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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, Hang gliding over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | photo by Nader Couri. MEANWHILE, 15-year-old Sabrina McDonald

paraglides at Steptoe Butte, WA | photo by Rod McDonald.

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) 2013 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





















Focused on Safety Choosing an Instructor ����������������������������������������������������������by Andy Pag


Dreaming of Flight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . by Cyndia Zumpft


Moving on Up ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������by Gordon Cayce


FEATURE | Life on the Wing Dave Gibson ������������������������������������������������������������������by Katrina Mohr


FEATURE | N. California Cross-country League 2012 Recap ������������������������������������������������������������� by Jugdeep Aggarwal


FEATURE | Sierra Safari A Flying Odyssey ���������������������������������������������������������by Gavin McClurg


FEATURE | Saint Hilaire From the Festival ������������������������������������������������������������������by Loren Cox


Pilots Who Make Goal It's a Girl Thing ����������������������������������������������������������� by C.J. Sturtevant


Tales from the Training Hill Becoming a Sky Buddha ������������������������������������������by Christina Ammon

‘When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will always long to return’

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

HANG GLIDING. To fly under a delta shaped wing in a superman position using warm currents of air to stay aloft for hours at a time | photo by Nader Couri.

PARAGLIDING. Flying in a seated position under an elliptical parachute that can stay aloft for hours at a time | photo by Becca Bredehoft.





ABOVE Over Maui, Hawaii | photo by Bill Hockensmith. BELOW Over Valle de Bravo, Mexico | photo by Jeff Farrell -

ABOVE Bart Weghorst taking a student tandem over Alpine, Wyoming. Tandem flights are a great way to teach new students, and to try free flight with a trained professional. BELOW Antoine Boisselier above the competition at an event in the Haute Savoie, France.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF USHPA MEMBERSHIP Why do we fly? It’s been discussed countless times on launch while waiting for the wind to cooperate, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to the desire to be inspired. We are compelled to fly to be a part of something greater than ourselves. To change our scale of perspective on the world. To truly explore the earth and sky in three dimensions. To trust the invisible. To understand freedom in the absence of boundaries. To be the source of our own inspiration. This is why we fly. And this is the privilege we wish to protect. Whether you are working towards having your feet leave the ground for the first time or have been a veteran sky god since the early days, USHPA is, and always has been, dedicated to improving and preserving this privilege for the future. During my travels to various sites and events around the US, a question occasionally comes up from new and seasoned pilot members. What does USHPA do? Apart from the most obvious member benefits of third party liability insurance, training programs and the magazine, how does USHPA membership benefit individual pilots? USHPA’s mission is to promote the growth of sport flying in footlaunchable soaring aircraft. At the time of publication, amending the mission to “ensure the future of free flight” is under consideration. Sustaining USHPA’s mission is a multifaceted effort. Introducing and informing the general public about our form of flight, creating training programs for comprehensive pilot development, maintaining access to free-flight both in the air and on the ground, representing free-flight in the national and international arenas, recognizing outstanding achievement in our community, promoting safety awareness



and participating in advocacy on many levels–these constitute the core of what USHPA does. Each of these areas contains a multitude of details that lay the groundwork for successful development and execution. Listing everything the association does is not possible, but let’s explore a few of the areas where time and resources are being expended.

by Martin Palmaz, Executive Director tion tools to support instructor success and help gain access to a larger pool of potential pilots.



Most exposure to hang gliding and paragliding occurs at flying sites or through mutual friends, the two most common contacts for attracting new pilots. Communication channels have evolved dramatically; utilizing these new outlets alongside the old to increase visibility and participation in our sports is the path towards giving a broader voice to our cause. Apart from our monthly magazine, we provide e-newsletters, the website, and mobile apps, and participate in various social media networks. As mobile technologies continue to evolve, we will invest in infrastructure development to provide services to our members and audience where they are most likely to use them—on their mobile device. Also, forums will be added to the website to solicit member feedback on policy initiative proposals under consideration by the board.

Without access to airspace, participation in free-flight activities would not be possible. Ultralight pilots—as we are defined under FAR 103— are allowed to operate under certain restrictions. It is in our best interest to govern ourselves in a manner that does not jeopardize this access, and USHPA works diligently to accomplish this through safety and education programs. In order to fly tandem and use ultralights for aerotowing, USHPA also maintains two exemptions with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to allow these activities throughout the US. These exemptions provide crucial components for the continuing existence and future development of freeflight: training for new students with an experienced instructor and aerotowing operations which provide access to the sky for a large numbers of pilots across the US who require it. Our greatest threat in the air is the introduction of UAVs—unmanned aerial vehicles—into air traffic. As requirements for navigation systems and new airspace restrictions are being discussed, we are engaged with the FAA to protect our interests.

Training One of USHPA’s primary functions is to support instruction for pilots interested in joining the sport to help them develop their skills in a responsible manner. The importance of transitioning our resources and materials to take full advantage of efficiencies inherent in digital publication are vital to our continued success. Web- and digitallybased resources are being developed to provide more comprehensive educa-

Sites Our greatest threat on land is the constant development surrounding us, as society demands more land for growth. Keeping the sites we have and providing

tools for gaining new ones are high priorities. Our insurance program is the cornerstone for acquiring and retaining access to flying sites nationwide. Losing the member liability and site insurance programs provided by USHPA could easily contribute to losing a majority of our significant flying sites around the country. USHPA is working with its chapters and members to improve safety and protect our insurance program from becoming too expensive.

Governance USHPA’s board of directors, committee chairs and key volunteers are comprised of USHPA members, most of whom are extremely active pilots who are passionate about supporting the growth and sustainability of free-flight in the US. They are responsible for developing policy that provides the framework for sustaining our mission. Once policy has been established, the office, along with the help of many volunteers, is responsible for executing policy and providing administrative support to uphold our mission objectives. The association not only represents our interests domestically but also works with the international federation known as the CIVL (Commission Internationale de Vol Libre). USHPA delegates represent the US in international standards and issues related to competition, safety and training.

Safety & Risk Management In recent years, we’ve been faced with re-evaluating the manner in which we educate and manage risk among instructors, pilots and chapters. While this type of cultural shift is awkward in the free-spirited evolution of our pilot culture, it is fundamental to our survival in an increasingly risk-averse world. The board has approved various initiatives to evaluate and improve training and safety procedures that touch all areas of the association.

Advocacy USHPA participates in advocacy with chapters, working committees and organizations nationwide to widen our base of supporters. If conditions threaten your chapter, site or access, please reach out to us so we can guide you to resources and support through local and national communities. The Foundation for Free Flight, for example, is an organization whose mission is aligned with USHPA’s on site preservation and with whom we’ve established an important funding relationship to further our mutual goals. Also, we’ve recently established a relationship with the Outdoor Alliance to aid in protecting our natural environment for enjoyment of the various sports we collectively represent. If you believe other outdoor sport organizations share a common cause, we may be able to encourage them to join our efforts at mobilization.

Why Join USHPA? Without your volunteer efforts, financial support and spirit of inspiration, we will be unable to accomplish the long-term objectives of our mission. Membership not only provides numerous valuable benefits, but also serves to protect your future opportunities to explore your development, interests and the skies. Your ongoing USHPA membership supports these important initiatives and protects the flying sites and access you enjoy. Please support USHPA now and in the future. We are here for you. If you have professional expertise that aligns with our needs, please consider volunteering for the association. Your knowledge may make a difference in our future success. For a comprehensive list of USHPA’s efforts and member benefits, please go to:

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: JugDeep Aggarwal, Josh Cohn, Pat Hajek. REGION 3: Corey Caffrey, Dan DeWeese, Rob Sporrer. REGION 4: Ryan Voight, Ken Grubbs. REGION 5: Donald Lepinsky. REGION 6: David Glover. REGION 7: Paul Olson. 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: TBD. DIRECTORS AT LARGE: Dave Broyles, Bill Bolosky, Steve Rodrigues, 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.

FOCUSED Photo by Kabir Cardenas




elcome to paragliding and hang gliding. I don’t want to worry you, but soon you’ll be out there on your own, hanging from some fabric, flapping in the wind, suspended hundreds if not thousands of feet above the ground. While that scenario might sound frightening, the worst bit is the “on your own” part. When you’re flying solo, there’s no one else to whom you can abdicate responsibility, there’s no pause button, no parking brake, no undo button, and no emergency exit. But fear not. Your instructor will prepare you for every eventuality, and, in the meantime, shelter you from the eventualities for which they haven’t yet prepared you. That, in a nutshell, is the job of a USHPA hang gliding or paragliding instructor. Like a mama hen, they will keep you under their wing until you are ready to fly the roost, and, even then, they’ll probably continue to check on you to keep you steady throughout your first years in the air. While you can’t choose your mama, you can choose your flying instructor, and it’s a good idea to invest a bit of time getting to know them before you do. In addition to teaching you technical flying skills, they’ll impart a


by Andy Pag philosophy and approach to free-flying that will shape your flying style as well as your long-term relationship to the sport. Before I start sounding as cryptic as the Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi, there are a few wax-on wax-off basics of choosing an instructor that you should be aware of, some of which are less obvious than others. Fun-damentals USHPA does a steadfast job of certifying only competent instructors. But not every pupil will click with every instructor, so it’s important to put in a little groundwork to find the perfect match. Trust is the number-one factor that all my flying friends mention when talking about the instructors they learned with. This person is going to be sending you running off the edge of a cliff. You have to trust them completely. If you don’t, you might start to doubt their instructions, and that is the start of a dangerous situation which neither you nor your instructor want. That trust starts building the minute you look at their website or first speak to them on the phone. Do they come across as professional? Do they speak with the flow of someone who is well informed but not jaded about what they do? Is what they say consistent? In some ways the website isn’t actually a measure of a good or bad instructor. (A great instructor might have a mediocre website because he/she hasn’t hired a web designer.) What’s important is that after meeting them,

you feel you’ll be able to trust them and that this trust keeps growing as your relationship proceeds. Referrals and testimonials are other great ways to gauge if an instructor is right for you. Ask the instructor for contact details of previous students and speak with them about the course. Take a minute to assess the types of students attracted to this instructor. If you are a gentle wallflower and the others seem more gung-ho, perhaps this isn’t the right instructor for you. It’s also worth asking your potential instructor how many of his students dropped out during the course and how many are still flying one year later. People might give up the sport for a variety of reasons, but an excellent instructor will prepare his students for a long flying career by setting them on a path where they are less likely to be intimidated out of the sport as they encounter unfamiliar experiences while progressing through the first year of solo flying. If you can, take a morning to watch the instructor at work with other students in order to observe his teaching style in action. You’ll learn a lot from just sitting on the hill, sitting within earshot of the instruction for a few hours. Site for soar fly The second important consideration in choosing a school or instructor is the condition of the site(s) where you’ll be learning. In the US, flying sites and training hills are few and far between, so you’ll have to accept sites near you, unless you are willing to travel and spend a couple of weeks camping at the foot of a specific flying site. If you don’t have a great flying site on your doorstep, but do have the leisure time or vacation, traveling to a desirable site for an intensive course is an option that’s well worth considering, because you’ll progress much faster at

a site that allows you to fly more often. It’s not just that you’ll get more hours flying, but you’ll have what pilots call “currency.” Not the green folding stuff, but a familiarity with the equipment and sport that comes from practicing regularly. Intensive courses (instructors understandably shy away from calling them “crash courses”) mean that you spend much less time recapping what you did previously, as you haven’t had time to forget it. The downside of learning at a site far from home is that it probably won’t be the site where you fly most often. As a beginner pilot, you need to have an instructor or mentor introduce you to any new place, so there is a distinct advantage to learning at the site where you intend to fly regularly. As well as learning the nuances of the site, you’ll meet other local pilots who will become a valuable learning resource as you progress. A good site for learning will have a dedicated training hill. This is usually a shallow hill where you’ll spend the first few days running up and down it as you learn the basics of wing handling and also where you’ll probably do your first short bunny-hop flights. Ask your instructor how many hours a day the site works for beginners. As the sun heats up the ground, the air will become more turbulent. It’s a bit like switching on a lava lamp; everything starts to move around. Experienced pilots love the thermals; that’s what keeps them in the air. But they introduce confusion for beginners and present potentially dangerous situations that the instructor will attempt to shield you from. Some sites go the whole day without becoming thermic, like coastal sites, which are great places for the first few days of your P-1 or H-1 course. They have a steady sea breeze that allows you to soar in relatively smooth air while

you get familiar with the controls, without being bumped around. But ideally you’ll also want to experience gentle thermals as part of your training, so you can have the foundation for how to stay up in the air. Again, ask your potential instructor about the sites they use for this. Learning and flying purely on coastal sites can leave you ill-prepared for when you first encounter thermic conditions, so the perfect school will have access to both types of hills (thermic and nonthermic) for your training. If you live somewhere with rainy weather, ask the instructor how many flyable days a year their training hill has, as bad weather can slow learning down to a frustrating halt, especially at the height of winter or summer. Bump Tolerance Reaching your P-2 or H-2 is a great achievement, but in reality it’s just the beginning. Just as you think you have mastered flying, you realize that you only know the tiniest part of it. That’s a sensation that will be with you throughout your flying career, even after you’ve clocked up 20 years in the air. This constant learning is one of the joys of the sport. Sometimes it might feel as if the instructor is holding you back, but keep the faith in that trust you have in them, because they are probably trying to introduce you to conditions that will slowly and progressively build up your tolerance towards being bumped around in the air. Too much, too soon could put you off for life. From your first solo flight, you’ll realize that the instructor’s job is largely to guide you around your own fear and keep you behaving calmly and rationally in the face of huge stresses. The human reptilian brain was never designed to operate an animal that flies, so there’s a neural fireworks display going on in your synapses when you get



up in the air. It’s a bitter fight between your logical thoughts and your survival instincts. Psychologists observe that people respond to this sort of stress in one of two ways. More stress than the person can handle could cause post-traumatic stress disorder. If your instructor allowed you to get into this situation, you’d pack your wing up and consciously or subconsciously decide to never fly again. Your instructor will aim to keep the stress levels low and at the same time instill coping methods that allow you to process the stress you do experience. This results in what psychologists charmingly call “Survivors’ Euphoria,” more commonly known as an adrenaline rush. While you’re under the guidance of an instructor, his voice will direct you in the air, making sense of what’s happening and keeping you calm, but their little catchphrases and pearls of wisdom will stay with you and echo in your thoughts even after you’ve graduated. These are helpful tools for coping with the fear that occasionally creeps up on you when you are alone in the air and face unfamiliar circumstances. After you’ve mastered the basics of how to launch, turn, and land your glider, and have your license in hand, these stress-coping skills will help you build up a tolerance to progressively more challenging conditions. Having an instructor who instills ways of keeping calm in the face of stress is just as important as one who can teach you the perfect landing technique. People Make a Place Some instructors run one-to-one lessons, but if you are in a class, you can learn from your fellow students, too. It’s far less painful to learn from the mistakes of others than from your own. But aside from watching them trip and stumble as you all grapple with ground-handling skills on day one, the people you learn with will probably be the pilots you



continue to fly with and build confidence with in the air over the coming years. Good instructors and schools create a community of pilots in their wake. That community will be sharing the flying sites with you as you train, so you’ll be surrounded by pilots of different skill levels to share in your ongoing learning after you’ve been signed off. In a community flying site like this,

you’ll continue to have access to your instructor as well as to experienced pilots who can mentor you while you progress, giving you the reassurance we all need from time to time. A good instructor will teach you to fly, but an excellent instructor will set you on the path to becoming a pilot. That’s the benchmark you should be aiming for when you choose your teacher.

ALL-TOO-FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Can I teach myself and save a few bucks? If you have no-questions-asked health insurance and can’t get enough of the smell of hospital floor cleaner, then this is certainly a money-saving option worth considering. [For legal reasons I should point out that this is sarcasm. Ed] No, seriously, you can’t teach yourself. Paragliding and hang gliding are not sports that you can safely teach yourself. Even with books and YouTube videos, or advice from your best friend’s uncle who did it once in Mexico. This is aviation we are talking about. If you can’t afford a course, then save up and wait until you can. If you try to teach yourself, the best outcome you can hope for is that you scare yourself out of flying before you injure yourself or someone else.

I bought this cheap gear on eBay. What do you think? eBay can be a good source of flight suits, new helmets, radios, etc., but generally not for wings. Most instructors will provide all the equipment you need for training and offer significant discounts on new gear when you graduate. Wings that are just three or four years old are from a different design generation and are harder to learn with and potentially less safe. Wings have a limited lifespan due to UV degradation and aging. Their performance decreases until they become dangerous to fly. You need some experience to be able to inspect a wing and then do a test flight to be assured that it's serviceable. Sporty wings are not suitable for beginners. Sadly eBay tends to attract the old, the worn-out and the sporty. Buying secondhand gear is not out of the question, but perhaps better postponed until you have clocked up some flying experience and are more familiar with the equipment. If you are determined to buy secondhand, buy it from a respected pilot you know who has a good reputation. The seller should be able to tell you how many flying hours the wing has. Be sure you trust their estimate. Also check with your instructor that it is a suitable model for your skill level.

