Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol44/Iss10 Oct2014

Page 1

OCTOBER 2014 Volume 44 Issue 10 $6.95



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and David Gibson doing some formation flying at Willard Peak in Northern Utah. MEANWHILE, Brian Patrick taking in the last rays of good light | photo by Adam Bain.


ON THE COVER, Ryan Voight

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













24 Sport-class Phenomenon


Corn Alps XC by Patrick Joyce

by C.J. Sturtevant 14

How to Fly on Monday Flying-friendly Careers

by Christina Ammon 20

36 Ozone Chabre Open by Ed Ewing photos by Martijn Van Dijk

687 Kilometers in Three Days by Berni Pessl


HG401: Advanced Tips & Techniques Risk Management

by Ryan Voight 54

Thinking Outside the Blocks Part X: Emergency! Procedures

44 Flytec Americus Cup by Claudia Mejia

by Dennis Pagen

“Love, like everything else in life, should be a discovery, an adventure, and like most adventures, you don’t know you’re having one until you’re right in the middle of it.” - E.A. Bucchianer


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




he sound of elk bugling sends off a shrill alarm. Summer is waning and many of us are not ready to let go of the flying season just yet. Every year I can’t help but take stock of all the amazing moments encountered on the wing, and people I have shared the times with, and every year I can’t wait for the next. We’re headed back to school, in a way, in the snow-laden states but not before season-extending road trips rattle through as plans develop from ideas. They say, “It’s always flyable somewhere.” Packing up the rig, getting the cooler and camping gear ready to go, and hitting the road for one last American road trip, even if its just for the weekend, brings pure joy to a pilot’s world. The October issue starts with a classic shot sent in by Ryan Voight of him and his wife, Desiree, flying over the Wasatch in Utah, followed by a wrap-up of the gear at the Outdoor Retailer show that you might want to take a closer look at. The tales begin with a piece sent in by Patrick Joyce on the first annual Corn Alps XC. The Midwest beckons with lush landings, and cloud streets as far as the eye can see! Christina Ammon reports in on folks in the flying community who seem to have the ability to work on the go and fly whenever the weather looks good. Many, such as myself, realize that flexibility is the key to a lot of airtime, and the ability to work when the weather is bad and close the office on good days is critical to getting a lot of time in the saddle. Berni Pessl became the first pilot ever to complete a 300+km triangle in the Alps on an EN B glider this year, thus proving that wing technology is at a glorious point in its

design. Safety is paramount on EN B gliders and the performance is catching up, possibly rivaling competition wings of just five years ago! So for those who sometimes question their glider, remember Berni Pessl, and that good carpenters never blame their tools. Along those lines C.J. Sturtevant writes in with a piece on sport-class racing and how success in competition can be more comfortably obtained with just as much fun as racing topless gliders. Flying is a personal challenge and when push comes to shove, the one having the most fun is winning. Echoing these sentiments, Ed Ewing reports from the Ozone Chabre Open in France, which functions as a mentoring cross-country learning platform. It’s all about achieving one’s personal best in this fun-oriented competition. If fun is what you are after, but with a flash of international flavor and highlevel racing, then Florida is a viable answer. Claudia Mejia reports that Jamie Shelden ran another successful event in the form of the second Flytec Americus Cup. Dennis Pagen and Ryan Voight are back with the next informative installments of their columns that seek to aid those looking to take their flying to the next level. Bruce Goldsmith rounds out the issue with “The 1,” which is about looking beyond the normal perspective and relishing creating an opportunity to get in the air. Getting motivated to head to the hill and break out in light conditions can sometimes be hard, but as with many things with initial barriers, once you commit to the adventure, amazing things transpire!

left Billy Purden captures an instant classic

at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.





Outdoor Retailer is a place

KEEN Harvest IV Daypack

Nervures (pronounced “Nure-vearz”)

where fully grown adults from all

Despite their previous lives, each

paragliding of France has teamed

over the world congregate to covet

Harvest IV Daypack is made in the

with Enlighten Equipment as the

the latest and greatest in outdoorsy

USA, from decommissioned paraglid-

exclusive retailer of their products in

toys. Held in Salt Lake City, Utah, this

er wings. The lining is highly abrasion

the USA. Nervures is a small, pas-

bi-annual gear festival draws interest

resistant to protect your valuables

sionate company in the Pyrenees and

of all sorts of niches in the outdoor

from the outside world. It has two

they are one of the world purveyors

industry, paragliders and hang glid-

external pockets and a 23-liter main

of functional light-weight paraglid-

ers being no exception. The BASE,

toploader so you can get to your stuff

ing gear. They report they are two

paragliding and hang-gliding scene

quickly. Here’s a bag that lets the

decades old, yet still on the cutting

is a growing one at OR and here’s

world know what you’re into, even

edge of development—sourcing their

some of the best gear we found while

while on the ground.

materials from France—and 100% re-


lying on labor locally in the Pyrenees region. Enlighten Equipment reports that their purpose is not only to build upon Nervures’s already strong base of adventure pilots, but also to cater to the growing community of women paraglider pilots. Because the Nervures philosophy is centered around mountain flights, globe trotting, and bivvy flying their customer benefits with kit that is light, easy

Manaslu Jacket from Sherpa

Camp Four Mid from Five Ten

to manage and deceptively robust.

The Manaslu from Sherpa is a mid-

While you may have already seen the

Nervures claims that with the abil-

layer built with Polartec PowerStretch

Camp Four from Five Ten, new this

ity to take your wing, harness and

under the arms and back and a

season is the Camp Four Mid, which

reserve as an aircraft carry-on, now

windproof/abrasion-resistant Pertex

takes all the best features from the

you are only limited by your imagina-

Quantum core. Most importantly,

Camp Four but includes a raised top

tion. Visit EnlightenEquipment.com

Sherpa designed the seams so none

to provide better ankle protection.

to learn more.

of them fall under the shoulders or

The Camp Four Mid includes a water-

hips, meaning no chafing from straps

proof breathable GORE-TEX® upper

USHPA 2014 Fall Board Meeting

and belts. Whether worn as a mid-

and super sticky Stealth S1 outsoles

and Annual Members Meeting

layer or main layer, the Manaslu is

for the ascent or aiming for slippery

October 16-18, 2014 | 8am daily

a great piece for quick ascents and

exit points.

Hilton Hotel, 3003 N Hwy A1A, Melbourne, Florida

ideal for those carrying heavy packs

www.ushpa.aero for detailed schedule and info

before jumping.



Tensing Flight Goggles BY Julbo

Uptonogood Shorts from Kavu

Pacsafe RFIDsafe 75

Designed with the help of a profes-

Made of hydrophobic 4-way stretch

The RFIDsafe 75 has an RFID-

sional flying team, Soul Flyers, the

material, these shorts are great for

blocking barrier so thieves can’t scan

Tensing Flight from Julbo allows you

hiking, flying or swimming. As Tyler

your passport or credit cards for per-

to quickly convert your sunglasses

Lee, head of marketing at KAVU put

sonal information. It hides discreetly

into goggles. The sunglass “arms”

it, “The Uptonogood short is the full

under a shirt so you can have your

pop off so you can replace them with

meal deal.” With stretch fabric, full

most important documents close to

an elastic band that fits comfortably

complement of pockets, and a surf

your heart. I’ve even heard of jumpers

under a helmet. It also comes stan-

short feel they are perfect for flying

putting their medical records on a

dard with two lenses (one polarized)

in pod harnesses both in hang gliders

USB drive inside of necklace pouches.

giving you three options for filtering

and paragliders.

the light that hits your eyes.

inReach Explorer from DeLorme

Hike and Strike

Victorinox Rescue Tool

The inReach Explorer is a two-way

This deceiving hiking pole was one of

The Rescue Tool from Victorinox is a

satellite text messaging and SOS

the better things we saw while perus-

multitool with 13 different tools rang-

device that works in every corner of

ing the show. The top of the pole

ing from a seatbelt cutter to a window

the globe, as long as you have a clear

flips up to reveal eight sharp prongs

breaker. In case of emergencies, the

view of the sky. The device is able to

to pierce the skin of whatever poor

seatbelt cutter blade is serrated in a

take advantage of the Iridium net-

bastard got in the way of your wrath.

way that can slice clean through web-

work of satellites, one of the largest

In the center of those prongs are two

bing or rope in a single cut. It also in-

networks of communication satellites,

metal tasers that fire off 950,000

cludes a standard large locking blade,

to provide global coverage with no

watts of pure heart-stopping hatred.

a wire stripper, reamer, flat head, can

blackout zones. This is of particular

If that isn’t enough, the pole retracts

opener and, of course, tweezers.

interest to those who fly in remote

to 29’’ and extends to 56’’ so you can

areas. Plans start at $11.95/month all

beat your attacker to a pulp after

the way up to an unlimited interna-

you’ve shocked the life out of it.

tional texting plan at $99.95/month. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE




Corn Alps XC by Patrick Joyce


was awakened by birds chirping wildly in the row of trees beside my tent, followed by a propeller whirring loudly as it thrust a pilot into the air. Mornings at the First Annual Midwest Corn Alps XC began with free-flight pilots rambling around the grounds searching for breakfast and coffee, while motorheads took to the sky in morning flights, buzzing incessantly around the airfield. When I arrived the night before, the outline of flying craft stood out in sharp contrast to the flat plains of corn and soybean fields under the big mid-western sky. As the sun turned that sky a deep orange and pink, I counted nine powered paragliders (PPGs) in the air and saw that hang gliding aero-tow operations were simultaneously in full swing. I set up camp and made some new friends while fireflies lit up the twilight and the motors quieted down. As darkness approached, an RC plane joined the fireflies and a drone that hovered ominously above the campers. The event was held just south of Kankakee, Illinois, about an hour south of Chicago, at Enjoy Field. Don’t let the proximity to the big city fool you: Kankakee is the real-deal Midwest. Corn, corn, soybeans, corn, hog farms, corn, wind farms, corn, tornado siren, and corn… you get the idea. To the untrained eye, Enjoy Field appears to be an average barn, but upon closer inspection, multiple windsocks and grassy airstrips give away its true purpose—hang gliding LEFT On tow above the corn | photo by Patrick Joyce.

aero-tows. Hang gliders weren’t technically part of the Corn Alps event, but you would never have known that from observing the activity of launches, tows, circles, and landings. Towing operations of paragliders took place about eight miles west of Enjoy, where a set of crisscrossed, power-line-free roads provided towing for miles in all four directions. The area around a lake at the field was dotted with tents and RVs, and the barbecue on Saturday night was complete, including sno-cones. A DJ bumped the bass and lit up the field with smoke and lights, while families danced well into the night. Technically, it was my first competition. I arrived with the naive optimism that my brand-new-to-me-eBay-special GPS and floppy flight deck would magically lead to me to goal. The first sign that nothing would go as planned on Saturday came when I was unable to locate the downloaded waypoints on the GPS. Oh well, I’ll just follow the others. It looks like a great day. Having four tow rigs operating simultaneously made for incredible efficiency. At one point, I witnessed three pilots on tow at the same time, going down the same road, each at increasing heights, until the first in line pinned out in the best thermal of the day. This was no accident. They had timed their launch, waiting for a nice cumulus to build at the end of the tow road. These pilots skyed out and flew for hours. Our biggest gaggle was made up of six pilots, which is pretty remarkable when you are used to flying solo, hunting thermals

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 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.



ABOVE TOP Pulling the pin and Enjoy Field in the evening | photos by Patrick Joyce. BOTTOM XC guys at the preflight meeting | photo by Jaro Krupa. RIGHT Landing in Stelle | photo by Patrick Joyce.



throughout the flatlands. After almost forgetting to strap on my vario, the imperfections of the day continued with a dead battery. OK, no problem, you’ve got a satellite vario on the

new GPS. Roll with it. I lined up next to the corn and completed my pre-flight. We performed forward inflations in the light winds and tows were smooth. The corn had grown so tall during the previous weeks that what used to be an unobstructed view in all directions from the tow vehicle was now a tunnel of green. Pilots on tow radioed down with the “all clear,” letting the driver know he was safe to roll through the intersections along the tow road. I hit a decent thermal on my first tow, but decided to ride it out to the end. On the way up I realized my GPS would be useless, as it was now buried deep within a configuration menu after being bumped a few times on launch. No problem, everything is working out perfectly. I pinned out and went where the wind took me. I’m not going to win this competition anyway, right? I found some decent lift and was able to climb and maintain for about 45 minutes, a new personal best in the flatlands. The radio chimed in with reports of climb rates and waypoints hit in the distance to the northeast, but I was ecstatic simply to still be in the air. I finally decided I had hung around the same brown, sunlit field long enough and tried to cover some ground while heading towards the home field. It wasn’t long before I began to sink out, but hey, no worries, it had been a great flight! After working a small town for a non-existent thermal, I landed next to the road in a grassy field strewn with weeds—what must have been the only not-corn-or-soy field for 50 miles. (We usually land on empty roads or strips of grass next to them.) One thing I love about flying is the unique experience it often provides. I landed next to the town of Stelle. Good luck finding that one on a map! It was a hot day, so when I saw a farmer on his tractor at the nearby property, I asked if I could wait in the shade of his lovely tree. He obliged and even offered me

some water. Shortly after, a red truck pulled up. I began to tell the retrieve driver about the other two pilots who had landed nearby, until the stack of eggs in the back of the truck indicated who he was. He was cool, too, and had no problem with my hanging out. While I was waiting, a barnyard cat materialized and quickly decided I was his new best friend. Some goats lounged under a tree where an array of old farm equipment was being overtaken by tall weeds and grass. I saw my retrieve vehicle pass by, turn to get the two other pilots who were about a half-mile up the road and grabbed my gear—only to watch them drive away. No problem, the shade is nice, and I have a friend. I sent in a new pickup request, knowing they would be back. The man from the red truck returned and asked, “Wanna help catch a pig?” I’m not sure what answer he was expecting, but naturally, I agreed. The young pig was roaming the field while a circle of farmers and one very out-of-place pilot closed in on him. I played goalie as he came my way, somebody hooked his leg, and, as a young girl bear-hugged him, he let out a squeal like I had never before heard. Then he was returned to the trailer and all was quiet. Welcome to flying in the Midwest. Nobody made goal that day, but a few pilots came pretty close. Tasks over the four days ranged from local triangles to open distance. Winners of each day’s XC were usually determined by whoever went the farthest or made it closest to goal. The area can certainly have some epic XC days, but, unfortunately, we only had moderate conditions during the peak of the competition. There weren’t any cash prizes, but that wasn’t the point. A great time was had by all, and we’ve got the T-shirt to prove it. Not all locals were as welcoming as those I met, however. One man and his wife stopped by while we were towing

to remind us that landing in cornfields was trespassing and we would be liable for any damage. Unfortunately, he was armed with a story from sometime last year when a pilot had done just that and not reimbursed the property owner, who had witnessed the entire landing. We assured him cornfield landings were for emergencies only, apologized on behalf of the unknown pilot, and agreed with him about the requirement for assuming liability. Keeping locals happy is key to allowing our flying to continue. It only takes one person with a chip on his or her shoulder to get us shut down. And also, unfortunately, complaints from neighbors about PPGs buzzing homes could lead to the banning of PPGs as well as future events like this at Enjoy Field. What I witnessed as a remarkable gathering of HGs, PGs, PPGs, and even a couple trikes sharing the same air, in the end sadly demonstrated multiple possible objections to our sports. All of these complaints could have been avoided if pilots had been respectful. The Corn Alps will continue, but a new venue will have to be found for next year. On the bright side, 15 paraglider pilots took part in the XC competition. Multiple novice pilots like me logged record days. Many of us even were outflown by a pilot who was taking his first flight after literally having lost his right hand. Towing operations came from far and wide: two rigs from Minnesota (SDI Paragliding Academy), one from St. Louis (On the Marc Paragliding), and the local rig from Chicago Paragliding. Many new friends were made. Ongoing discussions indicated flying is possible across the Midwest, where there is usually at least one tow operation per state. The trick is finding them! Come try it out sometime; learning to tow has been a very rewarding experience for me. And, as always, every flight is a new adventure.

