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MARCH 2015 Volume 45 Issue 3 $6.95





by Felix Wölk. MEANWHILE, Flying the North Side at the Point of the Mountain on a chilly day | photo by Josh Laufer.


ON THE COVER, Flying the distance in Brazil | photo

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 or online at www.ushpa. aero. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine reserves the right to edit all contributions. We are always looking for well written articles and quality artwork. Feature stories generally run anywhere from 1500 to 3000 words. News releases are welcomed, but please do not send brochures, dealer newsletters or other extremely lengthy items. Please edit news releases with our readership in mind, and keep them reasonably short without excessive sales hype. Calendar of events items may be sent via email to, as may letters to the editor. Please be concise and try to address a single topic in your letter. Your contributions are greatly appreciated. If you have an idea for an article you may discuss your topic with the editor either by email or telephone. Contact: Editor, Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine,, (516) 816-1333.

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

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

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 Nick Greece, Editor Greg Gillam, Art Director C.J. Sturtevant, Copy Editor Beth Van Eaton, Advertising Staff Writers Christina Ammon, Dennis Pagen, C.J. Sturtevant Ryan Voight Staff Photographers John Heiney, Jeff Shapiro

















14 Have Glider, Will Travel


New Kid on the Block

by Vicki Cain

It's All About the Attitude

by Jeff Shapiro

Mike Bilyk


Dave Turner Fly Like an Eagle

by Monica Prelle

22 No Man's Land


Cross-Country and Sprint

by Jugdeep Aggarwal

Exploring Sertao, Brazil

by Felix Wรถlk

Northern California Leagues


Alaska Hang Gliding Snapshots from the Wild

by Garrett Speeter

42 Martin Palmaz One Decade in the USHPA Office

by C.J. Sturtevant


Think Outside the Blocks Part XIV: House Thermals

by Dennis Pagen

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ike Meier sent in a letter to the editor with three corrections that span the gamut from factual inaccuracy to a philosophical difference of opinion in a view of the early days of hang gliding. And while two of the corrections are basic facts that were confused by the editorial staff, our apologies to the true groundbreakers who broke the 100-mile mark in 1977, Jerry Katz, and Pro Design USA who put on the first maneuvers training seminar in 1991, the third correction was over a term used about the 1970’s being deemed the “bad old days” of hang gliding. Meier in his note points out, with a breadth that can only be achieved through experience, that in fact there were a lot of senseless accidents, but those pioneers were part of something larger than any one individual could understand at the time. He states, “ We experienced for the first time in human history the truest realization of the dream of personal bird-like flight, and this profound collective experience engendered a sense of community and shared wonder that will never be repeated in the same way.” Mr. Meier, I salute you and all our pioneering brethren who not only created our sports, technological speaking, but created the culture in which we share. After over 30 years it is undeniable that a dilution has occurred in terms of the shared wonder as those of us who learned after the late 1990s were blessed with gear, and training, that had evolved through numerous cycles of research and development. We were spared many of the hard-fought, and sometimes tragic, lessons common to pioneering any form of aviation, but we were also only witness to those who were part of that collective experience which shaped where we are now.  Ryan Voight, second-generation hang gliding instructor, is putting on a national fly-in this year, which will hopefully serve to create a space where USHPA members can renew our shared culture and sense of community and share stories/ideas of past, present, and future. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have progressed motor-less flight and we thank you deeply for creating an incredibly stable base for us to reach from. The March issue starts with an interview of Mike Bilyk who after only four years of flying hang gliders is pushing onto competition podiums all over the world, not to mention a third-place world ranking! Jeff Shapiro is back with a piece about what it takes to be like Bilyk and travel the world racing hang gliders.

Felix Woelk provides us with a USHPA magazine exclusive piece on using a mobile winch in a rally-style format to go deeper across Brazil than has ever been previously attempted, and Michelle Prelle reports from the east side of the Sierra where she caught up with adventurer extraordinaire Dave Turner. Turner, who just earned a wildcard spot into the Redbull X-Alps, has taken his unique determination and applied it to some of the biggest unsupported paragliding bivy projects ever completed in the US, as well as a bivy flying trip across the length of the Alps—solo in one direction and tandem on the way back. C.J. Sturtevant had a recent chat with our executive director, Martin Palmaz, who has been working for the association for 10 years. Martin began his career at USHPA as the business manager and after a brief stint as interim executive director took over the reins and has been providing leadership, experience, and a deep understanding of the issues facing the community, stemming from his early involvement in the sports beginning in 1984 when he took his first hang gliding lessons. Over the last few years Martin has championed causes, and partnerships, which will serve to protect and grow free flight in the coming decades. He just returned from Washington D.C. where he is lobbying for air rights, as well as fighting for decreased regulation on tariffs for instructors who are importing paragliders into the USA. We are extremely lucky to have such a committed, involved, and experienced executive director guiding the organization. Garrett Speeter, who is a member of the farthest north FAR 103 club in the USA, the Fairbanks Air Riders, send in a photo gallery highlighting the hang gliding possibilities of the great state of Alaska, and Dennis Pagen is back with another educational installment. With spring approaching, now is the time to set your flying intentions for the upcoming season and create some space on your calendar for taking part in that collective experience which still marches on. Hope to see you all at the national fly-in in Ellenville, New York, in September!

left USHPA Executive Director Martin Palmaz flying hang gliders at Kitty Hawk | photo by Paul Voight. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE






With the XXS EAZY LTF/EN-A AirDesign

AirDesign announced the release of the SuSi 2.

already has lots of happy pilots flying around. So

This small, simple glider, a so-called “mini wing,”

it was only a logical step for them to position the

is aimed at those interested in an easy wing for

XXS size of the Rise 2 in the LTF/EN-B class. The XXS EN-B Rise 2 has a 16.28 m2 projected

hike-and-fly. AirDesign claims that their new

area, which Air Design claims is suitable for very

and can thermal while still dealing with more dif-

small and light pilots. They report having trained

ficult conditions and strong winds.

a very light pilot to fly the wing with the accurate

SuSi 2 standard version is certified in size 18

loading in practical flying conditions. The stan-

LTF/EN-D and size 20 LTF/EN-C. Sizes 14 and

dard weight-range for size XXS gliders is 50-65

16 are only load tested, not certified; all four sizes

kg. The RISE 2 XXS, however, has a special

are load tested up to 120 kg.

certification with a higher wing-load up to 75 kg.

SuSi 2 Superlight size 18 is certified LTF/EN-D

When flying overloaded, the speed increases but

and load tested up to 120 kg as well. AirDesign is

safety remains within the EN-B category. For

working to get size 16 certified. Sizes 14 and 20

more info visit

are load tested only, and they state that they will

wing has the glide performance for crossing valleys

not make certification for those sizes. For more info, go to



’ve long been aware that history is impermanent but I feel compelled to comment on two examples in the January 2015 issue of Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine. Nick Greece’s reference to Dave Braddock’s 20-mile flight as “the longest hang gliding flight in 1977” misses the mark by 83 miles, as 1977 was the year that Jerry Katz broke the 100-mile barrier, flying his Pacific Gull Alpine from Cerro Gordo to 10 miles north of Benton Station, as reported in the August issue of Hang Gliding magazine.   Second, Julie Spiegler’s characterization of the SIV clinic put on by Pro Design USA in July of 1991 as “the first US ‘Safety Clinic’” neglects the advanced-maneuvers clinic held in January of 1991 by Wills Wing at Kagel Mountain in Southern California.  The name of the designer for Pro Design was Armin Graf, and he and Austrian instructor Helmut Walder conducted an instructorcertification clinic and an advancedmaneuvers clinic over a three-day period, as reported in the April 1991 issue of Hang Gliding magazine.  And finally, C.J. I love you dearly, and I really enjoyed your article, and I suppose we have reached the point where those who learned to fly in the ‘80s must be considered “old timers,” but I will take you up on your offer and raise a small flag of protest at any characterization of the early 1970s as the “bad old days” of hang gliding. Yes, there were far too many senseless deaths and injuries, and yes we were young, and ignorant and even stupid at times, but we had something that neither we nor anyone else will ever have

Regarding the “Airspace & Law for Ultralights” DVD: USHPA is still in the process of acquiring copies of this DVD. Pilots will be notified via the web site and the magazine once it's available for purchase.

again. In those years, we experienced for the first time in human history the truest realization of the dream of personal birdlike flight, and this profound collective experience engendered a sense of community and shared wonder that will never be repeated in the same way. Each new hang glider pilot today has the opportunity to discover our sport for the first time, and that can be a life-changing experience, and it is an experience greatly facilitated in many ways by advances in training and education (though I might argue the equipment issue—we don’t have anything today that is as easy to learn to fly as the Dickenson–Rogallo wing was.) But no one today, tomorrow, or ever again will have the opportunity to experience the first communal discovery of personal flight in that way in which it happened in the period between 1972 and 1975.  And I think your article actually expresses that very well, and I thank you for it.  Sincerely, Mike Meier, Santa Ana, CA Thanks for the correction Mike Meier. We truly appreciate it! Breaking 100 miles in 1977 is an impressive feat, and we apologize to Jerry Katz for printing this incorrect fact about Braddock's significantly shorter flight. Moreover, thank you for giving the newer pilots a vision of what it was like to pioneer our sports. - ED


t the Capital Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (MidAtlantic Region #9,) we’ve been working with the Virginia State Tourism Board (“Virginia is for Lovers” campaign) and some local travel pro-

motion initiatives to highlight aerial sports and free flight in particular. We’ve given permission to various state, county, and town websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds to post some of our local pilots’ videos and aerial photographs for their own promotional purposes. They love those photos of our unique perspective of landscapes, foliage, and other prominent local features! We’ve gotten some great traction recently for paragliding and hang gliding activities.  Here are a few examples: Virginia Is For Lovers State Tourism Promotion Shenandoah Valley Adventure Advertisement http://vimeo. com/114985574 Local County Tourism Board US Forest Service Promotional Site recarea/?recid=80490&actid=50 and recarea/gwj/recreation/hiking/ recarea/?recid=74045&actid=50 With the addition of few new tandem pilots and a couple of instructors-in-training we may be able to produce a crop of homegrown pilots as well as enable more lay people to try a tandem flight from our new launch sites. Patrick F Terry President, CHGPA

Martin Palmaz, Executive Director Beth Van Eaton Operations Manager & Advertising Eric Mead, System Administrator Ashley Miller, Membership Coordinator Julie Spiegler, Program Manager

USHPA OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Rich Hass, President Paul Murdoch, Vice President Steve Rodrigues, Secretary Mark Forbes, Treasurer

REGION 1: Rich Hass, Mark Forbes. REGION 2: Jugdeep Aggarwal, Josh Cohn, Jon James. REGION 3: Corey Caffrey, Pete Michelmore, 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 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.



Big Spring Championship 2012


Santa Cruz Flats 2012


Flytec Championship 2013


US Nationals at Big Spring 2013


Forbes Flatlands 2014


Flytec Americus Cup 2014


Big Spring Nationals 2014


Santa Cruz Flats Race 2014


MIKE BILYK: New Kid on the Block by Vicki Cain


ike Bilyk’s brilliant performance and 2nd place overall finish at the 2014 Forbes Flatlands started murmurings amongst the elite who were wondering, “Who is this Mike Bilyk?” Prompted by this curiosity, I tracked



down Mike to ask him a few questions. You seemed to have been flying under the radar until this year, during which time you zoomed up the CIVL world-rankings ladder from outside the top 100 to 3rd !
How does it feel to be 3rd in the world behind stalwarts Christian Ciech and Jonny Durand?

Awesome! When Jonny sent me the link, it made my day!

 Where did you learn to fly?

 Crestline, CA and Phoenix, AZ.

How long have you been flying?
 I started in Feb. 2010. It’s been five years now.

BELOW Second place finish at Forbes in 2014.

What inspired you to start hang gliding?

 I had flown ultralights and RC since I was a little kid and always wanted to try hang gliding. We moved to California for my work; I went for a tandem and fell in love.

 How long have you been competing?

 Three years. First comp was Big Spring 2012

 What do you take out of each competition?

 I try to learn from my mistakes so I can fly better next time and have fun!

 What was your goal this year?

 US National Championship.

 What do you attribute your successful results to during 2014?

 I learned a lot from flying closely with my teammates, and the awesome glider I am flying is a BAMF!

Who is your mentor and why?

 Not sure I really have a mentor, but Attila Bertok and Jonny Durand have been the most inspiring to me. I have learned a lot flying with these guys.

 You switched to Moyes this year and have had some great results. How did that come about? I had the opportunity to fly an RX3.5 at Forbes and was in love with the glider after the first day of the comp. It is so much fun to fly and goes just as well, if not better, than other gliders. I decided I had to have that glider! I took it home with me and have been on the podium of every competition I have flown since. 
 What is your goal for the next year?
 Improve world ranking and be the US National Champion.

 What books have you read that have helped your flying?

 Books? I’ve watched lots of Ryan Voight aerobatics videos!

I hear you are involved with your local club. What rewards does that bring?
 Being able to fly with a great group of pilots in some of the best flying conditions.

 What three things would you recommend to others starting out on the competition circuit?

 Just get out there and fly a comp! Hands down, some of the best flying I have ever done was at comps. What equipment do you currently use and why? Moyes RX 3.5 Technora, because I am almost always on top! I am able to out- climb most other gliders, and I am always on top of the stack in the start



circle. The handling of the Technora makes it so easy to thermal and fly very fast. It is simply the highest performing glider with the best handling I have ever flown. WW Covert harness, because it is a very clean harness, with lots of storage. It’s very well built; Jeff Shapiro put a ton of time and effort into each harness he made, and it shows! Flytec 6030, because what else is there?

Bilyk? What is your nationality/ heritage?

Where did you grow up? Where do you currently reside? What is your profession?

 Ukrainian; St. Louis, Missouri; Southern California; A and P Mechanic.

Where is your favorite place to fly?