Mind if I have a little drink to steady my nerves before my first flight? If intoxicants are your coping method for stress, free-flying is not for you.

Can I take my kids flying with me? One day. But it takes a long time to build up enough experience to fly tandem flights, and it requires specialized equipment. There’s a rigorous process in getting certification. It can take several years, but it can be done.

Introducing the new USHPA custom Visa Platinum Rewards Card.

The card with Flare. Submit your own image or choose one of these custom USHPA Platinum Rewards Cards.

• No annual fee. • $50 donation by the bank, to USHPA, when you first use the card.* • Ongoing contributions made when you continue using your card. • Low Introductory APR on purchases and no balance transfer fee for 6 months.** • Enhanced Visa Platinum benefits, including 24/7 Emergency Customer Service, 100% Fraud Protection, Auto Rental and Travel Accident Insurance and much more. • Earn points at hundreds of participating online retailers redeemable for namebrand merchandise, event tickets, gift cards or travel reward options.

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

by Chris Santacroce


ang gliding and paragliding are about the coolest things that a human can do. In the top 10 anyway. Somebody asked me what it’s like. Hmmmm. Well, it’s most akin to being born. Yeah, it’s just like that. I have easily filled the last 22 years of my life with all sorts of flying fun—indescribable highs and now, the feeling that I haven’t even scratched the surface of what is possible. One summer evening in the ‘90s I took a single Telluride, Colorado, thermal from 8500 feet to 17,999 (we can’t legally fly any higher). I promptly grabbed my camera and dropped my glove. It was about the finest experience of my life—apart from being born, of course. It was that cool. Flying is not like riding a bike or hitting a ball with a stick. You or I could be the best hang or para pilot in the world without making a living or becoming a household name. The quality of the experiences, the camaraderie, the visuals. Incomparable. The bulk of our flying friends are recreational at best. Lots of pilots have careers and only fly on vacation, a few times a year. No problem. Some live in their cars and fly every day for 40 years. There’s everything in between. You are going to do fine. You can learn at any age but you want the timing to be just right. There is some magic in having a little extra time and a little extra money.


It makes flying easy—the math just works. Good pilots use checklists. Here’s one for getting started; - Stable? Mentally, financially, in a good place to start something new. Room for something new in your life. - Health insurance? Not that you are going to need it, but this is a good measure of whether your bases are covered. - Able to jump off the bench seat of a picnic table with no problem? - Able to run across a soccer field without being too exhausted? - All there? A flight is comprised of a preflight check, launch, flight plan, approach, final, and the flare. Now close your eyes and recite three of the elements. You just qualified! So if you don’t qualify… don’t worry. Life changes, all of these things fall into place. Timing might not be right at this point. But it might be down the road. Most people who fly have spent time preparing. Some have had flying on the radar for years. Waiting for the kids to go off to college, to sell a car, a plane, to retire, to move. Waiting, to have the full support of the significant other. Support is key. My favorite flying coach said it best: You will know that it is time to fly like you know you need to go to the bathroom. Indisputable. Thinking about gear and imagining your first year? Forget about it. The only thing to shop for is a team, a mentor,

a coach. That’s best accomplished via a handshake and a look into the eye of your future instructor. You will be linked up—he or she will be your kind of person; it’s going to be super fun. Look for someone you would like to hang out with. Blue glider, red glider— no matter. Choosing your coach—that’s a life choice. Choose well. If you are lucky, you can go to a flying site and ask around: Who did you learn from? Who do you wish you’d learned from? We should all learn from the best instructor we can find. The church of public opinion knows best. Skimp on everything but your flying. This is aviation. Seek out the best gear you can get and buy it from your instructor, the one who is going to keep you out of harm’s way. Harnesses are like shoes, so get one that fits well. Hang in a simulator

Photo by Aaron Beck

Photo by Chris Santacroce



and learn to transition from flying to running in a simulator. Every good instructor has one. Your instructor will help you choose you first glider and it’s easy as pie because everyone gets (or should get) a super-basic glider. Great skier? Fighter pilot? No matter, you still get an entrylevel glider. Easy. Get a big reserve. Light, compact. 30 meters if you are little, 38 if you are mid-sized and 40+ meters if you are over 185 pounds—no less. Your version of flying has yet to be revealed. You could end up flying cross-country by the end of the year. Unlikely, though. You might just as easily end up flying under radio guidance forever. There are tons of pilots like that, the smarter of the lot. You just like having a glider and hanging around. Set it up, break it down, kite it, etc. Happens all the time. Nobody said that you had to fly it. Don’t have an agenda. Don’t set any goals. That’s cool if you are trying to run a marathon but this is flying—the rules here are different. Having an agenda might just get you in a load of trouble. Just come around and “play“ as long as it feels right. Let your version of flying evolve on its own. There are tons of benchmarks and rights of passage. Feeling the breeze on your face while taking in the sights from a bird’s-eye view might be the finest pleasure. This could be the ride of your life.

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Super Fly Chris Santacroce has all the merit badges, including USHPA Instructor of the Year. He is the handler for Gin, Nova and Advance gliders in the US and is a proud member of the Red Bull Air Force. He teaches daily and has been coaching SIV for about 20 years. He guides tours to Mexico, Slovenia and other locations each year. He flies paragliders and hang gliders. Look him up at



Photo by Kabir Cardenas




ew pilots and veteran pilots need reminders, and they need to be open to changing or adding to their playbook. Considering the topics below could help manifest a great day of flying, while ignoring them could make you the poster boy or girl for poor decision-making, or worse. Little things make such a difference, and are worth looking at no matter how long you have been flying. The wonderful thing about paragliding is the learning never ends. Keep up with the discoveries we continue to make to get more enjoyment in your flying, while fostering self-preservation. We learn from our own experiences, but we need to learn from others’ experiences as well. Attend your local club meetings and become a part of your flying community. Join the BOD at your club, and give support by paying the annual dues. Club membership covers site insurance and items vital to your club’s existence. Past issues of USHPA magazines are archived and for sale in digital format on the USHPA website. Purchase this huge library of information as an educational tool. Keep a detailed flight log. You will need to provide your flight log when seeking a higher pilot rating. A handwritten log should be kept with your flight kit. Enter the flight details right after you land, at the end of the day. Pilots with a GPS or vario/GPS combo


have an advantage logging flights: The track logs can be downloaded to the Leonardo website, which ultimately becomes your logbook. You can use your logbook to track the flying hours on your wing, which is handy when it’s time to sell. Do the paragliding weather forecast daily. Understand what determines favorable flying conditions in your area, or an area you plan to fly. Getting a ride up the hill because everybody else is going flying is not good enough. Dig deeper into this facet of being a pilot to pick the correct days to fly, and get more out of your flight once airborne. Be ready. Getting the most out of any flying day means being prepared. Set a better tone for the day by having your gear ready the evening before you fly instead of racing around in the morning to get your kit together. Dedicate vital parts of your equipment solely to your paragliding kit. Borrowing essential items for other sporting activities means they might not be in your kit at launch when you really need them. Water is a must on any mountain flight. Fly with a good supply of it. Personal trackers like the SPOT Locator and the Delorme In Reach have made finding missing or injured pilots very easy, and are a must. Family and friends follow your live track as you fly. Familiarize yourself with the primary landing zones before you fly a new site. Find a local pilot to get a site introduction. Walk the potential LZs on your

own if you can’t find a local. Imagine your set-up areas depending on wind direction, and take note of any potential hazards. Identify the areas you will attempt your spot landing given different wind directions. Make a spot landing on every flight even if the LZ is huge—it’s good practice for when you must land in smaller LZs. Familiarize yourself with the site rules and pay the site’s fees. Flying sites have this information posted at the main landing zone or online. Visit the club’s website and familiarize yourself with the local rules and regulations. Local clubs work hard to ensure their sites remain open for free flight—don’t be the pilot to shut down a site because you were uninformed and failed to follow protocol. The pre-flight check must be part of your routine before every flight. Be methodical about this check, and avoid starting any conversations or entertaining questions while you are performing your pre-flight. Any break in your routine means you start over at the beginning. Launching is an art, and a very exciting time. Your heart is beating faster, and the excitement of becoming a bird and leaving the earth affects us all. Launch is your time, and you need to get centered, take a deep breath, and focus on the task at hand. Get back out to the training hill to keep your launch skills sharp. Kite your glider, and practice launching from a variety of slope angles. Make this part of your routine if you haven’t flown in a while. Anytime you make a trip to fly spend some time

before you leave or when you arrive working on your ground game and launching. Once you have nailed your launch, what’s important immediately after takeoff is controlling your heading, and feeling pressure in your brake toggles as you actively pilot your wing. Be just as active when you reach the critical altitude over your LZ that is too low to throw. Respecting your terrain clearance when flying gives you time to deal with events. Fly with enough terrain clearance to make your reserve parachute an option when possible. Get with your instructor and deploy your reserve parachute in the simulator. Go over the deployment sequence, and learn how to disable your wing. There are new school discoveries on how to disable your paraglider after deploying your parachute: The brake toggles and brake lines are a better option for disabling your wing than the B lines, especially if you are already downplaning. Have your reserve repacked annually. No one will ever be upset with you for choosing to throw your rescue. Attend SIV over-the-water clinics with qualified SIV instructors. This training is essential and will give you a new relationship and understanding of your wing, and how to deal with events while flying. Most pilots attending an SIV clinic for the first time realize how unprepared they’d been, and many make an SIV clinic an annual part of their training regime. Actively work on your feel of the glider and feeling the correct responses to turbulence. These are just a few key points to help transition from newly minted P-2 to a P-3 rated pilot. As you learn and progress into the next stages of piloting you will undoubtedly come up with additional key points that were crucial to your progression as a pilot. Hopefully you’ll pass them on to up-and-coming pilots. There is nothing better than sharing a flight with friends!

Photo by Brandon Peterson

Drea ming of

Fligh t by C y


ang gliding keeps me awake. Even though my body is tired from hauling the hang glider up the sand training hill, it always takes a long time for my mind to calm down and get ready for sleep after a day at the beach. I started learning to fly in 2008, the year I turned 50. My daughter Erika started in 2007 when she was 17, and she’d made several solos before I decided she was having way too much fun and realized I  The author's daughter, pilot Erika Klein, is featured in the USHPA iPad App HANG GLIDING, available in the Apple App Store.



ndia Zum pft

would rather be in the air with her than providing ground support and listening to her stories of flying with the birds. (If you are interested, you can read about her learning to fly in the March 2009 edition of this magazine). Even though I soloed at Kagel Mountain in December 2010 and fly high when I can, I still love to practice on the training hill at Dockweiler State Beach, just south of LAX. I try to get there on a weekly basis to help Greg DeWolf, beach instructor extraordinaire, with new students, paperwork, glider repair and site maintenance, as well as take time to talk with folks walking by on the bike path, or do whatever needs doing. Of course, this includes my taking some flights and practicing skills in a relatively safe,

low-stress environment. Being around other people interested in learning to fly feeds my enthusiasm and being at the beach in the fresh sea air, getting great exercise, hanging with cool people just flat keeps me sane! I am a very thorough hang-2 student pilot (some would say “overly cautious,” but I prefer thorough). While many students who started long after I did now fly circles around me, I am content to learn at my own pace and practice each skill in a variety of circumstances. I am blessed that Joe Greblo and Andy Beem of Windsports Hang Gliding are totally patient with my slow but steady progress at the mountain. The beauty of the training hill for me is that I can practice a particular skill several times in a row, since the beach is almost always flyable.

Today, for example, our high-flying site, Kagel Mountain, was socked in with clouds, but Dockweiler was blowing in at about 12-13mph—not quite soarable in the ridge lift, but perfect for working on cross-wind launches and landings, moon walking, and flares, all skills I want to keep in practice. Two hang-4 pilots came down hoping they could soar, but since the wind was not strong enough, we set up mini-competitions to see who could fly the farthest, get the highest, ground skim the closest within very restricted parameters, while always flying safely to demonstrate to the students taking lessons how much fun they would soon be having. I must have taken 10 flights today, carrying the glider back up the 30-foot sand dune after each one. (I suggested to Greg that Windsports should advertise beach lessons as a workout with flying as the reward; I lost 35 pounds my first year of flying.) But here I am at 12:20 a.m., still thinking about the flights and the camaraderie of my fellows. There were 14 pilots: five new students learning on the Condor, five advanced students flying Falcons, and four rated pilots playing on a Falcon 195, plus two instructors—Greg DeWolf and Lynden Vasquez—all happily sharing the four flyable launches. And I spent most of the day laughing! Driving home, after dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant with nine of the pilots, I kept chuckling to myself thinking about the day. I get the same sense of euphoria when I fly high; it keeps me smiling for hours after the flight. The energy I receive from being in the air is really remarkable. It is a light, bubbly, sparkly feeling that I totally associate with being truly happy. I love this sport and I love to fly. Thanks to everyone who helps keep me in the air!


Light Soaring Trike


Light Soaring Trike

Climb to cloudbase shut down engine and soar!




Evol Knievel helps Bart Weghorst with a hang check | photo by Crissy Waters.

Moving On Up by Gordon Cayce


ongratulations! You’re now a novice-rated H-2 or P-2 pilot. You’ve worked hard at the basics and are ready to aim high, reach for the sky, stretch your wings and soar like an eagle. At least, that was the plan back when you finally talked yourself into taking those first steps on the training hills or a tandem flight. Many new pilots reach this same point and are unsure how to proceed. What’s next? Our goal at this point in our flying career should be to continue to acquire the skills and knowledge that will build good judgment, so we safely grow as pilots. In this article we’ll look at strategies for achieving this goal. One way or another, you’ve already accomplished a lot. You answered your own call to action and resolved any issues of location, time or money, and now you can fly. Things are working out pretty good, right? I guess that means you’ll just have to keep flying! While it may sound self-serving, as an instructor I would advise any pilot to continue to seek instruction. Flying is

not that different from other sports. Just as a golf or tennis pro might help you with your swing or serve, your instructor can provide the continued support and guidance in charting your path as to when you are ready to take bigger steps and how to prepare for these steps. Many students travel great distances to come to Lookout Mountain Flight Park (LMFP). Frequently the plan is to get to the H-2 level with us in order to fly sites closer to home. Often the instructor who works with a student once they’ve reached the novice level is the one who referred them to LMFP. Where regular instruction is not available, have your initial instructor help you find the right pilots for assistance in mentoring you. You’ll want someone who has experience mentoring others and knows firsthand how a green pilot reacts to challenges that are inconsequential to a seasoned pilot. Plan to keep doing exactly what you’ve been doing. If you are new to mountain flying, continue to fly “sled rides” whenever possible. Don’t pass up flyable air waiting for conditions that are probably above your skill

level anyway. Get more flights. If the mountains aren’t flyable, check back in at the training hill. While it wouldn’t hurt pilots of any skill level to brush up on the basics with some hill practice, pilots new to the sport will only feel more comfortable in their later flying when they reinforce the fundamentals (especially launching and landing) with extra time on the training hill. Do you know any other sport where people don’t practice? At LMFP we have our student H-2s work on a variety of practical skills including traffic patterns (“rules of the ridge”) and turbulence patterns around ridges and thermals, assisted windy cliff launches, approach patterns for varying terrain, landing zones and conditions. Mastering a consistent standard aircraft approach (downwind, base, final) is a prerequisite before working on restricted landing field approaches, and then practicing tight approaches only when conditions are benign. At LMFP we offer frequent clinics on many of these topics. If you are near a school or USHPA chapter, see if they do the same and support them if they

do. We encourage foot-launchers to learn to aerotow. Aerotowing adds to a pilot’s quiver of skills and increases the window of opportunity to fly. Likewise, we frequently work with tow pilots on foot-launching skills. A reserve parachute clinic with practice deployments can be a real benefit to your peace of mind. Weather is one of the most important subjects for study. We fly in an ocean of air continually trying to equalize the effects of tremendous forces at play. While our focus for soaring is micrometeorology, an understanding of the larger weather patterns involved is also needed. A critical skill is being able to forecast what the conditions will do while you will be in the air. Many new pilots get into trouble because they choose to launch in conditions that then get too strong for their skill level. Safe pilots know they will probably spend more time on the ground observing and learning about the weather than they will flying. There are a number of good books on soaring weather as well as a wealth of information online for the aspiring meteorologist. Another essential subject for study is airspace. It’s important to understand where our place is in the ecosystem of aviation. We are lucky to have probably the least amount of regulation of anyone in that ecosystem. As we grow as a sport, it will be important that we demonstrate the ability to stay within the broad confines we’ve been given in order to maintain our space in an ever more crowded airspace. It’s a student’s responsibility to know the rules of the air you will be flying in. One of the greatest benefits of hang gliding or paragliding, and a sure-fire way to make progress in your flying, is the ability to own your own personal aircraft. Our flying gear is affordable for most and the return on any investment is phenomenal. Buying your glider makes that final commitment to flying

and yourself that says, “I’m a pilot.” Having your own gear will also motivate you to make the time to get out and fly. Choosing a first glider is outside the scope of this article, however; seek the advice of your instructor to ensure your first glider is appropriate to your skill level. From experience we know that getting your own glider is instrumental in a pilot’s progress, but getting more glider than you’re ready for can lead to a slow departure from the sport. One last thing we can’t neglect is safety. Are you a safe person? Not just when you’re flying, but in your everyday life? Do you exercise good judgment, follow the rules and do the simple tasks that keep us safe? For example, do you wear a seat belt when you drive? Do you use your directional signal and “clear your turns” before changing lanes on the highway? We begin risk management at an early age: “Look both ways before crossing the street!” “Don’t go in swimming until a half-hour after eating!” A focus on safety every day will carry over into our flying so we can enjoy the rewards of personal flight for as long as we wish to. In our sport, we have recognized the existence of the “Intermediate Syndrome.” This is the tendency of new, impatient intermediate pilots to believe they know it all and end up finding out the hard way they don’t. In truth, it should probably be called the “Pilot Syndrome” because it can occur at any skill level. In general aviation it’s a well-known fact that the primary cause of accidents is pilot error. Are we any different? In closing, the most important thing is to keep showing up, keep flying. Have fun. Come on, any day spent chasing the wind is better than a day working! Stay safe, it’s really not that hard and the benefits should be obvious. Enjoy living one of our oldest dreams. And as someone once said, “Look’s good. You go first.”



