behavior. Take it to heart. This is not an understatement. Tracy: No, it’s not. We’ve all heard the phrase that “the sea is a cruel and unforgiving mistress” (ref 5). Well, the air can be a lot more fun than the sea, but also less forgiving. If you screw up, the air can be something more like an unforgiving ex-wife than a mistress—something along the lines of “evil, sadistic bitch.” That’s not an understatement, either. Lisa: Right, you don’t want to go there. Tracy: NOT ME!

Lisa is the Associate Dean and Professor of Surgery at the University of Michigan Medical School, and is past chair of the USHPA Towing committee. Tracy is a retired university professor, current chair of the Towing committee, and regional director for USHPA Regions 7 & 13. He is also a FAAst Team Safety Counselor for the FAA Detroit FSDO area. Lisa and Tracy are both very active multi-engine commercial airplane and glider pilots, tug pilots, and tandem hang gliding instructors for the Dragon Fly Soaring Club at Cloud 9 Field (46MI), Michigan. Please feel free to contact them about towing-related issues at

References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.



Northern California

Cross Country League 2011

by JugdeepAGGARWAL



340 tracklogs 101 registered pilots 75 participating pilots 5250 total miles flown


don’t know about the other 100 or so registered pilots, but I had a blast at the 2011 Northern California Cross Country League. I think it was great because of the record number who came to almost all of the events, the record number of pilots in goal and the record total distance flown. Or maybe the unquantifiable aspects of the League, such as the mentoring program, the online tutorials and additional web pages, made it a success. Or perhaps it was the old-fashioned camaraderie that kept energy flowing amongst participants. I’m not sure what it was, but the format worked and pilots had a great time while improving their skills. There is definitely a pilot community who want fly-ins that push pilot skills and explore areas surrounding our flying sites. (How better to do this than with your friends?) It also seems that once pilots find the League meets, they keep coming, perhaps, as I mentioned above, for the camaraderie, the flying, the informal learning environment, or for bettering their personal distances. By setting a goal of “a fly-in with a mission,” these League meets also provide a forum for training for larger sanctionedcompetitions. Task setting has always been difficult when the pilot quality ranges from sky-god to muppet. This year the League focused on reducing the racing and pushing the distances. I am not sure we have the equation right, but we know we need to make the tasks doable for most pilots, so the fly-in will become a rewarding experience instead of an endurance test, only suited for the very best. The longest task in a segment of the 2011 series was 57 miles and the shortest was just under 27 miles. The tasks are comprised of three parts. The first part consists of easy course lines across easy terrain, with the aim of ensuring that even the most junior pilot can experience the fun of competing without being overtaxed. The second part is usually a little

more involved, perhaps including a valley crossing or two, and the pilots are routed through more challenging terrain. This section is meant to test the more able pilots. The final part of the task is set up across increasingly consequential terrain, with the aim of forcing pilots to stay in the air in order to avoid a long walk-out. These legs are intended to give the top pilots at each meet a run for their money. Because the skill level of the pilots is clearly not equal, the competition is set up so pilots are only competing against their equally skilled peers. Hence, the field is divided into three categories: those flying competition and DHV2-3 gliders (Category 1), those flying DHV 2 gliders (Category 2), and those flying DHV1 and 1-2 gliders (Category 3). This has resulted in a more level playing field. One of the key objectives of the League is to give those pilots who cannot participate in all 17 tasks an opportunity to win. So, similar to the PWC League, pilots’ final scores are tallied from their scores for half of the tasks set, enabling a pilot to win, even if he/she did not compete in every task. If there were ten tasks set, the pilot’s score would be calculated on their five best results. Clearly, however, it is more advantageous to attend as many tasks as possible. Since this is only a fly-in with a mission, registration costs have been kept to a modest $15 per person, per race. For this, pilots get to compete and score in the tasks that are scored in a manner identical to the scoring in bigger competitions. From the $15 task fee, $5 goes towards a communal pot which gets split between the drivers and any large vehicles that are used. Non-competing pilots are always welcome; they help map out the air for competing pilots. This year, we were very fortunate in being able to set tasks from the newly improved launch site at Whaleback. Thanks to the Rogue Valley Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club and a generous dona-

[opposite] Soaring in front of Shasta. [above] Getting ready at Whaleback.



[above] Ismay making goal in Owens. [below] Ride up to Paiute.


tion from the Foundation for Free Flight, the launch at Whaleback has been substantially improved and enlarged, allowing us to get over 20 pilots launched within a relatively short window. One highlight of the year for me was flying tasks at a new site. Even more rewarding was seeing that the best three flights for the day were on EN C and EN B gliders! Whaleback offers huge potential for great XC flights. We will return in 2012. It is customary for attendees at this event to get into the swing of things in order to substantially reduce the workload of the organizer. Participants can download waypoints from the website before the weekend, sign-in and pay each morning, submit their GPSs for scoring on Saturday evening, and email track logs for Sunday’s task. Keeping track of pilots has been difficult because of the large number of pilot participants. However, the buddy system has proven to be a success. This allows pilots to sign in to verify that their buddy pilots are safe. Then the


only issue is retrieval. The dedicated website for all information for the League,, has proven to be a great resource for keeping pilots informed throughout the season. Several additions to the website, including registration using a Google form, a page to help “first timers” know what to expect, and several pages on strategies and tips, have helped veteran participants and newcomers alike. Check out strategies.html for more information. One page put together with help from Google Earth shows how to fly the typical tasks with altitudes required for transitions. Check out the article on flying competitions written by Tim O’Neil that is also on the site. It is an excellent learning tool for all pilots who are looking to progress to P4. As in the previous year, scores are now posted on the Leonardo website,, which gives pilots the opportunity to view their flights, download their tracklogs and play animations from the competition. Leonardo also offers sponsors a much higher profile by showing logos on every webpage. I have been running the League for eight years. Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects is watching pilots progress over the years. The League meets definitely take over where formalized training stops, by providing pilots a chance to fly with very skilled pilots and learn from them. I look forward to more leagues being formed around the country. I believe these will help us not only continue to improve our pilot quality but also reduce pilot attrition. With the 2012 season about to kick off, it would be great to see new pilots coming out to leagues to see what they have been missing. Keep it fun. I’ll see you in the air.

My First Northern California Cross Country League Competition


by Sergei Gridnev

ugust. I did not need a screaming vario to tell me that this was the strongest thermal I had ever encountered. With all of my weight on one side, hooking hard into it, hands trying to keep the gyrating wing as stable as possible, a voice in my head kept repeating: All I have to do is not fall out of the side of this screamer. Snowcapped Mt. Shasta dominating a forested landscape alternated with a carpet of distant fields before my eyes. The vario kept singing: 8..9..10 thousand feet. Initial fear subsided, and I laughed with delight at the sight of two sailplanes cruising below. 11k...the vario pitch was getting higher, peaking at 10 m/s. Passing 12...13k felt like the dark-gray ominous sky was starting to press down. Fearing a cu-nimb, I decided this was close enough for comfort and left the climb to head towards the goal located in the open plains. The thermal edge was smoother than anticipated and I pushed full bar. The air over the farmlands was calm at this altitude; I relaxed and took in the view. It looked like Google Earth at medium zoom: perfect circles and squares of green were painted on a yellow canvas, a straight black line bisecting it from edge to edge. Townships resembled colored pixels, while mountain ranges and clouds completed the frame of the picture. It was hard to believe my dreams were coming true. This was flying in “big air” at one of the best sites in the States. I was high with joy! Perhaps it was the convenience of living five minutes from Torrey Pines or the lack of crosscountry-flying friends, but the first year-and-a-half of my flying career was spent in leisurely ridge lift or evening glass-offs. The occasional trips to local

DATES for 2012

bullet thermal sites resembled practicing full stalls at an SIV clinic—exciting and scary at the same time. Everything went by fast and was over before I understood what had happened. Nevertheless, I loved reading stories about epic flights, screaming thermals, and marveled at pictures taken by some sky god, high over a snow-capped mountain range. The big break came with my move to the Bay Area and my joining the local pilot association, Bay Area Paragliding Association (BAPA), on a couple of weekend mountain flying trips. Armed with a vario and a new 1-2 wing, I got the hang of thermal-

[above] Hitching back to Potato.

(venues to be decided and published on the league website)

March 24 & 25 | April 21 & 22 | May 19 & 20 | June 9 & 10 | August 11 & 12 September 1, 2 & 3 | September 29, 30 & October 1 - OR - October 6, 7 & 8



[above] Looking back to Whaleback.


ing and loved it. While most of us were ecstatic about getting high over launch, a visiting Chilean pilot simply got up and left the valley. A couple of hours later, I picked up this visiting pilot from a neighboring town and listened to his captivating XC story. He liked my enthusiasm and assured me that the best way to learn XC flying was simply by doing it and learning from more experienced pilots. Better yet, one did not have to be an expert to begin. That same evening over beer, he told me about NCXC and convinced me that I should join. The League has surpassed all of my expectations. Each competition begins with a site and weather briefing. The task is planned by more experienced pilots who take into consideration the local topography and current conditions in order to create a route that is progressively challenging. Designated retrieve drivers are available, along with the phone numbers and radio frequencies needed to reach them. Pilots further organize into buddy groups based on skill level to make sure that everyone is accounted for at the end of the day. This level of organization provides everyone with a most reassuring flying experience and an opportunity to push the personal envelope. One cannot say enough about the people who


make up the League. While the majority of members are well-experienced enthusiasts, the cadre of pilots ranges from beginners who strive for first XC hops to PWC-caliber athletes. It is great to have somebody on the same level to relate to, while at the same time be able to draw on the knowledge of veterans. Like the entire paragliding community, there are characters from different backgrounds and all walks of life—family and party people, those who enjoy luxury, and others who would rather “ pg-bum� through a third-world country. Yet everyone is united by one passion. Although some of us might see each other only once a month, the sense of camaraderie is strong. This is especially evident during a time of crisis, be it something minor, like a wing tangled in a bush from a botched launch, or serious, like an injured pilot. Somebody will reach out to help. The NCXC has no formal training program for pilots new to the competition scene; however, a beginner only needs ambition to fly and a desire to learn. On the ground, I started by carefully listening to briefings, observing the experts prepare and discuss strategies, helping others on launch, and asking questions. Once I got into the air, I simply made it my strategy to top out on every thermal

