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JULY 2013 Volume 45 Issue 7 $6.95






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

ON THE COVER, Â Peter von Bergen in front of the

Oltischibachfall in Haslital,Switzerland | photo by David Birri. MEANWHILE, James Harris over Ft. Funston, California.

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



















Wings and Things New Freedom FX ���������������������������������������������������������� by Dennis Pagen


Focused on Safety Collision Avoidance ����������������������������������������������������� by Dick Heckman


Buyer Beware Past, Present, Future �������������������������������������������������������������by Andy Pag


Landing Safely Tips ��������������������������������������������������������������������������by Chris Santacroce


FEATURE | Lost and Found Locator Roundup ������������������������������������������������������������ by Matt Gerdes


FEATURE | We Were the Champions Getting to Know the Best ���������������������������������������������� by C.J. Sturtevant


FEATURE | Parahawking in Nepal Unleash the Wild ��������������������������������������������������� by Rebecca Loncraine


Short Sojourn in a Sycamore Tree Decisions, Decisions ���������������������������������������������������������by Ralph Miller

‘It’s time to buzz the tower.’ 500 West Blueridge Ave . Orange, CA 92865 . 1.714.998.6359 .

World Class Performance Since 1973



Russ Ogden banking below King Mountain, Idaho | photo by Nick Greece.


s summer heads into full swing, most of our members are checking the weather, calling flying friends, meeting at designated rendezvous points, heading to launch, setting up, taking off, flying the sky, landing, retrieving vehicles, and celebrating with aforementioned flying partners over refreshments and food. This ritual is one of the best “groundhog” days a person could have. The anticipation of the joys of sharing one’s day with kindred spirits is a peak experience that few of the 300 million residing in this wonderfully vast country can fathom. Sometimes we look back on days from the past when our lives were simpler and free time was plentiful, allowing us to enjoy the present, and we long for a return to those moments when our minds were unencumbered with daily tasks. Our free flying routine creates a break from our busy schedules, allowing us to relish the present. In the air we are freed from phone calls, emails, checks to write for bills, and other concerns. We truly can enjoy being completely present while admiring the surrounding environment. And if you, like me, look back on summer break from school and wish you had appreciated the true freedom it afforded, you can make up for it by fully cherishing the days of summer flying. The July issue begins with a gear review of the North Wing Freedom FX by the illustrious Dennis Pagen, followed by wise words from Dick Heckman, a longtime Director of USHPA, about how to avoid a potential catastrophic experience with others while flying the friendly skies. Staff contributor Andy Pag sends in an article about wing design of the past, present, and future. The paragliding world has seen strong leaps in the last few years, beginning with Ozone’s Mantra 10.2 which reduced the riser configuration to two and continuing with their single surface glider. Andy checks up on what has contributed to the significant strides made towards the current state of modern paragliding design. For those interested in learning a few tips from one of USHPA’s instructors of the year, Chris Santacroce contributes a piece on landing technique. Matt Gerdes does a thorough review of locator beacons that are available for purchase from the USHPA store as well as fine worldwide retailers. These beacons have revolutionized crosscountry flying and competition. Having live tracking helps flying partners keep track of each other and get retrieved. It also helps loved ones feel more secure in knowing they can go online and locate their flying significant others. These devices bring a huge level of comfort and safety—on a par with taking off with a reserve or radio—to cross-country flying. Rebecca Loncraine reports from Nepal, where she had a spiritual trip while flying with vultures at Scott Mason’s legendary Parahawking program. And, finally, Ralph Miller checks in safely after an adventure in a sycamore tree that inspired words to flow. As always, we are on the lookout for content, so document and send in your adventures! The magazine is a communal fireplace for the association; tell us what you love about the sport. And enjoy your experiences.





haps limiting its audience somewhat, I

 AIRCROSS U-PRIME AirCross USA announced the

while. Anyone interested can download a 15-page preview, which also contains a couple of films that shows you roughly what the book looks like. To my knowledge, this is the only guide on how to do SIV. All the information comes directly from my own experiences through testing gliders as well as teaching SIV courses for The book contains videos as well as photos. Describing maneuvers without being able to see videos doesn’t give the reader a clear picture. Also, since the book is virtual as well as printed, it can easily be

release of their entry-level glider, the

updated and expanded. Periodically, I will add new videos and comment on

occasional pilots. Certified EN/LTF A,

real-life accidents on YouTube. After

the U-Prime is designed light-weight

someone has paid for the book, he/

for easier inflations, and is one of the

she can download updates in the

lightest entry-level certified gliders

future. The price for the book is approxi-

leading edge and a newly developed

mately $25US, depending on which

profile, the U-Prime has increased

iTunes store you buy it from.

stability in turbulence and at speed. The AirCross team reported, after

many years.

U-Prime, geared toward beginner and

on the market. With nylon rods in the

The book starts with a short introductory video, followed by an index

clips of the protos in the SIV Bible.

flying many prototypes, that the new

and a dictionary of SIV-related terms.

profile and line trim allow for great

In the body of the book I have clas-

life accidents from YouTube with

agility with simultaneous dampening

sified SIV into three types of maneu-

voiceovers of my explanation of what

for great comfort in turns. For more


caused them. Thanks, also, to those

I have also used videos of real-

information contact Greg Kelly at


YouTube pilots who gave me permis-

970-376-0495, or visit the AirCross

Stall Maneuvers

sion to use their real-life experiences

website at Dealer

Rotational Maneuvers

in the book to help others learn to

inquiries welcome.

Finally, a “further reading” sec-

avoid problems.


tion covers many subjects that are by Bruce Goldsmith

not pure SIV but are important topics

This is the link from the US iTunes store:

After I produced two Instability films,

related to advanced flying techniques.

pilots have been urging me to write

Some of these topics have appeared

an advanced book about paragliding

in my Icaristics articles in XCMagazine,

safety. The arrival of Apple’s iBooks

but I have updated them and added


Author finally pushed me to collect

new photos and video content.

Richard (Doc) Shallman, USHPA

my experiences and publish them in

Not all of the videos are of produc- the-siv-bible/id552411696?ls=1

#63597, notched 1000 consecutive

tion gliders; some are prototypes,

safe flights over the last 12 years.

so do not expect identical reactions

Congratulations, Doc and here’s to

designed for the iPad and is only for

from similar-appearing production

another 12!

sale through the iTunes stores, per-

gliders as you see in the test-flying

an ebook. Although this means the book is


believe the features available through this app make this sacrifice worth-




by Dennis Pagen

NEW NORTHWING FREEDOM FX I was in a moderate bank in a mild thermal on a mediocre afternoon when I decided to give the glider its head. Much like a horse when you let go of the reins, this glider kicked up its heels and showed me its true mettle. I had been restraining it because I am used to flying topless gliders with their more demanding attention to airspeed and control. But this glider is so forgiving that, when I finally let the bar out, it notched up the climb rate and never twitched in the thermal texture and turbulation. As the flight progressed, I quickly gained confidence in the glider and found a new sense of freedom. The glider in this description is

North Wing’s new Freedom FX. While there have been articles about the Freedom before, the newest version has at least 14 additions and improvements from earlier versions, so it’s worth a fresh look.

FX EFFECTS Before we catalog the details of the new glider, take a look at the design philosophy. Back in the late ‘80s I had written about what I thought would be the ultimate local flying glider. I assumed that 98.6% of the flying of 96.8% of all pilots takes place orbiting local sites with little or no XC flying. Thus I noted the perfect glider would

be a low-sweep, high aspect ratio, single-surface, tight-sailed, curvedtip glider with a high batten density. What does all that mean? A single surface hang glider has the highest mean camber airfoil of any aircraft I can think of. That means it can slow waay down and develop lots of lift, in layman terms. This feature should give it an outstanding sink rate. But what stands in the way of reaching the fullest potential on many single-surfaced gliders is they tend to be for beginner/novice pilots, so they incorporate loose sails with light material and flexible tubing, all for good handling (with an added bonus of being lighter in weight). By tightening the sail up, the span efficiency or effective aspect ratio or simply the performance goes up. Same for increasing the actual aspect ratio and widening the nose angle. Batten density refers to the number of battens per side, and the more the better to help define the airfoil and help keep the twist down (twist causes loss of span efficiency). Curved tips can be very efficient, can help handling and are, well, the sexiest thing flying (other than a few female pilots I know). So all those factors went looking for a designer. Enter Kamron Blevins, proprietor and designer of North Wing. I remember talking about these ideas to Kamron many years ago, but he is an idea man in his own right and he probably developed the Freedom independent of my musings. At any rate, he has created the glider I have



been hoping for all these years. That’s the Freedom FX.

THE ABC DETAILS The Freedom I flew was the 170 size (171 sq. ft.). It has a 125-degree nose angle and an aspect ratio (AR) of 6.15. That number is high for a single surface glider (topless gliders chart in from an AR of 7 to just over 8). It also had 15 upper-surface battens (seven per side with one in the middle), which includes an extra batten from previous designs and a redistribution of the outer battens. I had a tight sail made from PX-15 (that’s stiff!) sailcloth, faired uprights and crossbar fairings of 7x2-inch Mylar with shear ribs to keep them in form. The only thing this tricked-out glider didn’t have was a chromed rear view mirror and dangling fuzzy dice. There was Mylar in the leading edges and a real VG system that actually felt like it did something useful. The leading edges are stiffer than in previous Freedoms. All the listed factors contribute to performance, both sink rate and maximum glide ratio. Stiffer cloth, tighter sail and larger diameter leading edges help prevent excessive twist and drag losses. A new airfoil shape has been applied, and the battens are filled with carbon to help hold the airfoil shape at higher speeds. The increased VG movement as well as under-surface



speed vent help the best glide and glide at higher speeds. Other changes that may not affect performance are a rearward movement of the base tube, an optional setup kickstand, a reinforced tip area with a skid, a kingpost hang point and optional longer uprights. The latter two items help lighten control forces, so in a sense do help performance.

PERFORMANCE VS. HANDLING The great compromise in the world of hang gliding design is between performance and handling. Most things you can do to improve performance end up costing you in handling. So, with all the increased performance evolution the Freedom is undergoing, how’s it handle? In a word, great! We can only conclude that Kamron spent a lot of sweat equity or brain investment to work out the handling, because the Freedom FX couldn’t handle better or you’d fall asleep in flight. Remember my opening flight? I soon learned to trust the glider as if it were wearing a priest frock—whoops, wrong image, but you get the picture. The roll response was predictable, positive, pleasant, pronto and praiseworthy. I can attribute this nice behavior to a couple of the matters I mentioned above, along with the large tip area and the flexible curved tip wand. At any rate, I found the handling so easy that I would normally thermal at half VG. I also landed with that setting because it was so easy. The landability of a new hang glider often elicits great interest because we all have to transition our beautiful wings from a graceful soaring bird to an awkward mass of Dacron and aluminum weighing more than it seems it does when we take off and strike through the sky. But the Freedom FX puts any concerns to rest, for it lands about as easy as you would want. Compared to many single-surface gliders, the Freedom flare takes less force. I

attribute this effect to the wider nose angle—there’s less material acting like a barn door to oppose your push-out. I tried landing the glider with one wing lower than the other and was able to flare it and straighten out the potential turn in mid-flare. The glider is forgiving. To be sure, it glides well for a single surface glider, so you need a bit more run out for your final, but it is nowhere nearly as demanding as a topless glider. Just line it up, let it bleed and give it a medium-effort flare and you should be a feature on your buddy’s endless flying videos.

FREEDOM FLIGHT I topped out my thermal and went looking for more. On this particular day they were elusive as a shy ghost, but with several pilots on the hunt we were able to survive. The glide between thermals is what interested me. At slower speeds—below 33 1/3-mph, say—it seemed to skim along as well as the topless gliders making the same transition between thermals. I was able to use full VG on these glides, and could even crank into the next thermal with the VG on, only loosening for max push out and roll control after I established my circle in the core. On that particular flight I got high, got low, got in-between, shot up into the free air, scratched close in and generally did everything you can do with a well-hung glider except loop it or trek XC. The main thing I recall from that and other flights is the fun I had. I was never too concerned with rowdy thermals, I was never feeling disadvantaged, I never had the on-the-groundwhile-others-are-soaring blues. In short, I had a sweet relationship with this glider. If you fly for fun (don’t we all?), the Freedom will keep you smiling.

FREEDOM ON FINAL I’ll wrap up this little review by covering some of the ancillary matters that go with glider purchase and owner-

and take a certain amount of pleasure in precision tuning of gliders. But even so, I learned some new tricks from Kamron’s descriptive tuning tree. You can check out the manuals and much more on the North Wing website,, of course. All the attention I gave to the Freedom FX’s details is because it is clear that Kamron gives attention to the details of his craft and these details are worth noting. In fact, it may seem strange that he has been as exacting on this glider as we expect designers to be on a high-performance topless glider selling for twice the price. But the truth is, an intermediate glider such as the Freedom has a lot more potential customers than a topless, so it deserves all the attention it can get. It really is

the flagship of North Wing, and would be for any company. In my mind, Kamron has created what I have long imagined to be an ideal glider. It may be that my ideals are different from yours, but jeez, I just wanna get high and float up with the big dogs, ride a rowdy thermal in comfort, scratch in close when necessary and last, but not least, land with grace and aplomb, especially when the landing field is full of jaded cheerleaders drinking beer and stowing equipment.

SPECIFICATIONS Here are some specifications for the Freedoms. But the website has much more information and many photos— in living color!—that can inform you more.





Double Surface




Area (square feet)










Number of Ribs

13 Top

15 Top

14 Top

Frame Material




Rib Material




Glider Weight (lbs)




* Control Frame (inches)






Span (feet) Aspect Ratio 

Pilot Hook-In Weight (lbs) 130-210 USHPA Rating 




Break-down (length in bag)

16' 2"

17' 6"

18' 9"

* Control Frame height is measured from keel, straight down to center of base tube

ship. First I’ll mention one of the big reasons for owning such a glider is the convenience. The main convenience is setup, but ease of landing and weight could also be considered forms of convenience. The glider sets up very easily. The tip wands are the easiest I have ever put in. You can simply stand at the tip and pull the sail back and put the socket on the wand with little strain. The battens also go in easily and have the convenient flip-clips that higher-powered gliders have as a matter of course. There are no dive sticks or sprogs to fuss with—the pitch recovery devices are reflex bridles. My best advice here is to opt for the keel kickstand so you can set up easier. What’s the point of groveling in the dirt if you don’t have to? The one thing I would criticize is that the glider doesn’t come equipped with PIP (push) pins at the control bar corners. I would buy and apply some as soon as I got the glider. Why fumble with bolts, nuts and safety pins? The glider I had employed the thick, stiff sail and all the tricks. All these performance options add weight. The glider was definitely heavier than the 56 pounds indicated in the specs. There’s always a price for performance. I’ll add one more slight dislike: the cover shape requires you to put the battens at the nose—already the heaviest end of a glider. So with the battens in there, the two-person carrying that’s common means one person is carrying an outsized load. I never saw the point of this arrangement since it was originated in the ‘80s with PacAir. Moving on to the manual, I must report that it is very complete. You may not get overly excited about manuals, but there is a wealth of useful information in there, from detailed specs to setup to care. But the thing that interested me most was the complete and detailed description of tuning the glider. Some readers may know that I have written about tuning in the past,


by Dick Heckman

COLLISION AVOIDANCE At the US Hang Gliding Nationals in Big Spring, Texas, last year there was a near miss between a gaggle of hang gliders and an airliner, which the meet organizer handled very well. He had arranged beforehand that a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) be in force during the meet, and he participated in discussions with the airport manager and the FAA after the airline pilot filed a report. This instance and a mid-air collision between a sailplane and a hang glider near Orlando, Florida, led me to do an analysis of the NASA incident reports between HG/ PG and aircraft. This reporting system by NASA is voluntary; it’s available for pilots to record safety issues they think are worth reporting. The reports are stripped of any identification and are not available to law enforcement. NASA manages them, so there is no question of a relationship with the FAA. Among the reports were two



that had been written by Georgia hang glider pilots. NASA collected 45 incident reports involving free-flight pilots. After reviewing them, I determined that in instances where good identification was clear over the past 20 years, 24 incidents involved hang gliders and five involved paragliders. Eleven of the incidents occurred at over 8000 feet, while seven were above 10,000 feet. The speed of aircraft above 10,000 feet is only limited to be below the speed of sound. When you are above 10,000 feet, you’ll have little time to get out of the way. These reports made references to climbing at 4000 to 5000 fpm and descending at greater than 2000 fpm. Don’t hang out at cloud base. Remember that we have no right-ofway over aircraft. I know many feel we can’t get out of the big iron’s way, but if we don’t, we could stand to lose everything. Unless a pilot hit its windshield, an airliner will hardly feel us, but there won’t be enough left of the hang glider or paraglider to throw a chute over. With only 10,000 members and no political clout, we can easily be legislated out of the air. With Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “drones” coming in, our airspace is going to get even more congested. We, as a sport and as individuals, need to become partners in the aviation community to a greater