Life on the




by Katrina Mohr


here are not many pilots who can say they were there when hang gliding was becoming a sport in the 1970s and have been flying consistently since. Even fewer can say they made the sail they flew on. Fewer still can comfortably throw loops and fly upsidedown. And even fewer than that are piloting airplanes when they are not flying a hang glider. Only one man— the myth, the legend, “Dangerous” Dave Gibson—has done it all. To chronicle the accomplishments of his entire 37-plus years as a hang gliding pilot would be quite a task. Recently, Gibson was designated the 2010 Open Class Hang Gliding National Champion and Eiji Yokoda Memorial Trophy winner at King Mountain, Idaho, as well as the 2011 Flex Wing Chelan Classic winner. He has pretty much done everything you can do on a hang glider wing, and he does it very well. Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine caught up with Dave between flights to discuss the true origin of his nickname and what it takes to get through flying plateaus. How did you get into hang gliding? I’ve wanted to fly for as long as I can remember. I was into model airplanes as a teenager and, during high school in the ‘70s, I read articles about hang gliding in magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. In autumn of 1975, I started flying the early Rogallos, mostly cobbled together, borrowed beaters, with a few friends I met as a freshman in an engineering college in the small hills of southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, near where I grew up. That led to a few years of moving and flying around the country.  Eventually, I moved to southern California in 1979, and in 1985 I became an airplane pilot. Flying is what I’ve always wanted to do.  Many people start to learn at the primary level, then never fly again. What made you stay with it? It’s been said that flight is humankind’s oldest dream. It’s also one of our most misunderstood ideas. Some people start to get into it, whether it’s airplanes, hang gliders, or any other form, without necessarily realizing the mental drive it takes. They want to fly, but they may not want it enough to make the sacrifices needed to pursue it. No matter what you’re flying, you must continue to study, practice, and learn. It takes time. It’s important to realize and appreciate that you’ll be a student for life. Hang gliding is one of the most demanding ways to fly. It requires the right geography, terrain and weather to fly hang gliders. And the logistics of learning to predict and interpret weather can be very, very frustrating. A lot

of pilots burn out and decide they’ve had enough, before they get enough flight time, confidence, and ability to fully realize how fun and fulfilling it can be. Flying isn’t for everyone, and it’s natural for most people’s interests to change. My best friends and I are maybe a bit unusual in this regard.  You've been a hang glider pilot since it became a sport. What changes have you seen over the years?  Of course, development of the equipment has changed things drastically, and some of the mentality has changed. It’s still mostly an obscure subculture, but not an outlandish, crazy, hippy sport as it was thought to be back in the day. People are more thoughtful and methodical now, as our individual experiences and collective knowledge as a community have grown. Newer, incoming pilots and older, experienced pilots both benefit from this collective evolution. Since the equipment has improved so much, newer pilots at any age and older pilots returning to the sport, after being out of it for a while, can reach satisfying levels of flying more safely than they could have in earlier years. The amount of fun you’ll have boils down to the amount of contact you have with environmental elements and spatial freedom. Compared to flying a plane, you’re much more immersed in the weather, terrain, and sky, because the wing is an extension of you, not something you’re inside of, driving and manipulating with control systems. I think it’s a matter of personal taste. To me, the sensation of using my mind and my entire body to shift with the hang OPPOSITE Dave Gibson at Point of the Mountain, Draper, glider wing make the sport more physical, Utah | photo by Ryan Voight. almost metaphysical, and more viscerally enjoyable. That unfiltered purity is the beautiful component of this sport that hasn’t changed in 40-plus years and probably will never change.    Someone on a hang forum said about you: “The instantly obvious thing in that video is what a smooth pilot Dave is. Not only that he’s pulling off cool maneuvers, but notice that there’s no extra movement to make them happen. 95% of the pilots out there would be all over that base tube to make the same maneuvers. Dave’s conservation of movement is exquisite!” What advice can you give other pilots to get to this level? That’s flattering. Whoever said that, thank you! It’s about trying to be simultaneously mentally disciplined and physically relaxed, in order to improve balance. Bruce Lee called it the economy of movement. Watching



someone who’s good at anything, you’ll see how efficient he or she is. I’m into amateur bicycle racing; I love it and ride daily. Eddy Merckx, who is widely considered the greatest cyclist of his generation, maybe of all time, said something like: “Secret... what secret? Ride lots.” That’s how it’s done. There’s no other way but to fly a lot while consciously thinking about what you’re doing. Premeditated actions will become deeply ingrained mental, and then physical, habits.  Typically, pilots will plateau. So have I, more than a couple of times, which is frustrating. Over the decades, I’ve met all kinds of intelligent pilots with strong passion and desire, and I hear that although they seem to be getting better, it’s still difficult for them to reach what they want to do, because the rest of life gets in the way. It’s hard to orient oneself around flying, flying, and more flying. That’s arguably the hardest part. Or when we do fly, we aren’t always thinking about working to improve. It’s all about basics. Getting comfortable and reaching finer points and technically higher levels comes directly from how much practice you put in on improving basics.  



What about cross-country flying appeals to you over aerobatics? It’s a natural extension of how most of us like to fly. Soaring, in general, and cross-country are something more people can do than aerobatics. Kinesthetic motor skill is a bit less critical in cross-country. It’s more about soaring sense. Cross-country racing, or racing in any sport, is more competitively quantifiable than something more dance-oriented. I don’t care as much for a highly opinionated, judged event, which is what freestyle/aerobatics competition is. In freestyle comps, I’ve never placed better than second overall a couple times. I didn’t appreciate that and realized I never would place higher in this venue, which even today hasn’t changed much since its inception. I admit that’s a reason I lost interest in aerobatics and dropped it by the early 1990s For instance, in aerobatic competitions the scoring envelope, the airspace where we do our maneuvers, is pretty loosely defined, maybe a little too loosely for me. I always used to joke that I thought the scoring envelope is much too close to the launch. Some of the most memorable loops I’ve thrown have been celebratory maneuvers from a sense of relief and elation in the goal cylinder. That’s one of the ultimate places for me. It’s not always conducive or easy or even pos-

sible, but when it can be made to happen, that's where the excitement and satisfaction are. What’s the process for learning new maneuvers? Ah, process. Let’s see. Two words. Long. And long. On one hand, anyone needs a solid comfortable feel for the basics, before attempting even mild maneuvers. On the other hand, most pilots, by the time they’re comfortable, are too accustomed to normal flight attitudes and being right side up. The people I know who are very good, very safe and clean in their aerobatics all started young, in their teens and early 20s. Unless someone takes it up right away, they probably never will, and in most cases, that’s probably for the best. All kinds of other fun can be had without doing aerobatics. I don’t have any specific initial framework. But based on watching this sport evolve and being part of it for 37 years, everyone I know who can cleanly, safely, fluidly rip freestyle well, without exception, lives locally at a consistent ridge-soaring site with plenty of nice clean air on tap. We are all working without a net. It’s unforgiving, which is why it’s essential to have strong, smooth, stable air in your backyard with your face and ass in it often. Some of the rest is aptitude and being with other pilots who know what they’re doing–watching, interacting, guiding, and building up in mostly small increments over time. It demands ample opportunity to practice with plenty of lift and room to learn in, because there will be mistakes. Aerobatics are not to be taken lightly. I respect the flying community. The last thing I want is to come across as a snob and

hope that I don’t, but there can be no BELOW Dave Gibson inverted over Utah | photo by BS-ing on this. Being a hang glider pilot Ryan Voight. isn’t for everyone, and freestyle isn’t for every hang glider pilot. Wanting to air dance enough to actually get down to doing it only occurs in an esoteric obsessive fringe. Even with the faster, stronger wings that we have nowadays, which have reduced the risk somewhat, the early learning phase is still high risk, putting it kindly, and I believe that high-speed, high-level freestyle is unrealistic for all but a few people. That said, there’s more than one good reason for learning more moderate semi-aerobatics. Getting a tighter feel for how your mind-body-harness-wing-air connection works is gratifying and good for overall confidence and proficiency, such as recovery techniques in turbulence, among other things.    What do you do for work? I was what is generically known as a freight dog. I flew commercial and industrial airfreight for many years but, long story short, it was simply too dangerous. Now I’m a corporate pilot. I say tongue-in-cheek that I’ve gone from being an air truck driver to being a glorified fast limo driver, just another worker-bee flyboy with a Peter Pan scene at home. It allows me to play with hang gliders pretty regularly.   Do you benefit from hang gliding seasonally and taking a break in the winter to ski?  Most pilots, even full timers, have to step out of it now and then, even if only for a few weeks or months, for personal reasons or to get some fresh perspective. For most of my first 14 years as a pilot, I flew year-round. Since moving to Utah, primarily for skiing, because the winters here are long, deep, and fantastic, I started taking four to five months off during the peak of winter. As much as I love downhill skiing, it isn’t directly relevant to flying. But I inadvertently discovered that for me, Nordic skate



skiing is a great cross-training exercise for hang gliding. Every spring, when coming out of hang gliding hibernation, I go to the training hill and brush up on basics, basics, basics. I do dozens of takeoffs and landings. That’s critical in my opinion.    When and how did you get the nickname “Dangerous Dave”? Thanks for asking. I’m glad for the chance to clear that up. It was a silly high school nickname from a year or two before I ever saw a hang glider. Little did I know it would stick.   Can you tell me more about sail making? How long have you been doing that? One of the reasons I moved from Chattanooga to SoCal in 1989 was to figure out how to get into the hang gliding manufacturing industry as a sail maker and fly more frequently. I’ve always been interested in the design and fabrication of the equipment and still feel that being intimately familiar and involved in making equipment helps somewhat in becoming a better pilot. Not many who pass through this sport ever realize how long and hard the hang gliding manufacturing staff has to work behind the scenes and how much their skills and fabricating expertise make this all happen. It has to be seen to be appreciated. I started work in the original UP sail loft in Temecula, just down the road from Lake Elsinore, during winter of 1980. I worked there fulltime, doing mostly sail making, along with some pattern making and test flying during the Comet era, until 1984. As the original UP was phased out, I went to work in 1984 with Wills Wing, mostly in the sail loft, and also did some test flying, off and on, until 1988 or so. Being around driving minds such as Steve Pearson, Rob Kells, Mike and Linda Meier, and the rest of the crew was an influential period for me. We flew our butts off all over the countryside and had some fine, wild times. All of us were young; it was an exciting, fast evolutionary period. I still really dig doing inlaid sail work by hand, a bit of arcane, esoteric quasi-geeky art form that I was heavily into back in the day.   What do you want to see in your future as a pilot? I hope to continue to fly and strive to keep up with progress in the sport as long as I'm able. Mainly, I want to try to improve in small steps, by enjoying the flying and the community, seeing places, cultures, meeting new, interesting people and making friends along the way. There has to be a practical method to the madness, so I like to



try to balance independent thinking with learning from others who are better than I am. I also enjoy mentoring people occasionally, even if that entails having to say once in awhile, “Please, do only as I say, not as I do!”   What do you fly? I love airplanes and appreciate how lucky I am to be flying them. I’ve flown plenty of hang gliding wings and harnesses, but there are always more that I want to try. I like variety for its own sake; variety helps maintain versatile feel. Also, it is just that much more freaking fun. For me, over the decades, a good old Wills Wing has always been hard to beat. These days, since the spring of 2006, I’ve been on several T2 and T2C 144’s, with a Rotor harness that was a near-new hand-me-down from Rob Kells. I've flown cocoons about 60 percent of the time since 1979-80. This last season, I’ve been in a one-off pre-production prototype Wills Wing FlyLite 3 cocoon that was a gift from Ryan and Desiree Voight. I carry Free Flight LARA Gold parachutes, a 175 and a 250. I’ll admit that hearing Rob say they would make it easy for me to return to Wills Wing equipment and all the Wills Wing folks continuing to make it happen has quite a bit to do with my equipment choice. Likewise, with Steve Kroop at Flytec. I’ve been using what’s turned out to be the standard crosscountry staple, Flytec 4030 and 6030s with various Garmins, since 1998. Dustin Martin’s instrument pods are uniquely cool, sleek, and functional, too. Developing, fabricating, and marketing these things is challenging, to say the least, and we’re fortunate to have manufacturers here in the States and different gear importers of other Australian and European products to keep our flying going.  Where do you enjoy flying the most? Well, so far, Earth! Just a little morning or evening session here in the backyard at Point of the Mountain is relaxing, fun, and satisfying. It’s almost impossible to say what my favorite place is yet, but there’s no place like home. I’m not even 100 percent sure that I’ve found my one favorite place yet. So many nice memories with likeminded people, and there’s so much more to do. So far, I’ve loved every place I’ve ever flown in one way or another. If I have to pick favorites, I’ll always say the Chattanooga area and SoCal, which is practically impossible to beat for consistent weather quality, convenience and community, as is the Salt Lake area. Chelan is a unique place, too, with the combination of good quality mountains and flats. Texas has unobstructed fairytale conditions, and Santa Cruz is a perfect com-

petition and social venue. Owens in the ‘80s and ‘90s, southern Colorado when it’s mild, and sometimes, I miss flying on the coast. Way, way, way too many to name. Utah is special in that it combines tremendous variety, scenery, and conditions with logistical feasibility, as well as several sites that are a safe distance from controlled airspace.   Is there a flight that stands out to you as an extremely close call, or just one that changed you? Too, too many to elaborate, both good and bad. Let’s see… I came too close, my fault, with Roy Haggard in a Citabria in the late 1980s. In the spring of 1993 at Point of the Mountain north side, I broke no less than three of my own rules at once. I was buzzing the ridge, low pass, a little too close, clipped a wingtip on a windsock pole, and partially broke the leading edge. I flew away from it and struggled for a minute, but I had no real choice but to throw the parachute. I hit fairly softly with nary a scratch on me and surprisingly light, easily repairable damage to the borrowed wing. It could’ve been far worse. In an edgy realm where you absolutely must write some of your own rules, you must always stick with them. Always. I’ve also seen other pilots' mistakes that made an indelible impression on me. Most of my closest calls came during the crunch and grind of the freight flying years. Enough said on that. Can you describe a few of your favorite flights? First ridge soaring and first real out-and-returns and going into past-vertical wingovers at Lookout and Sequatchie with the Dragonfly 2B. There was the ninehours-plus flight at Lookout in early autumn 1978 with the Owl B, first low saves in pure thermals without ridge lift. In 1979, borrowing Chris Price’s, Roy Haggard’s and Eric Raymond’s earlier cocoon prototypes, then immediately feeling what a proper body-wing connection is. Early loops in Comets in perfect Santa Ana conditions in winter 1980-81 with Eric Raymond. Watching Bill Floyd in winter 1979-80, during which he showed me how to top-land almost any wing anywhere within marginal reason. Generally long cross-country race comps in the Owens in the 1980s and the early 100-plus milers into goals. Autumn 1983, with Larry Tudor, first of many times making it from the Point of the Mountain, a 340-foot vertical ridge, up over the 12,000-foot MSL Wasatch Range, then deciding this is where to live. Gaining several thousand feet tandem with my girlfriend, whom I taught, followed by her kicking me away from the control bar and flying on by herself. The Eiji Yokadawinning out-and-return at King in 2010, a demanding

one. Peacefulness floating over Lake Chelan late in the day, watching three different winds converge. It’s almost impossible to pin down and even name just a few, much less describe them. That’s what the social scene and après-flight parties with practically a herd of Frisbee-chasing dogs are for. I’m sure there will be many more favorite days to go out and fly.   BELOW Dave Gibson loops it over | photo by Ryan Voight. Do you have your sights on breaking any records? It’s something I think about. I can’t remember many days when I didn’t think about hang gliding at least once. Most of my aspirations have to do with wanting to improve at cross-country racing to goal. It’s really my favorite thing to do competitively, despite my being nowhere near as good at it as I’d wish. Cross-country is getting up, going, reaching places, doing what you want to do, so doing it more is the only means of expanding ability. To me, it’s always been the highest level and leading edge of the sport, where most of the best pilots are. Reaching personal bests or making goal is one of the most satisfying things in hang gliding and in life.  But the main idea I’d like to throw out is that whatever level you’re at, for heaven’s sake and your own, as soon as you can consistently safely launch, feel comfortable in traffic, and land where you want, think about trying some cross-country comps. It can open your mind up, flying-wise, weather-wise, flying humans social-wise, in ways unlike anything, anywhere else. This is the flyingest flying, something uniquely special.