 Mingus Mountain, Prescott, Arizona. It’s just an awesome place to fly. Huge lift but very smooth. I have gotten to over 15,000ft every time I have flown there and have had great XC flights, going over 100 miles. I also like camping at 9000 feet and hanging out with the Arizona group of pilots, which is always fun.

 What was your longest flight and where?

 189 miles in Zapata, TX. It was a poor day for Zapata standards. Blue day, top of lift was ~4500’msl, only about 16-18mph wind. I was somewhat disappointed in myself as I wanted to ABOVE Mike launching Walt's Point, California.

go much further—my goal was 300 miles. Attila made me feel better about my distance and said I went further than he did, so I must have been going pretty well.

You spent the summer in Australia last year soon after being newly wed. You must have a very supportive wife!
 How did that trip come about? Chris Boyce asked Rob McKenzie if he knew any tandem pilots who wanted to fly Stanwell Park during the 2013 season. I spoke with Chris a few times and decided to do the whole summer in Australia, flying tandems and comps. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I made so many great new friends and got to fly just about every day for three months straight! This trip came about a month after my wife and I had gotten married. She has been amazing about supporting my flying and me. She came and met me in Australia the last two weeks of my trip, and we had a second honeymoon.

 Most memorable flight?

 A tandem flight at Stanwell Park. Flying above the clouds, I saw my first glory, great student, it was a daydream.

Some photographers are talented. Some are lucky. ant your Talented, lucky, or both, we w ar. best shots for the 2016 calend



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here were two things on my mind when I considered attending my first XC hang gliding competition. First, the idea of traveling with a hang glider on an airplane seemed like an inconvenient if not intimidating task and second, insecurities arose about mastering technical aspects of programming my instruments and following the “rules of the game.” But after completing the comp, I learned that, like anything in life, “winning” is not about picking the ripest fruit from the top of the tree. The real prize is the choice to climb the tree in the first place. Truth is, flying fun and challenging tasks over beautiful locations each day and sharing those experiences with like-minded friends has always made any associated or perceived inconvenience more than worth it. Plus, without question, there is simply no better way to improve as a pilot. If you’re looking to accumulate an entire season’s worth of valuable cross-country experience while learning from pilots who are perhaps more experienced and skilled, take that step and attend your first competition. Most seasoned competitors are eager and willing to share information and

LEFT Jeff Shapiro and Jeff O’Brien checking in

gear for the flight to Europe.

their passion for free flight. Without a doubt, it’s the most efficient way to learn and, for me, always seems to shatter the fun meter. The first choice to make is what competition will best fit into your season and goals. A good “first” comp will be one that has consistent flying over reasonable terrain. Considering that you’ll most certainly “land out” during the competition, it’s helpful and more relaxing if the first event you plan to race in doesn’t stress you out by having daily tasks over “tiger country.” The East Coast Championships, Santa Cruz Flats, Texas, or any of the Florida comps are great examples of venues with tasks over landable terrain, allowing you to concentrate on this new and exciting skill set, as opposed to worrying about safety or difficult retrieves. It’s also helpful to choose a competition with a large enough field of competitors to allow daily opportunities to “watch and learn” but not so many pilots that the traffic increases the anxiety that might arise from climb-

J E FF S H A PI RO ing in large gaggles. Again, annual events such as the Florida Ridge or Santa Cruz Flats are great examples of competitions with optimum opportunity to learn and fly with other pilots without being overwhelmed. I would humbly suggest that going to a major venue like a Pre-World Championship, for example, although unbelievably fun, might not be the best choice for a first comp, because of the fast-paced racing and the large number of pilots. An aggressive start gaggle at an event with 150+ pilots can be an intense environment to operate in. OK. So now that you’ve picked an event that fits your goals and expectations, the next step to consider is how to get you and your equipment to the comp. Basically, you have two choices: drive or fly. In many cases, driving to a hang gliding competition is a simpler option than flying. You don’t have to short-pack your wing, deal with the insecurity of your prized hang glider being managed with less-than-careful hands by baggage professionals, or deal

Thinking about attending your first competition is all about having the right attitude…

with the task of renting a car and figuring out what rack to use to transport your glider. If there’s a competition close to home or you’re willing to drive far and wide, bringing your own “racked up” rig is a great option. I actually enjoy the thinking time allowed as the miles drift by. The drive seems to help me get into the right headspace to leave life’s “past and future” behind and begin living in the present, focusing on the adventure I’m having. Additionally, having my own rig insures that my hired driver, friend or family member who will be “chasing” my team (driving the course daily to support and retrieve pilots) will have a reliable rig with suitable racks for gliders. All things considered, this option costs more in time but pays in simplicity. With that stated, taking a glider on a domestic or international flight is far less of a big deal than most people think. As much as I like driving and seeing the country, getting there in a few hours is very nice. Additionally,



when traveling abroad for a competition, flying with gear is necessary. Getting my equipment and myself to and from a competition is not only achievable, but also more fun than one might think, provided I’m in the right headspace and following a few helpful hints. First, learn how to short-pack your glider. The first time I did it, I spent about four hours; I painstakingly padded every tube on my glider. After you get the hang of it, padding only what’s important and “preparing” the glider for your short-pack bag should allow you to get that rocket ship ready to put on the plane in about 45 minutes max. For advice and experienced help with the process of short-packing a glider, send a friendly email to one of the experienced comp pilots in the country or contact the manufacturer of the wing you fly. Now you’re ready to go and are parked at the “departures” entrance of the airport. Your skilled pack job is on

top of your truck, and you’ve padded the hard components of your harness, radio, instruments, etc., with at least half of your clothes for the trip, all in your harness bag. Considering the temperatures of where you’re going and the fact that you will likely spend most of your time in a sweaty speed sleeve, you should pack light enough to have the rest of those clothes, personal items, and whatever else you can fit into your harness bag remain under the critical weight of “BARELY less than 50lbs.” Personally, I stash my radio, vario, and other heavy but critical items in my carry-on. This tactic saves weight if your harness is heavy and is also a good way to keep close tabs on your electronics. If weight is less of an issue, wrap your instruments in a shirt or two and place them in the boot of your harness, before folding it up for the bag. Either way, less than 50 pounds is the key. You will learn that packing for a comp always involves using a scale to insure you’re not charged unnecessary




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LEFT Zach Majors keeping a cool head and

good attitude while flying to Europe with seven harnesses, two gliders and hopes for glory. additional fees at the baggage counter. Your next task is getting all of your gear from the curb to the oversizedbaggage desk. Occasionally, using a curbside check-in has worked well for me, but what I advise is to get a cart before your ride leaves you at the airport. First, place your harness, front to back, on the lowest part of a typical airport pushcart. Then place your carry-on (usually a simple backpack that carries a laptop, clothes, camera, etc.) on top of your harness, pushed back against the part of the cart closest to your hands while pushing it. If you place your short-packed wing, front to back, carefully balanced on top of your harness and the push handle of the cart so the front end of your glider

bag is 4”-6” off the ground, you can push the whole lot through the airport with minimal effort. A very helpful hint: Leave your tie-down straps somewhere accessible (I keep mine in the top pocket of my carry-on). Once the glider is balanced, an NRS strap wrapped around the glider captures the push handle on the cart, keeping everything secure as you stroll onehanded through the airport aisles with a stress-free grin. Next, it’s absolutely apparent that most airlines, even the ones with “hang gliders” written into their “sports baggage” website information pages, have no idea whether this long piece of baggage is “allowed,” will fit or, most importantly, how much to charge you. I’ve always left the baggage tags on my short-pack bag from previous flights to increase the likelihood of the agent’s seeing the glider as normality as

opposed to an unachievable monstrosity. Since you’ve not flown with your glider before, this is a helpful hint for the next competition. Also, a word of advice: Don’t worry too much about “Fragile” stickers. In fact, I think those warnings end up having the opposite effect on disgruntled baggage handlers. Here is what I do: I wheel my “baggage” into the back of the room and watch. I watch the over-sized baggage counter closely for a few minutes, looking for the agent who seems not only to be smiling the most but also the one who looks most comfortable and confident. An incredibly nice and kind “rookie” is not a good choice, as, almost certainly, he will not have a clue what to do with your glider and will “go get his supervisor.” Not good. What you want is someone who’s been there long enough to know he’s in control of your universe but also would be happy if his



importance was appreciated as much as it should be. This…is the key. Remember the four needs of most humans are food, water, shelter and the need to feel important, so exclaiming less than honest and slightly exaggerated comments like, “Thank you SO much for helping me with this. I’m heading to the world championships and you’re helping me represent our country; you’re a hero,” will pay off in spades. My good friend, Jeff O’Brien, is a master at this. He can always seem to make the most pissed off, disgruntled airline employee feel as if he/she is saving our lives. Honestly, patience, kindness and understanding go a long way toward getting a glider on a plane. Much more so than regulation, believe me. You need to know that a shortpacked hang glider will not fit on a RJ (Regional Jet)-class aircraft, while any airplane as large or larger than a 737 will accommodate it with no prob-



lem. If the airline professional doesn’t know, make sure he/she hears this fact expressed with cool-headed confidence. “Oh yes, it will fit. Believe me, I fly with this thing all the time.” But, if you’re like me, you live in a town that only RJs fly in and out of. What this means is that you will have to drive to an airport that will fly you to your destination on an appropriately sized airplane. Generally, this is no big deal and close enough to home to still make the convenience or necessity of flying worth it. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to maintain a relaxed attitude and perspective. What could easily be perceived as a hassle is just that, a perception, and one that you can control. Flying with a hang glider, even internationally, is a cruise, if you’re relaxed and take it one step at a time. Remember to smile. This is the beginning of an amazing flying adventure and can be fun if you choose

it to be. Now that you’ve flown to the competition destination, you will most likely need to rent a vehicle. For almost all of the tow comps, a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is not necessary. I like a wagonstyle car that’s easy on gas and has a roof that lends itself to supporting the length of a glider, if possible. After learning the US team transported seven gliders on a Subaru Outback several times, I’m pretty convinced anything is possible. Regardless of vehicle choice, a rack to protect the gliders and rental car is mandatory. I’ve tried most options— from PVC and aluminum racks to the more “commercial” on-the-hood, suction-cup types. Most work (with PVC being the exception) and can be carried to the comp by placing the rack pieces in your short-packed glider. Take care ABOVE Low stress set up at the Santa Cruz

Flats race in Arizona.

that your glider doesn’t exceed 100 lbs. total, as that can be a deal breaker at the baggage counter. Even better, in my humble opinion, is an inflatable, twin-sized air mattress (or larger if you’re renting a van for many gliders). They’re quite cheap, can be found just about anywhere and can simply be strapped to the roof through open doors. An air mattress “rack” will keep your rental’s roof from being dented by distributing the weight, and will protect your glider while driving bumpy back roads during a long retrieve. One of the most important and useful components of the kit for any type of rack is at least 50 feet of utility cord. If you use the mattress method, open the hood of the car or truck and tie the cord to one of the hood’s hinges, wrapping the cord up and around the gliders and then back down to the other side’s hinge, before shutting the hood. I use the same procedure for the back of the gliders and also use NRS-

type straps to secure the gliders to the roof through open doors. If done correctly, this will keep the gliders from sliding around and from bouncing on those back roads. It’s simple, inexpensive and super easy to carry with you on the journey to the competition. You’ve completed your trip and are now your at your destination airport in Florida, Texas, Munich, or Zurich, and you’ve met up with your friends, rented the car and set up the racks, tied down the gliders and are ready to go. Strap on your flip-flops and hook up the GPS! You’re almost there. Drive to where you will be staying during the comp and get your work done before you play. One step at a time is always the theme. Unzip your glider and assemble the frame, so you can set it up for a thorough inspection. When this is done, you’re there. Congratulations! Now you can focus on flying, learning, improving and, most importantly, having massive amounts of fun.

Don’t be afraid to ask the most experienced pilots at the competition for help with loading tasks into your flight computer, or advice on “how things work,” relating to launch lines, scoring, etc. Sport legends like Steve Pearson or Attila Bertok, for example, are often in attendance. The advantages of learning from the best are obvious. Most will be just as psyched to be there as you are, so meet people, have fun, and enjoy the process. Everyone has gone through the same “first comp” experience so, honestly, don’t hesitate. A full week of flying challenging tasks, chosen to be just that, will most certainly improve your flying skills. It’s so much fun to tangibly feel your ability to make sound decisions, develop your thermaling skills, and improve your ability to fly with groups. Your overall composure in the air becomes more refined throughout the week. There was a time in my life when I questioned whether or not risking “the

The train of competitors on their way to launch in Laragne, France. LEFT Greifenburg, Austria. RIGHT Launch line at Forbes, eastern Australia. TOP

unknown” of an activity or adventure was worth it. What I came up with as an answer for myself seems to apply,



and hopefully will provide some helpful insight if you’re on the fence. “If you think about it logically, our lives are filled with risk. Risk defines our limits because of our fears and doubts. I recently read that the terms ‘fear’ and ‘limits’ are the same...both created by us and both an illusion.

Reality is…my life is filled with happiness, discovery, personal growth and a greater fulfillment by the act of redefining my limits. The first step is always the most difficult, but putting one foot in front of the other will lead to the adventure that is your life. Take that step. You won’t regret it.”

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We prepare ourselves for the adventurous project of a paragliding expedition into the unknown. By using a mobile winch, we begin an XC Safari that will take us through Northern Brazil’s parched landmass called Sertao. Our starting place is Pernambuco, a sparsely populated country with the world’s lowest amount of precipitation per number of inhabitants. It’s a one-way expedition through areas where people haven’t ever seen a paraglider. For this journey, we get the support of a local team: Old-school rock ‘n’ roller Marcelo with his minivan, Quixada-retrieve-proven Wagner as the main winch-towing man, and multitalented Dioglesio for technical, diplomatic and political solutions. With easterly winds at our backs, a handful of paragliding pioneers head for the interior’s wide-open flatlands with retrieve cars following us on our way into...






