Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol44/Iss09 Sep2014

Page 1

SEPTEMBER 2014 Volume 44 Issue 9 $6.95



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Hammel over goal during the 2014 US Nationals. MEANWHILE, Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego, CA. Photos by Nick Greece.



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 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 footlaunched 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.




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 editor@ushpa.aero 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 editor@ushpa.aero, as may letters to the editor. Please be concise and try to address a single topic in your letter. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. If you have an idea for an article you may discuss your topic with the editor either by email or telephone. Contact: Editor, Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine, editor@ushpa.aero, (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.

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 advertising@ushpa.aero.

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

COPYRIGHT Copyright (c) 2014 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.

Martin Palmaz, Publisher executivedirector@ushpa.aero Nick Greece, Editor editor@ushpa.aero Greg Gillam, Art Director art.director@ushpa.aero C.J. Sturtevant, Copy Editor copy@ushpa.aero Beth Van Eaton, Advertising advertising@ushpa.aero Staff Writers Christina Ammon, Dennis Pagen, C.J. Sturtevant Ryan Voight Staff Photographers John Heiney, Jeff Shapiro





















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A Rookie on the Podium

by Andy Pag

The Final Frontier

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Williams Peak Hang Gliding a Classic Site

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36 500 Miles to Nowhere by Gavin McClurg photos by Jody MacDonald


The Many Hats of Jamie Shelden by C.J. Sturtevant


HG401: Advance Tips & Techniques Hang Height and Dangle Angle

by Ryan Voight 54

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ree flight is all about the highs and the lows. Literally, the main focus of the process is to gain altitude, and then eventually lose it for landing. Figuratively, as with any learning curve, sometimes we have amazing growth and accomplish a new skill, while other times we wallow in an inability to perform on our way to a new plateau. It’s this struggle, this selective conditioning that makes the reward for perseverance so great. One amazing part of the sport is that no matter how many years roll by, or how many flights one notches into a logbook, there is always something new and exciting around the corner. We are dealing with an invisible entity that is almost as varied as the pilots in our organization. It’s a constantly changing force that we utilize to climb way above the earth, but without vigilance and constant awareness it will end one’s flight immediately. It is this variation in any flight that causes permanent interest and wonder. However, our safety often depends on our ultimate respect of, and sensitivity to, what controls motor-less flight—the environment. This humbling medium, a thermal-generated air current, is one of the most powerful, and inspiring, pieces of energy to harness. Truly, those who have not flown in a hang glider and/or paraglider have almost no comprehension of the feeling of riding a thermal into the sky—and in their defense, few of us can truly explain it. But, to carve into an invisible wave and spiral up in a peaceful climb like a bird that is not flapping its wings, but is gracefully circling upward on the current alone, is an experience of a lifetime. And this is one of the definite “highs” of free flight. On of the true “lows” of this summer was losing an all-around amazing soul, great pilot, and regular contributor, David “Preacher” Norwood. Preacher submit-

ted an article regarding deflations a few weeks before he suffered a fatal paragliding accident. The editorial staff decided, with support from Dave’s family, to print his article in the hopes of helping others avoid catastrophic conditions. The September issue starts with a piece by Paul Voight on how to pick an instructor. This advice is particularly relevant because it comes from an instructor, and advanced hang glider pilot, for more than 30 years! Staff writers Andy Pag and C.J. Sturtevant have profiled two amazing USHPA members. Jared Anderson, who after only a few short seasons racing, has earned the privilege of representing the US Paragliding Team in Colombia next year. Hang glider pilot Jamie Shelden runs competitions, races for the US Team, represents USHPA at the CIVL meetings, is on the board of the Cloudbase Foundation, travels all over the world to fly, and is definitely one of the “highs” of free flight in the USA. Rich Jesuroga provides a site guide to flying Colorado’s Williams Peak, and Wil Brown demonstrates how the next generation of Alaska pilots is creatively pioneering America’s final frontier. Gavin McClurg and Jody MacDonald report on a trip that didn’t go according to plan but still delivered incredible experiences along the way, while Dennis Pagen and Ryan Voight are back with two informationpacked instructional pieces to help take one’s hang gliding to new levels. Hopefully your summer flying has been full of gratifying experiences, with the “highs” outweighing the “lows” exponentially.

left Seiko Fukuoka racing fast on an Ozone

R12 | photo by Nick Greece.







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Recognizing the Usual Suspects


ach year the USHPA presents awards to deserving members (and non-members, too) at an awards banquet during the spring board of directors meeting in Colorado Springs. The recipients are chosen by…YOU. A committee of volunteers sifts through all the nominations YOU have submitted and recommends a slate of candidates to the board. We’ve got the board and the committee; what we are missing right now are nominees for many of the awards. The Awards committee is accustomed to looking at over a hundred nominations for the various awards, especially the highly contested Hang Gliding Instructor of the Year and Paragliding Instructor of the Year. Just like all the other awards, the first step is filling out the online nomination form at http://ushpa.aero/emailaward. asp. Another prestigious award that usually receives many nominations is the Rob Kells Memorial Award, for a person who has devoted a good chunk of his or her life (at least 15 years) to supporting our sports. (A minimum of 10 nominations is required for the RKMA.)

Martin Palmaz, Executive Director executivedirector@ushpa.aero Beth Van Eaton Operations Manager & Advertising office@ushpa.aero Eric Mead, System Administrator tech@ushpa.aero Ashley Miller, Membership Coordinator membership@ushpa.aero Julie Spiegler, Program Manager programs@ushpa.aero

USHPA OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Only one of each of the above awards is presented each year. The same is true for the Exceptional Service Award, whose title describes it pretty clearly. The Bettina Gray Award and Best Promotional Film Award honor the photographer and videographer who have produced photos or video that are judged outstanding based on aesthetics, originality and positive portrayal of hang gliding or paragliding. The NAA Safety Award recipient is chosen a bit differently. The Awards committee selects from the nominations a member who has made a significant contribution to safety in our sports. USHPA then forwards our selection to the National Aeronautics Association, which has always accepted our recommendation. Individuals who have contributed significantly to your chapter, community or local sites should be nominated for the USHPA Commendation or, if they are not USHPA members, for the USHPA Recognition for Special Contribution. Nominate your friends, family and other pilots who have helped keep sites open and flyable. A beautiful plaque and a ticket to the

ABOVE The Arctic Air Walkers, USHPA's

2012 Chapter of the Year. awards banquet is only a small token of gratitude to these tireless volunteers. At the chapter level, please nominate your flying community for Chapter of the Year or, if your newsletter/website is awesome, for Newsletter of the Year (for the past several years that award has gone to particularly useful and info-filled websites). The USHPA website (ushpa.aero) has additional information about each award. There may also be some specific requirements not included in the short descriptions above. Click on Awards in the menu on the left margin of the home page to get the full descriptions. Please take a moment to send in a nomination. Use USHPA awards to let the hardworking volunteers— whether on the national or the local level—know that you appreciate their contributions to keep us flying.

Rich Hass, President president@ushpa.aero Ken Grubbs, Vice President vicepresident@ushpa.aero Bill Bolosky, Secretary secretary@ushpa.aero Mark Forbes, Treasurer treasurer@ushpa.aero

REGION 1: Rich Hass, Mark Forbes. REGION 2: Jugdeep Aggarwal, Josh Cohn, Jon James. REGION 3: Corey Caffrey, Dan DeWeese, Alan Crouse. REGION 4: Bill Belcourt, Ken Grubbs. REGION 5: Josh Pierce. REGION 6: David Glover. REGION 7: Paul Olson. REGION 8: Michael Holmes. REGION 9: Felipe Amunategui, Larry Dennis. REGION 10: Bruce Weaver, Steve Kroop, Matt Taber. REGION 11: David Glover. REGION 12: Paul Voight. DIRECTORS AT LARGE: Ryan Voight, 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 info@ushpa.aero. 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.

George Sturtevant is the USHPA Awards committee chairman. Contact him directly at awards@ushpa.aero.



Photo submitted by Jeff Shapiro

TRAINING HILL saying. Experience is certainly a plus. Actually call the schools you might be considering, and ask how long they have been in operation, how many students they graduated last season, and how their safety record fares. Generally (but not absolutely always) the larger, longestablished schools have a good handle on safe, efficient instruction. I’m a believer in evaluating honesty and sincere professionalism via a live conversation, since it’s hard to evaluate from an e-mail conversation. LISTEN to the person selling you on the phone. If they hit you with big numbers, and seem to be too busy to spend time with you on the phone, be cautious. Also, be wary of claims of being able to get you “flying high” in very short time frames, or at very low prices. There really are no effective (safe) shortcuts for to seek out certified instruction. The the progression from “first-day newbie” USHPA has a short list of Instructor to “high-flying solo pilot.” The skill set Training Program (ITP) Administrators, you need to acquire to safely operate an who run instructor clinics to train and aircraft on your own, in even optimum screen instructor candidates. A wellsmooth air, takes many days of practice designed training syllabus is taught to with a logical, gradual progression to potential instructors, and once they have high-altitude flying. Quality instructors passed the clinic requirements, fulfilled need to buy groceries and can’t give away the apprenticeship pre-requisites, and their time inexpensively. passed several written exams, you (the “You get what you pay for” is true consumer) can count on a certified in life, and aviation instruction is no instructor being knowledgeable, safety different. conscious, and in possession of the most I need to be fair to the “little current teaching methods. guys”—schools that might have only a If your situation is such that you single individual on staff—and to new need to select instruction through a instructors who might have just begun web search (or other research method teaching. There are certainly instrucother than word-of-mouth), you can still tors in this category that I would rate as gather enough information to make a some of the best out there. While they reasonably confident decision. I’d caudon’t pass some of the screening criteria tion you to be careful if you gain access I mentioned earlier, you CAN receive to pilot “chat lists,” as the author of a exceptional instruction from a profespost may (or may not) really have the sional, small, and even new instructor credentials to be offering advice. or school. Again, a live chat can be very Certified instruction goes without informative in qualifying a lesser-known

How to Select an Instructor by Paul Voight


inding a good instructor to safely teach you to fly shouldn’t be too hard a task. Because our kind of aviation is not “mainstream,” and tends to have concentrations in certain locales and be absent in others, your location may affect your number of options or choices. You may need to travel to get quality care if there are no experienced instructors in your area. Starting with a “perfect world” scenario, if you are near a flying site or schools (usually the two co-exist), your best resource is word-of-mouth. Mingle with the pilots at the site, and ask them who the good instructors are. Pilots are not shy, nor are they lacking in strong opinions. You’ll get straight talk on who the great instructors are, and who to stay away from. Sample a few opinions, and normally you’ll find a trend towards a certain school or instructor. It is definitely in your best interest




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instructor. Who are the absolute no-doubtabout-it, best instructors out there? Pick a USHPA Instructor of the Year winner. About 10 years ago, the USHPA began offering annual awards for the best hang gliding and best paragliding instructor for each year. A national committee screens all of the nominations submitted each season, and only one instructor in each discipline receives the award each year. An instructor who is on that list of award winners is a high-quality instructor, without a doubt. Obviously, the list is short, and these folks may not be conveniently located for you. If you are lucky, there might be one in reach. Lastly, I recommend, whenever possible, sampling your choice before committing to a significant investment. Commit to a first-day lesson or small package and see how it goes. If it all goes as you hoped, stick with them. If they fall short of your expectations, start researching new options! I hope this article is helpful. There are plenty of sources of quality instruction out there. Please remember that you need to commit time, energy, finances, passion and patience to the endeavor of learning to fly safely. Good instruction will take you through a gradual, safe, incremental progression, for which shortcuts don’t exist. A complete list of certified instructors can be found on the USHPA website (www.ushpa.aero) and from there, you can start your screening. Paul Voight's Ellenville, NY flight school, Fly High, opened in 1984. Paul is an administrator for USHPA’s tandem and instructor programs, was named hang gliding Instructor of the Year in 2007, and in 2010 received the Rob Kells award for his outstanding contributions.


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SAFETY Deadly Deflations by David “Preacher” Norwood


ow-altitude flight and sudden wing deflations are a deadly mix. In the past year we have seen a number of serious injuries and one death attributed to turbulence-induced deflations at low altitudes. There were different contributing factors in each report. We hope to learn from other’s misfortunes and help mitigate the risk associated with lowaltitude flight. Event: Pilot was ridge soaring at a lightly used micro site. He was flying with a friend who observed the accident from his position on launch. The pilot had flown this site a number of times and had well over 100 flights and was considered reasonably experienced for the conditions and site. He was flying on an EN-B wing in his weight range and was using a properly fitted harness and helmet. Site conditions were medium to light, and following launch the pilot was struggling to maintain altitude, working hard to stay up. His flight only lasted a minute or so as he scratched in front of launch and then went west in the bowl seeking lift. As he flew west from launch and into the bowl, he exposed himself to a known area of turbulence. It is not clear that the pilot or the reporter had a full understanding of the source of the turbulence, but a local wind and topology analysis suggests the following: The crescent-shaped site, which faces generally SSW, sits in a topological depression that experiences an afternoon westerly onshore flow. Weather-history records show that at the time of the accident there was a moderate 5-13mph



localized west flow. The pilot’s partner reported light to moderate WSW winds on launch. While the SSW bowl works due to anabatic thermic lift and a westgenerated wrapping SSW laminar flow, the west rim of the crescent is exposed to a mix of west wind which cascades over the west lip and the SSW ridge lift. This is a typical pattern on sunny days with an afternoon onshore flow. The confluence of localized wind patterns and the shape of the hill create what was known to the pilot and his partner as an area of potential turbulence. As the pilot’s partner observed the pilot pushing into the west corner, presumably looking for lift, the observer said to himself: “No, don’t go there.” At almost that exact moment the pilot experienced a 50- to 60-percent right- (hill-) side deflation. His wing turned 90 degrees to the right and as he pendulumed under the re-inflating wing he impacted the hill at a high speed. The pilot died as a result of blunt-force trauma. CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: The pilot’s recent attempts for airtime had been thwarted, and this flight was likely the last attempt of the day as conditions were weakening. In his report, the partner indicated that it appeared that the pilot was trying harder than usual and had a strong desire to stay in the air. The pilot had not participated in a SIV clinic. It was not clear if the pilot had weightshifted to the left as a precaution as he scratched with the hill on his right side. CONCLUSION: Aggressive scratching in light conditions on a part of a hill known for turbulence resulted in a major deflation, ground impact and subsequent death. Event: Pilot was setting up for landing when he experienced a 50% right-side deflation. Observers indicated that he “fell into the asym,” resulting in a low-alti-

tude spiral, an apparent pendulum swing and a hard drop to the ground. The exact sequence of events following the deflation is not certain. There clearly was not sufficient initial opposite-side weight shift and there may have been overcorrecting left-side brake input in reaction to the deflation-induced right spiral. The pilot sustained multiple injures including a mild concussion, broken ribs, cracked pelvis, broken tibia and minor pneumothorax. He was hospitalized for three days and required no surgery. Pilot had 85 flights and was flying a new EN-B glider. He was in the top end of the wing’s weight range. He had about 50 flights on this wing including four or five thermic flights at the site. His harness fit his height well, but the seat board was much wider than his hips and he reported difficulty weight shifting. His harness was adjusted fairly narrow as he had been observed to have problems with what appeared to be pilot-induced oscillation in previous flights. The pilot did not have SIV training. During site orientation and flight briefings, the pilot had been advised to avoid the primary LZ after 12:30 local time due to its known potential for thermic turbulence. This recommendation was not repeated on the day of the flight. Weather conditions the morning of the accident were light overcast with a limited or light lift potential. Pilots were initially having a difficult time climbing to much more than 5000’ MSL. These conditions made it difficult for pilots to leave the house thermal for XC flight, and the house gaggle was getting quite crowded. Seeking a conservative flight plan the pilot delayed his launch until the sky was less crowded. Unfortunately, avoiding the danger of a crowded gaggle put him at risk regarding thermic turbulence in the LZ. His launch was only 30 minutes before the recommended land-