Northern California

Cross Country LEAGUE by Jugdeep Aggarwal


he start of the season was epic, the finale in the Owens Valley was uber epic and everything in between was, too. 2012 was a sensational season. I’ve been trying to determine what made this year’s league stand out. Was it the record ABOVE Pilots preparing to launch numbers who came to most of the from Whaleback with Shasta in events, the record number of pilots in background | photo by Dana Hight. goal, the record total distances flown? OPPOSITE Soaring above the Or maybe the opportunities for learning smoke haze at Whaleback | photo by Sergei Gridnev. at a league meet, such as the mentoring program, online tutorials and additional web pages contributed to its success. And one can’t discount the ever-present camaraderie that kept the energy levels at an all-time high among participants. Not sure what it was, but the format worked. Pilots had a great time while improving their skills. We definitely have a community of pilots who support fly-ins that develop pilot skills as well as encourage



exploration of the local areas surrounding our flying sites. How better to accomplish these goals than with friends? Perhaps that’s why once pilots discover league meets, they want to keep attending. With a goal of being “a fly-in with a mission,” these league meets also provide a forum for training pilots for larger sanctioned competitions. Task setting has always been difficult when the pilot quality ranges from skygod to muppet. This year the competition focused on reducing the importance of racing in order to emphasize distance. I am not sure we have it right yet. But an emphasis on making the tasks doable for most pilots results in the competition’s becoming a rewarding experience for all instead of an endurance test only suited for the very best. Over three tasks had best distances of greater than 60 miles, while three other tasks had best distances of under 20 miles. The variability of weather and the differences in sites contributed to the huge range in flown distances.

The tasks are composed of three parts. The first is set on easy course lines across easy terrain with the aim of ensuring that even the most junior pilot can experience the fun of competing without being overtaxed. The second part of the task is usually a little more involved, including perhaps a valley crossing or two and venturing into more challenging terrain. This section is meant to test the more able pilots. The final part of the task is set up across more committing terrain with the aim of being able to stay in the air to avoid a horrendous walk out. The second and third legs are set to give the better pilots a run for their money. While the skill level for the pilots is clearly not equal, the competition is set up so pilots are only competing against their equally skilled peers. Hence, three categories have been delineated: those flying competition and EN D gliders (Category 1), those flying EN C gliders (Category 2), and those flying EN A and EN B gliders (Category 3). This has resulted in a much leveled playing field. One of the key objectives of the league is to give those pilots who cannot make all 17 tasks an opportunity of winning. So, similar to the PWC league, pilots’ final scores are taken from their own scores for half of the tasks set, enabling a pilot to win, even if he/ she did not attend all tasks. Clearly, however, it is more advantageous to attend as many tasks as possible. Since this is really only a pilot gathering with a mission, registration costs have been kept to a modest $15 per person per race. For this, pilots get to compete and score in tasks that are scored in a way identical to the scoring of bigger competitions. $5 of the fee goes into a communal pot which gets split among the drivers and any large vehicles that are used. Non-competing pilots are always welcome, since this helps map out the air for the competing pilots. Regular attendees have gotten into the swing of things, substantially reducing the task load on the organizer. Waypoints can be downloaded before the weekends from the website. It is possible to sign in and pay each morning, submit GPS for scoring on Saturday evening, and email tracklogs for Sunday’s task. This has run really well and means a smoother experience for all participating. Keeping track of large numbers of pilots has been difficult; however, the buddy system has proven to be a success. This allows pilots to sign in their buddies as being safe. The only issue then is retrieval. The dedicated website for all information for the league,, has proven to be a great resource for keeping pilots informed throughout the season. Several additions to the website, including online pilot registration using a Google form, a page to help

WINNERS Category 1 First place: Josh Cohn Second place: Jugdeep Aggarwal Third Place: Patrick Allaire Category 2 First place: Frank Marquis Second place: David Ismay Third Place: Reavis Sutphin-Gray Category 3 First place: Fabien Perez Second place: Dan Harrison Third Place: Myumi Honda



Total number of tracklogs: 409 Total number of registered pilots: 111 Total number of participating pilots: 86 Total Distance flown of all competing pilots: 7779 miles (51% more than 2011) “first timers” on what to expect, and several pages on strategies and tips (http://www.santacruzparagliding. com/NCXC/strategies.html) are very helpful. As in the previous year, scores are now posted on the Leonardo website (http://norcalxc BOTTOM Inquisitive horse, which in a cross-country LZ | photo by gives pilots the opportunity to view Sergei Gridnev. their flights, download their tracklogs, and play animations for the competition. I have been running the league for nine years. Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects is watching how pilot ability progresses over the years. The league meets definitely take over where formalized training ends in providing pilots a chance to fly with very skilled pilots and learn from them. The finale at the Owens Valley in September/



DATES FOR 2013 March 23rd and 24th April 27th and 28th May 18th and 19th June 15th and 16th July 20th and 21st August 10th and 11th August 31st, September 1st and 2nd September 28th, 29th and 30th OR October 5th, 6th and 7th,

October was truly incredible in every way imaginable. There was a turnout of 45 pilots—many of them firsttimers—all of whom had personal bests for at least one category: highest, farthest flown or longest air time. Conditions could not have been better, with pilots attaining altitudes in excess of 16,000 feet and task setting over 100km. But that was how the 2012 season ended. I look forward to more leagues around the country, so not only will our pilot quality continue to improve but also our pilot attrition will continue to decline. With the 2013 season about to kick off, it would be great to see new pilots coming out to the league to learn what they have been missing. See you in the air. 2013 venues will be published on the league website.

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Sierra SAFARI A Paragliding Journey

by Gavin McClurg Photos by Jody MacDonald, Nick Greece & Antoine Laurens 40



ur team meets in a dimly lit Mexican restaurant on September 12, 2012, as the sun slowly sinks behind the crimson desert in the sweeping Owens Valley of Bishop, California. We’ve assembled here to attempt to fly farther than anyone ever has in North America—in a series of linked flights across the Sierra Mountains. Introductions are made. Not all of us have met in person, but the names are familiar, since we’ve been planning this expedition for months. Sitting next to me is the legendary French pilot Antoine Laurens, the mastermind of the Himalayan Odyssey, a 680-mile paragliding expedition successfully completed over 46 days across the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas. Known for his skilled acrobatic and cross-country flying, Antoine has been at the forefront of paragliding for nearly three decades. His Albert Einstein hair and skinny frame belie the fact that he can do things with a wing most people can only imagine in their dreams. Across from me is the quiet and amiable Spanish Red Bull X-Alps pilot Oriol Fernandez. His calm demeanor presents a stark contrast to his participation in what will be arguably one of the hardest physical races on Earth.

Nick Greece is currently one of the top-ranked pilots in the USA. He recently broke the US footlaunch record with a 204-mile cross-country flight from Jackson Hole across the Red Desert of Wyoming, one of the most barren places on Earth. (Even if Nick weren’t such an amazing pilot, having him on board for his New York-style comic relief and direct banter would be reason enough for his presence.) Eric Reed, USA team member, national champion, and former software engineer turned fulltime paragliding cross-country hound is poring over a large topographic map with Brad Sander. Brad Sander holds the altitude record for a flight completed in Pakistan’s Karakoram, making him the most widely respected high-altitude pilot in the world. Each of these pilots except Nick and me were members of the Himalayan Odyssey, the longest vol-biv expedition completed to date. We have a support driver and vehicle we’ll meet up with every few days to restock our supplies and charge our instruments and cameras, but otherwise we’re on our own; everything we need to survive will be carried in our harnesses. This OPPOSITE Gavin McClurg banks it up past Reno, style of flying is known as volontaire Nevada. LEFT Nick Greece bivouac or “vol biv,” which, translated prepares to launch. Photos by from French, means voluntary camping. Jody MacDonald. It works like this: Pilots take off from one location and ideally top-land high at another, allowing for a nearby takeoff the next day, without the need for a vehicle or long approach hike and providing the benefit of maintaining high altitudes. Launch and landing sites cannot be predetermined; they must be chosen while airborne, substantially increasing risk and danger. Launch, fly, land high, camp. Repeat in this manner for as long as time, weather, food and water allow. Each pilot must carry enough provisions, camping gear and emergency supplies befitting the scope of the attempt. But, of course, the more you carry the more that weight affects not only your ability in the air, but also your chance of landing safely and



returning to civilization. Finding the right balance can be tricky. Done well: I am convinced it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing sporting pursuits possible today. Done poorly: It means at best a very long walk out, and at worst a trip to the hospital. This endeavor requires not only great piloting skills, ABOVE Eric Reed, the but also planning and logistics that mastermind behind the rival remote mountaineering or river route, flying over Mono expeditions. Lake, California | photo by The risks are extreme, but so are the Jody MacDonald. rewards. Much of the area we hope to fly borders the famous Owens Valley, a playground for hard-core rock climbers and mountaineers, backcountry skiers, and desert



rats who come to escape the crowds in the Los Angeles and San Jose basins on the western slope. It is the stark and resilient home to such landmarks as Yosemite and Tuolumne Meadows, Death Valley, the famous ski areas of Mammoth and June Lakes, and a host of natural wonders, such as the Bristlecone Pine Forest, where the oldest and certainly most twisted trees in the world have steadfastly brushed off raging forest fires, freezing winters, and scorching summers for over five thousand years. Desolate, dry, bleak, and wild— the Eastern Sierras are sparsely inhabited and could serve as the definition of dramatic. Brash and bold hang gliding pilots pioneered the Owens in the 1970s, but its reputation for punish-

ingly strong thermals, sudden winds, and frightening weather changes is to pilots what K2 is to mountaineers. It is the holy grail of cross-country flying—a place that demands respect and a place to attempt to fly only when you are fully on your game. In summer, even the most experienced pilots avoid the Owens. With desert temperatures frequently soaring above 120 degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by nuclear-strong thermals and valley winds, only the most daring (or stupid) attempt cross-country flying in the middle of the day. We’d chosen September and early October to make our attempt, and the flying on that first day was perfect to a fault: strong but manageable climbs, light winds, 16,000-foot cloudbase, and totally clear skies. It could have easily been a 60-mile or better day, and good days in the Owens are rare. The day was “perfect to a fault” because none of us believed the conditions we had would last. Our flight plan was to top-land by noon, make a camp and hide from the expected afternoon winds, which always blow from the west. This is one of the many challenges of the Sierras: When it’s windy, you’re in the lee. And it is often windy. At noon we found ourselves soaring over a high-angle scree-covered mountain that had no trees and was, at least to my eyes, not a place to top-land except in an emergency. It was at best dicey, at worst insane. Nick was the only one who saw Brad crash. He later said he was afraid he would be doing a body recovery. While attempting to top-land, Brad had a huge asymmetric collapse, triggered by a strong thermal low to the ground, after which he spun into an immediate riser twist and found himself being hurled like a pendulum directly into the mountain, with nothing to be done but wait for impact. He later guessed he hit the rock face at about 15 miles per hour. Nick heard a loud scream and started running, but by then Brad was out of sight, several hundred feet below Nick’s position. Brad’s airbag shredded on impact, spraying his sleeping bag and other gear around the slope. Incredibly,

seconds after he made impact and was trying to assess the physical damage sustained, his wing re-inflated on its own. Only by phenomenal piloting skills was Brad able to control the wing and fly off the hill. Backwards. We would learn that afternoon in the hospital that Brad had suffered relatively minor injuries for the look of the impact. We were all amazed, though how he was able to fly a further five miles to the ambulance in Independence, the nearest town, in that condition is difficult to comprehend. He was lucky to be alive and we were thankful to be told that Brad would have a full recovery. The awful LEFT Eric Reed, Gavin McClurg, and Antoine Laurens irony of the day was that we never figuring out the way forward needed to try to land in the first place. | photo by Jody MacDonald. The afternoon winds that had been BELOW A windy bivy on forecast never arrived. An hour after McGees launch | photo by Brad’s crash, California pilot extraorAntoine Laurens. dinaire Dean Stratton flew right over Nick and Antoine, who had set up their bivy at 11,000 feet, on his way to set the California distance record. So just after we had started our trip, our group was down to five. Oriol decided to spend a few days with Brad to get him situated somewhere to heal, which reduced our number to four. Antoine had landed with Nick after the accident, since we had agreed to try to stay together whenever possible. This was my first serious attempt at vol biv, so I wasn’t used to flying as a team. Cross-country flying



is usually an independent endeavor, and if there was one lesson we all took from this day, it was that even when flying as a team, each pilot has to make good independent decisions. Not one of us would have tried to land on that mountain had we been on our own. But the group dynamic altered everything. Some bad decisions were made that first day. If we were to be successful, this had to change. Eric Reed and I took off at 9:00 the next morning, once again from Walt’s Point, a short distance from 14,505-foot Mt Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States. Even this late in the season, the thermals were already strong. We hoped by launching early we could catch up to Nick and Antoine, who were camped at 11,000 feet, about 25 miles north down the range, and push on together. The forecast was perfect: light winds, good lapse rate, and a high base. The cobwebs we all had fought the day before, after traveling long distances to get to the Sierras from our respective homes—Spain (Oriol), Pakistan (Brad), France (Antoine), Jackson Hole (Nick), San Francisco (Eric), and Sun Valley (me)— were gone, and the unfortunate events of the previous



day served as a motivator to cover some ground, albeit safely. In no time we were gliding high over the accident site and making fast progress. Nick and Antoine had also launched early and were maintaining a comfortable lead. As we neared the town of Bishop, some 40 miles into the flight, I got my first taste of what was to become standard operating procedure when flying with Eric Reed. Eric’s nickname is the “badger,” an animal renowned for its fearless nature and stubborn tenacity. Eric’s moniker fits perfectly. Quiet and methodical, Eric is a thinking pilot who is more comfortable in turbulent conditions than any other pilot I have flown with. Again and again, we were banked hard together in a strong climb. All the while, I was focused and intensely concentrated, my every thought devoted to keeping my wing inflated. When I looked over at Eric, however, he had both hands off the brakes and seemed totally relaxed—eating, playing with a camera, fussing with his helmet—basically flying as if he had some kind of hidden autopilot. If you are in the air with this gentleman, prepare to be led into places you would never, ever consider going on your own. Again and again, when faced with a route deci-

sion in the coming days, Eric, who was invariably in the lead, would choose the route that was more remote, more dangerous, with few or no landing options. And yet, again and again, his choice of line proved the right way to go to extend our distance. Following Eric required a great leap of faith, but it always paid off. When we approached Bishop, the obvious route was north and then west, following the terrain but keeping Highway 395, the main north/south arterial and our handrail for several hundred miles, within reach, in case we bombed out. However, Eric took a shortcut left, into what pilots anxiously refer to as “tiger country.” Bombing out here meant you were more likely to have an encounter with a bear than a person, and the walk out would be gruesome. We were committed now. This would be only the first of many such committing flights in the coming weeks. An obvious top-landing site at McGee Peak appeared just as we entered the Mammoth Lakes basin, and Eric proposed we land there. At well over 10,000 feet, he reasoned that McGee’s, an established flying site, would be an easy place to launch the next day, and we had already covered 80 miles, a respectable distance. Shortly after touching down, we had a campfire blazing, hot tea brewing and only the stars for neighbors. If there were a textbook on bivy flying, we had followed it exactly. The next morning Antoine and Nick hiked up to our position, reuniting our team. The winds were too strong to fly so we passed an entire day under the fierce Sierra sun, throwing rocks and trying to decide between shrimp- or chicken-flavored ramen. Nick regaled us with stories of his epic flight in Jackson that summer, and Antoine and Eric hashed out strategy for the coming days. This might sound dull, but we were all in our own private heaven—living amongst the clouds with our wings and friends, nothing but flying on our minds. As our fire crackled that night over the distant lights of Mammoth, I decided that no matter how far we traveled on this journey, it had already been worth it. Life became a blissful routine. Fly, camp, eat, sleep and fly again. Every two or three days, we tried to land at a place where the truck could meet us, so we could restock food and water and charge the batteries for our various instruments and cameras. Below, the terrain was in a constant state of awesome change. Steep iron-red and coal-black rock faces with dizzyingly vertical drops morphed into lesser giants covered with pine trees and thousands of high alpine lakes, as

we moved steadily north. We skated over the dreaded and dangerous Mammoth basin; top-landed over Mono Lake; did a sky tour of Tuolumne Meadows at the doorway to magnificent Yosemite. The climbs were strong, the glides were long, and the cold bit us to the bone, but the smiles never faded. We were covering ground at a good pace; there was talk of even making it to Washington. The struggle and pain I imagined we’d be dealing with on an expedition of this scope never materialized. The flying was epic, and Eric was a mastermind at finding top-landing sites that would allow re-launches the next ABOVE A night by the fire | photo by Antoine Laurens. day with minimal hiking. The lines we OPPOSITE Antoine took were more committing than any Laurens over the deepness pilot here had ever experienced, which before Bishop, California | inevitably led to some frightening mophoto by Nick Greece. ments. But difficult living it was not. We were residing in an extended dream. On one day when Oriol could not bear the cold any longer, he landed on the peak of White Mountain at 11,300 feet, deep in tiger country, north of Mono Lake. Oriol had rejoined us the day before and was still struggling mentally from trying to shake off bad vibes, while Antoine had bombed out early. Eric, Nick and I were circling at 17,000 feet, screaming like banshees about the awesome conditions, knowing full well we could easily make Lake Tahoe, 50 miles to our north. Re-launching from Oriol’s position looked desperate. But that was no place to leave someone, so with a slight disappointment we dove down through pumping climbs in hard spirals and cut our flight short. The spot proved a difficult place to get out from the next day, but the setting where we camped was magnificent. A tiny field of grass and wildflowers made for a soft bed with views that stretched nearly to the Pacific