How to Fly on Monday:

Flying-friendly Careers by


t’s Monday morning. On the Facebook newsfeed, your pilotfriends all seem to be competing in Europe, vacationing in Valle, or soaring The Point during workday hours. Meanwhile, you have meetings to attend, emails to type, deadlines to meet, phone calls to make, and the only thing getting specked-out in your life is your stress level. You click “like” next to their photos, but all you can really honestly think is: WTH?

How do they do it? Some are surely among The Lucky— trust-funders



and get-rich-quick investors no doubt. But the fact is, not all of them came by their freedom so easily. You don’t have to inherit auntie’s fortune, or charge up credit cards to finance the dream. But you may have to muster a bit of courage and creativity and leap into the unknown to make it happen. Take it from pilot Blake Pelton: “It is scary to quit the job that provides a reliable paycheck, or move to a new place,” he concedes. I interviewed 10 pilots who’ve found ways to chase the never-ending thermal. From digital nomads to profes-

C h ris t ina A M MO N

sional adventures, all rack up plenty of airtime on Mondays and manage to pay the bills at the same time. Here is what they do:

FREELANCING Freelancing has the word “ free” built right into it for a reason. Whether it’s photography, graphic design, editing, writing or illustrating, this brand of self-employment is the ultimate in footloose and fancy free— so long as you know how to kick your own $@%, sit down at the desk, and work. Hours: Freelance hours have an allor-nothing quality. Pilot Loren Cox, a

LEFT Self-styled careers in freelance photography

and adventure tours leave Gavin McClurg and Jody MacDonald free to fly | photo by Jody MacDonald. graphic designer/photographer, sometimes scrimps by for a week or more with only a couple hours of work. Other times he racks up 40. That unpredictability requires planning ahead, and squirreling away a few acorns for tough times. Flexibility: So long as you nail your deadlines, freelancing permits a pretty self-styled schedule. “I can spend time with my family and generally fly when conditions are best,” says Cox. That said, you have to be ready to strike when work appears. “I have deadlines that are dropped on me with short notice, which means I must multitask projects in very short time,” says Cox. Upside: “The best thing about my job is freedom to work when I want,” he says. If his local site, Point of the Mountain, isn’t working, he can pull out the laptop and earn some money. He can also work on the road. “All I need is an Internet connection,” he explains. Freelance photographer Jody MacDonald loves this, too. “I get to travel a lot to very cool places with really great people.” Downside: No one likes to hear a freelancer whine, but there are some real downsides to having a portable job. For Cox, it’s hard to truly unplug. “Even while I’m in some exotic location, or flying in some amazing scenery, I don’t get to fully enjoy it because I’m stressed out by the task at hand and ‘getting the shot’. For MacDonald, travel can translate into rootlessness. “Because I travel a lot, I’m hardly ever home. As a result I don’t get to spend much time with friends and family.“ Airtime: Cox can usually drop what he’s doing and fly almost every day—a feat made easier by living at Point of the Mountain. “We have an amazing community, and families help each other out with the kiddos so that we can take turns flying, even on days when I’m in ‘stay-at-home-dad’ mode.”

Expand Your Horizons

* Climb to cloudbase & shut the motor off * Enjoy long X-C flights with your friends * Special Offer for Pilots Crossing Over * Instructor & Dealer Opportunities




NURSING The combination of good pay and flexibility might make working in the medical field the ultimate in flying-friendly jobs. Hours: Nurses work some pretty whacky hours—long overnight shifts are often part of the deal, as is being “on call.” A 36-hour workweek seems like the norm. Pilot Lindsay Holden is a traveling nurse who works 13-week contracts. Between contracts, she is free to fly. Flexibility: Nursing allows for self-scheduling, but requires advance planning. Nurses schedule out six to eight weeks in advance, and once they sign up, the schedule is fixed. Leavesof-absence seem well tolerated in this profession “Two months is the sweet spot for what I can get away with,” says RN Jamie Kulju. “Anything longer than that and it’s cheaper to hire another nurse.” As a traveling nurse, Holden can pick her spots. This summer she has a part-time seasonal position in Sun Valley, Idaho, where she is getting some solid airtime. After her contract is up, she’ll travel Europe in the fall before finding another contract. Upside: Aside from good pay and a flexible schedule, a job in nursing offers



a strong sense of camaraderie and the rewards of helping in a community. Also, there is no shortage of work. Holden says, “ It may not be the exact type of nursing I want, or the most perfect location, but I will never have a hard time finding a job.” Downside: Irregular hours are a bummer. “I’m a wreck for days after an overnight,” says Kulju. And that’s not the only glitch. Health care in America is fraught with problems that nurses must contend with. This can drag Kulju down at times. “Emergency nursing can be the melting pot of health disparities, social dysfunction, excessive healthcare costs, and defensive medicine—things that contribute to poor health outcomes and outrageous costs,” she laments. As a traveling nurse, Holden is always the new kid and misses the benefits of seniority. “You’re usually given the ‘easier’ patient assignments, or the patients everyone else is tired of taking care of.” It’s definitely a trade-off for having more location independence. “Oh, and my dog hates me when I work 12-hour shifts,” she adds. RN Lisa Dickinson is quick with her list of downsides: “Night shift, poop, blood, and guts. It can be emotionally taxing, and it can be sad.”

Airtime: These RN pilots average

about three days of flying each week with long leaves of absence—sometimes taking weeks and months off to go flying and traveling.

REAL ESTATE Selling homes is apparently a good way to get away from your own home for a while. Technology has unchained real estate professionals like Huntley Brockie and David Smith from the office, making it a job that works well on the move. Hours: Variable, from zero to 80 hours per week. Smith averages 50 hours per week. Flexibility: Smith puts together real-estate contracts and communicates “from the sea, the jungle, and the dunes.” As an appraiser, Brockie seems to work whenever he feels like it, taking up to three months off without losing a client. Upside: There is work on tap. “When you want to fill the bank account, open the faucet,” says Brockie. Downside: Brockie cites the sedentary nature of his job as its major drawback—whether that’s long hours in the car, or long hours writing reports. Smith says that the “constant crush of communications and marketing” can be

LEFT RN Lindsay Holden enjoying her

freedom in Soboba, California. a bit of a drag. He also warns that it can be a difficult career for those without a self-starting work ethic and take-charge personality. Airtime: Brockie has some concrete flying goals “I’m aiming for 150 hours of thermal flying this year. I’m at roughly 50 to date. The season is just getting started in Montana.” As a bourgeoning pilot, Smith is working on his P-2 and takes every available opportunity to join his instructors. “I’m surrounded by flying sites in the Portland/Vancouver area, but I’m already anticipating travel to Southern California and Hawaiian sites this winter.”


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PARAGLIDING? One way to fly a lot is to make paragliding into a job. Becoming a tandem pilot is an obvious choice, but there are other options as well. Pilot Justin White is the manager of the repair department at Cloud 9 Toys, North America’s largest paragliding shop. Blake Pelton has made paragliding his job in multiple ways: He is the owner at SpeckedOut.com, owner at FlyThePoint. com, a professional kite flier, tandem pilot, paragliding instructor, and XC guide. Hours: White works 25 to 60 hours a week. Pelton doesn’t even distinguish work hours from play hours—the two are intertwined in his mind. “It depends on the definition of ‘work.’ Everything I do is based around the stuff that I love doing,” he explains. Flexibility: Very flexible. “It’s all based on the weather, and flying has top priority,” says Pelton. “Many times, my job takes me to places where I can fly!” Upside: The upside of being a paragliding professional is full immersion in your passion and getting to share it with others. “I get to teach others how to fly,” says White, “as well as take people on tandem flights so they can experience without ever taking any lessons.” Downside: Since flying is weather

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“Flight, for me, is a Zen-like experience, and the more I do it the more centered I feel,” says Delta Airlines captain Dave Chapman. Traveling nurse Lindsay Holden racks up lots of airtime between contracts. Hang glider pilot Matt Christensen works as a general contractor. “As long as I’m meeting my obligations and my projects are running smoothly, I’m able to take time to attend two or three competitions a year.” | photo by Chris Cundey. Owen Shoemaker on-the-job at Chelan Butte in Washington | photo by Maggie Walsh.


dependent, jobs in paragliding are weather dependent as well. A streak of bad weather, or the off-season, can throw work into a tailspin. This means being careful with finances. “It’s important to set enough aside to carry us through the slower times,” says Pelton. Airtime: A job in paragliding pretty much guarantees plenty of airtime. When the weather is good, White gets his feet off the ground seven days per week. Pelton owns a house right at Point of the Mountain and can eye the windsock from his office window

AIRLINES Whether you work as a flight attendant like Nicole Chastain, or a captain like hang glider pilot Dave Chapman, a career in aviation will keep you in the sky. Hours: Chastain’s work rhythm is three days on and four days off. Chapman’s work hours vary: “Some weeks I don’t work, and others I am gone the entire week.” Flexibility: Chastain says there is no minimum work hours and that the ability to trade shifts with other crews makes being an airline attendant “the most flexible job in the world.” Chapman says the job is flexible, although requires scheduling several weeks in advance. Upsides: Airline attendants get great health benefits, a 401k, and free travel domestically. They get great deals on international travel (like a ticket to France for $238.00!). For Chapman it’s being in the air: “I get to fly!!! And they pay me to do it!” Downside: Living in hotels can be a challenge, but Chastain tries to get overnights in places where she can see friends and there is a lot to do. Chapman is sometimes unable to get the days off that he wants. Airtime: Last year, Chastain took a



month off from work and went to Africa to join the Wings of Kilimanjaro event. Chapman lives right near launch at the Point of the Mountain Flight Park. “As long as I have a spare 30 minutes or an hour I can get in a flight!”

TECH Jobs in tech seem to offer a good combo of flexibility and paychecks that can cover the cost of a new glider. Hours: Nathan Pertuset works 30-40 hours a week as a web developer. Owen Shoemaker manages a software development team and his work hours vary from 30 to 80. Flexibility: Although Pertuset works nearly a full-time schedule, he can adjust the times and days he works. Shoemaker has similar flexibility and can fly so long as the work is done—even if that means pulling a midnight-to-4a.m. shift. Upside: Both tech workers say location independence is the biggest upside of their tech jobs. “As long as I have my laptop and an Internet connection, I can work,” says Pertuset. The only complication can be syncing up time zones when traveling. Downside: Without a set schedule and place, work tends to take over. Pertuset finds it a bit hard to disconnect from it. “I don’t always have set days off or set working hours, so creating boundaries with work can be difficult.” Shoemaker gets frustrated trying to find reliable Internet connections for meetings and uploading work. Airtime: Pertuset gets out flying every day, weather permitting. Shoemaker clocks up 260+ hours of flying in a year.

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adventure expeditions by sail around the world. Destino Das helped start an alternative energy research-and-development company named Thrivaltech, based in Ashland, Oregon. Hours: Das logs about 30-40 hours per week. McClurg put in a lot of time up front, but has dialed his schedule down to 10 hours per week. With a crew running the boat, he now just takes care of emails, finances, itineraries, sponsorship and media with a little writing thrown in. “Most of my time is spent flying, trying to fly, planning to fly, and preparing to fly!” he says. Flexibility: Das can design his workdays around bad weather. McClurg’s job is extremely flexible: “I only need Internet, and even then, I only need to bother on days when the weather doesn’t allow me to fly.” Airtime: Das gets out to Woodrat three or four days a week and is able to toss in a few trips abroad or to other coastal sites in Oregon and California. Last year McClurg flew over 300 hours.

This year he is already over 200 and aiming for 400. He gets around, too. This year he’s logged Colombia, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, and Europe. “ I have an absurd amount of time to dedicate to flying paragliders, which is pretty much all I want to do,” he says. Upside: Das loves his job. “There are too many upsides to mention about my work, mainly that I’m engaged in inspiring work that is contributing to the planet, and that it is my own creation, so it’s essentially designed around my lifestyle.” McClurg as well. “When I was running the boat, I was sailing around the world. Not a bad job” Downside: Das feels massive responsibility in running a company with employees and often has to make sacrifices—like long, stressful work weeks during big pushes—to keep it going. For McClurg, it was hardest in the beginning when he was running the boat. “It was enormously stressful and the hours—24 hours a day for five years—damn near killed me.”


here is no question that striking out on independent careers requires a bit of a leap of faith. What most of these pilots seem to have in common is that they live not knowing where the next contract is going to come from, or if the work is going to dry up. But the payoff psychologically seems big. Most say that getting flight time actually makes them more productive and present on the job and with their families. Hang glider pilot Matt Christensen has worked hard as a general contractor for years, and is now on the brink of taking a one-year sabbatical from work. He credits his wife for being supportive of this hang gliding addiction. But she benefits as well. “If you live your life around your passions, you will be able to provide MORE to your loved ones, you will be more productive, and a better person all around.” Christina Ammon writes from The Crash Pad at Woodrat Mountain. Contact her at woodratcrashpad@gmail.com.