and attempt to go as far as possible along the task’s waypoints, all while trying to stay safe. Watching how other pilots utilized the terrain features and made transitions was better than any thermal clinic and fed my confidence. Knowing that retrieve was just a call away, even if my inexperienced gamble did not pay off, further facilitated learning and encouraged me to try new things. Finally, flying for fun and personal challenge, instead of competing, provided an enjoyable experience. It was not all a fairy tale story, of course. Active piloting lessons in rough air can be a bit unnerving at first, and forced landings in midday conditions are negative reinforcement. Flying a lower class wing with an experience level to match, I sometimes ended up all by my lonesome with nobody to mark the next thermal. On one occasion, I was alone and overcommitted, getting desperately low over remote and unlandable terrain. Even if I could have squeezed in between the dead trees, I had no drinking water in my kit that Jug had specifically warned us to stash for the daylong hike out. I fought hard and managed a low save that resulted in another epic flight that I still remember today. Every task taught a valuable lesson and developed my judgment as a pilot. Know your limits but don’t underestimate your capabilities. Trust your wing in dirty air one day and play it safe and land early on another. Don’t be afraid to go farther, but be prepared for it not working out. Listen when experienced pilots speak. With the undertaking of every new task, I felt my competence and confidence grow. The bump tolerance went up dramatically. I began making a connection with my glider and instruments. About halfway through the season, a good day of flying was no longer a lucky event but a result of better judgment and piloting. Terrain became more readable: thermal triggers, cloud streets, and understanding convergence helped me visualize the best lines which translated into distance (most of the time). Then came the joy and benefit of flying with a gaggle. Every comp weekend I had another personal best or two to share back at the campsite. Higher, farther, longer! Then, in August, I asked Jug whether or not I should come to the Whaleback event. He mentioned “the biggest air you have flown” but did not provide a direct answer. I realized that by this point it was expected of me as a mature pilot to make this call. I did and had the most memorable flights of my life, beating all personal bests and making goal for

the first time. Thanks! I am definitely coming back next season. Flying with the League not only helped me grow immeasurably as a pilot, meet interesting and very talented people, and make some vivid memories, but it also absolutely transformed the essence of free flight for me, expanding the boundaries of what is possible.

[above] Whaleback pilots.

2011 LEAGUE WINNERS Category 1 First place | Josh Cohn Second place | Jugdeep Aggarwal Third Place | Jay Gordon Category 2 First place | David Ismay Second place | Reavis Sutphin-Gray Third Place | William DeLay Category 3 First place | Sergei Gridnev Second place | Darren Payne Third Place | Chip Greel



Great Ideas




[opposite] Bob McCord flying in Hawaii. [left] Bob McCord walking to launch in Kauai, Hawaii. Photos by Chris Santacroce.

Great ideas can sometimes surface at different locations at the same time.


t was 1985, and Bob McCord, who I love to call Bobby Mac, was a sky diver who dreamed of nothing but soaring under blue skies. He caught wind of sky divers soaring canopies in New Zealand, and when he bought his nine-cell canopy from Performance Designs, he was thinking nothing but big. He purchased a size bigger than he needed and was set on soaring. He rolled the dice and tried to soar a dozen sites in Southern California. But it was a ski trip to Telluride that finally doled out his chance. As he headed up Campbell Peak, the wind was pumping. And that got Bobby Mac pumping. He

left his skis at the halfway point. Bobby just downright amazing. Mac just had a feeling. So, back to that day on Campbell Bob McCord is one of those amazPeak up in Telluride. Is it any wonder ing guys you meet in life. He lives in that on one pre-frontal day, Bob manKauai, gets up before the sun to go aged to launch his nine-cell wing above surfing and buys an unlimited pass to 10,000’ feet and soar his way into the the golf course. He’s a legend—in my record books with a 30-minute flight? mind, anyway—because he has sky He was 200 feet above launch in what dived, flown hang gliders and trikes are my favorite mountains in the world. for decades, and has now earned his P2 He literally had to fight his way down. a cool 26 years after his first soaring Then Bob did what any sensible person flight. ALL without busting himself up. would have done. He learned to hang I recently spent a week in his world, glide, and over the years he has flown and he wasn’t holding back. Thirtymore hang gliders than just about some years of flying and he’s still giving anyone.  it his all. He’s hard-charging, pioneerThree decades later, in the company ing new sites, flying every day, and, well, of his college buddy Steve Markusen,





“Most students would be highfiving their way to the bar after a flight like this. But neither Bob nor I like the bar, and we aren’t really students. But our high fives are flowing!” Bob is at the Point of the Mountain, learning to fly a modern paraglider. Guess what? He’s a natural. After a dozen-or-more flights with Super Fly, Bob and I are standing on launch in Kauai. I’m on a family vacation, logging my first flight on the island, and Bob is doing what he’s always done—sticking himself in the sky for hours at a time between surfing and golfing sessions. I am his guide. He’s both a veteran and a rookie to the whole paraglider experience. But he is also my guide, with more than twenty years’ experience of flying in this windblown, magical gorgeous island. Now we’re flying wingtip to wingtip, trading yahoos and skimming the clouds, getting rained on while the sun glows. Most students would be high-fiving their way to the bar after a flight like this. But neither Bob nor I like the bar, and we aren’t really students. But our high fives are flowing! We couldn’t stop thanking each other. Bob is mumbling about how I helped him renew his stoke for flying. Yeah, Bobby Mac, the feeling is mutual. 



Mitch Shipley cruising with style at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina | photo by Nick Greece


USHPA Awards

Recognizing Excellence

Photo by Evan Akland, Ken de Russy Collection



very October the USHPA Awards committee faces what at first looks like a daunting task: sorting through hundreds of nomination forms to determine which person’s contributions to hang gliding or paragliding should be considered the best of the best. These little packets of enthusiastic praise make it clear that there’s a lot of amazing things going on in the US flying communities! Once the difficult decisions have been made and the winners determined, the rest is just plain fun. When notified of their award, the recipients almost without fail express surprise, gratitude, occasionally skepticism. One pilot responded to the letter informing him of his Commendation award in a way that reflects the feelings of many who’ve been honored this year: “Here I thought I could just cruise through hang gliding life and remain in the comfort of obscurity, but apparently somebody(s)



wants to wreck that idea :-) To say that I am humbled to even be considered for an award is an understatement.” The 2011 awards will be presented at a festive banquet held in Colorado Springs during the spring BOD meeting in March. If you’ll be in COS on March 24th and want to join the party, contact the USHPA office to make a reservation and purchase a dinner ticket. As you read about this year’s winners, please give some thought to who in your community is doing equally commendable work. You can submit a nomination at any time by going to and filling out the online form. Thanks to everyone who participated in the process of identifying candidates for the 2011 awards. And thanks in advance to all of you who are right now making plans to nominate someone you know for a spot on the podium in 2012.

Presidential Citation | Lisa Tate Lisa’s contributions to USHPA and to the sport of hang gliding have been ongoing for more than three decades and, in the words of several of her nominators, are nothing short of aweinspiring. As an Idaho pilot, she’s been consistently involved with the local competitions, especially at King Mountain. Participants in the King Mt. meet laud her excellent organizational skills and scoring efforts, and typically credit Lisa for the continuing success of this annual event. With her election as USHPA president, Lisa’s focus widened to the national level. She spearheaded the development of USHPA’s strategic plan to help stabilize our sports’ membership numbers and to bring new participants into the sport. She also used her position as president of the organization to get the

ear of people with the power to help make things happen. A Montana pilot states, “Lisa directed the tenor of our discussions with various agencies in order to reestablish our flight privileges on our local mountain, Mount Sentinel, in Missoula, Montana.” Folk wisdom holds that no one person is indispensable. One of Lisa’s nominators disagrees and suggests that “Lisa Tate is the exception to that rule where hang gliding, paragliding and Region 5 are concerned.” Another adds, “We all owe her a great thanks for all she has done. The Presidential Citation would be a good start.” Indeed. It is with great pleasure that USHPA presents Lisa Tate with its highest recognition, the 2011 Presidential Citation.

Presidential Citation | John Dickenson USHPA’s SOPs state that only one Presidential Citation will be awarded each year, but last October the Awards committee reviewed information presented by a very well informed pilot regarding John Dickenson, and decided that in this special situation it would be appropriate to set aside the SOP and present John Dickenson with a 2011 Presidential Citation. John is considered by many to be the founding father of modern hang gliding, and he received the 2006 FAI Diploma for “inventing the modern hang glider at Grafton, Australia.” John designed, built and successfully flew his first hang glider on September 8, 1963 in Grafton. His revolutionary airframe and pendulum weight-shift control method became the template for the tens of

thousands of copies that spawned the worldwide viral spread of a new sport. The essential elements of Dickenson’s creation are apparent in nearly all hang gliders built since. John was, in fact, awarded a shared USHGA Presidential Citation in 1974 for his role in developing the hang glider. Somehow that award was never presented, perhaps because John’s name is misrepresented in the Association’s records of the 1974 awards. It was clear to the 2011 Awards committee members that John Dickenson is deserving of USHPA’s highest recognition for his major role in the birth of our sport. In that spirit, USHPA presents John with a 2011 Presidential Citation.



Best Promotional Film | Ryan Voight Ryan Voight has done it again—his video touting the magic of hang gliding in Utah is four minutes and 10 seconds of beautiful videography, narrated by the pilots who know and love the state’s flying sites. While the video’s focus is the Salt Lake area, both the images and the commentary highlight the perspectives and experiences that are unique to hang gliding, no matter where one flies. Ryan’s video is online at http:// In recognition of this beautifully crafted video, USHPA presents Ryan Voight with the 2011 Best Promotional Film award.

Bettina Gray Photography Award Sanders (Sam) Crater

Sam Crater, a paraglider pilot from Colorado, is well known and highly respected by the pilots who fly at his home site, Lookout Mountain (Colorado). Sam’s nominators point out that, in addition to being a highly skilled photographer whose “inflight photos are a joy to behold,” Sam is also a “friendly, humble and supportive member of the Colorado flying


community.” The Colorado pilots clearly appreciate Sam’s skill and the effort he puts into getting those perfect shots. This month’s gallery showcases some of Sam’s favorites. USHPA is proud to honor Sam with the 2011 Bettina Gray award for the exceptional photographic art he creates for us.


