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FEBRUARY 2013 Volume 43 Issue 2 $6.95






Hang gliding and paragliding are INHERENTLY DANGEROUS activities. USHPA recommends pilots complete a pilot training program under the direct supervision of a USHPA-certified instructor, using safe equipment suitable for your level of experience. Many of the articles and photographs in the

ON THE COVER, James Gardner spinning circles over

the Eliminator in Santa Barbara | photo by Willy Dydo. MEANWHILE, Over the Wasatch with Justin Brim.

magazine depict advanced maneuvers being performed by experienced, or expert, pilots. These maneuvers should not be attempted without the prerequisite instruction and experience.

HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine is published for foot-


launched air-sports enthusiasts to create further interest in the sports of hang gliding and paragliding and to provide an educational forum to advance hang gliding and paragliding methods and safety.

SENT 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



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 www.ushpa. aero. 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,, (516) 816-1333.

published monthly by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc., 1685 W. Uintah St., Colorado Springs, CO 80904, (719) 6328300, FAX (719) 632-6417. PERIODICAL postage is paid at Colorado Springs, CO and at additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER Send change of address to:

Martin Palmaz, Publisher Nick Greece, Editor Greg Gillam, Art Director

Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine, P.O. BOX 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1330. Canadian Post Publications Mail Agreement #40065056. Canadian Return Address: DP Global Mail, 4960-2 Walker Road, Windsor, ON N9A 6J3

C.J. Sturtevant, Copy Editor

COPYRIGHT Copyright (c) 2012 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.

Staff Writers Steve Messman, Dennis Pagen Christina Ammon, Ryan Voight, C.J. Sturtevant

Terry Rank, Advertising

Staff Photographers John Heiney, Jeff Shapiro



















Pilots Who Make Goal 1000 Safe Flights �������������������������������������������������������������� by Susan Kent


USHPA in Action 2012 USHPA Awards ������������������������������������������������� by C.J. Sturtevant


FEATURE | Sprint and Fly Ueli Steck �����������������������������������������������������������������������������by Andy Pag


FEATURE | Earn Your Turns Hike & Fly Sites ������������������������������������������������������by Christina Ammon


FEATURE | 2012 Santa Cruz Flats Race Part 2 �������������������������������������������������������������������������������by Ryan Voight


FEATURE | Ager, Spain A European Classic �������������������������������������������������������by Claudia Mejia


FEATURE | Pura Vida Costa Rica ���������������������������������������������������������������by John W. Robinson


Hang Gliding Finishing School Part XII ������������������������������������������������������������������������ by Dennis Pagen

500 West Blueridge Ave . Orange, CA 92865 . 1.714.998.6359 .





Flying over the Tetons | photo by Cade Palmer



his is Flying. This is Freedom. A nifty saying that deftly encapsulates what we do and, more importantly, why we do it. There are very few, if any, endeavors that are completely liberating. While skiing, for example, one is always weighed down with heavy gear, continuously wishing that one’s coefficient of friction were less. Hiking with a heavy pack is grueling and taxing on the muscular system. The freedom of flying results in the blissful lack of inhibiting factors that plague ground-bound activities. Yes, we have to set up and deal with gear maintenance, like any other sport. But once we launch, the sport is pure and unobstructed, the weight of the equipment becomes negligible, and we essentially experience a oneness with our craft and the environment. That is Flying. That is Freedom! The February issue starts off with a look at Kim Galvin, a prime example of a pilot who always sets fun as the primary determinate for whether or not to launch. C.J. Sturtevant is back with this year’s USHPA awards that highlight members, chapters, and clubs that have gone the extra mile to support free flight in America in 2012. Andy Pag barely catches up with the famous Ueli Steck, who recently used his paraglider to destroy a long-standing alpinist speed record of tagging three epic peaks in a day. In this amazing feat, Ueli snagged the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mönch in an astounding 15 hours. Ryan Voight’s account of the second part of the epic Santa Cruz Flats race reveals who was lucky and who was good. Christina Ammon reports on how normal mortals enjoy hike-and-fly missions. A nice walk to launch is a fulfilling way to see a country while interacting with the local communities on the ground and in the air. Claudia Mejia sends in a report on hang gliding in Ager, Spain, and John Robinson gives a shout from the beautiful shores of Costa Rica. The issue is concluded by Dennis Pagen’s incredible series on technique. This time he focuses on learning to thermal. And the ever contemplative and entertaining Steve Messman brings us his piece on Games That Melt Children’s Minds. Hopefully, something in the February issue will pique your interest and inspire future plans. From competition, to hike and fly, to sled rides: Flying is freedom.






Corps in appreciation for his work

In November of 2012, the interna-

in teaching them paragliding. This

tion of what his fellow Marines felt

tional Gradient team was out to

award is seldom given to a civilian.

about his service as well as a way

chase miles in Quixada, Brazil. Flying

for him to take part of his team with

Gradient’s new Aspen4 and Nevada,

Raider Battalion was an elite am-

him wherever he was reassigned. Not

the Gradient pilots tried to push the

phibious unit who were used to

everyone received one. Paddles were

personal limits in flying open distance

infiltrate enemy beaches and provide

only given to Marines who served

on serial gliders. They finished with

intelligence for future assaults. They

well. This tradition is carried on today

an impressive result, placing first

utilized small rubber boats to ac-

amongst Marines.” – US Marine Corps

in all certified classes and setting

complish this. When someone joined

standards for the 2013 worldwide XC

the Raider unit, they were issued a

online contest. In Quixada, 2012 was the driest year in Brazilian paragliding history.

paddle. This paddle was as important


as their weapons due to each Marine

Japanese pilot Seiko Fukuoka

relying on them to help move their

grabbed a new open-distance female

High cloudbases could be expected

small boats through enemy waters.

world record in Quixada, Brazil, on

and the doors for huge distances

Without it, they were unable to assist

November 20th, 2012. The FAI record

were open.

with their team’s efforts.

is not yet official, but Seiko flew 208

Check out the world rankings on

“When a Marine was getting ready

miles (336 km), which is seven miles to see where pilots

to transfer out of the Raider Battalion,

(11 km) more than the previous record

worldwide are flying large distances!

and if his team thought he was excep-

of Brazilian Kamira Pereira Rodrigues.

 KEN HUDONJORGENSEN has recently received an award from the US Marine


“During World War II, the Marine

then presented to him as an indica-


tional, his paddle was taken, cleaned

More information about her flight and

up, and adorned with traditional naval

other XC-chasing pilots in Quixada on

knots and insignias. His paddle was




high performance with stable, responsive handling VG Sail Control · Mylar Full Race Sail available H3+ · for Intermediate and higher skill levels

Visit ATF and SOLAIRUS soaring trikes FREEDOM hang glider

1st place, 2012 Chelan XC Classic · Kingpost Class 2nd place, 2012 Spain Championship · Kingpost Class










by Susan Kent



im Galvin has had over 1000 injury-free flights and continues to fly injury-free. She sets an example for us all by just flying for the fun and joy of it as well as making good decisions about when and where she flies. Before you think she only flies the most benign sites, read on. We are talking about a pilot who has flown



mountain sites all around the world. How does she do it? Susan Kent, current Bay Area Paragliding Association president, interviews Kim to find out. SK: How many years have you been flying? KG: I took my first flight in 1995,

almost 17 years ago. SK: In that time how many injuries have you had? KG: None. SK: None??!!!! KG: Maybe a small bruise or two when I first started ground-handling and learning to fly, but I’ve never even sprained an ankle or had to put on a Band-aid. SK: Did you get an award for so many injury-free flights? KG: Yes. I got USHPA’s “diamond” award for 1000 injury-free flights, and I’m working on my second diamond award. But it took me so long to get the first diamond that I’ll have to keep flying until I’m 130 to complete enough flights to get my second one. SK: Wow! That is amazing. What do you attribute that to? How do you do it? KG: I have a pretty narrow window that I’m willing to fly in. If I get in the air and I’m not feeling the love, I just fly out and land. But some of it is luck. There are better pilots than I am who have had injuries. Sometimes it’s just about luck. SK: What is your window for flying? KG: I usually fly in the morning or later in the day when the conditions are mellower. I will fly in the middle of the day if people are up and it looks smooth, and if I can see that people are not getting collapses, but, otherwise, I just limit my flying to early or late in the day. SK: You are very petite; what type of wind conditions will you fly in?

KG: My ground handling skills aren’t as good as I would like them to be, so I limit myself to about 12 mph or less. Twelve mph is the wind speed in which I am confident in being able to safely bring up the wing and have a controlled launch. Anything higher than that, and I will get lifted off the ground. My goal is for every launch to be a controlled launch. I can’t say that about all my launches, but I try for it. That’s my goal. SK: So what kind of wing do you fly? It seems that everyone is always trying to find the highest performance wing they can. Or they are always discussing whether they should be on an EN C or a comp wing. It seems that pilots try to move up wing levels as quickly as they can, always looking for the fastest wing with the best glide. What do you fly? KG: I have flown Swing Arcus wings for many years. They are low-end DHV 1-2 (EN-B wings). Every few years I trade up to the latest version of the Arcus. There is always a market for a used Arcus, since they are great beginner wings. And the Arcus wings work well for me. I’m always amazed that when I trade up to a newer version of the same wing, I can get better performance on a safer wing. I’m comfortable with this wing, and I think being comfortable with your wing is important, so you can relax and enjoy yourself when you fly. SK: If you get into rowdy conditions that you don’t like, what do you do? KG: Usually, I land. SK: So you have a certain bump tolerance that you set for yourself? KG: Yes. If I am in the air early in the day and it is starting to get rowdy, I will usually land, because I figure that the conditions will probably pick up and get stronger as the day goes on. And landing in a hot LZ is no fun. But later in the day, like just before glass-off, I might tolerate the bumps a little more, because I figure the conditions will probably get lighter. SK: Have you ever felt that your wing

has held you back? KG: No. I’m not a racer. I’ve never felt that the wing has kept me from getting high or going far. I just get there after everyone else. I’m slower, so it takes me a little longer. SK: Have you ever flown competitions? KG: No, and I don’t want to. I feel there’s a competitive vibe at competitions that’s the opposite of why I started flying. The things that initially enamored me of flying were the more blissful aspects of it—flying like a bird and taking in the scenery. I don’t want to go from waypoint to waypoint, having to get somewhere at a certain time or feeling pressured or distracted. For me, it’s about the love of being in the air and enjoying the flight. On a day when I can get high and I’m comfortable with the conditions, I’ll fly to wherever I want to fly, but I don’t want to race someone there. SK: So it doesn’t sound like you are into trying to set XC distance records. KG: No. My goal is to be the world’s oldest active paraglider pilot. That’s the record I’m aiming for. If I can do that, I will be a happy camper. SK: Well, you have a ways to go yet. KG: A lot of people I used to fly with over the years have dropped out. Some of them have developed other interests, but some of them have gotten scared or injured, and I don’t want to be one of those people. I really would love to be flying into my golden years. And if that’s my goal, I need to take it easy and make sure that all my moving parts keep working. SK: If you are so cautious, it sounds like you only fly bunny hills or ridge sites. KG: No, I really like big mountains. My husband Mike and I like to travel (Mike used to fly but no longer does). Wherever we go, I take my wing. That’s one of the wonderful things about the sport; you can pack up your wing and take it with you to interesting places. I fly with the locals and other visiting

Martin Palmaz, Executive Director Jeff Mosher, Program Manager Robin Jones, Communications Manager Eric Mead, System Administrator Beth Van Eaton, Membership Services Terry Rank, Office Coordinator

USHPA OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Rich Hass, President Ken Grubbs, Vice President Bill Bolosky, Secretary Mark Forbes, Treasurer

REGION 1: Rich Hass, Mark Forbes. REGION 2: Steve Rodrigues, Josh Cohn, Pat Hajek. REGION 3: Corey Caffrey, Bill Helliwell, Rob Sporrer. 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, Dan Tomlinson. 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 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. For change of address or other USHPA business call (719) 632-8300, or email 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.

pilots, and I’ve met fantastic people. I’m not a coastal pilot. I like flying thermals in big mountains. For eight years my husband and I went to Turkey and flew Babadag. I logged well over a hundred flights from there. The top of the mountain is around 6000 feet above the sea. The beauty of Babadag is that if you don’t like the conditions up high, you can fly out over the sea, where the air is smooth and glassy. It’s a great place to test yourself in more challenging conditions, while always having the option of flying out into smoother air over the sea. SK: Where else have you flown? KG: Internationally, I’ve flown in Turkey, Spain, Greece, Corsica, Australia and Mexico. SK: How about the US? KG: In addition to all our Bay Area sites, I’ve flown at Big Sur, Elk Mountain, Potato Hill, Dunlap, Tollhouse, Hat Creek, Herd, Whaleback and Anderson Flats in Northern California, Marshall and Torrey Pines in Southern



California and sites in Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii. SK: What are some of your most memorable flights? KG: One was at San Marcos, in Mexico. We had been waiting for hours, in howling winds, hoping for a glass-off flight. All of a sudden, the winds died down and the glass-off turned on. We launched at 7000 feet and, without even turning, were smoothly lifted up to 14,000 feet. We all decided to fly back to Jocotepec, the town where we were staying, and land in the soccer field near our B&B. The whole town came out to see us land. SK: And other flights? KG: Another memorable flight was in Alaska. We took a helicopter ride to the top of a 6000-foot glacier and were dropped off, just before midnight during the summer solstice. The launch was really challenging. First, we were at a high altitude, so the air was really thin. Also, it felt like it was slightly catabatic. On top of that, we had to

run through knee-deep snow. And it was fairly flat. So it was a challenging launch. Because of the absence of wind, we were all doing forward launches. The first couple of guys blew their launches and tumbled down the slope in the snow. I thought to myself that if I didn’t get off the first time, I might have to spend the night up there, because I wouldn’t have the energy to hike back up and try again. Since we didn’t make arrangements for the helicopters to come back and pick us up, we were extremely motivated to get off that glacier. SK: So what happened? KG: I was starting to get cold, and, after watching a couple of people blow it, I knew I had to go next or I would lose my nerve. I just remember running and running and running, and hearing people shouting, “Run, run, run!” It seemed like I was running forever, and then I got that wonderful feeling when everything gets light and your feet leave the ground. That was very exhilarating. Everyone eventually got off, and we all had spectacular half-hour sled rides down to the floor of the valley. SK: What was Alaska like? KG: Alaska was gorgeous. We flew at the Alyeska ski resort. The great thing about flying there is that there is a tram that goes to the top of the mountain that runs every six minutes, all day long. You can buy a daily or weekly pass and take as many rides as you want. In June, the days are so long that it stays light all the time. You can literally fly all day and most of the night. You lose track of time because it never really gets dark. And Alaska is big. Everything there looks larger than life. The mountains look bigger, the sky seems brighter and the air feels clearer. I really want to go back. SK: So what is your advice to other paragliding pilots? You see some pilots who think they have to become com-

petition pilots, or hot XC pilots, or feel like they need to push themselves to be recognized in the sport. What is your advice to them? KG: Many years ago, at the end of my first SIV course, Bob Ost (the instructor) told us that flying is a gift. I remember his saying that most people can only dream of flying, and the fact that we can stay airborne, without motors, is an amazing feat. It’s something that most people will never experience. I really do look at every flight as a gift. I think you should have fun flying. At one point, I was more competitive. But I was flying in conditions that I wasn’t very comfortable with, and I ultimately realized that I wasn’t having much fun. I was tense and scared. A lot of the people I was flying with were having accidents, and I was really afraid I was going to crash. So about six years ago, I gradually started dialing it back. Now I just fly for the joy of it. The result is that I have been having the time of my life. I get to spend my spare time outside, in beautiful places, and I get to hang out with people who are really cool and lots of fun. It’s great meeting all the new pilots who are coming up through the ranks and the visiting pilots who are passing through the Bay Area. Although I just fly for fun and try to keep within my comfort level, I do admire the people who fly in competitions and set big distance goals. But most of us have lives that don’t give us the time it takes to be strong competition pilots. For me, the key is to have fun; if it stops being fun, I think you need to figure out why. SK: I know that you also spent years serving as a BAPA officer, and that you’ve been an instructor as well. Recently you’ve been very helpful with encouraging the newer pilots. I appreciate your coming out to BAPA events and fly-ins and helping and watching out for lower airtime pilots. KG: When I started flying, I really

appreciated help I got from more experienced pilots. Many people took me under their wings and were really patient with me, particularly Wally Anderson, my instructor. He was so great to me. If it weren’t for Wally, I wouldn’t be flying today. But, in general, everyone was generous and helpful. Of course, being one of the few female pilots, I found that all the guys wanted to help me and give me advice. But everyone helped me along the way by sharing rides and offering tips and encouragement. So now, I really want to give back to other new pilots. It’s rewarding to be able to help them achieve their dreams. SK: Anything else you want to add? KG: Paragliding is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. I hope there are always new people getting into the sport. And, for all the people who have been flying for a while, I hope they all keep flying safely and having fun for many years to come.