687 Kilometers

in Three Days WOR D S & IM A G E S by

In June of 2014, 26-year-old Berni Pessl from Styria, Austria, was the first pilot to complete a 300+ km FAI triangle on an EN B paraglider, a Nova Mentor 3. In July he completed another XC hat-trick, flying 687 km in three days. Berni wrote a story about these three days窶馬ot about epic flying and heroism but about comradeship among pilots and the excitement of paragliding.

berni Pe s s l

17 July 2014 195km FAI / 225km free distance/ airtime 9h

http://www.xcontest.org/world/de/fluge/details/:bernhar dp/17.7.2014/07:52

At 6 a.m. we arrive at the Grente parking area in the woods

above Antholz (Anterselva) Valley, still a little sleepy from a very short night. Fatigue wears off quickly, however, as we hike up to Grentealm (Malga Grente) surrounded by many familiar faces who greet us with smiles. Shortly before 10 a.m. we launch. As predicted, there are some clouds blown in by the north wind, obscuring the sun occasionally, so I decide not to do the traverse at Kals, due to shadowing. At the tra-

ABOVE The day started off with a low cloudbase but it developed into a winner. OPPOSITE It's hammer time in the alps! Andreas Kusstatscher setting the line.



verse in Sterzing (Vipiteno), one clearly feels the difference in pressure between the northern and southern Alps. A powerful northerly wind is flushing down from Brenner Pass. I cross into the Ridnaun Valley (south side of the ridge), arriving pretty low. I can barely thermal up again in very turbulent conditions. Not really recommendable… Berni Koller shows a much more elegant solution for the Sterzing (Vipiteno) traverse: He flies to the north side of the ridge and then soars up in a relaxed manner. Very clever. Have a look at his track: http://www.xcontest.org/world/de/fluge/details/:b erni_k/17.7.2014/07:47! Further towards the second turnpoint, I can finally thermal to over 3700 m, enjoying a stunning view. The last leg into the Dolomites goes quickly. East of Kreuzkofel (Cima di Croce), but at a safe distance, I am carefully observing an impressive anvil of a cumulonimbus cloud. But no danger. Unfortunately, I make a little mistake and don’t thermal up high enough to gain the required altitude to get to the third turnpoint in the FAI sector. But in any case, the north wind makes flying rather uncomfortable. When I notice that Berni Koller is gliding out into the Badia Valley, I happily decide to follow him. Together we hitchhike to an inn, where, shortly afterwards, Andreas Kusstatscher and Harald Mair join us. Cheers! Thanks to Joerg Mueller and Michael Zenker for finally finding and retrieving us. We arrive back in Anterselva Valley at night.

18 July 2014 273km FAI / 288km free distance / airtime 11h15

http://www.xcontest.org/world/de/fluge/details/:bernhar dp/18.7.2014/07:18

Another hammer day (as we say in German) is my first

thought in the morning. The parking lot and the launch site see a highly international gathering of XC pilots. Iamina Ilea from Romania accompanies us to Grente again. David Rybar from the Czech Republic has come with a minibus full of pilots. Simon Wamser, Timon Weber, Till Gottbrath, Stefan Lauth, Andi Egger, Bernie Koller and some others represent the German XC pilots. Kurt Eder and Harald Mair come from a neighbouring valley in Southern Tyrol. Finally, Joerg Mueller, Michael Zenker and Simon Oberrauner represent the Austrian junior hike-and-fly XC pilots. With such a mixed bunch of nice people, the XC flying mood is hard to beat. It’s a very distinct spirit. That’s why the personal bests are often improved on such days (which actually happened to some of these folks). Andreas Egger launches first at 9:15 a.m.; the other pilots and I follow immediately after him. We help each other



search for the best thermals, while waving, cheering and enjoying the fantastic view. Being a bit inattentive, I don’t set the first turnpoint near Grossglockner properly. As a result, I have to adjust the triangle on the second turnpoint in Ridnaun Valley. On the way to the third turnpoint in the Dolomites, we can feel the north wind again, blowing down from Brenner Pass. The traverse of Sterzing (Vipiteno) requires our full concentration, and some pilots bomb out. The rest is a gift. Lüsen, Kreuzkofel (Cima di Croce), the turnpoint in the south, and then the final glide into Antholz Valley. I land at about 8:30 p.m., together with Kurt, Simon and Timon. What a day! This is exactly the way my last excursion to Southern Tyrol in this flying season should end! The Styrian XC newcomers—Simon, Michael and Joerg—pick me up at the landing. So the drive home has a car full of euphoric pilots.

19 July 2014 167km flat triangle / 174km free distance / airtime 9h30

http://www.xcontest.org/world/de/fluge/details/:bernhar dp/19.7.2014/07:52

Around 3 a.m. we arrive back home. After hiking up Malga Grente twice, we enjoy showers. And sleeping in a proper bed is fantastic. I sleep twice as deeply and am somewhat cheerful when I get up four hours later. I call Hannes Fuchshofer immediately. In fact, I had canceled the day before, but if there is a chance for a good flight with my friend, I have to make the most of this. So my “mental coach, Mr Fuchshofer,” picks

me up—for the third XC day in a row. Arriving at the launch site on Schöckl (near the Austrian city of Graz), Joe Edlinger and a bunch of highly motivated pilots welcome us. For the third time in a row, the launch time is before 10 a.m. The day doesn’t become the hammer day we were hoping for, because the south wind is churning things up too much. But it is such a pleasure to fly XC with many friends in Styria. At 2 p.m., it happens: battery empty! Luckily, only the camera battery, but vario, mobile phone and tablet also indicate battery low… what to do? I do not want to land too far away from home. For a long journey home, I would not have enough battery power. So mobile phone off, vario in quiet mode, tablet in economy mode. Soon I find myself somewhere very low in the Gesäuse Mountains, less than 200 meters above the valley floor. There is no need to explain the next two hours in detail, but in brief: With full concentration, I manage to progress five kilometres, with an average speed of less than 3 km/h. Yet, I am still in the air. What follows afterwards is a real reward and paragliding at its best: nice conditions, stunning views of the Hochschwab chain or, as Tommy says, “the Styrian Dolomites.” He is right. At 7:20 p.m. I land. With the help of a nice driver and a beloved brother, I arrive at home at 8:30 p.m. I have spent more than 29 hours and 45 minutes in the air and covered a distance of 687 kilometres within three days. Now I am unbelievably exhausted and tired—but also unbelievably satisfied and happy.

ABOVE The Reichensteinhütte in Austria serves fine fare with a decent view.



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Phenomenon by


C .J. S t ur te van t

n last June’s issue of this magazine, editor Nick Greece wrote an article advocating for “anti-hardcore” flying, which he defined as “ticking off classic routes, flying some of the most interesting mountains in the world and staying in the relative lap of luxury.” Broaden his definition to include interesting flatlands along with mountains, and you’ll be edging close to what today’s sport-class hangies expect from their competition experiences. After talking with many of the pilots flying in this year’s sport-class events, I’m convinced that they’ve expanded the anti-hardcore experience even further, adding an emphasis on camaraderie and maximizing the fun factor in their competitions. In the minds of many non-comp pilots, success in hang gliding competition requires state-of-the-art bladewings and flight computers, Olympic-caliber skill sets, a hardcore competitor mindset, and the finances and flexibility to travel away from job and family for extended periods of time. Since one or more of these requirements is out of reach for the majority of pilots, the logical conclusion is, “I can’t win against the guys and gals who have it all, so competition holds nothing for me.” But now there’s Sport Class, and except for the finances and flexibility issues, all the rest of the impediments disappear. And in the past several years, the US sport-class competitions have been gaining hugely in popularity, proving that when competition is made more accessible and lowerstress, it appeals to many more pilots than anyone imagined. Meet organizer extraordinaire Jamie Shelden admits that she was totally blown away by how the sport-class category in all the major US hang gliding comps has been expanding at a phenomenal rate; at some competitions this season, the number of sport-class pilots has significantly outnumbered the open class!

What Exactly is Sport Class? For the 2014 World Championships, held last July in Annecy, France, CIVL officially defined the Sport Class as pilots flying kingposted gliders. The US narrows that definition, requiring its sport-class team members to have been actively flying in the US sport-class competitions over the past two years. But the CIVL definition allows other countries to simply send some of their best Open Class pilots to compete in the sport class on kingposted gliders. So our 2014 team pilots—Jonny Thompson, Patrick Halfhill, Stephan Mentler, David Williams and Matt Christensen—were competing in Annecy against some of the best hang glider pilots in the world, from any class.

Who’s Been Flying Sport Class in the US? I contacted more than a dozen of the pilots who’d registered for the sport-class divisions in the 2013 or/and 2014 East Coast Championships (ECC), Santa Cruz and Big Spring events. I was surprised and delighted by how many of them enthusiastically joined the conversation, taking time to answer my questions in depth and with passion. Let me introduce those respondents, as it’s their voices you’ll be hearing throughout this article. Dana Harris learned to hang glide in the early ‘80s when he was barely 20, and flew for about 10 years before taking a couple decades off to raise a family. He was on an Airwave Magic when he dropped out, and now, after three years of polishing his skills, he flies a WW Sport 2. Cliff Rice’s intro to hang gliding was at Kitty Hawk Kites back in the late ‘70s. He had hundreds of flights on the dunes, but only a few mountain flights, when he moved to Florida. This was before the days of the aerotow parks, so there was no hang gliding for him in the Sunshine State.

OPPOSITE Sport-class pilots lined up to launch at the 2014 Big Spring comp | photo by Belinda Boulter.



But he never stopped watching those circling birds, and on one Felix Cantesanu comes from Romania but currently lives in fateful day a Lookout Mountain Flight Park billboard caught Baltimore; he learned to hang glide in early 2012 at Highland his eye, and he realized that hang gliding could once again be Aerosports. He flies an Aeros Discus and has more than 250 part of his life. Cliff flew a WW Sport2 until he wore out the flights and 150 hours, about half of those on his Discus. sail; until he gets a new sail he’s flying an Airborne Shark borHugh McElrath started out as a general-aviation pilot, then rowed from Linda Salamone. He considers Quest his home site. took up hang gliding at Lookout Mountain in north Georgia in Twenty-seven-year-old Cory Barnwell also learned to fly at 2001. These days he flies his Sport 2 in the mid-Atlantic region Lookout, in 2012, and has accumulated 240 flights and 150 around Washington DC with the Capital HGPA. hours in those two years, almost all on his Pulse, which he still Since his first flight at Jockey’s Ridge in 1975, Jonny flies. Thompson has flown 93 different glider models at 41 differStephan Mentler took a dune lesson at Kitty Hawk Kites ent sites, and has more than 9000 solo and tandem flights, but in the spring of 2004 and was immediately hooked—he signed until last year he had only gone XC a few times. Sport-class up for their complete package (H-1 on the dunes to H-2 and competition has changed that! His glider of choice is a Moyes aerotow at the airport). Except for one season missed while Litesport 4. he was in Iraq, he’s been accumulating flights and airtime on a Michelle Haag began her hang gliding career six years ago regular basis since then. He currently flies a Moyes Litesport. in Ellenville, N.Y. and Morningside, N.H., but it wasn’t until Knut Ryerson started hang gliding in Norway when he was she learned to aerotow at the Florida Ridge in 2010 that she 21 years old, and flew actively there for 15 years before moving finally got her launches and landings dialed in, and felt conto the US in the late ‘90s to start a new job and a family, putfident enough to travel to different sites and compete in the ting hang gliding on hold until 2012. Surprised at how much of sport-class categories at Big Spring and Santa Cruz. She flies a his flying skill and intuition he’s retained over that long hiatus, Sport 2 135. he signed up for the sport-class category of the 2014 ECC, and Richard Elder recently retired after 27 years of active now, flying a Sport 2, is once again totally hooked on hang duty with Scotland’s Royal Air Force. He’s another Lookout gliding. Mountain graduate, where he completed his H-2 requirements



and bought a Falcon 4, which he flew for a year and 25 hours before moving up to a Sport 2. Pat Halfhill’s hang gliding roots go back to the ‘80s, when he learned to fly in southern California. When he moved to Pittsburg in ‘92 he dropped out of flying, returning in 2000 but on such a limited basis that he realized he either had to start flying more or get out of the sport entirely. He made the obvious choice, and now gets about 40 hours of airtime a year on his WW U2, most of that at comps. Dave Williams grew up in Wales and took his hang gliding lessons in Folkestone, UK, in 1984. His work kept him globe-hopping for many years, making it difficult to polish his skills. From the beginning, though, he was always drawn to the idea of flying beyond a designated LZ, and well before he was ready skill-wise to make that leap, he’d pump the more experienced pilots for whatever XC tips they could share. Finally, in 1990 on vacation in Laragne, France, ideal conditions at an XC friendly site, along with confidence in his flying skills, lured him to his first XC flight. He flies a Wills Wing U2. Richard Milla is another UK transplant; he grew up on the southern edge of London and learned to hang glide and paraglide in the ‘90s, before moving to the US in 2005. Currently he flies a WW Sport 2 and an Ozone Buzz Z4 paraglider, and occasionally a Cessna. I think he’s gloating



when he points out that he “gets paid to think about flying every day, as an aerodynamicist for BAE SYSTEMS since just after I left college—I guess you could say that I eat, breathe and sleep flying in some form or another!”