Protecting Free Flight from DRONES

by time. The accident occurred at 1:20, by which time the skies had cleared and thermic dynamics had become active. CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: Lack of active piloting skills required for the condition encountered. Ill-fitting harness seat board may have contributed to the pilot’s inability to weight shift effectively. Following a move to a narrow seat board and loosening the harness width, the pilot reports an improved ability to weight shift. CONCLUSION: Low-hour pilot flying in active thermic conditions resulted in a low-altitude deflation and serious injury. Mild thermic lift associated with overcast skies masked the subsequent risk of thermic turbulence associated with clearing skies. Event: P-3 pilot with limited strong thermal experience launched at a strong thermal site. About 20 seconds into the flight, and at an altitude of about 100’ AGL, the pilot appeared to shift focus from active piloting to adjusting her seat. At that moment of inattention she exited the edge of a thermal she had been climbing in and experienced a mild surge and a symmetrical deflation (frontal). The wing lost about 75 feet and spontaneously re-inflated. The pilot was able to immediately flair and land safely below launch. No injury resulted from this event. CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: Failure to maintain focus on active piloting in an active thermic environment. Low hours in strong thermic conditions. CONCLUSION: Turbulent conditions require constant active piloting. LESSONS LEARNED: There is a significant risk associated with flight in conditions that exceed a pilot’s skill level. The challenge is that experience in turbulence is the only certain way one can learn how much active piloting is required to avoid

significant collapse events. It is critical to build active piloting skills while maintaining ground separation, thereby avoiding low-altitude events and potential injury. This is unfortunately presents a Catch-22. In order to gain experience we have to enter the risky environment. One helpful strategy is to launch late in the day at thermic sites. Launching after the strongest thermic activity has dissipated allows one to experience diminishing turbulence at altitude and reduces exposure to a highly active landing zone. Flight at or below 100’ AGL in turbulent conditions requires constant active piloting and immediate high-side weight shift in response to an asymmetric collapse. Over-the-water SIV training is strongly recommend for pilots who plan to fly in turbulent conditions. SIV clinics present techniques and offer practice in reacting to symmetric and asymmetric collapses.


nmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), more commonly known as drones, are changing the way we understand the National

Airspace System (NAS). Concerns over privacy, safety and national security have received increased media attention lately, highlighting the unique challenges the FAA faces as they approach the congress-mandated integration of UAS into the NAS. Drones come in two categories: greater

than 55lbs (UAS) and 55lbs or less (sUAS). While current definitions are not expected to change, policy and regulations have not yet been established. Both categories present unique threats to hang gliding and paragliding activities nationwide. In particular, sUAS share lower altitudes frequently utilized by our pilots and are expected to operate within line of sight of the operator, if current guidelines outlined in the FAA’s UAS Roadmap are maintained. The National Coordinating Committee and the USHPA staff have been closely monitoring progress on drones and their possible impact

Within weeks of writing the “Deadly Deflations” accident review article in this issue, Dave Norwood died in a paragliding accident on July 16th, shortly after launching at Chelan Butte. Dave, a.k.a. “Preacher,” served USHPA as a volunteer co-chair of the Accident Reporting committee. It was Dave’s job to review accident reports and share lessons learned with our membership in hopes of avoiding future accidents. As co-chair, Dave has been instrumental in helping USHPA develop an updated and online accident reporting system USHPA will be introducing shortly. Dave’s family supports our decision to publish his article. We all share a sincere interest in helping pilots better understand the risks and the decisionmaking process we go through every time we fly. Fly safe, Rich Hass, USHPA President

on our pilots. USHPA has commented on the sUAS exemption petition requests and other UAS-related issues during this period without defined regulations. Member participation will be crucial as we move forward. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on sUAS was scheduled to be released last fall, but has been postponed to allow the FAA to further study and define this complex issue. Once the NPRM is released, expected by yearend, USHPA will be coordinating with the membership for comments on the proposed regulations. In addition, members will be enlisted to provide feedback on UAS at the Congressional level. Because drone integration impacts numerous activities and organizations, USHPA is also creating relationships and collaborations to work towards our mutual UAS concerns. As we prepare for next steps, please be on the lookout for an email with USHPA’s call to action, to protect freeflight aviation in the US.

- Martin Palmaz USHPA Executive Director



The Next Level: Jared Anderson by Andy Pag

With only limited competition experience, US pilot Jared Anderson found himself on the podium of the Paragliding World Cup in Argentina. What kind of rookie does it take to score in the top three in the fastest paragliding race in the world?


he Paragliding World Cup (PWC) bills itself as the pilots' competition. The PWCA, the organisation that runs it, is founded by paraglider pilots and its history is very much a grass roots organisation. Every year they hold five week-long competitions around the world, and a “Superfinal” at the end of the season. Only the best pilots are invited to take part, based on their competition ranking score kept by the FAI. There are no quotas for nationalities, for manufacturers, or for sponsors. The rules are designed so the field is made up of the best pilots in the world. This year the competition has already had legs in Valle de Bravo in Mexico, Mini Clavero in Argentina, and Savoie in France. Still to come are the competitions in Portugal and Macedonia, as well as the Superfinal in LEFT Jared Anderson on launch during a

World Cup | photo by Andy Pag.

Denizli, Turkey. There’s only a handful of US pilots who take part in the series. Like many beginner pilots, Jared Anderson came to flying in his late 30s. Before that the 44-year-old dentist from Oregon had a long resume of sporting accomplishments. He came second in the state as a runner when he was in high school, and went on to be a competitive alpine and cross-country skier. He’s also an accomplished cyclist, windsurfer and rock climber. So it’s not surprising that when paragliding instructor Kevin Lee stumbled into Anderson’s dental clinic for a crown and started talking about the sport, Anderson’s ears pricked up immediately. “I was sold as soon as he mentioned it,” recalls Anderson. “Kevin didn’t have to give me the hard sell, or the soft sell, or any sales pitch. I wanted to try it straight away.” Since then he’s been a self-confessed paragliding addict. “I’m like that with all the sports I’ve been involved with. I give them my all. I guess I have an addictive personality that way,” he admits. Lee recalls Anderson’s training days. “If I remember correctly, he always thought he was ready for the next step before I did, but he always respected the ‘system’ and didn’t push.” As Anderson progressed, Lee says “He made some of the more common mistakes in the beginning but responded to the community’s feedback and critique better then most; without pushing back and with humility, always

saying thanks and applying the lessons learned. Even though his quick progression was often a bit nerve wracking, he’s always balanced it out with a modest ego. I personally think this has been his biggest attribute: To take in what others offer.” In the seven years he’s been flying Anderson has progressed from a school glider to a Rush 2, Delta, Mantra 4, an Icepeak 6, and after a brief period on an Enzo, he now flies an Enzo2. After focusing on developing his cross-country skills over the first three years of his flying career, Anderson joined a task in the Norcal league, a regular informal get-together of pilots from California, Oregon and Washington who set tasks and see how fast they can fly them as a way of improving their skills. Anderson won his first-ever task there and the competition bug started to bite. Even through cross-country flying remained his main focus, he went on to take part in competitions at Valle de Bravo, Chelan and twice at the Rat Race, at his home site in southern Oregon. “Cross-country flying and competitions complement each other in my mind. Getting into the competition scene took my enthusiasm for flying and multiplied it. It opened up a whole new world,” he says of sharing the sky with other pilots that dedicated so much effort to flying, and he relished being able to share the details of his passion with them, while learning from



Jared’s Race Gear Wing: Ozone Enzo 2

“It’s an active wing, but I like that. I like being constantly engaged with it.” Harness: Swing Race Connect

“It’s comfy. I’m a big believer in having the best gear in the best condition.” Instruments: Flytec 6030.

“I use it for the Speed, Vario readout, Distance to waypoint, Distance to goal, Glide to goal, Wind speed, Wind direction and for the vario sound.” Instruments: Flymaster

“The dot that helps you re-find the thermal core and stay centered is really useful. That’s helped me out a lot. I keep the tracklog as a backup.” Instruments: Galaxy Note w/ XC Soar

“I like the mapping, and it helps me visualize the cylinders. I like the thermal trail function. I have it set up so it changes color and thickness as I climb faster so it helps me core. I rely on it.” Instruments: Blue-Sky helmet vario

“It’s a back-up sound in case my Flytec goes down.”

them. “I was lucky to fly with Josh Cohn, who has a lot to teach. And I had mentors at Woodrat, my local site, like Rick Ray and Hayden Glatte, who’s an inspiration. There have been lots of good pilots that have been great about sharing.”

Jared launching at World Cup in Annecy | photo by Andy Pag.




By the start of the 2014 flying season Anderson was itching for a change. His fanaticism around flying was taking over the rest of his life, and he wanted to find a better work-life balance that would let him fly more. After much soul searching, he sold his dental clinic in Ashland. It was a big move that came with a non-compete clause, which meant he wouldn’t be able to work in the town he’d called home any more.

He’d forced a dramatic change upon himself, and the first step was to hit the road. For the first three months of the year Anderson followed the racing circuit down to South America. His first destination was the Pre-worlds in Colombia, and his ticket meant a late-night arrival into Bogota. Anxious about the risks in such a reputedly dangerous city he considered backing out, but in the end everything worked out smoothly and Colombia proved to be safe and full of incredibly welcoming hosts. The Pre-worlds and the Colombian Nationals went well, and next stop for Anderson was Mina Clavero, in

Argentina, where he’d earned a place at the high-rollers table, the PWC. On the first task Anderson crossed the line in an inauspicious 26th place on a day when none of the 65 pilots made a big impact on the task. But from there things went better and better every day and as he found his feet, he moved up the field finishing 15th, 6th and on the fourth day joint first place. The scoring system allows every pilot to discard one bad result but is designed in such a way as to reward consistency. On the final task he secured 4th position, resulting in 3rd place overall at his first-ever PWC. The podium finish automatically qualifies him for the Superfinal to be held in Denizli, Turkey, in September and the experience gave Anderson a boost to his confidence which in return has improved his flying. “I still have a lot of room for improvement,” he says. “I need to climb better, glide better, and I still have a lot to learn about race tactics. It’s like a game of Speed Chess the way the gaggle makes decisions, and the only way to learn that is to fly with better pilots. It’s all about repetition.” To that end Anderson flew across the Atlantic in May to take part in the PWC in Savoie, France, arguably the national home of paragliding. With a much bigger field of over 130 competitors, and more European pilots present, things didn’t go so easy for Anderson. After a respectable 16th and 38th finish on the first two days, Anderson failed to make goal on a 64km task and was decked after a valley crossing which threw him into 92nd place. Undeterred, he knew that if he could keep consistent results for the rest of the competition he could discard this result and still finish well overall. Sadly that wasn’t to be the case. On the next task he had to throw his reserve. Uninjured, he was on launch ready to go the next day. It’s

a testament to his positive attitude that on the day after landing under reserve, he flew into 25th place, unshaken by the previous day’s close call. Overall Anderson placed 55th in the Savoie PWC. “The field in Argentina wasn’t as strong as in some of the other PWC rounds,” he admits. “There were some great pilots, like Durogati, but many of the world’s best were missing. Nonetheless it’s given me the belief that I can win. I don’t expect a victory, but at the same time I think ‘Why not?’” Anderson acknowledges the higher level of the flying in France, but said, “I love it. I don’t think, ‘I’m going to come here and beat all these pilots,’ but I’m happy with my performance. “Every race I enter, my goal isn’t to finish in the top 20, it’s to win. But for now I’m working my way incrementally up the ladder. Could I someday get a podium at the Superfinal? Why not? I want to be up there with the best of them. Of course I have to keep my expectations in check, but I’m not intimidated by this field, and I know I can fly and finish well because I’ve done it. “Regardless of the results I love flying, and the PWC series is really exciting and fun for me because I’m progressing so much. The biggest change has been the self-belief and the positive attitude. Racing at this level there are so many opportunities to win or lose the race, having that belief and attitude carries you a long way. It’s easy to talk yourself out of finishing well, but being confident helps you make better decisions.” It’s this resilience that helped Anderson fly well after the intimidating experiences of throwing his reserve and finishing badly. “When you bomb out it’s discouraging in the moment, but you have to take the good with the bad, and show up the next day with that positive attitude again.”

Hang Gliding

Williams Peak by



R ic h J e s u r og a


ike other popular mountain sites—Lake McClure and Andy Jackson Flight Park in California; King Mountain, ID; Sand Turn, WY; Sandia Peak, NM; and Mingus, AZ— Williams Peak in central Colorado is a decades-long beloved flying site, albeit less well known. Williams Peak resides in the beautiful White River National Forest, about 25 miles north of the mountain community of Silverthorn, Colorado. The drive to Williams Peak from Silverthorn reminds us of why we live here. The green pastures of high-altitude cattle ranches surrounded by 14,000’ snowcapped peaks towering into the deep blue sky often cause passersby to stop to capture the lush Rocky Mountain vistas with their cameras. The drive north along Highway 9 to the Williams landing area can be described as one of the last vestiges of Colorado’s Wild West. And the LZ is as pristine as the surrounding landscape. The LZ is a cattle-free green, grassy pasture at 8000' MSL, bordered to the west by the shore of Green Mountain Reservoir. When the reservoir is high, the landing area is large. When the reservoir is low, it’s gigantic. And those of us (ahem) who come up landing short when the reservoir is low luckily don’t drown. When landing conditions are favorable, you can park a topless on the cone in the LZ. And if you overshoot, there are miles of low-lying sage to land in. There are two launches on Williams Peak: lower launch is at 9370’ and faces due west; the southwest-facing upper launch is at 10,300’. Due to abundant moisture during the winter and spring, both upper and lower launches are the most beautiful, steep, green, grassy takeoffs you will find at any mountain site in Colorado. Williams Peak is rated as H-2/P-2 in the mornings and evenings when the air is smooth and H-3/P-3-plus midday. While paraglider pilots occasionally fly Williams, it is widely known for its stronger mountain conditions and is most often flown by hang glider pilots.