degree than we have been. Because we can get up and go farther now than in the past, we have to plan around where the big boys may be—not in just the Class B, C and D airspace areas but also in the approach and departure lanes that extend out from major airports, the Class E airspace. Even though we are legally allowed there, they are busy transition areas. We need to minimize the time we’re in a “shooting gallery.” It’s not about not flying. It’s about learning more about how the system works and using it correctly. Working a quarter mile farther one way or the other may give a pilot lots of clearance, instead of barely being missed because the airliner banked up to clear one of us and underestimated the distance. Most of the reports were not critical of the hang glider or paraglider pilot. In the case of the Big Spring incident, the airline pilot did us a favor by explicitly stating that the hang gliders were more than 1000 feet below cloud base. The aviation community and the FAA exhibit good will for hang gliding and paragliding. After all, we bring new blood into the game when not many are taking up any kind of flying. Pilots have an inherent respect for other pilots in general, and we also get some because we’re willing to meet nature without the cocoon they’re in. The reports were made when hang gliders were unexpected. Most of the incidents occurred in California, although there were scattered incidents in the East and Midwest. That stands to reason, because most of our members live along the west coast and the strip of airways between San Francisco and San Diego is one of the busiest in aviation. When an airline pilot makes the same trip for weeks with hang gliders far below him at 6000 feet, but one day the inversion

breaks down and they’re at his altitude, he is seriously concerned. As one said, “We could tell something was up ahead and suddenly were shocked to see that we were coming up behind a hang glider at our altitude.” That was one of the really close encounters. A classic case is the hang gliding site marked on the San Diego Terminal Area Chart (TAC), just east of the Pine Creek and Hauser Wilderness Areas, located directly under the PILLO intersection of V66. Next to that airway is an approach corridor for San Diego between 8000 and 12,000 feet msl, indicated by arrows and a large jet silhouette. If the conditions allow reaching 8000, you’re legal, but you’d better be prepared for visitors. Moving slightly north or south would give you more leeway. But watch for the arrows going the other way, south, near the lake. These arrows indicate the departure route from San Diego; it is between 9000 and 11,000 feet msl. Remember that those hang gliding markers on a sectional or terminal area chart don’t exist on the low-altitude en-route IFR charts. This location had two nearmiss reports. These are the hot spots right now, but your area may be next. I would suggest that locals check their area sectional and plot the locations where their flying sites and local routes lie with respect to airways and arrival and departure routes, to minimize our footprint with the big iron. Burbank has five such areas, but some of these may be bound for LAX. Reno has three, San Francisco two, San Diego two, San Jose two, and Las Vegas two. Take heed of that guy who was in the sights of an airliner and don’t fly long in crowded air without turning your wing up and looking around. It will make you more visible, and you will

have a better chance of avoiding a calamity. Reno had one mid-air between a sailplane and a business jet. As a result, the sailplane pilots are all voluntarily flying with operating transponders to ameliorate the problem and avoid a more general requirement. The NTSB recommended that everyone be required to have a transponder, but the FAA feels that is not necessary yet, as this seems to be a local problem. However, don’t breathe a sigh of relief. The new ADS-B system ( com for more information) will eventually become the navigation system of the future; it already has coded into the ADS-B Out transmitter software with the address and identification for hang gliders and paragliders. This means you will have a tail number like everybody else, and your anonymity would be gone if carrying one were to be a requirement. At present, there is a carve-out in the requirement for airplanes without an electrical system not to require a transponder, a clause that we are currently hiding under. Oh, and the going price for ADS-B Out is, I believe, about the price of an advanced competitive wing. It will come down with time, but it will be hard to get below the price of a new, introductory wing and still be certified. These warnings are easy to shrug off. There’s a lot of air, and yet a lot of "it won't happen to me" mentality. I’m sure that’s what the sailplane pilot over Reno at 11,000 feet thought, just before he lost a wing. Luckily he had a parachute, and even though the jet’s pilot was injured by a piece of the wing spar, he landed safely. We who fly owe to others with whom we share the air a resolve to understand their operating environment and determination to work together. There aren’t that many of us.

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.



by Andy Pag

The wings of Christmas past, present & future Once upon a time, A-lines were attached to the front of the wing, but these days almost every glider has attachment points set a few inches further back. That small distance has radically changed our sport, for both better and for worse. The welcome performance increases have come with less welcome characteristics that are only manageable if pilots are fully aware of them.

Why mount the A’s further back? In 2010 gliders first started to appear with setback A’s, and the performance that came with them blew everything else out of the skies. But how does setback A’s improve performance? The



new configuration takes over some of the piloting that you can’t do quickly or smoothly enough. The nose ahead of the attachment point deforms to counter the pitching of the wing. As the wing drops back the nose bends down, keeping the wing flatter and encouraging it to pitch forward again. Conversely, as the A-lines are loaded, in say a dive, the nose gets pushed up, slowing the glider. This has an effect similar to adding brake. It counters the diving of the wing and keeps the glider flat through the air. So the wing has a kind of autopilot pitch control, keeping it flat and stable. It does this instantly and proportionately,

whereas you, the pilot, might take a few hundred milliseconds to react. In fact the pilot probably wouldn’t even notice the infinitesimally small movements the wing makes all the time, and if you did notice, your clumsy human muscles would probably overdo any attempt at correction. The result is a glider that smoothly cuts through the air instead of wobbling around with tiny pitch movements, losing energy and efficiency with every jiggle. It makes for smoother thermal entry, and it also makes the wing feel more stable, because it’s automatically reacting to turbulence that might cause a collapse by keeping

itself loaded. But it can only do this up to a point. If the conditions are bad enough the wing will collapse, and the theory says, it’s going to come with less warning (because the air will have seemed smoother up to that point) and it’s going to be harsher (because it takes worse turbulence to cause the collapse). Many pilots will testify that their wings with setback A-lines feel much more stable and some will tell you about the dramatic collapses they’ve encountered.

Variable Brake Travel Imagine you’re in a sharp turn, thermaling tight. The wing is loaded in the same way as it is when it pitches back, so the nose is reacting by bending up, increasing the angle of attack. The wing is a little closer to the stall point than it would be normally. In straight flight you might be able to pull the brake say 15 inches down to the karabiner without reaching the stall point, but now in this loaded configuration, the nose has moved the wing shape closer to a stalling angle of attack and that same 15 inches of brake travel might now be enough to put you in a spin. Once you’re spinning, it gets worse. The outside flying wing is now far more loaded than usual, so its nose is bending up even more and it’s precariously close to the stall point, too. It takes hardly any brake on this side to cause it to stall, flipping you over in a kind of flapping wingover. This same scenario can happen during an asymmetric collapse where the flying side of the wing is fully loaded. You should keep this in mind when using the outside brake in an attempt to recover an asymmetric collapse. You’ll sometimes hear pilots say, “I got a collapse and then the glider spun the other way.” It was heavy outside brake that caused the spin. That’s why some SIV instructors recommend grabbing the risers on the outside and

only using weight shift to prevent you from pulling on the brake. It’s important to be familiar with feeling the pressure of the wing’s stall point, because you can’t rely on brake travel distance to tell you when you’ve reached your limit. The usable brake range varies depending on how loaded the wing is. The feel of the brake’s pressure should increase more markedly as you approach the stall point. But on some gliders this is more subtle than on others, and feeling how the brake pressure responds as you approach the stall or spin point is an important exercise to try when testing a new wing—although any manoeuvre that might result in a spin should be practised in an SIV environment.

Nylon Inserts Nylon supports are a by-product of setting back the A-line attachment point. They give the right shape and, importantly, the right amount of flex to the nose of the wing. During 2012, manufacturers have been experimenting with new materials, and this year expect to see fine strips of “memory metal” like titanium and Nitinol start to replace the weed-whacker plastic lines. The metal strips create the same rigidity and flex with less weight, and the metal slivers can be twisted and abused, but always bounce back to shape. The result, say the designers, is that you won’t have to finely concertina-fold your wing any more to protect the leading edge. We heard the same claim when nylon inserts were introduced, and it’s probably a bit truer this time.

Profile change There’s another development which came along at the same time as setback A’s. The profile of the aerofoil has changed. Imagine the classic aerofoil shape. There’s a bulge above the chord, and a bulge below. On modern wings

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LEFT As the wing pitches back (loading the A’s),

the nose dips, and compensates for the pitching by accelerating the wing forward again. If the wing pitches forward (loading the B’s and C’s), the nose rises, accelerating the wing and returning it to equilibrium.

just being sucked up, the wing is being sucked up and forward. Bizarrely as the wing flies into the wind, it creates a force that is also pulling it forward. This makes the wing faster. In practice the aerodynamic characteristics of a flexible wing are hugely complicated, because as it changes shape, the lift distribution it creates over the top surface moves around the wing’s top surface. Ask 10 paraglider designers about the optimal profile and expect to get at least 11 different answers.

Collapsed and Flying

the bulge on the underside has been moved back. This makes the wing faster and more collapse resistant. Intuitively you might think that as the wing cuts through the air, it builds up a positive resisting pressure in front of it. Stick your hand out of the car window at 30mph and you’ll feel the positive pressure in front of your hand caused by wind resistance.



But a wing behaves differently from your hand. We all know that as air moves over the shape of an aerofoil, it generates a positive pressure below it and a negative pressure above it that sucks the wing up. In other words: lift. By moving the underside bulge backwards, the area where that lifting negative pressure is created moves forward on the upper surface. So now instead of

This resulting aerofoil, with its underside bulge a little further back, is one that would be highly unstable on any other type of aircraft. Paragliders get away with it because our centre of gravity is much lower than any other aircraft. We’re hanging 10 feet under the wing. As well as increasing performance, this aerofoil also helps to make the wing more collapse resistant, but it seems there’s a potentially dangerous consequence of the profile. Many people imagine that collapses are caused by a gust of wind pushing the front of the wing down. But in fact they happen when sinking turbulent air blows down on the wing in a way that turns the aerofoil effect upside down. Now air has to travel further and faster under the wing than it does above it, creating high pressure on the top surface and a lower pressure on the bottom surface, which sucks the wing downwards. With no rigid structure to hold it up, it collapses. Moving the underside bulge further back reduces the tendency for the aerofoil to act upside down, so it’s more collapse resistant. But designers have

noticed that this can create a particularly dangerous form of asymmetric collapse. The collapsed side can stay inflated, maintaining its upside-down aerofoil profile instead of becoming a flapping mess of material. In this collapsed-but-flying state, its position relative to the air means the underside is creating lift, and because that underside is facing directly backwards the collapsed side wants to pull you backwards, while the other inflated side of the wing is still flying and pulling forward. The result is that these forms of collapses create a dramatic turn effect that can be hard to control, potentially twisting the pilot and making direction control much harder. Simulating collapses by pulling the A-lines (or with folding lines) doesn’t always replicate this type of collapse, so the testing and certification process might not reveal how dramatic real-life collapses can be. In the event of an asymmetric collapse on a modern wing it’s even more important to quickly unload the

collapsed side and load the flying side with weight shift. This helps prevent the collapsed side from maintaining its flying characteristics and turns it into the flapping mass of fabric that can be re-inflated by air sweeping through the inside of the wing.

Frontal Recovery As the wing recovers from a frontal collapse this new aerofoil profile has a tendency to freefall in a parachutal stall. Wings have always done this, but the effect is more pronounced on a modern wing, lasting a second or two longer. To recover flying characteristics, the glider has to dive forward. This dive gives the wing airspeed and sets up all the forces that make the wing fly normally. Imagine you’ve just had a surprise frontal collapse. Your body instantly floods with adrenaline as you look up trying to see what’s happened, and before you can make sense of what your eyes are telling you there’s a bang as the wing pops back out. In this moment you’re in no state to notice the

glider isn’t flying forward but instead is falling like a parachute. But you do notice it start to surge as it attempts to regain flight. You’ve just had a collapse, and the last thing you want is another one, and here goes your wing again, pitching forward. “You’re the pilot. Do something!” a voice in your head shouts. Every sense in your body tells you to check that dive by pulling brake. In this instant it’s the intuitive thing to do, but the wrong one. In the parachutal state the angle of attack is as close to the stall point as you can get without stalling. Pull those brakes now and your wing could fold up behind you in a full stall. Let the wing surge after a frontal collapse.

Not Good, Not Bad, But Ugly These design improvements have changed some characteristics of the way our wings behave in subtle but significant ways. As long as pilots understand how this affects them in the air and know how to respond, there needn’t be anything to worry about. In a way it’s



neither good nor bad as long as pilots are familiar with the behaviour. But there is one aspect that is quite ugly about this change. The EN testing system has struggled to keep pace with the effects of changes in wing design. This has always been



the case, even back in the days of the DHV. Designers’ modifications meant the evolving testing procedures were always playing catch-up. But the speed of recent wing developments has so outpaced the testing system that the situation is really alarming some designers.

Industry insiders feel that the result is that sporty or volatile gliders are being granted a certificate for a safer category, and some pilots are unwittingly flying gliders that could be more volatile than they are able to deal with. The Nova Mentor2 and the Rush3 are two examples of “top end” EN B wings that aren’t suitable for beginners despite their certification classification. The UP Trango XC2 has the handling and performance of a competition EN D wing, but its ENC rating might fool some into thinking it’s suitable for a pilot unfamiliar with competition wings. The manufacturers are at pains to inform pilots of the characteristics of the wing. They have no interest in selling pilots wings that aren’t suitable for their skill and confidence level, but despite their best efforts to communicate the nature of their wings, the EN certification remains the benchmark

most pilots rely on to judge if a wing is right for them. “Serious manufacturers are developing gliders for pilots in target groups,” says Ondrej Dupal, director of Gradient, “not to be on the edge of certification limits.” That’s reassuring to hear, because a fellow paragliding journalist who has been following testing developments for a couple of years told me the EN testing system is “f**ked, and everybody knows it,” but added that steps are already underway to improve it. Michael Nesler, a test pilot and designer, spent a week re-testing recently certified EN B gliders of all makes on behalf of the DHV last year, and his conclusions, to be published in the coming months, are dire. “Three years ago the homologation process was testing to find the worstcase scenario,” explains the veteran test pilot. “If only one manoeuvre during the flight went wrong, they would send the glider back to the manufacturers. “Today, if a manoeuvre goes wrong, the test pilot tries to find a way to simulate it another way. For example, they’ll collapse it in different ways, until they get it to pass the certification criteria. This is crazy and has nothing to do with real testing.” Russell Ogden, a test pilot for Ozone, makes the point that an EN certificate is a measure of conformity to a standard, and not actually a measure of safety. He emphasises that safety and conformity are two very different things, implying that the pressures on manufacturers to design safe gliders, and ones that pass the EN testing, sometimes pull them in two different directions. Even if the EN certification system was fully coherent with the new wings, it would only tell us how gliders recover from a collapse, not how prone they are to collapse in the first place, a fact many pilots don’t seem to grasp intuitively.

One suggestion Dupal makes is to simplify the certification system, with perhaps just three categories; School Glider, Full Manoeuvre Certified, and a Structural Certification (including just two or three manoeuvres). Having such a basic certification system would reduce the tendency of pilots to rely on it so heavily, while still providing information on how a wing recovers. There’s an opposing school of thought that says we need more categories (like a B- and a B+ class), while others argue that the crucial step is to make the test more prescriptive, allowing less room for interpretation by test pilots. Yet others say that the parameters of the test should be made more relevant, measuring altitude losses for recoveries as well as recovery times and rotation. Almost everyone agrees that if pilots were weaned off their dependency of judging a glider’s suitability solely by its EN class, it would remove the pressure on less scrupulous designers to tweak wings so they scrape in under the wire of the standard, and free up a more informative dialogue between pilots and manufacturers. I’ve always thought of myself as an “EN B pilot,” but it seems that this kind of mindset is no longer helpful.

Buyer Beware Until a solution surfaces, take the time to read the designer’s notes on a wing, and confirm with the dealers and distributors that the description of the pilot it is aimed at matches your flying abilities. It’s worth reading the fine detail of the EN test certificate, to see which manoeuvres the wing performs at the edge of its category, and which ones it performs more benignly. Finally, and most importantly, try to arrange a test flight on the wing you think you want, and see how it feels in the air, and how it collapses and recovers.




Don't Let the Ground Get Ya!