Ocean. Nick and I wandered off to get wood for a fire, which was all part of the adventure, and Nick declared what I’d heard him say every day, “There’s no place I’d rather be.” It took nearly an hour-and-a-half of hard work to climb out the next morning, with each of us spending some heart-thumping minutes kicking the treetops, but finally we climbed away from the magnificent bivy location. Soon we were on glide across a long ridge, with the Lake Tahoe basin to our north and only trees, lakes, high mountains and bears barring the way! Below us, there were no roads, no sign of human life at all. Only six miles into the flight, Oriol fell out of a good thermal just below me and quickly got into



trouble. There were no landing options, unless hanging from a pine tree counted. Oriol flew the only way he could: deeper into a narrow gorge that appeared to have no escape. The rest of us were helpless; we watched and hoped. Thankfully, Oriol had just enough height; he cleared the gorge and turned into a small valley with a tiny meadow that was just large enough to safely land. We radioed what information we could to help Oriol get oriented and back to civilization and wished him luck. It was going to be a very long desolate walk out— five hours—during which he came upon three black bears. We learned later that this was to be Oriol’s last flight. His mojo has strayed.

The rest of the day had all the elements of an epic cross-country flight: a scary low lee-side save, radical strong climbs, heart-stopping beauty, and terrain that rivals anywhere in the world the need for committed flying. But no epic flight is complete without that magical final glide, that time in the day when all is calm and stress and anxiety melt away to reveal the enormous accomplishment that has been achieved. For six hours, Lake Tahoe had been only a waypoint on the GPS, but now the lake stretched out before us in all its stunning glory. The view was a lot to take in. Nick, Eric, and I tried to push on north, but the thermals were dying; we could push no further. The full team came together again before sunset, just in time to

wash away the accumulated dirt of the past week with a brisk swim in the lake. Oriol told us that evening that the Sierras are “more remote and wild” than the Karakoram in Pakistan, home of the world’s highest mountains. Antoine agreed; he claimed his decade of flying in the Indian Himalayas was no match for the Sierras. I found this to be incredible. California is the most populated state in the USA, and yet we were flying over territory that could be in Mongolia? In Reno, the weather finally took a turn for the worse, pinning us down for a few days of needed rest. From here, the terrain became much more challenging. There were no obvious routes north; careful planning was needed. If we could piece together two solid flights, we would reach the end of the Sierras, but no one wanted to stop there. It was only a couple hundred miles to the Oregon border and our goal was set. Oregon or bust! But as the fall days shortened and more stable conditions arrived, the going got slow and difficult. We dropped from 80-mile days to 15. At that pace, we were not going to make it. We needed someone in the group to step up and really have one. Nick took up the challenge. On a day when I could only pull off a few miles, Nick reached deep and refused to quit, getting one impossibly low save after another, all the way to Fredonyer Peak, just 86 miles shy of the border, on an 85-mile flight he called the hardest but best he’d ever had. Those remaining 86 miles took LEFT Eric Reed and Gavin McClurg flying near Mono another five days to cover. Only Eric Lake, California | photo by managed to make it across the border Jody MacDonald. to land near the north end of the Warner Range at Lakeview, Oregon, on October 2, 2012, 18 days after we’d started. We had linked the entire distance by air. Cross-country flying is, in my opinion, the most rewarding and intensely gratifying sport that exists today. But for those who desire to fly at a more raw and exposed level, there is a building momentum in the sport to pursue a level of flying that is even more pure, more in line with what modern gliders can be used to achieve. Vol biv flying allows us to leap into the sky and be held back only by our lack of imagination. The sky is our playground, and it is only beginning to be discovered. Our trip ended in a similarly nondescript café many miles from where we had started, but I noted a sparkle in everyone’s eyes that was not there when we began. It was the sparkle of possibilities.




HILAIRE by Loren Cox




urning Man, Sturgis, Oshkosh, CES, Comic-Con, NABX, Knit Out, Folsom Street Fair, Bridge Day—every widely dispersed passionate community eventually establishes an annual pilgrimage to a mecca of its own creation. Some are found in musty, horribly wallpapered motel meeting halls, some in swarming convention centers, some in the middle of the sweltering desert. Lucky for us Hangys and Paradanglers, we have the Coupe Icare, which is held annually in one of France’s innumerable, beautiful and easily accessible flying spots: St Hilaire du Touvet. Perched atop an idyllic mountainside plateau between Grenoble and Chambery in eastern France, the tiny village of St Hilaire sits over 2000 feet above the valley floor overshadowed by the 6765-foot Dent de Crolles peak, making it a ridiculously good place to fly. For four days in late September every year, this sleepy village swells to accommodate tens of thousands of people and becomes the center of the free flight universe during the Coupe Icare Free Flight Festival. 2012 marked the festival’s 39th year. You’ve probably seen the photos. The biggest attraction of the event is without a doubt the “Icarnaval” masquerade flights. This airborne costume

contest can be as daring and daunting as it is impressively beautiful to watch; hundreds line up in all manner of outfit and flying contraption to run off a fairly committing launch while thousands of people laser focus on them and their forward launching abilities. Stilts, roller skates, bikes, tables, two-person horse costumes, and pilots dragging hundreds of feet of fabric tail with cloth draped from extended hangpoints: each launch is OPPOSITE The biggest free-flight festival in the a feat of accomplishment in its own world is centered around right. Sometimes it has the feel of a dressing up in elaborate NASCAR race being watched purely costumes and flying for for the potential carnage. But as soon three days. LEFT A classic as a successful launch takes to the air, costume that flies every year! Photos by Loren Cox. and they usually do, the crowd cheers and the jubilation of seeing flyingflowing-creativity is palatable. The sense of French folly abounds. Although the costumed follies alone may make the trip worthwhile, they are but a sliver of what this festival has to offer. The program list is extensive, with numerous events occurring at the same time, sometimes making it difficult to decide where to be in order to avoid missing something you aren’t likely to see elsewhere anytime soon. Not only will you see paragliders and hang gliders swooping around the sky during acrobatic demos, you’ll also have the chance to witness every manner of flying machine take to the air. You’ll see ultralights, gyros, Air Force acrobatic teams, acrobatic sailplanes, wingsuits, and even Yves Rossy, the Jetman, streaking through the sky next to full-sized jets. Hot-air balloons often dot the skies in the early morning mist. And the new Icarobatix competition is something to behold: the world’s top paramotor pilots crank huge banked turns around 20-foot inflatable pylons and fly full speed inches above the ground to pick up large objects with their feet while trailing smoke. It’s terrifying and awesome. The free flight theme scales to all sizes. There are RC model aircraft, kites of all manner, paper airplanes and, perhaps the most breathtaking event, a nighttime mass ascension of paper lanterns that attendees can make at workshops during the day. For those who are into great indie films, there’s the International Free Flight Film Festival, featuring documentaries, adventure, fiction, animation and shorts of all kinds with the central themes of air, flight, wind, and all aerial sports. Every year some of the best filmmakers in free flight feature superbly executed movies. It’s the Sundance of air sports. Flight-themed sculptures and art dot the land-



scape, and music wafts from a variety of stages, with full concerts in the evenings. A large food tent with international cuisine and cold beer for a hot day satisfies the appetite and quenches the thirst. Street performers roam the crowds, and classic French puppeteers stage shows. To risk sounding too much like a county fair TV commercial... “Icare has something for the whole family.” The festival has organized a welcomed “Icare Momes,” an area set aside for youngsters offering activities like paper plane contests, workshops for building kites, model airplanes, mini wind farms, falconry demos, and Brazilian balloon fabrication, to name a few. This might just be that flying trip you’ve dreamed of where you can bring the whole family and not have a bunch of bored spouses and/or munchkins sulking along as you spec out. Are you BOTH PAGES The event is a convinced yet? three-day party focused around A largely overlooked aspect of the hang gliding, paragliding, BASE Coupe Icare is the trade fair. Almost jumping, paramotoring, and every paragliding manufacturer is costume design. The 40th edition of this amazing event will happen present in the over 50,000-squarefrom September 19-22. Check out foot covered trade fair grounds. You’ll for more find the latest and greatest from the information. Photos by Loren Cox. manufacturers of flight instruments, paramotors (including a surprising number of miniature RC paramotors), harnesses, flight apparel, flight accessories, hang gliders, paragliders, and more. Many companies use the Coupe Icare to announce and demo new and as yet unreleased products and to do



business with dealers and manufacturers from around the world. So there is a feel of being on the cutting edge as you peruse information in various booths and get an opportunity to ask the hard questions you’ve always wanted to ask the wing designer of choice. The CIVL and PMA also hold meetings during the Coupe Icare. If there’s one place that is the center of the paragliding and hang gliding industry, it is the Coupe Icare. There’s something about being in a large crowd of like-minded people. At the Coupe Icare, you aren’t the only one with your eyes strained skyward, hand held up to feel the wind direction as you walk around toting a giant oversized rucksack. No one will ask if you are going camping. No one will question your constant fidgeting as you wait to get airborne. Thousands of other pilots are right there with you, basking in Mecca. It’s a trek you should make at least once in your lifetime. The 40th annual Coupe Icare will be held in September 2013, from Thursday, the 19th through Sunday, the 22nd. Any and all information can be found at Go, already!




by C.J. Sturtevant


It'S A GIRL THING Well, OK, maybe only 10% of those

who fly hang gliders and paragliders in the US are women, but those women tend to be attentive students, excellent pilots, and deeply involved members of their flying communities. I asked several women pilots I know or know of to talk about the flying aspects of their lives, and share some of their insights about learning, advancing, staying safe,



and having fun. Those who responded to my queries range in experience from novice pilots to one with more than three decades of flying, and include two past and present members of the US Women’s Hang Gliding Team. Introductions, and some comments on getting started: Kim Croy began hang gliding lessons in Colorado in April of 2012, but work and weather kept setting up roadblocks to her training. “We would have a

couple weeks of great flying and then a few weeks of no flying at all,” Kim recalls. “Repetition is so beneficial when you are learning to fly, but every time I would finally get out to tow or to the training hill, there would be a little rust that needed chipping away.” Kim admits that her greatest challenge as a student was “having patience. From day one I wanted to be sky-high, but I also wanted to be safe, so I accepted the time frame that my instructor Mark disclosed on day one.” Mark Windsheimer signed her off for her H-2 last December. Sara Close is also a relatively new pilot, taking her first hang gliding lesson at Wallaby Ranch in spring




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of 2011. Learning to fly via tandem aerotow was, Sara recalls, “pretty easy—right up until I had to learn to land on my feet. THAT was hard... a total mix of my psyche getting in the way and remembering all the steps leading up to the flare and landing correctly. Because I was learning through aerotowing, and not on a training hill, I didn’t have the back-to-back repetition of several flights in a row that you can get at a training hill... So by the time I got back on the line behind the tug plane, had another flight, and then went in for another landing, I’d either spooked myself again or forgotten what I’d done wrong the last time.” Now, two years later, Sara is an accomplished novice pilot, flying (and landing gracefully!) at mountain sites and via aerotow across the country. Sara is the star of the delightful LEFT Tina’s flying family: niece Annie, Justin, Sierra,

baby Hazelnut, Jazzy, Tina and Larry | photo by Aaron Swepston.

509.682.4359 hang gliding documentary Live the Dream, which won USHPA’s 2012 Best Promotional Video award. Digital downloads of the film will be available at on April 1st. Lisa Verzella started hang gliding lessons in 1989 in Colorado, and like Kim she found the toughest part of learning “was having to wait until the weekend for another lesson. Being small on the equipment made things a bit more difficult—I had to get stronger to carry glider and gear around, and make extra effort to keep the base bar lifted above my ankles on launch.” And, like Sara, Lisa found getting the flare timing right on landing “was particularly difficult, and continues to challenge me. Certain gliders definitely make landings easier, but the best trick is being hella-current on each wing you fly.” When I, as a new H-2, met Tina Jorgensen back in 1982, she was al-

ready an old-timer in the Dog Mt. pilot community. She and her boyfriend (now husband) Larry had in 1980 acquired an old Standard-type hang glider with a swing seat from a garage sale. “We thought we were going to teach ourselves,” Tina says, “but luckily Larry found an instructor in Olympia. We soon learned our Standard was not safe, and were in awe of the new equipment that our instructor had—we trained on Wills Wing Ravens.” Tina remembers her greatest challenge was “trying to learn on equipment that was too big for me.” Linda Salamone learned to fly with the Rochester (N.Y.) Area Flyers in her hometown in the spring of 1997. “Being female was probably the biggest challenge at the time. Some very chauvinistic remarks from instructors, being a single mother, and my size and stature were some of the challenges I faced as a woman in this sport.” Linda is our current US women’s national



champion, and has competed as a member of the US team in women’s world championships in 2006 (Florida), ‘08 (Italy), ‘10 (Austria), and as one of two women team members on the 2013 US National Team at the world championships in Australia. On keeping skills and mindset at a level for safe flying: Kim, the newest pilot in this group of five, says, “I find flying to be a very sensory activity, and to keep myself at my best I eat well, exercise, stretch and get plenty of sleep. I do like to push myself to the limits, but with safety always on the forefront. I can be hard on myself. As a new pilot I am always working on improving my skills, and the best way to do that is to fly. Every spare moment I have, I head to the tow site or training hill and am constantly working on launching and landing. As a new pilot I am also an information sponge, and I have learned a lot by surrounding myself with other pilots, observing and listening. I read about flying and watch videos and am constantly trying to understand the weather.”  Sara, also a relatively new pilot, says, “I visualize EVERYTHING. Before I fly, I always take time to myself to make sure I am ready, both physically and mentally. For me, that means taking myself through as many stages



of my flight as I can. I always like to stand in the landing zone before I fly, so that I can spatially see what is going on around me: wind direction, obstacles, slope of the ground, etc. On launch, I watch cycles coming through so that I can not just see, but also feel, what the wind is doing that day. I talk through all the steps of my launch out loud—either to myself, or to another pilot. If it’s a new site, I make a point to check with a more experienced pilot about where the thermals are typically kicking off, where not to fly, and anything to be extra cautious of. Finally, I walk myself mentally—often several times—through my approach and landing, looking for physical markers on the ground for my approach pattern, and working through the timing of the flare and landing. “All these visualization steps are so important to me because it helps to not just calm my nerves, but also to build my awareness of my surroundings. So much of flying is this beautiful blend of technical and intuitive elements. I like to make sure I’m ready to perform on both those levels and be the best pilot I can be.” Tina states, quite simply, “To keep my skills and mindset current, I just fly! I fly almost every weekend yearround, and have the summers off work so I can fly more often then. I do a lot of aerotowing in the winter, when our

local mountain sites are snowed in, or the prevailing over-the-back winter winds limit foot launching from our home site, Dog Mt. I can easily get three flights in a day when aerotowing, and that really keeps my skills—especially my landings—fresh.” Linda keeps current/safe by “flying fairly frequently. In between I make sure I am staying in shape with varied workouts that include a lot of core strength exercises. It’s important to be in good physical shape so fatigue isn’t a safety issue.” On the most effective technique for dealing with the physical/emotional/ spiritual challenges that accompany a flight-centered lifestyle: For Lisa, “attitude is everything. With a mindset of going flying just for fun, I get more airtime, I fly with buddies and I stay more relaxed. It used to be just about the miles for me, but I find that I actually fly better when I just try to stay uber-present every moment of the adventure. I never broke 100 miles last summer, but had two of my best and most memorable flights.” Tina says, “Keep the whole family involved! I am so lucky to have my husband Larry of 30 years as my best flying buddy. Plus my youngest daughter, Sierra, is a hang-3 pilot, as is my son-in-law Justin Himes. Justin’s wife—my oldest daughter, Jasmine—

has flown the training hill back when she was a teenager and just announced that she would like to get back in the air, so this spring will be training-hill time again for her! I guess having a wonderful baby girl, Hazel Skye, has given her the confidence to pursue her dreams again.” On a less personal note, Tina urges pilots to “fly, fly, fly,” and to pay attention to personal comfort levels and make individual assessments of what’s

an acceptable risk. She elaborates: “I started flying when I was 18 years old. I flew a WW Harrier (semi-double surface) for years, at many different sites, including XC sites like Chelan Butte, but I flew for three years at Chelan, staying in the air for four or more hours at a stretch without ever going XC, because I didn’t feel safe leaving a flagged LZ. Only after many, many hours of flying did my skills and confidence grow enough that I felt OK about going XC. I have flown many different gliders over the years, including topless gliders for about 10 years, but now I'm about to get my second WW Sport 2. I'm 50 years old, not as strong and not as bold as I once was. I love the confidence and safety this high-performing intermediate glider gives me. I never have liked the adrenaline rush; I prefer the feeling of confidence and security knowing, I can handle this. Every time I fly, I get a thrill from the beauty around me, from my friends and family who join me in the air and the LZ. For me