Exceptional Service Ken Howells Ken’s many nominators all seem to have the same theme: This guy is all about service to his communities. Some specifics: He’s has been a member of the Crestline Soaring Society and its BOD for more years than most pilots can remember. Currently he’s the web master for CSS’s website (http://www. and forum, which “projects for our club a top-of-the-line image as it helps visitors get acquainted with and informed about CSS.” One popular feature of the site is the animated wind graph detailing wind conditions at launch; also available onsite are a webcam, and the many features “can be reviewed over time and with time lapse so conditions can be analyzed” to whatever level of detail you desire. Ken’s frequent website posts—”Pilot Flight Reports”—of the day’s flying conditions are enthusiastically greeted as highly informative, with a wealth of relevant information for the local sites. But Ken’s much more than a techno geek; he’s also an instructor and tandem pilot, and works professionally as a Wills Wing test pilot. One nominator lauds Ken’s people skills: “Whether you are the inquisitive person in the LZ, asking all the questions racing through your mind after just witnessing your first landings of hang gliders or paragliders, or you’re a seasoned pilot, Ken treats you with the same politeness and respect, as if you have been his friend for years.” For his many and varied volunteer contributions to his local flying community and to the wider world of free flight, USHPA presents Ken Howells with the 2011 Exceptional Service award.

Newsletter/Website of the Year Mountain Wings NeASA Flyer Cathleen O’Connell—aka Flarabella Goodlanding—is responsible for the design, layout, many of the photos, much of the text, and all of the editing and final publication of the NeASA Flyer, described by its readers as “informative, entertaining, colorful, complete, educational, upbeat and fun-to-read.” Although the newletter is published, in Cathleen’s words, “on a schedule based on the availability of content,” that doesn’t mean she’s sitting around waiting for material to fall into her inbox. Her nominators report that Cathleen is typically in full Lois-Lane mode, “out

there interviewing pilots, participating in every work party so she can not only work her ass off but also take photos and notes, talk with the workers, and entertain us all with the reports in her newsletter.” The NeASA Flyer is credited with drawing new members into the club and new students into the sport. Reportedly, one instructor actually chose to teach for Mountain Wings over all the other potential locations because of the “camaraderie and fun associated with the Northeastern Aero Sports Association,” as depicted in the newsletter. USHPA adds its praise for the

NeASA publication, available for viewing at MountainWingsNASAFlyersPage.html, and presents Cathleen O’Connell/ Flarabella Goodlanding with the 2011 Newsletter of the Year award.

Chapter of the Year | Hawaii Paragliding Association The Hawaii Paragliding Association crowd is well known for having it all: It’s Hawaii, after all, with its laid-back lifestyle and more sunshine and soaring than many of us can imagine! Paraglider pilots have been flying on Oahu since the early ‘90s, and in 1998 they were welcomed into the local hang gliding club. In 2003 the parapilots decided to reorganize into their own association, “in order to address issues more relevant to our needs and our increased numbers,” according to their website, HPA prides itself on the aloha spirit of its members, evidenced through the warm welcome given visiting pilots, the reach-beyondour-own-community attitude of many members (e.g. Alex Colby, who wrote the paragliding accidents column for this magazine for several years, and Pete Michelmore, who’s an essential part of the annual Rat Race staff), the camaraderie within the club, the high level of participation in HPA activities, the wealth of useful and timely information constantly being updated on the club website. One nominator sums it up: “We all help and care for each other at levels beyond just

flying— just a sense of community where everybody is welcomed.” USHPA applauds this aloha spirit demonstrated by

the members of the Hawaii Paragliding Association, and names the HPA the 2011 USHPA Chapter of the Year.



Hang Gliding Instructor of the Year | Andy Torrington Typically this award goes to an instructor who’s been working with students for many years and has established a reputation for turning out safe, skilled pilots who are well trained in everything they’ll need to fit in comfortably with any flying community and fly even sensitive sites without incident. Andy certainly meets all those requirements through the instructing he’s been doing for close to two decades, both at beach sites and in the mountains. But since the late ‘90s he’s taken his teaching up one level, and now, in addition to working with beginning and advanced students on the dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Andy is also the Lead Instructor Trainer for the hang gliding program at Kitty Hawk Kites. One pilot’s personal experience sums up Andy’s impact on students: “Without Andy I would have never have discovered this incredible sport. Like many vacationers on the Outer Banks, I took my first hang gliding lesson with Kitty Hawk Kites in the summer of 2006. Andy was the lead instructor on the dune that day and he could tell that I was absolutely blown away by my experience. Because of his instruction and encouragement, I stayed two weeks past the end of the family vacation, taking lessons everyday and earning my H1. Without Andy, I would have walked off that sand dune and never even realized the true



wonders of hang gliding. I’ve worked with Andy for about five years now, and have watched similar stories unfold as he continues to mold and shape our summer instructor core every spring. Andy is an invaluable resource to both Kitty Hawk Kites and the hang gliding community in general, and I consider myself fortunate to both learn from and work alongside him.” A newly minted instructor provides details of Andy’s comprehensive instructor-training syllabus: “Andy is responsible for training all the new instructors at Kitty Hawk Kites. He encourages all of the new hires to fly the Eaglet training gliders as much as possible to learn about the flying characteristics of a glider and teach us about the subtleties of flight. Topics included in his instructor meetings would cover anything from speeds-to-fly, dealing with disgruntled/dissatisfied students, micro/macro-meteorology, and where the best parties were going to be that night. Andy is always a wealth of information and is constantly seeking new ways to improve the sport and its instructors by promoting safety and fun above all else.” In recognition of his outstanding results in teaching both pilots and instructors, USHPA presents Andy Torrington with the 2011 Hang Gliding Instructor of the Year award.

Paragliding Instructor of the Year | Pete Michelmore The numerous pilots – both former students and seasoned competitors – who nominated Pete for this award were consistently remarking on the same qualities: experience, knowledge, enthusiasm, generosity, sense of humor, focus on safety. Pete shows up in Oregon every spring for the Rat Race, and along with his cadre of Hawaii pilots of all skill levels, he brings the island spirit to Woodrat Mountain for the week. At the Rat Race he’s the safety director every meet organizer dreams of, keeping a sharp eye on the hundreds of launches each day and, when there’s a need, braving the poison-oak-infested mountains to get to a downed or treed pilot. “We huck ‘em and pluck ‘em,” Pete quips, and he does both with efficiency and an irresistible sense of humor. Pete is a great ambassador for the sport—he’s an incurable ham and every chance he gets he’s enthusiastically promoting paragliding to whoever’s listening. As the only full-time instruc-

tor on Oahu, he’s been instrumental in building a vibrant flying community on the island. Of necessity, he has developed a scooter-tow system to train students in an area with few training hill options. To his local community, Pete is known affectionately as Reaper (short for Grim Reaper). One nominator explains: “He acquired the nickname over a decade ago, when he first arrived on Oahu, because he told the small group of pilots already flying here that they were dangers to themselves, and they were gonna die if they didn’t listen to him.” Somewhere around 50 pilots make up the Oahu club these days, and the consensus is that the Reaper knows what he’s talking about, and taking him seriously is a healthy idea. In recognition for all that he puts into creating skilled, enthusiastic and safe pilots, Pete “Reaper” Michelmore is awarded USHPA’s 2011 Paragliding Instructor of the Year award.



Photo by Clark Cook, ICAS

Commendation Awards


Greg Babush

George Baskette

According to the Rogue Valley (Oregon) pilots, Greg recently revamped the RVHPA website ( with the primary goals of 1) informing RVHPA members and visiting pilots of critical changes in site protocol for the club’s two primary sites, 2) providing pilots with an easy online membership application, and 3) maintaining an online club roster to help enforce membership requirements for the club sites. RVHPA members report that “Greg’s enhanced design makes the site a pleasure to use. The information is clear and well presented. Most important, our website went from a static, infrequently-used bulletin board to the most effective membership and information program we have.” In addition, rather than having to field questions on site protocol from visiting pilots or, worse, having to deal with the fall-out from protocol violations, “We have had far fewer inquiries from visiting pilots. They arrive well educated, they know the site protocol, and they have club membership in place.” For his work toward preserving landowner relations at a sensitive site, as well as for providing the RVHPA with a valuable resource for its members, Greg Babush is awarded a 2011 Commendation.

Airtime in New England has a reputation Dan Buchanan continues to make the for being hard to come by, but George proverbial adage, “Turn lemons into lemBaskette is constantly working to prove onade,” a reality. A hang gliding accident that reputation is undeserved. Parapilots many years ago left Dan a parapalegic, visiting Vermont have found George to but he refused to let this keep him out of be a ready and willing guide to the local the air. He began hang gliding again by sites. One reports, “I went to Burke Mt. tow and centered his efforts on creating and George was there. He gave me a an inspirational performance that he has two-hour site intro, covering everything marketed to the airshow industry. Now, imaginable—he even retrieved me and after more than 20 years of performing my truck. During the rest of the summer in front of millions, he is still living by he introduced me to everyone, and kept his own words: “I can’t walk so I might me informed and connected. This guy’s as well fly.” His shows have delighted and diligence and willingness to drop everyinspired tens of thousands of disabled thing and help, in all regards, is amazing.” kids, as well as a current member of George’s willingness to step up and prothe Canadian Snowbirds (Air Force vide whatever is needed to make things Demonstration Squadron) who attributes work is a tremendous asset towards his start in flying to Dan’s performance. maintaining smooth relationships within For continuing to provide inspiration and the pilot community and with landownmotivation to so many people of all abiliers. In recognition of the time he invests ties, USHPA honors Dan Buchanan with in keeping airtime options open for a 2011 Commendation. Vermont pilots, USHPA awards George Baskette a 2011 Commendation.


Dan Buchanan

Photo by Cathleen O'Connell

Carl DiPiero

John Gallagher

Dan Gravage

Carl’s nominator describes him as “a great guy who hasn’t had a lot of chances to fly but always seems to be there when there’s a work party, or when new pilots need support during their first mountain launch, or when I need help carrying my glider!” An essential part of the Ellenville, N.Y., flying community for many years, Carl is the guy who handles all the paperwork that keeps the NeASA club thriving—all those pesky time-consuming tasks that everyone is glad somebody else is dealing with. He established a system that facilitates the integration of new pilots into the club. He organizes club work parties for heavy-duty projects (such as building a dirt road to launch to make the site more attractive for pilots unable to carry heavy equipment over long distances and rough terrain), and joins in the work parties of other local clubs. To honor his many contributions to the Ellenville flying community, USHPA awards Carl DiPiero a 2011 Commendation.