Landing Some people say that landings are the most fun part of a flight, but for others, they are the most dreaded. Either way, as the saying goes, “landings are mandatory.” If I am not flying, one of my favorite things is to watch people land. A lot can be learned from watching. Resist the temptation to look at



the glider–it’s the pilot, the posture, the hand movement and the trajectories that are interesting. Let’s take a few pages to dissect this all-important element of every flight.

Common Problems There are some common problems and some common mistakes. As with most things in paragliding, some as-

by Chris Santacroce pects of landing well are not intuitive. Coming in too fast: If you are coming in fast, you should be smiling, knowing that the speed that you are carrying across the ground can be used to bring you to a stop. Landing too hard: If you are landing too hard, then you need to re-evaluate some aspect of your landings. Generally speaking, you need to

manage the “energy” better. See comments on flare timing below. Can’t get the flare timing right: Flare timing is a big subject. First, you have to decide what type of landing you are going to make; then you have to make sure that you have yourself in the proper posture and that you are looking in the proper place. When all that’s OK, then you get to watch your hands do the perfect flare.

Simple Flare Timing


A “dynamic” landing is one where you: • Point straight into the wind, in the proper posture while exercising zero brake, • Apply some small amount of brake that changes your vector (direction of travel) from being vertical to

I often say that if you manage to get yourself a long, straight final and you are in the proper posture, then you are 60 % of the way to a perfect touchdown. The remaining 40% resides in looking ahead while maintaining awareness about hand position.


A “simple” flare involves three things: • Being in the proper posture and being pointed straight into the wind, • Allowing the glider to fly fast until you’re at “some magical height,” and • Applying brake smoothly from zero brake/zero trailing-edge deflection to full brake, arms straight down at your sides.

Dynamic Flare Timing


horizontal, and • Wait until you start to descend once again and then apply full brake before touching down.

Taking Wraps Whether or not you take wraps depends on a huge variety of variables (too numerous to mention), from the length of the pilot’s arms to harness geometry to density altitude. In any case there are some rules of thumb (so to speak): • Take the wraps while you are still high. • Check to make sure that it is possible to put your hands up and have no trailing-edge deflection on the glider. • Apply some brake to check and see


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how much brake is needed before some change in pitch is effected. One of the biggest barriers to achieving a successful flare is to fail to let the paraglider fly at “full fast” when on final approach to a no-wind landing. We have to remember that the paraglider is the slowest nondirigible aircraft on earth. Unlike an airplane that needs to decelerate from “cruise” speed to “approach” speed, we are always at approach speed. It is important for us to let off the brakes on final approach so that any/ all oscillation can subside and so that the paraglider can store up maximum energy to be used for the actual “flare.” The natural exception to this rule is this: When in turbulence on



final approach, we have to “feel” the brakes enough to defend against deflation.

A poor approach can lead to a poor landing. Use a systematic approach every time even when it isn’t necessary. Choose a system that has the potential to deliver you to a restricted landing zone in time of need.

This is a function of the fact that we have minimal suspension in our spinal columns. Our back protectors provide some cushioning, but the records show that it is inappropriate to bet on these “last chance” support systems. Conversely, we have several feet of suspension built into our legs. Paratroopers, tree climbers, and uncoordinated people worldwide have been using this system for years.

Landing Posture

See Your Hands

Many pilots stay reclined in their harnesses and rock upright into landing/standing position as they flare. This may be the worst crime in our entire sport. We lose a huge number of pilots each year to back injuries.

A favorite instructor of mine once observed that pilots, particularly new pilots, lose consciousness when they begin their inflation and only regain it when they are comfortably seated in their harnesses. Likewise he observed


that pilots on landing approach often lose consciousness at about 30 feet AGL (above ground level) and regain it just after the glider hits the ground. I believe this to be true to a large degree. Ask a pilot who just blew a launch or landing what happened and they usually have little idea. Naturally, they seem to have little idea where their hands were. In response to this dynamic, I encourage pilots to watch their hands during the inflation, as they transition into their harnesses and then again when they are on final approach. We demand that our students put their hands and heads in a place where they can see their hands out of their peripheral vision before, during, and even after their flare. This way, whether the takeoff or landing goes well or not, the pilot may have some idea what determined the outcome.

Flare Timing We have already established that we’ll be in an upright, PLF (parachute landing fall) posture with eyes on the horizon and hands visible in our peripheral vision. When to begin the flare? Some say 10 feet, the height you would be at if you were standing on a tall person’s shoulders, or the roof of a single-story house. These are all decent benchmarks. A smooth and deliberate pull on the brakes all the way down until the arms are straight is the key. But, there are rules and details. If you think that you might have started to flare too high, pause, then finish—never let off the brakes once you have begun to pull them. Be sure to finish the flare. Many pilots will do half of a flare and then touch down. Ouch! Another thing that doesn’t work is to flare way too high. This can result in unnecessarily hard landings. Most modern beginner gliders flown by a

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NOMINATIONS FOR THE USHPA BOARD OF DIRECTORS ARE NEEDED Nominations can be submitted online in the member’s-only section,; click on the Forms tab at the top of the page to navigate to the online nomination form. Biographical information about the nominees must be received no later than August 15, 2013 for inclusion in the November election issue of this magazine. All the currently serving directors are automatically re-nominated to run for another term unless otherwise noted below. The directors whose terms are up for election are:  R1-(AK, OR, WA) Mark Forbes   R2-(North CA, NV) Josh Cohn Patrick Hajek   R3-(South CA, HI) Corey Caffrey Rob Sporrer   R4–(AZ, CO, NM, UT) Ken Grubbs   R5–(ID, MT, WY, Canada)

pilot within the weight range won’t stall until the brakes have been held full-on for a period of time. Generally speaking, however, it’s better to flare a little too high than to not flare at all.

Style In case you are thinking that the best pilots stay reclined in their harness and flare late, please know that the top pilots in the world can be seen hanging from their leg straps in a true PLF position when they are making difficult approaches to difficult LZs. The stronger the conditions, the more upright the pilot. The more experienced the pilot the better the landing posture. Simple.

The Big Picture We have to be students of landing. We have to do exercises and drills to prepare us for the most difficult landings of our lives. Each landing is as important as the next. Here’s a checklist of things that we can do in order to land better. • Watch people land, look at their



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hands, and see if you can tell where they are looking. • Identify common landing mistakes, then avoid them. • Have a pre-landing checklist: • Wind check • Approach planned • Final approach long • Wrap taken (or not) • Legs down, feet together (ready to do a PLF if necessary) • Hands up, elbows in • Eyes on the horizon • Hands in sight • With the checklist complete, say “flare timing.” Watch your hands and watch yourself make the perfect flare. • Never • take extra wraps at the last minute • turn close to the ground • lose track of your hands • give up • forget to flare • put your arm out in a “bracing action” if you have sideways direction across the ground • land “off the wind”

• hit people or things • try the dynamic landing before seeking instructor guidance • start slowing down when you are still high.

Thermal Conditions We have an obligation to “feel our brakes” during the approach in thermal conditions. We mustn’t allow our gliders to deflate when on final. Still, we have an obligation to allow the glider to fly faster for a moment in an effort to develop/retain some energy to be used for the flare. This is more important in low- or no-wind environments. Thermal conditions demand that pilots be “trigger happy” on the flare. There are two possibilities in such condition: getting “popped” or getting “dropped.” No one can predict which will happen. Even if (or because) one pilot gets popped, another may get dropped seconds later. Expect either. If you get popped up, then keep your hands in sight, maintain your good landing position

(feet touching one another) BUT, be ready—”trigger happy”—on the flare. Make sure to finish the flare; this is the prime directive. If you get dropped, FLARE! We have to identify such conditions for what they are and know that an early and deliberate flare may be necessary if the air “feels” like it is “dropping out” or if it feels as though you are landing in a “hole.” Trigger happy… Pulling the brakes abruptly usually kills energy usable for changing vertical energy into horizontal energy and for lowering ground speeds. I have seen pro tandem pilots land 90-year-old women in switchy, high, hot, humid landing zones with fast tandem gliders on slippery grass. They minimize the vertical speed and let the horizontal speed (across the ground) take care of itself. Likewise, some skydivers fly canopies that are less than 90 square feet—that’s eight square meters, compared to the smallest paragliders, which are 18 square meters (not including the speed-gliding canopies). Guess what—the speed across the ground is not a factor. Their trajectory at the ground is the only thing that counts.

Famous Last Words I took extra wraps because I knew I’d need them. I saw that I was downwind and turned at the last minute. I saw that I was going fast and so I picked up my feet. I thought my back protection could take it. I stuck my legs out straight. Chris Santacroce is a USHPA paragliding tandem administrator and instructor/administrator, doing his part to make more and better paraglider pilots, tandem pilots and instructors. This article first appeared in the November 2003 issue of Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine.

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Lost and Found SPOT 2 | DeLorme InReach | SPOT Connect | ACR ResQLink

by Matt Gerdes


ver the past few years, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say what a good idea it would be to “get a SPOT.” Launched in 2007, the ad campaign for the original SPOT introduced many outdoor sports enthusiasts to the concept of emergency satellite messaging devices. But more than five years later, there still remains a lack of understanding of how these devices work. When I began researching them for my own use, I was struck by the variety of options available and, especially, by how truly different each of them is, even though they are widely viewed as all fitting into the same category of device. Upon closer inspection, however, they clearly do not. To understand the options available, we first have to understand the satellite constellations and emergency support networks that support each device. Currently, there are three major systems: COSPAS/SARSAT, a non-profit network which sup-

ports Personal Locator Beacons, usually known as PLBs (the ACR ResQLink in this review). This satellite constellation is the largest and most complete and is, essentially, military. It has provided the satellite support used for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), which are designed exclusively for marine use, for more than 30 years. Over 33,000 people have been rescued as a result OPPOSITE The units in their different environments | of this network, worldwide, since the photos by Matt Gerdes. program’s inception. COSPAS/SARSAT now also supports PLBs, which are essentially EPIRBs for landlubbers. It is very important to understand that a PLB is not a SPOT! This network covers the entire planet. Globalstar, a for-profit communications network which supports the SPOT devices in this review: Globalstar Corporation launched 52 satellites by 2000 to support a satellite phone communications network. It currently does not cover polar regions or



“A PLB emitting a distress signal in these two manners absolutely represents your best chance of being located and, at this most basic level, is a better device than anything operating on Globalstar or Iridium.” sub-Saharan Africa (map: en/index.php?cid=101&sidenav=85) A series of problems with satellites from its first constellation launch was supposedly addressed in 2011 and 2012, with the launch of several additional satellites, but the total efficacy of their current network still is widely questioned. Iridium, a for-profit communications network which

supports the DeLorme InReach: The Iridium network contains approximately 77 satellites that cover the entire planet including polar regions. Its track record over the past 5-6 years has been less blemished than that of Globalstar’s, but whether it still outperforms Globalstar is a matter of debate. (For the record, the Iridium-supported device we tested worked more often than the Globalstar-supported devices.) Now that we have a basic understanding of the satellites, let’s talk devices: PLBs (ACR ResQLink) A PLB does not require a paid annual subscription to send an SOS message. It transmits an SOS message with GPS coordinates via satellite, and, in addition to that, emits a homing signal on the 121.5 MHz emergency frequency, at a power level five to 10 times higher than a SEND (SPOT or InReach) device. Furthermore, the PLB is much more likely to acquire the satellites necessary for a GPS coordinate lock than a SEND device. A PLB emitting a distress signal in these two manners absolutely represents your best chance of being located and, at this most basic level, is a better device than anything operating on Globalstar or Iridium. That is to say, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty and you press that SOS button, a transmitting PLB is far more likely to get you rescued than a SEND device. Don’t forget this.



SEND (Satellite Emergency Notification Devices) (SPOT & DeLorme) These devices require a paid annual (or monthly) subscription and transmit on a higher frequency (1610 MHz) to a commercial Rescue Coordination Center operated by Globalstar or Iridium. If you don’t pay, you don’t get rescued. (It’s interesting to note that even when you don’t pay your mobile phone bill, you can still dial 911.) If all I cared about was getting rescued when I pressed the SOS button, I would not have written this review because choosing a PLB instead of a SPOT would be a no-brainer, and I would be encouraging all of my friends to ditch their SPOTs and get a real PLB device. But it’s more complex than that, and the additional features available with the SPOT and DeLorme devices reviewed here make them worth considering. SEND devices transmit your GPS coordinate location only, and not all of the time. The SPOT 2 transmits its signal at one-tenth of the strength of the ResQLink, and there have been many documented cases of the SPOT 2 not transmitting an SOS successfully, and/ or transmitting an SOS message without a GPS lock, which tells authorities and your contacts that you’re in trouble, but not where you are. SEND devices do not emit the additional homing signal on 121.5 MHz. Also, the 5-watt 406 MHz PLB signal emitted by a PLB can be used by rescuers to establish an approximate location, whereas the SEND device’s less powerful signal cannot be used in that way. If your SEND device can’t get your GPS coordinates out due to line-of-sight obstructions, you’ll wish that you’d bought a PLB instead. In summary, in pure SOS terms, a PLB such as the ACR ResQLink is a far superior choice. The SEND devices offer some interesting and useful additional features, however, so read on to find out which device is best for you. The Essential Questions, With Device Summaries: Will it successfully transmit an SOS when you need it to, most? What if you are unconscious? For SOS functionality, the long track record and dual transmission power together with the COSPAS/ SARSAT satellite network make the ACR ResQLink the clear winner, and virtually any PLB will perform better in this capacity than the SEND devices we tested here. However, there is a possible theoretical advantage

for devices which offer tracking (SPOT 2 & Connect, and InReach). In my case, if I’m going wingsuit BASE jumping or paragliding, I can initiate tracking before my launch and, in the event of a crash in which I lose consciousness, there is still a chance that I can be found without having to actually press the SOS button. However, there are two major caveats here: 1. If I crash in dense trees or in a canyon and end up lying on my device, it very likely will not work, based on my testing and many reported SPOT-fail incidents. They are serious when they say “Give clear view to sky” in the manual of each device. Even a small amount of backpack material or light forest coverage can prevent a successful GPS coordinate lock. 2. In this case, someone else has to immediately recognize that you’re in trouble and then get the coordinates from your shared map page and organize the rescue. This will likely take time, but it may make body recoveries easier. Is it easy to use? Can anyone pick it up and use it if needed? Out of all of the devices, the ACR has the clearest and simplest instructions for initiating an SOS. The SPOT 2 comes in 2nd place here for simplicity, but the InReach has the most thorough instruction label on the device. The SPOT Connect scores a 0 (zero!) in this category. What are your priorities? Messaging, rescue only, tracking? If messaging is the most important feature for you, the In Reach is by far the winner and beats the SPOT Connect by a large margin. If you want the ability to send one simple pre-defined check-in message that isn’t of crucial importance anyway (a significant percentage of the SPOT 2 messages I sent, failed), then the SPOT 2 is a contender. For tracking, all three of the above devices functioned reasonably well with the InReach slightly ahead. And finally, if you really just want the best SOS functionality, then the ResQLink is absolutely the device to choose. In summary, the InReach bills itself as a “2-way satellite communicator” and it lives up to its title. You can indeed communicate via satellites, and it also, on the side, has an SOS feature. The SPOT devices are advertised as “satellite messengers” and, in the case of the Connect, a “satellite

communicator” (one-way only, that is). Fair enough, you can get some messages out to your contacts, sometimes. Only the ACR ResQLink’s description truly inspires confidence that it is a real emergency device: “Personal Locator Beacon.” And it’s an accurate summary. A PLB’s chief feature is getting you found in an emergency, and it does that better than SEND devices, which is extremely important to remember. The Devices: SPOT 2 (pretty average) The SPOT 2 is probably the best selling of the three devices we tested. After a few months of use, I believe this is mainly the result of SPOT having launched the most aggressive and widespread marketing campaign in the US, and not the result of it being the best product available. Originally, I was on the verge of purchasing a SPOT 2, based on the fact that this is what most of my friends have and use, but I was intrigued by the number of failed messages that people were reporting. I frequently heard friends say that their messages didn’t send, which struck me as an odd quirk for a product that is meant to increase personal safety by sending messages. Thus, my research began, and it didn’t take long to find documented cases of the SPOT 2 failing in emergency situations, either. When you receive your SPOT 2, the instructions make it perfectly clear that you will need to buy a subscription for it to work. Paying for and setting this up is the first thing that you will do. The setup process is relatively painless. Create an account, pay, and activate. You have several service options; see the cost table for details. With that out of the way, I was ready to start using my SPOT 2. At the time, I was shipwrecked on Guana Cay in the Bahamas… OK, not exactly shipwrecked or in any sort of SOS situation, so I decided to send a simple message to myself and my contacts through the “message” button. One minute later, nothing. five minutes later, nada. So I pressed it again. Another 10 minutes went by with no messages. The light blinked green. I supposedly had satellites in view, but it took another 45 minutes for one message to show up. Over the course of my testing, the SPOT seemed to successfully complete about 70% of the message-send attempts, at best. All in all, not impressive. Globalstar’s satellite network is rumored to have been improved since 2011, but the SPOT 2 consistently