S ' N A M NO

Day 1 West of Fortaleza, in a small town called Belo Jardim, our convoy stops at the gates of the local airport. The tower, where the airport’s three-man crew hangs out in rocking chairs staring into an old TV set, is a makeshift shack. The seemingly unusual confluence of pilots at the airport causes the commandante there to turn dictatorial. He warns all pilots who are using the runway without permission that their aircraft might be seized immediately and states that photography is strictly forbidden. We turn to Dioglesio, whose father is an influential Brazilian politician, for help. He assures us that one single call will be enough to overrule the commandante’s authority, says Dioglesio. But a bribe of 50 Real is enough for us to achieve a respectful agreement and opens an official one-hour towing window for us. The commandante suddenly changes his attitude, proudly posing in front of his dust-covered “seized” aircraft for a photo shoot and inviting us to watch television with him. We prepare for a training day. Not all of the pilots have experience with towing. Wagner, who is handy and skillful, looks at a winch for the first time in his life. Coordinating the movement of this can’t be a big deal, he says. Pushing the pedal of the horsepower-loaded towing car is Dioglesio’s job. I get hooked in and follow a steep towing angle that leads skyward to a comfortable point of release. I thermal up and easily grab the connection lift in the west. Meanwhile, towing on the airfield takes its course. The official time window has elapsed long ago, without any consequences. A released rope falls on top of the airport’s tower. While the commandante and his crew are snoozing in front of the TV, our retriever Federico is climbing the roof of the shack to free the rope. Quite a huge piece of the roof falls victim to this bailout. The day ends successfully with a couple of nice XC flights, and the commandante gladly signifies that all of us would be welcomed again with pleasure. Day 2

According to topographical maps, the best airfield for the next stage of our trip lies in a town called Pesqueira. Here, Marcelo attends to the permissions by talking with the town’s mayor. According to Brazil’s convention “Ordem e Progresso” (order and progress), an official stamp opens any door for us. Some overgrown strip in the middle of the bush PREVIOUS PAGE On the runway of Arcoverde. Michael Gebert and Andreas Egger coming back for another tow. LEFT Andy Fluehler is getting airborne at the Ouricuri airport.



constitutes the airfield. During the day, constant thermal activity next to the airfield causes side winds. While towing, a distinctive wind correction angle is necessary. In order to grab a thermal, we immediately need to leave the airfield with backwind. This means a high risk of bombing out, right at the beginning. During the day, the XC sky comes up with increasing instability. German pilot Andreas Egger stings into the thermals like a Moskito today and goes for 75 kilometers in the direction of Arcoverde.

Day 3

Arcoverde (the green arch) is today’s starting point. The town’s name is a bit confusing, for this place is the geographical entry gate to one of the driest countries on the planet: the Sertao. A neat commercial airport is under command of highly cooperative Seargento Lopez. This morning the sky looks great. Small cumulus clouds come and go, and strong winds promise plenty of open distance K’s in a western direction. It looks like serious stuff. After countless hours that I’ve spent in Brazil’s wide skies, I’m hot for some severe XC action straight into no-man’s land today. I’m going great guns in the beginning and pushing the bar of my ProtoComp-glider hell-bent to the west. Some unknown strip on the ground roughly shows me the way. Soon the thermals get stronger, wider, higher, and clouds grow into towers. The day picks up a bit, but is too unstable, and separated clouds start to open their floodgates. Under these huge clouds, my vario already indicates enormous climb rates. Soon a purple-colored monster arises in front of me. Flying around it could mean a landing far from any semblance of civilization. So, I’m waiting at its luv-sided black edge, hoping optimistically for dispersal, while always keeping an eye on an exit route into the blue. This beautiful behemoth (no other word to explain it) is overdeveloping. A massive,



horizontal widely spread out updraft inconspicuously sneaks in. I’ve never before experienced an airstream with a smooth, tempting, gorgeous force like this. The sunlight, the shadows and the wind lost their influence on this self-sustaining energy a long time ago. Elements are completely out of control here. Nature has lost its sanity. An increasing power tries to carry away everything, like some dazed dictator captivating a thrilled blind nation to lead it straight to the road to perdition. It’s going mad like a wounded raptor! My vario shows a constant average climb rate of 12.4 meters (this is no beer-garden climb-rate fairytale, folks!). I’m still turning in circles, but I don’t feel like flying anymore. I am flown. Flown by some furiously inflamed invisible power firing my down sail like an erupting volcano. What a sublime feeling, to devote myself to this force! I know my GPS is charged and works properly in case I get sucked in. And I’m piloting a fast wing to escape in time. On condition that I still have groundspeed, and I’m sure of that, some minutes inside the cloud won’t scare me. About 300 meters below a huge black bell, I push the bar to leave this place and go back to the luv-side in the east. A grey curtain descends there like a waterfall. Although I’m going full speed, this black beast sucks me in. I’m surrounded by dark grey, and I’m trying to stay disciplined. Suddenly my whole world exists of nothing more than two numbers: the course, that I’m trying to follow precisely, and the climb rate, that needs to decrease. These moments feel never ending. Finally, I find great freedom: a wild, bulbous wall of condensation towers behind me and far below cloudbase. Water runs down my lines and ice attaches to my sideburns. Far below in the dust is Mother Earth. But somehow, this doesn’t bother me at all. I’m in my own dream world. I go against the wind to a street that I only recognize as a

thin line on the ground. Now, overdevelopment is far behind me, and I’m surrounded by blue skies with a separated, harmless-looking cumulus showering out some miles in front of me. The air is smooth, allowing me to take a photo of the cloud that gave me the strongest lift of my life. I feel peaceful now, softly gliding at trim speed to a landable field close to a road. It’s getting warm, and I can hear the voices of my flying friends through my radio. Federico, our retriever, seems to be quite close. But a wink of an eye later, I find myself needing rescue, having crashed between huge cactuses. No other chance with four twists. The hammer-like turbulence hit me under a blue sky in the flats. An explanation is hypothetical: Probably it was a rotor that developed from the day’s powerful vertical movements of air masses. The energy of rotation might have kept this rotor alive for a long time. The wind must have blown it far away from any overdevelopment. I, unfortunately, crossed its path. On this day, Swiss pilot Sebastian Moser flies 125 K’s and wins the day in the XCcontest. He celebrates his victory; I celebrate my good health.

Day 4 Farther west the country and route are very wide. Close to Sierra Talhada, a huge 1800-meter-long runway lies in the middle of nowhere. The airport offers enough space for huge airliners, but it doesn’t seem to be frequented at all. After easily getting permission, we make ourselves at home here for the whole day. Although it’s possible to tow up to great altitude, it’s difficult to find the first lift to cloudbase. Sometimes you win by getting a super lift; sometimes you lose and find yourself on the ground after a few minutes. I’m lucky in the afternoon, when I get shot up to 3200 meters immediately. From this altitude, I can barely identify the runway. It’s just a tiny lost thread lying in unpopulated wilderness. After leaving my thermal, a possibly record-breaking downwash follows: With a constant sink rate of 4 meters, my

second glide goes down to 400 meters above sea level. Only 20 meters above the ground, this disaster ends, just in time to turn into wind for landing. German open-distance-recordholder Verena Siegl and Andreas Egger make it up to 150 K’s today.

Day 5

We spend the night in Ouricuri. The town’s airport looks different from the one on the previous day. The dusty strip seems to indicate the city’s attitude towards rubbish. Further, the runway is used by a local truck-driving school for beginner lessons. Soon a big crowd gathers around us. It’s not exactly austere German discipline occurring at this airport. But this fun fair boasts superb thermal activity. There’s no problem releasing into a great XC sky from here. In this westerly region, and at this time of year, the climate is getting more misty. The clouds develop during the day and spread across the blue sky, darkening it. With climb rates of 2-3 meters/second average, it’s an unusual soft but reliable XC day. Unfortunately, the thermals often stop before reaching cloudbase. But we have another day of cruising several hours to the west until some overdevelopment stops us.

Day 6

Our next locale is Araripina. We get permission to fly from the town’s mayor and vice-mayor. They also quickly organize a film team to produce a TV broadcast about unusual incidents at the local airport. Inside the airport’s tower, a relaxed seargento is in command. A sluggish Brasilian version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” echoes across the airfield. The seargento is pleased when we ask for a photograph and puts on his uniform and gun. This airport, he says, only has one small plane a week coming to deliver mail. After a lack of motivation caused by the surprising incident on day 3, I’m auguring well today. Due to the glider damage, I change my high-performance wing to an EN-B Rush4. At 11:00 a.m. I release into a fabulous, windy XC sky.

FAR LEFT The Belo Jardim airport. The 'Commandante' poses in front of his seized aircraft. NEAR LEFT Some of the runways needed a bit of yard work done. ABOVE A housing settlement under pumping skies on Northern Brazil..



In the first part of the flight, thermals of different, windbenched narrow lifts that do not pool their forces to wide updrafts of two meters are present; a second climb rate reaches the maximum at the beginning. Nevertheless, the wind does its XC thing by blowing me westerly while I’m thermaling. For three hours, I dipsy-doodle, while patiently staying more or less on course. Then the day starts to thrive. After 100 K’s of distance, the air layers change and make room for powerful huge sky elevators. But at first, it looks as if I’ve accidentally pushed the basement button. Up to this point, I had to fly fully concentrated every second, and this terrible downwash brings me almost down to my knees. My strained nerves are soon lying completely naked. Facing an impending bomb-out, I recognize a couple of vultures gawking at me from above. I can see them simulating each and every one of my wrong turns, which are about to lead me straight into a doomed paragliding fate. That’s the straw to break the camel’s back! I’m losing it completely. I swear to these poor birds like some choleric sleeper: ‘WHO, THE F…!, HAS TO SHOW TO WHOM, THE F…!, IN ACCORD TO CHARLES F…… DARWIN, F…!, WHERE THE F…… THERMAL IS!!’ It seems to me like this verbal clearance hit home. I waywardly change my course and go for all-in by pushing the bar downwind. A minute later some classic late-afternoon heavy current blaster bites to bang me back skywards. In consideration of the suffering moments before this celestial salvation, I decide to soothe my nerves by helping luck along a bit (after all, mental balance is important). This dark grey cumulus above me stands alone and hovers comfortably, though not crazily. So it’s going to be mine soon to give me half an hour of relaxation. All international XC heroes know it, a lot of them do it:



cloud flying. Hanky-panky, you’re in. Nobody sees it. I touch cloudbase and keep on circling for about 600 meters more. Suddenly, condensation arises like a bucket of water to run down my lines and clothes. Then it’s frost time, and my stuff starts to get iced up. At 3100m above ground, I leave this breathtaking place to the west. Now, finally, my head can take a break. I feel a bit cold in the bright world up above. I reach the next cloud high above cloudbase and steer right through it. Again, the autopilot is in control. Below me, I can see the terrain changing to arboretus areas. Now, classical Brazilian evening thermals carry me through warm air. I feel as if I’m coming out of an igloo and moving to an open fire. The vultures are on my side now, showing me lifts everywhere. Then, an unforgettable final awaits me: underneath a dark cloud layer, soft never-ending air masses develop. It’s Brazil’s restitution. I can handle the climb rates just by pushing the speedbar. I’m eating the miles now. In front of me the sinking sun moves in between the cloud and the horizon. It dives into the atmosphere’s magic play of colors. I’m going lower. It’s already dark down on Earth. My feet touch the ground after 201 kilometers in a country called Piaui. My Rush4 is properly dried when it softly falls down to the dusty ground again. I feel like a real aviation pioneer who just discovered virgin territory. It’s the feeling that only Antoine de Saint Exupéry knew to bring to paper. It was a ride with ups and downs. But if it had been easy, I wouldn’t feel so happy now. And I would lie if I’d say I wasn’t proud of just having made the biggest distance of our whole expedition.

Day 7 Picos airport. The head of this airport is very cooperative. Two small airplanes are about to take off today, and the chief hurries the pilots along to get started. So the airfield is all ours for the rest of the day. Another plane is expected to land at noon, and our retriever Federico wakes up the airport chief. Apologizing that he had had one too many cachacas last night, he slowly wanders off to the runway to take care of air-traffic control. The easterly winds of the Sertao are almost completely gone here. The green vegetation of this area at this season further amplifies early overdevelopment. It’s an interesting flight again today, until a wall of thunderstorms stops our XC attempts after 20 K’s. Day 8 Due to the weather conditions, we’re staying in Picos. Another Brazilian broadcast crew appears to produce one more screening about our adventure. The wind changes today. Instability in the west demands a rerouting of the day’s task. We’re heading back east to avoid thunderstorms. Andreas Egger and Coni Gawlik go for 70 K’s on this day.

Day 9 Increasing moisture and high instability come up in Piaui. To get airborne again, we head back to the dusty strip of Ouricuri. Today, the truck-driving school is quite busy on the airfield. The fact that our “flying circus” returns to this place for another round brings even more spectators. Towing in the middle of a cheering crowd demands a cool head indeed. A released rope goes down on some motorcyclist who’s riding down the runway. He doesn’t seem to understand what came down from the skies and crashes. The airfield soon looks more like a theatre stage than like an airport. As I get towed, a big truck stops halfway on the runway to block the towing car completely. From above I assume it’s a parking lesson of the truck-driving school. Dioglesio, who’s driving the towing car, simply pushes the pedal through the rubbish-covered bush. Wagner, who’s sitting on the car’s open tail at the winch, doesn’t seem to care about this short rally-like field trip either. I respect this towing crew, who know about priorities! After releasing, I can see both of them climbing the truck to free it from the rope. The XC day starts up great again. Fifty kilometers are passing by like nothing.

Then it’s thunderstorm time. Average climb rates of eight meters/second come up. Clouds are growing. Michael, Coni and I have to go down after 60 K’s before getting in trouble. Andreas Egger sneaked through this place much earlier and made it through in safe conditions. He lands after 140 K’s.