According to his nominators, John is a tireless encourager of others, never failing to congratulate a pilot for a first soaring or thermal flight, first time at cloudbase, first XC. He is the region’s tandem administrator and arguably he flies more tandems himself than anyone else in the Northeast. He’s also the go-to guy for calling the weather across all of New England, every week all summer long, fielding dozens of emails about where it might be on and tirelessly sharing his opinions—which are usually right-—both via email and on the New England Flyline online. He conducts reserve repacks and thermal clinics. He shoots, edits and uploads videos of less experienced pilots’ flights so they can critique their skills. He mediates the sometimes-contentious relationship between communities of pilots who all agree that John’s mediations are worth heeding. He sets a strong and consistent example of respecting site rules at any number of sensitive sites and shares his knowledge with newcomers with grace and tact. He is unfailingly gracious with landowners and spectators, strengthening relationships and evangelizing the sport. In recognition of John’s high level of involvement, his integrity, and the tremendous respect he’s given by his NE flying peers, USHPA presents him with a 2011 Commendation.

Dan’s artistic T-shirts are almost as big an attractant as the flying at the annual King Mt., Idaho, event—he’s been designing the King Mt. shirts for decades, as well as those for the Montana XC Challenge and ones that promote hang gliding in general, and they’re all considered collectors items from the minute they’re printed. Apart from his time spent at the drawing board, Dan has been instructing hang gliding since the late 1970s, and is a tireless promoter of the sport. He sets the sort of example for sportsmanship that is an asset to any activity, and has a fabulous sense of humor and gentle nature that is obvious in everything he does. In addition he is an excellent pilot, noted for his focus on safety. Dan’s fellow pilots agree that he “is the sort of person that it is simply an honor to know, and an honor to fly with.” USHPA, in return, honors Dan Gravage’s many contributions with a 2011 Commendation.

Photo by Dave Suite

Commendation Awards


Harold Johnson

Larry Jorgensen

Ty McCartney

Harold is renowned in his community for his extraordinary effort to support students. He uses his vehicle to drive pilots to launch, often for multiple flights. He’s positive and energetic, providing good advice and helping pilots match their skill level to the weather conditions. One nominator elaborates: “Harold has been a great mentor of mine, helping me out on his own time to insure that I fly different sites and that I fly safe. This has really built my confidence now that I’m going to flying sites on my own.” Pilots who invest their time and energy in helping newer pilots are a valuable resource to our communities, and USHPA recognizes Harold Johnson’s contributions with a 2011 Commendation.

Larry, like a good many heroic figures, is fortunate to have an equal partner: his wife, Tina. Both very active pilots, they are essentially the glue that holds the Seattle-area hang gliding community together. While Washington hang pilots have a wide variety of flying options, most consider their “home” site to be Dog Mt., near Mt. Rainier. Larry and Tina are site stewards for Dog, and have worked tirelessly over the years to build rock-solid relationships with landowners of the launch and the LZs. In addition, Larry hangars his Dragonfly at a little airport just a few miles from Dog, and when the wind is too light or from the wrong direction to fly the mountain, he’ll be out teaching aerotowing and tugging pilots into the air. One nominator points out, “In every flying community the majority benefit from the energies and efforts of a few, and this commendation for Larry (and, by association, Tina) is long overdue, and not nearly adequate recognition for what they have given to their fellow pilots.” Congratulations, Larry, from USHPA and all the Dog Mt. pilots.

Ty was president of the Utah Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (UHGPGA) for years. Even though he rarely flies these days, Ty has remained the club’s greatest advocate for preservation of the Point of the Mountain flight parks. He is given major credit for the conversion of the South Side and North Side of the Point to state and county parks, respectively. According to those who nominated him for this award, Ty’s hard work and extreme dedication to the UHGPGA club and the local flying community leave him long overdue for recognition for his efforts. USHPA agrees that recognition is in order, and presents Ty McCartney with a 2011 Commendation.


Robert Reynolds

Keith Riemersma

Jason Shapiro

Bob, in the words of a nominator, “stepped in as site director of West Rutland, Vermont, and has never looked back.” West Rutland is a premier ridgesoaring and thermal site that is forgiving enough to accommodate novice as well as advanced pilots. Bob selflessly and tirelessly mentors newer pilots for their first high mountain flights, often giving up his own flying days to do so. He beats up his vehicles carrying loads of rock and fill up the mountain to improve the road and the launch. He can be seen “pitching hay and plucking corn” to help the farmers whose fields are used as LZs. He is a great example to the pilots in Vermont, and a friend to all. Although it won’t go far towards rejuvenating his overstressed vehicles, USHPA hopes a 2011 Commendation will make the point that Bob Reynolds’s efforts are very much noticed and appreciated.

Keith and his wife Kris are the third president (and First Wife!) of the Green Point Flyers Association. Their commitment to the Green Point (Michigan) Flyers site and chapter has been outstanding and enduring—“an inspiration to all of us here in the club and chapter,” says a local pilot. Keith and Kris have facilitated and developed positive working relationships (and friendships) with neighboring landowners and several local entities and citizen and volunteer groups. One nominator enthusiastically declares, “The uncompromising support and positive promotion of our site, club, and chapter is a credit to Keith and Kris. Their undying passion and heart for flying, as well as for the Green Point Flyers Association, is a testimony to why we love them as brother and sister of the air! Thanks, Keith and Kris Riemersma, from all of us here at Green Point!” USHPA echoes that thanks through the presentation of a 2011 Commendation to this dedicated couple.

For the past several years Jason has been hard at work procuring a new launch and landing zone, and starting up a new USHPA chapter, the American River Free Flyers, in northern California. His commitment to presenting the sport in a positive and supportive way to the surrounding community was successful, and has resulted in the creation of a new flying site. USHPA recognizes the importance of opening sites, and of establishing chapters to support those sites, and for his efforts on both these fronts Jason Shapiro receives a 2011 USHPA Commendation.



Commendation Awards


Reto Schaerli

Dave Wheeler

Site acquisition and preservation is an ongoing challenge for every community. Reto Schaerli purchased land on the top of Perry Mountain in Coloma, California, put a work crew together to clear the land, laid carpet and, according to one nominator, “made it one of the newest, best and most beautiful places to fly in California.” For providing us with a new option for airtime, USHPA awards Reto Schaerli a 2011 Commendation.

For years, Dave has helped USHPA’s Competition committee track NTSS (National Team Selection System) scores for all hang gliding and paragliding competitions. Dave’s work is exceptional both in terms of accuracy and in “just getting it done day in and day out.” Along the way, Dave has developed a very thorough understanding of the scoring system, and has earned the respect of comp pilots throughout the US. In addition to his

work on scoring, Dave shares his technical expertise with USHPA, where he serves as a volunteer technology advisor to the executive director. Within his home flying community (near Seattle), Dave is known for his willingness to mentor up-and-coming XC pilots, for maintaining a website which hosts the SPOT info for NW pilots using the device, and for sharing his insights into all aspects of flying. It is with great pleasure that USHPA recognizes Dave “Wheely” Wheeler’s many contributions with a 2011 Commendation.




This is the USHPA’s highest award, and is awarded to a member or non‑member who has made significant contributions to the sport. The contributions need not have been made during the previous year. An individual may receive this special award only once.

This award recognizes the USHPA chapter/club that has conducted successful programs that reflect positively upon the chapter and the sport. Activities include, but are not limited to: site procurement, development and retention; safety; membership development; and beginner and novice programs. To view Chapter names and locations, go to http://www.

The Bettina Gray Award was created to honor the woman who contributed so much to our sport through her photography. This award is issued to the photographer (male or female) whose work is judged best by the committee in consideration of aesthetics, originality, and a positive portrayal of hang gliding or paragliding. Three examples of the candidate’s photography are required. One award will be given each year.


The intention of this award is to recognize a pilot, group, chapter or other entity that has provided continuous service, over a period of 15 years or more, to the sports of hang gliding or paragliding or both. It is not an annual award, and there must be a compelling body of nominations (minimum of 10) for a candidate to be considered. The Rob Kells Memorial Award is on par with the Presidential Citation, and can only be awarded to an individual/ group/chapter/other entity once. Full details on qualifications and required documentation are at award_nominations_rkma.htm. EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE AWARD

This award recognizes outstanding service to the Association during the year by any member or non-member. NAA SAFETY AWARD

The NAA presents this award to an individual who has contributed to safety promotion in hang gliding or paragliding in some significant way that should be recognized.


This award recognizes an outstanding club publication (printed or web-based) that has been supportive of the sport and the sponsoring chapter’s activities. The award is based on service to members, layout, article variety, safety promotion, and promoting the sport. INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR

The Instructor of the Year award recognizes the importance of our certified hang gliding and paragliding instructors in promoting safe flying practices and contributing to the positive image and growth of our sport. Nominations should include letters of support from three students and the local regional director. Considerations will include effectiveness as a teacher, being a role model for safety, and other factors that the nominating parties deem worthy of recognition. One award per sport per year will be given. BEST PROMOTIONAL FILM

This award recognizes the videographer whose work is judged best by the committee in consideration of aesthetics, originality, and a positive portrayal of hang gliding or paragliding. One award will be given each year.

Special Commendations are awarded to any number of non-members and organizations who have done exceptional volunteer work that has significantly enhanced and promoted our sports in the US. The Special Commendation is a way for our organization to recognize landowners, drivers, restaurant owners, government officials and any others who have contributed in a non-member capacity during the year. COMMENDATIONS

Commendations are given to any number of USHPA members who have contributed to hang gliding and/or paragliding on a volunteer basis in any areas including site development and retention, competition organization, public relations, heroic rescue efforts, and/or basically getting off their duffs and doing something for someone else’s enjoyment of flying and the promotion of the sport.