Tips and Techniques for Escaping LZ-suck You may have noticed that, even though many of these pilots have been flying for quite a long time, most of them had minimal XC experience before entering their first sportclass comp. Since going XC is all about resisting the siren song of the familiar LZ, I asked the sport pilots for their stories on their first venture beyond the LZ. Richard E. recalls his first XC flight, at the Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge in 2013. At that point he was a H-3, very confident on his Falcon4, figured he had just about got that thermaling thing worked out, and was wondering, “What next?” A flying buddy suggested the Team Challenge, and Richard found that to be “the perfect environment to break the LZ umbilical cord and to learn from so many gifted pilots. Every aspect of the Team Challenge,” he says, “contributed to my sense that this was the time and place for me to make that leap into the unknown. I really can’t thank the Tree Toppers enough for providing that opportunity.” Cliff R. also cut the tether at the Team Challenge. “On

the first day, three of us on Ollie Gregory’s team made our Stephan M. says he “ jumped into the deep end of the first-ever XC goal at Dr. Dale’s, about eight miles. I recall pool” by entering the sport class at the Midwest Hang the feeling of overwhelming ‘aloneness’ when I had flown far Gliding Championships with no prior XC experience. He enough along the ridge that I could no longer see the launch found the Midwest flying totally non-intimidating for a new or LZ, but had not yet spotted Dr. Dale’s. It was a very pow- XC pilot. “It was as wide open a place as I have ever flown— erful feeling, and I actually found it very attractive.” you could quite literately land anywhere.” Surprisingly, this newfound spirit of adventure did not For Dana H., the XC bug bit when “our local mentor, carry over to Cliff’s later flights at his home site, Quest. “I Tom Lanning, held a clinic to introduce XC flying. You was still afraid to go XC,” Cliff remembers, even though need a catalyst like that to get you started,” Dana believes. tug pilot Dustin Martin kept urging him to just go. Finally, He recommends more regional/local XC clinics and camps, says Cliff, “I asked Dustin to tow me downwind so far that concurring that for most pilots, it’s intimidating to make that I couldn’t make it back, and then I’d have go XC. So I went first cross-country venture. five miles and landed in a nice, huge field.” Necessity, they say, Michelle H. credits the winter she spent living at Quest is the mother of figuring things out; having twice landed out in Florida for nudging her into flying XC. Hanging around successfully, going XC suddenly became no big deal. the comp pilots and the old-timers at Quest gradually built Cory B. also found his XC courage at the 2013 Team her mental preparedness. “You can’t help but pick up some Challenge. “Knowing that we were ‘supposed’ to be going XC, tips just sitting around at the end of every day listening to that we weren’t expected to land back at the main LZ, I felt stories,” she points out, “and the friendships I developed with more comfortable with the idea of landing out somewhere.” these people meant that I had no shortage of mentors. Also, LEFT Open-class pilot Davis Straub's flight-line crew appears ready to take off as well! Photo by Belinda Boulter. ABOVE Matt Christensen, in his signature lightning-bolt WW U2, on course during a task at the 2014 Sportclass World Championships in Annecy, France.



the fact that I was flying Every. Single. Day. really helped me to hone my skills and improve my confidence.” After living a few months at Quest, she moved up to a Sport2 and, once she felt really dialed in on that glider and super confident in her landings, she was ready to go. Richard M. found the inter-club comps in the UK “great for introducing me to new sites and conditions, and they’re based around XC tasks, so that helped me want to go XC too. Before I left the UK, I was lucky (although I didn’t realize it at the time) to be in a club with several pilots who’ve subsequently become UK team pilots, plus lots of other very experienced pilots who’ve flown forever. I learnt a lot from just being around other people who are keen on going XC.” Luckily, at Highland Aerosports, he’s found a similar group of “keeners,” as well as weekend XC comps with tasks set along routes with lots of landing options if the usually abundant lift lets you down. Hugh M. shares a favorite tidbit of XC wisdom gleaned from long-time XC pilot and distance record-holder Pete Lehman: “Pete taught us that one big enabler for going XC was just giving yourself permission to drift downwind with a thermal and leave the bubble: Travel with your bags, have retrieval arranged, have your instruments, etc.” Hugh observes that many pilots at their first ECC or sport-class event are “reluctant to leave, and keep coming back for relights. Finally,” he recalls, “the tug pilots just towed us downwind away from the airport and waved us off. It was wonderfully liberating!” There’s courage to be found, Hugh concludes, in “committing to a week of flying XC, banding together in retrieval consortia and egging each other on. “ The consensus among these pilots seems to be that the

imagined challenges of going XC are greater than the reality; given a supportive, structured environment, along with encouragement from pilots that the XC newbie respects and trusts, the intimidation factor of flying beyond the LZ becomes a manageable and exhilarating challenge.

Why Compete as a Sport-class Pilot? Having cut the tether and escaped the “LZ suck,” whether at the TTT’s Team Challenge or at their home site or on a particularly auspicious day at an XC-friendly site, these pilots found themselves wanting more. Sport-class comps filled the bill perfectly. Dave W. realized that a sport-class event would “provide a week of concentrated flying with more than enough back-up support for retrieves, weather analysis, tasks—way more than I could ever get elsewhere. So entering a competition with no other intention but to fly and have fun seemed like the best thing I could do.” Cliff R. finds sport-class “exactly the right balance of fun, competition, camaraderie, challenge, and safety (flying within my limits) for me right now.” He adds, “I’ve met enough pilots who’ve had trouble in hang gliding because they moved up too high in equipment too quickly. I’m not interested in scaring myself out of flying.” He finds an added benefit of mixed open- and sport-class events: “I really like the open-class pilots, and that’s one of my favorite things about going to the mixed comps. Even though we’re nowhere near their skill level, we’re not treated as second-class pilots, and we’re certainly not treated as second-class people. If anything, I feel like we usually get extra attention and encouragement.” Cory B. perceives less pressure in sport-class comps, and

he’s fine with that. “I feel like the sport class caters to those who are new to comps and XC flying, or who are still in a steep part of the learning curve. So it’s OK to not make goal, or even to make it out of the start circle. I feel like I’m not expected to race, and that lets me concentrate more on just trying to make goal regardless of how long it takes. The sport class is not as intimidating as the open class, with their sleek blade-wings and decades of experience, but it is still a real competition with tasks that are challenging and that accelerate your rate of learning. Since I began competing in the sport class I have gained so much confidence in my flying abilities, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.” Dana H. also appreciates the skill-building focus of sportclass events. “In my mind,” he says, “a hang gliding competition is about developing and refining skills, technique and flying strategy. The competition is with improving yourself— to get better, not to beat others. The competition format does, however, provide a yardstick to understand what should have been possible on that day and therefore how you

could have done better. Sports class reinforces that perspective because it is less competitive and more supportive.” Felix C. feels he is a much better pilot than before he began competing, so, he says, “I’ll probably keep doing comps, for improving even more. I love recreational flying as well, but the limits are now much wider, or non-existent—gotta love that! Having a task to complete and a required XC flight every day makes your limits expand exponentially. Flying said task with some of your peers and other top pilots makes it even more of a learning experience (besides all that fun). I’m happy the sport class is coming into its own, getting more attention and participation.” Felix suggests that the often-heard argument that “comps aren’t for everybody, too much competitiveness and bad decisions taken there, just to win” does not hold true with the sport class, where winning seems to be less important. “In sport class one can compete and go big without necessarily having to have the latest and greatest equipment,” he observes.

LEFT Happy sporties: Jim Weitman, Patrick Pannese, Matt Christensen, David Williams, and Alfredo Grey at goal in Levelland, Texas, after completing the longest sport-class task ever called, 168.5km/104.7 miles. Photo by Mike Degtoff ABOVE Stephan Mentler climbing in the start circle above Souther Field at the Flytec Americus comp.



Hugh M. concurs with Felix’s thoughts on equipment required for sport-class competition. “What we have seen in previous years is that even king-posted double-surface gliders like the popular Wills Wing Sport 2 can be the vehicles for winning the class and that newer—and older—pilots who prefer not to deal with the faster landing speeds and tighter flare windows of some topless gliders can get just as much enjoyment out of a well-run sport-class competition as open class.” Jonny T. found the challenges of XC flying to be overwhelming—until sport-class comps came along. “Everything is in place,” he enthuses. “A great starting place. A short walk to launch. Weather gurus to interpret the weather forecast. A team of top pilots using that forecast to select the best possible waypoints and goal. A trained crew to help you get ready for the flight. Top-rate tug pilots to drop you in lift. Friends with whom to share the air and the journey. Telling ‘there I was’ stories to your buddies and listening to their lies, all the way back to the party. Someone tell me again why we keep flying hang gliders?” Knut R. really appreciated the willingness of the more experienced pilots to help the newbies master the intricacies of the technology and logistics of competition. “I’d never used a GPS before; it was fantastic to get expert help in setting up waypoints and learning how to use my GPS efficiently in flights. This made the XC experience superb and so much more relaxing and less scary. The daily pre-flight meetings



were also very educational for me, listening to the experts analyzing the weather reports from different web pages and sources, listening and learning about these pre-flight plannings and discovering how much information there is available for XC pilots prior to a flight.” Richard E. reiterates that flying is, ultimately, about having fun. “I think sport class is definitely lower key than open class, and during the ECC the sport-class pilots appeared to be having more fun. Sport class is very supportive and almost has a sense of shared endeavor: This is kinda new to all of us, let’s help each other out where we can. Sure there was competition and bragging rights, but everyone celebrated each other’s individual achievements: longest flight, greatest duration, highest altitude. There was almost a sense of wonder to the proceedings as each of us was exploring our boundaries.” Although Richard M. has logged lots of really enjoyable ridge-soaring airtime in windy England, as well as in the US, it’s XC that has stolen his heart. “To me, going XC is much more rewarding, interesting, challenging—you’re going places you’ve not been before/can’t get to otherwise, and there’s just something inherently cool about starting at point A and landing a long way away at point B, having used nothing but Mother Nature and your skills and judgment to get you there.” For him and for many others, the sport-class comps put that “inherent coolness” within reach.

What’s In It for the Sport of Hang Gliding? While Michelle H. doubts that competition at any level can actually increase USHPA membership, she states with confidence that “comps certainly allow those people who need to see progress, measure their advances towards a defined goal, and that may help to retain current members. We pilots all have one really important thing in common—the love of flight—but within the community there are subsets of people who love different things about it. Competitions allow those who want it to get their competitive fix, and for those looking to learn, they’re a great place to increase your knowledge base.” Cliff R. is a huge believer in the value of sport-class comps, and, he says, “most of the pilots I’ve talked with are in agreement. We have awesome support within the flying community to get people from fledgling to H-3, and awesome support for our very best pilots, but it’s easy to get ‘stuck’ at H-3, flying the same site and the same flight over and over again. Pilots get bored with hang gliding because they don’t know where to go next. Team Challenge is an obvious next step up from H-3, and it fills a crucial gap in our sport. But I found it very difficult to go from Team Challenge to an actual

sanctioned sport-class comp. That’s why we have started a series of learning comps at Quest. It’s been very exciting to see pilots who are not quite confident enough to register for a sport-class comp come down for one of our events, and get excited, and feel competent and empowered.” Dave W. suggests that “gently encouraging and mentoring the less adventurous pilot to participate at sport-class competition could be an important part of retaining membership.” Dana H. concurs that XC clinics, XC camps and sportclass comps should be a significant part of USHPA’s strategy to grow the sport. “Not only do these events open new doors of excitement and challenge for pilots, they also drive proficiency, skills and accomplishment.” Jonny T. elaborates on that theme. “Make the sport better and more people will want to fly,” he suggests. He sees sport class as “one more good way to be mentored, and a way for a pilot to measure the quality of that mentoring beyond the local community. One of my pet peeves is the tradition of training hang glider pilots to the level where they can safely fly solo, and then releasing them to be mentored (or not) by whomever is in their area. Sport-class events provide a learning environment that is more accessible to most pilots

ABOVE Clockwise from L: Patrick Halfhill with Max, Patrick Pannese, Jeff Bohl, Alfredo Grey, Cory Barnwell, David & Connie Williams, Richard Milla, Jonny Thompson. Most photos by Ryann Quinn, except Patrick Halfhill (photo by Tina Halfhill) and Richard Milla and Jonny Thompson, photos courtesy of the subject.

than open-class events—unless you are flying with the best equipment, have a lot of skill, tons of XC experience, and a master’s degree in Flytecology, good luck placing in the top 20 of an open-class event any time soon! Where do you get experience in flying race-to-goal tasks? Sport class!” Stephan M. perceives the handicapping of gliders in sport-class comps as a huge attractant. “The system levels the playing field among gliders: A pilot can show up with any kingposted glider, from single-surface to high performance, and be equally competitive on the point scale.” He agrees with Michelle that race-to-goal comps are typically not of interest to the non-flying public, but suggests that a few tweaks in the race format could change that. “A task that regularly brings pilots over a central location or immediately around it (like a virtual race track) would be far more interesting to spectators,” he speculates, and proposes that sport class would be the place test this hypothesis, as “many open-class pilots are vested in the current format and might resist this type of experiment.” Pat H. waxes philosophical. “We as humans, and especially as pilots, need a challenge. If I lived near a site that guaranteed me an hour of flight with nice climbs every weekend, I probably would quit hang gliding like I did general aviation. I really think that part of the decline in the sport is because people aren’t challenging themselves or learning. If you get 50 hours a year at your local site and always land at the main LZ, then you hit your apex a long time ago and may soon get bored and quit. The sport class allows you to get out of that comfort zone in a controlled manner and learn things that you just won’t by flying with the same people at the same site all the time. You will meet people at your skill level that

you have much in common with. You will come back to your home site a better pilot, and be able to make a bettereducated decision about equipment and technique instead of just doing what everybody in your club does. Every time that I fly somewhere else, I come back with a new appreciation for our sites and for the incredible flights that the legacy pilots have done here, and a renewed excitement to do more here myself.”

Are YOU Ready for Sport-class Comps? Unless you’re still a relatively new H-2, or have already fallen in love with open-class competition, you may be a prime candidate for the sport-class experience. This season, every sanctioned hang gliding competition included a sport-class division, and with the number of pilots competing at that level it’s likely that next season’s comps will continue to do so. If you’ve imagined yourself taking off on an XC flight but just haven’t felt like you’re “ready” to make that leap, consider taking some vacation time for a sport-class competition next summer. According to these satisfied customers, you won’t regret your decision! Most of the sport-class pilots I’ve quoted in this article also wrote in detail about their favorite XC flight, but space precluded including those with this article. You read Cliff R.’s story in last month’s “The 1” column; look for several more of these favoriteflight tales in next month’s magazine. If you’re a sport-class pilot who didn’t make my deadline but would like to share the details of your wondrous flight with the rest of us, I encourage you to contact me at copy@ushpa.aero.