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT Lisa Verzella, Kim Croy, Linda Salamone | photo by Jamie Shelden. Sara Close | photo by Seth Warren.

it is not about how high or how far I have flown. It is just about the flying. Getting a higher-performance glider will not make you a better pilot; getting more airtime will!” Linda points out that “balance in life is difficult, especially when learning to fly. I found that my non-flying friends were resentful when I wouldn’t commit to outings until I saw the weather forecast. I eventually found myself mostly surrounded by flying friends. The fluidity of their lives matched mine. Now that I am more selective about the conditions in which I will fly, I find that my life is a lot more balanced with other activities, and it doesn’t now feel excruciatingly painful to miss a day of flying.” On looking forward to future flying: As a brand-new pilot, Kim has so much to look forward to! Her list includes



TOP, L TO R Kerie Swepston, Tina and Sierra Jorgensen, Sara Close | photo by Seth Warren. BOTTOM

Tina launching at Dog Mountain | photo by Gerrie Pierce.

“improving my skills and soaring with the best of them (human and avian), skying out, going cross-country, flying many different sites, meeting all the crazy characters, and flying different wings. With very few women in the sport I would like to be an advocate and encourage more women (and men) to fly. At this point I am not sure where flying will take me; I have set personal goals for myself that I look forward to reaching, but most importantly I look forward to being in the air with a smile on my face.”  Lisa is “always excited to fly new places and meet more of my flying family all over the world. For the short term, I hope to return to more regular competition flying; it’s daunting but also a great, efficient way to hone XC skills. My main goals are to have fun and be safe!” Tina hopes “to continue to fly and promote hang gliding so it will be available to my granddaughter Hazel Skye Himes (whom we lovingly call Hazelnut). My biggest dream is this: Some day I will be able to soar over Dog Mt. with my whole family at the same time. So far I’ve been in the air soaring with Larry, Justin and Sierra; this summer Jazzy (Hazel’s mom) should be able to join us. In a few more years maybe our Hazelnut will get a tandem with Grandpa Larry and we will all be flying together. My REAL



long term goal is for all of us to be still flying at Dog Mt. when Hazelnut is able to solo herself!” Linda would “love to use my tandem rating to introduce more people (especially women) to the sport. Competitive flying is still my passion because I learn so much when racing. I’ll keep traveling and flying as long as I possibly can, and some day maybe I can take the world title.” On the unexpected places hang gliding has taken them: Kim: “From the moment my feet left the ground with my own wings I knew life had taken a turn towards

the skies. Even in the short amount of time that I have been flying I have changed, and my life has changed. When you find something that is truly yours and something that feeds you wholly, life seems to open up and you yourself seem to brighten and evolve into something more beautiful. Flying is one of those things for me. I have discovered pieces of myself that I love and am proud of. Hang gliding has taught me so much, and for me it’s just the beginning.” Lisa: “If someone had told me when I was in high school that I’d soon be flying hang gliders all over the world I would have written them off as nuts. But when I saw pilots soaring over Aspen Mountain during my first year as an Aspen Music Festival student, I knew I was in for something big—it was as if I looked up and saw myself in that hang glider. From my first lesson, I never looked back. It has filled my world with a unique community of friends I could have found no other way, and has taken me to remote parts

of the world (and Wyoming) that otherwise would have remained unseen.” Linda: “Learning to fly taught me to be present in a moment. It freed me from a bad marriage and a life of irrational fear. Being tough and being a woman is a GOOD thing. I am resourceful, intuitive, and strong. I get to travel the world and fly my glider in some amazing places. I have met some of the most dynamic and eclectic people who all have the same passion as I do. These are the gifts, and the unexpected paths I’ve taken since learning to fly.” In conclusion, I asked Tina Jorgensen, Washington State›s most active hang gliding mentor pilot, to share her favorite bits of advice for beginning pilots. She urges every pilot to “rehearse in your minds befor launch your launch sequence, flight plan, and approach, and to have a plan A, B and C already thought out in case the wind changes direction or something unexpected happens. That way you’ll be ready to react and make the needed adjustments smoothly, without stressing about ‘What should I do?’”


eonardo da Vinci said, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” As a new or aspiring pilot, you’re about to bear witness to the truth of that observation. Kim, Sara, Lisa, Tina and Linda shared their hang gliding experiences and insights to help you, a newcomer to our freeflight community, appreciate that the inevitable frustrations and challenges of the training hill will, with perseverance and the right attitude, open doors to experiences no ground-bound person can even imagine. Once you become a skilled pilot, a whole new world awaits you!

Lake County’s Umpteenth

Festival of Free Flight Where: The Skies of Lake County Lakeview, Oregon

When: July 4th—July 6th Lake County has 5 launch sites along with the best thermals in the world! Since the early 1980’s we have been welcoming both Hang Gliders and Paragliders. Come join in all the festivities that will be happening that weekend. Pre-registration is now—June 18th $30 After June 18th it’s $35 Pre-Register on our website at: 877-947-6040



by Christina Ammon

BECOMING A SKY BUDDHA If approached earnestly, getting your P-3 will not only benefit you in the sky, but can also can bring you into a better balance on the ground.


t has been said of meditation, sailing, and the game Othello, “It takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master.” The same could be said about paragliding. OK, maybe not a minute. But physically speaking, the skills required to get your feet off the ground aren’t much harder than learning a few hula hooping tricks. Students often take their first mini-flights by the second or third lesson and bigger flights at lesson eight or so. But to be truly proficient, a pilot must accrue a complex set of skills that can only come from time and experience—skills like reading the weather, mastering surge control, and evaluating new flying sites. The purpose of USHPA’s P-1 through P-5 rating system is to quantitatively mark a pilot’s progress through the skill levels. One of the most exciting times of a pilot’s career is the transition from P-2 to P-3, or from the novice to intermediate stage. Lots of options open up to pilots at this time: new sites to fly, wider operating limitations, and a chance to feel out



their place in the sport. This transition also demands a high level of self-awareness. A pilot with a P-3 certification in hand is potentially at the most dangerous time of his or her career. They will begin to fly with more experienced pilots and can fall for the “lemming effect”—that hard-wired desire to be part of the group. It’s also where Intermediate Syndrome sets in, a dangerous cocktail of confidence, excitement, and relative inexperience that too often leads to accidents. For this reason, getting a P-3 involves much more than racking up flights, hours, and tasks. On a more personal level, it is a chance to hone self-knowledge, patience, respect, and sound decision-making. If approached earnestly, this will not only benefit a pilot in the sky, but also can bring his or her personality into a better balance on the ground—much like a good dose of therapy or Zen meditation (except a lot more fun!). If you haven’t done so already, NOW is the time to make peace with your limitations and your pace of learning. For some pilots, this won’t be too hard. For others, it requires nothing short of a spiritual revolution. Instructor Dave Hanning puts it well: “You need to keep a full shanty humble attitude.”

SELF AWARENESS It’s hard to think of another pursuit where one’s attitude is more consequential than in flying. Character traits that are merely annoying on the ground can become hazards in the sky: Selfishness might manifest itself in cutting people off in thermals; timidity translates into weak launching skills; hubris has you trying to outrun catabatic winds; impatience prompts you to launch in a bad cycle, absentmindedness catches you in forgetting your harness buckles, vanity has you flying a too-spicy wing. That same innocent-enough desire for acceptance that had you wearing the “right” namebrands in high school can get you in a lot of trouble when applied to paragliding. Your Icepeak 6 isn’t going to look all that cool if you are getting trashed on it in Valle midday. For this reason, it’s crucial to selfassess. The challenge is that we don’t often see ourselves objectively. “I’ve come not to trust people’s impressions

At first pilot Lisa Dickinson wasn’t sure. “I was just flying for myself, not for a rating. But then I found out that you couldn’t fly certain sites without the rating.” Getting a P-3 is also a necessary step for any pilot who dreams of being a tandem pilot—or even an instructor—in the future.


P.O. Box 518, Dunlap, CA 93621


We didn’t help build the Henson Gap launch ramp but we can help your club build yours.

PATIENCE When beginner/intermediate pilots begin mixing with more experienced pilots, they often have an impulse to “keep up.” But instructors warn against this impulse again and again. “Don’t be in a hurry to get your P-3,” advises Lee. “Fly a lot.” Instructor Dave Hanning echoes that sentiment: “I think P-2’s should fly at least a year before pursuing their P-3.” While “being part of the group” has its social perks, your peers will respect you more in the long run if you fly safely and intelligently. So, rather than crying in your pale ale because you weren’t part of the day’s XC adventure, sit back and listen to other pilots’stories. Ask questions. “Observe what more

experienced pilots are doing, while flying at your own level,” advises pilot Jessica Love. Love approached her own learning incrementally. When flying parahawking tandems in Pokhara, she does a remarkable amount of multitasking: taking pictures, managing crowded gaggles, thermaling, and calling in the bird. It looks like an airborne threering circus, but she is quick to demystify it. “It just comes down to taking baby steps.” In the end, skipping steps and taking shortcuts can often result in lengthy detours. You will not advance very quickly if you are laid up in bed from an injury, because you took on more than you could handle. It feels counter-intuitive, but it’s true: If you want to go fast, go slow. How do you know if you are bounding ahead too quickly? “When you are often feeling confused and not understanding the wing’s behavior,” says Lee. Also, if you are having a lot of close calls. It’s important to differentiate between boldness and actual skill. There is a big difference between pulling off a hot top landing and actually being a good pilot. To slow his students down, Hanning adds requirements on top of USHPA’s basic P-3 checklist. He insists on an SIV course so that the pilot practices with problems he might encounter in the air. “It’s not just about hours or passing the test. That’s just an outline. In the end you have to prove to me that you can handle the responsibility of flying. If people just want to pay the money and get the certificate, I won’t accept them.” Both Lee and Hanning take their cues from the stricter requirements of general aviation and think they should be applied to paragliding: “I think we take it [paragliding] so lightly—and there is a freedom to that—but in general aviation, they are very meticulous

It only takes one blown launch to close a flying site. We can help.

of themselves,” says Woodrat-based instructor Kevin Lee. “A guy will think ‘I’m fine,’ but the community thinks he is a wild card.” How do we develop self-awareness? Lee’s recommendation for P-2/P-3’s is to fly in a community and seek feedback—both compliments and criticisms. And not just from one person, but from several. “If you are hearing the same thing again and again, there is a good chance it’s true.” Lee requires his P-2/P-3 students to select three mentors. “Trust our good friends and community. That’s what comp pilots do—they share information.” But community isn’t just there to pull the reins on your ambitions. Pilot Nicole Chastain found that flying in a community advanced her skill set. “I flew with some amazing pilots who helped me take my flying game to the next level. I still knew my limitations and tried to remember that I didn’t need to prove anything or compete with anyone. I was there to be safe, fly with my friends and have a good time. All of that I accomplished. At the end of that extra two-week period, I received my P-3.”


about the psychological aspect,” says Lee. Hanning points out that in general aviation, pilots are required to stall and recover their airplane before they are

signed off. And even as you progress, always revisit the basics. Lee notices that pilots’ launching skills often deteriorate over time because they no longer kite or practice at the trailing hill. As a result, his beginners routinely have better launches than experienced pilots. “Kite, kite, kite, kite, kite, kite, kite,” invokes Hanning like a mantra.

RESPECT If you don’t pay your respect to the dangers of aviation, aviation will exact respect from you the hard way, through a frightening incident or accident. This traumatic learning curve can be avoided with a little humility. P-3’s are now free to explore new sites. The standard protocol is to temper your enthusiasm long enough to ask for a site introduction. Don’t assume that the techniques that applied to your home site will always apply everywhere else. Know what you don’t know. Find out if there are dangerous areas of rotor or idiosyncrasies of the launch. Avoid complacency, because that is exactly when things can catch you out. Your paragliding manual provides a standardized pre-flight checklist: buckles, helmet, radio, check. But be prepared for hazards beyond your wildest imagination: your speed bar gets looped through the reserve handle; a glider-packing kid cinches down your shoulder straps, a dogfight breaks out on your glider while you are hooked in, a cat climbs into your leading edge. A windsock that has blown the same way for 99 days straight suddenly changes direction. Nicole Chastain recalls an incident from her first flying trip in Valle de Bravo, when she launched with a cravat after letting someone else sort her lines. “The lesson I took away from my experience was this: I am responsible for my gear. I am the only one who should pack it, inspect it, keep it clean and well-maintained, and I should never



let someone else be responsible for my safety. To this day, it’s how I fly as a pilot. There is nothing wrong with— and it should be encouraged—to have your stuff double-checked by another pilot, but it should be done after you have checked it yourself.” Hanning points out that taking precautions isn’t just about an individual’s safety. “A P-3 should be considering how their actions affect the entire community,” he says. Treasured flying sites are put at risk when accident rates are high, and the neighboring communities begin to lose respect for the sport.

DECISION MAKING With newfound confidence, a P-3 is ready to make independent decisions. “They shouldn’t need to wait for someone to say it’s OK to fly,” says Hanning. A P-3 has the ability to filter the crucial variables—wind speed, direction, and launch aspect—from superfluous ones: friends watching, desperation to fly, the long drive to the site. Lee acknowledges it can be hard to tease these emotional and objective influences apart. He recommends writing up a contract that contains an objective list of your personal limits. Is the wind over 15 mph? Is there more than a 30degree crosswind? Is it after 2 p.m.? Pilot Matt Cone stresses the importance of a flexible mindset. “A P-3 pilot wakes in the morning, checks weather, and then trains his mind to think he is going for a nice hike with his wing and friends for the day. At the top of the hill they rest and enjoy the view, and if it happens to be flyable, great; otherwise, a hike down will be awesome as well. They realize it is far better to hike another day than fly when conditions are iffy. Also you need to be sure to hike down at least a few times each season, just as a reminder of this.” He calls this “an exercise in cultivating passionate detachment.” But in addition to writing a contract with yourself about when you will not

fly, Lee also recommends writing down criteria for when you will fly. If things look good—wind coming in straight at 8-10 mph on a nice wide launch—Go! Since flying is not natural for humans, it’s common for the mind to fabricate reasons why not to launch, which can keep you grounded indefinitely. Pilot Tom Alfred notices this phenomenon after he launches when he reaches high altitudes. “We are accustomed to a certain height and then come up with reasons to come down.” As counter-intuitive as it is, the saying “altitude is your friend” is correct (unless you are getting high-altitude sickness!) When pilot Lisa Dickinson feels herself hesitating and over-controlling the glider out of fear, she enlists her rational mind to overcome primal fear. She heeds the words of her instructor Jonathan Jefferies: “Let it fly!”


n the end, it’s important not to over-identify with the rating. Yes, it’s your ticket to flying new sites and perhaps a future as a tandem pilot

or as an instructor, but the paper won’t take the place of your actual ability. “I think it is easy for many pilots to associate some false sense of ability with a rating,” Chastain notes. “I’ve seen pilots of every skill level make some crazy decisions that injured them or could have cost them their lives.” Remember this: A P-2 who stays within his limits is a better pilot than a P-3 who doesn’t. The P-1 examination addresses this point when it asks which factor most affects pilot safety. The correct answer? Pilot attitude. By the time you get your P-3, you should have left your “Look at me!” attitude long behind. Hopefully you’ve changed your goal of being a Sky God to something more akin to a Sky Buddha, with your ego safely in check. Pilot Jody MacDonald explains this shift: “This sport is so humbling for me. The more I learn and fly, the more humbling it is. I think a lot of pilots would be a lot safer if they reminded themselves of how little they know in the big scheme of things.” Chastain confirms this: “I might be

TIPS Ask questions. Accrue experience. Take baby steps. Resist short cuts. Get site introductions. Consider an SIV course. Seek community input. Check and re-check your gear. Consider how your actions impact the larger flying community. Make a contract with yourself. Cultivate “passionate detachment.” Kite, kite, kite, kite, and kite!

a P-3, but as both my instructors used to tell me, ‘Think and fly like a P-2.’ And it’s what has kept me safe!” It’s one thing to pass the test and task requirements for a P-3, but if you can’t get a handle on self-awareness, patience, respect, and sound decisionmaking, it might be wiser to unleash your issues on a different game—like Othello.





ike Chevalier and I arrived on launch early in the afternoon looking forward to great lateday soaring conditions. It was a warm, dry, sunny summer day with the wind blowing in to launch at 10-15 miles per hour—a perfect setup for a classic Sangré De Cristo Villa Grove glassoff. When we arrived there were a few fair-weather cumulus clouds dotting the Sauguache mountain range to our west, typical for this type of day. As we set up our gliders, small isolated cumulus clouds began to form over the very dry San Luis valley, a few of them moving over launch. This is common for Villa and often means that it’s going to be a great afternoon, the cumulus over launch revealing good lift above. As our enthusiasm grew so did the convective growth in the few clouds around us. The rush to set up slowed as we watched the weather. The clouds in front of us stopped growing. Their mid-tropospheric tops started to lose their definition, an indication that the super-cooled liquid precipitation particles were starting to glaciate, turning to ice particles—an indication the mid-sized cumulus would begin to dissipate. Soon precipitation started falling from their bases into the dry airmass below. The shafts of precipitation were drying high above the ground, producing strong downdrafts below the clouds. The gust front generated by the drying rain propagated along the valley floor and eventually made its way up to launch. It blew hard when the leading edge of the gust front hit. Our gliders were well protected and we waited, hoping our patience would be rewarded. Within 30 minutes the clouds dissipated, the sky cleared and conditions on launch and in the valley were perfect.