yes. It’s thIs small

An Update from Kim Last month, Susan Kent interviewed me for a potential article for the USHPA magazine. At the time, I hesitated to discuss my perfect safety record, in fear of jinxing it. Ironically, two weeks later, I got dragged on launch and hurt my shoulder. I felt I should mention this, in the interest of full

shown ACTUAL sIZE 2.13“ X 3.28“ X .63“ - 3.28 ounces 83.4mm X 54mm X 14.9mm - 93 grams

and yes. It does thIs much: • GPS/VARIO, 50-hOuRS memORy • dOwnlOAdAble tRAck lOGS • GROund SPeed • GlIde RAtIO • heAdInG

disclosure. The lesson learned is this: Even an experienced pilot, flying at her home site in reasonable conditions and on an EN-B glider, is at risk. I’ll be grounded for a few more weeks but, when I go back to the hill, I’ll be working to improve my ground-handling skills in hopes of avoiding a repeat performance.

w w w.AScent VARIO.cOm



PRESIDENTIAL CITATION MARK FORBES This is USHPA’s highest accolade, and the one award whose recipient is not determined by the Awards committee. Rich Hass, USHPA’s president, is selecting Mark Forbes to receive the 2012 Presidential Citation, to honor Mark’s almost-too-numerous-to-count contributions to the sports of hang gliding and paragliding over a period of more than a decade. “Mark is always willing to pitch in and help with the not-soglamorous tasks that are important for USHPA’s success,” says Rich, “which is why I consider selecting Mark to receive this award such an honor.” Mark currently serves USHPA as treasurer and a member of the executive committee; in the past he held the position of USHPA vice-president for several years. He also chairs the Election committee and Radio committee and is former committee chair of Insurance. Until recently, Mark served as a director for the Foundation for Free Flight. The Foundation bylaws have term limits, so Mark “timed out” as a director. He continues to contribute to the Foundation as a grant advocate. Mark began his formal involvement with USHPA back in 1999, when he entered into serious discussions with his regional director, Steve Roti, regard-



by C.J. Sturtevant

ing the proposed USHPA waiver. Mark is one of those guys who does his homework before entering into a debate, and Steve was sufficiently impressed that he asked Mark to take on a larger role in USHPA business. He attended his first BOD meeting, in 2000, to make a presentation to the Competition committee, and when Steve Roti resigned as Region 1 director in 2001, Mark was elected to take his place. He’s attended every BOD meeting since then, an impressive string surpassed by only a very few directors. Although he’s a Region 1 director, Mark has never confined his activities to just the Pacific Northwest. He

takes the time to explain controversial actions of the board (e.g. powered harnesses, name change, instructor insurance) to the many “skeptical and highly vocal” posters on the hang gliding forum. He keeps on top of airspace issues across the country and even abroad, He initiated and carried out the magazine archive project, which has almost the entire history of hang gliding and paragliding preserved in a digitized version of nearly all the sport’s publications from back in the ‘70s through the present. He was involved in hiring the last two USHPA executive directors, and was instrumental in researching options when the USHPA was forced to move in 2005, doing a lot of the picky-detail work that needed to happen before USHPA could finalize the purchase of our current office building. “Mark is someone I often turn to for advice and counsel,” says Rich. “His practical approach to problem solving is reassuring. USHPA is very fortunate to have Mark in a position of leadership. We are a much better organization for his contributions.”

ROB KELLS MEMORIAL AWARD WALLY ANDERSON Rob Kells was one of the icons of the US hang gliding and paragliding scene since the very earliest days, and when he passed away from cancer in 2008, the flying community created this award to honor those who have made contributions to our sports in a spirit akin to Rob’s. Wally is only the second person to be honored with this award (the first was Paul Voight), and the letters of testimonial in support of Wally’s candidacy spoke volumes about the impact Wally has had on so many pilots over the past 39 years. First, a disclaimer: Wally is my brother-in-law, and I am thrilled beyond words to be announcing him as the recipient of this award. When I was a brand-new H2, I went to California to visit my younger sister, and dragged her along to watch a hang gliding nationals in Dunlap where my instructor was competing. Ginny was immediately bitten by the flying bug, and she went in search of a hang gliding instructor in the Bay Area. Luckily for her, she connected up with Wally. That was back in 1983. Wally’s been part of our family ever since. I could cite hundreds of reasons why I think Wally is uniquely qualified for this award, but as I said, I’m biased. Not that the dozens of pilots who sent in testimonial letters are any less “connected” to Wally than I am. He fondly calls his students “critters,” and his mantra is “once a critter, always a critter.” Here are a few excerpts from his friends and critters’ letters of nomination. “I met Wally a few days before he took his first hang gliding lesson at Northern California’s Dillon Beach, in 1973—over 39 years ago, during the early development stages of the sport. Like most of us who take a lesson, Wally was ‘bit by the bug’ and ended up changing his life as a result. He took more lessons and became proficient in the sport, quit his corporate job to

then manage the shop and teach hang gliding at Chandelle in Daly City. He eventually added paragliding to his advanced flying skills and now teaches that sport as well. Through the years, Wally has continued to be involved in the larger community in many areas.” Several pilots listed Wally’s many contributions to the local clubs, to site preservation, to maintaining amicable relationships among various groups. Some examples: successfully organizing “cross-dressing” events where hang glider pilots could get a taste of paragliding, and vice versa; working diligently to develop and maintain harmonious relations between the hang gliding and paragliding communities, to the obvious benefit of both; liaising with various government agencies to maintain good relations and keep flying sites open; holding a variety of positions in the Bay Area clubs; serving as site administrator for Mt. Tamalpais and as safety director for the Bay Area Paragliding Association; never being afraid to speak out whenever issues of safety or site-preservation are concerned. Clearly, Wally is highly respected in both the hang- and paragliding communities.

For more than three decades Wally has been working with students full-time and then some, both during formal lessons and informally. One former student points out, “This man is on the hill most days of the year inducting new pilots. Five years after he gave me a P2 rating, I can still expect a phone call if he hears I did something stupid, yet it’s always tactful—‘I hear your launch was interesting,’ or ‘we should review high wind conditions.’ ” A long-time hang pilot adds, “Whatever one asks of Wally, he always gives more. Even though he wasn’t my hang gliding instructor, he never hesitated to answer any questions when I was on the training hill.” Even more than his dedication and his availability, his friends and students respect Wally for his personal qualities, his values, his style. “He has an incredible amount of patience when teaching, which ensures all his students are within their comfort level and, of course, still having fun. For this, all his students are very thankful to be taken under his wing, and they tend to adopt the same thinking. More than a few of us feel that Wally has truly changed our lives, no matter how corny that sounds.



His mantra ‘once a critter, always a critter’ is very true, and we always feel welcomed by him whenever we have a problem or question about paragliding.” Another states, “What I have learned to respect most about Wally is a true moral compass, rare in today’s society. When another pilot would badmouth a competitor’s high prices, Wally would defend that competitor: ‘It takes money to operate a business and pay employees in the Bay Area.’ When another pilot was looking for the best price on gear, Wally would ask if that pilot had tried his instructor first. Wally respects his fellow instructors and is more concerned with doing the right thing than with making a dime, despite the fact that his livelihood depends on that dime.” One of Wally’s newest students did a lot of asking around before choosing Wally as his instructor. “My friends who were pilots all suggested that Wally was ‘the man,’ with superlatives such as ‘the best instructor in the Bay Area’ that made me suspect hyperbole was at play. So, in contrast to those who have known Wally for decades, I can only speak to my experience this past year as a novice pilot under his tutelage. And it is difficult to speak of that experience without using superlatives and hyperbole.” Wally has had a close association with Wills Wing for nearly four decades; from these years as both friends and business associates, Steve Pearson speaks to Wally’s candidacy for this award: “Wally Anderson is an extraordinary pilot who has made a life-long commitment to helping others in our community. His actions as an instructor and mentor in both hang gliding and paragliding have inspired many of us to contribute more and set a better example for new pilots joining our ranks. Wally was a longtime and very close friend of Rob’s, and I’m sure that Rob would be both delighted and honored for Wally to accept this award.”



EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE DAVE WHEELER Dave “Wheely” Wheeler is well known to paraglider XC pilots for creating web pages that display maps showing the SPOT locations of pilots who are flying with the device and are signed up on the website. Although one nominator laments that the maps “do kind of torture me on days I can’t fly and just get to watch my buddies,” there is consensus that the SPOT maps make retrieval from XC flights much easier, and the information is invaluable when searching for a pilot who has not reported in. This past summer, a pilot at the Sun Valley nationals was missing for three days. Unfortunately the pilot was not using a SPOT, but Wheely’s map pages were tremendously helpful to the S&R officials coordinating the rescue. The injured pilot was found, and is recovering well. In appreciation of his significant investment in time and brainpower toward making cross-country flying immensely safer and more convenient for both competitors and free-flyers, USHPA recognizes Dave Wheeler for his Exceptional Service to the pilot community.

NAA SAFETY AWARD GREGG LUDWIG While USHPA does not actually determine the recipient of this award, the Awards committee makes a recommendation to the NAA, which evaluates our recommendation and typically accepts our candidate. This year, Gregg Ludwig was nominated for designing and building a lightweight “flying launch cart” for use in hang glider aerotowing. On a typical aerotow launch, the hang glider rests in a cart that is left behind once the glider is airborne. Gregg’s cart, in contrast, is an integral part of the glider, allowing the pilot not only to roll into the air, but to roll out the landing as well. This setup allows handicapped or injured pilots to launch and land safely with no running (or standing) required. Gregg’s design provides a greatly enhanced margin of safety and comfort for pilots for whom foot-launch and landing would be challenging or impossible, and USHPA recommends that NAA recognize Gregg for this contribution.

PARAGLIDING INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR CHRIS GRANTHAM Chris’s nominators ranged from very experienced comp pilots (“If I were learning to fly today, Chris would be in a three-way tie for first place for people I’d go see to learn. The other two have already been awarded Instructor of the Year…”) to experienced hang pilots working on becoming biwingual (“Coming from a hang gliding background, I had several misconceptions and worries about learning to paraglide. Chris factually presented the differences, the risks and strategies to mitigate those risks”) to brand-new-to-flying paraglider students. No matter where they’re coming from, everyone seems to agree that Chris has a knack for “understanding that people come to the sport with varying backgrounds and abilities, and progress at different rates, and he applies that understanding to the way he conveys information to each individual person. He intuitively knows how to emphasize what each person needs to hear in terms of technique and encouragement, as well as caution.” Another nominator quantifies that: “In two minutes Chris simplified what I had

missed in two days of other teaching.” Several pilots cited Chris’s focus on safety; specifically: “It is of paramount importance to instill a concern for safety and hone the ability to make sound judgments in a beginner pilot FROM THE START. This is a priority for Chris, and all his fledglings share these skills.” One of his fledglings comments on “the attitude about safety I’ve incorporated into my flying, and an awareness of what my goals should be in continuing to learn and progress in the sport,” while another reports, “Every time I open my glider I can hear his voice saying ‘finesse, finesse and finesse!’ along with his safety regime and checklist.” Another states, “Chris’s quiet demeanor and ability to stay out of politics make him fly under the radar, but his skills as an instructor speak louder than he ever does. Chris has an uncanny ability to stand back and watch and within minutes be able to not only diagnose a problem but also to come up with ways to teach struggling students—or even experienced pilots— methods to improve whatever it is they are having issues with. Adaptability, integrity(!), and patience are his trademarks.”




In the bigger picture, “Chris teaches a kind of mentality and attitude of responsibility and respect that is often missing with today’s extreme sport hot-shots.” More than just a great teacher, Chris Grantham is an ambassador to the sport of paragliding, and USHPA names him 2012 Paragliding Instructor Of The Year.”

past. Nearly all of us, both current and retired members owe our ability to participate in this wonderful sport to John Middleton.” John’s former students shared many fond memories of their instructor. “After watching him teach numerous classes, I can still see that he gets a

HANG GLIDING INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR: JOHN MIDDLETON John has been teaching hang gliding in the DC/Baltimore area “faithfully and year-round since 1982,” one of his nominators points out. During those decades John has taught the students who have, over the years, become nearly the entire hang gliding membership of the Capitol Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association! He has worked tirelessly through blistering hot summers to not only teach students but also to obtain and maintain suitable training hills in the Washington, DC area. As a result of John’s many years of effort, one nominator points out, “we have a robust club whose membership is higher than it ever has been in the

smile of satisfaction and enjoys teaching, especially when a student does well or overcomes a barrier,” says one, while another sheepishly admits, “ I can’t say he never yelled at me or called me a grandma for launching too slowly, but he has instilled all of the skills I have which have kept me flying safely since my first mountain launch.” Yet another expresses appreciation for John’s teaching style: “John has those fighter-pilot characteristics of discipline and professionalism that are essential to any learning environment. Clear instruction, excellent demonstrations and repetition are hallmarks used by John to teach the foot-launch method. When I go to John’s classes I tell my family I’m off to hang glider boot camp!” Indeed, John’s students and fellow


pilots find his focus on developing an attitude of safety in his students one of the main characteristics that elevates this instructor above many of his peers. “He teaches the key hang gliding fundamentals while also ensuring safety remains at the forefront of the education. In my experience, he creates a confidence in the students while moving at a comfortable, controlled, and most importantly, safe pace for learning the sport,” says one, and another adds, “John ensures his students are fully integrated into mountain flying, continuing formal lessons from training hill into initial mountain flights, not simply turning his traininghill students loose to find their own way into the mountains. In addition to insisting on initial mountain flights as formal lessons with each individual, he also works with local USHPA observers and highly experienced pilots to ensure those new Hang 2s have quality guidance in their quest for intermediate ratings.” In fact, one pilot points out, John encourages experienced, rated pilots to join him when he is teaching his basic classes on the training hill. “He gives advice and guidance to us as mentor and friend on these occasions, never considering charging us. He also uses these occasions to introduce his students to the local pilot community, and he uses us as examples for them to observe and learn from. He does not isolate his classes from the community, he integrates them together.” For his many years of providing top quality, ongoing training for students and advancing pilots, and for his unending focus on all thing safety-related, USHPA names John Middleton the 2012 USHPA Hang Gliding Instructor of the Year.