Lower Launch As the sun rises in the morning and warms the Blue River LEFT Ready to launch near Williams Peak.



“postage stamp,” provides a safe grassy bailout area among the sagebrush.

Upper Launch When the prevailing wind is from the southwest, the extra 1000 feet of altitude the upper launch provides can keep the steep, grassy launch in the mid-tropospheric flow throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. As long as it doesn’t over-develop, a flight from the 10,300’ launch offers ample opportunity to hook a thermal and take it up. Typically, this means that we fly upper launch in the southwesterly flow early in the day and fly lower launch from the afternoon and into the evening, as the wind direction often turns westerly in the latter part of the day. Both launches are equally soarable.

Flying Williams Peak

Valley, the wind turns northerly along the valley floor, providing up-valley flow into Silverthorn. The higher the sun gets, the warmer and stronger the up-valley northerly flow becomes, dominating the wind direction at the LZ. This northerly wind tends to persist all day and can deepen enough to encompass lower launch. Still, thermals develop in the bowl below lower launch, rewarding a patient pilot with straight-in westerly cycles for take-off. When flying from lower launch in a prevailing westerly wind, we work the bowl filled with aspen trees just to the right of take-off. The fluttering aspen leaves clearly mark the thermal’s path. Pilots make 180degree turns back and forth in the bowl until gaining enough altitude, and the thermals take on adequate size, for them to begin making 360-degree turns while climbing out above the ridge. If a pilot flying from lower launch doesn’t get up in the bowl on the next launch, there’s a vertical rock formation in front of launch called the “dinosaur” that can be soarable. One day I watched Steve Ford soar the dinosaur a couple hundred feet off the dirt for 50 minutes, until he hooked a thermal that took him up over the top of Williams Peak. If the dinosaur doesn’t work, a small landing area, appropriately named the

We’ve learned over the years that stronger winds aloft make for turbulent flying conditions at Williams. In fact, if the winds-aloft forecast shows wind speeds approaching 40mph or more above 17,000 feet, we often refrain from flying. This is especially true if the atmosphere is suitably unstable, allowing the stronger flow aloft to mix down to mountaintop level. Mechanical turbulence from stronger winds passing through nearby mountains, including the Gore Range, which is just 12 miles upwind, can bring the most diehard atheist to religious prayer in minutes. However, when the winds aloft are weak and their prevailing direction is west to southwest, the regulars who fly there will pick a launch window either in the morning or late afternoon and fly one of the most beautiful sites around. Sometimes the lift is pretty good. Sometimes it’s too good and getting down can require a prolonged, focused effort searching for sink to core your way through to lower altitudes. A couple of years ago one local area pilot found himself climbing through 17,000’ as the sun was getting low. He stuffed the bar to his knees and was finally able to find sink 12 miles away, and landed at the Kremmling Airport. When the air is active, particularly in mid-afternoon, landings can be a handful. A good approach with extra speed on final is needed during afternoon thermal conditions. Those of us who fly Williams all have our afternoon landing stories. During the early morning hours, the wind often blows from the southwest, allowing accomplished H-2 pilots to get their first high mountain flights from the 10,300’ Williams upper launch. The long glide out to the LZ in the relatively smooth morning air provides new pilots with ample oppor-

ABOVE Kim Croy launching from lower launch | photo by Rick Maddy.






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tunity to get comfortable in their wing and assess landing approaches into what is normally an up-valley northerly wind. Choosing a late-morning launch window from upper launch is also a good opportunity for experienced pilots to go XC over the back. It seems drivers were more plentiful years ago, and going XC to Granby and Winter Park were common. On one occasion, I climbed out above upper launch to 16,000’ MSL midday and turned downwind, going over the back, hoping to catch Ken Grubbs and John Coyne, who were 20 minutes ahead of me and on their way to Granby. I flew 13 miles and only hit one thermal along the way. I arrived at the mouth of Byers Canyon, four miles short of Hot Sulphur Springs, very low and with few options. I worked a few weak thermals, but this was not going to be my day. I set up to land in what looked like a small countryside graveyard, aiming my glider for a final approach in a clearing behind the gravestones. There were subtle “popping” sounds that grew louder as I pulled in on final for speed and finally realized that the graveyard was a shooting range, and the gravestones were targets. Low on final and flying fast in a PANIC, I whistled loud enough to call a dog from 100 miles away, hoping to make the shooting range attendees aware of my colossal mistake. They held their fire, and I touched down and pushed out with half-a-flare and never stopped running. I

wondered afterward if they perceived my high-speed fly-by as an effort to goad them into taking a shot at a whistling idiot. Dozens of similar stories from pilots attempting to go XC from Williams can keep a crowd around a campfire in stitches for hours. Over the decades, there have been times when Williams has been threatened with closure—once, due to the proposed installation of power lines in front of upper launch; another, more recently, when power lines were to be installed across our landing area. Each time the Rocky Mountain Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (RMHPA) worked with the respective government agencies and/or utility companies and other stakeholders to save the site.

Summary Whether going XC, boating around the Williams Peak ridge, or flying over Green Mountain Reservoir while exploring the valley, Williams can be a wonderful place to take an evening flight. If you’re lucky enough to hit a glass-off, it can be magical. The road up to both launches requires a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle. Drivers are especially appreciated. There is camping on top, although an astute pilot will be aware of occasional bans on open-pit fires. Mosquitos in the LZ from early summer through Labor Day will help you learn to break your glider down in a hurry.



The Many Hats of

Jamie Sheldon by

“It dawned on me that if I could learn to hang glide—one of biggest challenges of my life—if I could overcome that fear, I really could do anything else on the planet I wanted to.” - Jamie Shelden, 1991

C .J. S t u r te va n t


hose who know Jamie Shelden— long-time hang glider pilot, meet organizer, member of the US Women’s National Team, secretary and one of USHPA’s representatives to CIVL (the international version of USHPA)—might describe her as efficient, organized, fun-loving, ebullient, competent, approachable. But painfully shy? Short on self-confidence? Not likely! Jamie, however, recalls that 23 years ago those last two

ABOVE Jamie, ready to fly in Forbes. OPPOSITE Jamie serving as windsock pole at the 2013 British nationals in Ager, Spain.



phrases described her perfectly, and she found all aspects— physical, mental, social—of her hang gliding lessons on California’s Marina Beach almost overwhelmingly challenging. “I would look at the other pilots soaring the dunes and think to myself (honestly!), ‘Why are you wasting your time coming out here every weekend? You don’t have what these people have. You’ll never be able to do what they’re doing.’ I think about it now and it amazes me that I stuck with lessons, with such overwhelming self-doubt.” But stick with it she did, and earning her Hang 2 was a pivotal point in her life. “Hang gliding did so much for my confidence that now when I tell people I used to be painfully shy, they crack up and don’t believe me,” she says. Just to make it clear, learning to hang glide back in the early ’90s was a rather different process than it is today. Jamie elaborates: “These days, with aerotowing especially, learning seems so much faster. Someone can start from scratch and be soloing in a week. I’m pretty sure it was a solid three months for me. And I spent weekends flying down the 50-foot dune and then carrying the glider back up again…it was so much work!” Earning that H-2 rating was the first of many milestones in her hang gliding career. Unlike many novice pilots, Jamie wasn’t interested in immediately making the jump from the dunes to the mountains. “After learning to fly at the beach in smooth coastal conditions, it was quite a long time—literally five or six years—before I had any interest in a thermal. I was perfectly happy to have sled ride after sled ride in the nice smooth air, oftentimes eight or 10 of them in a weekend of flying. My boyfriend at the time used to say, ‘You know how you can tell when Jamie has reached the landing field? She makes her first turn.’ Seriously, I would fly DIRECTLY to the landing field and then circle over it until I came down, then drive back up and do it all over again, as many times as I could in a weekend. Despite how silly it seems now, the upside is that I have really strong launches and landings, because that’s all I did for the longest time. So, getting comfortable enough to thermal and actually having soaring flights in the mountains was my next hang gliding milestone.” Not long after she’d mastered thermaling and mountain flying, Jamie traveled from California to Wallaby Ranch in Florida, where she learned to aerotow and in the process met David Glover. “We were instantly great friends,” she recalls, “and he convinced me that I really ought to enter the competition being held at Quest that next spring. I had never even flown cross-country before, but David explained that there was no better way to improve my flying than to

compete. He couldn’t have been more right! I did my first XC flight the day before the comp started—12 miles! To say I was instantly hooked on the comp scene would be an understatement. Fifteen years later, the competition scene consumes my entire life.” Taking the step from recreational flying into competition was another hang gliding milestone. Soon after that Jamie moved from California to Florida, and while she was living at Quest Air she often helped out at the competitions that were organized by Steve Kroop and based at the flight park. After many years, though, Steve was beginning to burn out, and, Jamie says, “The thought of not having a comp at Quest bummed me out.” Steve encouraged her to take over as meet organizer, and assured her he



would be on hand to assist. “It was perfect!” she says about her apprenticeship as comp organizer. Sadly, two years later the landowner at Quest decided to no longer allow comps at the flight park. “So Steve and I took our circus on the road,” Jamie recalls, and the Flytec Race & Rally was born. Jamie describes that experience as “more fun that I ever imagined, but unfortunately, from a logistical standpoint, it was a nightmare.” After four years, she needed a break from the Race & Rally format, but she wasn’t about to take a break from competition! “Luckily,” she muses, “we had come through the town of Americus, Georgia, on each of the Rallies, and everyone loved it there. So, for the past two years, we’ve run a week-long competition there.” One of the biggest challenges for any meet organizer is finding the perfect venue for a robust competition. In 2007 Dustin Martin pioneered a site in Casa Grande, Arizona, and was able to convince the resort management to allow him to base a hang gliding comp there the following year. Jamie describes it as “a super unique site—a very nice golf resort that allows us to move in and take the place over

for a week every September.” After running the event with Jamie the first year, Dustin decided he would rather compete than organize, and so Jamie put on her meet-organizer hat, and took over. “It’s been hugely fun!” she declares. And fun, in Jamie’s opinion, is an essential ingredient in any competition, and her organizational style typically includes injecting something goofy into the program. “I’m a goofy girl,” she says, “seriously! And for the most part, everyone loves the goofy elements, although one year I recall a certain Swedish pilot coming up to me and saying, ‘You know, David Glover is really funny and all, but do you think he could just tell us the basic information we need at the morning briefings and skip all the joking around?’ I laughed my ass off! The answer was no, of course. Everyone loves David and his antics and the truth is that most pilots wouldn’t even bother coming to the briefing if not for David and his wildly funny ways.” While Jamie is highly focused on the competition side of hang gliding, she sees a clear relationship between competition and recreational flying. “I strongly believe that there is no better way to improve your skills than to start compet-

ABOVE Just off the cart in Forbes, Australia, 2014. BOTTOM Streamlined and color-coordinated behind the tug, Forbes, Australia, 2014.



ing,” she reiterates. “You learn so much from other pilots, both in the air and with all the talk that goes on at the end of the day. Also, you tend to push yourself and many times fly in conditions or in a direction that you might not try if not for the day’s task, and that’s a great way to improve your skills.” The relatively new Sport Class comps might seem an obvious segue between recreational flying and full-on competition, but, Jamie says, “The sport class is really surprising me. I recall when the idea of a sport-class world meet came up I though it was ridiculous and silly and no one would show up. I couldn’t have been more wrong! At least in the US, the sport-class comps have really sparked something and encouraged so many new pilots to start competition. I think when pilots found out there was a world championship that they could actually have a shot at competing in, sport-class pilots started coming out of the woodwork. We ran a sport-class clinic/comp just last spring, and 21 pilots signed up. Probably 90% of those guys were completely new to competition and they were all so enthused to come back and compete again. So, I’m really enjoying eating my words when it comes to the sport class!” While many pilots recognize Jamie in her competitor hat, or as meet organizer, very few realize that she’s also very much involved in the behind-the-scenes international politics that affect so much of the free-flight scene worldwide. I asked her to enlighten us regarding the international organization, CIVL, and her role in this political arena. “CIVL is basically the international version of USHPA,” she explains. “It’s made up of delegates from all of the member countries, just like USHPA is made up of directors from each region. When I began competing internationally back in 2001, I quickly became aware of the behind-thescenes politics in the international comp scene. I whined and whined, then decided I should put my money where my mouth is and try to get involved. Although being part of CIVL is tons of work and a giant annoyance, I’m really happy I made that choice. The rise in popularity of paragliding has made it more and more necessary that we hangies keep a voice in the international governance of our sport. There are some major differences in our disciplines and, judging from what I’ve experienced, if we don’t stay active in the politics, we’ll end up stuck with rules and regulations that don’t apply so well to us.” As one of USHPA’s two delegates to CIVL (as well as being the organization’s secretary), she sees her primary role as “making sure that the voice of the hang gliding community is heard so we don’t have stuff pushed onto us that doesn’t really fit us.” I asked Jamie for her thoughts on why there are relatively

few women who fly hang gliders and paragliders, and even fewer who compete. “Who wants more women?” she quips. “I’m happy with the current ratio…more men for me!” She, like most of us, has no easy answer to the lack of women in our sports, especially since she’s found that “there is something special about the camaraderie between women in free flight. Yes, we’re competitive with each other, but we’re also so much more supportive. There is a very special environment at a women’s world meet. There is so much encouragement going on—the first one I went to, I realized that it’s such a different scene and I hope it always stays that way. I love it!” In conclusion, I asked Jamie about her favorite flying sites and most memorable flights. She picks Ager, Spain as one of her favorite sites. “It’s super hot and dry in the flying season, and it has a gorgeous landscape with spectacular scenery from high mountains to desert-like flatlands. It’s also extremely turbulent and is more than a bit scary for me. But, it’s one of those flying sites with a special town nearby and a special atmosphere that you can’t help but fall in love with. After just one comp there, I learned to get used to and deal with the turbulence and while it still scares me, I absolutely love going back there.” Clearly she’s come a long way from that pilot who preferred sled rides for the first six years of her flying career! As for most memorable flights, she cited two. The first is her personal best, 317 km from Forbes, Australia to Hay. “Eight amazing hours in the air!” she says. That flight was featured in the April 2011 issue of this magazine. In stark contrast is her second favorite: a relatively short (about 80 km), but incredibly memorable flight across Snowdonia in North Wales. “Before we did it,” she recalls, “ just one guy had flown across the mountain range, probably 20 years



ago. It’s not that it’s all that difficult, it’s just kind of rare for conditions to line up perfectly. The week before our flight, my boyfriend at the time started looking at the forecast and convinced himself that it could be done soon. We (or, more accurately, he) planned and planned, and the whole time I was thinking, This is never really gonna happen. He was a WAY better pilot that I was, and it required quite a lot of flying over total tiger country with iffy landing options and a difficult retrieve, if we’d had a retrieve driver, which we didn’t. When all the planets aligned on his chosen day and we launched from the 600’ hill, thermaled up and went on course over the back, I was convinced I would be landing out on my own somewhere and spending the rest of the day trying to find my way back to the car, which would not have been easy. With a lot of amazing luck, we managed to stay together, despite having no radio contact. We flew over all of that tiger country and found ourselves across the range and crossing the Menai Strait onto Anglesey Island (where Prince William and Kate lived) at cloudbase. We floated above the island and landed in a gorgeous paddock 2/3 of the way across, and, miraculously, about ½ km from

the island’s only taxi company. The full retrieve saga would be incredibly long, but here’s the condensed version: With a bunch of help from Jane’s taxi company (I’m still friends with Jane on Facebook!), we made our way back to our car three hours away, drove three hours back to the island for our gliders, and finally crawled into bed at home in Liverpool about 7:00 the next morning. So even though it’s not one of my longest, the Snowdonia flight was so full of amazing luck, gorgeous scenery and adventure that it will always stand out as one of those incredible moments (days) in my life.” Throughout her metamorphosis from timid, insecure student pilot to world-class XC pilot and USHPA’s representative in the international free-flight political arena, Jamie Shelden has embodied the essential aspects of what keeps hang gliding and paragliding viable in today’s challenging arena. She is among the world’s best in all her flying-related endeavors, yet the goofy, fun-loving side of her personality ensures she never takes herself too seriously. No matter which hat she’s wearing, Jamie serves as an inspiration to all of us who benefit from her participation.