We were in radio contact with the LZ, about a mile away. We suited up and launched into smooth soarable conditions, circling up over Hayden Pass and soon cresting the 12,000–14,000’ peaks behind launch. It was another perfect late-day glass-off. Or so we thought. After a while small high-based cumulus clouds began to form once again over the valley some miles to our west. They grew rapidly both vertically and horizontally forming a solid line running north-south along the valley paralleling the mountain range we were flying. As we enjoyed the smooth glassy air above the peaks, the line of cumulus that had seemed far away a short time ago began moving eastward towards us. Very quickly a thin veil of rain started to fall from their bases and rapidly developed into a curtain of precipitation that would have us pinned up against the mountain. The length of the curtain was many miles long, eliminating any chance to run north or south out of its impending clasp. This was certainly no place to be for Mrs. Chevalier’s young son, Mike! The curtain of precipitation was very thin, and we could easily see through it. However, unlike the earlier rain shafts that were drying before they reached the ground, this very thin veil of rain was

falling all the way to the valley floor, which was very fortunate for Mike and me, as I’ll explain further. Virga, Latin for our word “streak,” is a form of precipitation that, as it falls from a cloud, dries before it reaches the ground. Precipitation falling into an airmass with high temperature and low humidity is the perfect environment to produce virga. For this reason, dry climates are most conducive for virga to form, although it can occur anywhere where similar conditions are favorable. Most important to hang glider and paraglider pilots are the strong downdrafts and gusty conditions that can occur near where virga is present.

How virga forms In order for virga to develop there must be visible moisture, typically cumulus clouds in the area. While it usually forms in a convective environment, virga can develop from stratus clouds as well, although typically that is less threatening. Strong downdrafts induced by virga are most likely to occur in an unstable airmass that is typically portrayed by cumulus clouds. Some of us may think of cumulus clouds as tall, convective towers that can turn into thunderstorms. However, even smaller-sized cumulus can create virga. The process of

Dean Miller breaking down. Note virga in the background. Photo by Susan Jesuroga .

how precipitation particles form through collision-and-coalescence within a cloud is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice to say that for our free-flight brethren, precipitation falling from a cloud and drying before it reaches the ground on an active unstable day is cause for concern. As rain droplets fall into the dry air below, they evaporate, cooling the air just below the cloud. The evaporative cooling, especially if the air below the cloud is very dry, can be extremely rapid, creating an exceptionally cold pool of air above the ground. (Think of how quickly your skin chills as you step out of the shower into drier air.) Just as warmer air rises, virga-induced cold air can become so cold so fast that it plummets to the ground into what’s commonly called a dry microburst. Similar to throwing a ripe tomato very hard against a wall, the resulting impact of the cold air against the ground can spread outward across the valley floor, its leading edge in the form of a gust front. While the gust front can propagate in all directions, it is often influenced by the surface winds that can also serve to accelerate the gust front in the direction of the surface flow. If you’ve flown hang gliders or paragliders long enough, especially in a dry climate, you’ve seen virga plenty of times. You’ve also noticed that while some virga showers produce strong gust fronts, others don’t. There are many factors that determine the results of a virga shaft. In fact, something as seemingly minuscule as microscopic pollutants in a convective cloud can influence the processes of how quickly a virga shaft will form. As free-flight pilots, we cannot assess that. However, there are things we can look for to help us understand the potential threat when we see virga. One of the most important factors regarding the threat of virga showers is the ambient lapse rate (the rate that temperature changes with height).

Humidity is another. A high lapse rate is a strong indicator of the potential for intense downdrafts and resulting gusts fronts. Thus, if you’re flying on a day with very strong thermals, consider that virga shafts in the area are more likely to be hazardous. Be advised that in these conditions you need not be flying close to a virga shaft to be adversely affected as a very strong gust front can propagate far and wide. Humidity, particularly changes in humidity as the day progresses, is another important factor. The drier the air the more likely there will be potential for a microburst and gust front. Likewise, it is typical, particularly in dry climates, for virga to form, dissipate, and reform again and again. Each time precipitation falls from a cloud it serves to humidify the air directly below. Thus, as virga showers follow other virga showers and then more virga showers, the air in the very lowest levels of the atmosphere can become more humid over time. In these cases, as the afternoon progresses, repeated virga showers can serve to humidify and mitigate the likelihood of microbursts and gust fronts. In fact, this change in humidity was the case when Mike and I were flying at Villa Grove. Virga showers earlier that afternoon served to humidify the boundary layer of the atmosphere—that layer closest to the ground. The rain that was falling in front of us was reaching the ground with little or no evaporative cooling. At 13,000 feet we decided, and had no choice, but to fly forward through the rain at as high an altitude as we possibly could. The air was turbulent to say the least. We kept ample airspeed and flew through the precipitation (rain and snow) to the other side. Within 1000 feet of the ground the air became very smooth and we landed safely. Mike and I were lucky. Very, very, lucky. As free flight pilots we cannot discern while flying if virga will be hazardous or not. We must always assume that strong downdrafts and gust fronts will

TOP TO BOTTOM Virga falling from a convective cloud |

photo by Tiffany Smith. Virga. Virga turning to rain (note gust front depicted by arrows to the right). Virga showers up high with light rain falling to the ground below. Photos by Susan Jesuroga.

occur when we observe it happening. The potential risk to our safety far outweighs any benefit for extended flight. If you see virga in the area, find a way to get down and land safely. Send weather questions to



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 SANCTIONED COMPETITION PG MAY 5 - 11  LaBelle, Florida. East Coast Paragliding Championships/USHPA Sanctioned PG Race to Goal Regional Competition- AT. The Florida Ridge. Requirements: P3 with tow signoff and a GPS. Entry fee: $300. Tow fees: $150. Registration begins 2/1. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436,, or HG MAY 17-23  Souther Field, Americus, Georgia. Flytec Championship/USHPA Sanctioned HG Race to Goal XC Regional Comp - AT. 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, 831-261-5444,, or PG MAY 25-31  Dunlap, CA 2013 National PG Championships/USHPA Sanctioned PG Race to Goal National Championship-FL. A challenging meet set in the Sierra Nevada Mtns. We have reserved an entire camp with all of its amenities for this event. Requirements: Standard safety equipment, P3 rating with Turbulence sign off, 2013 Dunlap Flight Park Club annual launch fees and USHPA Membership. Entry fee: $350 ($325 prior to 4/1; $375 after May 15th) For more information: Connie Work 559-338-2370,, HG June 2-8  Highland Aerosports, Ridgely Airpark, Ridgely, MD. East Coast Hang Gliding Championship/USHPA Sanctioned HG Race to Goal XC Regional Comp - AT. 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. Sandia Classic/ USHPA Sanctioned HG Race to Goal XC Comp – FL. Requirements: H4, Turbulence, Cliff Launch, XC, Restricted Landing Field. Entry Fee: $300. Registration dates TBD. More information: Andrew Vanis, 505-304-5306, andrewvanis@, or

PG JUNE 23-29  Woodrat, OR. Rat Race/Sprint PG Competition/Sanctioned PG Race to Goal XC Regional Comp – FL. There will be two independently scored groups in the event with each side having stand alone NTSS points. Rat Race will allow PG’s with an EN certification of C & D. The Sprint will allow PG’s tested with and EN certification of A, B, & C. Entry fee: $450 until 4/15 then $495. More information: Mike Haley, 541-7022111,, or HG JULY 7-14  King Mountain, Moore, ID. 2013 King Mountain Championship/USHPA Sanctioned Race to Goal & Open Distance Fly-In – FL. 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 race-to-goal and open distance at the same competition. Come join the fun! More information: Connie Work, 559-338-2370, connie@, or HG AUGUST 4-10  Big Spring, TX. Big SpringU.S. Hang Gliding Nationals/USHPA Sanctioned HG Race to Goal National Championship & Open Distance Comp – AT. 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, 405-8306420,, or PG AUGUST 25 - September 1  Inspo, Jupiter, Monroe, UT. Utah O.D. Nationals and Mentoring Comp/USHPA Sanctioned PG Open Distance National Championship – FL. 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, 801572-3414,, or twocanfly. com. HG SEPTEMBER 15-21  Francisco Grande Resort, Casa Grande, AZ. Santa Cruz Flats Race/ USHPA Sanctioned HG Race to Goal XC Comp – AT. 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: 4/15-8/15. Entry Fee: $325; Tow fees: TBA. Trophies and day prizes. More information: Jamie Shelden, 831-2615444,, or

HG PG SEPTEMBER 27 & 28  Salt Lake City, UT. Spot Landing Nationals/USHPA Sanctioned HG & PG Accuracy Spot Landing National Championship – FL. USHPA-sanctioned HG & PG Accuracy Spot-landing 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,, or, or 435-979-0225

NON-SANCTIONED COMPETITION HG PG JUNE 30 - JULY 5  Chelan, WA. 32nd Annual Chelan Cross Country Classic: Six days of soaring in the peak summer season. Enjoy camping, swimming and of course flying from world famous Chelan Butte. Open distance, outand-returns and triangles. Trophies awarded in all classes for both Hang Gliding and Paragliding. Early bird special: $90 online until June 15th. Entry includes t-shirt and BBQ. Questions: contact or visit our website at (Entry $100 after June 15th.)

clinics & tours APRIL 12-14  Sebring, Florida. SIV: Over the

water Maneuvers training at one of the best locations in the world. Advanced instructor David Prentice, with over 20 years of experience, guides each pilot at their own pace. From the basics to the most advanced maneuvers. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, and warm coastal air, just seconds from downtown Sebring. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436,, or

APRIL 19-21  Dunlap, CA. Foothills of the

Western Sierras. Dunlap Thermal and Cross Country Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. Dunlap offers some great flying in the foothills of the west side of the Sierras. This trip is one of our favorite 3-day excursions. Join us for some nice flying with some great people. More Information: Rob Sporrer 805-968-0980, or

April 19-21  Sebring, Florida. SIV: Over the

water Maneuvers training at one of the best locations in the world. Advanced instructor David Prentice, with over 20 years of experience, guides each pilot at their own pace. From the basics to the most advanced maneuvers. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, and warm coastal air, just seconds from downtown Sebring. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436,, or

April 24-26  Sebring, Florida. SIV: Over the

water Maneuvers training at one of the best locations in the world. Advanced instructor David Prentice, with over 20 years of experience, guides each pilot at their own pace. From the basics to the most advanced maneuvers. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, and warm coastal air, just seconds from downtown Sebring. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436,, or

April 26 - May 8  Owens Valley, CA Owens

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


APRIL 27-28  Utah. Tandem (T2 & T3) with Ken

Hudonjorgensen. Phone 801-572-3414, email:, or

April 28 - may 3  La Belle, Florida. The 9th Annual Spring Fling: This is a XC clinic, and fun trainer competition, for newer pilots hosted by David Prentice. Daily briefings and discussions about PG XC. Come learn and enjoy some of the best xc flying the USA has to offer. 30 to 80 km tasks in strong,smooth lift. Scoring,retrieves and lectures included. Entry fee:$300 tow Fee $150 space is limited to 30 pilots. More Information: David Prentice 505-720-5436 earthcog@yahoo. com, or May 3-5  Bishop, CA. Owens Valley Thermal

and Cross Country Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. We have had great success in the Owens Valley with our groups. The eastern side of the Sierras and the White mountains are our playground for this clinic. We have had participants go over 60 miles in these clinics. View photos and videos from previous clinics at More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, or

MAY 5-7  Napa, CA: Over-the-water maneuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or MAY 9-11  Napa, CA. Over-the-water maneu-

vers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or



MAY 9-10  Santa Barbara, CA. Tandem Paragliding Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding in Santa Barbara, California. We will be doing classroom and practical training at the best year round training hill in North America. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, or MAY 11-13  Santa Barbara, CA. Instructor Certi-

fication Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding in Santa Barbara, California. This three-day clinic is open to Basic and Advanced Paragliding Instructor candidates, and those needing recertification. We invite you to apprentice with us anytime to get as much hands on experience as possible before the clinic. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or

may 17-19  Sebring, Florida. SIV: Over the wa-

ter Maneuvers training at one of the best locations in the world. Advanced instructor David Prentice, with over 20 years of experience, guides each pilot at their own pace. From the basics to the most advanced maneuvers. White sand beaches, crystal clear water, and warm coastal air, just seconds from downtown Sebring. More information: David Prentice, 505-720-5436,, or may 25-27  Utah. Thermal Clinic. Utah flying sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone 801-572-3414,email, or JUNE 9-11  Napa, CA. Over-the-water ma-

neuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or JUNE 13-15  Napa, CA. Over-the-water ma-

neuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or June 15-16  Utah. Mountain Flying and learn-

ing how to pioneer a new site in Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone 801-572-3414, email, or

July 5-7  Utah. Instructor Training with Ken

Hudonjorgensen. Phone 801-572-3414, email, or

AUG 7  Utah. Instructor Re-certification with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone 801-572-3414, email, www.twocanfly. com.



AUGUST 11-13  Napa, CA. Over-the-water maneuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or

SEPTEMBER 26-28  Napa, CA. Over-the-wa-

AUGUST 15-17  Napa, CA. Over-the-water maneuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or

SEPTEMBER 28-29  Utah. Mountain Flying

AUGUST 25 - September 1  Open Distance

XC Nationals and Mentoring Competiton. Paragliding OD Nationals and a mentoring competition for those who are new to competition; Inspiration Point, Jupiter and Monroe, Utah, wherever the weather tells us to go. Register and pay before July 15, late fee after. Phone 801-572-3414, email:, or www.twocanfly. com.

SEPTEMBER 13-15  Dunlap, CA. Foothills of the Western Sierras. Dunlap Thermal and Cross Country Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. Dunlap offers some great flying in the foothills of the west side of the Sierras. This trip is one of our favorite 3-day excursions. Join us for some nice flying with some great people. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, or SEPTEMBER 16-30  Owens Valley, CA. Geared

for Strong P4/H4 pilots. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari Castle is a Bi-Wingwal pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple national champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 32 years of flying and 25 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact:, 760920-0748, or sign up at

SEPTEMBER 22-24  Napa, CA. Over-the-wa-

ter maneuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or

ter maneuvers clinics in Northern California with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former National Champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our state of the art towing set up. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980,, or

and learning how to pioneer a new site in Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone 801-572-3414, email, or www.twocanfly. com.