On my own account The XC Safari across the Sertao was one of my greatest XC adventures. For me, it meant freedom without boundaries. Respect goes to Andy Fluehler and Michael Gebert who showed courage by organizing this trip. As a flight instructor, I feel a bit responsible for pilots with less experience. That’s why I’d like to mention that cloud flying can mean getting in serious trouble. Disorientation and unseen overdevelopment are the most precarious dangers that immediately lead to a couple of other ones. You have to be absolutely sure to be safe in these two points. By the way: In most countries, flying a cloud with a paraglider is a criminal act. Nevertheless, a lot of XC pilots do cloud flying. So, pretending that it never happens can’t be a solution.

ABOVE Water in northern Brazil is an unusual occurance. Andreas Egger and Verena Siegl over Sertao.



DAVE TURNER: Fly Like an Eagle by Monica Prelle


hen Dave Turner landed in Verdi, Nevada, last spring, he became the first paraglider to complete a full crossing of the state of California—and he did it solo and unsupported. Thirty days earlier he had set out from Ventura, California, hiking his wing to the coastal mountains in Ojai, and flew north over the Mojave range and the Sierra Nevada mountains, hiking and flying until he completed the record-breaking vol-biv journey. “I am definitely perceived in the flying world as the more bold or go-for-it pilot,” he said. “It’s true. It’s definitely true. That’s how I climbed, too.” Even though Turner is one of the more accomplished solo climbers in the world, he turned his attention full-time to paragliding five years ago. Now he is breaking records one flight at a time. “I was never happy doing the standard climbs or the big climbs,” he says. “I wanted to do the biggest climbs. So with



flying, as soon as I started to get good at it, I had huge aspirations.” After a year of commuting to the eastern Sierra from Yosemite National Park, where flying is illegal, Turner, 32, moved to Mammoth Lakes, California. Within five years of learning to fly, Turner left a climbing guide job, a national park naturalist job, and a videography job behind. He is now an instructor with Eagle Paragliding in Santa Barbara, California, and a sponsored pilot with Ozone. He was originally inspired by a YouTube video of skiers flying off the Eiger in Switzerland. He had kite-skied before and once he saw the video, he knew that was what he wanted to do. So he ordered a wing online and taught himself how to fly. “I took the unconventional and un-recommended approach—I taught myself out here in the Owens Valley with an advanced wing,” he says. “I had one bad crash that changed everything. I could have been killed or seriously

injured, but luckily I just broke a couple ribs and got a concussion.” “It wasn’t the smart way to learn and I definitely don’t recommend it to anyone.” Those who are familiar with Turner’s climbing expeditions are not surprised that he taught himself how to fly, and progressed so quickly in the sport. “Dave being mostly self-taught is amazing, but knowing him as a climber it doesn’t surprise me that he was able to pull it off,” says Bill Belcourt, a long-time paraglider and the director of research and development at Black Diamond Equipment. “He’s used to climbing alone. He knows the cost of mistakes, which could be a life, so I think he instinctively knew how to take care while he was learning to paraglide.” The eastern Sierra is known for its ABOVE Dave Turner sending solo bivy lines through

the Alps. TOP Turner instructing in Santa Barbara, California. Self taught he realizes how important it is to spread the hard fought knowledge he has earned. RIGHT Flying the Redbull X-Alps route twice last year.

turbulence, strong winds, extreme flying conditions, and high altitudes achieved with the paraglider. “It’s cowboy out here,” Turner says with a chuckle. “If you can handle it, it’s an amazing place to fly.” What sets Turner apart from other paraglider pilots is his calm demeanor about highly dangerous and risky endeavors. He’s informed, but not too methodical in his adventures. “I know what I want to do, know what I need to know, and I let it all fall into place,” he says. “No big schedule, no expectations.” He also has an appreciation for style, Belcourt says. While most other pilots are focused on going the distance, Turner is attempting routes that are difficult, yet spectacular. “It’s really refreshing to see a pilot like Dave doing what he is doing and having an eye for the king lines,” Belcourt says. “It’s not always about how far you go, but the beauty and the purity of the line.” Last July, Turner completed the first full crossing of the Sierra Nevada. “I live on the east side, so I flew to the west side,” Turner explained with characteristic composure. Flying east to west is an unconventional direction, and crossing the Sierra is a serious endeavor. And Turner took on the challenge like he almost always does: solo. Launching from Walt’s Point in the Owens Valley, Turner flew north. The predominant west wind makes it difficult to fly to the west, but that particular day was magical, Turner says. An east wind made it easy to fly along the crest. He gained altitude over Mt. Williamson, a 14,380-



foot peak north of Mt. Whitney, then started to head west. As he flew over the most remote region of the Sierra it started to hail and rain—jagged granite peaks and thick forests with tall trees loomed beneath him. “I laced my way ridge to ridge, soaring and thermaling my way in a zigzag pattern to stay at ridge height,” Turner wrote in a trip report. “I got lower and lower, but it was mattering less and less. With no options but to thermal out, it’s easy to make a plan. Fly. Up.” “As I passed the last of the high peaks, I was already below the forested ridge leading west from the last alpine peak. I still had another 22 miles of forested national park, ranger-infested trails, and rolling foothills to make it out to the Central Valley.” Landing in the national park was not an option. He combined ridge soaring and thermals to make his way past the national park, through the national forest, and landed safely in the San Joaquin Valley on the west side of the Sierra Nevada—a 52-mile trans-Sierra route that had never been flown before. “It is incredibly bold flying,” says



Preston Rhea, Turner’s mentee and frequent flying companion. “Most pilots would look at that and it would be their nightmare flight. He was able to do it and in really good style. “He has the skills to do really amazing flights that would scare other pilots, but he has the ground work; he has the experience to do those flights safely,” Rhea said. In addition to the first crossing of the Sierra Nevada and the California vol-biv flight, Turner set the California distance record of 176 miles, which was a 7.5-hour flight from the Horseshoe Meadows launch site near Mt. Whitney to Yerington, Nevada. He also completed the longest volbiv flight in the world last summer—a 60-day round-trip crossing of the Alps. Vol-biv, which is essentially a combination of cross-country flying and camping, or backpacking, fulfills Turner’s desire for exploration. He took 18 days to hike and fly solo from the beaches in Nice, France, and arrived on the eastern end of the Alps in Slovenia. He sent his solo wing home and picked up his girlfriend and tandem wing for a

42-day return trip back to Nice. Turner has never been very interested in competition. He prefers the adventure of long distance and vol-biv flying, but was invited to compete in the Red Bull X-Alps race across Europe this July as a wild card. It’s considered the “world’s toughest adventure race,” in which pilots cross the Alps by paraglider and foot. The straight-line distance covers approximately 1000 kilometers and thousands of feet in altitude. He is no stranger to solo adventures that most outdoorsmen would consider perilous. He once spent 65 days skiing, exploring, and climbing solo in Baffin Island, Canada, completing the first ascent of the north arête on Broad Peak—a harrowing 39-hour solo climb. He crossed the Patagonian Ice Cap and the Canadian Arctic on a snow kite. He also solo-climbed the first ascent of the east face of Cerro Escudo in Patagonia, a difficult 39-hour climb ABOVE Santa Barbara soaring. TOP Flying in the Sierras. Turner has helped rejuvenate a flying community in the Sierras. One of the birthplaces of big mountain flying.

with no bivouac. “Being a climber and having risk assessment skills, and knowing yourself and what you can do, sets you up very well to become a paraglider pilot,” says Belcourt. “A lot of those things are similar and they cross over.” Although climbing and paragliding are intrinsically different, Turner’s ex-

perience as an explorer and a soloist has given him the mentality for paragliding, and the larger vol-biv expeditions that he is currently focused on. “You definitely get a freedom while flying that’s unparalleled. Climbing is three-dimensional but it’s quite slow and confined,” Turner says. “You can only travel on one mountain, one face

at a time. Even on the biggest ridge traverses through the Sierra you climb for a week and traverse maybe 15 peaks. “On a paraglider I can traverse 50 peaks in two hours,” he says. “The mobility, what it opens up and the feeling it gives you—it’s pretty amazing.”



Santa Barbara, California | photo by Karl Specht



Northern California

Cross-Country & Sprint Leagues by

J ug deep A g g arwal

304 tracklogs | 127 registered pilots | 81 participating pilots Total distance flown of all competing pilots: 3174 miles


hat an incredible year for both the new Northern California Sprint League and the well- seasoned Northern California Cross-country League! This year saw the inaugural Sprint League, a new league running along the same lines as the Northern California Cross-country League, but better suited to the lower airtime pilot with limited cross-country experience. This new league is designed to fill in the gap between P-3/P-4 pilots who have just learned to thermal and those seasoned pilots familiar with cross-country flying. It serves as a training ground for future XC league pilots and is only for pilots flying EN-A and EN-B gliders, with no requirements for SPOT or HAM licenses. Details can be found at The Sprint league kicked off the season with an introductory weekend presenting the league to pilots, showing them how to use their instruments and giving them an introduction to sites as well as gaggle flying. We had an impressive turnout of over 30 pilots, including two mentors, Tim

O’Neill and Reavis Sutphin-Gray, who assisted in the presentations. It was a remarkable weekend that set the scene for the whole season. And the season progressed well, with tasks held at Potato Hill and Dunlap and attendance by several pilots at the XC league finale in the Owens Valley. The Cross-country league ran parallel to the Sprint league; on a few weekends the Sprint league and Crosscountry Leagues ran together. Weather was not kind to the Cross-country League this year, with only eight tasks being flown out of a potential 18. Nevertheless, we were able to complete some epic tasks at Dunlap, Potato Hill and the Owens Valley, making it a stunningly successful season. So what makes the leagues so rewarding? Maybe it is the unquantifiable aspects that make it a success, such as the mentoring program, the online tutorials and additional web pages, or perhaps it is just the old-fashioned camaraderie that keeps the energy so great amongst participants. No one is quite sure what it is, but the format is working and pilots are having a great time while improving their skills. There is definitely a pilot community that wants fly-ins to

LEFT Putting down a plush astro-turf launch improvement.



help push pilot skills and explore the local area of our flying sites. How better to do this than with your friends? It also seems that once pilots have found the league meets, they keep coming back. With a goal of “a fly-in with a mission” these league meets also provide a forum for training for the larger sanctioned competitions. Now that we have two different leagues, it is easier to cater to different pilot abilities during the tasks. The Sprint league completes more modest tasks, with distances less than 30km, usually around the 20km mark. The XC league offers more demanding tasks, with distances typically being about 60km. Regular attendees have gotten into the swing of things, which substantially reduces the task load on the organizer. Waypoints can be downloaded before the weekends from the website, pilots can sign in and pay each morning, submit their GPSs for scoring on Saturday evening, and email tracklogs for Sunday’s task. This procedure helps the event run smoothly for all who are participating. Keeping track of pilots has been difficult, because of the large numbers of participants. However, the buddy system has proven to be a success. This allows pilots to sign in their buddy pilots as being safe. The only issue then is the retrieval. The dedicated website for all information for the league,


HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE, has proven to be a great resource for keeping pilots informed throughout the season. Several additions to the website helped everyone, including online pilot registration that used a Google form, a page to help “first timers” know what to expect, and several pages on strategies and tips ( NCXC/strategies.html) . One page, assembled with help from Google Earth, shows how to fly the typical tasks with the altitudes required for transitions. Check out the article on flying competitions written by TimO. This should be given to all pilots once they get their P-4! As in the previous year, scores are now posted on the Leonardo website ( comps/), giving pilots the opportunity to view their flights, download their tracklogs and play animations for the competition. I have been running the league for 10 years. Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the league is watching pilot ability progress over the years. It is great to see all pilots improving their performance. The league meets definitely take over where formalized training stops in providing pilots a chance to fly with very skilled pilots and learn from them. I look forward to more leagues around the country. They will not only help improve pilot skills but also will help

reduce pilot attrition. With the 2015 season about to kick off, it would be great to see new pilots coming out to the league to witness what they have been missing. See you in the air!

I ever had before—to 10,400 feet agl. I look forward to attending next year, because it was so much fun learning and flying with old and new friends who have similar mindsets.

Pilot Stories from the Sprint League

2014 in Brasil, making a 40km flight. I was hooked and started looking for an avenue to pursue my XC interest. Having retrieved for Jug’s League, I was thrilled to discover he was starting a Sprint league. I found myself intimidated when trying to fly with the big boys, but Sprint was a great fit. The first few events were amazing, with the education and mentoring giving me the confidence to try the RatRace Sprint. Finishing in the top half spurred me on to do well in the ratings of Jug’s Sprint. With the help of Jug and his mentors, I went on to finish second on my Hook3, only a middle EN-B. The planned retrieves, tasks and camaraderie with new found friends made Sprint a real find! Jug’s help into the late hours with downloads and computer assistance really showed his dedication to the sport and the Sprint League. I will be at next year’s League Event, expanding my knowledge and experience towards joining the big boys and girls.

CRAIG GAMMA: 2014 was my first true go at cross-country flying, and the Sprint League was the perfect venue. The first event weekend included a comprehensive orientation to cross-country flying. Jugdeep Aggarwal spearheaded and coordinated the huge teaching effort to get us beginners safely into the cross-country mix. Jugdeep and a few other seasoned cross-country competitors passed along their expertise to us all. It was truly a worthwhile experience for me. I had never thermaled a mountain site for more than 30 minutes before, and early on in the season I was already thermaling for over two hours without any struggle to stay up. I didn’t progress as fast as some of the other pilots, but I was sure setting new personal records at each and every monthly event. In fact, one weekend I got up higher than

Ron Andresen: I flew XC for the first time in February

LEFT Gaggle over Dunlap. RIGHT Learning how to fly in a gaggle in a safe environment.