ABOVE Playing on the sand blow at Rainbow Beach in Queensland, Australia.

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ASFinKAal Frontier ALThe WiL Brow n Pho to s by M ITCH R I LE Y by




grew up…am still growing up…in Alaska. Like most people who live here I have only seen a minute fraction of this state. I have obsessively toured its mountain ranges on Google Earth for the last six years with inspired aspirations. Some lines I’ve been drooling over have sunk in so deep I now have no choice but to fly them, regardless of how remote or glaciated they seem. So when I first stumbled upon the idea of bivy flying, I realized my dream flights might be within reach. In fact, some monster terrain features seem downright accessible with a week’s worth of food stashed in my harness. But like most flying, it’s better with a buddy. Enter Mitch Riley. We flew a couple of bivy trips together in Nepal and then planned a two-week paragliding adventure in a remote mountain range with large terrain, glaciers, rivers, forests, and wildlife. Fast-forward a few weeks: Mitch and I are in a cabin at the base of a “hike-able” mountain in our new playground. We shoulder heavy packs and bust into the brush. One hour into our hike, Mitch and I lose our bear spray. I backtrack to find my bottle. It’s a shame Mitch lost his, because it was actual bear spray. (Mine is intended to be used by college girls who need protection when they go running at night.) In any case, three hours later we locate our launch for tomorrow. As moisture dissipates, a massive glacier appears. The western sun illuminates four 7000’ peaks lined up in the east. 13,000’ peaks arise from the glaciers at the valley’s head, and the 16,000’-plus monster at the crest of the range is visible in the NW.

Mitch and I are pumped to wake up early and make use of the abundant summer daylight. The sun beams down for several hours before I even roll over. I unzip my tent and marvel at the clarity of a blue-sky day in Alaska. I spot two leviathans over a hundred miles away jutting into the sky like frosted spearheads. Along the horizon cumulus plumes rise above black jagged islands from the sea of ice beneath. Warm, short cycles rush up the hill. At 9:00 a.m. Mitch pulls up his glider and darts over to a steep bowl. The drainage below is packed with thick, dark conifers facing into the morning sun. Mitch continues to get pushed out; the lift is too tight; he slowly seems to be losing the battle, until he hits a boomer at 9:35 a.m.—early for Alaska. I launch and fly towards Mitch’s thermal and find it. I get worked a lot, close to the ground, and drive deeper to find more energy. After an exhausting hour, I find a spine producing rough, high-pressure goodness, boosting me up towards Mitch and see the 16,000’ ice monster that will serve as our backdrop for the next 30 miles. “This is sick!” “Yeah, buddy!” We make our first crossing towards a shallow, east-facing bowl. I am nearly rotored into flashing leaves below when I swoop in against a gray rock-face looking for lift and push into the wind to find something stronger. Mitch hooks into it above me. I chase the thermal back towards him, but fly behind the dirty ripper when it pinches off, and find myself floundering in rotor again. I push into the wind until it

LEFT Wil Brown opens up a route in his neighborhood. ABOVE Mitch (L) and Wil (R) psyched to be up in the hills, pioneering AK.



forces me across a shallow slope and am rewarded with frantic beeping. I dig in hard and rip up towards Mitch and a lone bald eagle. Mitch leads me from nice thermals to awesome line, to sweet clouds, to fast transitions. I’m doing my best to keep up. Every time I climb up under Mitch, I yell whatever ecstatic, lunatic thing I’m inspired to share. “Yeah, boyyyy! We’re crushing this!” Now comes the dust. Across the valley a massive river system spews a cloud of fine glacial silt into the air. The day begins to feel ominous. The river below becomes more tumultuous, the mountain more gray. The sky closes in, flat lighting the forest below. We are flushed down and away from the mountains. Mitch and I have nice, safe landings in the middle of a swamp. After we share enthusiastic renditions of our flight, I pull out my map to see what lies ahead. “We flew off the map, dude,” Mitch says with some amusement. (Luckily, my dad has hooked us up with navigational information via my InReach.) We decide to head overland through the forest for 12 miles to a small town near the road. We figure we can do a half-marathon by midnight, no problem. Twenty minutes later, we’re knee deep in swamp. Soon after, we climb a slope into dense woods. As ABOVE Mitch Riley on glide over the large Alaska wild.



we fight through the tangle of squat trees, we find a fourfoot-diameter tunnel through the foliage. Live branches have been bent into unnatural shapes and anything dead is splintered into kindling. We feel it is important to not sneak up on the creator of this trail. Frequent, deep-pitched calls into the woods take care of that, we hope. After three hours, we’ve covered 1.2 miles. “Let’s go straight for the river. It’s six miles away,” says Mitch. Six miles sounds better than eleven. If it means getting out of the forest sooner, I’m all for it. I’m getting anxious about the furry tractors that are doing all the landscaping around here. After another half mile, we’re dragging. I collect all food items and climb a tree. My food bag will sleep in the windblown canopy. I pass out after a few minutes of listening to Mitch’s snoring, but not for long. The creaking trees reveal the sounds of potential stalking predators. The slightest leaf rustle sounds like a thousand-pound footstep. I white-knuckle my tiny pepper spray and try to suck it up. I awake the next morning to Mitch packing his tent, and we start the day’s march at 7:30 a.m.. After a quarter mile, the forest morphs into a cottonwood graveyard with 15-foot alder bushes filling any empty space. We are no longer walking. We are wrestling and swimming. A hundred feet equals

five minutes of agony. Dead spruce shower twigs into our shirts that chafe our backs. We plow on, climbing, crawling, and barreling through the forest, constantly cursing it. Suddenly, the forest thins. We burst out onto to an enclosure overlooking a stream and picnic there while we exult about our progress. “Alright, man! Well done!” Mitch says. “Definitely some class-five bushwhacking there.” “Yes, indeed. Expert terrain.” We enjoy the open sky and clear, running water. After a few more hours in the forest, we realize it’s 4:00 p.m., and we are still a half-mile from the river. Mitch is motivated, but I’m not. Mitch attempts to keep up our spirit. Every stop now is short, and the mosquitoes relentlessly assault us. “2000 feet.” The forest senses our imminent escape and closes in around us. “1600 feet.” Each fallen log is more vexing than the last. “1200 feet.” I throw my bag down. Mitch gets out his GoPro. I scoot underneath a log. Mitch tosses me the camera and starts working his way under. “1000 feet.” Giant rosebushes appear, full of sharp, splintering thorns that plunge into our legs. “600 feet.” I wrestle alders that try to strip me of my hiking poles, glider bag, pants, and jacket. Spruce claws at my hair, mashed mosquitoes drip off my chin along with sweat and mucus. “300 feet.” “I see it!” Suddenly bursting with energy, I practically dive down through the soft, fine, glacial silt to the gravel bar below and direct a celebratory whoop towards Mitch. Packs become backrests and Mitch’s sleeping pad our couch cushion. We talk excitedly about the next day. Without the brush fighting us every step of the way, we’ll be bookin’ it towards hot chicks and beer. The next morning we skip breakfast, eager to see how fast we can make it back. After twenty minutes of easy walking, we’re forced up the side of the bluff, grabbing handholds for a better grip on the shifty soil. We drop back down to the riverbank for brief treks in flat sections. Even with our little detours up the bluff, we’re making good time. Then we spot very LARGE bear prints. It looks as if sows, cubs, and one enormous bull have been strolling down the narrow beach. I can tell from the front bull prints that he has three-inch claws. The rear prints are as long as my size eleven foot and three times wider. Gulp. “I think I just heard one,” says Mitch. “Seriously?” “Yeah. I heard a loud huffing noise coming out of the brush.”

I walk very quickly now. I stumble and slam a pole down to steady myself. The tip of the pole breaks and I go down, hard. We regret skipping breakfast that results in needing to eat on the trail. My eyes shift as I frantically stuff my face with quinoa and raisins. Sitting in a rift in the eroding bluff, wide enough for several hundred pounds of brown fur, muscle, claws and teeth, I feel trapped. Hopefully, four ounces of pepper spray is a sufficient deterrent. I scurry down to the river to wash the dishes. We relax after packing our stoves, re-sealing our food and moving away from our cook spot. It’s past mid-day and time to either continue another two or three miles of variable riverbank terrain or punch back into the woods. I text my folks for help with the decision. My mom comes through big time with waypoints to an old gravel pit in the forest. The brush is thick with wild roses. The thorns are interrupted only by fallen spruce, dense with dead branches. Mitch demonstrates some forest parkour, linking a three-log switchback together. I follow clumsily, trying not to fall into the prickly lava below. I heave myself over one final spruce, shoes packed with conifer needles, ankles torn every direction by the roses, and drop my bag to watch Mitch emerge from the garden of Satan. He gives me a high five. “Well done!” Mitch is awesome. In a few short minutes we find a very old clearcut area, but no trail. Mitch checks his GPS, “Across this little drainage, towards that saddle.” It’s my turn to break trail and I do so emphatically. I am tearing through sparse brush when my feet hit flat, packed ground



uncovered by fresh growth and realize it’s a manmade trail! “Oh hell, yeah, dude!” We jog down the single track. It widens into a road that leads us to the top of a tall river bluff, overlooking the widespread mouth of a new river. I count 15 different channels that we have to cross. We skid our way down the bluff to the cold water. After a couple of crossings my feet feel like bricks. “Hey, there’s a bridge,” says Mitch. We have already crossed four channels of frigid water. “Should we go back?” asks Mitch. “Hell yeah, we should; this water is freezing.” I get to the bridge first and look back, eager to be past this final barrier. “Oh shit!” He exclaims. “What?” “The bridge doesn’t go all the way across.” “What?! What are you talking about? Of course it does!” I walk across the bridge to demonstrate how bridges work. I reach the end of the structure, but find myself looking down thirty feet at rushing water. Mitch is at my shoulder. “See...?” he asks softly. “Wow. That’s a bummer.” We head back to the river. Every time my feet hit the icy current they burn and plead for reprieve. Mitch’s determination keeps us on course. We are making good progress until we reach the central channel. It seems impassible, but Mitch’s nine years of experience in raft guiding makes him confident about reading running water. “I think right here will work.” He starts across slowly, using his poles to gauge the depth. One goes in deep, he plunges towards the center of the current, and the river surges around his hips. His 50-pound red backpack hovers inches above the water accelerating past his waist. But his weight shifts back, and Mitch just looks as if he’s going for a frosty swim. The moment passes, and I sigh with relief. Mitch is still knee deep when he looks back and yells,



“Be careful, dude! Really… like this,” He demonstrates an athletic stance, “Okay?” “Alright!” I jam my pole down into the channel. As my foot follows, I feel the pressure build against my thighs. The force is tremendous. My eyes focus on the grey beam of water charging towards me. This is the climax of our journey. At that moment, balls deep in glacial water, I realize the absurdity of our adventure. This has to be the hardest anyone has ever worked for 40 miles of cross- country paragliding. Then I am shaking hands with Mitch. “That was intense!” Adrenaline pumps through my veins. “Yeah, man, my legs feel weird.” After the glacial master-blaster, none of the other crossings make an impression. The tendons in my ankles shrink and constrict with the cold water. I rub life back into my Achilles while Mitch stuffs his feet into jacket sleeves. So much for hot chicks and beer. Four cars pass by in two hours, so we camp in a nearby campground. Mitch procures some snacks from gracious campers. It is past noon and still no ride or food. Fishermen are cleaning salmon on the river’s edge. I walk over, introduce myself, explain my unruly appearance and kindly ask for some fish. The Fairbanks version of Gandalf the Grey happily washes some salmon scraps for me. “Well done, dude!” Mitch is stoked on the salmon. He tries some raw; then we boil the rest. A camper van pulls up and a friendly Frenchman named Julian becomes our savior. I stretch out in the van and eat the rest of the stinking fish as discreetly as possible. The cabin is our bell tower of Notre Dame. Sanctuary. We hibernate for a couple of days and go back out for another go. We complete another three-day trip. We hike once. Topland twice. Fly the burly gnar gnar. Bushwhack zero times. Practice makes perfect. Big thanks to Mitch for such an excellent adventure!

