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SEPTEMBER 2015 Volume 45 Issue 9 $6.95



ABOVE Loren Cox at the Point of the Mountain | photo by Nick Greece | footwear by Keen.


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.

SUBMISSIONS HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING magazine welcomes 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. 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, editor@ushpa. aero, (516) 816-1333.

ADVERTISING ALL ADVERTISING AND ADVERTISING INQUIRIES MUST BE 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

HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING (ISSN 1543-5989) (USPS 17970) is published monthly by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding

Association, Inc., 1685 W. Uintah St., Colorado Springs, CO 80904, (719) 632-8300, FAX (719) 632-6417. PERIODICAL postage is paid at Colorado Springs, CO and at additional mailing offices.

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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.

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The new I OTA Series Easy Performance The new IOTA opens the door to the world of long cross-country flights. As a High-Level EN B glider it offers the ideal balance between performance and ease of piloting. Thanks to computational structural weight optimization and the use of high quality materials, it delivers big value for its small weight, starting at 4.45kg. More information and films on /iota








ree flight is a lot of things. It’s a sport, a lifestyle, a hobby, a community, a journey and a consummate adventure. To state it in a much less erudite manner, it's a great reason to be somewhere you otherwise would not be, usually as part of a community in a unique context. During the last two weeks I had the amazing opportunity to visit a burgeoning community surrounding St. Louis, Missouri, as well as Hailey, Idaho. I flew in both of these places and while those air-based experiences were memorable, it was the people and times that surrounded them that created the richness of experience. The places a wing will take you and the people that we share the time with are what make our sports incredibly special. Looking back over the last 15 years of travel, I most often recall the times and the places; after thousands of flights, the recall of singular flights begins to blend into a quilt of peak life experiences. As the season winds down, think back and celebrate the occasions and people with whom you were able to share time and space, because of where your wing took you. The September issue is filled with communities and special individuals who are part of our flying world. It begins with celebrating a community that has been successfully creating a space where like-minded individuals can share the air. Angela Galbreath caught up with the pilots of Houston, Texas, who, as this is being written, are breaking all kinds of site records. Another impressive community fosters good times and pilots in Southern California, through events organized by Aaron Price in the form of the SoCal XC League around world class flying sites like Crestline and Marshall in San Bernadino. One of USHPA’s finest and most passionate members, Carson Stitt, is profiled. Stitt came through some serious trials and tribulations to return to the sky. The Owens Valley, where legends are made, both on the ground and above it, is highlighted in this issue by two remarkable tales from days of yore. Stay tuned for a column featuring great feats of free flight from the past authored by our very own C.J. Sturtevant. If you think you have a tale that should go down in the annals of hang gliding or paragliding contact C.J. at Annette O’Neil is back with some tips for better mountain launching and a guide for understanding convection. These pieces paired with another great teaching installment from Dennis Pagen should enable higher success rates under your wing. It is important to remind ourselves that it is because of our fellow pilots, friends, flying brothers and sisters that these sports are amazing, and it is up to each individual to ensure that we are there to be a part of this great community for many years to come.

Martin Palmaz, Executive Director Beth Van Eaton, Operations Manager 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: Tiki Mashy. REGION 7: Paul Olson. REGION 8: Michael Holmes. REGION 9: Felipe Amunategui, Larry Dennis. REGION 10: Bruce Weaver, Steve Kroop, Matt Taber. REGION 11: Tiki Mashy. REGION 12: Paul Voight. DIRECTORS AT LARGE: Ryan Voight, Paul Murdoch, 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.

LEFT Summer soaring at Eagle Rock, Virginia | photo by John Robinson. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE


NOTICE OF SUSPENSION Hayden Dudley #89027 PG Tandem Instructor six-month suspension for unauthorized mini-wing flight in a national park; Initiated on 6/11/2015 and eligible for reinstatement on 12/12/2015.

SPECIAL ADVISORY Marina State Beach & Fort Ord Dunes State Park Because of recent incidents endangering the Marina State Beach and Fort Ord Dunes State Park (California) flying


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DEADLINE APPROACHING USHPA AWARD NOMINATIONS George Sturtevant, Awards committee chairman ( There remains just over a month to submit your award nominations for your community’s volunteer high achievers. The online nomination option will shut down just before the USHPA board of directors meeting in mid-October. The Awards committee wants to hear from you about people, pilots and others (there’s a special award for non-members), who have gone beyond just doing their job and so deserve some national recognition. Nominate your favorite instructor, the most active chapter, the video that inspired you, and the most informative chapter website or newsletter. Remember that some of our flying sites are kept open because a few good people have put their time and money right up front—negotiated with the landowner, mitigated the fire hazards, kept it safe, even bought the land! Let them know you appreciate their contributions by going to and filling out a nomination for them. A descriptive list of all the USHPA awards, along with specific nomination requirements if there are any, is at



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17-20 Septembre 2015

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St Hilaire du Touvet - Lumbin Illustration de Valérie DUMAS - Impression Bristol - St Pierre d’Allevard - 04 76 45 10 47