ABOVE The Big Spring sport-class pilots, L to R: Jeff Bohl, Michael Williams, Patrick Pannese, Alfredo Grey, Jose Gonzalez, Cory Barnwell, Matt Christensen, Brian Morris, Jim Weitman. Not present: Jeff Kannard, Dan Jones. Photo by Belinda Boulter



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Chabre OPE N


E d E wing

PHO T O S by

M ar t ijn van dij k


y first flight from the mountain of Chabre in the southern French Alps was not typical. It was an overcast day, with a light, fickle wind blowing gently up the face. A couple of Land Rovers were parked on the gravel road that runs along the top of this limestone ridge, and a few students were getting their gear out to prepare for a flight. “Do you know this site?” I asked one of the guys who looked as if he knew what he was doing. He did, and a quick site briefing followed. He explained that usually one could expect 2500-3000m base, with good climbs and sparkling air. But today…“Well, you’ll probably have to land in the Fish.” The Fish is the bottom landing field below Chabre, socalled because it is shaped like a fish, cut out of the forested LEFT Landing at goal on day 2. Making goal is a good time!



The Competition The Ozone Chabre Open is run on a not-for-profit basis by the Chabre Vol Libre, a small club set up specifically to run the comp. Their mission: “To organize paragliding competitions, to attract more pilots and to promote the area for its great free-flying potential. And to have fun in the air! (And on the ground, too...).” The competition is a fun comp; it is not Cat 2 and there are no points given for taking part.

slopes below. And yes, that day, after a brief flirtation with some sort of rising air, I did land in the Fish. Whatever… The flight had been a bonus. We’d been travelling north in a van from the Mediterranean coast towards St Hilaire, the home of the famous French flying festival held each September. I hadn’t even known about a flying site called Chabre, or that it was located above a small French market town called Laragne, until my co-driver called out, “Paraglider!” as we drove along the slow road towards Grenoble. We pulled in, parked, stayed the night, went flying and then left.

Low-stress flying That was 10 years ago. Three years later, after a plan to fly in Piedrahita, Spain, fell through, I found myself heading to France to fly in the Ozone Chabre Open at the invitation of my friend Mark Graham. Mark is a British electronics engineer who now lives in the US and is part of the team behind the event and does the scoring. “Come,” he said, “you’ll like the Open. It’s grassy valleys, long ridges and very low stress. It’s a holiday.” I trundled up to Chabre on the local train from Marseille,

the nearest airport. The trip lasted a couple of hours and took me through idyllic rural Provence. This is the France of picture postcards—lavender fields, honey-colored cliffs and small stone villages nestled on slopes. It is a region of dreams and dreamers, perhaps best encapsulated by Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence, the 1989 New York Times bestseller that sold millions of copies around the world and sparked thousands of runaway dreams. In the book, Mayle recounts how he and his wife escaped their life in dreary old England and bought a rundown farmhouse in the Luberon, a region just to the south of Laragne and Chabre. The characters he met and the trials and tribulations he suffered throughout the year formed the basis of the book and set him on the road to riches. It also set many others off on their own particular road to rural France (including, no less, America’s very own celebrity power couple Brad and Angelina—although their fixer-upper is a $60m chateau a little to the south). The point is this: The area is beautiful and still somehow charming. All those beginner beekeepers, strawberry jam makers and organic goats’ cheese makers escaping from the stress of big city life in mid-life somehow seem to just blend

ABOVEWaiting on launch for the final task call. OPPOSITE Climbing to cloudbase for the start is a glorious thing.



The Sites Montagne de Chabre: The main launch site above the village of Laragne. Takes a southerly, works from 1p.m. Ramp for hang gliders. Also takes a northerly, but it’s an advanced cliff launch. Access by good road. Launch at 1300m, landing at 700m. Sederon and Bergies: Two smaller sites 45 minutes farther west are used when the wind is northwest or west. St Vincent Les Forts: About 90 minutes east. This site is protected from the north wind and is often flyable when Chabre is blown out. Not used as a competition venue in the Ozone Chabre Open (gets busy) but a good free-flying option.

right in to the landscape and disappear. The lavender fields still bloom purple in July, the old men in the bar still drink pastis with an ice cube on hot days, and it’s still impossible to buy lunch anywhere after 2 p.m.

Weekend Joes That Ozone Chabre Open was good for me. I had made the decision that year to downsize all my kit, and I was flying a first-generation Ozone Geo with one of the first lightweight reversible harnesses on the market. As a result, I had a full kit that weighed less than 10kg. I could take it on the train, sit with it on my knee, squeeze it into the back of a Land Rover and hitchhike with it. If I landed out or even up above the tree line on one of the grassy sloped hills above, who cared? I’d just pack up and carry. Consequently, I had a brilliant time. I made goal when everyone else bombed, because I soared across the shallow domed summit of a mountain, thinking, Well, if I land, it’s an easy walk, and I pushed along sunny thermic ridges low, knowing my EN B wing was bombproof and predictable. In between the flights, I realized I was indeed enjoying myself (not always the case at competitions in the past) and yes, it was, in fact, like a holiday. The organizers were friendly from the word go, and something seemed to be going on every night: a pizza-and-paella night, an expert XC talk, a bonfire and barbecue. And there were Xavier Murillo and Jocky Sanderson, two of the biggest names in paragliding, right there, having just as much fun as everyone else as they set the tasks, explained the flying, helped pilots get off the hill, and got in the air alongside us. In the evening, they’d debrief, explaining how the win-



What Wing to Take The Ozone Chabre Open was set up as a serial-classonly competition. In recent years it has restricted glider choice to “traditional EN D” gliders as the maximum performance allowed. No two-liners or comp wings. Most gliders turn up with EN B or EN C wings and relish the chance to compete against others on the same.

ning pilots had done it, taking time to make this tricky game understandable for beginners, whatever their question. Both Murillo and Sanderson were world-class competition pilots, people who’d seen it all and done it all, and they were here, in a marquee in a field in France talking to us, a bunch of average-Joe weekend pilots. How did that happen?

The anti comp The answer lies with the core team behind the competition, Dave Owen and Rachel Evans, and Brian Harris and Louise ABOVE Laragne offers a wide variety of Alpen flying.



Joselyn, two British couples that both (separately) have made their lives in France. Dave and Rachel left Wales to set up a paragliding site and guesthouse “somewhere” in Europe and finally settled on Chabre as the perfect spot. Brian and Louise fell in love with the area while on a flying holiday and moved to France permanently, after living and working in London for twenty years. “The idea was always to make an anti-competition,” Dave Owen says now. “We all felt the same: Competition was too serious, too aggressive and felt too dangerous for many pilots.

What You Can Win There are no prizes for winning. In true “taking part is what counts” manner, all the donated prizes are given away in a raffle at the end-of-comp party. That includes the big prize: a free Ozone paraglider of the pilot’s choice (although not tandem or comp wing).

We wanted to create a flying event that was fun, with competition almost a byproduct, not the main focus.” The first competition was held in 2005. Sponsorship came from Ozone, who promised to underwrite any losses of that first event and help with prizes. “That year they wrote us a check for £7000,” says Owen, after the competition ran at a loss. “But since then, we’ve always balanced the books.” As part of the deal, pilots who fly Ozone gliders get a 10% discount on the entry fee and, certainly in previous years, Ozone wings in all sizes made available to them to demo and fly. The first competition saw 82 pilots from France, UK, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Spain, USA and Australia take part. There were five tasks, from 25 to 48km, with pilots in goal “on all but one day.” A handicap scoring system favored

pilots flying lower-end gliders—a feature that helped former hang gliding world champion Judy Leden (GB), who competed on a beginner wing, an Ozone Mojo. She won the comp and an Ozone glider as a first prize. Judy chose an Ozone McDaddy tandem as her prize and donated it to Flyability, a UK charity that helps disabled people fly. “I had so much fun,” she said afterwards. “The area is fantastic.” Spanish-language website Ojovolodor called the Chabre Open “like a fresh breeze in the competition scene,” after which its reputation was sealed.

Killer instinct This year the competition saw 130 pilots take part and was won by German pilot Stefan Bernhard, who stormed every



Who is Involved Jocky Sanderson is meet director. Local pilots Dave Owen, Rachel Evans, Louise Joselyn and Brian Harris run the comp. San Diego-based Mark Graham flies in each year to run the scoring with Brian Harris. Local drivers and others pitch in. Together the team has experience in running everything from weekend club competitions all the way up to FAI Cat 1 World Championships.

task. A former fighter pilot with a tour of duty in Afghanistan under his belt, Stefan now works as a private jet pilot and is learning to fly paragliders. This was his second year at the competition; in 2013 he won the Rookies Class. “I seem to have been very lucky,” he said when asked, his gotta-love-thosehumble-fighter-jet-guys’ grin a mile wide. After nearly a decade, the competition itself seems to have emerged as a clear winner, too. As high-level competition in some quarters has lurched agonizingly from one disaster to the next—the Piedrahita World Championship fatalities, the banning of Open Class, the PWC’s Enzogate— the “serial-class only” fun-and-learning format of the Chabre Open seems to have struck a chord. Whether pilots want to learn more about flying XC in a fun and structured way, use the competition as a stepping-stone towards greater things, or simply as an end in itself, this competition fits the bill. The proof is with the pilots. Within 10 hours of the registration’s opening online for the 2014 competition, the comp was full—130 pilots had signed up and paid, and there were over 100 more on the waiting list.

ABOVE The campsite in Laragne is also the landing field for Chabre mountain. MIDDLE In the landing field at the campsite. BoTTOM Jocky Sanderson. OPPOSITE TOP Launch on the alternate site west of Laragne. MIDDLE The village of Ridiers puts on a pizza-and-paella party for the pilots every year. BOTTOM The town comes out to welcome pilots to their small French village.



Sign Up Be online when registration opens and ready to pay there and then to secure a place. For the 2015 competition, organizers hope to have a PayPal system in place, which means spots will be confirmed immediately. Sign up on the email list and watch the Facebook page and website. Online www.flylaragne.com www.facebook.com/FlyLaragne

Super smooth I have been back several times since my first Chabre Open in 2007. In fact, I can blame the competition for my current job as editor of Cross Country magazine. I met Cross Country’s former editor, Bob Drury, in Laragne. We went looking for some lunch, settled for a coffee (it was 3 p.m.) and he signed me up as a freelancer. One thing led to another and, suddenly, I was holding the reins and being invited back to do the XC Mag Night Talk, a sort of satellite view of free-flying from the perspective of our internationally-focused magazine. I can’t say I trundle up on the slow train through the lavender fields of Provence these days—hire cars make the journey simpler—but I can say I still relish the chance to fly here. This year on our final 58km task we flew north on a day when base hit 3000m+ and the views north to the 4000m Ecrins Mountains sparkled like shiny windows. After a flight that had it all—ridge running along limestone ridges, surfing big mountains in strong valley winds, scratching in close to trees to soar up from the valley floor—I was close to making goal. Turning to go on glide, I had three kilometers to go and was definitely in when I flew into a climb that felt wide and smooth. “I better take a turn,” I said as I topped up my height, “and maybe one more.” I ended up climbing more than 1000m in a super-smooth convergence climb to 2800m, putting me above the mountains I was flying through. Goal was a given, and I was a mile too high, but climbs like these, in places like these, don’t come along very often. I grinned as I topped out and turned back towards goal, now a short, high-altitude glide away. I clocked several other people who had done the same thing, arriving at goal in orbit. “Where,” I thought as I pushed back into my harness, “can we go from here?”




Americus Cup 2014 by


or the second year in a row, Jamie Shelden, et al., organized the FLYTEC AMERICUS CUP and, as one might expect from the Flytec comps, it was a great success. It ran from May 17th till the 24th with three classes: 40 pilots in Class I, three pilots in Class V and 10 pilots in Sport Class, for a total of 53 pilots from 10 different countries—AUS, BRA, CAN, ECU, ESP, GBR, ITA, UKR, USA & VEN. Just like last year, there were two back-to-back events—Flytec Americus Cup and the Race of Champions. This year they also wanted to have something “extra,” so the “Flytec Competition Camp” was held one week before. This combination resulted in making these two Flytec



C laudia M ejia

events the highlight of the spring hang gliding scene in the US and, probably, the world. I loved the idea of a Comp Camp. It gave pilots the opportunity to fly for two weeks in a row in the hands of an organization that took every detail into account. Jamie is simply amazing—as a bonus, she arranged a special moment during the Comp Camp during which time Georgia Governor Nathan Deal landed at Americus, just like she organized the Bolivian president’s landing there last year. I wonder what she will come up with next year. I asked Steve Kroop (Flytec USA) about the possibility of holding the Competition Camp and was told that like

the Race of Champions, they had organized a well-received one about eight years ago. It had gone by the wayside, so the organizers decided to bring it back this year, thinking it helps competition pilots improve their skills and, even more important, encourages new pilots to get involved in the competition world. Steve sees this type of event as “an opportunity to support top competition pilots, giving them a space where they are able to earn some money and pass on their knowledge.” Along with flight schools, this serves as one of the building blocks of our competition world. Read the details about it in a separate article from Flytec USA. Coming back to the Americus Cup: In Class V we had the pleasure of seeing our “usual suspects”—Jim Yocom, Mark Stump and Ollie Gregory—attend and fly every single day. Out of the seven days they got to goal every other day, or on the even days, so on tasks 2, 4 and 6 they made it in, while on 1, 3, 5 and 7 they landed short. It was an interesting struggle; Jim Yocom won tasks 1, 5 and 6; Ollie Gregory won tasks 2, 3 and 7; and Mark Stump on “Rudolph,” his red-nosed “old Atos,” won task 4. At the end of the week Jim Yocom took 1st place overall. Mark Stump came in 2nd and Ollie Gregory 3rd. Sport Class was impressive, with a large group of 10 participants, more than in previous years, and a sign that we are getting new pilots, recreational pilots or pilots new to competition who are interested in joining and returning to the Flytec events. Their tasks ranged from 35km to 72km, based on the tasks for the Open Class. They followed a nice progression: Nobody made it to goal on the first two tasks, but at least one pilot made it in on each of the remaining days. The conditions in Georgia this year were very tricky and sometimes weak, so it was a huge struggle and a great learning experience for this class. Task 1: Out of the 66.6km set, Felix Cantesanu flew the farthest, going just over 15km. Task 2: David Williams landed 2km short of goal, flying almost twice the distance of the guy behind him. Task 3: On the 35.3km route from Americus to Buenavista, only two pilots made it in, with Mark Vanderwerf being about five minutes faster than Anna Eppink. Task 4: This task took them a bit farther, with a 37.1km flight to Vienna and five pilots in goal. They completed the task in less than one hour (from 29min40sec to 44min32sec), averaging speeds between 75.1km/h for Felix Cantesanu and 50km/h for Mark Vanderwerf. Everyone in the sport class made it past the minimum distance. Task 5: The distance was raised again to 71.8km, and the sport-class pilots responded well. Despite having only Mark