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Pine Mountain, California Scott Beery

500 Miles

to Nowhere by





n my experience, successful expeditions start with good planning. Paragliding always has an element of winging it (pardon the pun), and no amount of planning overcomes weather, that uncrossable line in the proverbial sand that dictates our every move. But you can stack the odds in your favor. Looking back, I guess we were just cocky, riding the success of last year’s Sierra Safari, where our team set a record for bivvy flying in North America by crossing the California Sierra Mountains from south to north into Oregon. Cocky and paragliding aren’t water and oil, but there is no doubt that to perform at a high level you need the right mix of humility and confidence. I felt our team had an absolutely perfect combination. The team was composed of four pilots, each of whom had set the North American foot-launch distance during the past year, beginning with Matt Beechinor’s 193-mile punch deep into Montana from Bald Mountain in Sun Valley, Idaho, rocking the paragliding world. Matt was followed by Nate Scales’ pushing farther into the abyss with a 199-mile flight from the same launch a few weeks later. Not to be outdone, Nick Greece launched from his home site in Jackson Hole with Jon Hunt, just a week later, and flew a remarkable 204 miles out over the Red Rock Desert in Wyoming. I earned my spot on the team by punching out a 240-mile flight this past summer, breaking the North American foot-launch record and bringing the title back to Sun Valley. These flights weren’t the result of luck, although some would argue they had phenomenal weather in common. I would suggest that factors contributing to these flights are LEFT Gavin McClurg launching from Hurricane Ridge, Utah.



recent huge wing advancements, lots and lots of training, and unfiltered desire. Huge flights take a different kind of approach, a different mindset that starts with a willingness to fly into areas without landing options, with enough kit on your back to survive if you can’t get out for a couple days. These are big mountains and “remote” is an inadequate descriptor. I’ve yet to fly a place that requires more commitment, as the world’s best pilots discovered in last year’s Sun Valley PWC (Paragliding World Cup) when Guy Anderson, a British pilot disappeared for two days. Our mission this year was to fly 500 miles in a series of linked flights from southern Utah, near Hurricane Ridge outside of Zion, to Jackson Hole, across the Wasatch Range and Star Valley. We signed a deal with Outside TV to shoot the trip, brought a bunch of great sponsors on board to provide gear and support and came up with a name: “500 Miles to Jackson.” As the title of this article suggests, our mission became something else entirely. Since its inception, paragliding has been about chasing weather. This spring I spent five weeks in Europe driving across France, Switzerland, Italy and back, and then back again in a nearly fruitless pursuit of airtime. Sometimes it’s

impossible to run fast enough. The Rocky Mountains run from the southern tip of Chile to the northern tip of Alaska, the longest unbroken chain of mountains on Earth. They stand tall and proud amongst high plains and surrounding deserts that stretch farther than the largest countries in Europe are wide. This geological fact is what makes the flying there intense. Weather is unpredictable. Thermals are strong. Bases are high, very often well over our legal limit of 18,000 feet. Supplemental oxygen is essential. There is no such thing as a perfect flying day. We don’t have hammertags, which literally means “hammer days,” the German term for perfect days in the Alps, where pilots have an opportunity to fly fast with high bases and very little wind. We just have days that are less on the edge than others. Winds come out of nowhere and blow hard. I’ve flown more hours in the European Alps than at home, and I can’t say that flying in the Alps is easier; it’s just an entirely different game. In Europe, there are trains and busses to take you home. In the American West, there are dirt roads and an occasional truck that might appear once or twice a day. In the Alps, pilots fly proven lines and stick to ranges. Up and down the Pinzgau. Up and down the Rhone. On light wind days the

ABOVE Nate Scales in front of Provo, Utah. OPPOSITE Matt Beechinor, Nick Greece, and Gavin McClurg walking to launch in Utah.



Holy Grail is big triangles. At home, we fly under the jet stream, and triangles are exceedingly rare. Big glides in the Alps are 10 kilometers. At home a normal glide is 20 miles (about 32km), jumping from one range of mountains to an entirely different one. These factors make bivvy flying in the American West enticing. Almost none of the possible lines

have been flown. From an aesthetic point of view, the options seem endless. In planning the trip, our team studied the proposed route across Utah for weeks, identifying potential top-landing sites and places our retrieve vehicle could get up to us, as our Achilles’ heel is always water. At high elevations in late August, there is no life-sustaining liquid to be found, and we could each carry on our backs only two days’ worth. To confront this problem, we refined our bivvy kit by cutting over 10 pounds of unnecessary equipment. Our instruments are charged by the sun, thanks to X-Grid’s compact solar kits; sleeping pads are 85% less bulky and heavy, thanks to Klymit’s space-age designs; Black Diamond’s trekking poles are strong and hyper-light for morning ascents, and tiny bivvy sacs allow for very lightweight sleeping bags; compact and calorie-packed nutrition is provided in the refillable packets that Pocketfuel has smartly engineered. Each of these small but significant improvements saves important ounces, furthering our ability in the air. Now we are able to fly unmodified pod harnesses, making us much more efficient in the air. But none of this matters in the face of bad weather. We’d chosen late August, as this is typically the prime time for reliable flying. The biggest flights are usually done earlier in the year, but instability and wind can often ground pilots for weeks. By late August the monsoon has passed, winds are



lighter, the air is more stable and the jet stream has backed off, which hopefully will allow us to fly from south to north instead of the typical east (downwind). But when we arrived at Hurricane Ridge, the monsoon was just arriving. Highly unstable and moisture-rich air was being swept up from the Gulf of Mexico, 1500 miles away. Instead of small white, puffy cumulus clouds in the afternoon, we had massive nimbus clouds and a scary explosion of lightning. Mesmerizing, to be sure, in the desert; beautiful, from the ground; terrifying, from the air.

We flew a bit here and there, but inevitably we were forced to run. The forecasts indicated drier conditions up north, but our paragliders were too slow to get there as we’d planned (in the air), so we modified the expedition, at first by 100 miles, driving north. But the weather caught up, so we modified it again. 400 miles to Jackson…300 Miles to Jackson… Eventually, these modifications became a joke. We were paragliding the way it is typically done—driving to launches that held promise and seeing what we could make of the con-

ABOVE Nick Greece over Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY. OPPOSITE Gavin McClurg heading to the Grand Teton, Wyoming. NEXT PAGE Matt Beechinor, Gavin McClurg, and Nick Greece heading down the ridge at Hurricane, Utah.



ditions. We kept going north until we reached Jackson, but, unfortunately, not by air. We scored a beautiful flight out to the Grand Teton and back, a rarely flown route of 30 miles in big mountains, but rain caught up with us as it had every day and we were grounded again. And that’s when everything changed. Rather than admitting defeat and succumbing to the weather, we regrouped and realized that while we weren’t living the adventure as we’d imagined, the adventure was still pretty radical and one that, like all adventures, is precious and should be treasured. Great friends, great flying, and a lot of unknowns. So we altered the mission, renamed it to “500 Miles to Nowhere,” got back in the truck and drove all the way back to where it all began, Hurricane Ridge. Where it began all over again…or where it

ended all over again. At that point it didn’t matter. We were now on the wings of a proper journey, riding it wherever and at whatever pace the weather dictated. Maybe it was cocky to even make plans to begin with; our human instincts dictated a course of action that felt comfortable and grounded in reason. I began this essay with the presumption that successful expeditions begin with wellmade plans. But essentially we’re flying modified bed sheets and shoe strings with no motor. What we are doing is by definition absolutely unreasonable. So next time, rather than having a predetermined outcome, maybe rather than having a predetermined definition of “success,” we can just pack our gliders and our gear and head out there and see what happens. Because in the end, that’s what happens anyway.







Ticket to Adventure

King Mountain Championships 2014 by


nticipating the adventures to come at the King Mt. Championships, I was both excited and worried. What if I blew a launch? What if I was too high to get down when things overdeveloped? What if I got sucked into a cloud? These were some of the thoughts that ran through my head as I drove from my home in Salt Lake City to Moore, Idaho. I remember having read about the King Mt. Championships when I was new to hang gliding. It seemed like the most adventurous kind of hang gliding possible. Competitors were foot-launching, using oxygen systems and navigating their way through the Rocky Mountains with course routes running through Idaho’s remote Lost River, Lemhi and Bitteroot mountain ranges. The ride into Idaho was beautiful, but my mind raced with thoughts of what I had to do in order to fly successfully in the Big Lost River Range. My perseverations ranged from whether or not I had trained properly, to where I would get oxygen refills. As with most things in life, the answers unfolded naturally. While the spectacular scenery and the potential for long cross-country flights drew me in, King Mountain’s reputation for the biggest of the “big air” had me concerned. Like many hang glider pilots, I heard stories about King Mountain being dangerous, even deadly. What I discovered was not recklessness or danger but a sophisticated school for big-mountain flying. The community was comprised of a group of skilled mountain pilots with years of experience and an unusual depth of knowledge.

For example, Lisa Verzella is not only an experienced XC pilot and King Mt. veteran, she’s also a professional meteorologist. John Kangas, a commercial jet pilot, owns the King Mountain Sailplane Park; he maintains a highly rated grass runway at the base of the mountain where hang glider pilots are not only invited but also encouraged to land. Both Lisa and John gave expert weather reports and analyses every morning, arming pilots with all the information needed to make sound decisions as the day unfolded. Moore, Idaho, is a tiny town in the middle of a vast land. Shady trees, green grass and vehicles with gliders on top marked the campground, my destination. I’d just arrived when I met Dave Clamette and his team from California, who offered to give me a ride up to launch for an evening glass-off flight. Thanks to them, I was able to warm up and get a look at King Mt. before the competition started. In most meets, the top competitors have their hands full as they prepare for each day’s task, and newcomers learn by doing. This event was different. Top competitors were challenged and less experienced pilots were coached along by teammates. Forming teams was optional but most competitors joined forces, shared drivers and worked together. Teams were made up of one rigid wing, one topless flexwing, a king-posted glider pilot with an XC flight longer than 70 miles, and one whose best flight was less than 70 miles. The top competitors readily took time to share knowledge with us newcomers. I met Kurt Bainum that first evening; we hit it off and he offered me a spot on his team. I soon had the answers to my

OPPOSITE 15,000 feet over King Mountain | photo by David Sharp.



Pat r ic k M c g u i ne s s

questions regarding logistics, local weather, communication, safety procedures and other crucial aspects of flying XC in the big country surrounding Moore, Idaho. Kurt flies an Atos and holds the site distance record for rigid wings: 163 miles, set during the 2013 King Meet when he flew to Anaconda. Kurt seemed to have everything our team needed for a good week: a diesel pick-up truck with a ham radio mounted on the dash, a custom rack for multiple gliders, and a driver. Other first-timers to King had similar luck. Seasoned veterans were skilled at looking out for newcomers and teaching them about mountain XC flying.

The competition uses the open-distance format, rather than race-to-goal, following four major routes through the mountains. The day’s route is called when the launch window opens. If more than one route looks good for the day, more than one route is called, giving pilots options. With multiple variables in the mix, strategies become creative. For example, the winner of the competition was Dave Chapman. Dave has flown everything from jet fighters to 767s. One day, he chose to fly his North Wing Freedom, a kingposted, single-surface glider. “The winds were light and I don’t like scratching or getting low in a high-performance glider,”



he explained. “Besides, I wanted to have fun and enjoy my flight.” Dave had the longest flight that day, going 65 miles over the peaks including Mt. Borah, the highest peak in Idaho. Dave Sharp had the longest flight of the entire meet, flying his rigid wing to Salmon, over 100 miles from launch. Dave Whiteacre, a new H-2, had solid launches and more than doubled his total airtime with a two-hour soaring flight. My most memorable flight was making it past Ramshorn and Pass Creek Canyons with plenty of altitude and time on my side. The sky looked great as I soared over Invisible Peak and headed for Mount Borah. To get there, I had to contend with Corner Mountain. I worked my way around the mountain, searching for thermals, all the while dodging rotor from each successive vertical ridge. I eventually made my way around to the front of the mountain but had lost considerable altitude by that time. I flew away from the ridges, racking up a few extra miles on glide and landing past the Mt. Borah trailhead. It may have been a modest 40-mile XC flight, but the personal accomplishment made it an unforgettable experience. The competition started years ago as a fly-in, and at one point it became one of the biggest competitions in the country. Veteran pilot Rob Wolf (one of those pilots who made



a point to connect with newcomers and offer helpful advice) recalls when pilots traveled from all over the US to attend. Rob suggests that the event return to a fly-in format to retain its positive vibe. Others, like myself, enjoy that it’s a competition and were disappointed to learn that this year’s meet did not apply for USHPA sanctioning. The morning pilot’s meeting was the time when the bulk of the necessary information was conveyed. Pilots recounted their previous day’s flights and asked thoughtful questions, which were answered in depth in a seminar format. Concepts new to me, including watts per square meter, convective available potential energy and the buoyancy sheer index, were explained and used regularly as a way to prepare pilots to understand what was happening during the day. The concepts were integrated with knowledge of local weather patterns, such as the Mackay convergence, which forms a line between the desert and mountain air. Discussions about the weather continued throughout the day; even after launching there was always the radio, which allowed for communication in flight. One day I caught a thermal off launch and took it to the top of King. My vario was maxed out, and I was at 15,000 feet within approximately five minutes. The mountain is huge and the granite walls on the peak shoot straight up. The feeling in the center of my chest was a mixture of awe

and excitement. Each time I circled and faced the mountain, I was shocked by the extent of its mass. I went on glide, crossing a large pass until I made it to the next range. Thermaling above those peaks was breathtaking. I looked down at snowfields, icy-blue glacial lakes, rockslides. I soared with three large birds for a while, catching thermals off granite crags that would make rock climbers drool. At times I could see deer or elk running below. In flight, I felt as if I were an active part of this wild and remote environment. It was truly inspirational. Another seasoned pilot, known as Dr. Paul, took an opportunity to launch when other pilots struggled to find a good cycle. In the process, his radio and mittens fell out of his harness. He had an amazing flight that day, making it to the May airport despite painfully cold hands. The real problem came when he landed and found he had no modern communication devices to get a ride home. Dr. Paul is a resourceful man, however. He used a landline to call his wife, who, in turn called meet director Connie, who sent a retrieval vehicle.

I would encourage pilots who love adventure and want to be a part of something amazing to consider flying at the King Mt. Championships next year. It’s a rare opportunity to learn the secrets of cross-country mountain flying at an intensely beautiful place. If you’ve experienced the kind of fears I described, rest assured, you will have more than adequate information to base your flying decisions on. Serious competitors should also consider the King Mountain Championships as it adds a heartier dimension to a competitive repertoire. Anyone who is dreaming of flying adventure should make plans now to show up at next year’s King Mountain Championships. I came to King Mountain with the goals of competing and of learning more about flying XC in big mountains. What I found was a hang gliding adventure camp, complete with a thousand lessons on mountain flying and solid safety measures built in. I registered early and received my ticket to adventure in advance. I did my part to prepare, and the rest happened once I arrived.

LEFT Dr. Paul Allen at the upper launch. RIGHT Lisa Verzella gives the weather report during the pilots’ meeting. NEXT PAGE The uppper launch at King..



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Year after year, working for you.