CHAPTER OF THE YEAR ARCTIC AIR WALKERS This award recognizes the USHPA chapter/club that has conducted successful programs that reflect positively upon the Chapter and the sport. Those who nominated the Arctic Air Walkers for this award provided detailed lists of their club’s qualifications. Here are some excerpts from their letters.

“We have worked diligently and patiently to secure an arrangement that allows ridge soaring adjacent to our international airport (with tower approval), and also work closely with State Parks and Rec, and local outdoor groups, to strategically install remote weather instruments to help pilots forecast conditions despite our challenging local micro-meteorology.”

On mentoring: “Our club contains

On club activities: “Our chapter has hosted several 10-day fly-ins, the Arctic Air Walkers Summer Solstice Fly-in’s, that have always welcomed dozens of pilots from around the country. And we have been fortunate enough to have several stellar SIV clinics over the water featuring some of the best instruction available (Santacroce, Sic Nic, Enloe, etc.). “Other members have conducted seminars/clinics to offer prospective pilots the opportunity to learn more about the sport, ask questions, and then ground handle wings in a local park.”

a large number of experienced pilots who selflessly give their time to help enhance the skills of new and/or less experienced pilots. When I was a beginner, club members made sure that I was on track and stayed safe. As I progress in my paragliding career, I still have mentors in the club who are actively helping me push to the next level, and I now mentor less experienced pilots. Ultimately, the club, through mentoring, provides an amazing educational and safety network.” On site acquisition & preservation:

“In past years this club has labored to secure insured flying sites around the community, including Alyeska, the local ski resort. This has blossomed into a well-run commercial tandem flight operation that continually displays our sport and introduces the curious to the unique thrill of free flight.”

On community spirit: A world-

class comp pilot says, “The Arctic Air Walkers love to travel as a pack. You can count on seeing several AAW’s at events such as the Rat Race, or at great winter sites in Central and South America. We tend to brag on Alaska flying, so many of the amazing people we meet abroad often find their way

into an AAW home and are treated like royalty for their flying visit to Alaska. I am constantly amazed at the genuine helpful nature of the members. Whether it’s work that needs to be done on the website or helping out a fellow pilot polishing his or her skills, someone will step up. It is truly my paragliding family.” Be sure to visit the club website, The Airwalkers have been around since the very earliest days of paragliding, and their history page is a record of these long-ago adventures. You’ll find harrowing tales of the bad old days and photos of some amazing (and terrifying) old-time wings, as well as tales and pictures of recent flying that will likely lure you to Alaska. One club member sums it up well: “The club has consistently done an outstanding job of securing flying sites, working with the community and officials, welcoming new pilots into the fold, and continually preaching the message of safety while also offering incredible camaraderie. The Arctic Air Walkers epitomizes the well-run, progressive chapters that represent and benefit not just its members, but the USHPA, and the community, as a whole.” The Awards committee agrees, and is pleased to name Arctic Air Walkers as the 2012 USHPA Chapter of the Year.

BEST PROMOTIONAL VIDEO LIVE THE DREAM “Everybody dreams of flying. This is a story about one girl’s quest to make that dream a reality.” Thus begins Sara Close and Seth Warren’s web page on, a website dedicated to helping creative projects attract the funding they need to move forward. Seth Warren learned to hang glide in 2007; Sara Close had spent the first 27 years of her life firmly on the



ground. Then, in the spring of 2011, she and Seth moved to Wallaby Ranch in Florida with the express purpose of introducing Sara to free flight via aerotow, with Seth filming the entire learning curve. They’d expected to complete the project in a month, maybe six weeks. Instead, both Sara and Seth became caught up in the passions of the hang gliding community and culture, and the film expanded its scope to include their odyssey across

the U.S. to discover a wealth of flying opportunities, and extended its time frame to more than six months of filming, nearly a year to production. The finished product (to be released when?) is a jewel, a lighthearted account of Sara’s voyage from rank beginner to novice-rated pilot with skills to launch with confidence both behind a tug and via her own two feet from mountain sites. Her biggest challenge awaits her at the end of each flight, and we witness her fierce determination as she struggles to master the skill of landing with consistency on those same two feet. Live the Dream is an adventure story that will appeal to anyone who’s ever had to work hard to reach a goal. Because it so accurately promotes hang gliding as a sport accessible to anyone with the gumption to give it a try, USHPA names Live the Dream as the 2012 Best Promotional Video.


Light Soaring Trike


Light Soaring Trike

COMMENDATION NEIL TREADGOLD When the only instructor in his area of the Southeast announced that he was no longer going to train new pilots, Neil and the rest of the Southern Para Pilots were deeply concerned about the viability of their community, and the search for a solution began. After considerable time and effort by many, the SPP worked out a deal with the former instructor, who’s allowing the club to use his equipment and facility to continue to train new pilots. Neil now manages this new flight park. He obtained his instructor rating, and with another new instructor now operates Georgia Paragliding Solutions; instead of heading up the hill to fly, he now trains students and runs the tow rig to make sure others are getting the airtime they need or crave. As one nominator put it, “If there is anyone around who has invested considerable time and effort towards enhancing someone else’s enjoyment of flying, and in promoting the sport, it’s Neil.” Another adds, “Neil has, for the most part, given up many hours and days of flying to insure that paragliding stays alive in our area. He is truly one of those rare people who want to pass on the love of free flying even if it means he sees fewer and fewer hours and flights himself...Neil is an invaluable member of our flying community here in the Southeast.” USHPA is pleased to honor Neil with a 2012 Commendation.

Climb to cloudbase shut down engine and soar!


COMMENDATION ALEX COLBY Alex is one of those guys who’s a major force within his flying community: He’s president (for life, the local pilots insist) of the Hawaii Paragliding Association and is described by one as the “heart, soul and brains” of the club; he maintains the club website,; he obtains the annual permits for the flying sites on Oahu, which, as one pilot says, “in this state that ain’t easy!”; he’s the meet-and-greet guy for every visiting pilot, providing site orientations and guide service to launch to make certain nobody runs afoul of the many regulations at sensitive sites; he serves as ambassador for the sport by “freely giving tandems to members of the local community to further the good relationships and the positive perception of paragliders.” Additionally, it’s not uncommon for Alex, his wife Dorothy, son Logan and daughter Amelia to host post-flying dinners at their home, where locals and visitors exchange flying tales while savoring Dorothy’s gourmet dishes long into the night. It’s with good reason that Alex is known as the “King of Kahana” (his home site)! For giving so much time and energy to keeping the flying happening on Oahu, USHPA says “mahalo!” and awards Alex a 2012 Commendation.



COMMENDATION BOHAN SOIFER Bohan is caretaker for several flying sites in New York State, where he works diligently to maintain positive relationships and is always available and ready to fly. His investment in time and energy towards keeping the flying scene vital in his local community earns him a 2012 Commendation.

XC Superstar











COMMENDATION LARRY & TIFFANY SMITH Larry and Tiffany organized the Colorado Fly Week at Villa Grove. The event raised funds for the local launch and introduced pilots from around the country and the world to the amazing flying at Villa Grove. Nominators cited smooth logistics, a friendly and supportive atmosphere, a strong focus on safety, “entertainment, food and camaraderie second to none,” competition that was “fun, not fierce,” and Larry and Tiffany’s huge investment of time and effort toward making every pilot feel welcomed to the site and to their home. Although he doesn’t directly credit the organizers for this, one pilot reports having “multiple flights of a lifetime” during the event. For organizing and orchestrating the 2012 Colorado Fly Week at Villa Grove, USHPA recognizes Larry and Tiffany Smith with a 2012 Commendation.

COMMENDATION GREGG LUDWIG Gregg has been investing his time and skills in USHPA-related activities and projects for many years: He’s served as a USHPA regional director, was chairman of the Towing committee, has held various offices in the Texas hang gliding clubs, and is currently one of the two primary tug pilots in the Hang Glide Texas USHPA chapter. Additionally, he has taken it as his mission to keep the club’s tow trike in good repair, sometimes, one nominator reports, “camping out at the hangar to complete these tasks with no assistance so that the trike would be ready for weekend towing.” He also makes certain that the golf carts and dollies used in the tow operation are well maintained. “It isn’t hard to see that he takes great pride in Hang Glide Texas, and rightfully so, for so much of what we’ve built is owed to him,” a nominator points out. In appreciation of all that he’s done for his local club and its tow operations, USHPA awards Gregg a 2012 Commendation.

COMMENDATION MICK HOWARD Mick is the other one of the two primary tug pilots in Hang Glide Texas who complied with the regulations that allow tug pilots to operate under Light Sport Aircraft rules. Although Mick’s first love is hang gliding—he holds the site record of 168 miles from the Hang Glide Texas home field—these days he’s more often on the tug end of the rope when the forecast is for epic conditions,

citing the enjoyment derived from enabling others to have great flights as his driving motivation. He does a great job of finding lift for his towees, even going so far as to mark thermals off tow for struggling pilots. Farther afield, when he heard the 2012 Big Spring comp was short of tugs, Mick volunteered to bring his personal trike and assist with the towing, while also flying his glider as a competitor. Mick’s one of the guys who takes on mundane tasks such as purchasing supplies to keep the operation running, assisting with hanger and trike maintenance, or mowing the grass around the hanger; most recently he completed the design, construction, and installation of a new set of glider racks in the hangar to accommodate the gliders of the growing number of pilots. Mick is an essential ingredient in the hang gliding scene in south Texas, and for his contributions he’s awarded a 2012 Commendation.



SPRINT and Fly by Andy Pag



Photos courtesy Mountain Hardwear


eli Steck is a man in a hurry. He doesn’t really have time for an interview but quickly squeezes me in on the phone while he’s on the train. I can tell he’s not used to doing things slowly; he’s got places to be and peaks to climb. But it’s the places he’s coming from that interest me—specifically, three of them: the peaks of Jungfrau (13,642'), Mönch (13,474') and the Eiger (13,025'). Together, they compose the iconic profile of mountains that have come to represent the Swiss Alps.

Speed Triple Steck has reached the summit of all three, which, in itself, is not the most astounding mountaineering achievement. All three were climbed in the 1800s, and throughout the past summer, hundreds of climbers reached the peaks. However, in 2004, Steck, a renowned speed climber, went up the north faces of all three, consecutively, within 25 hours. And on August 18th

of this year, the same weekend that paraglider pilots across Europe were gearing up to top land on Mont Blanc 100 miles away, Steck climbed all three again, in just 12 hours and 15 minutes. It was his use of a paraglider that helped him shave the time in half, making his trip perhaps the most audacious hike-and-fly in history. To put his skills as an alpinist in perspective, the route he followed up the Mönch, along the Lauper route, normally takes climbers a full day. Steck did it in under two hours, without such luxuries as ropes or a partner to slow him down. “If you’re able to move fast, you don’t need a lot of equipment because you’re so light. That’s where you can really push the limit,” he says with unmistakable Swiss logic. Steck’s ability to literally run up faces others slowly climb has earned him the nickname the Swiss Machine. “You see your hands, your ice axe, your crampons, and they just have to move.” This for Steck is the essence of speed climbing. “When you speed climb, it’s quite dangerous, because you take a lot

of risks,” he cautions. The north face Lauper route of the Eiger takes between 15 to 18 hours. Steck holds the record for climbing it in two hours and 47 minutes. He’s even climbed Everest alone and without oxygen. The list of extraordinary achievements goes on. Just over a year ago, Steck started paragliding. After returning from a climbing expedition in 2011, he wanted a break from alpinism. “I always wanted to fly, and I have some good friends that are paraglider pilots,” he explains. There’s a big paragliding community in Interlaken where he lives, so Steck was used to seeing wings in the air every day. He took time to learn to fly with a friend and enthusiastically adopted the challenge of a new sport. In the back of his mind he was already thinking about how to combine it with speed climbing.

First Climb With crampons on his feet and an Ozone Ultralight 3 on his back, Steck started climbing Jungfrau at 3:00 a.m. without any specific plan. “I didn’t set out expecting to climb three peaks,” he says about the day. “I just went for it. You take a backpack and go climbing for a day, and that’s it. No preparation, no food, no water, just the backpack and go.” Steck set out with Swiss paraglider pilot Markus Zimmerman, but after the first climb, Zimmerman had to leave for work, photographing an acro competition later that day. (Zimmerman later remarked that after such an amazing start to the day, he struggled to concentrate on the competition.) The three climbs had a total height gain of around 10,000 feet; at the top of each one Steck was pleasantly surprised to find the conditions remained



good enough to launch. Jungfrau has a large plateau at the top, so it was an easy take-off in the light 8:00 a.m. breeze.

The Turn Point “My idea was to try to land at the base of the Mönch north face,” Steck recalls. “I was not sure if it was going to be possible. I’ve never done that before. I flew over and the air was really, really stable and the wind was just nice, not too strong. So I could land on the glacial part just below the Mönch north face. For me, at that moment, the day was already perfect.” “I’m not a very good pilot. I’ve only

been flying for one year,” he comments, and stresses that the day’s achievement was only possible because of the rare northeast winds that stayed consistently light, even at 13,000' throughout the day. “It’s maybe one day in a year that it’s like this.” Steck describes the climb up Mönch as a mere training route. He propelled himself up the rock face at a rate of 25fpm, before pulling out his paraglider at the top for his second flight of the day. In 2004, he’d climbed down from the Mönch to the base of the north face of the Eiger, but the warm weather on this day would have made that route up the Eiger “Russian roulette” because of the loose ice and water. Standing on the Mönch, Steck remembers thinking: “It’s still early in the day, what could I do?” Going home and boasting to friends would be enough for most people. “Then I had the idea; Why not fly to the south side of the Eiger and climb the Mittellagi ridge?” Mittellagi, although an easier climb than the renowned north face, is still a formidable challenge that only top alpinists would consider.

Launch and Lunch “The take-off on Mönch is much smaller than Jungfrau. You have to be careful. If you don’t take off stable, you’re



gonna die. It’s serious. It’s about 45 feet. But 45 feet to take off; it’s not much.” To the recipe for danger, add the thin air density at 13,000', the icy surface to run on without crampons, and the lack of reserve or harness back protection. The flight was smooth, but, again, the landing was full of uncertainty as he hovered over the Eismeer glacier. “It’s really hard to see. The whole glacier is white. From above you can’t really see how steep it is.” Flying without crampons, landing on a sloped section of the glacier would send him flying down the icy surface. “You have to be careful when landing on glaciers.” It seems a relatively trivial concern against the un-tethered climbs this man takes on at full speed, but the Eismeer was littered with big deadly holes. “You must have skill as a pilot to be able to spot-land precisely, but you must also have the alpinist’s knowledge to read the glacier.” Steck has climbed around the world and prides himself on having a feeling for these “oceans of ice.” In the end, he opted to fly a bit farther down to find flat ground devoid of crevasses. His pack for the day weighed less than 15 pounds, including the 19m2 wing and the g-string-like Sup’Air Everest 2 harness. Even a lightweight reserve was too heavy to consider, and probably would not be that useful in this kind of terrain. “The dangerous part is the landing,” explains Steck about his decision to fly without a reserve. “I only choose to fly if the conditions are perfect, so it’s not dangerous in the air. The last part of the flight is dangerous. If you make a mistake there, the reserve won’t help you.” Steck has designed his own range of clothing with Mountain Hardwear, which he uses to stay warm during the flights and cool while climbing. Instead of a helmet, he uses a flexible padded cap, for both climbing and flying.