Vanderwerf finish the task, everyone flew more than 14km, pilots were spread all along the route, and three pilots who landed around the 20km-short-of-goal mark made this task worth a solid 1000 points, the perfect score. Task 6: It was similar to the previous task, with the same goal—Rochelle—and with only one pilot making it in. Most pilots passed the minimum distance, three pilots were within 5km of goal, and the task was worth another 1000 points. This time the jackpot went to David Williams, with Anna Eppink landing just 2km short and taking second for the day. Task 7: In an attempt to have more pilots reach goal, the distance was shortened to 37.4km with goal at Warwick. Two pilots finished the task under the hour, and the other four finishers did it in less than 1hr 10min, averaging speeds between 47.2 and 33.8km/h. Everyone again made it farther than 10km, and Stephan Mentler won the day, which allowed him to jump two spots forward and finish 4th overall. On the podium: Mark Vanderwerf 1st; David Williams 2nd and Anna Eppink 3rd, just six points behind David. One of the best components of the Flytec events is the “pilot/people factor” and I’d like to highlight what I observed regarding the Open Class this year: One-fifth of the pilots were top world-class pilots, and almost half the field (19 pilots) was foreign. Consequently, this meet was a perfect opportunity for US pilots to, once again, have the chance to fly a truly high-level international competition, without having to travel abroad. Pilots came from all the corners, including Australia, Europe and South America. Further proof of the importance of this competition was the amount of international ranking points assigned: The first three places were given 90.9, 86.9 and 82.8 WPRS points, not far from what was awarded for the pre-worlds in Mexico (97.7, 95.4 and 93.2)! Speaking of the pre-worlds, another interesting fact that adds value to this competition is that six of the top 15 pilots from that comp flew in Americus: Christian, first place and won task 1; Zac, 2nd and won task 6; Jonny 6th; Pedro 7th, won tasks 5 & 7; Tullio 11th and Davide 14th. It was also wonderful to have a special well-respected “tourist” competing this year: Oleg Bondarchuk. I last saw Oleg at the Laragne World Championships (France) in 2009, where he had to withdraw due to a back injury and subsequent pain. In 2010 he attended the Aeros Winter Race in Slovenia, where he placed 6th overall. After that, he had been so absent from hang gliding competition flying that in December of 2012, he was ranked in the 1400s with 0.1 WPRS points. I later learned that his not attending hang gliding comps did not mean he had not been flying; actually, he has been flying a lot LEFT Terry Reynolds getting ready for takeoff – Task 5.



in sailplanes these past years and, as I write this article, he is competing at the sailplane Europeans in Leszno (Poland). This year Oleg flew again in the Aeros Winter Race, which has become the earliest competition in Europe, usually held in March. The latest edition (March 12th–16th) was won by Tom Weisenberger (AUT), Oleg was second and Seppi Salvenmoser (AUT) was third. I don’t know yet whether Oleg is back for good or just for a couple of comps a year, but it has been a pleasure to meet him again and it must have been exciting for those pilots who got the chance to fly with him. After being at the lower end of the international ranking, Oleg jumped up to 255th as a result of the Winter Race, and after Americus, he leapt up to 77th place, straight into the top 100 pilots. When I asked him how he felt about racing again, he paused and said, “I have been flying a lot of sailplanes. Thanks to the new glider (Aeros CombatC 12.7) I have been able to compete; it is much lighter, easier handling and still performs very well.” Italy is indisputably the strongest nation in hang gliding, and for the past couple of years we have also had the privilege of having a small but incredibly strong Italian delegation attend our comps in the US. This year we had three Italians who are always among the top-ranked pilots in the world and are, as of August 2014, ranked in 1st place (Christian Ciech), 10th (Davide Guiducci) and 13th (Tullio Gervason). They are, together with Alex Ploner, the top four Italians whose WPRS points put Italy in the highest ranking by nations. This year´s Brazilian delegation was composed of six pilots, three of whom are among the top four in their country: Glauco Pinto, Eduardo Fernandes and Konrad Heilmann. Andrè Wolf is the fourth—he flew in Americus last year, and we hope to see him next year. Glauco Pinto has the current South American open-distance record of 531.2km, which he flew together with Eduardo “Dudu” Oliveira (also at Americus) for 90% of the flight, taking off shortly before 9:00 a.m. and landing at 6:00 p.m., 9 hours 4 minutes and 330 miles later!

Speaking of records, two Aussies also joined us this year: Glen McFarlane, the Australian champion who won the nationals at Forbes, and Jonny Durand, Jr. Jonny always has tricks up his sleeve and this year, on January 28th at the Nullabor National Park, he established two out-andreturn speed records: one over a distance of 100km with a 90.41km/h average and the second one over 300km with a 71.28km/h average. As well as being a great opportunity for us to have such talented pilots join us, this event provides an excellent chance for European pilots to start warming up in order to be ready for their season. The fact that they keep coming back for more definitely says a lot about the organization and the atmosphere the US pilots create for their guests. Another nice surprise was seeing Terry Reynolds lured back into competition flying after several years of absence. He first attended the Flytec Competition Camp and then decided to stay for the Flytec Americus Cup. When we saw him during the Comp Camp, we had no idea who he was, but we could tell he had “been around” and that there was something special about him. One of my favorite days working at goal was Task 2, when pilots flew to Cuthbert. I had left a bit late and was driving the path I thought would be best, but did not encounter any other retrieve vehicles and did not see any pilots for the longest time, which made me wonder... Just as I was starting to doubt my navigational skills, I spotted ONE glider up in the sky and was so happy to see it thermaling, not only because it ratified my route choice, but also because I felt: “Wow, our sport is soooo cool, it’s just ah-maaazing!” Anyway, I left that glider behind and went on my “final drive” to find Oleg, Christian, and Pedro already landed at goal about five minutes earlier. Pedro was talking about the cool flight he had had with Oleg; he was thrilled to have been able to fly in the same comp because just as Oleg had stopped competing, Pedro had been improving his level, and this was the first time they’d flown together since.

ABOVE Davide Guiducci staging, Italian style! OPPOSITE Best “dolly-retrieve” team ever!



A couple of minutes later, another glider I recognized made it in, the glider of Joe Bostik (AKA “Mr. Bombastik”), taking 4th place for the day. Four more pilots landed shortly after and, 25 minutes later, in came Jonny Durand. Joe knew that even if Jonny had taken a later start gate, it would not been enough, meaning Joe had just beaten Jonny that day! Even better, Joe said, he loved the idea that he was about to “finish packing up my glider and Jonny is just making it to goal!” Not an everyday event. This year the organizers of the Flytec Americus Cup introduced a new concept for task setting. Instead of the usual pilot task committee, the meet director chose a single knowledgeable person with lots of competition experience, who was not flying the comp, to decide the daily tasks. The competitors did not know who this person was (or should not have known, but keeping a secret is almost impossible), so there was very little or no interference. All of this secrecy made the character our very own “Stig.” (The original one comes from the British Top Gear show, and there is even a separate entry on Wikipedia about him (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stig).) Not only did The Stig add some mystery and fun to the whole event, but the truth is, he did a darn good job, and his role helped the meet director have a more relaxed comp. Pretty sneaky he was, and only did one public appearance, to personally deliver the task on Day 7, while riding the quad and wearing the perfect Stig attire. Speaking of tasks, 7 out of 7 days were flown, a perfect record! Even though the weather was difficult, with weaker thermals and higher winds than last year, pilots showed their skills and flew well. The struggle was challenging, but well worth it: very few pilots landed short of the 5km minimum distance mark. The challenging conditions also proved to be tough on some pilots who did not perform as they usually do, which makes it all part of the learning process. The weather was windy enough that only on one day, Task 3, could the goal be set back at Americus; no one made goal, but Oleg got the closest, landing 6.6km short. The other day when nobody made it to goal was Task 1—on that day the winner, Mike Bilyk, landed 100 kilometers short! On four days, from 10 to 20 pilots made goal. Task 7 was the exception, with only five pilots braving the final glide over the city of Tifton. At least two pilots, who were not 100% positive that the top of the lift that day gave them a safe glide over the city, decided to land before Tifton. Two other pilots did take the chance, but after having quite a tense final glide and despite making it to the goal field, they were not able to enter the goal cylinder. Four tasks were over 100km, ranging from 100.6 to 144.1km. As I mentioned earlier, despite the not-so-perfect conditions, pilots performed remarkably well.

The crew, obviously including The Stig, was great and an important part of the competition. Even one of the firemen decided to jump in and ride the quad with Carly to be a “hooker”; he had a hard time handling the hook at the beginning, but after some practice, he was doing it just fine. Mick Howard deserves special mention. He changed roles throughout the competition. At the beginning of the day, he flew as a competition pilot; then he switched sides and became a tug pilot on his trike, doing an awesome job. (I even heard two experienced pilots commend his skills and say they were happy to tow behind a trike). Once the more hectic towing was over, he parked and tied down the trike to go back to being a hang glider pilot, rolled his glider to the lane, got geared up and took off behind one of the Dragonflies. And all this with a smile on his face, without a complaint! What about this year’s logo? Actually I can’t say which one of the logos Mike McFaddin designs for the comps is my favorite, but I found this one to be very appealing. He is not just great at managing the launch line; he is also a talented designer. Among the “ground team,” I thought Dustin’s presence was wonderful. Despite not being able to compete, and while still in recovery, he decided to attend the comp and spend time with friends, rather than stay home and miss out on a good time. Also one final note: It’s great to be based out of the Souther Field Airport. Their staff is exceedingly helpful and they actually seem happy to have us around! I will be looking forward to attending many more exciting, fun and interesting Flytec events in the future that I hope to be able to capture in words to share with you.



SPORT-CLASS Mark Vanderwerf David Williams Anna Eppink Stephan Mentler Cory Barnwell Felix Cantesanu Matt Christensen Jeff Bohl Patrick Pannese Soraya Rios

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th

WW U2 160 WW U2 145 WW Sport2 135 Moyes LiteSport4 Airborne Shark Aeros Discus15 WW U2 160 WW Sport2 155 WW U2 145 WW Sport2 135

CLASS V Jim Yocom Mark Stump Ollie Gregory TOP Sport-class podium (left to right) top: Stephan Mentler (4th), Cory Barnwell (5th), Felix Cantesanu (6th), Matt Christensen (7th), Jeff Bohl (8th), Patrick Pannese (9th); standing: Soraya Rios (10th); bottom: Mark Vanderwerf (1st), David Williams (2nd), Anna Eppink (3rd). MIDDLE ClassV podium (left to right): Jim Yocom (1st), Jamie Shelden (organizer), Ollie Gregory (3rd) & Mark Stump (2nd). BOTTOM Open-class podium (left to right) top: Christian Ciech (2nd), Oleg Bondarchuk (1st), Mike Bilyk (3rd); bottom: Davide Guiducci (4th), Jonny Durand, Jr. (5th), Tullio Gervasoni (7th), Greg Dinauer (8th), Matt Barker (9th) and Pedro Garcia (10th). Photos courtesy Jamie Sheldon.



1st Atos VR10 2nd “old” Atos 3rd Atos VQ

OPEN-CLASS Oleg Bondarchuk (UKR) Christian Ciech (ITA) Mike Bilyk (USA) Davide Guiducci (ITA) Jonny Durand (AUS) Glauco Pinto (BRA) Tullio Gervasoni (ITA) Greg Dinauer (USA) Matt Barker (USA) Pedro García (ESP)

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th

Aeros Icaro-Woody Valley-Trentino


GAP Wills Wing Wills Wing



HG 401: Advanced Techniques & Concepts Risk Management 50


by Ryan Voight


he latest buzzword in hang gliding and paragliding is “risk management,” which refers to the methodology by which we evaluate, analyze, and selectively choose to accept or avoid risks. Of course, there’s nothing new about it, we do “risk management” in some form every day. How we drive our cars, choose to spend or save money, or what we choose to eat (eating anywhere with a drive-through window is high risk!). What’s new is the way “risk management” is evolving into formalized training within hang gliding and paragliding instruction. What was once just a part of learning to be a complete pilot is now getting broken out into its own specific subject that is being taught in much greater depth. Hang gliding and paragliding are dangerous activities, plain and simple. But the risks can be managed and even mitigated through wise decision-making. As someone who grew up around flying, I’ve heard (and tried) a lot of different methods of risk management, with mixed results. As an instructor, I’ve done my best to teach new pilots how to manage the risks of free flight, again with mixed results. What I’ve found is that we all have different approaches to risk; we accept different levels of risk, in different scenarios and for different reasons. I’ve learned the big variable in risk management is the HUMAN element, and the best way to diminish that weakness is to study and try to understand it (which is why I’m writing this article). Humans are emotional beings, and a sense of safety arises from an emotion, a feeling, as does fear. Both tend LEFT If you’re in a position to stay up until

the end of the day, your probability of a safe landing increases. But being high and far from the LZ makes it harder to anticipate how long it will take you to get down—you can easily find yourself landing in low light and unable to see the streamers or obstacles in your landing zone.

to drive our decision making, even when we are being irrational at times. Digging deeper, what is safety, anyway? Why do I feel safe in my home with my doors locked, when a criminal, or the bear that’s been wandering the neighborhood, could pop out any window and easily climb in? The answer is because it’s not very likely to happen. In a nutshell: Safety is a FEELING, determined by our perception of statistical likelihoods. Take a second to soak that in. In some sense, we are NEVER entirely free of all risk, so perhaps we are never TRULY “safe.” In another sense, there are plenty of times where the likelihood of a negative outcome is so low that we don’t give safety a thought. Getting back to hang gliding and paragliding: Risk management is a game of statistics and probabilities. While “risk management” sounds foreign and complex, a very similar and much more familiar term is gambling. Both employ the use of probabilities and statistics, where we wager something we don’t really want to part with, in the hope of gaining something in return. In essence, free flight is gambling with our lives (or at the very least our well-being). The payoff? Some of the most stunning, mind-blowing, breathtaking and awe-inspiring moments the human race will ever experience. If I haven’t lost you already, you might be thinking the comparison between gambling and free-flight risk management is a bit off. And if we were talking about a simple coin toss or dice roll, you’d absolutely be right. The game of risk management in free flight is not a game of blind chance; it’s more like blackjack. With practice and education, we can learn to count the cards and see when the deck is stacked in our favor, or see a bad hand coming a long way off. Being educated is the first step to making “smart” risk-management