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HG 401: Advanced Techniques & Concepts Hang Height and Dangle Angle



by Ryan Voight


his topic tends to get over-simplified for a good reason: Beginner pilots have no need to delve into its complexities. But as our skills progress and we climb into higher performance equipment, this subject becomes much more relevant. Dialing in your perfect hang height and “dangle angle” can drastically improve your flying experience. It is a surprisingly complex subject though, as you will soon see. Hang height is, as it sounds, the height at which you hang while lying in your harness. This is typically measured by the size of the gap between your chest and the basetube; nearly every beginner pilot is taught that “about one fist above the bar” is correct. And to get to this magic “one-fist” hang height, we lengthen or shorten our hang loop, at the point where our harness hooks in to the wing. This is wrong. Measuring hang height as clearance off the base tube and adjusting at the hang loop is not the right move to make, because it does not account for “dangle angle,” or the angle at which our bodies hang while in our harnesses. Some prefer to have their head higher than their feet, while others prefer their feet higher than their head. (I’ll get into the pros and cons of each later.) What is important to realize is that your dangle angle will have a HUGE effect on the distance between your chest and the base tube. Lengthening or shortening your hang loop raises or lowers your hips and the center of gravity of your body. Adjusting your dangle angle raises or lowers your head and has the opposite effect on your legs—your center of gravity remains unchanged. This differentiation is important, because we LEFT As he pulls in and flies faster, we can

see that this dangle angle is actually very precise and efficient for flying this fast | photo by Paul Voight.

fly weight-shift aircraft. Lowering your CG reduces the pressure required to affect the same weightshift input (same concept as a kingpost hang). And if all we did was fly prone, that would be the end of it… but we launch and land in an upright position, which complicates things. Hanging too low in the upright position greatly reduces our flare authority upon landing. It also extends one of the most dangerous periods during a launch. When we walk up to launch, we exert pitch control by using our shoulders as a lever fulcrum. Pulling our hands back pivots the glider on our shoulders, lowering the nose. While flying, we exert pitch control by shifting our weight forward or back. But during every launch, there is a period of time during which the glider has risen off your shoulders, but is not yet lifting your weight (the harness mains are still slack). During this brief phase, we have very limited pitch control, and the lower our hang height, the longer this window of susceptibility exists. So we must find a compromise in hanging our CG as low as possible for improved handling, but maintaining our CG high enough to have safe launches and landings, despite the myriad conditions in which we launch or land. (In smooth conditions, skilled pilots can “get away” with hanging too low. In aviation, you’ll never “get away with” anything forever.) Finding the perfect compromise in hang height is different for everyone. Some people who have great technique and timing can afford to hang low. Some who are masters at handling their wing don’t need to hang as low and are happy to accept higher roll pressures, in exchange for easier launches and landings. What I can tell you, for certain, is that advanced pilots should play around with their hang height— small increments at a time—and find their magic spot. You’ll know when you

LEFT Pilot David Gibson showing a pretty accurate

find it; it just feels “right.” And finding it is entirely unrelated to the distance between your chest and the base tube! One quick note: The length of your leg loops (and where they connect to the harness) can also alter your upright hang height, so you might play with adjusting them as well. Then there’s dangle angle. When over-simplified, the popular belief suggests we should hang however we are most comfortable. I’m not going to say NOT to hang however you are most comfortable, but I’d like to point out that there actually IS a specific, ideal angle, as well as many variations of compromised arrangements. Each pilot can choose to hang however he/she likes; my intention here is to clarify the compromises we must accept in any given orientation. Aerodynamically speaking, the most efficient dangle angle is to be positioned slightly head-down, matching our glide path through the air. How far head-down will depend on the performance of your equipment. If you suppose a single-surface wing has a glide ratio of about 8:1, you will be descending through the air at about a 7° angle below horizontal. Hanging your harness at that same angle will minimize the frontal area of your body that is exposed and minimize drag. Seven degrees is not much beyond level, and that’s on a low-performance



wing. If your wing-harness combination gets to be more like 15:1, you will be descending at less than 4° below horizontal. (Don’t you wish you had paid closer attention in precalculus?!) Hanging any kind of head-high is pretty inefficient. It always amazes me how many pilots fly in single-suspension-point harnesses to minimize drag, and then fly around 10° or more head-high (which is more like 15-20 degrees off the airflow). At that angle, the harness lines you’d have on a more forgiving harness would be in the lee side of your BODY anyway. Besides being inefficient, there is a bigger problem with hanging headhigh. If you maintain proper hang height (remember, it’s not the “one-fist” rule!), you will have a pretty big gap between your chest and the base tube. So what? you say. Well, the bigger that gap, the straighter your arms must be to reach the basetube. Straighter arms greatly reduce your weight-shift ability: you can only move a little bit in any direction, before you are limited by the length of your arm(s). And that isn’t the only problem. With your arms farther out, you have far less mechanical advantage when making inputs—which is not only tiring, but makes it nearly impossible to fly with any kind of finesse in this position. Since your arms have to

aerodynamic dangle angle while pulled in and flying very fast. RIGHT Same pilot, harness, glider, and flight as in the earlier picture; we can see Dave is actually hanging very feet-high when at trim, which shows just how much our dangle-angle can change as we pull in. TOP TO BOTTOM > Here we can see a pilot hanging very head-high, but it looks as though he has followed the “one fist above the bar” rule. > As he comes in to land we can see that being head-high and maintaining one fist clearance of the base tube actually has his hang height very low, with the base tube about even with his parachute despite his very upright body position. > This pilot shows an excellent hang height and dangle angle for “normal” flight, meaning most of the flying is at or near trim speed. We can see his elbows are very bent, which would allow him to make a very big control input if needed. > Here we see a pilot that probably hangs nearly level when flying trim, but pulling in leaves him in a very head-high orientation. His arms are straight, limiting his ability to weight shift and making precision control difficult. Photos by Ryan Voight. work harder to make inputs, you’ll be using the larger and stronger muscle groups, which are only capable of coarse movements. Hanging closer to the bar allows you to make finer, more precise movements, because you won’t be working so hard. Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t hang head-high, but your action should be a conscious choice, made only after considering the trade-offs. So head-high has its issues. And since we know a hang glider’s best glide through the air is somewhere between 3° to 7° below horizontal, why do I see people hang any more head down than that? Well, again, it’s not so simple. Our harnesses hang from a single point at the wing, and our body swings around this point with any input we make. If we’re going for the maximum-efficiency dangle angle, we need to account for pulling in, to get to best gliding speed. As we pull in, we rotate around the hang point and rock more head-up, relative to the airflow.

Some harnesses easily adjust their dangle angle, hands free. Others require using one hand pulling a line and using a cleat to secure the adjustment. Others are not adjustable. Typically, the latter two types are the ones in which you see people flying excessively head-down. How much head-down is most efficient? You have to consider the performance of your equipment AND the speed you want to optimize for. Again, it’s not so simple. We spend the majority of our time flying at or near “trim speed,” so it would be logical to optimize for that. But if we do, when we pull in to best glide—the speed we fly when we want max performance— we’d find ourselves too head-high. So we could set our angle for best glide, accounting for the angle change as we pull in. But what if we want to fly faster still? If we need to fly upwind, or in sinking air, or race, we’ll often fly faster than best glide. These situations are not uncommon, but not as common as flying at trim or even best glide. How would one choose? It may be a matter of preference, but I look at it this way: Drag increases with the square of velocity. Twice as fast means four times as much drag. The faster you go, the more a proper dangle angle can help or hurt your glide. I personally choose to optimize for the highest speed I fly and still care about perfor-

mance. At slower speeds, I’m a little too feet-high, but at slower speeds it doesn’t make as big a performance difference, so I like my choice. Whatever you choose, realize there are pros and cons and everything’s a compromise. There is one “right” answer from an aerodynamic standpoint, but even that position comes with compromise. To reiterate: New pilots shouldn’t fill their minds with “geeking out” over hang height and dangle angle. The simplified rules work well enough. For more experienced pilots looking to advance their skills and get the most enjoyment and performance out of their flying experience, optimizing hang height and dangle angle can yield astounding results. If you decide to explore this further, make small incremental changes. It can be very surprising how different and foreign your equipment can feel with even small changes from what you are accustomed to. Each pilot is free to choose whatever hang height and dangle angle he or she likes. I have only attempted here to present information about the complexities of the matter and identify some of the pros and cons of each choice. Each of us will balance and prioritize safety, comfort and performance differently.



Thinking Outside the Blocks PART IX: ANTICI... PATION


his month we talk about anticipation in flight. Not the kind of anticipation where you are waiting for a happy ending, like a child on Christmas Eve, but the kind where you are prepared for whatever happens, bad or good. But hold it right there… we are not talking about impending doom, that’s for paranoiacs and febrile end-of-the-world apocalyptoids The anticipation we are interested in is the kind that makes you aware, prepared and thus on top of your game, if not on top of the gaggle.

PRE-JUDGING LAUNCH Often new pilots are a bit apprehensive previous to launching. That’s understandable, but once you are flying high and moving beyond the supervision of an instructor, you should have a good solid launch (well-controlled and accelerating). With good technique repeated every time comes confidence and eventually the pre-launch butterflies lie dormant in a cocoon. But what shouldn’t go away is an anticipation of what to expect immediately after launch. Ideally, once you have decided to fly you should concentrate on setup and preparation; then you can spend some time assessing launch conditions and hopefully watch a couple launches. The proper anticipation comes in when we acquire a pretty good understanding of what’s happening out there. Here are a few things to sort out: 1. The wind strength and direction.



Is it weak; will you have to be very efficient and scratch after launching? Is it near or above your personal maximum strength for this site? If so you will have to be careful to maintain good control. Is it easy soaring? Does the direction change so you will have to wait for a straighter cycle or launch in a bit of cross? 2. Variation in the wind (strength or direction). Are there thermal cycles passing through so that you will have to time the launch? If it is weak you may decide you have to launch within a thermal, or if it is strong you may have to wait for a lull. 3. The presence of a gradient. Will the wind be stronger just a bit above the hill, or somewhat in front of it? 4. The presence of turbulence. If thermals are moving by there will be some turbulence. If the wind is stronger there should be some mechanical turbulence as well. Is the wind a bit cross in a slot launch? In that case expect some swirls that can turn your glider. In all cases, a good, fast well-controlled launch is in order. 5. The presence and timing of thermal cycles. As mentioned above, if you wish to launch within or out of a ther-

by DENNIS PAGEN mal it is important to time the cycles so you know how long the thermal lasts, or how long you have to wait until the thermal blow dies down. 6. Predicted changes in any of these factors. Does the weatherman imply that conditions will die or increase? How about rain or thunderstorms? All of the above can be assessed before launching to help you anticipate what to expect, and help you handle whatever you encounter. It is best to be prepared so the surprises are minimized.

TRAFFIC Another situation where anticipation is important is when there are other gliders in the air. This point is especially true when they are in a thermal near your height or when you are scratching along a ridge. When thermaling, if both (or all) pilots are skilled they will make smooth, regular 360s. Then all positions can be predicted. You will be able to anticipate where the other pilot will be in a few seconds, and likewise he or she will be able to do the same with you. If a pilot wishes to move the turn or tighten it, there will generally be a

With good technique repeated every time comes confidence and eventually the prelaunch butterflies lie dormant in a cocoon.

control that you can see—the glider’s response will lag a little. You can thus anticipate what his trajectory and position will very soon be. Even if you can’t see him at all times, you anticipate where he will next appear. The anticipation and reaction when thermaling with others requires a constant update as you observe and adjust to the position of the other glider. Of course, for effective thermaling you (and he) should also be adjusting to the changing thermal shape and lift production. So ultimately, the actions of you and your thermal mate are like a couple dancing where you are both somewhat leaders and somewhat followers. Now imagine this process with several gliders thermaling at your level, as sometimes happens in competition. When scratching on a ridge while one other or several pilots are trying to stay up in the same air, we have some conventions: pass on the right, pilot in front has right-of-way, pilot with ridge on the right has right-of-way, etc. However good these guidelines are, they aren’t always followed or possible to follow. For example, I have been in situations many times with a crossing wind on a short section of ridge where it is important to make a circuit of passing close to the ridge on the upwind leg and farther away when flying in the crossing tail direction. When viewed from above this arrangement means you are making a clockwise circuit and the pilots are

passing on the left (see figure 1). If both (or all) pilots are aware of the situation, it works fine. Often in such a scratching situation, weak thermals pass through and pilots break the regular circuit to grab them. It is important to be prepared for this action and anticipate where the pilot will come out of his circle if you aren’t in position, or inclined, to join him. If he gets higher with the lift, the problem is solved since the conflict is resolved. But often very elusive lift is like a willo’-the-wisp and the other pilot is right back in the mix, perhaps not as nicely spaced as before. You can greatly help the situation by making a turn a bit earlier or later than you have been to help ease the pilot back into the pattern. So again, anticipation and your special sense is necessary and desirable to keep things safe and help all flourish in the weak lift. In all flying situations—whether in thermals or close to terrain, be predictable, so others can anticipate your actions. Cooperate and elevate; everyone will be happier and safer.

TURBULENCE Sometimes we are surprised by turbulence. For example, in high-pressure conditions, lift may appear to be weak; thermals tend to be more broken with varying surges and sometimes they are virulent bullets. Also, an inversion layer may roil the air or churn the thermals. But we can often predict turbulence by


noting the strength of the wind, or the presence of thermals at launch. In this case, as mentioned above we should perform a fast launch (speed gives control) and be ready to make quick, decisive controls when in flight. Of course, some places are more turbulent than others. I recall getting ready for competitions off Sandia Peak near Albuquerque; I would anticipate having to take a day or so to develop my bump tolerance (see Thermals below). An important place to anticipate turbulence is during landing. One site I frequent has a long aircraft-style runway. When the wind is cross you still have to land along the runway. Trees on the sides create turbulence. I am always aware of the wind direction in fine detail here, so when it is cross I make my turn to final well above the trees so I enter the turbulent zone going straight with lots of speed for control. Then as I pass through the alley of hell, I keep my speed up and remain on alert and prepared to make decisive and instant controls to keep my wings level and my future rosy. Anticipating turbulence isn’t so much a matter of dread as preparedness, as long as the wind isn’t too strong. Of course, it has happened that pilots have been surprised by gust fronts or other phenoms, but even then you go into survival mode which means carrying good control speed and flying to as safe an area as possible.

THERMALS Most of us love to get high in thermals. In fact, on any but the dullest of days we anticipate them. That comes naturally once we have flown for a while. But there are other things we can anticipate regarding thermals. For example, to continue our discussion on turbulence, it is important to predict thermal strength, especially in desert conditions



(most of the US West). In some strong areas we always expect to hit strong turbulence when entering and exiting a thermal. When I fly in the Owens Valley or near Albuquerque, as noted, I expect to enter the thermals with extra speed and make a steep bank to overcome the tendency of the thermals to grab a wing and roll the wing, sometimes past vertical. On the other hand, in Florida I anticipate bigger, smoother thermals so I generally enter them slower with a gentler bank. One time when I anticipated, but not enough, was when I was flying towards a thermal marked by a gaggle climbing like the national debt. I knew the thermal was strong, but I wasn’t prepared to have the bar ripped out of my hand—after all, this was Florida. But rip it did, and after I re-grabbed it and regained composure, I found that thermal and the 1500FPM lift. The important matter is to anticipate the presence of a thermal and the entry effects by watching the signs, such as other pilots and birds, and feeling the air’s changes. Anticipation is a big part of a pilot’s thermal skills. Good pilots know how to enter a thermal and wrap up into the core efficiently. It is partially a matter of anticipation.