After hiking back up over the Eismeer Glacier, Steck paused for lunch at the Mittellagi Hut hostel, anonymously mingling with other climbers who wouldn’t have believed what he’d already achieved during the morning. Then it was onwards and upwards for “a little afternoon climb of the Eiger.” “Most people take six or seven hours to climb it,” he says casually. The final push took him an hour and a quarter. Normally he’d do it under an hour. “I had my paraglider and I was already tired,” he says, seeming frustrated by the slow time. “It’s not that far; it’s only 1800 feet in elevation.”

Final Glide From there, Steck had planned to walk back down to where he’d parked his car the night before. But on top of the Eiger he found perfect weather again, so he switched to the West Ridge in search of a launch area. Steck was destined to find a few more climbs that day, but this time at the controls of the paraglider. The final challenge was the strong lift which dogged his attempts to get down to the car park where more food was waiting for him. “The flying was the best part of it, because for me that’s something new,” he says. “Climbing, even without the rope, is nothing special anymore; I just do it.” “I’d like to do more stuff like that— more climb and fly,” he says, thinking of future plans. “Last year I had my paraglider in Nepal, but I couldn’t get permission to fly it. There are plenty of opportunities in the Alps, and I really would like to fly in the Himalayas. That’s a big dream. But I’m not a very experienced pilot. The paraglider adds a new perspective to my climbing. There ​ are many good things to do.”

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Earn Your Turns



by Christina Ammon

When it comes to getting exercise, paragliding is the equivalent of vegging out in a La-Z-Boy recliner. It doesn’t have to be that way…


’m not a bold pilot. My adrenals are not calibrated for the intensity of long XC flights or acro. I’m happy taking easygoing morning and evening flights. But while I don’t have the chops for risk, I do take pride in being able to endure some serious cardio suffering. Any chance I get, I opt out of the gas-guzzling shuttle and hike my way up to launch. Flying for me is as much an exercise regime as it is an adventure. Hiking to launch not only saves me from paying shuttle fees and risking tortuous mountain roads, it also helps me get in shape, use less carbon, and feel totally relaxed for my flight. I arrive on launch feeling rather badass—even if I am unpacking my DHV1 before noon. I recommend you consider exploring my top five favorite sites for hiking to launch.

Woodrat Mountain, Ruch, Oregon This beloved southern Oregon site is perfect for a hikeand-fly routine. The surrounding madrone-and-fir forest makes for a cool, shady hike, even in the scorching days of summer. Follow the well-trod trail through spring flowers and enjoy views of Mount McLoughlin and the

Red Buttes. Deer abound and, theoretically, it’s possible to see bears or mountain lions. However, I have yet to see an actual wood rat. From mid-launch: The best place to start the hike to the top is at mid-launch. OPPOSITE Pokhara, Nepal | photo by Christina Ammon This requires taking a short two-mile ABOVE Woodrat Mountain, drive, but the direct trail from midRuch, Oregon | photo by John launch cuts out the circuitous eight-mile W. Robinson. drive to the top. Speedy hikers may even beat the shuttle to the top. From the parking lot at mid-launch, cross the road, get a little running start and make a steep ten-step scramble up the road cut. From there, the trail is well defined, following closely along the ridge. The last ten minutes are steep, but not overly so. Hang in there! Altitude gain: 1030 feet | Time: 40 minutes

From the LZ: Although a faint trail runs along the

ridge up to mid-launch, it’s confusing to access and choked with poison oak. The best option is to walk the moderately-sloped shuttle road for the first two miles up to mid-launch and catch the ridge trail (see above) from there. Altitude gain: 2,130 feet | Time: 1 hour 40 minutes



Aguergour, Morocco Aguergour is the most famous flying site in Morocco, but unless you are part of a tour group, it may be difficult to catch a ride to launch—all the more reason to hike. As you traverse the switchbacks up the mountain, you’ll pass by Berber houses, farms, and locals wearing djellabas. You’re not at Torrey Pines anymore! From the LZ: Most pilots stay at one of the two caravansary-style inns in the landing zone. From there, follow the road until you see a trail peeling off toward the base of the mountain. The upward path fades out here and there, but you can get your bearings by viewing the windsocks on launch. If you ABOVE Aguergour, Morocco. really get lost, plenty of friendly Berber OPPOSITE Yelapa, mexico | photos by Christina Ammon. sheepherders along the way will direct you. Enjoy cactus plants and a stunning view of the Atlas Mountains when you reach the ridge. A restaurant at the top serves tasty Berber omelets. Enjoy your flight. Afterwards, scrub the sweat and dust off at the hotel’s hammam.



Altitude gain: 1794 feet | Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Yelapa, Mexico Yelapa is a car-free village on the Bay of Banderas, so to get most places you will probably have to walk. A dirt road leads up to the morning launch site known as Tapa, and there is a shuttle to take you there, but some pilots opt for the 90-minute hike up the road. In the afternoons, shoulder your glider up to the lower launch (Tapita) via a short, steep staircase of a trail known as “Shit Creek.” Hopefully, you’ll agree that the trail does not deserve this moniker. You will spot macaws, frigate birds, interesting vegetation, and an ocean view right over your shoulder. Tapita: This launch site is best around 1 or 2 p.m. The

unmarked trailhead leaves from town, passing just to the right of the Shambala Café. Altitude gain: 610 feet | Time: 30 minutes

Tapa: Walk 15 minutes through town and up a hill past

the cemetery to get to the parking lot, where a shuttle usually leaves around 9:30 a.m. If you want to walk all

the way to launch, follow the windy road that leaves from the parking area. Ninety minutes later you’ll arrive at a short, shallow takeoff where, god willing, the wind is coming in straight. Run fast and strong from the takeoff, enjoy your flight, then treat yourself to a piña colada after landing on the beach. It will be before noon, but let’s call it a breakfast smoothie. You deserve it! Altitude gain: 2165 feet | Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Pokhara, Nepal This may be my very favorite launch hike. At 1.5 hours, it’s on the long side, but the trail up to Sarangkot is well defined and leads you past some lovely vignettes: white egrets stepping through flooded rice paddies, children playing in schoolyards, homesteads, and monkeys swinging through the trees. The trail is a combination of stone steps and switchbacks, and generally follows the ridge. Midway up, you’ll find a small café with a big view. This is a good place to spike your blood sugar with a Sprite. Just when you think you are tough, stop a minute and watch Nepali women hauling huge loads of wood and brush

up and down the mountain, or men plowing fields using buffalo. Carrying your wing to the top is pretty ambitious for the uninitiated. The best option for getting your wing up is to enlist help from a fellow pilot who is taking the shuttle and give him/her clear instructions as to where to leave it. If you are comfortable hiring a porter to carry your wing, you can usually find one near the landing zone. On a couple of occasions, I carried my wing myself, adding another half hour to the hike. From Maya Devi Village: The best place to start this hike is from the landing zone at Maya Devi. Pick your way upward along the edges of the rice paddies ( being careful not to step on the crops) until you see a dirt path leading up from behind Maya Devi. From there, the path is pretty intuitive. When you reach the top, the trail divides into several paths that lead to a number of launch options. Altitude: 2093 feet | Time: 1 hour 30 minutes



BELOW Pokhara, Nepal | photo by Christina Ammon. RIGHT

Tiger Mountain, Issaquah, Washington | photo by Marc Chirico.

Ruch, Oregon Aguergour, Morocco Yelapa, Mexico Pokhara, Nepal Issaquah, Washington



Tiger Mountain, Issaquah, Washington OK, I have to admit I haven’t done this one yet, but it’s on the bucket list. The Chirico Trail–also referred to as “the pilots’ trail”—is a popular hike not just for pilots, but also for the general public. While saving yourself the $20.00 shuttle fee, you get to enjoy maidenhair ferns and, if the time is right, lots of wildflowers that color the 1.5-mile trail to the top. From the LZ: The trail starts right in the LZ and arrives

first at the grass slope of the south launch, looking out at Mt. Rainier. Continue on for a few minutes and up a few hundred feet to the bare shoulder of West Tiger Mountain known as “Poo Poo Point,” the north launch. Altitude gain to Poo Poo Point: 1650 feet | Time: 1 hour

Christina Ammon is eagerly waiting for the UPS truck to pull up with a new hike-and-fly harness. Contact her at:









PART 2 by Ryan Voight

2012 Santa Cruz Flats Race 36


Task 5: 80km Triangle. Winning! Right up till I dirted… As we’re prepping our gear, some high clouds come in and shade the whole area. We’re not seeing any dust devils today. The rigids launch first, but they’re having a hard time staying up. Not wanting to launch last, again I go early. I am able to stay up, but not getting high, and am constantly working hard for every foot. One by one people come up. Some stick, some land and need a relight. The first start comes and goes and no one seems to be thinking about anything but staying aloft. I hear on the radio that a group is taking the first start. I’m not very high, but I can’t see them to tell if I could follow or not. But as I’m searching I see Zac Majors (Zippy) a little lower than me and ahead, and he’s taking the first start. I see an area of open desert that’s in the sun, and on the course line, so I go for it. Zippy and another pilot are doing the same. We get there, but find nothing. We’re searching, and I’m getting low enough that I’m thinking about unzipping and pondering what road to land near for the easi-

est retrieve, when I find something. It’s small, but I’m definitely gaining and there’s no one near me, so I don’t have to worry about coordinating with other gliders—I can focus on where the thermal is and where to turn. Zippy joins me, along with James Stinnett, and up we go. Given the nature of the day, we top this thermal out, not leaving until we’ve milked it for all we can. We head on course, spreading out to OPPOSITE Gliders in the start gaggle above the find the best line and next climb. We’re Francisco Grande hotel. all kind of stumped where everyone else ABOVE Weston gives Jeff is. The group that left higher and ahead O’Brien some last minute of us should be out there, marking a coaching and encouragement. thermal for us. I’ll learn later that they Photos by Desiree Voight. did take the first start, but turned back for a later start. Oops! We glide for what seems like forever, finding nothing, but just as we’re getting low again we hit some lift. It’s not until we’re already turning and slowly climbing that I notice the rigids are below us. They’re right on their shadows, and it looks like they should be turning final and landing on every 360, but they’re not. I believe they



all clawed their way back up. We tag the turnpoint, and head for the next one. Zippy and I are a little higher than James, but we’re still together. On previous days I was watching the pilots in the gaggle and letting them decide when and where to go next. Today, I need to pull my weight. I realize early that, in such a small group, I can try to help or I can pimp these guys to the dirt. Helping them is to help myself, so the decision is easy. Zippy finds the next one, and again we top it out. While we’re climbing, I spot a field with a dust devil. I



know it will dissipate by the time we make it there, so I keep climbing. I see another dust devil rip through that same field, and again dissipate. I take a chance that there’s a dead horse named Trigger in that field, and try to time it so we arrive as the next dusty rolls through— it works! The lift is very broken, and it’s difficult to gain any altitude, but we stick with it. Because Zippy and I are a little higher than James, we are able to climb a little quicker. Winds are still pretty light, single digits, but we’ll have a headwind back to the hotel. As the climb slows we are drifting the

“The juxtaposition between being out ahead, leading and winning, to being on the ground, is best described as devastating.”

wrong way, so Zippy and I split, heading back to Casa Grande Mountain. I’m not happy about dropping James from our group, but it’s time to go. At this point I pretty well know this mountain is a dud, and there usually isn’t good lift there in the afternoon, but it’s better than cool green fields. At Casa Grande Mountain we find a weak climb, and work it to the top. I keep looking back for James, but can’t spot him. I see a group getting very high back there, and if we don’t move soon, we’re just going to be thermal markers. We’re not very high, but to me it feels

like this thermal is done, and with the headwind back to goal, I’m not interested in wasting any time drifting the wrong way. I’ve been in “help/ lead” mode all day, so I push on ahead. Looking over my shoulder, I see Zippy doing a few more turns. What’s he know that I don’t? Our group of three, then two, just became a group of one, and when I’m the one, chances of making it to the hotel are pretty slim. I’m flying through a lot of sink, but where there’s sink, there’s lift, right? I continue on, and find some zero sink (which technically is 200-250 fpm lift, same as my sink rate). This begins a string of errors that ends with me on the ground. I’m getting low, I’m ahead of everyone, I’m on my own. I go into survival mode, and try to work the zero sink that I’m hoping will turn into something. It doesn’t, and I’m beginning to lose altitude. Casa Grande Mountain is downwind from me now, and out of desperation I decide to run back there in hopes it kicks off a thermal. In retrospect, I can’t help but laugh at myself. I flew upwind, found sink, so I flew downwind hoping the mountain would kick off a thermal? I thrash around low on the mountain for a while, before getting frustrated and leaving with enough altitude to land in a nice open field. The juxtaposition between being out ahead, leading and winning, to being on the ground, is best described as devastating. If you could slit your wrists with a hook knife, LEFT : Matt Barker launching his ninja-stealth T2C 144 | I might have tried it sitting in that field photo by Desiree Voight. and watching people fly over, headed for goal. Zippy is the first one in, but Robin Hamilton, who took a later start, does it 12 minutes faster, so Zippy is 2nd for the day. I’m 25th. Ouch. Getting over the disappointment, I am now most frustrated that Zac made it, from the same position, with all the same equipment as me, and I have no idea how. I know I’d made mistakes, but I have no idea what I should have done. Not doing well is fine, if I’m learning. I haven’t learned a thing from this. So I hire some help—I buy Zippy dinner in ex-



change for a formal debrief. He says he did another turn or two in that thermal, just to make sure it didn’t turn back on, and then he actually followed nearly the same exact line that I did. He just didn’t chicken and go into survival mode. He also got pretty low, but he kept pushing upwind toward the next turnpoint and he found a climb just beyond where I was. I could have made it, had I just kept going. Even if I didn’t find that climb, I would have gone easily a half-mile farther. That’s a valuable lesson, and worth dinner and a beer for Mr. Majors. Task 6: 124k Triangle. I thought this was a RACE?! Big task and probably the best conditions all week. Most everyone sticks together during the task, so every thermal looks like the giant start-cylinder gaggles. Dustin is out in front, again, not super high but flying well. Our group seems to be flying very conservatively, read: SLOW. But we do manage to get high and stay there, which is like a warm blanket on a cold evening. After the first turnpoint, we have a choice to either head straight for the next turnpoint, or detour to some big desert mountains. The group heads straight for the mountains. I have reservations, but I’m not about to leave the group, or risk landing out in inhospitable country, so I follow. Through the next few thermals, many of us are way high, and could move on, but don’t. Robin Hamilton and I were trading “top-of-the-stack” a lot of the time so I was in very good company at least. Yesterday, Robin took the overall lead from OB, and it was obvious today he was carefully playing the chess game and not letting OB out of his sights. Smart. Near the next turnpoint we catch up with Dustin and the few who were out ahead of us. Now it’s a huge gaggle, working multiple cores. It’s chaos. Total mêlée. Actually, everyone seems to be coordinating well enough with each other, it just looks like anarchy. Again, many of us top out and again I find myself wondering what we’re waiting for. Eventually we head toward goal, stopping a couple times to work weak lift. Again, we have a light headwind working against us. My instrument says we’re close to being able to make it, but not quite there. We’ve fanned out, and I see that Dangerous Dave Gibson has the best line. We were at the same altitude, and now he’s easily 1000 feet above me. As I adjust my course toward Dave’s line, I see OB take off on what looks like a 45degree angle from the course line. Having learned my lesson, that I should not be making my own decisions, I follow OB. The guy knows how to finish, and that’s