Most notable for the 2014 meet was Frank Marquis, who, for the first time in 11 years of the XC league, displaced Eric Reed and Josh Cohn as top dog in Category 1 competition. Excellent show! Robin Cushman: The Sprint League has contributed more to my progression as a pilot than any other flying activity I’ve been involved in. I flew with the XC League in 2013, and in comparison, the Sprint League has helped me improve much more. I’m now flying with pilots who have a similar skill level, on gliders of similar performance, doing tasks that are manageable for me and my glider. The advice that Jug gives to the group is something I can use, rather than just something to remember for the distant future. When I flew with the XC League, I immediately got left behind due to the fact that my glider and I weren’t quite in the same class as the League pilots. When I fly with the Sprint League I can see what other pilots in the group are able to do, which helps me try a little harder, rather than assuming what I observe others doing is not something I am capable of yet. It was a huge eye-opener when, at the first meet of the season, an



experienced XC League pilot flew an EN A glider with us and made goal and beat almost all of us, almost all of whom were on EN Bs. I saw that there was indeed quite a lot that I could do on my EN B glider, and also, quite a lot that I still needed to learn in order to properly fly it. Flying with the Sprint League and having the coaching and perspective that Jug provides has made a huge difference for me in my paragliding learning curve.

Steve Welch: Deciding to join the Sprint XC League was a bit daunting at first, but in the end it far exceeded my expectations. I gained invaluable experience that furthered my development of thermaling and XC piloting skills. We all enjoy those lovely vario guidance sounds that annoy others in our on-line videos as we free fly with our flight computers. Joining the Sprint XC League transitioned

my use of that expensive beeping flight computer to a competition guidance and tracking device used to navigate my XC course successfully to GOAL. One significant transition to the Sprint XC League I learned was delaying to launch until the midday temperatures peaked for optimized XC conditions. At many Sprint events temperatures peaked at over 100 degrees. This not only challenged my active-piloting skills, but also developed my active decision-making skills to determine if the conditions were a match for my comfort level, ability, and experience. I learned to adapt and adjust my flight path to the changing winds and increasing temperatures as I progressed through the XC course. Although the conditions seemed a little daunting at the first few events, I rapidly gained valuable piloting experience that led to my first successful 23km XC course at Dunlap, CA. Flying with the Sprint XC League significantly advanced the development of my piloting skills to new horizons. Whether I use this new-found flying knowledge to compete in XC flying competitions or just expand my recreational flying is yet to be determined. But in the meantime, I am learning new skills, making new friends, and having a lot of fun.

Category 1 First place: Frank Marquis Second place: William DeLey Third place: Reavis Sutphin-Gray

Category 2 First place: Fabian Perez Second place: Tom Moock Third place: Dan Retz

Sprint League First place: Vital Umanskyi Second place: Ron Andresen Third place: Rick McAllister



Photo by Bonnie Holod

Martin Palmaz

One Decade in the USHPA Office by


en years ago last December, Martin Palmaz was just finishing up his Bachelor of Architecture degree at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. A passionate paraglider pilot, Martin was unsure of his life’s direction now that he had his degree. When the



C .J. S t u rte va n t

United States Hang Gliding Association posted an open position on its office staff, Martin sensed a unique opportunity to combine his passion with his profession, so even though he felt he was not really qualified for the position, he applied, and was called in for an interview mostly, he feels, because

No one should ever criticize or chastise a pilot who’s decided his or her risk tolerance precludes flying in these conditions or from this site. of his paragliding background. But his conversations with Jayne DePanfillis, USHGA’s executive director, revealed his several years’ experience as business manager and advertising manager for the college newspaper; that, along with his professional demeanor and his outgoing personality, made him an excellent fit with what USHPA needed in its new office staff member. In January of 2005 Martin accepted the position of USHGA business manager, moved to Colorado Springs, and began his career in a field rather far removed from architecture and design, but closely aligned with his passion for free flight. In celebration of his 10-year anniversary with USHGAturned-USHPA, I spent some time with Martin reminiscing about how the association and free flight have been evolving over the past decade, and speculating about where USHPA might be in another decade and what bumps in the road we’re likely to encounter along the way. Here’s what Martin had to say. About his early encounters with free flight: In 1984, just before he started high school, 14-year-old Martin took hang gliding lessons at Kitty Hawk and earned his H-1. On a family trip to Europe that summer, he did a day of hang gliding lessons in Austria. A botched landing resulted in two broken arms, serious curtailment of activity for the rest of the vacation, and a decree from his mother: There would be no more hang gliding in Martin’s future! Fast forward about eight years. Martin’s older brother Alejandro took up paragliding, and soon was certified as an instructor. Martin, now a student at Virginia Tech, also became a student in Alejandro’s paragliding school, and in 1996 earned his P-2 rating. Since then he’s tried more than once to continue his hang gliding instruction, but the logistics of those endeavors always seemed too complicated, and although he’s taken several hang gliding tandem flights and lessons in the past decade, getting his H-2 rating remains on hold for now.

About the big issues facing the free-flight community back in 2005: Ten years ago, USHGA was undergoing a bit of an identity crisis (and that’s a bit of an understatement). The office suite was in the basement of a rickety old building right next to the train tracks in Colorado Springs—”very depressing” is how Martin described the ambience. We were still officially the US Hang Gliding Association, although paraglider pilots were already a significant presence in the pilot population, and there was a strong push from the parapilots, and some (but not all) hang pilots, to have the association’s name reflect this presence. Almost as contentious as the proposed name change was the retirement of the “orange ball” logo once the membership voted to change Yoosh-GA to Yoosh-PA and adopted the new red-white-and-blue logo design that included both a hang glider and a paraglider. And then there was the question of whether or not USHPA’s identity could include powered ultralights or powered paragliders. And what about powered hang gliding harnesses, which were already included under our insurance umbrella? Was power of any sort part of our free-flight identity? Highly contentious issues all! To resolve these identity crises, the association needed to have a clear understanding of what exactly USHPA stands for. So in the mid-2000s a committee of USHPA officers, directors and members developed the association’s first long-range strategic plan. Creating this weighty document was a huge undertaking, involving hundreds of man- and woman-hours and many drafts and revisions, but the final product provided substantive guidance on whether or not any given issue or program or proposal is appropriate for the association, given our clearly stated mission and bylaws. Since then the strategic planning committee has streamlined the document and fine-tuned the processes it outlines for directing the association and providing the focus needed to

LEFT In the Senate chambers during a recent visit to Washington, D.C.



best utilize USHPA’s limited resources. Now, it’s a relatively simple matter to slightly adjust and refine the plan each year based on the previous year’s activity/successes/issues, to keep USHPA’s focus on programs that are current and relevant. Martin points to the development of the strategic plan as a big part of USHPA’s coming-of-age as a professional organization. In the midst of all these identity crises, USHPA suddenly faced a housing crisis: The office in the dungeon suite was no longer meeting the association’s needs, but where should USHPA headquarters be relocated? Some superior sleuthing on the part of past Executive Director, Jayne DePanfilis, and several members of the executive board turned up a piece of property for sale right in Colorado Springs. The building was in need of repairs, but experts consulted agreed it could be brought up to standards without breaking the budget; USHPA made an offer, and it was accepted. So, within a few short years, USHPA had acquired a new name, a new logo, a new roadmap for the future, and a bright, roomy, attractive office building. Identity crises successfully resolved! About the big items currently on USHPA’s radar: Martin says he’s a big-picture guy, always trying to see the broad-range benefits or long-term consequences of any policy or program that is implemented. Given the size of the membership (nearly 10,000) and the size of the office staff (five), he says improving the efficiency in the office clearly has to be an ongoing main priority. Online renewals, voting for regional directors, and the digital membership card program have freed up considerable staff time to be re-allocated to other projects. Several of those “other projects” include enhancing communications with members, through the magazine and social media and newsletters, and through chapters to address their local issues; working with other outdoors-oriented organizations, such as Outdoor Alliance, on issues related to obtaining or retaining access to public lands. Additionally, office efficiency will take a quantum leap forward when the web gurus complete what Martin describes as a “massive overhaul” of the USHPA database and website, to bring both into the 21st century for more accessible information for analysis, and productive tools for members and instructors. An incident last year involving a ground-based tow operation raised a question whether ground-based towing put pilots under the much more restrictive FAR Part 101 (which regulates moored balloons and kites) during the tow itself. In mid-January Martin received a letter from the FAA stating unequivocally that pilots remain under Part 103 regulations during the entire flight, including the tow. Another bullet successfully dodged… Of particular interest to paraglider pilots is Martin’s ongoing effort to have paraglider wings exempt from the



3% import tariff on wings. Hang gliders are not subject to import tariffs and removal of this unnecessary tariff would bring both wing types in alignment. Currently, paragliders are classified with parachutes, for reasons that would make no sense to anyone who flies or jumps. More significantly, there are no US manufacturers of paragliders, so an import tariff makes little trade sense. Martin is in communication with the US Trade Representative at the White House to be sure our interests are represented with the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to establish free-trade relationships with Asia; later this year similar negotiations may result in a removal of the 3% tariff on wings imported from Europe. If there’s a new paraglider in your future, stay tuned for future developments on this front. From his “big picture” perspective, Martin sees chapters as the ambassadors for free flight in their local communities. To help chapters present hang gliding and paragliding in a positive light to non-pilots, USHPA has created a “film festival” package that will soon be available at no cost to chapters; the festival-in-a-box will include videos, posters, promotional schwag, and more, and will premier this month during the spring USHPA BOD meeting at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado. But USHPA’s absolute top-priority items right now are drones in our airspace, and managing risk. Dick Heckman is USHPA’s resident expert on the drone situation; as co-chair with Bruno Schnedl of the National Coordinating committee, he and Bruno and Martin have been vigilantly monitoring the developing regulations on small drones. Until those regulations are finalized, the FMRA (FAA Modernization

and Reform Act of 2012) is granting exemptions to allow drone operations for commercial use. Dick and Bruno maintain constant vigilance of these exemptions, and USHPA submits official comments and expresses concerns when an exemption potentially impacts in a negative manner the operational environment that we will share with drones. Martin notes with considerable satisfaction that the exemptions that have been granted have addressed our concerns, specifically citing USHPA’s comments, and applauds Dick and Bruno for their ability to translate our free-flight concerns into the vernacular of general aviation, thus ensuring that nothing of import will be lost in translation. The presence of drones in the vicinity of our flight operations may put a crimp in our freedom to roam the skies, but our ability to manage the risks inherent in hang gliding and paragliding will determine whether or not we even have any sites from which to get airborne. Insurance premiums consume one-third of USHPA’s budget, and each accident potentially threatens an increase in our premium rates beyond what the membership can afford. Martin points out that we absolutely must sustain efforts towards risk management in everything we do as an organization—if we get to the point where we can’t afford the insurance currently required by

landowners of more than 200 sites, we’ll lose access to many of our premier sites. Before this magazine gets to your hands, Martin will be spending time in the other Washington, meeting with the major players who can influence on the federal level our access to public lands, our airspace concerns, the tariffs on paragliders and many other aspects of our flying; this includes the FAA, White House Council on Environmental Quality, US Trade Representative, Senators, as well as the numerous other entities who hold in their hands the fate of free-flight operations throughout the US. About the programs he’s managed over the years that bring him the greatest satisfaction: With no hesitation, Martin begins to list his “big picture” projects. “USHPA’s organization and structure are very complex, with lots of details to be managed and updated and coordinated,” he reminds me, and he takes pride in the staff's ability to tweak all the component parts to make the whole machine work more efficiently. The website and database update project, for example, will impact every aspect of USHPA, from membership to instruction to internal operations to public relations. “That’s something I’ll be proud of, when we get that released,” he says. He also particularly

LEFT Martin working late in the new office building, 2006. ABOVE The BOD at the Tennessee Tree Toppers Halloween party, fall 2008. Photos by Paul Voight.



enjoys his work with government agencies, making sure that the interests of free flight are represented, and advocating collectively with other organizations and outdoor recreation groups to share information and resources that will help protect or retain our existing sites, or to open new ones. About the major changes in the hang gliding/ paragliding culture since 2005: On the positive side, what Martin calls “intercultural relationships” have vastly improved. (Translation: Hang gliding/paragliding conflicts, although still present in some areas, are considerably less than a decade ago.) Of major concern, however, is the apparent decrease in the number of actively flying hang glider pilots; while the membership numbers do not yet indicate a drastic decline, the number of new ratings published in each month’s magazine hint that hang gliding’s popularity may be waning. Accident reporting and analysis has been part of our culture for decades. It is the foundation for safety awareness within the pilot community. Both USHPA and the Accident Reporting Committee are very excited about working with Felipe Amunategui, a psychologist and researcher at the