took longer to send messages than the InReach, which operates on the Iridium network. Whether this was a question of device functionality (the InReach transmits at 1.6 instead of 0.4 watts for the SPOT 2) or satellite coverage, we can’t know. We used the Spot 2 side-by-side with the InReach throughout the test, recording the time needed for standalone messages to be received by contacts and confirmed as sent. The InReach messages were received faster than the Spot 2 messages about 60% of the time, with the InReach messages either confirmed as failed or received within 20 minutes almost every time. The Spot 2 messages at times confirmed as failed only 45 minutes after the send attempt, and were sometimes received more than two hours after the initial send. Testing these two devices side-by-side in standalone mode is the “apples to apples” test, but it’s only fair to mention that the InReach, when paired with a smartphone, allows the user to watch the progress of the message send on the phone with a clear visual confirmation of its being sent successfully or not. This is a lot nicer than trying to decipher the blinking lights on the Spot 2, wondering if the message was sent or not. Since the chief feature of the Spot 2 is its ability to send messages to your contacts, and the InReach performs message sending so much better, the InReach is quite clearly a superior device for this purpose. Again, if SOS functionality is your main priority, we recommend the ResQLink. A popular anecdote illustrating a drawback of the Spot 2 (and any satellite messenger device which performs with less than 100% consistency) is that if your contacts are expecting to receive “OK” messages from you, then not receiving them is almost a guaranteed source of stress. If your family or significant other is expecting to receive “OK” messages at a certain frequency, and then they do not, it could cause them to raise the alarm unnecessarily. Indeed, there are many reported cases of this documented by rescue services and many stories of a messaging device causing, instead of alleviating, stress for people who are tracking the progress of the user. If you are using the Spot 2 to reassure your contacts that you are OK on an hourly or daily basis, then be sure that everyone fully understands the limitations of the device, and establish a clear understanding of what it could mean if the messages are not received. You might have already seen your friend’s SPOT



messages on Facebook, checking in. My newsfeed frequently features notices from friends who landed their paraglider OK, or checked in while ski-touring or BASE jumping. The SPOT 2 only allows one pre-defined message though, which is usually some form of “I’m fine.” The InReach, in contrast, allows you to send three different custom pre-defined messages, which is a big advantage if pre-defined messages are useful to you. The tracking function requires an additional subscription, and it allows you to create shared map pages (screen shot at bottom) on which your friends and family can track your progress. This is a fun and useful feature that could be just as valuable as the messaging ability to many users. In the hand, the SPOT 2 is small and light and much sleeker than the other devices we tested. The buttons themselves blink red or green depending on whether or not what you’re doing is working, and there is a simple satellite coverage indicator light. The SOS button is protected by a small plastic clip-on cover, which requires an un-gloved two-hand approach to release and access the button beneath. If you can’t get your fingernail under the edge of the cover, you’ll have to use a tool of some kind. In addition to the SOS function, the SPOT 2 also features a “Spot Assist” button which notifies your contacts that you are in a non-life-threatening situation but need help. You can also subscribe to the SPOT Assist program, which will get your message sent to land or marine-based assistance services. This would, in theory, be used in an “out of gas in the desert” situation instead of an “arm crushed under rock in desert” situation. At first this seemed a bit cheesy compared to the seriousness of a beacon’s intended true purpose, but it could be a nice feature in a situation where your phone doesn’t work and it’s not life and death, but you could really use a hand. That being said, the InReach’s two-way text message system blows the doors off Spot Assist, in my opinion. One final note: I’ve been to the Arctic and to subSaharan Africa four times in the past few years, and the SPOT 2 would not have worked in either of those places. If these regions are on your bucket list, then you can overlook the SPOTs. Pros: compact and light-weight ergonomic design. Cons: message-send performance was sub-par. No smartphone interface. SOS access and cover flap requires bare fingernails or a tool. 0.4 watt transmis-

sion power. Globalstar satellite constellation is arguably less effective than Iridium or COSPAS/SARSAT, and definitely covers less of the planet. Not as effective as a PLB in life-threatening situations. DeLorme InReach (Editor’s Pick) Like the SPOT 2, the InReach operates on a commercial satellite network and requires a subscription to function. Setting it up was not significantly different from the SPOT 2, but the DeLorme website is generally easier to navigate, and the user account space is more intuitive. The DeLorme can be used as a standalone device a la SPOT, or it can be paired with your smartphone, which is where it really shines. Contrary to the Spot Connect, the In Reach paired with my phone immediately the first time, and automatically every time after that. As standalone: Even without the smartphone pairing, the InReach can still send three different custom predefined messages to your contacts. Instead of just sending an “OK” message, you can choose between messages that broadcast your need for a ride, the message that you’re about to launch/depart/drop-in/whatever, or send a “meet me here” to your contacts. Basically, if you like the “OK message” feature of the SPOT 2, then you’ll love being able to send three different messages with the InReach. Choosing is simple, just hold the message button down until the light flashes one, two, or three times. Both the DeLorme and the SPOT 2 allow tracking and shared maps (the DeLorme allows you to adjust the tracking interval via the Earthmate app, but the shortest interval possible is only 10 minutes). It’s a small thing, but the DeLorme shared-map URL is cool and personalized: And the SPOT looks like this mess: jsp?glId=0mbjxxiqUqirrijNaml491ql2EgNdfIRh Also, the DeLorme page allows you to view waypoints across a custom date range, whereas the SPOT system only allows you to choose up to the last 30 days. As a paired device: This is where the DeLorme really leaves the SPOT 2 in the dust. The features are many, but the two standouts are the ability to send and receive(!) custom messages via your phone to any contacts you choose, and being able to view your location on downloadable DeLorme maps. The free Earthmate app is simple and intuitive to use—each time I opened

the app in a new location it prompted me to download the maps for that area, and it’s also simple to download maps in advance for the region you plan to travel in (much smarter, since downloading 200mb of maps once you’re already “there” is easier said than done). The map function shows your location, and also the most basic functions of a GPS: heading, elevation, speed, and coordinates. The InReach’s successful message-send rate was 85% (instead of 70% in the case of the SPOT 2), which provided a small reassurance that if I did need the SOS function, it was more likely to work than the SPOT 2.



In addition to that, not only could I watch the message successfully depart via my smartphone, I could also receive messages in reply. As mentioned above, the InReach operates on the Iridium network, which is global, whereas Globalstar (which supports SPOT) is not. I was not able to find reliable reports on the coverage of Iridium vs. Globalstar for the areas in which they overlap, but Satellite Phone retailers and reviewers almost unanimously favor Iridium. All in all, however, the InReach is not cheap to operate. To buy the unit and use it with the average subscription plan over the next three years will run between $950 and $1200. Obviously, the cost of this service is nothing compared to the value of its possibly saving your life, but the ACR ResQLink performs the basic SOS function better at a three-year cost of $360 (taking into consideration the five-year $150 battery life). Therefore, the InReach is best indicated for those who want messaging and are happy to pay for it. Pros: Easy one-handed (and gloved, if not mittened) SOS operation. Two-way messaging is awesome. Smartphone interface works well. Pairs automatically on startup. Overall very intuitive and easy to use. Cons: Expensive. Clunky ergonomics and design. Largest of the devices we tested. Not as effective as a PLB in life-threatening situations For me, it comes down to a choice between the ACR ResQLink and the DeLorme InReach. If I need messaging, I’ll go with the InReach. If I decide that actually getting rescued is my top priority, I’ll choose the ACR ResQLink. Personally, I am no longer considering either SPOT device. ACR ResQLink (best value, best SOS) Like the SEND devices, the ACR must also be registered. There are, however, no annual fees to pay in order to register or be rescued, and when you register your device (for US customers, at least), you do so with NOAA, which gives a certain sense of security. With no smartphone pairing and no subscription plans to choose from, that part is simple and worry-free. Onward… The ResQLink, operating on the COSPAS/SARSAT military satellite network described above, is arguably the most effective of all the devices tested when in SOS mode. But, realistically, it only has an SOS mode. ACR does offer a limited “Self-Test” message service that seems meant to help it compete with SEND devices but,



due to the finite battery life, the ResQLink is only good for 220 self-test “OK” messages without GPS information, and 12 messages with GPS information, during the battery’s five-year lifespan. To add this service to your device costs $59.95 ( I can’t really think of many situations in which this could be viewed as a valuable function, other than to occasionally reassure yourself that the ResQLink is capable of sending messages. Based on ACR’s track record alone, I would be more than happy to trust that it would work when needed, and I would not buy this device if messaging was a priority for me. The ResQLink’s lack of real messaging capabilities is not a reason to overlook it. If your main concern is having the most powerful and reliable beacon to use in case of emergency, and tracking features aren’t crucial, then this is definitely the device for you. The dual SOS transmission (406MHz/121.5MHz) and five-watt transmission power coupled with the reliability and global coverage of the COSPAS/SARSAT constellation makes this the most “serious” device that we tested, in pure SOS terms. The bottom line here is that the SOS function is probably the most effective of any other device we have considered. The ResQLink transmits your SOS message at five watts of power, compared to 0.4 watts for the SPOT 2, and 1.6 watts for the InReach. If the lack of messaging is not a deal-breaker for you, then this device is the clear winner. Pros: five-watt transmission power, dual frequency SOS transmission, COSPAS/SARSAT’s reliability and long track record, no annual fees, easy one-handed (even gloved) operation. Cons: unless the lack of messaging is a con for you, I found no faults with this device. In a nutshell: The ACR ResQLink is the winner for people who put priority on an effective SOS transmission. The DeLorme InReach was by far the most feature-rich device and is a clear winner in the messaging and maps category. The SPOT 2 is a small and light option with limited messaging and less power than the InReach. The SPOT Connect is not worth considering in the face of the competition.

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We Were the Champions by C.J. Sturtevant


t last spring’s USHPA BOD meeting, there was some discussion about the anonymity of our national hang gliding and paragliding champions. Can you name our current champions? I’ll answer with the majority of pilots: Nope. Nor can I recall who was our national champion when I began hang gliding, or who was our top guy when I was flying on the US women’s hang gliding team. That’d be embarrassing, if I wasn’t aware that I’m not alone in my oblivion. In an attempt to rectify this huge gap in our cultural awareness, I’ve interviewed a few of our former hang gliding national champions, and they’ve provided their perceptions of the competition scene back when they were top dogs, and how it’s changed over the years.



Obviously there are way too many past heroes for me to talk to all of them, so I chose from those who are still USHPA members and reachable through Pilot Connect. They’ve provided some interesting, insightful and often humorous snapshots of hang gliding history. Dennis Pagen’s name is familiar to anyone who reads this magazine regularly—in addition to being a much respected author of flying books and manuals (his first was Flying Conditions, in 1975), and an active member of the USHGA/USHPA BOD since the organization went national in February of 1975, Dennis was our 1978 national hang gliding champion, winning the event at his home site of Hyner View, Pennsylvania. He’d learned to

fly four years earlier, and had been competing for about that long in both formal and informal events. “Competition from the beginning is a social thing,” he says. “You meet and make friends with pilots from across the country and around the globe. Fly-ins can also be a good way to share flying with like-minded people, but in comps everyone is taking off together, flying similar flights and sharing similar stories at night. Some fun!” Although many pilots were flying standard Rogallo wings in the mid-’70s, Dennis recalls that “designs were changing fast,” and in the 1978 nats he was on one of the first double-surface gliders, the Sky Sports Sirocco II. Terry Sweeney had designed the glider, which Dennis then tweaked a bit: “I came up with the defined tip system (the first sprog), the internal sliding mechanism (the first one for a double surface glider) and an articulated batten that worked like reflex bridles for the very rigid number-1 batten.” Naturally Dennis had a vested interest in proving the Sirocco II was the best in the field, and even though it “did suffer a bit in handling compared to other more flexible gliders,” he says it more than made up for that in glide against the single-surface

gliders being flown by the rest of the field. Dennis speaks with pride of his first XC flight, way back in 1976: “I went 30 miles round-trip on one of our ridges—probably a world record at the time,” but there were no XC tasks in the nats until about 1981. Instead, in 1978 they were flying elaborate tasks such as pylon figure eights, distance tasks that required making a pylon and getting back to the landing zone, consecutive 360s, and fast flight with maneuvers around OPPOSITE The winners of the 1983 nationals, L to pylons. The format R: Kevin Kernahan, Paul was “one-on-one”—two pilots take Robinson, (unknown), and off simultaneously and go through the Lee Fisher | photo courtesy course together, with the last one down Lee Fisher. LEFT Dennis winning, unless it is a speed course. Pagen | photo by Dick Boone. Below From the 1978 “Scratching skills were the most imporMasters of Hang Gliding tant,” Dennis says, “and I believe that Championship program practice put me in good shape for later booklet. XC events.” I asked Dennis about his 1978 trophy, which he describes as “a big clunker the organizers got from a trophy shop. I keep it well hidden and dusty in the attic. I did receive some media attention,” he adds. “I was on the



Today TV show (yep, believe it or not, hang gliding was this new crazy thing back then, worthy of interest). And I was also a guest in two programs of Pennsylvania Outdoors and a featurelength film produced by Penn State film department.” Three and a half decades later, Dennis is still actively involved in both flying and the politics thereof, and is arguably one of the most generally recognized names in the free-flight community. Five years later, another pilot who like Dennis had begun flying in 1974 took the 1983 “sport-class” national champion trophy in Dunlap, California. Like Dennis, Lee Fisher’s flying began with seconds-long sledders, from low bluffs near his home in Duluth, Minnesota, and competition was part of his flying mind-set from the very beginning. ABOVE Chris Bulger and Lee “When most of your flights are sled runs, Fisher with their “real man” a five-minute flight beats a four-minute trophies, 1983. BELOW Lee flight,” he points out, and adds, “When and his 510 Sensor on the ramp we were able to soar a ridge (which at Chelan Butte. OPPOSITE Kari Castle. took 20- to 30-mph winds—who knew about thermals?), it was always about who was higher, or stayed up longer. But I believe that the camaraderie was the driving force for me. So many long-term friendships as a result. Sure it was fun milking the last bit of lift, competing with gravity, but it was more fun doing it with a buddy. Competition was just a



progression. Road trips, camping, butt-kicking (sometimes scary) conditions...and a group to swap stories with afterward.” I was one of Lee’s 1980s flying buddies, and it was as he says. Lee’s first glider was an Eipper 19/19 (indicating keel and leadingedge lengths) that he built from a kit, which came with instructions that concluded, “Don’t fly higher than you care to fall.” In the days before parachutes, that was wise advice but seldom heeded. By 1983 he’d moved up to a Seedwings Sensor 510, which with its elliptical tips was one of the hot ships at the time, along with the Mystic, the Magic, and the Duck. “Sport class” was for recreational, unsponsored pilots, but the tasks were the same as those flown by the “world-class” pilots. Lee describes his winning flight, in the one-on-one format: “Two pilots had a launch window, I believe that it was only one minute long, then you raced around a closedcircuit course multiple times. There was lots of strategy involved, e.g. how high to climb before racing to the next pylon. My memory says that the course was five or six miles in length, with three pylons manned by spotters. We had large numbers on our gliders so we could be identified. Each time you rounded a pylon you were logged in for completing that leg. “California pilot Paul Robinson and I flew our last round for first place. I launched first with almost 40 pounds of ballast in my cocoon harness. Mistake: it folded over on me and I couldn’t get my feet into the harness. I floundered around below launch, flying through thermals, almost sinking out, until I finally got my feet in and went prone. Paul was out on course somewhere by the time I cleared the top of the ridge. “But after that initial problem, everything went perfectly. There was a thermal everywhere I needed one and I blazed around the course. At every pylon I yelled down to the spotters, ‘Please wave your flag if #25 already came by.’ Finally, on the last circuit, two pylons before the finish, the spotters

didn’t wave. Somewhere on course I had passed Paul. I got even more pointy and raced for the last two pylons, got the same answer at each, and beat Paul to goal.” For this brilliant performance, Lee received a trophy that was “five feet high, shiny, ugly—I displayed it in my garage attic next to my goose decoys.” Needless to say, the real prize was the satisfaction in that first-place finish! Kari Castle is one of the icons of free flight, having held numerous US women’s national champion titles in both hang gliding and paragliding, and women’s world hang gliding champion several times. She began her hang gliding career in 1981, and entered her first competition two years later, at the Wings of Rogallo Silent Air Show. Her friends convinced her to sign up by pointing out that hang gliding needed more “chicks” to improve its image. She accepted the challenge and didn’t disappoint, beating out the guys for the first-place trophy. And the rest, as they say, is history. Kari began flying in national competitions in 1988. “I remember flying all over the place that year,” she says. “It all was very intimidating at the time since I was so new to everything. But I remember one task that I actually won the day—in fact, I was the only pilot to make