40th Anniversary

party &

Games At Morningside

Flight Park


est. 1974

Charlestown, NH


LEFT Flying is risky; proximity flying is riskier. Doing

it only with people you absolutely trust, and only in butter-smooth conditions, can at least help minimize the risks. It’s all about taking control of as many variables as you can. RIGHT Soaring conditions are funny: Conditions can get better and better, and then suddenly be a little “too good”—exceeding our ability, our level of experience, or even our ability to control our wings. It would only take one of these clouds overdeveloping to create a deadly gust front.BELOW Every flight is an endless string of decisions where we manage the risks involved…but it all starts with the FIRST decision: To fly, or not to fly? decisions. I’ve come to like the comparison to gambling in teaching risk management. It’s so beautifully simple; everyone can relate. If I bet you $100 that you couldn’t have a nearly perfect launch, flight, and landing, do you think you could do it and take my money? Notice I said nothing else. So you could take this hypothetical flight at any time, at any site, on any glider and in any harness you like. If someone proposed this to me, I’d “stack the deck” in my favor by going to an ideal flying site, early in the morning or very late in the day, in an easy wing and harness. If I hadn’t flown in a while, I might even take some practice flights first. The steps I’d take to increase my chances of winning that bet are all things that would increase my flight safety. A different scenario: Imagine you are on launch, getting ready to fly at a desert “big mountain” flying site with ideal thermic conditions that allow you to get really high and go far. Not only that—you are also outfitted in the latest and greatest high-performance wing and harness. Right before you launch, I ask if you’d bet me the same $100 you can’t go land right now and have a near-perfect landing. What would you say? I’ve started using the betting analogy, because it’s a great measure of a



pilot’s confidence in his/her skills and confidence in the variables (conditions). We all have a different standard of what kind of launch or landing is “acceptable,” but deep down, most pilots know the conditions where they are able to ace it, and the conditions where they will just “get by.” As much as I could use an extra $100, I’d be very hesitant to take that second bet. There are just too many variables not in my control—an advanced site, strong thermic conditions, flying unforgiving equipment. I could fly very conservatively and do everything right and still have the “bad luck” of encountering a massive thermal just as I’m attempting to land. I say bad luck in quotations because, if I’m not willing to bet a Ben Franklin in those conditions, why would I put my life on the line by launching into them? If I do launch and don’t get up, and hit that massive thermal at the worst possible moment, is that really “bad luck?” Or was it just poor risk management? You might start to see how thinking about a simple bet on launch can be used as an assessment of how well we’re practicing risk management. If we’re not very, very confident we can win the bet, why are we even considering flying right now? What can we do to improve our confidence in winning the bet? We improve our safety by managing risk with conscious deci-

sion-making before, during, and even after each flight. There are so many variables we have control over, from our equipment to the sites and conditions we fly, to the clearance we give ourselves from the ground or other gliders, or how far away we fly from the LZ or at least an LZ—there are literally millions of risk-management decisions made before and during each flight. An excellent way to improve your risk management is to recognize the risks associated with each of these decisions as they’re happening. Backtracking for a moment, do you remember how I defined safety? Safety is a feeling determined by our perception of statistical likelihoods. A key word in that definition is perception. Our abil-

ity to make accurate risk-management decisions is dependent on our ability to A) recognize risks, and B) accurately evaluate their statistical likelihood. Not to belittle the first part, but recognizing risks is the easier of the two, usually just a matter of applying knowledge and experience. Knowledge is collected from books, your instructor(s) and flight training, and other pilots within the flight community. Experience can be had firsthand or shared with you from lessons others have learned. There is often an overlap where experiences lead to improved knowledge. It’s the second part of risk management that is the trickiest. How can we, emotional human beings with feelings like the need for safety and avoidance of fear, make accurate evaluations of how statistically likely a risk may be? Well, one huge step is just recognizing that we’re imperfect. Just because you are scared of landing in the trees doesn’t mean it is likely to happen. In fact, that fear will probably lead you to keep a great distance from the trees and fly with additional airspeed for control. You might be more likely to sink out and land in a thermic LZ because of your fear of landing in a tree! The point is, we need to recognize that our fears can sway our decision-making. Feeling “safe” with a decision can be just as dangerous! We kind of suck at

being impartial. By doing our best to admit that, embrace it, and step back to be as analytical as possible, we improve our ability to manage risks. One last thought: Just because a risk is statistically unlikely to happen doesn’t mean it won’t. So another aspect of good risk management is thinking ahead and having a “plan B” for each risk you identify. Yes, risk management can be a bit tricky. Yes, it can be mentally exhausting. And yes, you still have to think about actually flying the glider while you’re thinking about all the things that could go wrong: how likely they are to occur, what you can do to make them less likely, and what you might do if they happen anyway. With practice, these formal thoughts of managing risk can become an ingrained habit and much less taxing on your psyche. As with all new skills, it’s best to follow a progression. Work on improving your risk-management thought processes in simplified situations with small risks. Then you can progress into more complex situations with bigger risks. Remember, you’re teaching your brain to do things you’ve already done all your life, but perhaps in a different way than you’ve done it before. It takes conscious effort, patience, and practice. But the improved probability of a long, healthy enjoyment of the sport is worth it, right?!


Thinking Outside the Blocks Part X: Emergency! Procedures


ver two and a half years ago, in a sweltering Australian January, I got the inspiration for this series of articles. I was at the hang gliding World Meet, waiting to measure sprogs in the goal paddock. The first wave of gliders came zooming across the finish line in a group of about twenty. They flew in low and fast, often side-by-side. After their final swoop they would pay off speed, climb considerably and do a 360 to land near the cars, or any open space away from the crowded sky. A top Swiss pilot came around into the wind and found he couldn’t open his harness zipper. He proceeded to do a flare as if his legs were free, but he slammed in, knocked himself loopy, went to the hospital and was out of the competition. It was obvious that the pilot didn’t know the procedure for handling such an emergency. On further reflection about other accidents of this nature, it became clear that many pilots don’t know the emergency procedure for this problem or others in our sport. In this case, the solution may seem counterintuitive or at least dangerous. But it works. In other emergencies the salvation may seem equally unnatural. But in all cases, the procedure has been found to be tried and true in real emergencies. It takes a little thinking outside the mental blocks.

LEGLESS LANDINGS It took me a year and a half to get the right conditions with the right camera




by Dennis Pagen

and the right photographer to arrange a demonstration of a landing with no wheels, while zipped up in my harness. I wanted to do the demonstration on a warm-enough day in light or zero winds, so there would be no doubt that the technique is possible, safe and likely to be easy enough for any semi-panicked pilot. So on a weak thermal day where we scratched the ridge and gradually got lower, my buddy Will Perez was willing to give up a little early and land before me, armed with my camera. If you go to http://vimeo. com/105073830, you can see the film he took. There, you will see me come in and land on the base tube with no hard hit, no repercussions and no wind. The wind streamer can be seen to hang limp before the glider’s wake disturbs it. The glider is a Moyes RX 3.5. The temperature was 76 degrees Fahrenheit. The glider drops a right tip for no reason I can determine. The wings looked level and the right tip doesn’t drop in normal landings. The landing was soft enough, and I would do it again in an instant for a beer. Here’s how (and why) it works: Primarily, you must be cautious NOT to flare in the normal manner. The idea

is to s-l-o-w-l-y bleed your speed off, keeping the glider’s base tube a foot or so off the ground. You gradually continue the push out until you are at full extension. (See figure 1.) You need to make the glider fly its slowest possible speed without stalling, until your body is dragging. In the film, you can see I stood up a little to get my tail to drag more. As soon as part of your body is dragging, you are doing two things: you are reducing the weight on the glider and pulling back on the hang strap. If you could take all your weight off the glider, it would stall at about 10 mph (depending on normal stall speed). You don’t take all the weight off, but you do reduce its stall speed. Also, with your body dragging back on the hang strap, you pull the nose up. In fact, it is almost impossible to nose in with this technique. (See figure 2.) I first realized the possibility of this emergency procedure many years ago, when I saw pilots run out of time and push out on the base tube to land. They landed OK in a drag. I realized this technique worked fairly well in the botched landing case and very well in

the intentional, carefully applied case. So, again, the procedure is to push out slowly on the base tube to full extension, all the while keeping the base tube just above the ground. Don’t worry about the ground rush—it’ll stop soon. Here’s additional info: If your glider is a lesser performer than the topless glider I used, the whole emergency procedure will be less dramatic, because you will be going slower when the base tube touches. Granted, a round base tube may not slide as easily as a faired one like mine, but it still works. What about landing in taller grass or weeds? The same technique applies, but just as with any landing, you must treat the tops of the weeds like the ground. Your body may drag through the weeds, not the ground, so it will not pull on the hang strap as much, but as the glider settles, you will touch on the ground and the nose will then be pulled up. With your arms fully extended when the base tube sinks into the weeds, it will not be pulled back, as long as you keep a solid grip and firmly push forward. In the film, I rocked a bit upright to get my body to drag more. IN weeds, you probably can’t touch the ground anyway, so stay prone in order to have your body lower to the ground when the

glider settles. As long as you are fully pushed out when this happens, your body will drag and prevent a nose-in. Caveat: This is an emergency procedure. Even though I would do it any time in reasonable conditions, I don’t recommend you try it unnecessarily. Like all emergency procedures, it should be reserved for if and when you need it. I feel I’m a safer pilot for knowing the technique and having practiced it; I have no hesitation in using it in an emergency.

LANDING THE WRONG WAY The right way to land is into the wind. You know the wrong way. Finding yourself in a tailwind situation close to the ground when it’s time to land can be scary and dangerous—very dangerous if the wind is anything more than a gentle breeze. Think about this: Probably the fastest you have ever run, unless you are a world-class sprinter, is 15 mph. OK, maybe if you’ve been chased by a black mamba, which can max out at 15 mph, you might have had a hormone-aided burst of speed. But the rest of us can’t run that fast, especially when encumbered by a heavy harness that hobbles. By the time the wind gets over 5 mph tail in a landing, we’re apt to pound. By the time it gets to 10 mph, we’re apt to

pound and hurt. By the time it gets to more than 10 mph on our tail, we’re apt to pound and break. In fact, I can think of little in hang gliding that is more risky than facing forward when landing in a strong tail. Necks and craniums are very vulnerable. There is an emergency procedure for dealing with a surprise tailwind landing. The saving solution is simply to start a turn, no matter how high you are when you realize you are being pushed from the rear. If you are high enough, you may get a full 180-turn into the wind. If you are lower, your lowered upwind wing may hit the ground partway through your turn, but that’s OK. The lowered wing will drag and turn you more, or flatten your bank or both. (Figure 3 statically shows the action.) The worstcase scenario in this procedure is that you could slide sideways. You might break an upright if your body hits it, but a broken upright is repaired with money. A broken bone—especially a neck—is repaired with money and lots of hope. One note of caution: If you are 10 to 20 feet off the ground, you may be tempted to bank really steeply to complete the turn. But the danger lies in hitting the ground with your lower tip in a steep bank that may cartwheel you into the ground. Watch your inside tip or keep your bank reasonably shallow to prevent this from happening. Hitting the tip on the ground in a shallow bank is fine and may be what you want to help you come around into the wind a bit. Attention: This emergency procedure is an EMERGENCY PROCEDURE! It is not intended as an exercise in piloting to practice, except in your mind. I may do it for film some day, but I don’t have to in order to be sure it works. I


have written about this safety technique twice in the past (it never hurts to review safety maneuvers) and several pilots have said they remembered it in a flash and did it when they were caught downwind when touching down. It worked for them like a charm. Moreover, here at the Class 5 (Atos-type gliders) World Meet in Annecy, France, I saw a top pilot in the class come in for a landing when the wind switched. He was only about six feet off the ground when he realized the wind was tailing. He started a turn with his albatross-like wing, got to about a 15-degree bank and perhaps 45-degrees of heading change when his wing touched the ground and pulled him around another 45 degrees. He landed, heading sideways, with no damage to man or machine. The above procedure should be included in your limbic system roster for emergency use, along with the previous one and those for parachute tossing, strong turbulence controlling, thunderstorm escape and other dire situations. Call them up only when needed.

LAUNCHING UNHOOKED This topic has been debated and



discussed ad nauseum if not ad infinitum. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder. We have developed methods to prevent the accidental launching unhooked. These include physical reminders, pre-hooking the harness into the glider, hang and hook-in checks. But still I hear of pilots taking off unhooked, even recently. We always need to remain vigilant and constantly remind ourselves to quit being so human. It takes a community. My conclusion, if and when it happens, is to try to recognize the condition immediately and let the glider go, even if it means a drop of up to 10 feet. I hope every pilot takes a moment to close his or her eyes and review the sensations of a glider lifting away from you too much. Then think of letting go and rolling with the fall. Do this a few times, and you will be better prepared to drop before you even leave the ground. Why, do I advocate dropping ASAP? That’s because most of us cannot—absolutely cannot—hold on while the glider is flying, with its G-forces most likely increasing as it pulls out of the inevitable dive. If you are holding on with the grapevine grip in suspension, you are even less able to keep your hold. Even if you can hold on, it is extremely difficult to shimmy yourself up both uprights and get a knee on the base tube in today’s back-plate harnesses. Try doing this from a control bar suspended in your garage for a reality check. (Incidentally, if you do manage to get yourself into the A-frame, your glider is eminently controllable with your feet on the base tube and your hands on the uprights. Personally, I would fly down this way, rather than try to hook in and

go prone). One other wrinkle: If you manage to get one arm over the base tube, grab a part of your harness with that hand to secure yourself and toss your parachute. Be ready to be pulled off the glider. Coming down under parachute is much better than coming down under gravity. By the way, if you think launching unhooked can’t happen to you, your confidence puts you a bit more in danger of launching unhooked.