University Hospitals of Cleveland Case Medical Center, in establishing a formal research project to better collect and analyze our accident and safety trends. The entire accidentreporting system is currently undergoing major alterations to participate in this new reporting and analysis format. Once the association has completed this transition, it will be possible to better understand our safety issues and our training practices, and use the data to help develop a stronger culture of safety within our sports. About his personal flying evolution and milestones over the past decade: Martin considers himself a relatively conservative paraglider pilot. “I’ve flown a DHV-2/EN-B glider all my life,” he says. “I have no desire to take on a wing with greater performance but less stability.” That being said, he’s had some very satisfying personal bests, including 42 miles XC in Chelan (out beyond Mansfield and back to the soccer field) in 2010, and a 5.5-hour duration flight at Big Walker in southwestern Virginia. And, he admits, he’s had his share of accidents, including those two broken arms that cut short his hang gliding career, and a fractured fibula in Sun Valley last summer. “This last one was a wake-up call regarding my personal risk tolerance,” Martin says. “As pilots, we all know that what we do is dangerous, and we need to be aware of our own risk tolerance/management. As a result of this accident I have changed my parameters drastically: I’m no longer willing to fly mid-day, no longer willing to fly in turbulence or in strong dynamic conditions. I’ll miss it,” he muses, but adds, “I’m OK with that. I’ve enjoyed the flying I’ve done in the past, but these days glass-offs, sledders and hike-&-flies are all greatly satisfying.” Although he doesn’t get into the air as much as he used to, or as much as he’d like to, he makes a point of attending, and hopefully flying at, a few events a year, and he takes his wing along when he travels to areas where there are flying sites nearby. Touching again on his recent decision to downgrade the intensity of his flying, he points out, “No one should ever criticize or chastise a pilot who’s decided his or her risk tolerance precludes flying in these conditions or from this site.” He suggests that as a community we should consider celebrating everyone’s joy of flying, at whatever level they choose, rather than pushing pilots to go big or go long, if that’s not where their personal goals are leading them. Sage advice, especially to an aging pilot population. About some superheroes he’s worked with over the past decade: “The names that come immediately to mind are Dick Heckman and Dennis Pagen,” Martin says, and then elaborates: Apart from being icons in the sport, Dick and Dennis have been involved with the association since the earliest days and were part of the most important things

the free-flight community has accomplished and has been building on since. They and other “legacy” board members helped prove to the FAA that we’re a responsible community, which in turn led to FAR Part 103 and our tandem and towing exemptions. “Back in the day, Dick and Dennis were definitely a big part of laying that groundwork. It’s been an honor to work with them; they’re impressive in what they’ve been able to accomplish over the years, and I greatly respect their participation,” Martin reiterates. On a more personal level, Martin includes USHPA president Rich Hass on his super-hero list. “It has been fantastic to work with Rich—we have a great friendship and a great work relationship, and his excellent advice, good humor and strong mentorship have been invaluable to me. Rich and I have similar vision and interests and goals, and we’ve been able to get some good things done based on our relationship. Rich is the longest running president of the organization, holding that office since 2010, and in his years as Region 1’s director and his tenure on the EC, he’s been an amazing asset to the association.”


asked Martin to polish off his crystal ball and make a prediction about where hang gliding and paragliding will be in 2025. He says he is “drastically concerned” about hang gliding: hang pilots currently represent 37% of our membership, parapilots 48%, biwingual pilots 14%; he suspects those ratios will be much more skewed in 10 years. But, he says, “Something tells me there’s going to be a resurgence in hang gliding, that it’s going to be cool again—there’ll be a nostalgia, but also a different appreciation of both what hang gliding was and what it’s become. What hang gliding has accomplished is a-MAZE-ing—to me it is, by far, the most enjoyable form of aviation.” Coming from an experienced paraglider pilot, that’s no faint praise! Elaborating on that theme, Martin names the evolution of the sport, the control, the speed, the pilot’s proximity to the wing, the glide, the stability, the rush of aerotowing…”I enjoy everything about it!” he enthuses, and fears that people are overlooking these positive attributes of hang gliding because of the convenience of paragliding. As a marketing guy, Martin envisions an irresistible presentation of hang gliding to the public, creating an appreciation that will reverse the current decline in the hang gliding population. He also expects technological advances will lead to new forms of flight, or new flying machines for us free-flight pilots, perhaps along the lines of the paranglider (see p. 57 in the April 2004 issue of this publication). According to his crystal ball, the technology will soon exist to allow some creative genius to marry the most desirable aspects of hang gliding and paragliding and produce a hybrid free-flight soaring machine that pilots of both wingual persuasions will covet.

TOP LEFT Martin flying over Mt. Tam. BOTTOM LEFT USHPA HQ: The “new” office building. BELOW Martin showing off his landing prowess at Kitty Hawk | photo by Paul Voight.

And then there are wingsuits—once it’s possible to land a wingsuit safely and gracefully without a parachute, they’ll fit comfortably under USHPA’s umbrella. Imagine, if you can, soaring a wingsuit—how much closer to true bird-like flight that would bring us! As for drones, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that in 10 years the air will be inundated with these UAVs, although USHPA’s ongoing communication of our needs and our defined rights in today’s aviation environment should keep the drone environment friendly to our flying activities into the future. Martin perceives technology as our friend in this evolving environment; he expects that drones will be able to see-and-avoid us without our having to broadcast our presence, and we, in turn, will have the ability to detect the drones. USHPA will continue to vigorously defend our right to be in that environment as manned aircraft (recent decision from FAA has defined us as aircraft, as are drones), and FAA has already indicated that they never intend to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to usurp manned aircraft priority. But it’s obvious that there will be growing pains, both in safety and in the quality of our flying experiences as we move into a future where we have to share the airspace with drones. Referring to our current freedom to obtain our unique aerial perspective on this beautiful planet, Martin suggests, “Let’s enjoy it while we can!”



ALASKA Hang Gliding

Photos by Garrett Speeter, a member of the farthest north Far 103 club in the USA–the Fairbanks Air Riders.





Eagle Summit

ALASKA Eagle Summit

Tamana River

Eagle Summit

Eagle Summit 52




Table Top 54




Thinking Outside the Blocks

by Dennis Pagen

Part XIV: House Thermals–Home is Where the Heat Is


ack in the ‘60s and ‘70s I spent a lot of time hitching around the country and the world, looking for a lift. Who knew I’d continue the search for lift the rest of my life? Now, instead of seeing a hopeful sign in a VW microbus with a peace sign plastered on the side, I look for a propitious cumulus with a kind disposition. Back in the ‘60s we had the sense of spirit to “cast our fate to the wind”—go with the flow and see what happens was the shibboleth of the time. In many ways, for pilots of our ilk, it still is. Perhaps you have heard someone say “Lift is where you find it” and maybe you thought “Huh?” or “Duh,” or even “Doh!” But besides being a reminder to take things as they come, the statement has deeper meaning for us. Lift can be elusive and sporadic so we should be ready to grab whatever serendipitous lift we encounter. But in reality we can greatly increase our abilities and chances of finding it by learning some lore and practicing a strategy…and by recognizing patterns.

TAKING IT TO THE HOUSE If you’ve been swarming around your local sites for a few years you probably recognize areas or specific locations that tend to put out pumps of lift. These pumps may be sporadic or nearly continuous, depending on the height of the hill, the ground cover and the heat of the day. We call these somewhat reliable havens of lift house thermals. Why are house thermals important? Because they are the best source of lift for the initial getup after launch as well



as the go-to place when it is weak and you need a low save, or simply just a reliable boost of altitude. Nearly every site has a house thermal or two (or more), so it behooves us to learn as much as we can about them. At sites I regularly fly (about eight) I can point to the exact location of the house thermals in the different wind conditions. The knowledge of my local house thermals came about the typical way: spending hundreds of hours flying around the sites looking for, finding and exploiting thermals. After time it is possible to see the pattern to the lift location. Eventually we learn where the house thermal resides, how reliable it is and even its cycling time in different conditions. But, of course, we don’t always have to do all the homework to find the local house lift, for normally we can ask a more experienced pilot where to find it. In fact, when flying a new site it is imperative to ask about any launch and landing complications as well as other potential dangers; but asking about house thermals should be the next question.

GROUND SOURCES Let’s look at some of the factors that create house thermals. Starting from the ground up, it should be clear that good thermal promotion on the ground is a good start for the building of a house thermal. The usual: a dry or bare field, dry crops, any field more exposed than surrounding tree areas, a hill or rise, a tree-line corner, etc. In fact, some house thermals are most

usable for down-low last-ditch saves. A couple examples will help illustrate. At one of my local sites, the landing area with its surrounding fields is the largest opening in an otherwise sea of trees. If you watch the windsock you can tell where the thermals are lifting off, and hanging out at the downwind end of the field often rewards you with a thermal. The presence of this thermal varies in reliability and location, but its occurrence is common enough that it qualifies for the “house” label. At another site, it is even more related to the terrain: One house thermal resides over a rockslide to the left of launch. Another one is above an opening in the trees where several cabins are located. Another house thermal at this same site is at a corner of a sloped field surrounded by trees on three sides with the highest point at the corner, so a crossing wind funnels up to this corner. In a wind crossing from the opposite direction, the house thermal is located above another little hill. For this site I have listed these house thermals in order from the highest or closest to launch to the lowest, so there is a process of connecting the dots from one to the other as you get lower. Also, as indicated, the existence or placement of all the house thermals described above is dependent on wind direction. Those thermals originating on the ground tend to be more wind dependent than those higher up.

SLOPE SOURCES Many house thermals can be related to terrain shapes on the mountain. Open areas such as the rockslide mentioned

before or a clearing on top of a mountain are typical house-thermal sources. But it is the mountain shape that is just as important. Any place where the slope takes a break is a potential thermal source, and the better the shape, the more likely the source is to be reliable and worthy of the name house thermal. Typically a thermal will break off where the slope changes its angle. At the paragliding world meet in Sopot, Bulgaria, you could see three house thermals located at the three points where the slope got less steep. With over 100 gliders in the air on this 2500foot mountain, it was easy to see where the house thermals were, and in the semiarid conditions they were almost as reliable as your mother. Figure 1 is a depiction of the house thermals there. Note that for the breaks in the slope to

have thermals focused at a given point, it is also necessary to have a ridge-andravine system. The figure shows that the thermals are on the ridgeline where the ridge’s slope changes. These house thermals developed in light winds, with mostly an upslope breeze caused by the daily heating. The thermals were located on the ridgeline. One of my local sites has a similar house thermal that sets up on a ridgeline that runs down on the right side of launch. But this is a lower site than the one in Bulgaria, and the area is greener, so the thermal is not continuous, but the location is a point to return to for a good chance of finding lift when in scratch mode. Another house thermal at that same local site is often present at a high point to the left of launch. Such a point is another typical house-thermal

location. We should be aware of the effects of different wind conditions. When the overall wind is light and the flow we get is mostly due to upslope breeze (anabatic flow), the thermals tend to break off from the ridgelines. On the other hand, when the general wind is stronger, it will tend to split ridges and funnel up the ravine valleys so the thermals are at the ravine tops. These effects are shown in figure 2. Of course, if the general wind is across the slope a bit it may produce some ridge lift at the ravine ridgeline and thus help thermals to form there, as shown. I have found these effects to hold true in the Owens Valley and other big mountain sites with deep ravines and other dramatic formations. These examples should make it clear that house thermals can vary location

and reliability according to the wind changes. The final mountain shape we’ll point out is the presence of bowls or parts of a ridge that face more into the wind. Bowls are similar to ravines, but wider. Because they are wider they do not necessarily channel the thermals up to the top at a given point. However, in a given wind direction there may be a house thermal point because of a good source at the bottom or a trigger part way up. Faces that are more into the wind will be the possible location of a house thermal when the wind is favoring the face direction. We have a face angling to the north just to the right of our NW facing site. When the wind is right cross I head for this area and usually find the resident thermal. More dramatically, Henson Gap in the Sequachie valley near Chattanooga, TN, has a SW wall to the right of launch. When the wind is crossing from the left, pilots often fly to this wall and look for a thermal above the highway below and above a quarry cut into the mountainside. There is also a field in the valley closest to the mountain that funnels the valley breeze up the ridge. In addition, this site has a couple small hills around the landing field. They are both typical search areas for house thermals. To the right of launch the wind tends to wrap around and promote thermals. Also there is a ravine to the right of launch on the way to the SW-facing wall that experiences a convergence effect and often harbors thermals. There is a road switchback in the ravine that is a house thermal. Finally, part way up the mountain the ridge goes from steep to flatter, then steeper again. Often pilots find this ridge break is the source of thermals. With this one example we have mentioned at least five specific house thermals and four areas where thermals have a higher rate of presence than the general overall area. Henson Gap is a somewhat complex



site, but many sites are so and with thought and practice we can figure them out and find the gimmie thermals.

FINDING YOUR WAY HOME The first step in exploiting house thermals at your home sites is simply knowing that they exist. They exist at almost every site, at least in some wind and heating conditions. After you are aware they are there, start remembering where you located thermals. Ask other pilots where they think the house thermals are and most importantly, spend some time watching other pilots getting up after launch, or hanging out in tough conditions. Chances are you will notice some patterns. You will perhaps find that pilots hang out in one area, or go back to the same well every time they get low. With your own flights, see if you most often find thermals in the same general locale. Pay careful attention to the different conditions that provide these thermals. A point on a mountain will typically work in various wind conditions, whereas a ravine or breaks in the slope will be more dependent on certain wind directions or strengths. One good trick available to modern pilots is to examine your track logs. There are programs that let you paint them onto Google Earth maps, so you can see where your thermal was. Put many of these track logs together and you can start determining if there are obvious house thermals from the frequency that they appear on the map. Even better is collecting track logs from as many pilots in the area as you can to display them for a more accurate picture. You can go a bit further and look at your thermal tracks in three dimensions. It is possible to place your view from above, right down the barrel of the thermal whether it is straight up or tilted due to wind. With this technique you can look at the ground source of the thermal, whether it is on the valley floor

or up on the mountain. Not only will this method teach you where the local house thermals hang out, but you will gain insights into what factors contribute to a good thermal source. As we implied before, only in the best conditions (hot, dry areas with ideal terrain shapes) will house thermals be nearly continuous. Normally there will be a periodic thermal at the house sites. The better the conditions, the more frequent the thermal and/or the longer it will last. At any rate, along with learning where the house thermals hang out, you should try to learn how frequent or how reliable they are. At a lower, greener site the house thermals tend to be less reliable, but they are still important for the stay-aloft plan. The best way to utilize them is to have a flight plan to pass from one to the other in sequence, or if only one house thermal is known, go back to it as often as feasible (and altitude allows). As with most of our flying techniques, practice, reflection, exchange of ideas and repetition is the way to learn how to best use house thermals.