what I want to do! We head over some shaded mountains (from the sun being so low), and I see two gliders down low circling in something. It looks like Doggone Bill and Dustin. Dustin looks so low that he might be landing on a rooftop at any moment. Somehow he’s staying up, and Jeff and I get there high enough to climb. OB and Bill are at about the same level, which makes it harder for them to center up on this weak bug-fart of a thermal. I am able to get there a little higher, and that allows me to climb unobstructed. I am gaining a few feet on two out of three 360s. After much coaxing of the glider, I have net gained, and it feels like the thermal is dying. With the headwind, we’re drifting the wrong way. I don’t want to leave the group of top-notch race pilots, but I feel like I have to go, NOW. I go on glide, and fly until the ground comes up. I have to pick a line that keeps me out of power lines, and puts me somewhere that has safe landing options. A private golf course on the north end of Casa Grande will be my destination. Bummed that I landed short, I hear that only two people made goal, Dangerous Dave and Ben Dunn. If I had followed Dave on his line, would I have made it,

too? As it is I finish 7th for the day. It’s hard not to be happy with that. Task 7: 78.5k Triangle OPPOSITE, TOP TO Now THIS is racing! BOTTOM US Swift National I start this day in 11th place overall, and Champion Brian Porter. only a few points behind Doggone Bill. Rigid Wing US National I’m going to do the best I can and see Champion Jim Yocom. US where I fall. I hope it is the top 10! Women’s and Sport Class Today there are five start times. OB National Champions, Linda Sackabologne and Grant takes the fourth, and I follow. Going Emary. ABOVE Left to around the course is relatively uneventright: US Flex Wing National ful, until the third or fourth thermal. I Champion Robin Hamilton, had been doing a great job of staying 2nd place Jeff O’Brien, and on top of the gaggle and letting others 3rd place Ben Dunn. Photos courtesy Jamie Shelden. find the next climbs. In this particular thermal I top it out, and with only a few bad turns at the top I find myself the lowest pilot in the group. Even I know that pimping doesn’t work from the bottom of the gaggle, so I’m going to have to pull something off here. If I stay in this thermal until the higher guys leave, they’ll hit the next thermal first, and higher, and that will ensure I won’t catch up. My only chance is to leave



“Thinking back to day 2, where I let Dustin climb just to try to pass him during final glide, I am not about to relive that.” first, even though I’m lowest, find the next climb, and get a couple good turns in before the gaggle joins me. I pick a likely spot for thermic activity, and I head that way. I get lucky, and find a boomer. I stay disciplined and keep my speed up as I enter the thermal, not slowing down until I hit the core. When I feel it, I pitch up and roll into it. I think all my aerobatic practice played a role here, but whatever it is, in just a turn or two I’m back up with OB and the gang. Probably more luck than anything, but it was what I needed and it worked out. The rest of the course goes by quickly, and before long we’re in a climb and calculating final glide. Thinking back to day 2, where I let Dustin climb just to try to pass him during final glide, I am not about to relive that. It’s unclear how, but I find myself in a very advantageous position, and I am going to use it to the best of my abilities! I go on glide, and after a few seconds look back to see if the others continued climbing, or chose to stick with me, leaving lower. One by one pilots leave the climb and follow. Right off my wingtip was Doggone Bill, who is just a few points ahead of me in the overall standings. OK, Bill, let’s do this! We are at exactly the same altitude, and only a few feet between our tips. I stop watching him and just try to fly as cleanly as possible, slower in buoyant air, faster in sinking air, monitoring my final glide computer to maximize my glide depending on the airmasses I encounter. In lifty spots, it says I’ll just make it. When we hit sink, it says no way. It’s a terrifically manic game! At least we are going upwind, so I won’t need to turn before landing. I can fly ‘till the ground comes up. I check on Bill and I’ve inched a little ahead, or he realized how close this is going to be and has slowed to best glide. Either way, not much I can do differently at this point. Now that I got ahead, I need to make it in. The plot thickens when I remember that there are power lines that run between the hotel and where we are. I can’t “just barely” make the tow paddock (goal),



I need to be high enough to clear those power lines. I check back on Bill, and he’s farther behind. Later when talking to him he said he made the mistake of flying into my wake, and lost speed and altitude because of it. As I approach the hotel I spot the power lines and can see that I will clear them, just barely. As I get closer, I unzip so that I won’t have to do it later. I keep the VG at full+, but I coil up the cord so it isn’t dangling. I don’t think I’ll be that close to the power lines, but better to be prepared! Closer still, I clearly have them made and dive in, cutting it as close as I dare. I maintain that glide all the way into ground effect. But my vario hasn’t made the goal tone yet! I stay prone, stay pointy… waiting… waiting. I’m slowly using up all my energy, and am going to have to flare at some point. THERE IT IS! The triumphant goal tone of my Flytec! I pop the VG off, rock upright, and flare. I BARELY made it! I am 17 seconds ahead of Bill, and 7th for the day. Wrap up: Conclusions and Reflections It was fun waiting for the final results to post. The 17 seconds I had on Bill on the last day didn’t catch me up, but a few people who were higher than both of us in the overall scoring didn’t make it back to goal, so we both bumped up. When the dust settled I was 9th overall. When I look back on this meet, I have nothing but good memories. I learned a lot. My most memorable day was also my lowest scoring day, when I was out with Zac Majors and we were pushing ahead of everyone. Despite the mistake that put me on the ground, I wasn’t just blindly following. That day I was worth something to the other pilots in the group. I was really doing it—and hanging with a champion like Zac nonetheless. And being out ahead of everyone like that, the rush was intoxicating. I was also really surprised to find that the biggest determinant in how one placed in the meet was the decisions they made along the way. Nearly everyone was equivalent in climbing and gliding. What consistently put the top people ahead was their decision-making skill. I say this, for anyone who might be considering competing. While skill is clearly important here, you don’t have to climb like Jeff O’Brien or glide like Dustin Martin to be competitive. If you know the game and make good decisions, you’ll do well. Or, if you have good enough skills that you can follow and let them make the decisions, they might just drag you into the top 10! There’s only one way to find out, and as I learned, a low-scoring day can be more fun than a high scoring one!

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Àger, SPAIN A European Classic

by Claudia Mejia


uring the last couple of years, US pilots have had numerous incentives to fly Àger. Larry Bunner and James Stinnett participated in the Pre-European Championships in 2009, along with Dennis Pagen and Jamie Shelden. In 2012 Alex Cuddy, who is from Reno, spent several days at this site during the Àger Open and Spanish Nationals that took place from July 12-21. He shares some cool stuff about his trip later in this article. Àger, a small town in the western part of Catalonia, is one of the most important flying sites in Europe. The World Hang Gliding Championships in 1995 and the European Hang Gliding Championships in 2010 were held here. This site has also hosted several editions of national HG and PG championships—the Spanish, Dutch,



and British—plus a new competition called The Nordic Paragliding Cup (with pilots mainly from Finland, Norway and Sweden). Moreover, several flying tours, clinics and seminars are held in Àger every year, and the local schools are very active in both teaching and taking tourists on discovery flights. When you first spot Àger from the top of the surrounding hills, it seems as if you’ve taken a jump back in time. In the valley, a small group of houses sits around a stone church with a steeple that towers over the surrounding countryside. The entire scene is light brown: the houses, the fields and the beautiful Sierra del Montsec, the mountain range behind the town, suggest the ancient roots of this lovely medieval village. The takeoff is located at Coll d’Ares, 5085 feet MSL

facing south (1500 feet AGL), a large area where up to three ramps have been installed in the past. It is not very steep, but enough wind usually blows straight up to make it a really nice place to launch. This site is famous for its consistent and sometimes strong flying; it is not always turbulent and sometimes is mellow. After takeoff, you can fly along the Montsec ridge going east, cross the Àger valley and fly south towards the flatlands, or fly north—either by jumping straight back or going around the western side of the ridge—into the Tremp Valley. In any of these cases, if the conditions are right, you can even make it back and land in Àger. In addition, because it is farther south compared to many other sites in Europe, this place offers great XC conditions earlier than other sites. One of the delightful surprises for me was seeing Alex Cuddy walk into the registration office. Wolfi had mentioned that he would come, but he lives so far away from Spain that I could not be sure until that very moment. It’s great to see American pilots come to Europe; it is such an enriching experience that I’d love to see more people do it. I was also happy about Alex’s being there because I wanted to interview him. So towards the end of the comp, we managed to find some time to get together. Alex comments: “Wolfi and Jonas Blecher had been insisting that I come over so we could fly in some cool place in Europe. This year I decided to see what they

had been talking about. A couple of days before my arrival, Wolfi said: “Let’s go to Àger; the rest of Europe will have bad weather this week.” Carl Wallbank also sent an email saying Àger would be the best spot and that he was going to the comp as well. So that’s how OPPOSITE Carlos Puñet, rigid-wing champion (Atos), we decided to come here instead of going landing at goal on task 1. to Laragne (France). I landed in Munich ABOVE Àger main takeoff, (Germany), where Wolfi and Jonas Coll d’Ares. picked me up at the airport. From there we drove straight to Àger and got here just in time for the first task; we had driven for 20 hours. “It was a pretty cool feeling of being embraced when we entered the town, because it is small with everything nearby, and posters about the competition and free flight were everywhere. The locals were also super friendly! “I have not been flying a lot of competitions this year. I don’t even own a high-performance hang glider now and am going through a phase of change, where things often get difficult. The business is growing, I am flying a lot of tandems off Slide Mountain, near Lake Tahoe, selling hang gliding equipment, and the school is starting to pick up. It is all good, but it takes some readjustment. I am working on it, trying to do things as well as possible! “Jonas loaned me his glider, and I got to Àger thinking I’d fly the comp and was pretty excited about doing well in it. However, I ended up withdrawing. The super-long



drive, jet lag, and overall tiredness from the whole trip made me think that flying in this unknown place with a borrowed glider in a comp was not the brightest idea. What was nice is that I was able to enjoy my time in Àger a lot and grow from the whole experience. The meet director allowed me to fly around the ABOVE LEFT Sport-class course whenever possible. So I did, and it participants lined up for was awesome! takeoff. ABOVE RIGHT “Flying in Àger is beautiful. The area Pilot briefing. OPPOSITE around takeoff is very dynamic with TOP Alex Cuddy flying in varied geographical features, demandfront of takeof. BOTTOM ing you to use different flying styles. For Blay Jr.—Spanish champion 2012—and Wolfi Siess— instance, often you had to change from Austrian champion 2012—are thermal flying to ridge soaring, then go both second-generation hang back to thermaling during the same day. glider pilots! Also, the conditions were different every day, and you had to adjust as things changed; it was a mixture of flatland and mountain flying. Àger lies in the Pre-Pyrenees, on a couple of days we were not limited to just one geographical area but were able to fly towards the Pyrenees, jumping from range to range, encountering different types of mountains and valleys on the way. “During the comp, the organizers set five or six different course directions, sending the pilots to fly different areas almost every day, unlike many other places where you end up flying practically the same route every day. Besides, the conditions were fantastic and different as well: Some days they were a bit more stable, requiring a lot of skill to gain enough height in front of launch to be able to make the jump back, and other days we were getting average lift of 1400fpm up in SMOOTH lift. “I was surprised to encounter a lot of very good pilots. Because you have never heard of them, you think you can show up there and maybe get a place on the podium. Well, trust me, it is NOT that easy. That also makes the competition very attractive, because it is challenging and you can learn a lot. I hope they keep improving and that



they do well in the upcoming Worlds in Forbes. “The whole comp atmosphere was very relaxed; we drove up to launch just before 11:00 a.m. and were taking off by 13:30 or 13:45. The campground was cool and well equipped; our stay there was very enjoyable. There are lots of things to do around Àger besides flying: swimming in beautiful blue lakes, jumping off rocks into the water, hiking, rock climbing, visiting gorges, rafting, and even relaxing, doing nothing. The whole thing reminded me a lot of Manilla (Australia). “The perspective is quite different when you are not flying a comp, but for me this situation ended up being perfect. I enjoyed the free flying a lot; it was exactly what I needed. I am very happy I did this trip; it was relaxing, cooling and, best of all, it was definitely an enriching personal experience still related to hang gliding… just perfect!” During the summer of 2012 four national championships were held in Europe simultaneously during the third week of July: the Belgian (@ Laragne), the Italian (@ Gemona), the Norwegian (@ Vågå) and the Spanish Nationals (@ Àger). This last site was the most generous because only the second day was cancelled due to high winds. There was a total of nine scheduled tasks, which is the standard length for the Spanish Nationals, and eight were actually flown. There were 50 Spanish flex wings (including three pilots in Sport Class), 10 foreigners, and six rigid wings, for a total of 66 competitors. It was fantastic to see pilots getting so many flying hours during the comp, a nice reward for all the time, money and effort it took for them to be there. Out of the four comps, the Àger Open had the highest number of flown tasks! The competition worked well. Of course, when the weather gives you lots of flying days, the success of an event is almost guaranteed. However, the organizers also did a good job and were on top of the standard services

Thermal Sky Sports Camping in Àger Hotel Port d’Ager   Zenith Aventura

of scoring, organizing launch, task setting, t-shirts, first aid team, etc. They hosted a welcome dinner, a plentiful snack bar, and provided typical products for the closing ceremony, as well as lots of random prizes. They also offered retrieval services and coordinated dinners at various local restaurants during the week, creating a lively, warm, and integrated atmosphere. One of the commendable aspects of the comp was how the hang gliding club Termik-Ando (one of the organizers) decided to deal with the Sport class. There were only three officially registered pilots and a couple more who came to visit who regretted not having taken the opportunity to be there all week. The club held a separate briefing for these sport-class pilots during which a top Spanish pilot reviewed the task in detail, covering all the different aspects of XC competition flying, as well as giving them special attention during launch and some technical chats after the flights. The tasks flown during the competition went from the first two being 77.7 and 74.4km long, up to 105.1km on task three, 98km on task four, 142.3km—the longest— on task five, 108.2km on task six and back down to 90.2 and 94.6km for the last two tasks. This averages out to 98.8km per day. Day winners were Blay Olmos for task one, his son Blay Olmos, Jr. for task two, Marc Utrillo for tasks three and four, Pedro García for tasks five and six, Wolfi Siess for task seven. Eneko Paez, a young pilot who is new to the competition scene, won the last day, one of the toughest tasks. He was the only pilot in goal, making the goal cylinder by just 4 meters! Watching his final glide into goal, while he was coming from a direction that was definitely not a straight line from the last turnpoint (in survival mode), my thoughts constantly switched from, “He’s going to make it” to “no, he won’t” for about five minutes. It was exciting; he received a printout with his landing in the goal cylinder, as a special prize!