PARACHUTE PROBLEMS Every once in a yellow moon, someone’s parachute comes out in flight. Sometimes it is due to dragging (bouncing) during a (very) bad launch and sometimes it is due to poor parachutecontainer maintenance (and pre-flight). If it pops out by itself and inflates, enjoy the ride down. There’s nothing you can do but put yourself in a defensive position in the glider and ride it down. However, if you see it coming out, or if it is only a little bit deployed, you may be able to save the day (and glider parts) by tucking it under your arm. (Photos 1 and 2 show the practice.) I shot these photos when an Atos pilot collided with a tandem paraglider pilot. He was turned upside down in a rollover and tossed silk. But the parachute didn’t fully deploy, the glider righted itself, and he was able to fly down after he tucked his parachute despite a broken upright. With a parachute under your arm you won’t have full arm movement, but you can make gentle turns. Try to set up a landing with a wide margin and a long final in this case. Good luck and start packing.

If you think launching unhooked can’t happen to you, your confidence puts you a bit more in danger of launching unhooked.

HOOKED HAND I have heard of a couple of cases of pilots getting their hand hooked on the rear wires when they were in landing phase. In fact, they got a push-to-talk button or a glove clip hooked. To prevent such unhappy happenstances, make sure your buttons and clips cannot get caught. (Tape up the buttons and take those damn clips off.) If it does happen, be well aware that you can flare from the rear wires very easily. It may feel awkward, but it isn’t hard. I used to do it with Sensors and other gliders, and to this day I see pilots doing it on topless gliders. Short-armed pilots find it is easier to get a full flare with this method. When the glider settles after the flare, it falls backwards and you can set it down gently. Wear gloves.

BLINDED BY THE LIME Twice I’ve been blinded in flight. The first was while working a thermal near Bright, Australia, in the early ‘90s. I believe the thermal picked up lime or fertilizer from the field below which lodged in my eyes. My tears were so copious, I couldn’t see, despite my vigorous blinking and finger rubbing. Yeah, there was pain, but the fear was worse. I was able to leave the area and eventually cleared my sore eyes. But another time in Florida, my eyes began to water and drip on my glasses during a several-hour flight. By the time I got back to goal, I couldn’t see through my glasses. My rescue was to look over my glasses (with blurry vision) and drag a foot as an antenna for depth perception to indicate when it was time to flare. This foot-dragging technique has helped me judge the ground proximity in several situations of poor perception, such as landing in shallow water, on a broad field of snow or in low light. It’s a good trick to have in your bag.

GLIDER OUT OF WHACK Sometimes your glider is out of whack. Perhaps you didn’t get the tip wand

in all the way; perhaps your Mylar is folded; perhaps a reflex bridle is hooked on a batten; perhaps a batten is unfastened; perhaps the tip strap was put on the wrong way. I have experienced most of these conditions on gliders I have flown. In all cases, the glider is controllable, but may have a strong desire to turn in one direction. In that case, always turn in the opposite direction as you go out to land and set up the landing. When it comes time to slow down and flare, be aware that the glider may turn strongly. Keep it going straight and flare as little as possible and run it in. The tip strap on a curved-tip glider can be wrapped around the wrong way when it’s put on. This happens most often when the outboard leading edges are taken out for short packing. If a strap is wrong, it will cause a major turn, because the strap doesn’t let the tip twist up in a normal manner. You can control the glider in flight, but this is the problem that presents the most difficulty during landing. Be careful and don’t expect to flare much.

tailed to the wind; then drop the tail. The glider is now stable; you can let go and unhook. Say a word of thanks for physics.

ENDING Preparing yourself for the worst that can happen makes good sense. The idea isn’t to think of impending doom, but to have a plan. Often adrenaline has a way of focusing the mind. Many times pilots have told me that they have had an emergency situation, such as a downwind landing, and remembered the emergency procedure I suggested. They tried it and it saved them a pile-up and a pile of money. That’s a good enough motivation to keep writing. I would like to thank Will Perez for filming my demonstration. He is a good thermal scratching pilot, but left the sky in the interest of art and science.

BULLY WINDS Landing in high winds—over 25 mph say—can present a real problem with unhooking unless you know the trick. I have written about the emergency method twice in the past, so I’ll just outline it here: In very high winds, you should not flare, but bring the glider down with fast flight and place the base tube on the ground. Immediately put your shoulders to the uprights and push forward enough to keep the nose down a little below level (too low and it drops, too high and you may be flipped backwards—possibly tumbling several times). Now, in this position, lift one upright to tilt the glider. The higher wing will have a tendency to move back. Let it and help it, so the glider rotates on the low corner of the control bar. Watch the lower wing, which is moving forward, to keep it just above the ground. Keep rotating the glider until it is quarterHANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE




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STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP Hang Gliding & Paragliding 1-7970 August 29, 2014 | Monthly | 12 | $60.00 1685 West Uintah, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado 80904-2969 1685 West Uintah, Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado 80904-2969 United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc. 1685 W Uintah, Colorado Springs CO 80904-2969 Nicholas Greece, PO Box 216, Wilson, WY 83014 United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc. 1685 W Uintah, Colorado Springs CO 80904-2969 None. Has Not Changed During Preceding 12 Months. Hang Gliding & Paragliding


July 2014 9655 Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 months;

#90311 Kirk Sellinger – Revocation PG Tandem Instructor

9383 No. copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date.

Effective date: 8/29/2014 | Eligible for reinstatement after 12/31/2014

8574 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 8624 for July 2013

#82636 Brad Geary - Revocations

0 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 0 for July 2013

PG Tandem Instructor & PG Basic Instructor Effective date: 7/28/2014 | Eligible for reinstatement after 7/27/2015

12 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 12 for July 2013. 44 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 42 for July 2013. 8630 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 8678 for July 2013. 0 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 0 for July 2013. 0 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 0 for July 2013. 492 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 511 for July 2013. 175 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 160 for July 2013. 667 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 671 for July 2013. 9297 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 9349 for July 2013.

2015 DARS 2015 2015 CALEN

358 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 34 for July 2013.

ciation iding Asso g & Paragl g Glidin an H es at Association United St & Paragliding Hang Gliding United States

have arrived

ONLY $20

9655 avg./issue preceding 12 months; 9383 for July 2013. 92.83% avg./issue preceding 12 months; 92.82% for July 2013.

Martin Palmaz, Executive Director, August 29 2014

get yours atE









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.



October 16-18 > USHPA 2014 Fall Board Meeting and Annual Members Meeting. 8am daily at the Hilton Hotel, 3003 N Hwy A1A, Melbourne, Florida. Check out www.ushpa.aero for detailed schedule and information. NON-SANCTIONED COMPETITION SEPTEMBER 28 - OCTOBER 4 > Dunlap, TN.

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 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 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,

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 15 - APRIL 1 > Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Hang gliding and paragliding tours. Think about your winter flying. Are you going to join FlyMexico for some fun and airtime? Weeklong packages Sunday to Sunday and we can tailor things for bronze, gold, or platinum levels. Big quiver of hang gliders, best fleet for transportation, most reliable drivers, and most knowledgeable guides. Come fly Mexico with FlyMexico. More info: www.flymexico.com, jeff@flymexico. com, or 800-861-7198.




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.


DECEMBER 1-3> Phetchabun, Thailand. This

3-day clinic is open to basic and advanced paragliding instructor candidates and those needing recertification. Phu Thap Boek is the best flying site in exotic, far-east, Thailand. For more information: www.paraglidetandem.net, or pchumes@gmail.com.

DECEMBER 5-7> Phetchabun, Thailand. Tan-

dem paragliding clinic with Pete Humes and Matty Allen. This 3-day clinic is for P-4 pilots who want to learn tandem flight. We’ll be flying Phu Thap Boek, Phetchabun, the highest and best flying site in exotic Southeast Asia. For more information: Pete at pchumes@gmail.com, or www. paraglidetandem.net.

JANUARY 11-17> Phetchabun, Thailand.

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.



Mountain flying/thermal clinic with Pete Humes. This 7-day clinic is for P-2 pilots who want to learn mountain/thermal skills. Also P-4 pilots who want to set new XC records. We’ll be flying Phu Thap Boek, Phetchabun, the highest and best flying site in exotic Southeast Asia. For more information contact Pete at www.paraglidetandem. net, or pchumes@gmail.com

JAN 1 - FEB 8, FEB 8-16, FEB 21 MAR 1 & MAR 1-9> Roldanillo, Colombia. Eagle Paragliding is running 4 tours over 4 weeks. We guarantee unforgettable flying in Roldanillo, Colombia. Read about our Colombia Tours in the August 2014 issue of the USHPA magazine. The Paragliding World Championships will be held before our tours at this world-class site. The tours are for pilots of all levels. We offer coaching on thermaling, XC flying, tandem XC flying, and race-to-goal tasks for those interested. We have been offering tours for over a decade all over the world. The number of high-caliber staff members supporting pilots at Eagle clinics and tours is unprecedented. Let Rob Sporrer, Brad Gunnuscio, and our highly qualified staff of instructors support you in achieving your goals for the week. Visit www.paragliding.com, or contact us at rob@ paraglide.com, 805-968-0980, and www.http:// eagleparagliding.com/?q=node/27.

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.

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

HARNESSES FLY CENTER OF GRAVITY CG-1000 - The most affordable single line suspension harness available. Individually designed for a precise fit. Fly in comfort. www.flycenterofgravity. comflycenterofgraity@gmail.com, 315-2561522

SCHOOLS & INSTRUCTORS ALABAMA LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - The best 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

CALIFORNIA - 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. 818-3672430, 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. 970641-9315.

FLORIDA FLORIDA RIDGE AEROTOW PARK - 18265 E State Road 80, Clewiston, Florida 863-8050440, 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


Spring, Summer, Fall - Woodrat Mountain,

OR. Hostel / Camping / Rooms below launch. Heated pool, hottub, internet. Shuttle/guide service. ravencyte@hotmail.com, 541 951-6606 or Facebook-Raven's Landing


Shwag OUT With new print-on-demand products.

Gunnison Gliders – X-C, Factory, heavy PVC HG gliderbags $149 Harness packs & zippers. New/used parts, equipment, tubes. 1549 CR 17 Gunnison, CO 81230 970-641-9315 OXYGEN SYSTEMS – MH-XCR-180 operates to

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

SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round basetubes, or tandem landing gear.(262)4738800, www.hanggliding.com.

PUBLICATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS SOARING - Monthly magazine of The Soaring

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

Bone UP With the best books and DVDs available, shipped from Amazon.com.

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.

SMILE : ) Start ALL of your Amazon.com shopping at USHPA.aero/STORE.

Buy ANYTHING ELSE at smile.Amazon.com (even a rubber chicken) and Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your purchase to USHPA!



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!


s I approached launch while in the car, the number of clouds increased, the sky became dark and 100% cloud cover spread a vast shadow over the ground. It was cold, very cold, and deep snow lay underfoot on the walk up to takeoff. There was light wind, as well as an occasional wind blowing over the back. Basically, conditions looked bad, with little chance of anything but a sled ride to the bottom. Not only would that sled ride offer little to no great pleasure, but it would also result in my having a hassle getting to my car again. Other pilots on launch did not bother. What was the point? It was cold and a waste of time. However, I have a different attitude. If it’s flyable, fly. You never know what to expect and sometimes you are surprised. If you don’t take off, you know what will happen. But when you launch, you can never be 100% sure what might happen. So I launched in the light front wind, and the vario made that dreadful deep drone as I sled-rode down in the dark and overcast sky. Zero chance of thermals. I took a deviation to the right, where the wind was a bit better orientated to the ridge, and felt a few beeps—an unexpected thermal. As I turned into it, the lift got more solid, and, with just 10 turns, I was up at the dark menacing cloudbase where clouds were sucking. I’d gone from dead air to lift all around me. Heading forward, I found the front edge of the cloud and carried on, climbing up the side towards sunshine. I was transported into a kind of fairytale scenery, with snowdrifts below



and holes of blue sky above and the sun playing games on the white and grey clouds all about me. It was like being in heaven, made all the more special because it was a complete surprise. No one had expected this; I was reaping the rewards of taking a chance. If you think you know it all, you are closing your mind to the unknown. I have seen this attitude time and time again, and it’s what I dislike about the type of task-setting that occurs in competitions. The tasks are always easily achievable and within the control of the organization. Nowadays, no task is set that is impossible. Every task has to be achievable through known routes and by using standard techniques. Part of this philosophy arises from the drive for everincreasing safety and concerns about the liability of competition organizers, both of which are legitimate reasons behind this trend. But keeping an open mind in your own flying is a philosophy that results in experiencing the true beauty of free flying, for both hang glider and paraglider pilots. One cold, windy day on Weather Fell in northern England, the British Hang Gliding League set a clearly impossible XC task. Cloudbase was 100m above the top of the hill and the wind was strong. It was clearly impossible to go XC, but easy to ridge soar just above the ridge. This was a hang gliding competition, but the same would have been true had it been a paragliding competition. After the entire day of flying, nobody had been higher than 100m above takeoff. During the day, we had been allowed to top land to take a rest and a sandwich

before taking off again. However, 18h was the time of the last launch, and task rules specified the last landing was to be at dusk at 21h. Everyone who still had some hope left went ahead and launched at 18h. We all hung there in the wind, just below cloudbase, as evening approached. Just before 19h, the wind dropped a little, and a little slot appeared in the cloud cover right in front of the ridge. Some pilots started to play with the hole in the cloud, and gentle lift started to give pilots a smooth ride up and through the cloud cover. More and more pilots followed their lead, and soon the entire field was climbing in weak wave lift, while lenticulars started to form above the low cloud cover. As we climbed to 5000ft and started to jump from wave cloud to wave bar downwind, we saw the wave slots starting to open up more as well. Smooth lift was everywhere, and as the sun sank, only the amount of daylight left limited the distance we could fly. Many pilots made the 50km downwind to goal, but many got disqualified as well for not landing before sundown. Some landed late into the night. That flight remains one of the most incredible of my life. But the most incredible flights always occur when you achieve something you thought was impossible. If this had been a competition in 2013, no one would even have opened his or her glider. I think this is very sad. If you think you know everything or don’t even try for the “impossible,” these amazing flights will never happen. Open your mind to the impossible, and you might just be pleasantly surprised.

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

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