SAFETY is No Accident by RyanVOIGHT

Let’s be real for a minute.


ll aircraft have limitations. Hang gliders, paragliders, sailplanes, airplanes, F-16’s. Everything has its limitations. Paragliders have an obvious airspeed limit. Even with full speed bar, there is a limit to how fast a PG will go. Although the same is true for hang gliders, the speed limit is a bit higher. But just because my hang glider could exceed 80 mph in steady-state level flight, doesn’t mean I should fly in 70 mph winds! There are other limitations, like turbulence. How turbulent will it be if it’s blowing 70 mph?! But the biggest limitation of all is the pilot. Humans are, hands down, the weakest link in our aircraft, and just about every accident report confirms it. While some accidents occur from honest mistakes or lack of skill, the biggest issue that plagues us is POOR JUDGMENT. It is absolutely crucial that we recognize and respect the limits of our aircraft, and


nowhere is this more important than the conditions in which we choose to fly. On many days, launching is the first error in a series of events that lead up to a poor landing. More often than not we walk away with little more than bruised pride and a belittled ego, but, sadly, that’s not always the case. Aviation is unforgiving of mistakes, and every less-thanperfect landing is an accident waiting to happen. Whoever came up with the saying “any landing you walk away from is a good one” probably didn’t have a long and prosperous flying career. So how do we stay safe when deciding to fly? First, we need to know the limitations of our aircraft. When flying hang gliders and paragliders, we need to recognize we have limited control. In a hang glider, there is a limit to how much roll we can achieve. In turbulent air, it is very possible that rising air on one side or sinking air on the other (or both) can


be stronger than how much roll we can create. If you’re near terrain, this can be a HUGE problem! The hang glider’s limited control can result in collision with the terrain. In paragliders, the major limit is in pitch. In strong conditions, there is only so much we can do to keep our wing overhead. If your wing surges forward or gets back behind you, there’s a limit to what can be done. A paraglider’s limited control can result in collapse, which is most dangerous near the ground. So really, both aircraft are most limited in the conditions in which they can be safely and reliably LANDED. This is important to remember, because as the cliché goes: Launching is optional, landing is mandatory. Next, we need to evaluate the flying conditions and decide if they are within the limitations of our aircraft. Getting good at this takes longer and far more dedication than learning to fly! It’s not something that can be picked up

overnight. Because of this, it’s important to always leave yourself plenty of margin for error. The goal? To be able to walk up to launch and know with a fair level of certainty what the air will FEEL like before you launch. Know how windy it is, both on launch and aloft. Know if it’s steady or gusty wind. Know if it’s thermic or smooth. Know if the thermals will be big or small, strong or weak. Will they have smooth or sharp edges? Believe it or not, these are all things you can learn to diagnose BEFORE you launch! Not to sound arrogant, but it’s very rare that I am surprised by the conditions when I’m in the air. 99% of the time I know pretty well what I’m signing on for when I launch (and I’d like to thank my father for teaching me this skill). It’s only taken 27 years and counting! And since no one’s perfect, I do leave a margin for error, and, occasionally, I’m very glad I did! For an example of the information I use to determine what a day will be like (or for all the weather data

you’d ever need for flying Point of the Mountain in Utah), check out www. I use NOAA forecasts for surface winds, as they seem to be most accurate around here. Back in Ellenville, I find’s forecast for Pine Bush to be most accurate. I would bet every site has its own most-accurate forecast source, so ask around. Look for pilots who are there on all the good days, but are rarely sitting around on the bad ones. They obviously know something! Being near Salt Lake City International airport, we are fortunate to have a winds aloft and thermal index reading taken every day. This information

[opposite] These cotton-ball-cumies are a pilot’s dream come true. | photo by Paul Voight. [above] These wispy high-cirrus clouds, sometimes called “mares’ tails” usually mean there will be precipitation in the next 48 hrs which implies a low pressure system moving in. The air is going to become more unstable as the low approaches.

is available at most major airports, but if you’re not near a data source, you may have to pick two—in opposite directions from your site—and take a guess by averaging the data collected from each. The data in Salt Lake is always taken as a guide rather than a rule, because it’s done first thing in the morning, in the valley, not in the mountains where we fly. But learning how to read a thermal index is a great way to know how strong or weak

“The goal? To be able to walk up to launch and know with a fair level of certainty what the air will FEEL like before you launch.” HANG GLIDING & PAR AGLIDING | WWW.USHPA . AERO


thermals will be. We focus so much on micro-meteorology that we sometimes forget the bigger picture. Knowing if you are in a high or low pressure system can tell you a lot about the day. Low pressure tends to be unstable, so there will generally be more or stronger lift. Low pressure also means overdevelopment, rain, or gusty winds are very possible. High pressure tends to be very stable, and thermals don’t usually form well. There can still be lift, but count on its being broken thermals with very sharp edges. Learning to read the clouds can be huge as well. Cumulus clouds that look like cotton balls are great indicators of lift, but, if they get too tall, they are signs of major instability. Overdevelopment is defined as occurring when a cloud gets taller than it is wide. Be very wary if you see this happening! Lenticular clouds, on the other hand, generally indicate very high winds aloft. I generally won’t fly on days with lenticular clouds. I’ve missed a few


good days, but, more often than not, that rule has served me well. A great reference that everyone should own (and read, obviously) is Dennis Pagen’s Understanding the Sky. It’s a book about, oddly enough, understanding the sky—written from the perspective of a soaring pilot. I keep a copy in my flight bag, and any time I


can’t interpret the air quality of a cloud, I pull out the book and start flipping pages. After years of this, I don’t have to pull it out very often, but I’m always glad I have it when I need it. Another crucial but often overlooked factor is the time of day. Many sites are perfectly benign early in the morning or later in the evening—but a very different story mid-day. I tend to have good landings (knock on wood!). I tend to avoid flying/landing in mid-day conditions. I’m pretty sure those two things are related and are my biggest secret to good landings! Everywhere I go, I see pilots launching around 1 p.m. It’s not that uncommon to find newer pilots doing this, too. And sometimes, the trifecta: a newish pilot, on a new glider, launching at 1 p.m. This is hardly setting oneself up for success. I often hear people defend launching mid-day because “they’ll be able to fly around for a few hours before landing.” First of all, that still puts their landing in afternoon thermic conditions. Second, and more important, unless they’ve got a rocket hidden in their pocket, they fly GLIDERS. Sled rides have been known to happen even on the best of days. I know, because I’ve done more than my fair share! Fact is, we can’t guarantee staying up for hours. So why launch at the peak of the day, when landing would be most dangerous?

[left] While prepping your gear, there can be lots of distractions. Remember to keep re-evaluating the flying conditions. Are they getting safer, or more risky? [right] Based on the sky, did this pilot make a “safe” decision to fly today or did he get away with this one?

The only answer to that which seems semi-valid is because some people want to go XC, and they’re not going to go very far if they launch at 4 or 5:00. It’s a valid point. BUT: Conditions often ramp up later in the day. If at 1 p.m. it’s ON with rip-the-snot-out-of-your-nose thermals, it was probably soarable at 11 or 12. Obviously, this depends on your flying site, what direction it faces, prevailing winds, and so on. My point is: launch EARLIER than 1 p.m., even though the lift might be lighter then. If you DO end up in the LZ, you have much better chances of a safe landing. And if you get up, you have that much more time to go far! If you’re not skilled at working light lift, you’re not going to go far as an XC pilot anyway,

so launching earlier shouldn’t hinder you too badly. It might even make you a better and safer pilot! Hang gliding and paragliding is a game of risk management. We win the game by staying safe for years and years, and the only way to do that is to be smart about the conditions in which we fly. We need to recognize that our aircraft, and the amount of control we have over them, is limited. We need to respect that the forces of nature out there are far greater than we are, and some days we should just stay grounded. We need to recognize that we might repeatedly get away with flying in conditions that push the limits, but sooner or later the odds will catch up with us. The more we can learn about flying conditions, and the better we can predict what it will “feel” like before we launch, the more we stack the deck in our favor. And I think you’ll agree: Risk management is a game we can’t afford to lose. If you have a question you’d like answered or a topic you’d like to see

discussed, you can email Ryan at Ryan@ and you just might get to see your answer in print here in Hang Gliding and Paragliding magazine! In the mean time, remember… Safety is No Accident!

My favorite

route … is the one that gets longer every time

Those who fly often want to go far – in the truest sense of the word. For all those ambitious pilots – the CAYENNE4 is built for you. Thanks to rigid foil constructed from resilient plastic, the wing is easy to start. JET FLAPS, C-Wire elements and little ribs complete the professional glider design. shows its real mettle in the air: top acceleration, ultimate The stability and direct handling. In addition, low drag with only two main lines per side on each level, a true three-line concept and a total line length of only 254 meters. No wonder when you end up staying longer in the air than you planned. HANG GLIDING & PAR AGLIDING | WWW.USHPA . AERO


[above] Running from some early rain, Golden, Colorado. [left] Andy Aakhus-Witt, near cloudbase above Golden.


Sam Crater, 2011 Bettina Gray Award Winner



Andy Aakhus-Witt above Morrison, Colorado, monsoon season. [opposite] BJ Herring, ridge soaring the north face, Lookout. [above] Layne Self and Terry Sharp getting a lapse, Lookout.



BJ Herring, late afternoon in March, from Lookout launch. [above] Andy Aakhus-Witt over the Boulder foothills on a flight from Lookout [right] Mike Reeder (MR) over Red Rocks Amphitheater. This was the most popular image I ever posted on the local forum.







Kiernan O’Donovan and the Towers, Golden. This is a 2-frame stitched panorama.



Isn't it

STRANGE? Isn’t it strange, this thing so thrilling and fun,    is yet so simple, so pure, and so easily done? To fling ourselves into the endless sky,     to run with the winds and upwards fly; To soar and wheel with graceful ease,     in any direction, to go as we please. Up where the misty clouds do swirl,     down towards the beach where the waves unfurl. Castles of light and shadow upon the land     spread out beneath us at our command. The distant horizon, dim and remote,     beckons “glide on!”, forever to float; Forever to feel the wind in our face,     to feel this our natural rightful place; Flowing with life, with nature in tune,     hoping to stay high, and not come down too soon. Michael Van Dorn,  USHPA #402



Over Superior, Arizona | photo by Jeff B. Johnson

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CALENDAR ITEMS will not be listed if only ten-

tative. 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: 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 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. 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. 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. BUYERS SHOULD SELECT EQUIPMENT THAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR THEIR SKILL LEVEL OR RATING. NEW PILOTS SHOULD SEEK PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTION FROM A USHPA CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR.