Blay Jr. was the most consistent pilot and ended up winning the competition; his father, the former Spanish Champion, presented him the trophy. Pedro Garcia came in second. On the last day Pedro decided to try jumping into first place, but his plan did not work as expected, and he ended up bombing out just 36km after the start. He lost 600 points that day; however, he had gathered enough lead throughout the comp to keep his spot on the podium. But it was close. José Abollado “Ako” came in third. Wolfi was the best international pilot, and even though it was not his best performance, it was fantastic to have him there, and he certainly had a great time. Both Blay Jr. and Wolfi (2012 hang gliding national champions) are second-generation pilots. Overall, this competition was extraordinary. It will definitely help strengthen Àger’s reputation as a top freeflight destination. If you would like to learn more about the area and the competition, visit the links listed above. The Àger Open for 2013 has been scheduled for June 22-29. If you are interested in visiting, I would be delighted to help you plan your trip!




by John W. Robinson





y blue Pro-Design Effect rises above me. Looks good. I turn and step off into the balmy air above the Pacific Ocean at Puerto Caldera. The lift is smooth and abundant, and soon I am cruising the mile-long ridge at 100 meters over launch, 200 meters above the ocean. Frigate birds soar alongside me, and the blue-green of the sea is stunning. I start talking to myself…Can you believe this?! Taylor and his Gin Bolero and Jim on his red Gradient Bright3 soon join me in the air. I can see these pilots’ huge grins from way down the ridge. At this moment I’m experiencing the feeling that Costa Ricans describe as Pura

Vida: Life is good. It’s only been a few hours since our arrival at San Jose, and we’re already experiencing free flight in this beautiful country. Our host, Fred Grotenhuis, runs Grampa Ninja B&B. Fred’s funny nickname was bestowed upon him by the local paragliding community. He’s older than most of his fellow pilots, and he usually wears a Ninja Turtle-type skull cap. Fred and his lovely Costa Rican helper, Kathy, picked us up at the airport—Kathy holding up the Grampa Ninja sign—and our Costa Rican adventure began. We strapped the gliders on the truck and got acquainted with our hosts on the one-hour drive to the guesthouse in the foothills of the central Pacific coast. “You boys want to fly today?” asked Fred with that characteristic gleam in his eye. It was not necessary to inquire twice, so we made a quick pit stop at the house before heading to the Caldera launch a short drive away. We’ve been soaring for over two hours, and the big orange sun is beginning to set over the Nicoya Peninsula and the Pacific Ocean. Dusk is falling over the beach as we land on the warm sand within minutes of each other. The three of us have been awake now for almost 24 hours, and as we laugh and celebrate our first flight in Costa Rica, we realize just how tired, hungry, sweaty, and elated we are. We practically fall asleep over dinner at a cozy outdoor “Soda,” but our enthusiasm sustains

us, at least until our heads hit the pillows at Grampa Ninja’s. Our party of three consists of my 16-year-old son Taylor and myself, age 50, hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where we are members of the Skywackers, along with Jim Lauchmen, 51, a lifelong friend from Pennsylvania. Jim recently got his P2 rating, and Taylor and I have been flying for two years. Our visit to Costa Rica falls during the “dry season” in midApril, the end of the regular flying period, which starts in December. We are the only pilots at Grampa Ninja’s this week, and we really enjoy getting to know Fred and his friends, including Thomas, his helper and fellow fugitive from northern US OPPOSITE Dominical LZ on the broad, flat sand beach winters. Both men are retired from “real” of Dominical. ABOVE Sunset jobs and now share their passion for over La Roca. Flying above this paragliding in Costa Rica with visitors coastal landmark at dusk is from all over the world. always sublime. Paragliding in this Central American country is still fresh and new. While not in its infancy, as people have been flying here for over a decade, new sites are being opened regularly. The launch at the country’s most-flown site, Caldera, is owned by an ex-pat Swiss, Jean Claude Muller, and he has actively promoted flying there, including providing tandem flights. There is a small but active community of Costa Rican pilots, mostly from the San Jose area. We gringos are warmly



Jaco is a great site to get a lot of airtime in the combination ridge lift and thermal conditions, to become even more intimately acquainted with one’s glider. welcomed by the local pilots we meet. A few days later we’re flying a thermal site called Jaco. The launch can be a bit tricky due to the terraced topography, but it is a beautiful site where we soar 600 meters above the rainforest mountains and pastured valleys. It’s peaceful, save for the wind in the lines—I silence my sqeaking vario much of the time— and the cries of the birds, particularly those of the spectacular scarlet macaws. These wildly colorful birds that mate for life are always seen in pairs, but their raucous squawks to each other seem to reveal anything but marital bliss.



Jaco is a great site to get a lot of airtime in the combination ridge lift and thermal conditions, to become even more intimately acquainted with one’s glider. Now I’m 350 meters over launch at a thermal site called San Miguel, and I’m cranking and banking in a vulture-tagged thermal. Fred’s on the radio calling out tips to me, based on local knowledge and a wealth of thermaling experience. Cloudbase this day is 400 meters above launch, and soon I am in the wispy fringes of it. When it’s time to land, I set up for the primary landing zone, a ragged pasture next to a rocky village road. I try not to object-fixate on the herd of scrawny cows, sensing how incredibly unstylish it would be to land on one. A few happy kids come out to greet me and help fold my wing, and Taylor, Jim, and Thomas soon descend and join our little party in the meadow. We laugh and play with the kids’ homemade slingshots, and we share words in our respective languages as we wait for Fred to pick us up. We’re packed in the truck and bushed, but Fred wakes us up with, “Hey, we have time for a sunset flight at Caldera. How about it?” Yes, yes, and yes. Back in the air again, we soar over the precipice “La Roca,” and I snap quick photos of the others in the sublime light.

Every day is full. Jim and I take lengthy walks early every morning, in the hills surrounding the guesthouse. We meet the locals and try to take in the beauty of the new day in this bit of paradise. We’re amazed at the colorful birds. Curious white-faced monkeys move nimbly though the trees. Returning to Fred’s after the morning walk, we’re served a big Costa Rican breakfast on the covered veranda, the soft breeze full of promise for another great day. Mangos, pineapple, papaya, eggs, potatoes, and beans and rice make up the fare, and it is altogether a delicious fuel-up for the day. We fly every day of our nine-day visit in the land of Pura Vida. Soaring conditions usually begin at 10:30 or so in the morning We fly for an hour or two, travel or explore midday when flying conditions are not ideal,

then fly again later in the afternoon, until sunset if we’re lucky. We seldom eat lunch, perhaps stopping for a drink at a roadside open-air restaurant, saving our appetites for the evening meal. This we usually have at one of the local hangouts, OPPOSITE Pura Vida! Coastal soaring over the azure where we sample dishes of fish, beef and Pacific. ABOVE Soaring chicken, not to mention beans and rice. Dominical, a beautiful mixed We review the day’s flying and laugh at thermal and coastal ridgethe comical events that are eversoaring site at a lush and happening on adventures such as this. green part of the coast The day ends back at the guesthouse, removing the boots—aahhhhhh—showering off the sweat and grime from our sunburned bodies, and writing and reading. We attend a local beach party and sing-along one moonlit night, where Fred points out the Southern Cross in the equatorial sky over the Pacific. But most



nights we collapse in bed well before the commencement of normal partying hours. Dominical is a thermal and ridge-soaring site on the central Pacific coast. This site, pioneered by Grampa Ninja and Nick Crane, is about a threehour drive from Grampa Ninja’s, south ABOVE Taylor, John, and Jim, tired and elated after a full day along the coast road. This beautiful, lush of flying. BELOW Taylor, Jim, rainforest site provides us with some and Thomas soaring Caldera. rowdy air, but our flights are spectacular, Lots of airtime! OPPOSITE and we don’t have any trouble making it Another perfect day: soaring to the distant landing zone on the beach. the smooth air of Caldera, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Of course, Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination, and some of the development associated with this is not for the best. However, since paragliding tends to take one off the



beaten path, we are delighted to see much of the real Costa Rica. The natives, “Ticos,” are fun loving, gracious and welcoming. My radio squawks to life. It’s Jim reporting from the landing zone, the soccer field next to the school in Dominical, where he has just landed. “You’re going to make a lot of people happy when you land here!” Sure enough, as I set up my approach a few minutes later, bleeding off altitude above the tall tropical trees rimming the field, I see about 30 blue-uniformed school kids anticipating my touchdown. I execute a perfect spot landing, lightly stepping to earth on my toes like a dancer. Not! Actually, I stumble clumsily, but the kids immediately surround me and help me to my feet. Smiling and laughing and speaking non-stop Spanish, they help me with my gear, and my wing is folded and put away in a flash. As we await the others, Jim impresses the kids with his 40 years of soccer experience, and I amuse them with my harmonica. It’s our last day in Costa Rica, and we’re experiencing our sweetest sunset flight of the trip. Abundant lift takes us 350 meters over launch. We fly out over the ocean, lose altitude with wingovers and modest spirals, then return to the ridge to be lifted again. As the sun disappears into the sea, we soar the cliffs of La Roca, and we glimpse each other’s smiling faces. Soon we’re gliding to the beach landing area, night falling like a veil. Upon landing, we come together laughing and contented, all thinking the same thing: Costa Rica, we’ll be back.


by Dennis Pagen



ost of us old climbers remember the first time we “did it.” Afterwards we were walking on air and bragging to any buddy who would listen. I’m talking about our first fumbling attempt at thermaling. Maybe we only got to third base—we made a few three-sixties, or merely linked one-eighties, but damnation, we climbed in that first glorious thermal. If you have thermaled, you know what I’m going on about, if you haven’t yet done, you have a wonderful experience in store. This piece will help you get in on the fun.

STORY TIME My first thermal experience was involuntary. It was the fall of 1974 and I was flying a Sky Sports 18’ standard rogallo. It probably had a 4-to-1 maximum glide and a 400 fpm minimum sink rate. The site was our local NW-facing ski area, a whopping 450 feet above the valley floor. Just as I launched, a freight-train thermal slammed into me and lifted my nose much higher than it oughtta be. It also turned me, carrying me up and back to aim at the sea of trees behind launch. I continued the turn around to complete a 360, and found myself about 50 yards behind launch, but with about 100 feet of altitude above the launch point. I flew



forward with my tail between my legs and my bar to my waist, still within the grasp of that bull terrier thermal. I climbed all the way. I had experienced a bit of turbulence before, but nothing as ass-grabbing as this. In fact, I was so mind-boggled that I continued flying straight out from launch to get away from the terrain, but I was heading into the maw of that booming thermal. I never made another turn, but continued climbing for about a mile and eventually reached about 1000 feet above launch (we had no instruments then—or helmets—or parachutes) as indicated by where I ended up. I flew into a headwind and landed about one and a half miles in front of launch, for my first XC flight. I vividly recall the sky that day and it was a solid street that I trailed under into the valley. I don’t know if I have ever encountered such a wonderful lift day since. Too bad I was too ignorant to exploit it. I first saw a hang glider pilot— Charlie Baughman—thermal on a hang glider at Green Mountain near Golden, Colorado in February 1975. I was there to attend the first formative meeting of the USHPA, but my own development was on a nine-month delay due to a broken leg. By then I had heard of thermals as these hypothetical

blobs of lift that we “perhaps” could exploit for lift (sailplane pilots gave us a bit of info, but our comparatively pitiful performance probably rendered the possibility nearly nil in their view). My first intentional thermal flight occurred in the spring of 1976 at Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina, during the first Masters of Hang Gliding meet (yeah, I know it’s pretty funny to be a “master” without knowing how to thermal!). I was on launch and saw a curious thing. Steve Moyes (about the best all-around pilot of the era) started turning 360s out in front of launch. Rollie Davies soon joined him, and both of them started climbing above the weak ridge lift that they had been floating around in. Immediately the light bulb went off in my head; I launched, went to their locale and started turning. The thermal was big, light and smooth, which probably helped my fledgling attempt, but in a few circles I felt I had the hang of it. I climbed a few hundred feet in that sweet thermal and a few others for about an hour. From that point on I really grasped the concept of finding the core, centering, drift, turbulent edges, etc. Of course, I have missed a few, lost a few, got ejected from a few and dropped from the bottom of a few since then, but it was a sudden transforming, mind-altering, life-changing, uplifting experience that perhaps only gets shared by other pilots and the likes of Joan of Arc or Paul of Tarsus. My experiences will help the reader perceive that in the early years we didn’t really know what thermals were or what we were doing. Thermals are

invisible and so were the people who had all the information: sailplane pilots. We had to learn on our own through trial and error. Fortunately for those pilots coming into their own now, there is a wealth of information about the how, why, when and where of thermals.

GETTING STARTED You can prepare for thermal flight long before you are invited to the real show. Soon after you get your first high flight and your instructor approves, you can start practicing 360° turns. First, you may be doing them near the landing field to control your altitude, then once you are ridge soaring you may have extra height and may do them on the way out to land and again over the landing field. If you are towing, you should have plenty of clearance to practice 360s soon after your early solo flights. Chances are your instructor helped you perform 360s while you were still tandem flying. At any rate,

practicing 360s in all their variations is the best preparation for thermal flying because we must perform 360s in order to stay within the confines of a thermal. These variations are left and right 360s, as well as various degrees of bank up to and including 45 degrees or even steeper (the steeper turns are for positioning, not necessarily for thermaling efficiently, but since you are practicing 360s, might as well learn all the variations). Learn to do slow minimum sink 360s, fast minimum sink 360s, diving 360s, continuous 360s, reversing 360s and 360s in your sleep. We can’t emphasize this point enough. If you want to expedite your thermal learning (and even if you already have some thermaling proudly inscribed in your log book) do hundreds of 360s. Period. When you are doing all this running around in circles, take note of how your circles drift in wind. Also note how long it takes to complete a 360 at different bank angles. Finally, note how

much altitude you lose in one 360 in zero lift—at different bank angles. This total practice and awareness gives you a solid basis to maximize your thermaling performance. If you noted in my story above, I learned to thermal in a day. But, I had already performed hundreds of 360s by that time. That’s what we did for fun back in the Stone Age (when gliders sank like a stone).

GETTING HOOKED The excitement and enjoyment of thermal flying starts from the very beginning of your experience and continues throughout your flying career since there are so many different types of thermals and variations thereof. Almost every thermal experience is different, although there are enough similarities that we can make sense of them and put together the skills to ride them high. Let’s start by understanding the



THE GAIN PLAN nature of thermals. There are books on thermal flying that describe them in all their complexities, but for our purposes here, it is only necessary to think of a thermal as a column or bubble of warm rising air. That means it is pretty much circular in shape when viewed from the top down (or the bottom up!). It rises because it is lighter than the surrounding air since it is warmer or contains more water vapor (which is lighter than dry air made of nitrogen and oxygen). So all we need to do to thermal is find one of these bubbles and remain inside it, right? The place to find a thermal is often right near launch since thermals tend to track up a hillside or mountain. The easiest situation for new thermalers is when ridge lift helps you stay up and troll along the ridge until you encounter a thermal. If you are towing and in the flatlands, you have two assists: learn where the local house (frequently appearing) thermal resides from experienced pilots, and look for where other pilots are circling. In any case, perhaps you can enlist the help of another pilot to communicate with you by radio and vector you in to a thermal. A few years back I guided a pilot new to thermaling out over the valley at a local site and we went from thermal to thermal for over half an hour. Some fun! Timing is somewhat important. Thermals disrupt the airflow because they move upward, sometimes nearly perpendicular to the overall wind. They cause a certain amount of disruption of the flow, which we feel as turbulence. During the stronger part of the day— say from noon to 4:00 p.m.—this turbulence can be quite as noticeable as a punch in the nose. For this reason, we recommend new thermal pilots to make their first real attempts later in the day, after things have settled down. Typically the best time for you will be after 4:00 p.m. until sunset (in summer months).