OCTOBER 3-7  Owens Valley, CA. Women With

Wings only. Geared for P3 and P4 pilots. Back by popular demand! This year I’ll be limiting the number of pilots to keep the instructor to pilot ratio down as well as keeping pilots with similar skill level and goals together! Sign up early to secure your spot!! Owens Valley with Kari. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Let Kari’s 32 years of flying and 25 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. More information: Kari Castle 760-920-0748, or kari@

OCTOBER 4-6  Bishop, CA. Owens Valley Thermal and Cross Country Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. We have had great success in the Owens Valley with our groups. The eastern side of the Sierras and the White mountains are our playground for this clinic. We have had participants go over 60 miles in these clinics. View photos and videos from previous clinics at More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, or OCTOBER 13-14  Owens Valley, CA . Owens Valley with Kari Castle. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari is a Bi-Wingwal pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple National Champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 32 years of flying and 25 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact:, 760920-0748, or sign up at

OCTOber 18-21  Owens Valley, CA . Owens Valley with Kari Castle. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Kari is a Bi-Wingwal pilot and a 3-time world champion, World Record holder with multiple National Champion titles under both of her wings. Let Kari’s 32 years of flying and 25 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! I will help customize your 3-4 day adventure to fit your needs whether you want one on one or a group setting. We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. For more information contact:, 760920-0748, or sign up at October 24-27  Owens Valley, CA. Women With Wings only. Geared for P2 and P3 pilots. Back by popular demand! This year I’ll be limiting the number of pilots to keep the instructor to pilot ratio down as well as keeping pilots with similar skill level and goals together! Sign up early to secure your spot!! Owens Valley with Kari. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Let Kari’s 32 years of flying and 25 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! We will work on everything from take offs to landings, high altitude launches, dust devil awareness, reading the sky, how to map a thermal, goal setting and cross country. More information: Kari Castle 760-920-0748, or kari@ NOVEMBER 8-26  Iquique, Chile. Where can

you ride thermals everyday of the year? Only in Iquique! Soar endless sand ridges high above the Pacific Ocean, then land on the beach next to our 4 star hotel! Your guides, Luis and Todd, have been multiple Iquique XC competition champions and have pioneered many new sites and XC routes over the last 15 years. Join them on a paragliding trip of a lifetime where most pilots gain more airtime and flying skills in one week than they normally would in an entire year! Instructional days available at the start of the trip focusing on building pilot skills. With amazing XC potential, many clients have flown 100 km flights! With over 18 years of combined guiding experience in Iquique, they guarantee you will fly everyday, or get money back!More information: Todd Weigand,, or

NOVEMBER 8-26  This year we have divided

the tour into 4 different segments: Instructional Days, Iquique Days # 1, 2 and 3. Our Tour leaders are: Todd Weigand, Luis Rosenkjer and Ken Hudonjorgensen. The entire tour will be packed with instruction for all levels of paragliding (including P1thru P4). For anyone wanting to fly this is the tour to join. The last tour will focus more on XC. Phone: 801-572-3414, or email: twocanfly@, .

NOVEMBER 8-10  Santa Barbara, CA NInstruc-

tor Certification Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding in Santa Barbara, California. This three-day clinic is open to Basic and Advanced Paragliding Instructor candidates, and those needing recertification. We invite you to apprentice with us anytime to get as much hands on experience as possible before the clinic. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980 rob@, or


NOVEMBER 11-12  Santa Barbara, CA.Tandem

Paragliding Clinic with Rob Sporrer of Eagle Paragliding in Santa Barbara, California. We will be doing classroom and practical training at the best year round training hill in North America. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, rob@, or

DECEMBER 6-8  Santa Barbara, CA. Santa Barbara Thermal and Cross Country Clinic with Eagle Paragliding. Santa Barbara offers some of the best winter mountain flying in the USA. Our mountain flying season starts in September and ends the beginning of May. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, or January 8-12, 2014  Southern California. Let’s go warm up and get ready for the spring flying season with Ken Hudonjorgensen . Phone 801-572-3414, email, or


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.

HARNESSES FLY CENTER OF GRAVITY CG-1000 - The most affordable single line suspension harness available. Individually designed for a precise fit. Fly in comfort. www.flycenterofgravity., 315-256-1522

PARAGLIDERS All New - Never Used! Rush 3 small, blu/blu.

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

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

Sup'air Access med. Blu/blk. Apco, mayday 16. Sonic mini vario. Contact:




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

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.


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 TORREY PINES GLIDERPORT - NEW NEW NEW

- 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.






HG gliderbags. Accessories, parts, service, sewing. Instruction ratings, site-info. Rusty Whitley 1549 CR 17, Gunnison CO 81230. 970641-9315.

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.,



FLORIDA RIDGE AEROTOW PARK - 18265 E State Road 80, Clewiston, Florida 863-805-0440, www.

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.

COLORADO GUNNISON GLIDERS – X-C to heavy waterproof

FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in

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


WINDSPORTS - Don’t risk bad weather, bad

GRAYBIRD AIRSPORTS — Paraglider & hang glider towing & training, Dragonfly aerotow training, XC, thermaling, instruction, equipment. Dunnellon Airport 352-245-8263, email fly@, www.graybirdairsports. com. LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Nearest

mountain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations., 877-HANGLIDE, 877-426-4543.

MIAMI HANG GLIDING - For year-round training fun in the sun. 305-285-8978, 2550 S Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove, Florida 33133, www. Quest Air Hang Gliding - We offer the

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


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

NEW YORK AAA Mountain Wings Inc - New location at

77 Hang Glider 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,




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



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


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

UTAH CLOUD 9 PARAGLIDING - Come visit us and check

out our huge selection of paragliding gear, traction kites, extreme toys, and any other fun things you can think of. If you aren’t near the Point of the Mountain, then head to 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.

COME FLY BEAUTIFUL SLOVENIA! - June 2013. Local PG guide, fly and relax - we have it all sorted out for you. Please contact Howie at +19043779540, or 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.

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, ,

OXYGEN SYSTEMS – MH-XCR-180 operates to 18,000 ft., weighs only 4 lbs. System includes cylinder, harness, regulator, cannula, and remote on/off flowmeter. $450.00. 1-800-468-8185.


SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round

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


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

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

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

PUBLICATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS SOARING - Monthly magazine of The Soaring

Society of America Inc. Covers all aspects of soaring flight. Full membership $64. SSA, PO Box 2100, Hobbs NM 88241. 505-392-1177,

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 Cash for your used harnesses, parachutes,

helmets, etc. Cal atl Rik 269-993-7721, or www.

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

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. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE








2013 CALENDARS | $10.00 ng g & Paraglidi Hang Glidin United States


Get ‘em hot off the press. 3 Designs. Black shirts with graphics back and front. Only $12!


ation agliding Associ g Gliding & Par United States Han



Top shelf soft shell jacket embroidered with USHPA logo

Now you can wear the same

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navy polo shirt we wear to the country club. Where we work our second jobs. USHPA logo embroidered proudly on the chest.



Our black baseball cap is

USHPA members receive 10% off the retail value of the membership every year on Medivac+. The Medivac+ program with GEOS can be used in conjunction with the SPOT.

made with sueded twill and brandishes the association logo proudly. Keep the sun at bay, the USHPA way.



Choose a 10-pack of either HG or PG on luxurious metallic card stock with matching

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FLYING SITES OF THE ALPS | $56.95 Is there some reason you wouldn't buy this book? OK, maybe you don't fly in Europe, but you know you want to. Buy the book!






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Get the new version of

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Nearly 300 pages illustrated with 500 diagrams and photos.


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GLOSSARY Compiled by Paul Villinski

Hang glider and paraglider pilots, like any group gathered around a common passion, cement their identity with a unique lexicon. Surfers speak of “point breaks” and “entering the green room”; motorcycle racers talk about “high sides,” “apexing early” or “taking a soil sample.” The patois of free-flight is an equally arcane one, and like the pilots who created it, it’s colorful, humorous, at times even poetic. I have a friend who jokes that he wants to learn to fly just so he can insert jargon like “glassoff” and “cloud street” into his cocktailparty conversations. In an effort to save him some time, I’ve assembled the following unofficial, incomplete and highly biased glossary.

cloud street: A line of clouds stretch-

hang driving/paradriving: An off-

ing for many miles, under which a

shoot of hang gliding/paragliding,

good pilot may fly a great distance.

practiced en route to hangwaiting/

core up: To fly circles in the center of

parawaiting sites.

a thermal where the lift is strongest.

hang waiting/parawaiting: An

Results in a rapid climb.

ancillary sport to hang/paragliding,

crispy: The stiff, crinkly fabric of a

practiced while sitting on launch hour

new wing. If your wing is still crispy a

after hour until the narrow window of

year after you got it, you’re not flying

flyable conditions finally opens. If it



cycle: Like sets of waves, thermals

honkin’: Really strong wind condi-

and the wind they produce seem to

tions. “It’s not too bad in the LZ, but

occur in cycles. Pilots wait to launch

it’s honkin’ on launch.”

into either a strong or weak cycle,

LZ: Landing zone. It’s a good idea to

depending on their bump tolerance.

get there before landing.

death spiral: Paragliders only. An ag-

launch potato: Ever notice how

gressive spiral dive maintained till just

there’s always someone at the head

above the ground, then exited at the

of the line taking forever and hold-

last second for a showy spot landing.

ing up everyone else–putting down

Exited an instant too late, results in a

roots? When it’s a line of pilots ready

sizable health-insurance claim.

to launch, that person becomes a

down cycle: A period when the ther-

launch potato.

big ears: A descent maneuver in

mal activity ebbs, and pilots begin to

locals: The resident avian life,

which a paraglider’s wingtips are

sink out. See: flushed.

intentionally collapsed, reducing the

flushed: What goes up must, unfor-

surface area, and lift, of the wing. The

tunately, come down, especially if it

deflated tips hanging below the wing

has a glide ratio of 8 (or 12, or 15):1.

may suggest ears to the anthropo-

The sky may be full of gliders, then

morphically-minded. There is no com-

the lift mysteriously shuts off, flushing

parable technique for hang gliders.

everyone back down.

biwingual: Competent in flying both

foamie: A five-inch-thick foam back

hang gliders and paragliders.

protector built into a paragliding har-

blown out: Too damn much wind.

ness, which will become your spine’s

Since a paraglider flies incredibly

new best friend in the event of a

slowly, winds of 25 mph can result


especially birds capable of soaring.

in a paraglider going nowhere, with

gift-wrapped: My personal choice

Generally, if these guys are flying

a hang glider being able to handle

for most nightmarish paragliding

without flapping, it will be soarable

winds only slightly stronger. Better

scenario. The wing over-flies the pilot

for their clumsy human counterparts

just hike back down if it’s really

with such energy that it winds up in

as well. When pilots spot the locals soaring near launch, they unpack their


front of and below him. As the sus-

bounce: A very hard landing in a para-

pension lines go slack, the pilot falls

gliders in a hurry.

glider. For related hang glider term

into his wing, and, enveloped in nylon,

plucked: A launch in which the pilot is

see: whack.

is unable to deploy the emergency

yanked into the air by a thermal, often

bump tolerance: An acquired ability

parachute. This is a very bad thing.

before he cares to be, sometimes

to fly in and withstand rough, thermic

glass-off: Lovely, glassy-smooth

(for a paraglider) while still facing


lift. Occurs in the early evening at


chuck off the hill: Technical term

mountain sites as warm air collected

pucker factor: The degree of

used by instructors to describe assist-

in the valleys lifts off and gently rises

anxiety experienced by the pilot. See:

ing new students in launching.

into the cooling upper atmosphere. In

spanked; tossed.

the dinner menu of flying conditions, glass-off is crème brûlée.






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-3 H-4


Stephanie Greer Frank Yu Jeff Baughman Joseph Thaanum Harout Bursalyan Glen Wagner Curtis Williams Richard Elder Mark Beckner Jason Class Robert Boozer Terry Paluszkiewicz Riley Mcmahon Wiklund Marcio Garcia Andrade David Hurlburt Frank Yu Joseph Thaanum Kimberly Croy Glen Wagner Walcelio Melo Richard Elder Mark Beckner Jason Class Robert Boozer Terry Paluszkiewicz Riley Mcmahon Wiklund David Byrd Chris Calandro George Nozadze Marcio Garcia Andrade Wade Catron Christopher Grotbeck

John Simpson David Yount Robert Booth John Heiney Greg Dewolf Clifton Bryan Steve Wendt Clifton Bryan Malcolm Jones James Tindle Daniel Zink Clifton Bryan Clifton Bryan James Tindle Greg Black David Yount John Heiney Mark Windsheimer Clifton Bryan John Middleton Clifton Bryan Malcolm Jones James Tindle Daniel Zink Clifton Bryan Clifton Bryan Gregg Ludwig Greg Dewolf Ray Leonard James Tindle Eric Hinrichs Mel Glantz


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

Isaac Skoog William Lows Zachory Horn Jason Elder Marta Dinsmore Marc Festa Jesse Shimrock Will Prechter


Frank Sihler Rob Sporrer Ross Jacobson Mitchell Neary Rob Sporrer Steven Yancey David Thulin Christopher Grantham

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

Eddy Woods Steve Curry Giles Fabris Keith Duran Jeff Hedlund Kirill Belyayev Kelly Kane Abraham Heward Richard Wimmer Scott Warren Lucy Gu Jody Drake Sabine Dlugosch Kathryn Jackson Donald Greg John Cable Patrick Woods Andrew Murray Isaac Skoog William Lows Dustin Miller Jeff Harbison J T Holmes Marta Dinsmore Marc Festa Jesse Shimrock


Joe Rodriguez Marcello Debarros Max Marien Rob Sporrer David (dexter) Binder Kay Tauscher Rob Sporrer Sean Buckner Russ Bateman Lane Lamoreaux James Griffith Taylor Suffield Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Frank Sihler Rob Sporrer Jeffrey Greenbaum Wallace Anderson Bill Heaner Rob Sporrer Steven Yancey David Thulin



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


Will Prechter CA Eddy Woods CA Steve Curry CA Keith Duran CA Jeff Hedlund HI Kirill Belyayev CO Richard Maes UT Kelly Kane CO Abraham Heward AZ Richard Wimmer UT Scott Warren AZ Harlan Block MO Lucy Gu PA Luis Garcia PR Jody Drake GA Donald Greg John Cable Patrick Woods Andrew Murray Ron Davis WA Robert Mccord HI Vin Conti HI Steve Curry CA Patrick Murphy UT Michael Sargent AZ Stanley Mordensky Ii MD Kevin Mulholland John Cummings OR Konstantin Terentjev WA Maria Teresa Montero Terry CA Steve Vance CO Patrick Murphy UT Shree Bdr Chhetri MA David Dejesus PR Ralph Van T Hoff

Christopher Grantham Joe Rodriguez Marcello Debarros Rob Sporrer David (dexter) Binder Kay Tauscher Russ Bateman Rob Sporrer Sean Buckner Russ Bateman Lane Lamoreaux Ron Kohn James Griffith Robert Hastings Taylor Suffield Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Rob Sporrer Chris Santacroce David (dexter) Binder Marcello Debarros Jake Walker Rob Sporrer Christopher Langan Rob Sporrer Hadley Robinson Bob Hannah Rob Sporrer Alejandro Palmaz Jake Walker David Hanning Robert Hastings Murat Tuzer

rotor: Turbulence produced by a

speck out: To climb to great altitude.

whack: An inelegant landing in a

large obstacle (such as mountain or

From the ground the glider looks like

hang glider, where the nose of the

ridge) in the path of the airflow, caus-

a little speck in the sky.

glider impacts the ground with an

ing a swirling effect on the lee side.

tossing the laundry: Throwing the

audible “whack!” sound.

You don’t want to go there. Really.

reserve parachute.

white room: The interior of a cloud.

scratching: Flying very close to the

tossed: Tossed about in turbulent air.

Venturing up into a cloud is “entering


Also: worked, as in “worked over.”

the white room,” and is as dangerous

sled ride: A short flight directly to the

trashy: Turbulent, inconsistent air,

as you’re imagining, as well as being

landing zone, with no hope of finding

producing little lift. Not much fun,


lift to extend the flight. At least you


get your feet into the air.

tree landing: You guessed it. Popular

sink out: Taking the express elevator


Paul Villinski is a New York City visual artist whose work deals with the poetics and metaphors of flight. His artwork can be seen at and A paraglider and sailplane pilot, his favorite view is from above.

back to the ground.

turn on: Pilots wait in calm air for

This article is excerpted from a side-

sink: The opposite of lift. As masses

with paraglider pilots in the heavily-

of air rise in thermals, nearby air sinks

wooded Northeast and Northwest,

to occupy the space left behind.

feared by hang glider pilots in gen-

Nature abhors a vacuum. Soaring

eral. Also known as “making friends

pilots loathe sink.

with your local hook-and-ladder

spanked: To be punished by flying in

the wind to turn on, creating soar-

bar to an article in the June 2005

violently turbulent air. Often results

able conditions, which is, of course, a

issue of Hang Gliding & Paragliding

from a bad decision to fly in the first






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Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol43/Iss04 Apr 2013  
Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol43/Iss04 Apr 2013  

Special New Pilot Issue