goal that day. It was a long out-and-return from Henson Gap (Tennessee)—when I arrived at goal and saw no one I thought they had all packed up and left already!” This was long before GPS or flight computers; Kari flew with a vario, a radio, and two cameras to verify turnpoints. In a race, a timer on launch marked when your feet left the ground, and a goal timer recorded when you crossed the finish line. If you landed short of goal, you had to photograph your landing spot and make note of highway names and milepost markers, and then, back at headquarters, “pin in” by literally sticking a pin in with your number on it into the map at your exact landing location.  “There were,” Kari points out, “always some mistakes being made…”  Becoming national champion had some surprising results for Kari. “When I returned to work after the competition,” she recalls, “my boss saw my picture on the front cover of the San Jose Mercury News, launching off the ramp at Henson, and he pictured his logo on my wing.  He called me up and asked what it would take to sponsor me.  I never looked back after that!” But for Kari the bottom line was always “all about fun—that was the only reason I did it.  I was drawn to how much I could learn from the good pilots I flew with. I had a blast camping and hanging out with every-





one. It was always like summer vacation! For a while the competition scene got a little crazy, with meet directors pushing the limits when it came to pilot safety. For a long time it seemed like you had to have huge go-nads in order to win, and I’m obviously at a disadvantage there!  Eventually things turned around again in favor of safety and once again I was enjoying competitions.” A world-record holder, 14 times our US women’s national champion and three times the women’s world hang gliding champion, Kari has been an inspiration, a role model and a good friend to hang glider pilots for over 30 years. Joe Bostik —affectionately known as Hang Czech,

as he came to us from Czechoslovakia—learned to hang glide in 1982 and started competing that year in Czechoslovakia. When he entered his first US competition, in 1986, he already had the mindset of a champion. “I idolized Larry Tudor, Jim Lee, Rob Kells, Rich Pfeifer, John Pendry, Eric Raymond, Gerard Thevenot, Steve Moyes, Jerry Katz and all the other icons of those early years,” he says. “I flew a lot of XC from the beginning, mostly alone without having enough money for retrieval. Competition gave me the chance to join others to share expenses. Later I realized that I really like to fly in a group that shares the same values in life as I do. “I was fortunate to fly with the best under the Wills Wing sponsorship of Rob Kells, Mike and Linda Meier and Steve Pearson. These four always believed in me and I could not let them down!” Indeed! He and his WW HP2 not only accumulated enough points to be declared national champion at the 1987 Owens Valley nats, but just a few weeks before the competition he broke Larry Tudor’s world open-distance record, flying 228 miles in the Owens Valley in late June. Early in 1988 Joe was injured at the World Championships in Australia, on a modified HP2 with a steel chrome-moly control frame. “My orthopedic doctor was Chris Wills,” Joe recalls, “and he made it possible for me to fly in the Tennessee Tree Toppers Nationals before I was fully recovered.” Too weak to handle an HP2, he switched to a WW Sport. “I still can hear the laughs of all the top pilots when they saw me set up the Sport with the big training wheels at Henson Gap ramp the first day,” he says ruefully. Joe had the last laugh,

though, when he flew that Sport to first place, beating pilots on much higher performing gliders, and “proving to me and to others, that most of the winning is between the ears of the pilot.” Joe describes competition tasks in the mid to late ‘80s as being similar to today’s tasks, although often much longer distances, and with a lot more time in the air. Waypoints were validated by a 35mm camera. “Imagine 40 gliders going around a turnpoint, and all the pilots looking down into their camera viewfinder and taking pictures—it was total mayhem!” Joe says, and adds, “The comp organizers had a lot of work to do every night developing and reading the films.” To score outlandings, pilots pinned in on a map that night and OPPOSITE Photos of Joe Bostik by John Heiney. THIS scores were taken from those pin locaPAGE Hang gliders aren’t tions. If somebody was caught cheating, Joe’s only vehicle for getting he would be disqualified. “And,” Joe airborne! adds, “we would not drink with him that night.” Joe is still involved in competition, and points out many differences between the mid-’80s and today: “Hang gliding is even less recognized than it was 25 years ago, and much more expensive with all this new high-tech equipment. The national champion title does not bring as much recognition to the pilot as it did in the ‘80s. We used to get full-time sponsorships with expenses paid and bonuses for winning comps. I spent many years wandering the world on Wills Wing coin as a result of a few wins. This does not happen today. We pay our own way and some of us are fortunate to have the means and health to do it.” Joe finds today’s gliders much safer and of more consistent quality. More importantly, he says, “The safety attitude has changed dramatically. It was not until the new generation of competition organizers came onto the scene in the last 10 years that we see almost no injuries or fatalities due to the conditions that we fly in. Competition pilots today are less skilled in general than they were 20 years ago, but the competition safety has improved dramatically. I credit this to the push to have more tow meets in the flatlands, and not being tolerant of adverse weather conditions.” Joe sees a huge change in pilot demographics at the nationals these days. “We used to have so many pilots



wanting to fly in the nationals that we had to qualify in our regional championships. Slots were allotted to the top pilots from each region. The average age of the competitors 25 years ago was in their late 20s or early 30s. It was unheard of to have anyone over 50 competing! Today we have pilots in their 60s flying the nationals regularly and placing in the top spots. This shows how easy and safe hang gliding is these days. It is not a young man’s sport anymore.” Joe’s attitude towards competing has also changed significantly over the years. “Today,” he says, “ I guard myself against the ‘winning at all cost’ mindset. Hang gliding is a sport I love, and competition is a way to have a great time with my friends. Does anyone remember who was the national champion 20 years ago without the reminder of this article? Few can even recall the world champions of the past decade. Winning is not as important as life itself.” Paris Williams was our national champion four times in the first five years of this century. He learned to fly as a teenager, earning his H-2 rating in 1990, close to his 18th birthday. Originally he was seriously into aerobatics, winning the aerobatic world championships in Telluride, Colorado, in 1998. But after several years of getting upside down as often as possible, he winddummied at a few XC meets in ‘97 and discovered that he actually enjoyed cross-country competition much



more than aerobatics. From that point forward, he became an XC enthusiast, and won his first US national championship three years later, in 2001. Paris has a very clear understanding of what drew him into cross-country competition. “I really enjoyed the mind/body mastery required to do well in cross-country racing,” he explains. “I learned that, to do well, you have to push yourself to excel on many different levels—developing knowledge and experience related to weather conditions and general micrometeorology, which includes developing an intuitive sense that transcends the intellect’s ability to hold the tremendous complexity of all of this; developing the ability to create a map of the air using senses other than vision (especially via mental imagery and tactile sensation—feeling the bar); developing the physical skill and coordination necessary to take maximum advantage of the various air currents; and developing the ability to remain really present with the perpetually changing conditions, not allowing fears, desires and other kinds of distractions sweep you away from such unwavering presence.” Clearly this man is a master of mental preparedness! When he first started XC racing, he was flying a kingposted Predator, which, he says, “did surprisingly well against the first- and even second-generation topless gliders. But by the year 2000, it was clear that the kingpost had to go. So I joined Wills Wing and worked full-time with them in development of the Talon (which has evolved to today’s T2) in 2000 and early 2001. The Fusion (predecessor to the Talon) climbed very well, but it just wasn’t keeping up on glide with the flagship gliders made by Icaro, Aeros and Moyes. By spring of 2001, the Talon showed real promise in becoming the same caliber comp glider as these others. However, I felt it still needed a few ‘tweaks,’ which led to some strong disagreements between me and some of the others at Wills Wing, and eventually to a falling out between us. So I made a last-minute transition to Icaro just two weeks before the Worlds that year. I did fairly well on the Laminar at the Worlds and then went on to win the US nationals that year.” Paris competed seriously from 1998 to 2003, doing what he calls the “endless summer” thing between the US and Australia. But eventually real life intervened and

he dropped out of the comp scene for five years. Coming back to the competition circuit after that significant hiatus, he notices some significant changes in the field, mainly “a general convergence in the quality and performance of all the gear—harnesses, gliders, and varios—to the point that they’re now all very similar. So now skill has become by far the most important factor in the outcomes (though luck will probably always factor in to some extent). Thirteen years ago, if you had all the latest gear, you could often get away from the pack by simply pulling the bar in and counting on superior performance to do a lot of the work. You just can’t do that anymore. This means that the gaggles tend to be a little thicker (which I don’t really like much), and you have to push yourself that much harder to do well (which I really do like).” Winning the national title changed Paris’s personal approach to his flying. “I became a lot harder on myself, not being content with any finish below the top few places. This resulted in a tendency to take too many risks—to push it too hard—and then land short of goal quite a bit. I’ve been working on this over the past couple of years, trying to pull the reins back a little and take fewer risks. Old habits do die hard, though, as I learned at the 2013 Worlds, in which overall I felt that I had a pretty good meet but then blew a couple of days very badly. “The other change I noticed in myself is that I’ve become kind of spoiled in that I now enjoy recreational flying a lot less—in other words, I have so much fun racing hard that just hanging out in one area or floating along a ridge top doesn’t really do it for me anymore.” Everybody, it seems, has a very personal definition for the word fun. Jon James started flying in 1977, but it wasn’t until 31

years (and probably 10 nationals) later that he won the US sport-class title at the 2008 nationals in Lakeview, Oregon. He’d been flying a MR700, but when he turned 60 he decided it was time to relax a bit, and he bought

himself a kingposted glider for his birthday. “It was the kingpost that put me in the sport class,” he explains, pointing out that all the pilots in the meet flew the same tasks regardless of which class they were in. What drew Jon into competition was his love of cross-country flying but his dislike of the associated hassles and uncertainties. “In a comp, we arranged for retrieves. And there are more gliders to mark OPPOSITE TOP Paris Williams, winner of the 2003 thermals ahead.” And he’d usually go US nationals. BOTTOM with a group of friends, which made the Paris at the 2013 World experience even more fun. Championships Photo These days, Jon notices that there are courtesy FAI. THIS PAGE “a lot fewer pilots in comps, and a smaller Jon James. proportion of average pilots, like me, who are there to see how the good pilots fly.” He recalls that in the early comps the top pilots were more secretive and competitive; in his opinion, comps are much more inclusive now, with the winning pilots typically quite open about describing their flights and giving tips on where and how they got saves. In regard to taking home the sport-class trophy in 2008, Jon admits, “It was very satisfying to do that well, even though it was in a smaller pond. And I won $500!” Currently Jon flies a WW T2, and it suits him just fine.


his eclectic group of pilots has provided a glimpse at the diversity of those who participate in our national championships, as well as historical snapshots that showcase the evolution of the US hang gliding scene over a span of 30 years. Many thanks to these six former champions for their insightful responses to my queries.

C.J. Sturtevant has been flying hang gliders since 1981, and knows all these pilots personally—which may have contributed to their being the ones who responded to her email queries with a such a plethora of descriptions, personal reflections and anecdotes.

“The older you get, the better you realize you were.” ~George Carlin HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE


PARAHAWKING in Nepal by Rebecca Loncraine




took up flying two years ago after treatment for cancer. I’ve been learning in the Welsh hills and am now off to the Dune de Pyla, in France, to do an intensive course. Before I was ill, I had a deep fear of flying. After treatment, I confronted my fear and took up sailplane flying in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, where I live. Learning to fly without an engine was my way of expressing a determination to live fully. I’m a writer whose illness caused writer’s block, but flying rekindled my writing mind. I’ve become passionate about free flight and am now researchOPPOSITE Parahawking in Pokhara, Nepal | photo by ing a book about it. Jessica Love. One aspect of free flight that fascinates me is the relationship between pilots and birds. Humans were flying in their imaginations, myths, and religions thousands of years before we finally got into the sky, inspired by birds. Some of the early pioneers of flying machines learned how flight is possible through close observation of bird flight. But this didn’t lead directly to human flight; it led to the ornithopter, a flapping-winged machine, which proved to be a dead end. We had to analyze the components of bird flight, separating lift from propulsion, in order to design machines that would get the human body aloft. We will probably never be able to fly like birds, with wings flapping under our own power. But we can soar like them. Sailplanes, paragliders and hang gliders allow us to explore the domain of soaring bird flight. When pilots talk to me about flying with wild birds, their faces light up as they recount tales of sharing thermals with raptors, of the remarkable flash of eye contact with a bird. These are precious moments of contact with Mother Nature in the wild. When I learned of Scott Mason’s Parahawking Project based in Pokhara, Nepal, I saw an opportunity to further explore the relationship between free flight and birds. Scott has been involved in falconry since his



childhood in the UK. During a trip to Nepal in 2001, he took a tandem paraglider flight and loved it. This love originated from his fascination with birds. “Unlike many pilots,” he says, “I never dreamed of flying; I never longed to be in the air. But being able ABOVE Landing | photo by only to look up at birds flying above me Scott Mason. OPPOSITE wasn’t enough.” He recalls that when he The author with her spotted wild birds soaring nearby during thermaling partner. his first tandem flight, he realized “… paragliding could provide me with an opportunity to be a part of their world in the sky, to see what they see and do what they do. It was a revelation.” Scott contemplated the possibility of flying with a trained bird, and then, out of the blue, he was presented with two rescued black kite chicks that had to be handreared, meaning neither could be released back to the wild. What started out as an experiment soon turned into an obsession for Scott, as over the coming years more birds were rescued. Another black kite, Brad, was rescued from its imprisonment in a small cage where it hadn’t been able to stretch its wings, resulting in a slight wing deformity. Scott knew this bird would not be able to survive in the wild, but its life could be enriched if it could be



taught to fly with a paraglider. After numerous hours and careful handling, Scott successfully trained Brad to fly with him. Despite his wing deformity, Brad was “incredibly fast and agile,” says Scott, “and keeping up with him was a challenge. I’m no acrobatic pilot, but I had to learn quickly how to throw the glider around if I wanted to participate in the flight. I even coined a name, ‘AcroHawking,’ on account of Brad’s amazing agility around the glider and the maneuvers one needed to do to keep up with him.” After Scott set up a raptor rescue facility in Pokhara, an Egyptian vulture chick was brought to him, which he named Kevin. After years of care and intensive training, Kevin became a great parahawking bird. “It wasn’t until we started flying with Kevin,” says Scott, “that the true nature of parahawking was finally realized.” The project developed and expanded after the tragic discovery that vulture populations in Asia were plummeting, leaving some species, including the Egyptian vulture, endangered. In the last two decades, vulture populations on the Indian subcontinent have declined by up to 99.9% in some species. This decline is the result of the use of an anti-inflammatory drug, Dicloflenac, administered to aging and ill cows by farmers, most of whom are Hindu who never kill their sacred cows. Vultures that consume a carcass containing Dicloflenac are poisoned and die within 24 hours. This dramatic decline in vulture numbers is wreaking havoc on ecosystems, leading to a big increase in the number of feral dogs that threaten to spread rabies. The loss of vultures also affects the traditional sky burials of some Himalayan religious communities. But regardless of their “usefulness” as the undertakers of the natural world, vultures are magnificent creatures, high-altitude soaring experts, seen flying as high as 37,000 feet. These birds need to be preserved for their own sake. I arrive in Nepal and travel to Pokhara to take my first parahawking flight. We’re at the launch point 2000 feet above Pokhara. Shiva holds Kevin on his gloved left hand while Scott and I prepare. Kevin’s fine white feathers circling his head make him look like a combination of Ziggy Stardust and Queen Elizabeth I with her white ruff; there’s something both rock and regal about this vulture. Scott and I run in the dust and lift into the air. Shiva releases Kevin, and the bird heads out into the valley, soaring perhaps as fast as 70km/h. The snow-capped Annapurna range of the Himalayas moves in and out of clouds in the distance. I settle into my harness and dig out a piece of raw

buffalo meat from a pouch in front of me, placing it in the crotch of my gloved thumb and forefinger. As Scott whistles, I thrust out my hand. Kevin flies in and lands perfectly on my fist, decelerating from 70km/h to zero in seconds. After grabbing the meat, he swoops back into the current of air that’s become as thick as water at this speed. Seeing this vulture on the ground before watching him soar in the sky is like seeing a penguin on ice before watching him swim through the ocean. Kevin is in his element. As he shoots beneath and around us, I observe with fascination the micro-movements of his wings and tail feathers adjusting in the air. When we land beside the lake, I feel privileged to have witnessed this majestic soaring bird so close up. Free-flight pilots know that using only the energy of the elements to fly offers real opportunities to become more intimate with the natural world. The adventure of free flight also gives many people a feeling of access to their inner “wild” nature, which often feels stifled by our modern hyper-technological life on the ground.