USHPA SANCTIONED COMPETITION HG APRIL 14-20  Rob Kells Memorial Competition / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Race-to-goal Regional Competition. Located at the Florida Ridge. H4 or foreign equivalent, aerotow rating, XC and turbulence signoffs, extensive aerotow experience on the glider flown in the competition, and a 3D GPS. Registration: 12/14-3/14. Entry fee $250, tow fees $375. Trophies to be awarded. More information: James Tindle, 786-417-8778, HG APRIL 22-28  Flytec Race and Rally / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Race-to-goal Competition. Starting at the Florida Ridge Flight Park. H4 or foreign equivalent, aerotow rating, XC & turbulence signoffs, extensive aerotow experience on the glider flown in the competition, and a 3D GPS. Registration: 12/14-3/22. Entry fee: $300, tow fees: TBA. Trophies and day prizes. More information: Jamie Shelden, 831-261-5444,, or HG June 3-8  East Coast Hang Gliding Championship / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Race-to-goal Competition. Highland Aerosports Flight Park, Maryland. Pilots need a GPS, a H4 rating, or H3 with meet director approval, XC, Turb, AT ratings, previously flown in USHPA aerotow comp or have written approval prior to registering from the safety director. Pilots must have successfully aerotowed their glider model in competition conditions at least 10 times. USHPA H3 & USHPA membership with aerotow sign-off required at least 7 days prior to start of the meet. Prize money TBD by entries. More information: Highland Aerosports, 410-634-2700,, or PG JUNE 17-23  Rat Race/Sprint National Paragliding Competition / USHPA Sanctioned Paragliding Race-to-goal National Championship. Woodrat Mtn., Ruch, OR. Pilots need a P3 with USHPA radio frequencies. There will be two independently scored groups in the event with each side having stand alone NTSS points. Rat Race will carry the National moniker and will allow paragliders tested by DHV with and LTF Class of 2 & 2/3 or by EN with a certification of C & D. The Rat Race Sprint will only allow paragliders tested by DHV with a LTF Class of 1, 1/2 & 2, or by EN with a certification of A, B. Entry fee: $425 to 4/15, $475 to 6/1, $495 after 6/1. Trophies will be awarded. More information: MPH Sports mphsports@charter. net, or HG July 2-7  2012 Midwest HG Comp / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Race-to-goal Competition. Registration: 12/01 - 4/30 Entry fee: $300, tow fees TBD (see webpage). Guaranteed prize money $2,000. Trophies will be awarded. More Information: Krzysztof Grzyb, or Gary Solomon, 630-533-1288, info@, or


PG July 8-14  Chelan Butte, Chelan, WA. Chelan XC Open 2012. Race-to-goal. P3 w/XC & turbulence endorsements required, SPOT highly recommended. Registration dates are March 1 through July 7. Entry Fee: $375 by June 7 $425 after. For more information contact Doug Stroop,, 509-782-5543. http:// HG july 9-14  2012 King Mountain Hang Gliding Championships / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Open-Distance Competition. King Mountain, Moore, ID. All the elements of a fun Fly-In with some competition and learning experience thrown in the mix. More information: Connie Work, 559-338-2621,, or www.FlyKingMountain. com. HG july 15-20  Texas Single-Surface ShootOut / Texas Shoot-Out / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Single-surface Class Race-to-goal National Championship. Carter Memorial Airport, Luling, TX. Competition will have 3 categories with trophy for first place for each: 1-Single-Surface, R2G, National Champion; 2-Open Class, Topless, doublesurface gliders; 3-Sports Class, Kingposted, doublesurface gliders. $250 entry fee. H3 rating or greater with Aerotow sign off required. Please refer to meet specific rules for further info. More information: Joel Froehlich, 210-381-5193,, or HG JULY 22-28  Big Spring – US HG Nationals / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Open-Distance National Championship and USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Race-to-goal Competition. Big Spring Airport, Big Spring, TX. Best weather, great locals, excellent facilities, tons of airtime, and long flights. Longest continuously sanctioned competition in the US. $350 entry fee. Trophies to be awarded. H3 with aerotow signoff required, along with current aerotow experience on glider to be used during the competition. More information: David Glover 405-830-6420, david@, or PG August 27 - september 1  Bald Mountain, Hailey, Idaho. US Open-Distance Nationals. Flying far in Idaho. P3 with Turbulence signoff required. $375-$450 entry fee. Register April 1 - August 27. More Information: Mike Pfau 208-721-0897 HG SEPTEMBER 16-22  Santa Cruz Flats Race / USHPA Sanctioned Hang Gliding Race-to-goal National Championship. Francisco Grande Resort, Casa Grande, AZ. $300 entry fee, and tow fees (TBA). Trophies & day prizes to be awarded. H4 or foreign equivalent with Aerotow, Cross Country & Turbulence signoffs required, along with a 3D GPS and extensive aerotow experience on the glider to be flown in the comp. More information: Jamie Sheldon 831-261-5444,, or www.

FAI SANCTIONED COMPETITION HG MARCH 17 - 26  Valle De Bravo, Mexico. Just after the PWC Superfinal. Come race at the most consistent place on earth to fly, Valle de Bravo. We will host a full FAI Cat 2 weeklong event for Hang Gliders. Categories: Open FAI 2, Open Woman FAI 2, Sport (kingpost), Sport Woman (kingpost). More information: Manuel Ruiz, 52 5539994334,, or www.


 La Belle, Florida. Sixth annual Spring Fling. This is a fun trainer comp for newer pilots interested in improving thermal and xc skills. Enjoy some the best xc flying the US has to offer during a week-long xc clinic in a low-stress environment. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436,, or www. PG APRIL 29 - MAY 5  La Belle, Florida. The ECPC is now in its 7th edition and is the premier East Coast flatland race. This year we are introducing a new race format utilizing both the race-to-goal and open-distance formats. The task committee will make the call each day based on the weather. The ECPC will also be the first half of a two-competition series to crown the “King of the Flats.” Pilots are required to have at least a P3 with ST sign-off. GPS scoring. More information: David Prentice 505-720-5436,, or www. HG PG JULY 1-6  Chelan, Washington. 31st Annual Chelan Cross-country Classic: Six days of soaring in the peak summer season. Enjoy camping, swimming and of course flying from world-famous Chelan Butte. Open-distance, out-and-returns and triangles. Trophies awarded in all classes for both hang gliding and paragliding. Early-bird special: $90 entry fee online by May 15th. Entry includes t-shirt and BBQ. For competition rules, registration and online entry visit More Information: Tom Johns, 425-681-2458, tom.lori@, or PG AUGUST 5-11  Hearne, Texas. Site of the 2011

US National Championship finale, which logged the most miles ever flown in a competition and the longest task ever completed in the world! This year we are introducing a new race format alternating between race-to-goal and open-distance, based on the weather. This event will be the finale of a tworace series to crown the “King of the Flats.” Pilots are required to have P3 with tow sign-off. GPS scoring and prize money! Limited space. More information: David Prentice 505-720-5436, earthcog@yahoo. com, or

HG PG JULY 29 - AUGUST 4  Boone, NC. Tater Hill Open. Cross country race for paragliders and hang gliders with concentration on new XC pilots. Includes clinics by world-famous pilots, TBA. We will utilize a unique scoring system so everyone has a chance to win. Registration opens May 1st. $200 entry fee includes rides up the hill, retrieve on competition days, T-shirt, and awards party Saturday night. We will be giving away lots of prizes and money for top placing pilots. More information: www.flytaterhill. com, or contact Meet Director Bubba Goodman at 828-773-9433.


FLY-INS HG PG may 3-8  Baja California, Mexico. Sixth Annual Fiesta Del Cielo. Cinco de Mayo Full Moon Fly-in at La Salina Flying Ridge. Deemed The Perfect Ridge by HG pilots in the late 70's, La Salina is known worldwide as Baja's best airsports venue. Launch from the 700 ft ridge, located ½ mile east of Pacific Ocean. Soar for hours, climbing to 3000 ft+ in desert thermals, then land on big/beautiful sandy beach, OR XC into Baja's world class wine country. This year, fly up to 5 different flying coastal sites including a 50 KM XC (Cantamar, La Salina, Salsipuedes, El Borrego (new site) and Punta Banda/Bufadora). Thursday is site intro day. XC and flying events begin Friday. Full moon flight is Saturday night: CINCO DE MAYO!!! The 30th Rosarito-Ensenada Bike race will be Sat, so you can join that too! There will be a Valle De Guadalupe wine country tour for pilots, friends, and family. Fly PG, HG, PPG, and trikes. Event sponsored by TEAM; Ejido La Mision; Ensenada Secretaria de Tourismo; and BajaBrent (who handles accommodations at his beachfront B & B complete with beachfront astro-turfed LZ). More details at www., or or call 760-203-2658, or 01152646-155-4218 or email HG PG MAY 5-6  Chelan, Washington. Annual spring fly-in and spot-landing contest kicks off Chelan’s soaring season. Spot landings on the beach at Lakeside Park Saturday and Sunday. Pizza party on Saturday evening in the park. Optional race to beach early Sunday morning. Sign up at Lakeside Park. Entry/donation $30.00. More information: Tom Johns or Lori Lawson, 425-681-2458, tom., or HG JULY 5-7  Lakeview, OR. Umpteenth Annual Festival of Free Flight. Three days of fun and competitions with cash prizes for Spot Landings, Sugar Hill Run, Accumulated Distance, and a special “Golden Hammer” award for the strangest landing! More information: Audrey E. Henry, 877-9476040,, or www.

HG PG AUGUST 18-26  King Mountain, Idaho. Glider Park Safari. Annual Idaho event just east of Sun Valley. Hang gliders, paragliders, sailplanes, and self-launching sailplanes are all welcome. Awesome glass-off, and cloudbases near 18,000’. Fly to  Montana or Yellowstone. Wave window. Campfire, potlucks, star gazing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Free camping at the glider park. For more information call John at 208-4077174. Go to for directions and more info. See the pictures from prior Safaris in our gallery. Film clip about the King Mountain Safari is at watch?v=E _ 7WJPlDDR4.



HG PG SEPTEMBER 29-30  Chelan, Washington. Annual Lake Chelan Bike and Fly. This fun and unique meet is open to hang gliders, paragliders and nonflying cyclists as well. The competition combines spot landing and bomb drop at the Chelan Falls soccer field LZ with a 10-mile bike race through the Chelan Falls river gorge. We hope to see you at this relaxed and fun event. Bombs will be issued at the LZ. Entry/donation $25.00. More information: Tom Johns or Lori Lawson 425-681-2458, tom.lori@, or

clinics & tours FEBRUARY 20 - MARCH 4  Yelapa, Mexico. Join us

for maneuver clinics with Brad Gunnuscio, America`s top all around pilot, in an incredible tropical setting. We'll be doing basic SIV courses as well as advanced maneuver 3 day clinics. Come play & fly-in Yelapa with state of the art towing equipment. Yelapa is a great place to bring a non flying partner or family as we tow & land right off the beach. or Les Snyder 001-52322-209-5174.