LANDING Just as with takeoff, landing has a number of items that should be anticipated. Some of these are: 1. The wind direction. Of course you should be able to see wind indicators (socks, streamers or even trees waving), but be aware of the possibility of the direction changing due to

thermal flows. In mid-day it is always wise to anticipate having to make an approach adjustment—even on final if the wind suddenly shifts. 2. The presence of obstructions. Hopefully you have scoped out the landing field beforehand and know where the solid objects are. But sometimes there are temporary obstructions: dogs, kids playing, vehicles crossing, other landed gliders lingering, kiting paragliders and so forth. A little anticipation helps you form a plan B to land off to the side or short in these cases. I recall at Basano in Italy, the only available landing field had a bulldozer going back and forth preparing the ground for the neighboring hotel expansion. It took good timing to go on final when the bulldozer was on one side of the field. I had planned that move for a while when I was still soaring. 3. The presence of turbulence. We can anticipate some possible turbulence in a landing field whenever the wind is blowing. 4. Lifting of a thermal. Sometimes a thermal release will lift us on approach and make us glide much, much farther than normally. It is not good to run out of landing field, so we anticipate this possibility in thermal conditions by always trying to land short of midfield and taking on extra speed to dive through the lift. 5. Presence of a strong gradient. See below. We have a site where we approach a small rise, so almost every direction results in an uphill landing. I usually find that I run out of altitude and airspeed quickly—the down-flowing air and the

Good pilots know how to enter a thermal and wrap up into the core efficiently. It is partially a matter of anticipation.

One Foot Of

blocking of the wind by the hill create sink and a strong gradient effect. So I am always prepared to have to pull on lots of speed as I enter my turn to final, and I am prepared to flare sooner than in flat terrain with a quick, hard pushout. That usually works. I anticipate the situation. Interestingly enough, when the wind is from the left in this landing field it requires landing either cross wind or on a slight downhill. I prepare for this factor by noting how strong the wind flag blows. If it is very light, I ignore it and land uphill in a bit of crosswind. If it is stronger I aim into the wind and anticipate having to prolong my final path and hold my flare off a bit longer than in a flat-terrain landing. In all cases I have anticipated the results and have a ready plan to deal with the situation whatever it is. But I am also ready to deal with anomalies such as a lastsecond switching of the wind, which sometimes happens at this site. Another landing matter is to be prepared to vary your flare on occasion. For example, if the wind suddenly dies or blooms right at flare time you may have to flare harder (first case) or slower (second case). At other times, such as in hot, humid, still conditions or high altitude I anticipate having to flare harder and often more abruptly. With long experience I can anticipate these nuances fairly accurately.

ALTITUDE can change your




nticipation can be used to great effect to enhance safety and performance in our sports. The more we know what to expect, the better we are able to deal with it, and more importantly, we have fewer surprises and thus fewer overloads. Make no mistake, this flying stuff requires handling lots of constant inputs. Any method we have of reducing the workload‌ works. My motto is: Be prepared or be repaired. Antici‌pate.







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Philip Szalwinski Terry Lemke Ryan Bach Jenna Halsey Steven Larson Brian Bishop Gary Mudrow John Marchan Heather Koon Swanson David Liano Bruce Martin Robert Redman Lee Recchia Steven Wright Ben Pitassi Evan Thompson Leon Schatz Gregory Sadowy Nicolas Zen-ruffinen William Hardesty Esteban Gallego Steve Bowman Paul Gardner Dustin Rothenberg Adam Olson Rob Curran Johanna Loenngren Mohammad Faraji Hector Gomez Palacios Ronald Stanley Emmanuel Sanchez Yann Gallin Leslie Blatt Carlos Garzon Ethan Vance Doug Marshburn Cody Richardson Robert Black Robin Cushman Alex Neigher Robert Tyson Nicolas Zen-ruffinen Clark Tayler William Baker Johanna Loenngren Merve Ilayda Bayrac Deniz Gok Mustafa Kirli Ahmet Oktay Ceren Sukan Sahin Emmanuel Sanchez Patrick Terry Eduardo Delahoz Stephen Eigles Douglas Peck



Jaro Krupa Chris Santacroce Christopher Grantham Christopher Grantham David Hanning William Fifer David Hanning Benoit Bruneau Jaromir Lahulek Miguel Gutierrez John Kraske John Kraske Hadi Golian Robert Edwards Nicholas Greece Stephen Nowak Jerome Daoust Stephen Nowak Max Marien Gabriel Jebb Jerome Daoust Chris Santacroce Ken Hudonjorgensen Andy Macrae Jeremy Bishop Charles (chuck) Smith David Soltz Seyed Alireza Amidi Namin Miguel Gutierrez Jaro Krupa Jaro Krupa Jaro Krupa Benoit Bruneau David Prentice Chris Santacroce Delvin Crabtree Rob Sporrer Mitchell Neary Christopher Grantham Jesse Meyer Gabriel Jebb Max Marien Jonathan Jefferies Scott Harris David Soltz Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer Murat Tuzer David Hanning Jaro Krupa Chris Santacroce Stephen Nowak David Prentice Kelly Kellar Old school at Torrey Pines | photo by Nick Greece








can be submitted online at http://www.ushpa.aero/email _ events.asp. A minimum 3-month lead time is required on all submissions and tentative events will not be published. For more details on submissions, as well as complete information on the events listed, see our Calendar of Events at www.ushpa.aero CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING RATES - The rate for classified advertising is $10.00 for 25 words and $1.00 per word after 25. MINIMUM AD CHARGE $10.00. AD DEADLINES: All ad copy, instructions, changes, additions & cancellations must be received in writing 2 months preceding the cover date, i.e. September 15th is the deadline for the November issue. All classifieds are prepaid. If paying by check, please include the following with your payment: name, address, phone, category, how many months you want the ad to run and the classified ad. Please make checks payable to USHPA, P.O. Box 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1330. If paying with credit card, you may email the previous information and classified to info@ushpa.aero. For security reasons, please call your Visa/MC or Amex info to the office. No refunds will be given on ads cancelled that are scheduled to run multiple months. (719) 632-8300. Fax (719) 632-6417 HANG GLIDING ADVISORY: Used hang gliders should always be disassembled before flying for the first time and inspected carefully for fatigued, bent or dented downtubes, ruined bushings, bent bolts (especially the heart bolt), reused 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.



SEPTEMBER 14-20 > Francisco Grande Golf Resort, Casa Grande, AZ. Santa Cruz Flats. More Information: Jamie Shelden 831-2611544 naughtylawyer@gmail.com, or santacruzflatsrace.blogspot.com.


The original Tennessee Tree Toppers’ Team Challenge brand of fun cross-country hang gliding camp! Bring your A, B, or C-game self and team up with other pilots in a low-key safety and learning-centric competition. Cross-country aces (Apilots) team up with B-pilots (H-3+ with some XC experience) and C-pilots (H-3 pilots new to XC) and fly cooperatively to complete A, B, and C level XC tasks with a unique scoring system that’s heavily weighted to reward safe B & C-pilot XC miles and A-pilot assists. Daily seminars on all aspects of hang gliding led by some of the very best XC pilots around. This benefit alone is worth a million and can help you become a better pilot! Launch off the world famous Tennessee Tree Toppers’ Radial Ramp and soar the beautiful Sequatchie Valley. http://www.tennesseetreetoppers.org/

MARCH - OCTOBER > United States informal race-to-goal events at sites across Northern California. Aims are to get pilots to fly farther than they would on their own. More information: Jugdeep Aggarwal, 831-566-8652 scpjka@gmail. com, or www.santacruzparagliding.com. FLY-INS SEPTEMBER 12-14 > Pine Mountain, Oregon. Come enjoy a memorable weekend at Pine Mountain with friends and the Desert Air Riders. Raffle, BBQ, amazing soaring and fall cross country potential. A benefit for site insurance. More information: http://www.desertairriders.org/, 541-3901962, or wade.holmes@gmail.com. SEPTEMBER 29-4 > Richfield, UT. Red Rocks Fall Fly-in. Fall colors, beautiful mountains and flying activities for all levels and interests. Thermaling clinics, spot-landing contest, ridge-soaring task competition, morning sledders, and distance challenges. Low pressure, fun flying activities to give everyone a chance to mingle and enjoy flying from central Utah’s many world-class flying sites, at a most colorful time of year. This is a biwingual event. More info: Stacy Whitmore, 435-979-0225, www.cuasa.com, or stacy@cuasa.com.

OCTOBER 3-5 > Flagstaff, AZ. Dixon White Memorial and Craters Demo-Days Fly-In. AZ Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association is calling all HG and PG pilots to join us at the Craters. October conditions are excellent. Equipment dealers please bring demo wings. Registration $50. Call to let us know you’re coming or with any questions. Contact: Steve Konves at stevekonves@cox.net, or 928-699-9362, or www. azhpa.org. OCTOBER 11-13 > Alamogordo, New Mexico. Come on out and enjoy some beautiful autumn flying with us in New Mexico. Big thermals, clear skies, friendly town, lovely scenery - how can you miss? The aspens are golden in nearby Cloudcroft, too. No fees, just come out and fly! Contact Robin Hastings, RGSA President, at 575541-5744 or RNHastings@zianet.com . See you in the sky! clinics & tours SEPTEMBER 5-9 > UT. Cross-country and

thermaling clinic with mentoring. Paragliding intensive with Ken Hudonjorgensen and other mentors. Inspiration Point, Jupiter, West Mt. and Monroe, Utah, wherever the weather tells us to go. Phone: 801-971-3414, e-mail twocanfly@gmail. com, or www.twocanfly.com

SEPTEMBER 18-20 & 21-23 > Northern California Over-the-water Maneuvers Clinics with Eagle Paragliding. America’s top all-around acro and former national champion Brad Gunnuscio will be coaching you over the water with our stateof-the-art towing setup. Eagle is known for high quality tours and clinics with lots of staff, and this clinic is no exception. We encourage you to make the time for this important safety training with any qualified SIV instructor. More information: Rob Sporrer 805-968-0980 rob@paraglide.com, or www.paragliding.com. SEPTEMBER 20-28 > Owens Valley, CA. Owens Valley Go Big XC Clinic. Geared for Very Strong P3/H3 pilots and above that are ready to fly XC in pretty sweet conditions. 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 33 years of flying and 26 years of living/flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! We work on anything that has to do with high altitude mountain flying from launching thru record setting XC flights and everything in between the sky is the limit!!! More Information: Kari Castle 760 920 0748 kari@karicastle.com, or KARICASTLE. COM. SEPTEMBER 27-28 > UT. Mountain Flying and learning how to pioneer a new site. Utah sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Phone: 801-9713414, e-mail twocanfly@gmail.com, or www. twocanfly.com

SEPTEMBER 27-28 > Dunlap, CA. 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 two-day excursions. Join us for some nice flying with some great people. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, rob@paraglide.com, or www.paragliding.com. SEPTEMBER 29 - OCTOBER 4 > Red Rocks Fall Fly-In. Fall colors, beautiful mountains and flying activities for all levels and interests. Thermaling Clinics, spot landing contest, ridge soaring task competition, morning sledders, and distance challenges. Low pressure, fun flying activities to give everyone a chance to mingle and enjoy flying from Central Utah's many world-class flying sites, at a most colorful time of year. This is a biwingual event. Contact Stacy Whitmore at 435-979-0225 or stacy@cuasa.com. More Info: http://www.cuasa.com OCTOBER 1-5 > Bishop. CA. Owens Valley

with Kari. WWW – “Women With Wings.” The third annual gathering of women pilots! Geared for P3-4s. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Let Kari’s 33 years of flying and 26 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! We work on anything that has to do with high-altitude mountain flying from launching through record-setting XC flights and everything in between—the sky is the limit! Limited 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! More info: Kari Castle at kari@ karicastle.com

OCTOBER 1-5, 10-20, 24-27 > Owens Valley, CA Women With Wings- The Third Annual gathering of women pilots! Geared for P2-P3’s but all are welcome! 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 33 years of flying and 26 years of living/flying the Owens Valley, be your guide! We work on anything that has to do with high altitude mountain flying including launching to record setting XC flights and everything in between. The sky is the limit!!! More information: Kari Castle, 760-920-0748, kari@karicastle.com, or KARICASTLE.COM. OCTOBER 3-5 & 10-12 > Elephant Butte Lake,

NM. SIV: Over the water maneuvers training. Boat tow to 3000 ft and gain priceless knowledge and experience under your wing. Advanced instructor/ guide David Prentice, with over 20 years of experience, guides each pilot at their own pace. From the most basic to the advanced maneuvers. More info: earthcog@yahoo.com, or 505-720-5436.

OCTOBER 10-13 > Bishop, CA. Owens Valley

with Kari. Geared for strong P2-H2 and up, pilots. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Let Kari’s 33 years of flying and 26 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! Work on anything that has to do with high-altitude mountain flying from launching through record-setting XC flights and everything in between—the sky is the limit! Limited 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! More info: Kari Castle at kari@karicastle.com


OCTOBER 17-20 > Bishop, CA. OVXC - Geared for strong P2-H2 and up, pilots. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Let Kari’s 33 years of flying and 26 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! Work on anything that has to do with highaltitude mountain flying from launching through record-setting XC flights and everything in between—the sky is the limit! Limited 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! More info: Kari Castle at kari@karicastle.com OCTOBER 24-27 > 2014 Bishop. CA. Owens

Valley with Kari. WWW – “Women With Wings.” The third annual gathering of women pilots! Geared for P3-4s. Fly one of the best sites in the US with one of the best pilots in the world. Let Kari’s 33 years of flying and 26 years of living/flying the Owens Valley be your guide! We work on anything that has to do with high-altitude mountain flying from launching through record-setting XC flights and everything in between—the sky is the limit! Limited 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! More info: Kari Castle at kari@karicastle.com

NOVEMBER 1-3, 7-9 & 14-16 > Sebring, Florida. Boat tow to 3000 ft. and gain priceless knowledge and experience under your wing at one of the best SIV locations in the world. Advanced instructor/guide David Prentice with over 20 years experience guides each pilot as their own pace from the most basic to the advanced maneuvers over white sand beaches and crystal clear water just minutes from downtown Sebring. More info: earthcog@yahoo.com, or 505-720-5436.




NOVEMBER 3 - DECEMBER 1 > Iquique,


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.

Chile.With the most consistent thermals on earth, we guarantee you will fly everyday! After 16 years of leading trips, wining competitions, and working as a local guide/tandem pilot, Luis Rosenkjer and Todd Weigand offer the most professional guiding service available in Iquique. With 20 year of combined guiding experience in Iquique, nobody can lead new pilots to this region with the expertise that these gentlemen provide. Beginner to advanced instruction available with everyone progressing at an extraordinary rate! More XC offered during the last segment. Last year a few clients completed our classic 115 km flight back to the hotel! Join Luis & Todd so you can improve your flying skills, break your personal records, and enjoy the best of Iquique! www.paraglidingtrips.com

NOVEMBER 5-19 > Fly Atacama Desert Paragliding Adventure. We take you to South America to fly over the driest desert in the world - The Atacama. It is our seventh consecutive trip to what many pilots consider to be the best place to fly on the planet and more consistent than any other flying location. Iquique, Chile offers pilots of all levels plenty of XC miles and endless thermaling days. Year after year our guests beat their personal distance and air time records. With us you get to fly with Jarek Wieczorek - multilingual paragliding guide, XC specialist and site pioneer with unsuppressed knowledge of the desert. Our topnotch logistics, stunning locations, in-depth local knowledge, deluxe off-road trucks, and gorgeous beachfront accommodation will make your flying experience in Chile unforgettable. Contact: jarek@antofaya.com / (303) 800 6340. More Info: http://www.antofaya.com NOVEMBER 8-10 > Santa Barbara, CA. Instructor 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 handson experience as possible before the clinic. More information: Rob Sporrer, 805-968-0980, rob@ paraglide.com, or www.paragliding.com. NOVEMBER 11-12 > Santa Barbara, CA. Tan-

dem 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@paraglide.com, or www.paragliding.com.