“Birds act not only as thermal markers, but also provide moments of vital contact with the wild when midair encounters occur, further rejuvenating our inner wild nature.” Flying is not escapism; it’s an attempt to enter more deeply into the elements, both outside and inside oneself. Birds act not only as thermal markers, but also provide moments of vital contact with the “wild” when midair encounters occur, further rejuvenating our inner wild nature. Parahawking uses this dimension of free flight to spread a conservation message. Conservation and adventure work in tandem in parahawking by giving people the opportunity to participate in a bird’s world, rather than observing them from the ground through dissoci-



ating binoculars. Vultures have an image problem that parahawking is helping rehabilitate. These birds do the unpleasant work of clearing up the dead, which many find troubling. But parahawking gives us the chance to fly close to soaring vultures and “re-see” them as dynamic, graceful creatures that are an important part of ABOVE Coming over the lake nature. in Pokhara toward the landing Scott has dedicated his passion for | photo by Scott Mason. parahawking to the task of highlighting the plight of vultures and promoting an incredible conservation effort. A percentage of funds raised by parahawking flights are donated to conservation projects, such as safe feeding sites, known as “vulture restaurants,” at which wild birds are given carcasses known to be Dicloflenac-free. I went with Scott to visit two such projects. These community-run projects include a cow sanctuary, where Dicloflenac-free aging cows are cared for until they die naturally and can be left out for vultures. The first project we visited was in a village on the edge of Chitwan



National Park. A carcass was left out early in the morning of our visit. Accompanied by DB, the dedicated volunteer community leader of the project, we climbed into a wooden hide at the edge of the clearing that serves as the “vulture restaurant.” Eerie jungle sounds emanated from the surrounding area. Vultures began to land in the trees, wary of any threats on the ground, before one or two descended onto the carcass. Soon many others followed, until it was covered in a mass of giant birds. Surprisingly, I didn’t find the scene gruesome; the birds squawked and squabbled, but mostly they got on with eating peacefully. The second project was an hour’s drive north of Pokhara. In the foothills of the Himalayas we watched from a hide as vultures gathered and lurked in trees, cautious before descending. The hide was paid for entirely by funds raised by parahawking. I was astonished to see at least one hundred vultures descend on the holy carcass. Nature in the raw, without cruelty. These vulture conservation projects guarantee Dicloflenac-free food for endangered vultures. They

also provide opportunities to film and study vultures, as well as watch them feeding—a fantastic experience of observing nature at work. Crucially, these projects also provide poor rural communities that manage them with funds and employment and provide an opportunity to focus on environmental education that will hopefully engage local people in the future of their wildlife. In summary, parahawking works on many levels: It’s spreading the word of the plight of Asian vultures globally and rehabilitating the vulture’s image, while raising money for local grassroots conservation projects. It provides enriched lives for rescued raptors that cannot be re-released into the wild. It also offers an adventure that allows us humans to become more intimate with bird flight. Beyond all this, parahawking raises questions about the relationship between free-flight pilots and the birdlife with which we fly across the world. On the launch point at Sarangkot, 2000 feet above the village of Pokhara, I watched a wild Egyptian vulture thermaling overhead. It was poignant to watch paragliders take off with an endangered bird circling above them. Because they use the same principles to soar, paragliders, hang gliders and sailplanes are in a unique position to capture people’s imaginations by talking about free flight. Bird conservation projects could find no more appropriate spokespeople than those within the free-flight community. Scott Mason’s website, Share the Sky, is an attempt to inform fellow pilots about the plight of vultures. Concern for preservation of our natural environment should be encouraged. In the same way that some surfers and divers have become ocean conservationists (and shark lovers), some free-flight pilots might become bird conservationists. This is already happening in isolated cases. For example, at my home flying terrain in Wales I now fly with red kites, which, until a decade ago, were critically endangered. They were brought back by several well-orchestrated conservation campaigns. I’m returning to fly in Wales with a renewed sense of how important encounters with these birds are to my soaring and a determination to connect with bird conservation projects in my area. Birds animate the skies in which we fly. How barren and impoverished the skies would be without them! As free-flight

enthusiasts who regularly share the skies with many of the world’s most magnificent creatures, some of them endangered, we would do well to reflect on what role we might play in ensuring that the skies of the future are filled with soaring birds. For information on parahawking: Parahawking: Facebook:

For information on vulture conservation: Share the Sky: Save Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE): http://

Find bird conservation projects where you fly: The Nature Conservancy: World Wildlife Fund (WWF): Bird Life International:

Rebecca Loncraine is a British freelance writer. Her last book was The Real Wizard of Oz: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum (Penguin USA). She’s now writing about soaring free flight. See



A Short Sojourn in a


few years ago I spent over an hour high in a sycamore tree because of a number of poor judgments during a hang glider flight. I had plenty of time to contemplate my mistakes. At the numbered pauses in the article the reader should make his or her own judgment calls. Discussion of the proper calls is near the end of this article. I am a hang-4 pilot who gets only a modest amount of airtime each year. I was flying a medium-sized Airborne Shark, an intermediate-level Australian glider with variable geometry capability. I had a drogue parachute.



Sycamore Tree

It happened with explosive suddenness. Just seconds before, my eyes were focused on a small pasture in a forest of tall trees. Now I saw no sky, no ground, only the broad crown of a tall sycamore. Time slowed. Engraved on my mind are the light-green undersides of the big, midsummer leaves roiling with the same big gust which boosted my left wing towards the sky. The wing had refused to respond to my desperate hug of the left down tube so, unfortunately without consulting me, my Shark turned 90 degrees to the right. From somewhere deep down, produced from the Dennis Pagen litera-

by Ralph Miller

ture, came the admonition, “Don’t stall on the outer branches, dive into the crown.” Conveniently, like the mouth of a cave, a central, branchless opening gaped in the crown. I did dive for it, my wings stretched wide in a futile attempt to embrace the whole treetop. Earlier, at 9:00 a.m., Rodney and I had been standing on the launch at Lookout Mountain, Georgia. We had driven five hours to Lookout from Lexington, Kentucky, and had enjoyed a few days of excellent flying that included soaring near the mountain the day before. We were still hungry for flight but a steady breeze was coming

LEFT The author and his current glider, a Wills Wing 135 Sport 2. RIGHT The Church field from the launch.

The steeple is the white spike a bit to the left of the middle of the photo. It is down and to the right of the bright field near the center of the photo. A reddish field, the largest field, is to the right of the steeple. The pasture where I planned to land is about a fifth of the width of the photo away from the steeple, to the right and at about 100 degrees on a compass centered on the steeple. There is a house with a bright roof in the pasture. Another way to locate the pasture is to say the house with the bright white roof is almost directly below the middle of the largest field.

over the back of the northwest-facing launch. Not good. In fact, terrible. Well, you can’t fly every day! We would drive home by going west of Chattanooga and then north up the Sequatchie Valley. I would show Rodney the Whitwell Launch where I had flown several times. The day sparkled. Cool Canadian air had penetrated all the way to Georgia and the sky was cloudless, the sun warm. Two hours later I turned left off Route 28 into Whitwell and saw the launch above the village on the west side of the valley. We continued north and soon I was showing Rodney the primary landing field in back of the First Baptist Church. It was three feet deep in weeds, but what did it matter? We weren’t planning to fly. We drove back to the south, up the mountain on the west side of the valley, and south again to the superb launch and set-up area of the Tennessee Tree Toppers where a surprise awaited us. The windsock was indicating wind from the northeast, but occasional cycles came around the trees to the left of launch and brought the sock pointing backward parallel to a launch run to the southeast. It was certainly possible to fly. Why not? There were some reasons. First, no one else was there and launching might be a problem. Second, it was a bit gusty and except for the last few days Rodney had not flown in eight years. Finally,

“I had gone through the control frame and found myself holding onto a nine-inch thick vertical limb with a leg over a branch.”

the launch was a relatively long way from the Church field. True there was a closer landing field that was to the southeast, but we had not looked at it to see if it was still usable. Warm sun, clear sky, and occasional cycles coming directly into launch. My Airborne Shark was restless. I would fly. With Rodney holding the left wing wires I pointed the nose to the southeast, and after a bit of patient waiting a gust came directly at me. The launch was easy. I dove off, turned north and hit a bumpy thermal that took me up a few dozen feet. Great! I had made the right decision. I would fly for a while and then head for the Church

field, where Rodney would pick me up and we would be on our way back to Lexington, Kentucky. I was going back and forth in front of the ridge and hitting occasional small thermals. I should have no trouble reaching the Church field and there was always the secondary field if I really needed it. After a few passes in front of the ridge, lift became harder to find and I struggled just to stay at launch level. I flew north, close to the ridge, but sank as I did so. I turned away from the ridge and now was 100 feet below launch…better head for the landing field. The Church field, of course—I know it better, it is larger, and I had



LEFT R. Miller taking off at Lookout with the Airborne Shark.

just looked at it.

JUDGEMENT CALL #1 Several minutes passed. There were no fields below, only treetops. Off to the east were wonderful expanses of green, unfortunately far out of reach. The minutes passed and it was obvious that, as I was flying to the northeast. I was going into a headwind. My ground speed was poor even though, thinking about the most advantageous speed to fly, I was pulling in a bit on the base tube and flying above trim speed. The Church field was clearly visible. It beckoned.

JUDGEMENT CALL #2 Suddenly my vario chirped. I flew on for a few seconds and it continued. I turned in rising air. This would solve the slow ground-speed problem. Halfway around the circle I fell out of the thermal. I dove slightly, towards the church, to escape the downdraft, for what seemed a very long time.

JUDGEMENT CALL #3 I stayed on course for the church. Then I hit sinking air again and again pulled in a bit to escape but it persisted. Now I was getting low, I was much closer to



the Church field than the secondary field and was probably too far north to make it back. Would I make it to the Church field? It would be close. Were there alternatives? I searched. Then I saw it, a small pasture closer than the Church field and to the east. Flying to this field would avoid the head wind. By the time I had figured this out, it was doubtful that I could make it to the Church field. I recalled that fatal accidents occurred when, during crosscountry flights, flyers try to stretch a glide, clip a wing on “the last tree” and crash to the ground from 50 feet. Could I land in the small field to the east? There was not going to be any “boxing” of the field to plan an approach into the wind. If I could make it I would go straight into the corner of the field and make a hard turn into the wind and, if possible, throw my drogue chute. I came up on the field rapidly. There was a house below to the right, a line of trees…yes I was going to just make it to the field. The trees were 20 feet below and only 100 feet away. Wham! A big gust thrust my left wing towards the sky and the world suddenly became the crown of a sycamore tree. I opened my eyes to bright sun, a

pleasant breeze and large leaves fluttering around me. I could not see the ground. I was unhurt. Later, with a careful exam I found only three tiny scratches. I had gone through the control frame and found myself holding onto a nine-inch thick vertical limb with a leg over a branch. I was hanging comfortably in my new GT harness (thank you, Matt Taber and seamstress Meridith Sutton of Lookout Mountain Flight Park). My bright white-andmagenta wing was above, still beautiful with its shark still smiling in the sun against the mottled green of the tree. Below, a small crowd collected. An ambulance came but found no business at ground level.

JUDGEMENT #4 After enduring my ever-chirping vario, yet enjoying my airy view from 40 feet up for an hour and 40 minutes, the hero arrived. Before I saw him through the leaves I heard Jeff Turner’s confident voice saying that this would be an easy rescue. I was glad to hear this but wondered how it could be true. Below me a head emerged through the foliage on a trunk separate from mine, complete with scraggly beard, bright grey eyes and a big grin. Jeff came up the sycamore on his climbing spikes, like a telephone-pole worker, with fast, sure steps. He tossed the knotted end of a rope above me, over the base of a large branch. I untied the end and tied it to my harness’s carabiner and soon was lowered to the ground. (Once again, I recommend the GT harness for this kind of activity.) There was still a problem. The Shark was nestled high above in the branches of the tree. “Jeff, old friend, how much would you charge to help us (Rodney had now arrived, not unhappy to see me alive) get the glider out of the tree?” “Oh,” he said, “whatever you think it’s worth.”

“Have you done this before?” we questioned. “No,” he said. “Well, OK, let’s do it.” He did. Three hours later the undamagedappearing glider was on the sunny lawn in front of us. Remarkably the sail had no tears, and the aluminum, no breaks. Later we found a slight bend in the right leading edge and the base tube. Volunteer medics Jerry Brown and Ronnie Presnell confirmed that I was uninjured, hostess Debbie Hart brought cokes for everyone, and Mr. Hart whispered to me that he was thankful that I had “ dropped in,” as it had freed him from the onerous chore of mowing the lawn. I was happy to hear that my flight had resulted in a benefit to someone. As we climbed into our cars, hostess Hart voiced an epitaph for the day: “Be careful!”

Judgement Calls #1 a) There was failure to sufficiently assess the direction of the wind. It was coming directly from the northeast, the exact direction of the Church field. Second, because of its direction there would probably be only occasional ridge lift, if any. Third, there was enough wind to break up most of the thermals. b) The wisest choice would have been to realize the above and, since the secondary field had not been examined, not to fly at all. c) Having launched, I should have flown toward the secondary field as its direction was across the wind, or, at least, pulled on my VG as this would have aided in flying into the wind. (I was not thinking about the VG as I had not used it very much previously.) d) As I was still not very far from the west face of the mountain and wanted to go north I should have flown close to the ridge for a while with the hope of finding occasional ridge lift,

even though this was unlikely. #2 I should have turned 180 degrees and flown to the secondary field as, at this point, I would have benefited from a tail wind. Having decided on a course to the northeast, I should have pulled on full VG. #3 I should have kept seeking the thermal and failing to find it headed for the secondary field which I could still have reached. #4 The question in my mind at this time was should I remove my harness and climb down the branch I was on, about 40 feet above the ground, or wait for help. I was experienced in climbing and had taught rock climbing in the army. On the other hand, I could not see the lower part of the main trunk I was on and could not determine whether or not it had branches. For the first time during this flight I made a good decision, and waited for help.

EPILOGUE In retrospect, because I was not expecting to fly, I approached Whitwell, the launch and the flight in a more casual way than usual. I was not paying that much attention to the wind, especially its strength and its exact direction. It was coming directly from the primary landing field. Once I decided to fly, I should have planned more carefully for the contingency of not finding lift. Finally, I should have been more familiar with my glider before flying at an unfamiliar site. I should have practiced using my VG and drogue chute a great deal more. If you find yourself in a sycamore, or any other tree, in the Sequatchie Valley, do not hesitate to call the master of rescue and salvage: Jeff Turner.



Each month Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine publishes a list of all pilots who have received a rating during a specific one-month period. Aside from the rush of seeing your name and your accomplishment listed in a national magazine, there are several good reasons for playing the rating game.