Again, the “monkey see, monkey do” approach is ideal for learning to thermal. That is, watch what others do and try to emulate them. However, if your first thermal attempts are in soaring winds, there may be a problem with drift. For that reason, when you first encounter a thermal, we recommend that first you do a cotter-pin turn (see Part XII—the previous part of this series). What we mean is to turn 180 degrees within the confines of the thermal and control the turn so you end up back in the ridge lift going the other way. (Of course, if you are flying from tow in the flatlands, go for the whole hog and try 360ing.) Next—yes, the very next thermal if you can control your excitement—try doing linked 180s while trying to remain within the confines of the thermal. Note that you should be thinking linked figure 8s, because if you only do 180s in very light winds you move forward (just as when using 180s during landing setup), and drift out the front of the thermal. These practices are shown in figure 1. After a few trials and tests you may discover that it is difficult to stay inside the thermal with linked 180s or figure 8s. The reversing turns lose more altitude than a continuous 360, and unless the thermal is very large, you can’t avoid wandering off the edge of the lift. Even so, experienced pilots will use linked figure 8s to get up in a thermal right after launch if there isn’t enough clearance from the mountain to perform a 360. You may have to use this figure-8 method for quite a few thermals or quite a few flights until that magic moment when you are high enough (say 100 feet above the ridge) or away from the hill (perhaps on the way out to landing) when you meet a thermal. Then it is time to try your first 360 in the lift. Pay attention to what you feel and try to perform a nice, smooth 360. If you feel yourself climbing, keep turning. However, with

every 360, make a judgment about your position—are you getting behind the launch/hill/ridge/mountain, or drifting away from the landing field? Remember, while thermaling it is important to never get “rapture of the heights” and forget where you are. In the early years we learned to thermal without instruments, but why make it harder than it needs to be? Get yourself a vario and learn what it tells you. Have an experienced pilot help you set it up for sensitivity and thresholds for best efficiency. Do not stare at it. Learn to hear the sweet sound of lift and the dismal scream of sink. Try to maximize the sweet melody with every 360. Next month we’ll cover some details of how to stay in the best lift. For now, keep repeating the experience of trying those big, fat, lazy, blobby thermals. Eventually, as you gain skill at staying in their confines and you learn how turbulence can burble around the thermal perimeter, you will be ready to try stronger and smaller thermals. In other words, you may be attempting to thermal more during the best part of the afternoon.

BEGINNER CAUTIONS While you are in the beginning thermal stages, it is important to be aware of what can go wrong and what to avoid. The first, and most critical matter is to be aware that you may drift with the wind when performing a 360, so you must always maintain plenty of clearance away from the mountain. Usually it is not possible to 360 when you meet a thermal right after launching, unless there is nearly nil wind and you have flown forward a bit to acquire ample clearance. But flying forward may take you out of the lift if it is hugging the slope. For that reason we typically do figure 8s in weak or non-ridge soaring conditions as described above. The second danger, somewhat related to the above, is encountering

turbulence in the thermal which slows or stops your turn or even drops you when you are on the downwind part of your circle. The danger is that if you are heading towards the slope when this happens, you might have a close encounter of the hurtful kind. Turbulence in a thermal is especially common when the thermal is close to the terrain because of the drag of the ground and the early mixing as the thermal forms. The safe procedure for all pilots who have been around for a while and want to continue being around is to thermal with a bit of extra speed for control when flying near the terrain. We’ll look at this matter in more detail next month. Often, especially when learning to thermal on weak days or later in the day when the thermals are milder, the transition into a thermal can be very smooth—you start feeling a gradual change from sinking to climbing. On many occasions, however, there can be turbulence in a halo around the

thermal (see figure 2). This turbulence can alter your nice smooth 360, and even cause you to lose the thermal if it grabs a wing. Most frequently when the thermal annular turbulence grabs you it dumps you out of the thermal away from the center. In a mild thermal/mild turbulence you may lose 50 feet or so in the sink around the thermal before you can get back into the lift. In a very strong thermal/ strong turbulence/strong sink, you may lose as much as 150 feet. Clearly it is dangerous to get spit out when you are close to the terrain. That is why we fly with a bit of extra speed when close to the terrain and try to stay well within the thermal’s confines with tighter circles. Think about this matter—it is important for safety and performance. And, of course, getting spit out like a watermelon seed is humiliating if you wallow in sink while others are riding the elevator with glee. The final potential danger is drifting with the thermal so far back behind the front of the ridge that you cannot reach

the front of the mountain. Remember, there may be a venturi above the top of the mountain and most likely sink as you leave the thermal and head upwind. For that reason we caution all pilots new to thermaling to maintain a one-to-one glide (1/1 or 45 degrees) to the front of the mountain. If a thermal is reasonably strong and the wind is reasonably light, you will easily climb above this glide path. Don’t compromise on this rule; those who have sometimes have regretted it seriously. Of course, if you are towing in the flat lands, these terrain warnings are mostly not germane, but be cautious of drifting so far downwind that you cannot reach the desired landing field/tow field. We who have gone before envy you, for there is a whole new world opening to you when you encounter your first thermal and make it your own. Revel in the experience and tell your friends about it. The enthusiasm is infectious. Next month we’ll cover more thermal lore and learning.



CALENDAR ITEMS will not be listed if only tenta-

tive. 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: CLINICS & TOURS will not be listed if only tentative. Please include exact information (event, date, contact name and phone number). Items should be received no later than six weeks prior. For more complete information on the Clinics & Tours 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 809011330. If paying with credit card, you may email the previous information and classified to info@ushpa. aero. For security reasons, please call your Visa/ MC or Amex info to the office. No refunds will be given on ads cancelled that are scheduled to run multiple months. (719) 632-8300. Fax (719) 6326417 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.



CALENDAR MEETINGS MARCH 14-16  Colorado Springs, Colorado. USHPA Board of director meeting. More information at

SANCTIONED COMPETITION PG MARCH 5 - 11  LaBelle, Florida. The Florida Ridge. Requirements: P3 with tow sign-off and a GPS. Entry fee: $300. Tow fees: $150. Registration begins 2/1. Prizes: 10% of entry fees split according to category; Trophies for top 3 overall, top serial and top woman. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436, earthcog@yahoo. com, or PG AUGUST 25 - September 1  Inspo, Jupiter, Monroe, UT Nationals & Mentoring Comp with three levels of competition including mentoring teams. Requirements: P3 with RLF & good kiting skills. Entry Fee: $428; late fee after 7/1 $495. Awards for all three levels & all participants. SPOT locators with live tracking required. More information: Ken Hudonjorgensen, 801-5723414,, or HG MARCH 10-16  Southern Field, Americus, Georgia. Requirements: H4 or foreign equivalent for open class, H3 or foreign equivalent for sport class, aerotow rating, XC & turbulence signoffs, extensive aerotow experience on the glider to be flown in the competition, and 3D GPS. Registration: 12/10 to 4/10. Entry Fee: $325; Tow Fees: TBA. Prize money TBA. Trophies and day prizes. More information: Jamie Sheldon, 831-2615444,, or HG June 2-8  Highland Aerosports, Ridgely Airpark, Ridgely, MD Requirements: H4, H3 with meet director approval, XC, Turb, AT ratings, previously flown in a USHPA aerotow competition or have written approval(acquired prior to registration) from meet director, and a GPS. Pilots must have successfully aerotowed their glider in competition at least 10 times. Must have USHPA membership & H3 aerotow sign-off minimum 7 days prior to start of the meet. Entry Fee: $525, $575 after 4/15 OPEN; $425, $475 after 4/15 SPORT. Registration dates: 3/31-6/02. Prize money TBD from entries. More information: Highland Aerosports 410-634-2700,, or HG JUNE 16-22  Sandia, NM. Requirements: H4, Turbulence, Cliff Launch, XC, Restricted Landing Field. Entry Fee: $300. Registration dates TBD. More information: Andrew Vanis, 505304-5306,, or www.

HG JULY 7-14  King Mountain, Moore, ID. Requirements: H4 or H3 with H4 sponsor, turbulence sign-off, USHPA membership, and standard safety equipment. Entry fee: $100. Registration dates: 1/1-7/7. All the elements of a fly-in with a huge dollop of learning experience, then add a smidgen of competition, stir it up with an unbelievable amount of camaraderie and what you get is a recipe for the most fun you can have while expanding your horizons. This year we are going to try something new, we are going to have both raceto-goal and open distance at the same competition. Come join the fun! More information: Connie Work, 559-338-2370, connie@lockelectric. com, or HG AUGUST 4-10  Big Spring, TX. Requirements: H3 USHPA rating, current experience aerotowing on glider to be used during the competition. Entry Fee: $350; towing Fees: TBA - similar to previous meets. Registration Opens: 4/1. Trophies to be awarded. Best flying conditions for a competition anywhere in the world! Great locals and excellent facilities. Tons of airtime, long flights, high cloudbase. Longest continuously sanctioned competition in the US! More information: David Glover, 405-830-6420,, or HG SEPTEMBER 15-21  Francisco Grande Resort, Casa Grande, AZ. Requirements: H4 or foreign equivalent for open class, H3 or foreign equivalent for sport class, aerotow rating, XC and turbulence signoffs, and extensive aerotow experience on the glider to be flown in the competition. 3D GPS required. Registration dates: 4/158/15. Entry Fee: $325; Tow fees: TBA. Trophies and day prizes. More information: Jamie Shelden, 831-261-5444,, or HG PG SEPTEMBER 27 & 28  Salt Lake City, UT. USHPA-sanctioned HG & PG Accuracy Spotlanding National Championship. Hang gliding nationals held on September 27th and paragliding nationals held on September 28th. Entry fee is $75. Registration from 11/1/12 to 9/15/13. For more information: Stacy Whitmore, www.cuasa. com, or, or 435-979-0225

clinics & tours THRU MARCH 31  Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Yep, hang gliding and paragliding daily at the winter flying paradise in central Mexico— Valle de Bravo. Base packages $895 PG, $1195 HG. Sunday to Sunday includes airport transportation, lodging, flying transpo and guiding. Getting close to 20 years of providing service. FlyMexico! More information: Jeffrey Hunt, 800-861-7198, jeff@, or

january 20 - february 17  Columbia. Come explore some of the best flying sites Colombia has to offer. From Medellin to Roldanillo we will fly many of the best-known sites. Improve your thermal and XC skills under the guidance of David Prentice, who has 20 years paragliding experience including 11 years guiding. World-class lodging and logistics. More info: David Prentice, 505-720-5436, or JANUARY 26 - FEBRUARY 3  Roldanillo, Co-

lombia. Eagle Paragliding and Paraglide Utah are teaming up to offer 4 weeks of unforgettable flying in Roldanillo, Colombia. This is the world-class site where the Paragliding World Cup will be held just before our tours. These tours are for pilots of all levels. We will be offering coaching on thermaling, XC flying, tandem XC flying, and will be setting race-to-goal tasks daily for those interested. We have been offering tours for over a decade all over the world. Let Rob Sporrer, Brad Gunnuscio, and the rest of our high-caliber staff of instructors support you in achieving your goals for the week. Visit, or contact us directly at, or 805-968-0980.

JANUARY 27 - FEBRUARY 3  Tapalpa, Mexico.

P3 pilots will fly a world-class site with 2500’ vertical near Guadalajara. Enjoy four different sites within an hour of hotel: Tapalpa, San Marco, Jocotepec, and Colima. Avoid Valle crowds! Airport pickup, private hotel room, breakfast, and guiding & coaching during six days of flying for $1500. See videos and description at or call 303494-2820. Or stay both weeks for $2500.

february 23 - march 3  Roldanillo, Colombia. Eagle Paragliding and Paraglide Utah are teaming up to offer 4 weeks of unforgettable flying in Roldanillo, Colombia. This is the world-class site where the Paragliding World Cup will be held just before our tours. These tours are for pilots of all levels. We will be offering coaching on thermaling, XC flying, tandem XC flying, and will be setting race-to-goal tasks daily for those interested. We have been offering tours for over a decade all over the world. Let Rob Sporrer, Brad Gunnuscio, and the rest of our high-caliber staff of instructors support you in achieving your goals for the week. Visit, or contact us directly at, or 805-968-0980.


february 23 - march 17  Brazil. Espirito

Santo, Governador Valadares, Pancas, Bixou, and Guandu. Come join us as we trek and fly across the amazing sites of Espirito Santo. Seven to 14 day tours. We will fly the amazing monoliths of Pancas, and Bixou Guandu, on our way to the world-renowned Governador Valadares. Improve your thermal and XC skills under the guidance of David Prentice, who has 20 years paragliding experience including 11 years guiding. World-class lodging and logistics. More info: David Prentice, 505-720-5436, or


february 3-11  Roldanillo, Colombia. Eagle Paragliding and Paraglide Utah are teaming up to offer 4 weeks of unforgettable flying in Roldanillo, Colombia. This is the world-class site where the Paragliding World Cup will be held just before our tours. These tours are for pilots of all levels. We will be offering coaching on thermaling, XC flying, tandem XC flying, and will be setting race-to-goal tasks daily for those interested. We have been offering tours for over a decade all over the world. Let Rob Sporrer, Brad Gunnuscio, and the rest of our high-caliber staff of instructors support you in achieving your goals for the week. Visit www., or contact us directly at rob@, or 805-968-0980.


february 15-23  Roldanillo, Colombia. Eagle Paragliding and Paraglide Utah are teaming up to offer 4 weeks of unforgettable flying in Roldanillo, Colombia. This is the world-class site where the Paragliding World Cup will be held just before our tours. These tours are for pilots of all levels. We will be offering coaching on thermaling, XC flying, tandem XC flying, and will be setting race-to-goal tasks daily for those interested. We have been offering tours for over a decade all over the world. Let Rob Sporrer, Brad Gunnuscio, and the rest of our high-caliber staff of instructors support you in achieving your goals for the week. Visit www., or contact us directly at rob@, or 805-968-0980.

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

ds, pg) -HARNESSES (trainer, cocoon, pod) -PARACHUTES (hg&pg) -WHEELS (new & used). Phone for latest inventory 262-473-8800, www.

BUSINESS & EMPLOYMENT Hang Glider instructors needed May thru

November 2013 Full and part time, certified or will train Mountain Wings Inc.


ALAska AK Paramotor - Paragliding & Paramotor School. Year-round: USHPA+USPPA certification. Novice, Refresher, Training, Equipment. Frank Sihler 907-841-7468




paragliding and paramotoring school on the Arkansas/Oklahoma state line in Fort Smith. More information:

CALIFORNIA - Year-round excellent instruction, Southern California & Baja. Powered paragliding, clinics, tours, tandem, towing. Ken Baier 760-753-2664,




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

FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in

beautiful Santa Barbara! USHPA Novice through Advanced certification. Thermaling to competition training. Visit 805-9653733.

FLY AWAY HANG GLIDING - Learn Year-round

on Santa Barbara’s World Class Training Hill, Lessons, Glider Shuttle, Tandems, Sales, Service, 20 Years Experience, 805-403-8487, www. THE HANG GLIDING CENTER - PO Box 151542,

San Diego CA 92175, 619-265-5320.

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@, Mission Soaring Center LLC, leading the way since 1973. www.hang-gliding. com


- we 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 flytorrey. com or give us a call 858-452-9858.

WINDSPORTS - Don’t risk bad weather, bad

instruction or dangerous training hills. 350 flyable days each year. Learn foot-launch flying skills safely and quickly. Train with professional CFI’s at world-famous Dockweiler Beach training slopes (5 minutes from LA airport.) Fly winter or summer in gentle coastal winds, soft sand and in a thorough program with one of America’s most prestigious schools for over 25 years. 818-367-2430, www.