MARCH 9-12  Bay Area, CA. Four day instructor certification clinic. Eight instructor candidates limit, but if more requests come in, a 2nd clinic administrator might be added. This clinic will be done with more content and time to add better fundamentals and to allow for some added topics. Please contact Jeff for clinic qualifications. Participants are requested to do three or more apprentice days prior to the clinic with any certified instructor. Clinic cost is $800. More information: Jeff Greenbaum 415 310-7411,, or MARCH 15-25  Brazil. Fly Governador Valadares. 10 days, $999 includes flying, guiding, transportation and hotel. Fun flying for all levels of skill with thermaling and x-c coaching everyday. We will pick you up at the airport and take it from there. PG & HG led by biwingual, bilingual master rated USHPA instructors. Longest running tours since 1998 by resident pilot. for complete article. Contact: Adventure Sports, skybirdwings@, or 775-883-7070 APRIL 6-8  Sebring, Florida. Over-the-water maneuvers training from beginner to advanced. Progress at your own pace with in-air radio coaching from David Prentice, and his 20 years of experience. Sebring offers one of the best SIV locations in the world! More information: David Prentice, 505-7205436,, or www.earthcog. com APRIL 13-15  Sebring, Florida. Over-the-water

maneuvers training from beginner to advanced. Progress at your own pace with in-air radio coaching from David Prentice, and his 20 years of experience. Sebring offers one of the best SIV locations in the world! More information: David Prentice, 505-7205436,, or www.earthcog. com

APRIL 19-21  Sebring, Florida. Over-the-water maneuvers training from beginner to advanced. Progress at your own pace with in-air radio coaching from David Prentice, and his 20 years of experience. Sebring offers one of the best SIV locations in the world! More information: David Prentice, 505-7205436,, or www.earthcog. com APRIL 20 - May 11  Bir, India. Join Jeff Cristol and Adventure Tour Productions paragliding in Northern India, flying the world famous site of Billing/Bir. Jeff has been visiting India since 1990 and flying in the Indian Himalaya since 2003. This site is located between Dharamsala and Manali, with a 100km out and back to the Dalai Lama’s residence considered the standard milk run. Visit during the spring and avoid the crowds that over run the site every fall. The Tibetan colony of Bir with many centers of Buddhist learning, adds to the depth of the already overwhelming cultural experience that is India. Please visit indianorth.htm to read Jeff’s article about flying Bir, or contact Jeff at 970-729-0078, or email at jeff@ APRIL 27-29 Owens Valley Thermal and Crosscountry Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. Many pilots are sure to get personal bests. View photos and videos from our last clinic at, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. APRIL 28-29 Utah. Tandem (T2 & T3) with Ken

Hudonjorgensen. More information: Phone 801572-3414, email, or www.

MAY 3-7, 11-15  Owens Valley, CA. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari Castle is a Bi-Wingwal pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple national champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari's 30 years of flying and 23 years of living/ flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact: ,or 760-920-0748, or sign up at MAY 17-19  Northern California. Over-the-

water Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information.

MAY 18-20  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. Visit www., or call 805-968-0980 for more information.

MAY 18-20  Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Tandem Instructor’s Clinic (Hang Gliding) Tandem 1, Tandem 2 and Tandem Instructor ratings. Cost: $350+AT; Location: Jackson Hole, Wyoming/ Alpine, Wyoming area; Primary launch format: Aerotowing (No aerator rating necessary to participate in clinic); Other available sign-offs: Foot launch; If you are interested or any have any questions either give us, Cowboy Up Hang Gliding, a call 307-413-4164, or email May 19-21  Utah. Thermal Clinic. Ken reports that many past participants have reported that “Ken offers the most comprehensive course and booklet on the subject of thermal flying for paragliding.” He claims that most will learn in three days what it would take three years to learn on their own. Utah flying sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. More information: Phone 801-572-3414, email twocanfly@gmail. com, or MAY 20-22  Northern California. Over-thewater Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. MAY 21-22  Santa Barbara, California. Tandem

Paragliding Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding. Classroom and practical training at our world-class training hill. Visit www.paragliding. com, or call 805-968-0980 for more information.

jUNE 1-3  Jackson Hole, WY. Tandem Clinic presented by Scott Harris at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Aerial Tram, 4,139 vertical feet. More information: Scott Harris, 307-690-8726,, or www.jhparagliding. com. JUNE 7-9  Northern California. Over-thewater Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. june 8-10  Jackson Hole, WY. Instructor Certification Clinic presented by Scott Harris at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Aerial Tram, 4,139 vertical feet. More information: Scott Harris, 307690-8726,, or www. JUNE 10-12  Northern California. Over-the-

water Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information.

JUNE 16-17  Utah. Mountain Flying and learning

how to pioneer a new site in Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen. More information: Phone 801572-3414, email, or www.

JULY 12-14  Northern California. Over-the-

SEPTEMBER 20-22  Northern California. Over-

JULY 15-17  Northern California. Over-the-

SEPTEMBER 23-25  Northern California. Over-

water Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information.

water Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. AUGUST 2-4  Northern California. Over-thewater Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. AUGUST 5-7  Northern California. Over-thewater Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. AUGUST 10-12  Utah. Instructor Training with Ken

Hudonjorgensen in Utah. More information: Phone 801-572-3414, email, or

AUGUST 11  Instructor Re-certification with Ken Hudonjorgensen in Utah. More information: Phone 801-572-3414, email, or SEPTEMBER 1-5  Utah. Open-distance XC Mentoring Encampment (for those who want competition and xc training with classes every day). Limited to 30 (10 mentors and 20 mentees), Inspiration Point, Jupiter and Monroe, Utah, wherever the weather tells us to go. This is a bare-bones competition. Just fly, teach and learn. $150 for mentors, $190 for mentees to cover retrieve and gas. Register and pay before Aug. 1. More information: Phone 801-572-3414, email, or SEPTEMBER 22-23  Utah. Mountain Flying and learning how to pioneer a new site in Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen. More information: Phone 801572-3414, Email, or www. SEPTEMBER 28 - october 4  Owens Valley, CA. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari Castle is a Bi-wingual pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple national champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 30 years of flying and 23 years of living/flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact: kari@, or 760-920-0748, or sign up at www.

the-water Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-ofthe-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information.


the-water Maneuvers Clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and competition pilot Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching with our state-of-the-art towing setup. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. OCTOBER 6-8  Owens Valley Thermal and Cross Country Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. Many pilots are sure to get personal bests. View photos and videos from our last clinic at, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. OCTOBER 12-15  Owens Valley, CA. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari Castle is a Bi-wingual pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple national champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 30 years of flying and 23 years of living/flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact:, or 760-920-0748,or sign up at OCTOBER 19-22 & 26-29  Owens Valley, CA. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari Castle is a Bi-wingual pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple national champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 30 years of flying and 23 years of living/flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact: kari@, or 760-920-0748, or sign up at www. NOVEMBER 2-6  Owens Valley, CA. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari Castle is a Bi-wingual pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple national champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 30 years of flying and 23 years of living/flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact:, or 760-920-0748, or sign up at

NOVEMBER 9-11  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. Visit, or call 805-968-0980 for more information. NOVEMBER 12-13 Santa Barbara, California.

Tandem Paragliding Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding. Classroom and practical training at our world-class training hill. Visit www.paragliding. com, or call 805-968-0980 for more information.

FLEX WINGS A GREAT SELECTION OF HG&PG GLIDERS (ss, ds, pg) -HARNESSES (trainer, cocoon, pod) -PARACHUTES (hg&pg) -WHEELS (new & used). Phone for latest inventory 262-473-8800, www.



BUSINESS & EMPLOYMENT HG instructors, winch tow operators & experienced sales people wanted. We will train you if qualified. Must have good references & be good with people. Positions available from May thru Nov 30th. F/T or P/T, living arrangements available. Mountain Wings, Ellenville, NY 845-647-3377, www.mtnwings. com

ULTRALIGHTS Nanolight Soaring Trike: Corsair Black Devil

motor, La Mouette topless hang glider wing, plus reserve. Recently flown, in good working order…flies great! $3500 OBO. Contact Larry @ 702-807-9453 or

Mission Soaring Center LLC - Largest hang

gliding center in the West! Our deluxe retail shop showcases the latest equipment: Wills Wing, Moyes, AIR, High Energy, Flytec, Aeros, Northwing, Hero wide angle video camera. A.I.R. Atos rigid wings- demo the VQ-45' span, 85 Lbs! 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 LLC, leading the way since 1973.


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

ALAska SKYDANCE PARAGLIDING and PARAMOTOR SCHOOL - Year-round; USHPA + USPPA certification. Novice, refresher training, equipment. Frank Sihler 907-841-7468

ARKANSAS RIVER VALLEY PARAGLIDING - Year-round paragliding and paramotoring school on the Arkansas/Oklahoma state line in Fort Smith. More information:

CALIFORNIA AIRJUNKIES PARAGLIDING - Year-round excellent instruction, Southern California & Baja. Powered paragliding, clinics, tours, tandem, towing. Ken Baier 760-753-2664, EAGLE PARAGLIDING - SANTA BARBARA offers the

best year round flying in the nation. Award-winning instruction, excellent mountain and ridge sites. www., 805-968-0980

FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in beautiful Santa Barbara! USHPA Novice through Advanced certification. Thermaling to competition training. Visit 805-965-3733. THE HANG GLIDING CENTER - PO Box 151542, San

Diego CA 92175, 619-265-5320.

have been working hard to bring you more! Let's start with the LIVE music and off the charts BBQ festivities happening every Saturday during the summer months. For all you snow birds, call us this winter for details on our domestic and international thermaling clinic/ tours we are now offering. Speed Flying your thing? Come test fly our new mini wings from Little Cloud. USHPA certified instruction for ALL ratings including Tandem and Instructor Clinics, SIV and PPG. We have expanded product lines to include Triple 7, Little Cloud, Aircross, SkyWalk, Niviuk, Ozone, UP, Plussmax Helmets, Paratech, Independence, Crispi Boots, Black Hawk Paramotors, GatorZ, FlyMaster, GoPro, Flytec, Ki2Fly, Sup Air, Dudek, MacPara, Woody Valley, Maillon Rapide, and much more! Our full service shop offers reserve repacks, annual glider inspections, repairs and more. We also carry an extensive certified used invemtory of gliders and harnesses. Check us out at or give us a call 858-452-9858. TORREY PINES, SAN DIEGO Beach Cottage (2BR)

furnished vacation rental; whitewater views! FLYING: TP (20mins); Lake Elsinore (60mins); Soboba (90mins); LaSalina, Baja MX (90mins). Cheaper than Hotel! 760-203-2658/email

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 worldfamous 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,

COLORADO GUNNISON GLIDERS – X-C to heavy waterproof HG gliderbags. Accessories, parts, service, sewing. Instruction ratings, site-info. Rusty Whitley 1549 CR 17, Gunnison CO 81230. 970-641-9315.