RATING? by Mark Forbes Region 1 director and USHPA treasurer


lying is a skill that few people get to develop. Among those who fly, only a tiny fraction learn how to fly like a bird, launching from their feet, exploiting the movement of air to stay aloft, and at the end returning to earth once again on foot. The skills needed to fly the way we do are very specialized, yet essential for us to be able to fly safely. In the early days, pilots learned through trial and error, hoping to survive the mistakes long enough to learn the skills. Many did not. The early years of hang gliding were a time when the sport gained a reputation for danger that it has yet to overcome. Risk is still present today, but our knowledge of how to avoid accidents and fly safely has made the risks manageable. The training and rating system we have now is built on the sacrifices of those early pioneers and the knowledge gained over almost 40 years of teaching our sport. Today’s training emphasizes incremental steps, from running on flat ground with a wing and harness, through short runs down a shallow



slope, to steeper slopes and higher ground that offer seconds to minutes of airtime. A student learns the basic skills in a gradual sequence, each skill building on those that came before. As the skills are mastered in progression, the student gains the ability to fly with confidence and to handle more challenging conditions. This learning process never stops, even for Master-rated pilots with decades of experience. Good pilots are always learning, always studying how to be even better fliers—this is, after all, how they got to be good pilots in the first place! At some point, though, you want to know how you measure up. Are you a good enough pilot to fly at a given site? Do you know enough to be able to make that judgment? This is one of the things that the rating system is for. Another reason for ratings is to give other pilots a basis for estimating your skill level and ability to fly. This might not matter so much at your home site, with your regular flying buddies, but when you venture to a new locale and meet the pilots there, you’ll need to give them a way to evaluate you. To help pilots track their progress, USHPA has developed a five-level rating program. The programs for hang glider and paraglider pilots share many common skills, though some are specific to the type of wing. As a rough guideline, this is what the various rating levels mean: H-1/P-1 Beginner pilot: This rating identifies a student who has demonstrated the basic ability to fly in a straight line. The beginner pilot is not yet ready to go out flying independently, but can take off, fly straight and land. The pilot also understands the basics of glider setup and breakdown. H-2/P-2 Novice pilot: A novice has learned about turns, maneuvering and how to estimate where he’ll land. Flights have been made from higher

ground under supervision. Confident handling of the glider in flight is shown, as well as operation in stronger winds. Training has been given in meteorology, air movement, clouds and other environmental factors, and the legal “rules of the road” that govern our flying. A novice pilot may be approved to go out and fly with more experienced local pilots at easier sites, but has not yet gained the level of experience needed to operate independently. H-3/P-3 Intermediate pilot: The intermediate pilot has gained further experience and training in flight skills and decision-making. With the basic mechanics of flight fairly well worked out, an intermediate pilot’s focus is on refining the ability to make good decisions and correctly interpret the site and conditions for flying. Additional training has been completed covering weather forecasting, micrometeorology, airspace regulations and the internal rules that govern our sport. An intermediate pilot is now skilled enough to make independent decisions, and (we hope) wise enough to consult local pilots when venturing to a new site. Though able to make independent decisions, the intermediate pilot wisely flies with a friend for safety and greater fun. H-4/P-4 Advanced pilot: Pilots at this level have accumulated the flying experience and judgment necessary to handle conditions at a wide range of flying sites. This doesn’t mean that they can fly every site! A part of “judgment” is knowing when a site or conditions are beyond the pilot’s ability to handle them safely. Advanced pilots know when and where to fly, as well as when and where not to fly. They often serve as mentors and role models to lessexperienced fliers. At some sites, advanced pilots are empowered to close the site or limit flying if they feel conditions are unsafe for lower-rated pilots. Some may also obtain instructor



Photo by John Heiney

training and go on to teach the next generation of new fliers. H-5/P-5 Master pilot: A pilot with a Master rating has, in addition to all of the flight experience and knowledge, demonstrated outstanding skill in flying over a long period. Experience includes flying at many different sites, in varying conditions, on a broad range of different wings. The pilot has practiced different launch methods (towing, for example) and has acquired specialized skill signoffs. Most importantly, the pilot has flown safely for a long time and has the endorsement of other pilots for the rating. Pilot ratings are issued by appointed USHPA officials, who can be instructors or observers. Instructors issue the entry-level ratings and do the basic flight training. Once a pilot has earned at least the Novice rating, then he may continue his training with an instructor, and he may also refine his skills with the support of his peers in the flying community. Some pilots may be appointed as Observers, and they can administer higher-level written tests and observe the required flight tasks



needed for a more advanced rating. They may also supervise the tests needed for special skill signoffs, such as for Turbulence, Cross-Country or Restricted Landing Field. Observers can rate any skill or rating level that they hold themselves. Basic Instructors can rate any skills they hold, as well as pilot ratings up to H-2/P-2. Advanced Instructors can rate all pilot levels as well as their special skills. Master ratings are awarded upon application by the pilot, accompanied by supporting documentation and letters of recommendation. A regional director reviews the application and issues the approval. Your rating is much more than just a “merit badge.” It shows that you have demonstrated a level of flying skill that has been objectively measured, and you’ve completed a test of your knowledge about the rules of flight and how our wings operate. When you travel outside your local area, your rating card tells pilots at other sites that you have shown a level of competence in your flying. Your instructor’s name is on the card, too, along with any special skill signoffs you may have. All of these

things give other pilots a reference point to estimate your ability. Together with your flight logbook, your rating card establishes your credibility as a responsible, skilled pilot. At locations covered by USHPA site insurance, the local club is responsible for setting the minimum rating level needed to fly at the site, along with any site-specific rules that may apply. At these places, you’ll need to have your current membership/rating card to show to the site monitor, as part of your orientation before flying there. Most sites require a H-3/P-3 for independent flying, though H-2/P-2 pilots may fly with supervision from a local pilot or instructor. A few sites (Yosemite, for example) require an Advanced pilot rating to fly, and may also have restrictions on wing type or when flights may begin and end. Some sites may require only a H-2/P-2 minimum to fly, but it just depends on the individual site. A H-2/P-2 requirement is no guarantee that the site truly is flyable by a Novice pilot; it’s just a guideline to give pilots a feel for the skill level needed. In the wrong conditions, a Novice-minimum site can demand skills beyond those of even an Advanced pilot (though an Advanced pilot probably wouldn’t be in the air, having recognized the bad conditions). Even at sites where there is no club regulation requirement, the local pilots will usually have an informal “site rating” in place to guide visitors. A site’s skill requirement can vary widely depending on the weather conditions. For instance, a mountain might be an easy P-2/H-2 launch before noon, but beyond the skills of many Advanced pilots by mid-afternoon as thermals rip up the face. That same site might be back to Novice again by evening as the sun drops low and the ground cools. Wind from a slightly wrong direction can turn a site from easy to difficult, and conditions can change from benign



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-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-5


David Pendzick Geoffrey Barker John Hill Kambiz Adibzadeh Ben Coughtry Peter Del Vecchio Noel Dilks Hugh Reynolds Jr Edward (keith) Sutphin Matthew Vaughn Luke Baer David Pendzick Geoffrey Barker Richard Abi-habib Darlene Brewer John Tobin Peter Ledochowitsch Irene Zarco Campero Dave Westwood Todd Brittain Timothy Bowen Hugh Reynolds Jr Edward (keith) Sutphin Matthew Vaughn Ken Millard Rurik Draper Karen Yung Joy Dutta Ziyad Ibrahim Alejandro Perez Piotr Gulbicki Raffi Adamian Alexander Kittle Alex Brewer Duane House Allen Tarver Michael Pattishall Andy Thompson James Tibbs

John Matylonek Larry Jorgensen James Tibbs William Dydo Eric Hinrichs Greg Dewolf Greg Dewolf Adam Elchin Daniel Zink Daniel Zink Michael Appel John Matylonek Larry Jorgensen George Hamilton William Dydo Robert Booth Barry Levine Barry Levine Ken Hudonjorgensen Mark Knight Richard Hays Adam Elchin Daniel Zink Daniel Zink John Matylonek Ryan Goebel Barry Levine Harold Johnson Harold Johnson Harold Johnson Arturo Melean Fred Ballard Daniel Zink Eric Meibos Daniel Gravage Philip Morgan Jon Thompson Jon Thompson Mark Forbes


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

Matthew Keegan Colin Mckenney Jeremiah Hughes Karl Specht Axi Wells Alex Okeson



Mark Sanzone Matt Henzi Justin Boer Christopher Grantham Ross Jacobson Frank Sihler

to lethal in a matter of minutes at some places. Flying with the local experts at a site can clue you in to these details, and expand your base of experience so you can make better judgments in the future. Ratings aren’t “static,” and good pilots recognize this. It may say “Advanced” on your rating card, but if you haven’t flown in a year, it’s time to mentally down-check yourself to



P-1 Todd Davis P-1 Mark Budenbender


Jesse Meyer Jeffrey Greenbaum

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


Mitchell Neary Jesse Meyer Mitchell Neary David Soltz Philip Russman Max Marien Rob Sporrer Max Marien Max Marien Max Marien Stephen Mayer Charles (chuck) Woods Blake Pelton Russ Bateman Kevin Hintze Andy Macrae Aaron Cromer Rob Sporrer Jaro Krupa David Hanning Peter Humes Jesse Meyer Kevin Hintze Terry Bono David Hanning Mark Sanzone Christopher Grantham Jesse Meyer Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jesse Meyer David Soltz Jonathan Legg Philip Russman Rob Sporrer Max Marien Stephen Mayer Chris Santacroce Max Marien Blake Pelton Russ Bateman Kevin Hintze Kevin Hintze Robert Hecker Kevin Hintze Andy Macrae Andy Macrae Britton Shaw

Adam Young Dawn Sheirzad Michael Labadie Ivan Costa Bill Davis Lauren Langry Dorian Sawka Shane Easton Caleb Rosen Tom Caruso John Jaugilas Ben Abruzzo Jr Kristin Adams Joshua Lloyd David Hautamaki Brent Shober John Jass Kurt Duppler Jerzy Dachowski Isabella Messenger Xiaoting Hou Dylan Wilson Steven (taylor) Couch Zion Susanno Loddby Binod Bomjan Tamang Matthew Keegan Karl Specht Todd Davis Bryan Cormy Tonia Fox Dawn Sheirzad Ivan Costa Josh Chapel Bill Davis Dorian Sawka Caleb Rosen John Jaugilas Heather Unger Cy Rill Kranak Kristin Adams Joshua Lloyd Alexander Congram David Hautamaki Kurt Laven Dan Hoffman Brent Shober Adam Olson Jeremiah Clark


“Novice.” Head out to the training hill for some refresher practice before going off to Mount Whiteknuckle. Some pilots may “test well” but demonstrate lousy judgment in real flying. A rating official can always revoke a rating he’s issued previously, at any time and for any reason. In addition, any two other rating officials can jointly issue a rating revocation or suspension for reasonable cause. USHPA has a procedure


P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-3 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-4 P-5

John Jass Kurt Duppler Jerzy Dachowski Adam Schwartz Isabella Messenger George Bokinsky Xiaoting Hou Thomas Shimrock Andrew Fargher Steven (taylor) Couch Jonathan Hagan Zion Susanno Loddby Binod Bomjan Tamang Corneliu Moiceanu Matthew Keegan Trevor Cowlishaw Robert Black Loren Sperber Andrew Konstantinov Steven Welch Jesse Shimrock Ivan Costa Greg Mills Kaysie Klein Jeremy Conrad Will Burks Dan Hoffman Isabella Messenger James Nguyen Mike Watson Steven (taylor) Couch Zion Susanno Loddby Thomas Milko Binod Bomjan Tamang Cody Olson Jason Cromer Chris Reynolds Greg Didriksen Thanh Nguyen Ivan Costa Josh Gelb Douglas Poirier Dave Westwood Mert Acar John Chen Isabella Messenger Zion Susanno Loddby Binod Bomjan Tamang Mark Cahur




Aaron Cromer Rob Sporrer Jaro Krupa Stephen Mayer David Hanning Jerome Daoust Peter Humes David Thulin David (dexter) Binder Kevin Hintze Kevin Hintze Terry Bono David Hanning Marc Chirico Mark Sanzone John Kraske Mike Fifield Jason Shapiro Jesse Meyer Jason Anderson Rob Sporrer David Soltz Max Marien Max Marien Marcello Debarros Stephen Mayer Kevin Hintze David Hanning William Laurence Luis Rosenkjer Kevin Hintze Terry Bono Patrick Johnson David Hanning Chris Santacroce Samuel Crocker William Ross Mike Fifield Jeffrey Greenbaum David Soltz Gabriel Jebb Gabriel Jebb Ken Hudonjorgensen Murat Tuzer Gabriel Jebb David Hanning Terry Bono David Hanning Kenneth Grubbs

for handling such situations, in SOP127, which can be found on the Web site ( To summarize, your rating establishes your credibility as a pilot, to other pilots or landowners that you will meet during your flying career. It gives you a measurable goal to aim for as you develop your skills, and tells others what sort of sites and conditions you’re ready for. So…what’s your rating?



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 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.) HG JULY 3-13  Annecy, France. 2013 Women’s Pre- World Championships. Class 1, Sport, 2 & 5, in the famous and scenic area of Annecy. More information: en/ . HG JULY 14-20  Golden, British Columbia. 2013 Canadian National Hang Gliding Championships in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Launch off famous Mt. 7 and fly the big mountains of the Rocky Mountain trench. 100+ miles and 14,000’ cloud base await you! Camping and HQ at Muller Flight Park / Golden Eco Adventure Ranch. HPAC insurance mandatory; temporary memberships for out-of-country pilots will be available. More information: Ross Hunter, 2hunters@telus. net, or HG PG JULY 28 - AUGUST 3 Boone, NC. Join us at the end of July 2013 for the 8th Annual Tater Hill Open. A paragliding and hang gliding competition in the beautiful mountains surrounding Boone, North Carolina! This time of year offers an opportunity for some great cross-country flights. We’ve seen 40-50 mile PG flights in past years. The elevation at Tater is around 5000’ ASL so it offers a unique chance for foot-launch flying on the East Coast. Competition scoring is handicapped so everyone has a chance to win. Focus on newer and upcoming pilots wanting to learn or improve their crosscountry skills. This year, as in the past, Kari Castle will be here to offer clinics on her unique perspective on everything to do with flying. Hope you can join us! More information: Bubba Goodman, 828773-9433, or

PG AUGUST 18-24  St. Paul-D’Abbotsford, Quebec, Canada. Come flatland flying at the 2013 Canadian PG Nationals, being held ~35 miles east of Montreal, Quebec. Multiple launches off an old eroded volcano offer potential for XC flying no matter the wind direction. Open distance, out-and-returns, and triangle tasks possible. FAI cat 2 sanctioned. $275Cdn entry fee and limited to 100 pilots. More information: Eric Olivier, 514961-1295, or

FLY-INS PG JULY 23-25  Richfield, UT. Richfield Pioneer Day fly-in. July 24th Morning 6000-foot sledder from Monroe Peak, pancake breakfast, and then a parade. Afternoon thermaling, evening soaring from Cove Peak, and fly out together at sunset, landing near the park for hamburgers, drinks and fireworks. Bring the whole family and celebrate Pioneer day in Central Utah, many activities for flying and non-flying fun. More information: Stacy (Ace) Whitmore, 435-979-0225,, or HG PG AUGUST 17-25  Moore, ID. Free annual Idaho event just east of Sun Valley. Paragliders, hang gliders, sailplanes, and self-launching sailplanes are all welcome. Awesome glass-off and cloud bases at 17,999’. Fly to Montana or Yellowstone. Wave window. Campfire, potlucks, star gazing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Free camping at the glider park. Big air and big country. Lions, tigers, and bears...oh my! Spot locator with tracking function or equivalent required. Call John at 208-407-7174. Go to for directions and more info. See the pictures from prior Safaris in our gallery. For film clip about the event search YouTube King Mountain 2011 Safari. More information: John Kangas, 208-407-7174, j _, or PG AUGUST 23-28  Sakarya, Turkey. The Bogazici Paragliding Club of Istanbul hosts its 8th Annual International PG and PG Accuracy Festival in Sakarya. Costs: PG & Accy comp pilot, 120 euros; Non-flying guest (same room as pilot), 60 euros. Non-comp instructors with two or more paying students are free! Fees include all transport from central Istanbul and at the festival, room, food, awards dinner, concerts, games, family fun and more! 1st prize is a new wing from NOVA. Other prizes are Brauniger discount certificates, harnesses, Charly helmets, boots, and more. The more pilots we get, the more prizes we can award! More information: Robert W Hand (BHPA) +44-779-892-0521,, or

PG SEPTEMBER 30 - OCTOBER 5  Richfield, UT. Richfield Red Rocks Fall fly-in. Fall colors and beautiful mountains and flying activities for all levels and interests. Thermaling clinics, spotlanding contest, ridge-soaring task competition, morning sledders, distance challenges, and maneuvers clinics. Low pressure, fun flying activities to give everyone a chance to mingle and enjoy flying from Central Utah’s many world-class flying sites. The mountains will be dressed in the fall formal colors, and flying from verts of 6000 feet is breathtaking. More information: Stacy (Ace) Whitmore, 435-979-0225,, or


clinics & tours July 5-7  Utah. Instructor Training with Ken

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

AUGUST 2-4  Torrey Pines Gliderport, CA. Earn

your T-1, T-2, or T-3 rating with the tandem instructors at Torrey who fly the most tandems per year! More information: Robin Marien/ Gabriel Jebb, 858-452-9858,, 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 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 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-wingual 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

SEPTEMBER 26-28  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

SEPTEMBER 28-29  Utah. Mountain Flying

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

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@

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

NOVEMBER 8-26  Iquique, Chile. Where can

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 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-wingual 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-wingual 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

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 8-10 & 12-14  Yelapa, Mexico. SIV/

maneuvers clinic. Join us for another great learning and fun experience in beautiful tropical Yelapa. Tow up and land on the beach in a warm friendly location with lots of great places to stay and eat. Brad Gunnuscio, world-class xc, acro pilot and USHPA Instructor of the Year will be teaching the courses. Cost: $750 for three-day course with an extra day for weather. More info:, brad, 801707-0508 or Les in Yelapa at: 011 52 322 2095174, 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 Bar-

bara 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.