WALLABY RANCH – The original Aerotow flight park. Best tandem instruction worldwide,7-days a week , 6 tugs, and equipment rental. Call:1-800WALLABY 1805 Deen Still Road, Disney Area FL 33897


why 5 times as many pilots earn their wings at LMFP. Enjoy our 110 acre mountain resort. www., 1-877-HANGLIDE, 1-877-4264543.


friendly information about flying on Maui. Fullservice school offering beginner to advanced instruction every day, year round. 808-874-5433,




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. 970641-9315.

FLORIDA FLORIDA RIDGE AEROTOW PARK - 18265 E State 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 fly@, www.graybirdairsports. com.

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.


best instruction, friendliest staff, beautiful grounds with swimming pool, private lake and clubhouse, lodging, plus soaring in our superfamous, soft, Sunshine State thermals. Come fly with us! 352- 429- 0213, Groveland, FL, www.




Quest Air Hang Gliding - We offer the

full-time 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, www.,

MICHIGAN Cloud 9 Sport Aviation (hang gliding equipment), North American Soaring (Alatus ultralight sailplane and e-drive systems), Dragon Fly Soaring Club (hang gliding instruction), at Cloud 9 Field, Webberville, MI.More info: (517) 223-8683,, www.DFSCinc. org. TRAVERSE CITY HANG GLIDERS/PARAGLIDERS

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



AAA Mountain Wings Inc - New location at

CLOUD 9 PARAGLIDING - Come visit us and check

77 Hang Glider Rd in Ellenville next to the LZ. We service all brands featuring AEROS and North Wing. 845-647-3377,

FLY HIGH, INC. - Serving New York, Jersey, and

Connecticut areas. Area’s exclusive Wills Wing dealer. Also all other brands, accessories. Area’s most INEXPENSIVE prices! Certified instruction/ service since 1979. Excellent secondary instruction! Taken some lessons? Advance to mountain flying!, 845-7443317.

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-FLYTHIS,



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 http://www.paragliders. com for a full list of products and services. We are Utah’s only full time shop and repair facility, Give us a ring at 801-576-6460 if you have any questions.


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, 801-5992555,

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)241-4324, or


Flying tours, rentals, tandems, HG and PG classes, H-2 and P-2 intensive Novice courses, full sales. 787-850-0508,


PARK- Award winning instructors at a world class training facility. Contact: Doug Stroop at 509-7825543, or visit


outside 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:, (512)467-2529

BAJA MEXICO - La Salina: PG, HG, PPG www. by, He’ll hook you up! site intros, tours, & rooms, 760-203-2658 COME AND FLY GUANAJUATO MEXICO. Contact:, or call 473-732-9102 in Mexico. 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,  www.paraglidecostarica. com.

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. 1-800-6641160 for orders only. Office 325-379-1567.

Gunnison Gliders – X-C, Factory, heavy PVC HG gliderbags $149 Harness packs & zippers. New/used parts, equipment, tubes. 1549 CR 17 Gunnison, CO 81230 970-641-9315 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.



Flying in the Wasatch | photo by Justin Brim

SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round

basetubes, or tandem landing gear.(262)4738800,



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,

SERVICE CLOUD 9 REPAIR DEPARTMENT - We staff and 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 www.paragliders. com 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,

NEW! HERB FENNER is coating paragliders at

Torrey. You can expect “Instrument Varified” results in UV A/B, Waterproofing and porosity. “Your Enhanced Glider Stays NEW Longer”, RISING AIR GLIDER REPAIR SERVICES – A full-service shop, specializing in all types of paragliding repairs, annual inspections, reserve repacks, harness repairs. Hang gliding reserve repacks and repair. For information or repair estimate, call (208) 554-2243, pricing and service request form available at, billa@

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


lot in Albuquerque (along with a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited). Please keep an eye out for a blueand-white Apco Vista (size large) and black/blue/ red Spark harness (size large), with Apco large reserve and Apco Blade II helmet. If seen, please contact law enforcement and reference APD police report #120071427. The gear all belongs to Jim Borders in Albuquerque and he can be reached at, or 505-239-6303.







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


H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-4


Scott Petty Ariel Austria John Tobin James Sutula Harrison Lee Linwood Lyons Tim Turner Ronney Gray Christa Percival Shelby Clark Robin Jones Derek Ridge William Mellinger Edward Fogel Bud Masker Brian Grskovich Dana Harris John Law Robert Goldnetz Paul Cassity Phil Rice Walcelio Melo Benjamin (scott) Edmondson Oreta Taylor Michael Lemish Terry Whitaker David Byrd Chalmous Stewart Enrique Villarreal Graziano Mele Piotr Gulbicki Scott Petty Jesse Swidler Tim Turner Ronney Gray Shelby Clark Derek Ridge William Mellinger


Rob Mckenzie Robert Booth Robert Booth Patrick Denevan Barry Levine David Yount Rob Mckenzie William Dydo Greg Dewolf Rob Mckenzie Zac Majors Daniel Zink William Dydo Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Rhett Radford Daniel Zink Eric Meibos Daniel Zink Daniel Zink John Middleton Mitchell Shipley Daniel Zink Jeffrey Hunt Jackie Walters Gregg Ludwig Daniel Zink Amy Roseboom Michael Robertson Harold Johnson Rob Mckenzie Patrick Denevan Rob Mckenzie William Dydo Rob Mckenzie Daniel Zink William Dydo

Edward Fogel Bud Masker Brian Grskovich Dana Harris Ryan Metzger Joel Bishop Henry Wakeman Iii Ilya Rivkin Tim Berendsen Scott Burke John Law Robert Goldnetz Paul Cassity Phil Rice Gary Bock Benjamin (scott) Edmondson Oreta Taylor Michael Lemish Terry Whitaker Chalmous Stewart Graziano Mele Dylan Murphy Jay Granzella Tim Turner Anna Eppink Jade Chun Dana Harris Gale Boocks Felix Cantesanu Paula Mcgown Keel Irvin Terry Whitaker Graziano Mele Ken Dickenson Tim Turner D Patrick Mcguinness Bill Vickery Christopher Sparks Terry Whitaker


Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Rhett Radford Rhett Radford Dean Slocum Edward Germain Edward Germain Edward Germain Edward Germain Daniel Zink Eric Meibos Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Gordon Cayce Mitchell Shipley Daniel Zink Jeffrey Hunt Jackie Walters Daniel Zink Michael Robertson Harold Johnson John Simpson Rob Mckenzie John Heiney Bill Heaner Rhett Radford Daniel Boocks Adam Elchin Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Jackie Walters Michael Robertson Russell Gelfan Rob Mckenzie Rhett Radford Brian Elliston James Tindle Jackie Walters



P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1

Daniel Holmes Johnna Jones William Palmer Zachary Blodget Mike Purfield Carlos Pena Jason Fuhrman Tim Hewette


P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1

Tenasi Lazar OR Jon Reynolds AK Jeff Fothergill OR Brandon Long WA Destino Stonehouse OR Steve Shields CA Konstantin Othmer CA James Hodges CA Krischa Berlinger CA Riley Rebstock CA Kaj Beck CA David Hughes CA Allegra Coleman HI Weichun (eric) Lin CA Shijir Buyandelger CA Seyed Alireza Amidi Namin CA Shelby Clark CA Kimball Allen UT Frederic Pelletier AZ Colin Mckenzie AZ Christo Johnson AZ Terrence Ash UT Ty Losey AZ Eric Newbury AZ Chris Ratay CO Gerald Cunningham UT Will (branson) Worsencroft UT Evan Meyer CO Feng Xie UT Steve Mcgovern AZ Jessica Shade UT Alex Richins UT Chris Bruha MT Gary Beck ID Steve Harper ID Charity Harper ID Garrett Reed MO Blannie Wagner MO Matthew Lafler KS John Hamel WI Andrzej Zbizek IL David Foster MN Peter Skowronski MA Jared West MA Jeremy Nickerson MA Michelle Sherwood ME Sarah Shermeta VT Joshua Jones VT Michael Fredericks MA Thomas Wilson VA Gregory Bryl DC Joseph Hathaway VA Shane Denna VA Stephen Allen VA Zared Shawver PA Steven Grinstead FL Javier Fresco AL Trevor Bradley FL Anthony Faulds GA

Steven Wilson Marc Chirico Kevin Hintze Matt Henzi Marc Chirico Maren Ludwig Maren Ludwig Stephen Mayer Nick Crane Frank Sihler Kelly Kellar Douglas Stroop Nick Crane Wallace Anderson James Burgess Jeffrey Greenbaum Mitchell Neary Patrick Eaves Troy Hartman Marcello Debarros Robert Edwards Max Marien Rob Sporrer Christopher Grantham Steve Rodrigues Patrick Johnson Nik Peterson Sean Buckner Shane Denherder Jonathan Jefferies Nik Peterson David (dexter) Binder Granger Banks Paul Whitmore Russ Bateman Ryan Taylor Chris Santacroce Nik Peterson Jonathan Jefferies Jonathan Jefferies Andy Macrae Jonathan Jefferies Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Jaro Krupa Jaro Krupa Heath Woods John Dunn Joseph Seitz Joseph Seitz Kevin Hintze Joseph Seitz Joseph Seitz Joseph Seitz Steve Wendt Stephen Mayer Ken Hudonjorgensen Ken Hudonjorgensen Ken Hudonjorgensen James Griffith Steven Yancey Neil Treadgold Ken Hudonjorgensen Jerome Daoust



P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-2 P-2 P-2

Wilson Llivichuzhca George Hembree Nikolay Stoyanov John Keegan Frederick Golomb Joseph Robinson Luiz Fernando Peregrino Kevin Stearns Andrew Ryan Oliver Delprado Sylvain Moisseron Devrim Bostanci Ozgur Bektas Logman Almutawa Ali Ahmad Alyafei Amr Ezzeldin Ebrahim Taskin Tuna Ozkilig Werner Kuntze Aleksei Isaev Lachlan Ritchie Eisse Veldthuis Cindy Schaser Brian Hickman Laura Manulik


P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2

Daniel Holmes WA William Palmer AK Mike Purfield WA Tim Hewette AK Tenasi Lazar OR Brandon Long WA Destino Stonehouse OR Thomas Waclo CA Riley Rebstock CA Kaj Beck CA David Hughes CA Allegra Coleman HI Jeffrey Johnson HI Shijir Buyandelger CA Seyed Alireza Amidi Namin CA Kimball Allen UT Adrian Somodean AZ Jennifer Schoellerman UT Frederic Pelletier AZ Colin Mckenzie AZ Christo Johnson AZ Terrence Ash UT Ty Losey AZ Eric Newbury AZ Chris Ratay CO Gerald Cunningham UT Will (branson) Worsencroft UT Evan Meyer CO Feng Xie UT Steve Mcgovern AZ Jessica Shade UT Alex Richins UT Chris Bruha MT Gary Beck ID Steve Harper ID Charity Harper ID Garrett Reed MO Blannie Wagner MO Matthew Lafler KS John Hamel WI Andrzej Zbizek IL Michelle Sherwood ME Harvey Hopson PA


Hadley Robinson Stephen Mayer Benoit Bruneau Terry Bono Ray Leonard Michael Appel Terry Bono David Robinson Jeffrey Greenbaum Mitchell Neary Pete Michelmore Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Maren Ludwig Marc Chirico Matt Henzi Steven Wilson Kevin Hintze Marc Chirico Stephen Mayer Nick Crane Douglas Stroop Nick Crane Mitchell Neary Patrick Eaves Troy Hartman Marcello Debarros Robert Edwards Robert Edwards Rob Sporrer Christopher Grantham Patrick Johnson Chandler Papas Chris Santacroce Nik Peterson Sean Buckner Shane Denherder Jonathan Jefferies Nik Peterson David (dexter) Binder Granger Banks Paul Whitmore Russ Bateman Ryan Taylor Chris Santacroce Nik Peterson Jonathan Jefferies Jonathan Jefferies Andy Macrae Jonathan Jefferies Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Stephen Mayer Jaro Krupa Jaro Krupa Kevin Hintze Terry Bono


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by Steve Messman

Games that melt children's minds by Steve Messman


love having my grandkids visit. It’s always a thrill for me to see how fast they are growing up and how well they are doing. This past month my middle grandson visited. He was about three inches taller than he was during his previous visit, and this time he brought a boatload of cool “kid” tools: a new Apple computer chock full of games, a DS 3D game player complete with a small suitcase filled with a hundred electronic games, and a new cell phone. What more can a 12-year-old ask for—possibly? One day during this visit I watched my grandson playing basketball for hours on end. Not the real thing, of course, but a virtual basketball game. Not even a game of basketball, actually; it was just a game of free throws. He sat for hours throwing a virtual basketball into a virtual net just so he could score twenty-five points, then thirty, then more. My mind reeled as I considered the absolute power that game developers harbor. They have the astonishing ability to develop untold processes that do nothing more than melt children’s minds. One thing did happen during my grandson’s visit that I considered to be very cool. I took him away from all this technology for one short day. I put him



in my vehicle, without his technotoys, and we hit the road to meet several of my flying friends. On the way to the mountaintop, my grandson discovered just how many people and wings could be stuffed in the back of a pickup truck. He learned new terminology like leading edge, trailing edge, kite, thermal, top landing, and ridge lift. He assisted pilots with laying out their wings, and he learned the true meaning of the command “Clear!” He discovered trust in people he had only just met, and in fact found that he needed them for a ride down the hill. He stumbled onto a yet unnamed feeling when his grandpa (that would be me) disappeared behind a mountain peak for longer than his comfort level allowed. That was also when he learned a little more about communicating on a real radio, and he got to speculate why other pilots chuckled when he cautiously broadcasted “Grandpa. Where are you?” We pilots all had quite a day of flying. We all found lift to at least 2500 feet over launch. We took a couple of jaunts toward distant peaks. We found big thermals, little ones, cloud suck, and went looking for, but never actually found, convergence. One pilot jumped a valley and arrived at a different peak to find that the wind direction had shifted. He lost lift and landed near town. The rest of us flew to our most beloved landing zone: a field just below the outdoor balcony of our favorite watering hole. We packed our

wings and hiked into the restaurant to a round of applause and several “thank you for the entertainment” comments from patrons. And then, there was the wide-eyed expression of my waiting grandson who had ridden with new friends to meet me. My favorite part of the day came next. As we sat around our outside table waiting for food and drink, my grandson announced that he wanted to learn to fly. Talk about real excitement! Here was the victory of real experience over virtual basketball, the conquest of sunshine, exercise and friendship over Apple, the triumph of reality over virtual reality. Now, I can’t do anything about teaching my grandson to fly. I’m not an instructor; he’s only 12, and I am not the boy’s guardian, but I sure did pass that information to his father. Certainly, at least a tandem flight is in some young boy’s future. How exciting is that? Seriously, I have nothing against technology. I would be an idiot to turn against my laptop, my smart phone, my GPS, anti-lock brakes, or even my tirepressure monitoring system. However, I have a serious dislike of virtual freethrow games and the melting of young (or old) minds. Give me reality any day. Give me friends who actually sit down and talk to each other face-toface rather than face-to-Facebook. Give me people I can put faith and trust in. Give me a wing, a mountain, and lifting air. Give me a young grandson who wants to fly.



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Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol43/Iss02 Feb 2013  

Official USHPA Magazine