Road 80, Clewiston, Florida 863-805-0440, www.



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, www. Quest Air Hang Gliding - We offer the best instruction, friendliest staff, beautiful grounds with swimming pool, private lake and clubhouse, lodging, plus soaring in our super-famous, soft, Sunshine State thermals. Come fly with us! 352- 429- 0213, Groveland, FL, WALLABY RANCH – The original Aerotow flight park. Best tandem instruction worldwide,7-days a week , 6 tugs, and equipment rental. Call:1-800-WALLABY 1805 Deen Still Road, Disney Area FL 33897


5 times as many pilots earn their wings at LMFP. Enjoy our 110 acre mountain resort., 1-877-HANGLIDE, 1-877-426-4543.


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

MARYLAND HIGHLAND AEROSPORTS - Baltimore and DC’s fulltime flight park: tandem instruction, solo aerotows and equipment sales and service. We carry Aeros, Airwave, Flight Design, Moyes, Wills Wing, High Energy Sports, Flytec and more. Two 115-HP Dragonfly tugs. Open fields as far as you can see. Only 1 to 1.5 hours from Rehoboth Beach, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia. Come Fly with US! 410-634-2700, Fax 410-634-2775, 24038 Race Track Rd, Ridgely, MD 21660,, hangglide@aerosports. net.

MICHIGAN Cloud 9 Sport Aviation (hang gliding equipment),

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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, tchangglider@chartermi. net. Your USA & Canada Mosquito distributor. www.

NEW YORK AAA MOUNTAIN WINGS INC. - New location at  77 Hang Glider Rd in Ellenville next to the LZ. We service all brands featuring AEROS and North Wing.  845647-3377,, www.mtnwings. com. 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! www., 845-744-3317. SUSQUEHANNA FLIGHT PARK - Cooperstown

New York Serving the North East since 1978. We have the best training hill in New York. Dealers for Wills Wing and others. Trade-ins welcome www.   315-867-8011


purchase of equipment! The largest hang gliding school in the world. Teaching since 1974. Learn to fly over the East coast’s largest sand dune. Year round instruction, foot launch and tandem aerotow. Dealer for all major manufacturers. Ultralight instruction and tours. 252-441-2426, 1-877-FLY-THIS, www.

OHIO CLOUD 9 SPORT AVIATION - See Cloud 9 in Michigan


tours, rentals, tandems, HG and PG classes, H-2 and P-2 intensive Novice courses, full sales. 787-8500508,


Chattanooga. Become a complete pilot -foot launch, aerotow, mountain launch, ridge soar, thermal soar., 1-877-HANGLIDE, 877-426-4543.

TEXAS FlyTexas / Jeff Hunt - training pilots in Central

Texas for 25 years. Hangar facilities near Packsaddle Mountain, and Lake LBJ. More info: www.flytexas. com, (512)467-2529

UTAH 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 801-5766460 if you have any questions. Super Fly Paragliding – Come to world famous

Point of the Mountain and learn to fly from one of our distinguished instructors. We teach year round and offer some of the best paragliding equipment available. Get your P2 certification, advanced ratings or tandem ratings here. We have a full shop to assist you with any of your free flight needs. 801-255-9595, ,

WINGS OVER WASATCH HANG GLIDING - Salt Lake / region 4 area. Certified HANG GLIDING instruction, sales, service. World class training hill! Tours of Utah’s awesome mountains for visiting pilots. DISCOUNT glider/equipment prices. Glider rentals. Tandem flights. Ryan Voight, 801-599-2555, www.

VIRGINIA BLUE SKY - Full-time HG instruction. Daily lessons, scooter, and platform towing. AT towing part time. Custom sewing, powered harnesses, Aeros PG , Flylight and Airborne trikes. More info: (804)2414324, or

INTERNATIONAL COSTA RICA - Grampa Ninja's Paragliders' B&B.  Rooms, and/or guide service and  transportation. Lessons available from USHPA certified instructors.  USA: 908-454-3242.  Costa Rica: (Country code, 011) House: 506-2664-6833,  Cell: 506-8950-8676, 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


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. www. 1-800-664-1160 for orders only. Office 325-379-1567.

HALL WIND METER – Simple. Reliable. Accurate. Mounting brackets, control-bar wheels. Hall Brothers, PO Box 1010, Morgan, Utah 84050. (801) 829-3232, OXYGEN SYSTEMS – MH-XCR-180 operates to

18,000 ft., weighs only 4 lbs. System includes cylinder, harness, regulator, cannula, and remote on/ off flowmeter. $450.00. 1-800-468-8185.

SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round

basetubes, or tandem landing gear.(262)473-8800,

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 Sedona, Arizona - Private 235' red rock butte with contemporary home for sale. Borders National Forest. Private launchsite and LZ for paraglider. Excellent ridge soaring. See for more information, or contact Bruce Tobias, RE/MAX Sedona,, 928-204-1950


maintain a full service repair shop within Cloud 9 Paragliding; offering annual inspections, line replacement, sail repair of any kind (kites too!), harness repairs and reserve repacks. Our repair technicians are factory trained and certified to work on almost any paraglider or kite. Call today for an estimate 801-576-6460 or visit for more information.

Get your annual inspection, repair or reserve repack done quickly and professionally. Super Fly does more inspections, repairs and repacks than any service center in North America. Call or email for details and more information. 801-255-9595, info@

WANTED WANTED - Used variometers, harnesses, parachutes, helmets, etc. Trade or cash. (262) 473-8800, www.

MISCELLANEOUS Tie Dye Paragliding T-Shirt! Great gift and FUN. $20 + S.H. Contact: Billy Purden at 801-414-6732, or order online

Gunnison Gliders – X-C, Factory, heavy PVC HG

gliderbags. Harness packs & zippers. New/used parts, equipment, tubes. 1549 CR 17, Gunnison, CO, 81230, or 970-641-9315.









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N O N - F L I G H T

by Steve Messman

vacation. With my wife. In Mexico. Without my wing. Vacationing in Mexico with my wife was a slam dunk: a proverbial bucket list must-do. But of course you know that the last part, without wing, was excruciating, even to think about. Actually, I promised Carol a vacation sans wing. I was coming up on the end of an accident-imposed flying break anyway, and a friend presented us with one of those impossible-to-turn-down opportunities. Fly to Mexico and stay for free in a luxurious house within spitting distance of ocean beaches and the Mexican Riviera. What person in his right mind would pass on a deal like that? I told Carol we could go and I, for once, would leave my wing behind so the two of us could simply relax. No flying. No driving. No navigating unmapped mountain roads. No retrievals. But, I am what I am—a pilot—and always in the back of my mind was the half- baked notion of turning that promise around. Mexico? Without my wing? Really? So, while attending a club party that happened to take place a couple of weeks before travel time, I tested the strength of Carol’s conviction. I just happened to mention that Carol and I were going to Mexico and staying about 60 kilometers north of Puerto Vallarta. The immediate response from at least two of my flying buddies was, “You know they fly paragliders in Puerto Vallarta.” Of course, I knew that. I think Carol did, too, because her immediate response was quite different. My wife looked at me with furrows suddenly scored across her forehead and eyes that blanched to the color of boiling cream. “Steve! You promised!” were the words that rippled from her mouth, but it was fear tipping toward anger that erupted from her heart. She was correct, of course. I did promise.



Ten times I woke up to Mexican mornings. I sat with my wife on our open terraza some five feet above the banana tree canopy, and we sipped coffee. We immersed our minds in the life of our estuary and allowed our spirits to be washed clean by the sounds of tropical birds and pounding surf. For ten mornings, we counted Cretaceous iguanas that clung to the sunny sides of palms, and we spied a lone crocodile that waited for any unwary, probably blind, birds. Then every day, with coffee and morning discussions finished, I jogged a few miles on that beach, danced between the splashing waves and rising tides with bare feet, and wondered what the cold, rain-soaked people in Washington were doing. This truly was a fun and relaxing vacation, but every time my eyes drifted to the horizon I saw those mountains that really were pretty close. I wondered if any hang glider or paraglider pilot had ever explored those jungles, searched for roads to the top, discovered clearings sufficient to launch, possibly soared to the very beaches where I ran. Every


now and then while walking the beach, I would stand on a sand drift that was, perhaps, three feet higher than the water. I would sense the ocean’s wind in my face, then imagine flying that practically nonexistent hill. I studied the graceful pelicans that soared with wingtips carving the rolling crests of each wave, and I wondered at the elegance of frigate birds as they soared on nothing more than a whispered breath. And while I may have stared off into the unfocused distance just a little longer than should have been comfortable, I never mentioned a single word about flying, never uttered even the tiniest complaint. Not to Carol. Not to our hosts. As far as they know, it was an absolutely perfect, non-flying vacation. But I’m certain that Carol knew. She can, of course, read my blank stare. But like me, she didn’t say a single flying word: not about the mountains, not about the soaring birds, not about the gentle breezes, and not about me staring off into the distance. Bless her understanding heart. It really was a great vacation.



Speed Range

Glide Ratio

Sink Rate



AXESS 2 AIR • Light & Compact • Comfortable • Safe

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December 11-18 January 1-8 January 8-15

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Buy Online & Save Our online store has it all. It’s year-end. Check out all our closeout and used-gear specials! Learn more

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Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol42/Iss03 Mar 2012  

Official USHPA Magazine

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