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



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


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


New York State’s Finger Lakes Good News–The flying’s great here! Start by landing in your ideal home with New York’s leading REALTOR®

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



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

FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in

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

Photo courtesy of

Timothy Alimossy

Real Estate Salesperson | NYS Lic. No. 10401238145

(607) 351-4755 | H2 Pilot


San Diego CA 92175, 619-265-5320.

Mission Soaring Center LLC - Largest hang gliding center in the West! Our deluxe retail shop showcases the latest equipment: Wills Wing, Moyes, AIR, High Energy, Flytec, Aeros, Northwing, Hero wide angle video camera. A.I.R. Atos rigid wings- demo the VQ-45’ span, 85 Lbs! Parts in stock. We stock new and used equipment. Trade-ins welcome. Complete lesson program. Best training park in the west, located just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. Pitman Hydraulic Winch System for Hang 1s and above. Launch and landing clinics for Hang 3s and Hang 4s. Wills Wing Falcons of all sizes and custom training harnesses. 1116 Wrigley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035. 408-262-1055, Fax 408-262-1388, mission@, Mission Soaring Center LLC, leading the way since 1973. www.hang-gliding. com


- we have been working hard to bring you more! Let’s start with the LIVE music and off the charts BBQ festivities happening every Saturday during the summer months. For all you snow birds, call us this winter for details on our domestic and international thermaling clinic/tours we are now offering. Speed Flying your thing? Come test fly our new mini wings from Little Cloud. USHPA certified instruction for ALL ratings including Tandem and Instructor Clinics, SIV and PPG. We have expanded product lines to include Triple 7, Little Cloud, Aircross, SkyWalk, Niviuk, Ozone, UP, Plussmax Helmets, Paratech, Independence, Crispi Boots, Black Hawk Paramotors, GatorZ, FlyMaster, GoPro, Flytec, Ki2Fly, Sup Air, Dudek, MacPara, Woody Valley, Maillon Rapide, and much





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


more! Our full service shop offers reserve repacks, annual glider inspections, repairs and more. We also carry an extensive certified used invemtory of gliders and harnesses. Check us out at flytorrey. com or give us a call 858-452-9858. WINDSPORTS - Don’t risk bad weather, bad

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

COLORADO GUNNISON GLIDERS – X-C to heavy waterproof

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

FLORIDA FLORIDA RIDGE AEROTOW PARK - 18265 E State Road 80, Clewiston, Florida 863-805-0440, www. GRAYBIRD AIRSPORTS — Paraglider & hang

glider towing & training, Dragonfly aerotow training, XC, thermaling, instruction, equipment. Dunnellon Airport 352-245-8263, email fly@, www.graybirdairsports. com.



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,




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

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

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.

Let's Go Paragliding LLC - Paragliding flight

school offering USHPA-certified instruction for all levels, tandem lessons, tours, and equipment sales. 917- 359-6449

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


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.,


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.

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.

Super Fly Paragliding – Come to world famous Point of the Mountain and learn to fly from one of our distinguished instructors. We teach year round and offer some of the best paragliding equipment available. Get your P2 certification, advanced ratings or tandem ratings here. We have a full shop to assist you with any of your free flight needs. 801-255-9595, , WINGS OVER WASATCH HANG GLIDING - Salt

Lake / region 4 area. Certified HANG GLIDING instruction, sales, service. World class training hill! Tours of Utah’s awesome mountains for visiting pilots. DISCOUNT glider/equipment prices. Glider rentals. Tandem flights. Ryan Voight, 801-5992555,

VIRGINIA BLUE SKY - Full-time HG instruction.

Daily lessons, scooter, and platform towing. AT towing part time. Custom sewing, powered harnesses, Aeros PG , Flylight and Airborne trikes. More info: (804)241-4324, or

PARK- Award winning instructors at a world class training facility. Contact: Doug Stroop at 509-7825543, or visit by, He’ll hook you up! site intros, tours, & rooms, 760-203-2658

COSTA RICA - Grampa Ninja’s Paragliders’ B&B. 

Rooms, and/or guide service and transportation. Lessons available from USHPA certified instructors.  USA: 908-454-3242.  Costa Rica: (Country code, 011) House: 506-2664-6833,  Cell: 506-8950-8676,  www.paraglidecostarica. com.

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


Aviation Depot at featuring over 1000 items for foot-launched and powered paragliding, hang gliding, stunt and power kiting, and powered parachutes. 24/7 secure online shopping. Books, videos, KITES, gifts, engine parts, harness accessories, electronics, clothing, safety equipment, complete powered paragliding units with training from Hill Country Paragliding Inc. 1-800-6641160 for orders only. Office 325-379-1567.

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

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,

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

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

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@

BUSINESS & EMPLOYMENT Daydreams Paragliding and Lake Tahoe Paragliding need certified (P4, T3, Tandem

Instructor), experienced tandem paraglider pilots to work with us in and around the Lake Tahoe area. Qualified pilots should contact us at: or www.


HALL WIND METER – Simple. Reliable. Accurate.

Cash for your used harnesses, parachutes,

OXYGEN SYSTEMS – MH-XCR-180 operates to

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

Mounting brackets, control-bar wheels. Hall Brothers, PO Box 1010, Morgan, Utah 84050. (801) 829-3232,

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

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

SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round

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









NEW USHPA T-SHIRTS! | ONLY $12.00! Get ‘em hot off the press. 3 Designs. Black shirts with graphics back and front. Only $12!

SPOT-2 MESSENGER | $99.95 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.



Top shelf soft shell jacket embroidered with USHPA logo

Now you can wear the same

and name of the association on the back.

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 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

The ultimate coffee

4x9 inch envelopes. Inside is blank.

table book - part 2!

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!






U S H P A . A E R O / S T O R E



This thorough guide by Dennis

Excellent illustrations and a

Pagen is a must have for any

companion DVD make this

paraglider's library. Get started,

paragliding tome a must-have

keep flying, or go back and

as an introduction or a

review. An excellent reference.

refresher reference.

EAGLES IN THE FLESH | $14.95 Erik Kaye's nonfiction adventure


UNDERSTANDING THE SKY | $24.95 You'll read Dennis Pagen's

story about men who become

ultimate weather book again and

birds, who soar over mountains

again as your brain attempts to

and jungles, and who look upon

wrap itself around one of the

strange new lands and exotic

most complex topics in the his-

cultures while flying like Eagles

tory of topics.

and partying like Vultures.

THERMAL FLYING, NEW EDITION | $52.95 Get the new version of

FLYING RAGS FOR GLORY | $47.95 The A to Z of Competition

Burkhard Marten's compre-

Paragliding: For the beginner or

hensive guide to thermal flying.

experienced pilot.

Nearly 300 pages illustrated with 500 diagrams and photos.

PUBLICATIONS ACROBATICS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $41.95 AND THE WORLD COULD FLY. . . . . . . . . . . . . $32.95 ART OF SKY SAILING - A RISK MGMT MANUAL. . . . . . $14.95 ART OF SKY SAILING - A RISK MGMT MANUAL & DVD. . . $55.00 AVIATION WEATHER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 BEST FLYING SITES OF THE ALPS. . . . . . . . . . . . $47.95 BIRDFLIGHT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $19.95 CONDOR TRAIL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 CLOUDSUCK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $17.95 EAGLES IN THE FLESH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $14.95 FLY THE WING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $12.95 FLYING RAGS FOR GLORY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $47.95 FUNDAMENTALS/INSTRUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . $12.95 HANG GLIDING TRAIN. MANUAL. . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 INSTR. MANUAL (HG or PG). . . . . . . . . . . . . $15.00 THE ART OF PARAGLIDING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $34.95 TOWING ALOFT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 PG-PILOTS TRAIN. MANUAL & DVD. . . . . . . . . . $39.95 PERFORMANCE FLYING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 SECRETS OF CHAMPIONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95

SLOVENIA: GUIDE BOOK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $31.95 STOLEN MOMEN TS 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $55.00 UNDERSTANDING THE SKY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 FLIGHT LOG BOOK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2.95

DVD BIG BLUE SKY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 BORN TO FLY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $34.95 FLYING OVER EVEREST. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $47.95 FRESH AIR RIDERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $22.95 FROM NOWHERE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $41.95 LIFT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $19.95 LIFTING AIR. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $39.95 NEVER ENDING THERMAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $41.95 PARAHAWKING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $35.95 PARAGLIDING:LEARN TO FLY. . . . . . . . . . . . . $44.95 PARAGLIDING: GROUND HANDLING TECHNIQUES . . . . $35.95 PARAGLIDER TOWING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 PARTY/CLOUDBASE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 PERFORMANCE FLYING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $42.95 PLAY GRAVITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $41.95 PLAY GRAVITY 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $38.50

Be sure to renew your USHPA membership online to participate in the USHPA Green initiative. Online renewal is only available to current members, and members who have been expired less than 3 years. Members who have been expired more than 3 years will not have access to online renewal.

RED BULL X-ALPS 2007. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $45.95 PURA VIDA FLYING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 RISK & REWARD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 THE PERFECT MTN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $36.95 SPEED TO FLY/SECURITY IN FLIGHT. . . . . . . . . . . $48.95 SPEED GLIDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $24.95 STARTING PARAGLIDING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 STARTING HANG GLIDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $29.95 STARTING POWER PARAGLIDING . . . . . . . . . . . $36.95 TEMPLE OF CLOUDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $31.95 THREE FLIGHTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $37.95 WEATHER TO FLY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $39.95

ACCESSORIES IPPI CARD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10.00 GREETING CARDS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $16.00 LICENSE PLATE FRAME (PARAGLIDING ONLY). . . . . . $6.50 MAGAZINE BACK ISSUES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $6.95 ORNAMENTS (PARAGLIDING ONLY). . . . . . . . . . $12.00 RATING CERTIFICATE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10.00 USHGA / USHPA STICKERS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.00



ON GLIDE It’s been a strange winter up here in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest. The weather hasn’t been terribly severe: no 100mph winds, no snow in the lowlands to speak of, and weirdest of all, enough, but not an overabundance, of rain. I say all that and, quite superstitiously, knock on wood at the same time; it is, after all, early in the winter season. This year, however, we have had a couple of high-pressure areas that chose to park right on top of us, and for some reason, each of them refused to move for days on end. Winter-time high-pressure areas, at least in this part of the country, create strange weather patterns: stagnant air, no wind, lots of air pollution, and clear night skies with flaming sunsets and a lot of cold. Unfortunately, I have already completed my winter travel to some favorite flying sites. I now get to stay home to survive these days of no wind and, as the high pressure passes, lots of rain. Instead of being able to fly, I get to take care of “the list.” Right now, on top of the list is splitting wood for next winter. Probably three months ago, I cut up two very large trees into 16-inch rounds. I stacked these for later splitting. A big chunk of Lazy attacked me, and those log rounds sat in the rain. I chose to split them during one of those high-pressure times, and consequently, I ended up working in 20-something degree days when those logs were frozen solid. I learned something, though. Sixteen-inch logs that have been rain soaked for months and are frozen solid as a Minnesota pond in February are very, very, very hard. Fifteen years ago I told people that splitting wood kept me strong and

young. Today I tell them that splitting wood makes me hurt; consequently, I have need of several rest periods during a day of splitting. During one rest period on a miserably cold afternoon, I began to wonder just how many times I handled a single piece of wood from cutting it off the tree, to splitting, to burning; so I counted. The old adage is true. It seems that wood really does heat you up a bunch of times.

Photo by Don Fitch


by Steve Messman

Considering stacking and storing and transporting, I lift a single piece of log nine times from the moment the tree hits the ground to the time I carry its ashes to my compost pile. Multiply that by thousands! In the middle of counting logs, the strangest of thoughts crept into my head. Why the heck am I counting logs

when there were so many other things I would rather be counting? For example, I would much rather be counting the miles clicking off as I head to Southern California for some flying. I would much rather be counting the number of circles I turn in a bodacious thermal, or even the miles I travel during a great flight. Heck, I could even be satisfied by simply counting the number of beeps my vario can sound off without stopping. This time of the year, I would be perfectly overjoyed if only I could be counting any one of those alternatives. Unfortunately, I am stuck. A strict budget combined with future travel plans that include the likes of Indiana and Florida have me homebound for a time. Unless we get some nice breezes to accommodate some coastal flying, my vario will remain silent, and the number of circles I will count in a thermal will remain at zero, until spring. There are many other flying-related items I have tried counting—just for fun. Number of flying videos I’ve watched this month: three. Number of friends I have who have seen fit to move to other parts of the U.S. or Mexico or Hawaii during winter: a total of seven: four pilots and three of their significant others. Number of flying-related emails I read yesterday: three. Number of flying-related emails I read this morning: four. Number of flights discussed in the club’s Facebook site: zero. Number of flying-related emails in the inbox tonight: none. Number of pilots in the air yesterday and today as a result of those emails: zero. Local pilots chomping at the bit to fly—again—anywhere: at least one; that’s for darned sure. I wonder how old that tree was when I cut it down. One. Two. Three. Four…..

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B (all sizes) BB (all (all sizes) sizes) XXS, XS, S, M, L XXS, XXS, XS, XS, S, S, M, M, LL 51 51 51 21.7 — 30.9 m22 21.7 21.7 — — 30.9 30.9 m m2 5.1 — 6.2 kg 5.1 5.1 — — 6.2 6.2 kg kg XXXF XXXF XXXF

Weight ranges: Weight Weight ranges: ranges: XXS: 60-80 kg XXS: 60-80 XXS: 60-80 kg kg XS: 70-90 kg XS: 70-90 XS: 70-90 kg kg S: 80-100 kg S: 80-100 S: 80-100 kg kg M: 90-110 kg M: 90-110 M: 90-110 kg kg L: 100-130 kg L: 100-130 L: 100-130 kg kg

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Nova has done it Building on strong foundation set phenomenal Nova it again! again! on the the and strong foundation set by by the the performance phenomenal Mentorhas 2, done the new MentorBuilding 3 goes above beyond with surprising Mentor 2, the new Mentor 3 goes above and beyond with surprising performance Mentor 2, the new Mentor 3 goes above and beyond with surprising performance improvements and familiar stability, compactness and precision. improvements improvements and and familiar familiar stability, stability, compactness compactness and and precision. precision. Brake travel is shorter. Cornering is tighter. Efficient thermalling has never been Brake travel shorter. is tighter. Efficient thermalling has been Brake relaxed. travel isisOutstanding shorter. Cornering Cornering tighter. thermalling has never never beena more stabilityisacross theEfficient entire speed range while showing more relaxed. Outstanding stability across the entire speed range while showing more relaxed.better Outstanding across the entirespeed! speed range while showing aa significantly glide ratiostability and improved top-end significantly significantly better better glide glide ratio ratio and and improved improved top-end top-end speed! speed! Mentor 3’s small aspect ratio brings a high level of safety and stability, easy handling Mentor 3’s small aspect ratio aa high of and easy Mentor small aspectcollapse ratio brings brings highA level level of safety safety and stability, stability, easyB handling handling behavior3’sand improved recovery. safe and predictable high-level glider. behavior and improved collapse recovery. A safe and predictable high-level behavior and improved collapse recovery. A safe and predictable high-level BB glider. glider. More than just a better glide ratio (increased by 0.60 across the entire speed range) More than just glide ratio (increased by across the speed More just aa better better ratiomore (increased by 0.60 0.60better acrosshandling the entire entire speed range) range) Mentorthan 3 provides a moreglide relaxed, comfortable, behavior. Mentor 3 provides a more relaxed, more comfortable, better handling behavior. Mentor 3 provides a more relaxed, more comfortable, better handling behavior. 3-D Shaping: Helps achieve a cleaner leading edge by connecting convex 3-D Helps achieve 3-D Shaping: Shaping: achieve aa cleaner cleaner leading leading edge edge by by connecting connecting convex convex fabric pieces onHelps the nose. fabric pieces on the nose. fabric pieces on the nose. Optimized Stabilo: Small changes, significantly reduced drag. Optimized Optimized Stabilo: Stabilo: Small Small changes, changes, significantly significantly reduced reduced drag. drag. New Leading Edge Shape and Intakes: Enhanced design yields decisive New Edge and Enhanced design yields decisive New Leading Leading Edge Shape Shape and Intakes: Intakes: glider characteristics and internal pressure.Enhanced design yields decisive glider glider characteristics characteristics and and internal internal pressure. pressure. New brake geometry and reefing system: Reduced line length, more New brake and reefing system: Reduced New brake geometry geometry reefing system: Reduced line line length, length, more more comfortable brake travel,and improved handling overall. comfortable brake travel, improved handling overall. comfortable brake travel, improved handling overall.

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Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol43/Iss07 Jul 2013  

Official USHPA Magazine

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol43/Iss07 Jul 2013  

Official USHPA Magazine