FLATLAND & CROSS-COUNTRY EFFECTS Since the advent of towing flight parks, we have learned that house thermals reside in certain areas in the flatlands. For example, both Wallaby Ranch and QuestAir have house thermals nearby which local pilots and comp pilots in the know have discovered. The thousands of flights that have taken place there have revealed these favored thermals. But other flatland flight parks probably have their own house thermals as well. Typically house thermals in the flats are more dependent on wind direction than their mountain cousins because they are related to ground triggers. On the other hand, some are related to relative good heating areas and tend to work in a wide variety of conditions. It isn’t too much of a stretch to realize that when we are flying cross-

country either over the flats or through the mountains there are local house thermals scattered around. In fact, once we are aware of the prevalence and importance of house thermals at our local sites we should be able to extrapolate that knowledge to help us find thermals when flying cross-country. The same source factors that apply at home apply to house thermals away from home. Of course, we can simply say that house thermals are placed where there are good sources, and that would be true. But for a thermal to truly be designated a “house” variety, the source needs to be more or less permanent. In other words, a short-lived source like a plowed field (that may turn into a green crop in a few weeks) is probably not going to put out a reliable thermal all year long. However, something like a quarry or a parking lot might. There are two points we can take away from this discussion. First, just as when we are working hard to stay up at a site and use the plan to go from one house thermal to the next, then repeat,

we should do the same when on a crosscountry path. The way to apply this plan is to always have several potential thermal sources ahead that can be visited in a series. Such a plan is mostly useful when we are getting lower, since when we are higher we are keying on clouds, birds and other signs from above. The second and perhaps most important point is: from our local site housethermal experience we know there are some thermals out there that are long lasting and repetitive. This knowledge should induce a sense of optimism, which is important when flying crosscountry and is even more important in competition. Of course, our cross-country routes are not flown nearly as much as the area immediately surrounding our favorite sites. So, it is more difficult or at least it requires more time to find the “route thermals,” even along routes that we cover on a more or less regular basis. For example, at my best cross-country local site we know where to go over the back to get the next few thermals, but as we

range further and further downwind the flight paths diverge due to variations in the wind direction, so the known best thermal sources are fewer and fewer. Then we have to rely on our thermalflying lore.


ouse thermals are familiar, comfortable fallbacks like house rules, house bands, or house mothers. House thermals are pervasive and important. They can be salvation when we are struggling to stay up or to simply get up right after launch. In fact, on an iffy day when launching in the best cycle is imperative, I watch the house-thermal areas for signs of lift such as rustling leaves. If a thermal exists, it will probably bloom at the house-thermal spot. The secret weapon that many good pilots have is knowing where the house thermals lurk. But it isn’t exclusive knowledge. Any pilot can learn the hot spots and greatly increase his or her chance of finding lift. There are still some VW microbuses out there.








can be submitted online at _ 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 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 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.



APRIL 5-11 > Groveland, Florida. The Green

Swamp Sport Klassic at Quest Air Hang Gliding. Come be a part of the growing Sport Class competition scene. Experience our huge LZ, full fleet of tugs and park like facilities. Come early and brush up on your XC and aero tow skills or just to have fun. This will be a race to goal format for Sport Class pilots only. Technical support for instrument related questions will be available prior to and during the competition. In addition to the excellent flying conditions this time of year, take advantage of this opportunity and go for a discovery flight in the Dragonfly, Flyboard or Hoverboard on Lake Carl or visit any of the Orlando attractions. More information: Mark Frutiger, 352-429-0213, or email info@

MAY 3-9 > NeverLand flight park, La Belle, Florida. East Coast Paragliding Championships: The only east coast sanctioned PG event. Come race the world class flats of Florida at the NeverLand flight park. We average 6 out of 7 tasks flown, with potential 100 mile tasks. Epic cloud streets and strong, smooth lift are what Florida are world renowned for. P3 with ST sign-off required limit of 60 pilots. More info: David Prentice,,, or 505-720-5436. MAY 9-15 > 2015 Quest Air Open National

Championships. "National competition comes back to Florida and to Quest Air. We'll be flying in the best time of the year for big cross country triangle and out and return tasks up, down, and across the state. Quest provides full flight park services with plenty of Dragonflies on site, camping, clubhouse, kitchen, rental rooms, flyboarding, swimming, sun bathing, huge field for launching in any direction. More info: Belinda Boulter and Davis Straub, http://, or, or 836-206-7707.

MAY 17-23 > Flytec Race & Rally. The Flytec

Race & Rally is back! We will follow the Quest Air Open, starting at Quest and flying (hopefully) north toward some of our favorite airfields in Georgia and South Carolina including Moultrie, Americus and Vidalia. Late spring in the southeast generally brings southerly winds driving us toward the north and we plan on aggressive tasks between 80200km each day. We have arranged to have goal and tow out of dozens of beautiful small airfields as well as a whole fleet of Dragonflies following pilots on course each day and then towing them all up again the following day. If you missed out on our last Rally in 2012, now's your chance to come join the traveling flying circus once again. More info: Jamie Shelden, www.flytecraceandrally.wordpress. com, or, or 831-2615444.

MAY 31 - JUne 6 > Ridgley, Maryland. East Coast Hang Gliding Championship. More info: Highland Aerosports, ecc.html.,, or 410-6342700.

JUNE 14-20 > Rat Race/Sprint Paragliding

Competitions Woodrat Mt. Ruch, OR. Thirteenth annual Rat Race/Sprint Paragliding Competition 2015. Practice day June 20th. Two parties, daily lunches, retrieve and mentoring provided. Join the experience, travel southern Oregon, bring your family and see why the Rat Race is more than the largest paragliding festival in the USA. Go here to see what southern Oregon has to offer. http:// Registration opens February 15, 2015 $495.00 until April 15th, 2015. More info:, and 541-702-2111. Sign up at

JUNE 28 - July 3 > Chelan Butte, Chelan, WA. 2015 Chelan Cross Country Classic and National Open Distance Championships, Pilots will choose their own tasks to get the most our of each day and points will be awarded based on the distance they fly. This will be a sanctioned event this year so pilots can earn points for national rankings. Go straight out on days with tail winds or complete a triangle on light winds. Then go for a swim in the lake and hit the town for dinner to finish the day. This competition is also for new cross country pilots as a great way to learn the art of cross country flying. Evening seminars and on-launch/LZ coaching programs are in planning. Individual scoring as well as team scoring and a para vs. hang rematch. Bring the family too! Chelan is great vacation destination and the meet dates are before the 4th of July to avoid the crowds. More Info: Lennard Baron,, 425 275-2162. AUGUST 2-8 > Big Spring Nationals. The Big Spring Nationals is the premier hang gliding competition in the US with the best and most consistent racing conditions. Tasks average 100 miles. Many days we are able to come back to the airport and your glider can rest the night in the hangar. We usually fly every day. No other city supports a hang gliding competition like Big Spring, with use of their air conditioned terminal, hangar, free water and ice cream, golf carts, runway, welcome dinner, prize money, and much more. As a national competition it will again be a high NTSS points meet and count toward the National Championship. More info: Belinda Boulter and Davis Straub,, belinda@, and 863-206-7707. AUGUST 30 - SEPTEMBER 5 > DINOSAUR

2015 More info: Terry, and Chris Reynolds,,, 970-245-7315.

SEPTEMBER 13-19 > Santa Cruz Flats Race Mark Knight Memorial Competition . The Francisco Grande Resort is once again welcoming us back for another week of great flying. If you're up for 7 out of 7 days of awesome technical flying conditions, come join us for the 9th Annual Santa Cruz Flats Race. Registration opens at noon eastern time on April 11th. More info: Jamie Shelden,, naughtylawyer@, or 831-261-5444. SEPTEMBER 20-26 > OVXCC - Owen's Valley Cross Country Classic 2015. More info: KARICASTLE.COM, Jugdeep Aggarwal, kari@karicastle. com, or 7600-920-0748 .


XC clinic, fun comp and Rivalry of the Regions for intermediate pilots. Improve your thermal and XC skills in world-class conditions through training, coaching and clinics by David Prentice. Most pilots fly new personal bests, distances flown are between 40 to 60 miles. Register your region for team points to claim the traveling trophy and regional infamy! Entry fee: $300, and tow fee: $150 which includes T-shirt, scoring, XC retrieval, XC clinics, awards dinner, and prize money. Register at www.

AUGUST 16-22 > Dunlap, TN. Tennessee Tree Toppers Team Challenge is an instructional competition pioneered by the TTT for the cultivation of cross-country and competition skills. The unique scoring format awards more points to less experienced team members for the same distance, encouraging their more experienced team members to assist them along course. Teams are led by some of the finest XC and comp pilots in the country! Nightly seminars explore the finer points in greater detail, covering topics from forecasts to landings. More info: FLY-INS APRIL 3-5 > Lake Alamo, AZ. The Sling Machine Easter Fly-in is a new tow event near Lake Alamo, AZ. $75 covers T-shirts, Saturday dinner, and close retrieves. $10 per tow for the drivers/tow operators. Come witness an attempted tow altitude record! Surface-tow clinic on Friday for those who have never towed, and bridles can be rented or purchased during the event. Contact Arizona Paragliding at 480-294-1887 to schedule your training session. Register for the fly-in at XC, spot landing, bomb-drop contests! More info: azhpa. org. APRIL 29 - May 4 > La Salina Flyng Ridge,

Baja California Norte . 9th ANNUAL FlyLaSalina. com Luna Llena Fiesta Del Cielo FLY- IN! Deemed “The Perfect Ridge” by ‘70s HG pilots, La Salina is known worldwide as Baja’s best air-sport venue. Launch from 700’ ridge ? mile east of Pacific Ocean. Soar for hours, climb to above 3000 ft. in desert thermals, then land on big/beautiful sandy beach, OR XC into Baja’s world-class wine country. Fly PG, HG, PPG, and trikes. Sponsored by TEAM; Ejido La Mision; and BajaBrent (who handles accommodations at his beachfront B&B complete with beachfront astro-turf LZ). More Info:; 760-203-2658 (US); 646-155-8194 MX.

JUNE 20-28> King Mountain Glider Park Safari.   Free Annual Idaho event.  Fly the longest days of the year just east of famous Sun Valley. Paragliders, Hang Gliders, Sailplanes, and Self Launching Sailplanes are all welcome. Awesome glass off and cloud bases up to 18,000’. Fly to Montana or Yellowstone. Wave Window. Campfire, Potlucks, Star Gazing, Hiking, Mountain Biking and Fishing. Free camping at the  Glider  Park. Big Air and Big Country!  For an outtake about King from Dave Aldrich’s awesome movie production seevimeo. com/104771241  Explore kingmountaingliderpark. com for directions and more info. Spot Locator with tracking function or equivalent required. Call John at 208- 407-7174.


SEPTEMBER 4-7 > Ellenville, NY. THE USHPA NATIONAL FLY-IN! Calling all hang gliders and paragliders. Come one, come all- let's gather and fly and celebrate the sky! More info: at clinics & tours MarCH> 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, or contact us at, 805-968-0980, and www. MARCH 3-12, DECEMBER 7-16> Brazil. Paraglide Brazil with Paracrane Tour. We’ll start in magical Rio de Janeiro, flying over the tropical forest surrounded by granite domes and landing on the beach, or try a flight to the world famous Christ statue! After 3 days we head to Governador Valadares, for incredible XC opportunities. Depending on conditions other sites we may visit include Pancas, Castelo and Alfredo Chavez in Espirito Santo. Brazil is a unique paragliding and cultural experience! Open to strong P-2’s and up. Please note, you will need a Brazilian Visa. More info: 541840-8587, or APril 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 23-24 > Sebring, FL. Over-the-water maneuvers training (SIV) from beginner to advanced maneuvers training. Gain priceless and valuable knowledge and experience under your wing with radio guidance from David Prentice. Each pilot progresses at his or her own pace. Sebring offers a world-class SIV destination with white-sand beaches, crystal-clear water just seconds from main street Sebring. More info: David Prentice,, or 505-7205436. APRIL 25-27 > Instructor Training. With Ken Hudonjorgensen in Utah. More info: Phone 801971-3414, email, or www.



April 26 > Instructor Re-certification with Ken

Hudonjorgensen in Utah. More info: Phone 801- 9713414, email, or

MAY 1-3 > Thermal Clinic. Utah flying sites with Ken Hudonjorgensen. Learn your wing’s language and what it is telling you about the parcel of air it is in. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email, or MAY 23-24 > Tandem Clinic with Ken Hudonjorgensen in Utah. More info: Phone 801-971-3414, email, or JUNE 3-13, SEPTEMBER 21 - October 1 & October 1-12> Paracrane European Tour. Austria, Slo-

venia, and Italy. "The Sound of Music" meets the XAlps! Early summer and early fall are perfect times for flying in Austria, Slovenia and Italy. We’ll base in Zell am See, Austria, with tram access to excellent flying. Other great sites are close by. On to the Alps of Slovenia, plus a stop in Venice. After classic Meduno, we shift north to some of the most spectacular flying in the world, the Dolomites. More info:, 541-8408587, or html.

June 6-7 > Site Pioneering in Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen. More info: Phone 801-971-3414, email, or JUNE 14-20 > Rat Race Super Clinic : Kari Castle,

Kay Taucher and Ken Hudonjorgensen will be helping Mike Haley at the Rat Race, training newer pilots with thermaling, launch-sequence proficiency, and restricted landing approaches, etc. All necessary skills for XC and competition. Contact:

JULY 3-5 > Thermal Clinic. Utah sites with Ken

Hudonjorgensen. Learn your wing’s language and what it is telling you about the parcel of air it is in. More info: Phone 801-971-3414, email, or

NOVEMBER > Iquique Chili paragliding tour:

This year we have divided the tour into four different segments: Instructional Days, Iquique Days # 1, 2 and 3. Our Tour leaders are Todd Weigand, Luis Rosenkjer and Ken Hudonjorgensen. The entire tour will be packed with instruction for all levels of paragliding (including P-2 thru P-4). Check the web site for more details. For anyone wanting to fly, fly, fly... this is the tour to join. The last tour will focus more on XC. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email, or


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


most affordable single line suspension harness available. Individually designed for a precise fit. Fly in comfort.;; 315-256-1522


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

AUGUST 29, 30, 31 > Thermal Clinic. Utah sites with

Ken Hudonjorgensen. Learn your wing’s language and what it is telling you about the parcel of air it is in. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email twocanfly@gmail. com, or

SEPTEMBER 5-9 > Cross-country and open-dis-

tance competition clinic with mentoring. Paragliding Intensive with Ken Hudonjorgensen and other mentors. Inspiration Point, Jupiter, West Mt. and Monroe, Utah, wherever the weather tells us to go. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email, or www.