NOVEMBER 12-14 & 17-19 > SIV Clinic. Ye-

lapa, Mexico. SIV/Maneuvers flight camp 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 Instructor of the Year, will be teaching the courses. As Brad says, "Yelapa is by far the best place to do an SIV clinic...." Contact Brad at brad@paraglideutah. com or (801) 707-0508 and Les in Yelapa at: 011 52 1 322 142 5804. More Info: http://www.paraglideyelapa.com

November 30 - january 18 > Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Fly south this winter! Come fly the world-class air of El Penon in Valle de Bravo. Improve your thermal and XC skills. Advanced instructor/guide David Prentice with over 20 years experience has been guiding in Valle for 15 years. World-class lodging and logistics, airport transfer, local transportation, in-air guidance and XC retrievals included. We fly twice a day every day. More info: earthcog@yahoo.com, or 505-7205436. january 18-28 > Governador Valadares, Brazil. One of the best known South American World Class flying sites. All your flying needs provided by Adventure Sports Tours. Master rated advanced instructors make your trip worthwhile. Whatever your goals from novice to comp. GV is a fun, flying friendly town with all the conveniences. Close to the Mt Ibituruna site of world championships as well as epic days of local and x-c flying. Tour includes; pick up at GV airport, hotel accommodations, rides to launch and retrieval, local guiding. In addition we will help with travel planning such as Brazilian Visas, best airline prices as well as local accommodations to suit your individual lifestyles. Contact Ray at skybirdwings@hotmail.com, 775-883-7070, or www. skybirdwings.net JAN18-25&FeB1-8>Tapalpa, Mexico Fly Week Parasoft has been guiding pilots to Mexico in January since 1990. In 2002 we discovered worldclass Tapalpa, with four other sites close by. With big launch and landing areas this is the best in Mexico! Tapalpa is a 2500’ vertical drive-up site located one hour from the Guadalajara airport. To prepare for the 2004 World Cup competition, a restaurant and bar were added. Our trips include six days of flying. We see these as both a fun flying vacation and a learning experience. To guide our clients well, we limit group size to four clients and offer tandem flights to improve flying skills. More info: granger@parasoftparagliding. com,303-494-2820, or http://parasoftparagliding.com/mexico-flying/.

January 20 - february 15 > Valle del Cauca, Colombia. 7 to 14 days “Vol-Tel” tours while flying the epic sites of the Valle del Cauca, Colombia. World-class lodging and logistics. Roldanillo, La Union, Anserma Nuevo and beyond. Improve thermal and XC skills with inair radio guidance from advanced instructor/ guide David Prentice with over 20 years experience. Airport pick-up, local transportation, lodging included. More info: earthcog@yahoo.com, or 505-720-5436. january 20 - february 15 > Valle del Cauca, Colombia. 7-14 day tours, south to north and back south again. This is a vehicle- and hotel-supported vol-biv style tour. Pilots will fly daily from one of the epic sites along the Valle de Cauca landing at the next site with nice accommodations and XC retrievals. Advanced instructor/guide David Prentice with over 20 years experience will guide pilots along this crossing of the Valle del Cauca. Great XC conditions and breathtaking views make this tour worthy of your vacation time. More info: earthcog@yahoo.com, or 505-720-5436.


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


most affordable single line suspension harness available. Individually designed for a precise fit. Fly in comfort. www.flycenterofgravity. comflycenterofgraity@gmail.com, 315-2561522


facilities, largest inventory, camping, swimming, volleyball, more. Wide range of accommodations. hanglide.com, 877-HANGLIDE, 877-426-4543, hanglide.com.

ALAska AK Paramotor - Paragliding & Paramotor

School. Year-round: USHPA+USPPA certification. Novice, Refresher, Training, Equipment. Frank Sihler 907-841-7468 www.USAparagliding.com



PARAGLIDING - Year-round excellent instruction, Southern California & Baja. Powered paragliding, clinics, tours, tandem, towing. Ken Baier 760-213-0063, airjunkies.com.


EAGLE PARAGLIDING - SANTA BARBARA offers the best year round flying in the nation. Awardwinning instruction, excellent mountain and ridge sites. www.flysantabarbara.com, 805-968-0980 FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in beautiful Santa Barbara! USHPA Novice through Advanced certification. Thermaling to competition training. Visit www.flyaboveall.com 805-965-3733. 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@hang-gliding.com, Mission Soaring Center LLC, leading the way since 1973. www. hang-gliding.com World famous historic TORREY PINES

GLIDERPORT: Incredible Flying – food – fun. Come enjoy coastal San Diego flying yearround! We offer USHPA-certified instruction for all ratings, as well as tandem, instructor, and SIV clinics and local flat land towing. Call us for details on our domestic and international clinics and tours or join us in our 4x4 12-passenger tour van for 15 other flying sites opportunities in SoCal and Baja California. We have expanded product lines including Ozone, Skywalk, Sup Air, Independence, Woody Valley, Sky, Gradient, Niviuk, Paratech, Plussmax helmets, Crispi boots, Gopro, Flytech, Flymaster and a lot more. Come test our new mini wings from Ozone. We have a huge selection of Demos on site. Our full service shop offers reserve repacks, annual glider inspections, repairs and more. We also carry an extensive new and used inventory of certified gliders and harnesses. Check us out at flytorrey. com, facebook.com/flytpg, info@flytorrey.com, or call us at (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. windsports.com.

COLORADO GUNNISON GLIDERS – X-C to heavy waterproof HG

gliderbags. Accessories, parts, service, sewing. Instruction ratings, site-info. Rusty Whitley 1549 CR 17, Gunnison CO 81230. 970-641-9315.

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

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


mountain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations. hanglide.com, 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. miamihanggliding.com. WALLABY RANCH – The original Aerotow flight park. Best tandem instruction worldwide,7-days a week , 6 tugs, and equipment rental. Call:1-800WALLABY wallaby.com 1805 Deen Still Road, Disney Area FL 33897



GEORGIA LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Discover why 5 times as many pilots earn their wings at LMFP. Enjoy our 110 acre mountain resort. www. hanglide.com, 1-877-HANGLIDE, 1-877-4264543.

HAWAII PROFLYGHT PARAGLIDING - Call Dexter for friendly information about flying on Maui. Fullservice school offering beginner to advanced instruction every day, year round. 808-874-5433, paraglidehawaii.com.

ILLINOIS Twin Oaks Hang Gliding Center Whitewater, WI - Bunny hill, scooter towing and aero towing. Training and Discovery Tandems. Ric - WisconsinHangGliding.com. Paul - ScooterTow. net. Danny - 608-469-5949

MINNESOTA Twin Oaks Hang Gliding Center Whitewater, WI - Bunny hill, scooter towing and aero towing. Training and Discovery Tandems. Ric - WisconsinHangGliding.com. Paul - ScooterTow. net. Danny - 608-469-5949




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


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


Twin Oaks Hang Gliding Center Whitewater, WI - Bunny hill, scooter towing and aero towing. Training and Discovery Tandems. Ric - WisconsinHangGliding.com. Paul - ScooterTow. net. Danny - 608-469-5949

Morningside - A Kitty Hawk Kites flight park. The north east's premier hang gliding and paragliding training center. Teaching since 1974. Hang gliding foot launch and tandem aerowtow training. Paragliding foot launch and tandem training. Powered Paragliding instruction. Dealer for all major manufacturers. Charlestown, NH. Also visit our North Carolina location, Kitty Hawk Kites Flight School. (603) 542-4416, www. flymorningside.com




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 mtnwings@verizon.net, www.mtnwings.com

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.

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





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. aerosports.net, hangglide@aerosports.net.

MICHIGAN Cloud 9 Sport Aviation (hang gliding equipment), North American Soaring (Alatus ultralight sailplane and e-drive systems), Dragon Fly Soaring Club (hang gliding instruction), at Cloud 9 Field, Webberville, MI.More info: (517) 223-8683, Cloud9sa@aol.com, www.DFSCinc. org.




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


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


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. cooperstownhanggliding.com 315-867-8011

FlyTexas / Jeff Hunt - training pilots in

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


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. 804-2414324 , www.blueskyhg.com

WISCONSIN Twin Oaks Hang Gliding Center Whitewater, WI - Bunny hill, scooter towing and aero towing. Training and Discovery Tandems. Ric - WisconsinHangGliding.com. Paul - ScooterTow. net. Danny - 608-469-5949

NORTH CAROLINA Kitty Hawk Kites - The largest hang gliding

school in the world! Celebrating our 40th year! Teaching since 1974. Learn to hang glide and paraglide on the east coast's largest sand dune. Year round instruction, foot launch and tandem aerotow. Powered Paragliding instruction. Dealer for all major manufacturers. Fly at the beach! Learn to fly where the Wright Brothers flew! Located on the historic Outer Banks, NC. Also visit our New Hampshire location, Morningside Flight Park. (252) 441-2426, 1-877-FLY-THIS, www. kittyhawk.com

INTERNATIONAL 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. www.flymexico.com 1-800-861-7198 USA

CLINICS & TOURS 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: 506-2200-4824, Cell: 506-8950-8676, or Kathy @ 506-89180355 www.paraglidecostarica.com

3 NEWto WSuappyorst your Sport just follow the links at


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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. 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 www.risingair. biz, billa@atcnet.net.

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The 1


We know there was a day when it all worked for you. When your training clicked, the conditions were perfect, the stars aligned, and you soared to new heights (real or imagined). Send in your tale of “The 1” flight you'll never forget, and we'll print it right here. You'll be entered into the annual drawing for a USHPA soft shell jacket!


’ve been hang gliding for seven years, and while the idea of flying XC has long appealed to me, I’ve realized that it takes the cutting of many “tethers.” The first tether, of course, was to the LZ. I normally fly aerotow at Quest, and despite much coaxing and encouragement, I always found myself landing back “home.” Finally I asked Dustin Martin to “tow me so far downwind that I can’t get back.” He did, and that’s how I had my first flight away from home field. About a year later I realized that although I was no longer tethered to the field, I was still tethered to the road. I’d fly down Highway 33, but never more than a 1:1 glide east or west of it. I broke that tether at the East Coast Championship in 2011—that was the first time I flew to a waypoint using only my GPS, without regard for (or knowledge of) the underlying road system. I cut loose of the next tether at Big Spring, Texas, in 2013. Before that comp, I still spent 50% of my mental concentration watching the ground for LZs with road access. But going north or west of Big Spring, it’s almost impossible to find a place you can’t land and be easily retrieved from. For the first time I was “flying the air” and keeping landing just enough in the background of my mind to be safe. So it was in this context that I came out to Wallaby Ranch one fine day in April, 2014, to try to fly “with” Mitch Shipley. (For me, flying “with” Mitch Shipley means I see him before we take off, and then again in the retrieval car.)



On my first tow I sank right out, but on the next one I got dropped off in a strong thermal, climbed to 5300’, and headed downwind—and “downhill,” as I glided inexorably toward the ground. Resigning myself to yet another “onethermal-wonder” day, I picked out a good field at 800’, unzipped my harness, and started setting up to land. Maybe there’s another tether called “history”—in my case, a history of resigning myself to failure. Because when I started to find I was circling in zero, I remembered how many times this had happened before, and almost always it had been a few turns and then I would come back and land in the field. This time I decided to stick with it, letting go of my carefully selected LZ. After all, downwind there were still plenty of good places to land. From my flight log, I see that I circled for 27 minutes, and found and lost the core four times, before I finally topped out at 5700’. After that, it was about two hours of light ups and downs and zeros, always between around 2000’ to 3000’, drifting slowly downwind, constantly doublechecking that there was yet another landable field ahead. But when I came to I-75, I realized that I had one more tether to cut: the retrieval tether. Linda Salamone was driving for Mitch, who was going SSW to Venice Beach; I was heading due west. Linda was tentatively available to pick me up on the way down or the way back from Venice Beach, but if I kept going, I’d be way off track of her route, with no

alternative retrieval driver planned. I finally had to decide, even if I don’t get a retrieve—if I have to hitchhike, spend the night, rent a car, call a friend, or whatever—I was going to keep flying. And so I did, until I finally arrived at what looked like the end of the landable terrain, over a small airfield. I chose not to cross the airfield, and landed in a pasture to the east of it. My GPS was set on metric so I wasn’t sure if I had gone exactly 50 miles—it turns out I made 49.2—but I’m glad I didn’t keep going just to make some arbitrary milestone, because I really didn’t think there was any place else to go. (Checking Google Earth later confirmed my decision.) I carried my glider to the edge of the field, and while I went back to get my harness, a donkey was approaching my parked glider. Not wanting to find out experimentally if donkeys eat hang gliders, I ran back and shoo’ed him away. Some farm hands helped me carry my glider to the gate and then I walked over to the Pilot Country airport. Several pilots and mechanics at the airport had watched me land and immediately brought me cold drinks. And when I finally was able to contact Linda and Mitch and learned they were still a couple hours away from retrieving me, two of them took me out for pizza. It was definitely my best out-landing ever! I encourage every pilot to go for the freedom that “free-flight” can offer: Identify your own tethers, figure out a safe way to cut each one, and continue to stretch and grow in our amazing sport.

PlusMax Full-Face and Convertible Helmets

Gin sets the benchmark balancing safety, handling and performance. Beginning to intermediate pilots love the Atlas‘ superior climb and glide performance in challenging conditions. The Atlas is ideal for long XC flights and has to be experienced to be believed.

Yeti 40 & 35 Light-Weight Reserves

EPT (Equalized Pressure Technology) produces an airfoil optimized for stability and performance. The result is a wing that inflates more easily, climbs better in thermals and is more stable in turbulence and at speed, with inherently lower drag that simply flies better in all conditions. Gin’s design innovation has introduced an additional EN certification test with the combination of the Atlas and the GIN Genie Lite cocoon harness. You are guaranteed peace of mind when you fly with the combination of the Atlas and Genie Lite cocoon harness. Call your local dealer today and ask about a demo that will change your perception of stability performance and fun in an EN-B wing.

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Oudie 2 Naviter All-In-One Instrument

From your first soaring flight to becoming a world champion, success depends on thermalling well.

That is why we pressure chamber test and calibrate every instrument to yield the most sensitive, responsive and precise vario possible. Cutting edge technology, precision and superior service for over 30 years.