SEPTEMBER 19-20 > Site Pioneering. Utah sites

with Ken Hudonjorgensen. More info: Phone 801- 9713414, email, or

SEPTEMBER 28 - OCTOBER 3 > Red Rocks Fall Fly-in, Richfield Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen and Stacy Whitmore. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email, or



CALIFORNIA AIRJUNKIES PARAGLIDING - Year-round excellent instruction, Southern California & Baja. Powered paragliding, clinics, tours, tandem, towing. Ken Baier 760-213-0063, EAGLE PARAGLIDING - SANTA BARBARA offers the best year round flying in the nation. Awardwinning instruction, excellent mountain and ridge sites., 805-968-0980 FLY ABOVE ALL - Year-round instruction in Santa

Barbara & Ojai from the 2012 US Instructor of the Year! More students flying safely after 10 years than any other school in the nation.

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 Soaring Center LLC, leading the way since 1973. World famous historic TORREY PINES GLIDERPORT: Incredible Flying – food – fun. Come enjoy coastal San Diego flying year-round! 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,, info@, or call us at 858-452-9858. WINDSPORTS - Train in sunny southern Cal. 325 fly-

able days each year. Learn modern flying skills safely and quickly. Train on sand with professionals at Dockweiler Beach training slopes (5 minutes from LA airport.) Fly any season in gentle coastal winds, soft sand and in a thorough program with 1 of the largest schools for over 40 years. 818-367-2430, www.

COLORADO GUNNISON GLIDERS - X-C to heavy waterproof HG gliderbags. Accessories, parts, service, sewing. Instruction ratings, site-info. Rusty Whitley 1549 CR 17, Gunnison CO 81230. 970-641-9315.

FLORIDA FLORIDA RIDGE AEROTOW PARK - 18265 E State Road 80, Clewiston, Florida 863-805-0440, www. GRAYBIRD AIRSPORTS — Paraglider & hang glider towing & training, Dragonfly aerotow training, XC, thermaling, instruction, equipment. Dunnellon Airport 352-245-8263, email, LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Nearest mountain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations., 877-HANGLIDE, 877-426-4543.

MIAMI HANG GLIDING - For year-round training

fun in the sun. 305-285-8978, 2550 S Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove, Florida 33133, www.

WALLABY RANCH – The original Aerotow flight park. Best tandem instruction worldwide,7-days a week , 6 tugs, and equipment rental. Call:1-800-WALLABY 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., 1-877-HANGLIDE, 1-877-426-4543.


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

MARYLAND HIGHLAND AEROSPORTS - Baltimore and DC’s fulltime 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,


dunes. Full time shop. Certified instruction, all levels. Sales, service and accessories for all major brands. Call Bill at 231-922-2844 or email at tchangglider@ Your USA & Canada Mosquito distributor,

NEW HAMPSHIRE MORNINGSIDE - A Kitty Hawk Kites flight park. The

Northeast'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. Located in Charlestown, NH. Also visit our North Carolina location, Kitty Hawk Kites Flight School. 603-542-4416,

NEW YORK AAA Mountain Wings Inc - New location at 77

Hang Glider Rd in Ellenville next to the LZ. We service all brands featuring AEROS and North Wing. 845-6473377,

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

England areas. Area's exclusive Wills Wing dealer. Also other brands, accessories. Area's most AFFORDABLE prices! Certified instruction since 1984. Excellent secondary lessons! Taken lessons elsewhere? Advance to mountain flying with us! www.flyhighhg. com, 845-744-3317

FLIGHT PARK Cooperstown New York Serving the North East since 1978. We have the best training hill in New York. Dealers for Wills Wing and others. Trade-ins welcome www. 315-867-8011



HANG GLIDING and PARAGLIDING. Gear, guiding, instruction, transportation, lodging - www.flymexico. com 512-467-2529 / 1-800-861-7198 USA


school in the world, 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. Learn to fly where the Wright Brothers flew, located at the beach on NC's historic Outer Banks. Also visit our New Hampshire location, Morningside Flight Park. 252441-2426, 1-877-FLY-THIS,


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

Affordable rates include breakfast, pool, free wifi. Guide service and/or transportation to all popular paragliding sites. Lessons available from USHPA certified instructors. Call USA: Mid April thru Dec: 908-454-3242. Call Costa Rica Jan thru mid April: (Country code, 011) House: 506-2200-4824, Cell: 506-8950-8676, or email Website:

ITALY - Fantastico! Great flying! Great food! Great

weather! ALL inclusive service suitable for all levels of pilots. Round topped grassy mountains and large flatlands. Flying with culture!


tours, rentals, tandems, HG and PG classes, H-2 and P-2 intensive Novice courses, full sales. 787-8500508,


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

TEXAS FLYTEXAS TEAM - training pilots in Central Texas

for 25 years. Hang Gliding, Paragliding, Trikes. Hangar facilities Lake LBJ, Luling, Smithville www. 512-467-2529

UTAH CLOUD 9 PARAGLIDING - Come visit us and check out our huge selection of paragliding gear, traction kites, extreme toys, and any other fun things you can think of. If you aren’t near the Point of the Mountain, then head to for a full list of products and services. We are Utah’s only full time shop and repair facility, Give us a ring at 801576-6460 if you have any questions.

VIRGINIA BLUE SKY - Virginia's full time, year round HG

School. Scooter, Platform and Aero Tow. Custom sewing, paragliding, powered harnesses, trikes, representing most major brands. 804-241-4324,


Airsport Venue: PG, HG, PPG: by, He’ll hook you up! Site intros, tours, & rooms., 760-2032658


Boek,Thailand's most awesome,highest flying site 5,200ASL.Open to P-2 and above.Come learn how to fly high and far! Very inexpensive! More info:

PARTS & ACCESSORIES SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round

basetubes, or tandem landing gear. 262-473-8800,


gliderbags $149. Harness packs & zippers. New/used parts, equipment, tubes. 1549 CR 17 Gunnison, CO 81230 970-641-9315

HALL WIND METER - Simple. Reliable. Accurate.

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

PUBLICATIONS & ORGANIZATIONS SOARING - Monthly magazine of The Soaring Society

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

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

REAL ESTATE To Rent Lease or Buy. A beautiful Cabin within 5 min walking to LMFP. Call 423-400-3226. To see: "Crabapple Hill"





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2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 7 7 9 11 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 7 8

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David Gills PA Anthony Lloyd MD Uwe Troxler VA Lauren Yeager TN Haley Yeager TN David Andrews AL Alejandro Deleon GA Christopher Parrish GA Shawn Fletcher TX Jeff Harris NY Brian Kellogg CA Owen Mcdermott - Berryman Ian Boughton IN John Minkle MA Timothy Bowen MD Bob Fitzhugh TN Edward (keith) Sutphin GA Tim Lewis NY Robert Ellison NY Travis Vanderford WA Clark Frentzen CA Beau Buck UT

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

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Gary Waugh WA Sylvie Waugh WA Samantha Waugh WA Rebecca Waugh WA Ben Prichard AK Andrew Griffin CA Chris Ganister CA Joachim (jochen) Bekmann CA

Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Peter Humes Jeffrey Greenbaum Wallace Anderson Jeffrey Greenbaum

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

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Hilary Bekmann Hern Chua Lee Testorff Layne Campbell Jonathan Lewis

Jeffrey Greenbaum Christopher Grantham Scott Gee Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer







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


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

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Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer David Boueres Michele Mccullough Jonathan Jefferies Stephen Mayer David Thulin Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Murat Tuzer Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Peter Humes Rob Sporrer Soren Braddock David (dexter) Binder Heath Woods Soren Braddock Ray Leonard Rob Sporrer Jerome Daoust Jaromir Lahulek Wallace Anderson Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Kelly Kellar Peter Humes Jeffrey Greenbaum Jesse Meyer Jesse Meyer Christopher Grantham Chien (charlie) Dinh Scott Gee Gabriel Jebb Gabriel Jebb Danielle Kinch Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer Jerome Daoust Rob Sporrer David Boueres Michele Mccullough Jonathan Jefferies Stephen Mayer Jerome Daoust Gabriel Jebb David Thulin Kevin Biernacki Peter Humes

6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 12 12 1 1 1 3 3 3 4 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 8 12 12 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 8


Maizatul Akma Randell Raymundo Joseph Oncada Christopher Romano Stephen Veneracion Carlos Montero Deirdre Veneracion Draco Veneracion Teodoro Acuna Nick Sotelo Robina Pascual Blair Mcalpine Joel Decker MN Erol Baybura MI Zebulon Jakub NH Sky Fogal PA Michael Lange PA Salavat Ayupov TN Mark Pomykacz NJ Frank Hoffmann NJ Jeff Bertrand AK Brian Hickman WA Coty Hollifield WA Yuko Williams CA Dan Hayes CA Daniel Borrero CA Patrick Harvey-collard NM Steve Sharp Michael Gambrill Julio Vega Tung Ng Randell Raymundo Joseph Oncada Christopher Romano Stephen Veneracion Carlos Montero Deirdre Veneracion Teodoro Acuna Robina Pascual James Hall NH Rogerio Vieira NJ Eric Anderson NY George Beirne AK Michael Harris CA Steven Welch CA Scott Rebstock CA Zack Gonzalez HI Kirk Thompson CA Jeff Miglionico CA Jon Barstow CO Michael Gambrill Julio Vega Tung Ng Tan Fee Randell Raymundo Joseph Oncada Christopher Romano Stephen Veneracion Carlos Montero Mustafa Tura Mohammadreza Ghofoorian Yusuf Alay Gazanfer Erzincan Sergio Dutra Lopes MA

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The 1

by Colin (Scruffy) Perry

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 USHPA soft shell jacket.


t was the 5th of June, 1983. I Today I checked my glider conthe bottom of my gear bag with varishuffled my wing up to the launch nections a couple times, then yelled ous other pieces of unused debris for at Dry Canyon. I was being chucked “CLEAR” and dove off that cliff as hard a dozen years or so, until the day Bob off first today, with a USHGA examas I could. Yo-yo’d up and down a Trumbly was in my van complaining iner on my nose wires and an observer grand or so for about a half hour before how his bag got stolen and he had yet to on each wing. This was to be my final I got flushed with sink-alarm screamreplace his vario. I gladly donated mine, check flight prior to my H-4 sign-off, ing down to last-chance ridge above much to the chagrin of Bob Ortiz who hence the extra assistance and the the hot dusty impact zone. Was able to had been trying to sell Trumbly his old “honor” of being first off the hill. The maintain there, but my vario continued unit. wind was howling in its typical New its unrelenting wail. Damn batteries I’m told that the mystics deem Mexico summer fashion, which is why must be dead (good excuse for a short Vision not as the opposite of blindI would normally wait till later in the flight) so I flipped the switch off and ness, but as the absence of distraction. day after most everyone else has flown. continued to work the light ridge lift This is perhaps how Tommy was able But today is the test, and I must rise to with just the sound of the wind in my to obtain pinball-wizard-hood: He the occasion. A mere two months prior wires and the touch of the bar to guide could see no lights flashing, hear no I had my initial attempt at a H-4 check me. No beeps to hear nor dials to watch, buzzers nor bells to distract him. My flight under similar circumstances, but just me and my wing and the air. Before flights since that day have morphed I aborted that launch after one step I knew it I had stumbled into a big ther- from “me attached via harness and into the three-step cliff launch when I mal and was soon climbing like crazy, strap to a Dacron-&-aluminum wing” realized that (under the extra pressure watching houses and cars below shrink into a much more integrated endeavor, of performance anxiety) I had neglected to specks as I gained some four or five something like a Colin/wing synthesis. to hook in. K into cold buoyant sky. I counted all Compensatory senses of tactile sensaI had arrived here from California my buddies far below me—for the first tion, inner-ear pressure, sight, smell, in late ‘80 to work at the NASA White time in three years here I was on top of sound, and temperature sensitivity have Sands facility. I found the closest hang the heap! As the hours ticked by, my been exercised and developed over the gliding site in Alamogordo that next ego overrode my bladder pressure as I years to be far more evolved than they weekend and met up with the locals to worked every hint of lift, determined were that day of my break-through go fly their cactus-covered desert. As to be the last to land. My Irish luck H-4 flight, often better than the best a hyper-mellow laid-back surfer-dude/ prevailed, and I came in for yet another battery-powered device available. And coastal-pilot with a Wills Wing Harrier, no-whack landing with all the other my bare-bar style of flight melds well to say that this collection of hard-core pilots there on the ground to watch me with my natural minimalist preferuber-macho Comet pilots looked at me as the sun set under the bright pink and ences and seems to enhance my eclectic slightly askew would be an understatepurple sky. old-school image. And image is, after ment. But I guess that I proved that I Never did bother to replace them all, what matters most to them hordes could handle the high-desert air, ‘cause stinkin’ batteries after that. Birds fly of screaming teenage blue-eyed groupies they kept letting me fly with them and over the rainbow just fine without then, who flock to the impact zones of our were now wanting to bump my rating. so why can’t I? The vario just settled to western flying sites.



For those who want to fly beyond Cross country flights become child’s play with the new Flytec Element. This instrument's highly advanced vario guides you high into the air, its GPS points you in the right direction and shows you the way the wind blows, and the airspace warnings increase safety. In-flight usability is exceptional, featuring a redesigned high-contrast display and new keypad that gives better tactile feedback – even with gloves. After landing, records of your adventures are immediately available for Google Earth and online contests. •

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol45/Iss03 Mar2015  

Official USHPA Magazine

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol45/Iss03 Mar2015  

Official USHPA Magazine