What the tests measure is the glider’s passive response in these situations, without any pilot input. Some key The story of paragliding is similar to points here are: 1) Calm air 2) Pilot other human endeavors. It is human induced 3) No pilot input. These are nature to want to make progress. very important distinctions. Designers and manufacturers are There is a world of difference constantly trying to improve their past between a test pilot’s intentionally designs, as well as sell their new designs pulling on risers, lines or brake toggles in order to stay in business and build to induce a maneuver, and a glider’s better gliders in the future. Thanks to entering into a stall, spin or collapse recent developments in glider design, because it was flying through turbuwe are quickly outgrowing the current lent air that disrupted air flow over system for certifying the safety of our the wing or caused a loss of internal equipment. A new paradigm is needed, pressure. Likewise, there is also a world and until we can adopt a new system of difference between a glider’s recoverfor rating our wings, we are putting our ing normal flight in calm air after an personal safety and the security of the induced failure, and a glider’s recovering industry as a whole at risk. in active air, after turbulence caused a Currently, the overarching industry failure. Lastly, there is a HUGE world standard for certifying paragliders is of difference between a glider’s recoverthe EN norms. Historically, the EN ing in a test flight with an experienced rating paradigm, as well as the DHV test pilot, and a glider’s recovering in system that it replaced, is generally active air with a nervous under-skilled looked upon as a measure of the “paspilot potentially applying ill-timed or sive safety” of a wing. Until very recently, incorrectly weighted inputs. the rating system, a wing’s EN or DHV What the EN testing does not mearating, could also be used as a rough sure is how a glider reacts in turbulent prediction of the general performance air, how resistant a glider is to collapse, level of a wing. But to continue to think or the sensitivity of a glider to inputs this way would be a big mistake—one from the pilot. It takes very little acthat has potentially lethal consequences. count of the speed range of a glider, and Before moving on, it is very imporit takes no account of the glide ratio, tant to clearly understand what the wing loading, aspect ratio, or other EN rating/testing system measures measurements of total performance. and what conclusions can be made During my flying career, I’ve had the from those data. The EN rating system chance to meet and learn from some is NOT, as many people believe, a of the best in the Industry, including measurement of the “passive safety” of a Alain Zoller of Air Turquoise. Air glider. The word in French that is used Turquoise is the largest EN testing to describe the certification process is house for paragliders in the world. “homologation.” The word homologaTwo years ago, I had the opportution actually gives a better sense of the nity to shadow and interview Alain in true meaning of the EN certification; Villenueve, Switzerland—an interview it is a measure of how a glider behaves, that was featured in this magazine. compared to a standard. In other words, During our conversation, Alain said it’s a measurement of conformity. something I often find myself returning EN certification flight tests are to when I’m helping students choose a conducted in calm air, where test pilots new glider. He said the true measure intentionally induce specific maneuvers. of the safety of a wing is a combination by Ted Smith

of the homologation rating, the overall performance of the wing, and the skill level of the pilot flying it. Even a glider with a low rating (i.e., “very safe”), can be very unsafe in the hands of a pilot who doesn’t have the appropriate skill to fly it; likewise, a high-performance wing with a high EN rating (i.e., “not safe”), can be flown very safely by a skilled pilot. I asked Alain what changes he would suggest for improving the certification process. He said there needs to be some consideration for the overall performance of a glider in the certification equation. For example, he asked, “If someone were able to design and build a wing that had EN-D performance, but managed an EN-A rating, would that be a suitable first glider?” No, of course not. Another suggestion he made was that there needs to be actual design limitation imposed for specific categories. For example, for a glider to receive a B rating, it cannot have an aspect ratio that exceeds a certain number. This would be somewhat analogous to automobile classes that have design limitations on size, weight, engine displacement, total horsepower, etc. Adding such features to the certification process would help create a fuller picture of the glider as a whole, rather than just the “snapshot” data of the test results. I mention this because it is clear that some glider manufacturers have figured out how to “design for the test,” as it were. The past two years have seen an abundance of high-performance gliders come onto the market with “B” ratings— gliders with performance and design specs that one would expect to belong in the EN-C category. As cool as this is, as an achievement in design, I see it as an incredibly dangerous trend. More and more often, I hear of young, inexperienced pilots opining that it’s OK for them to move up to

this or that glider, because it got a “B” rating, and, therefore, must be safe. I see the emergence of these gliders on the market as being like pouring gas on the fire of “Intermediate Syndrome.” You know what I mean: The young pilot who has had some early success, had a few big flights, maybe even done an SIV, and now thinks he/she is ready for the big stuff. We also recognize these guys as the pilots who flounder on launch while cycles go by, because they can’t kite their performance wing, or the pilots whose every landing looks like it’s their last because they have poor pitch and roll control, or pilots who did perfectly well on their older first wings that they bought when they got signed off on their P-2. This is a serious issue—one that I believe is only going to get worse as market pressures encourage more manufacturers to come to market with these kinds of wings to stay competitive. I also think it’s good that designers are able to achieve such high performance with relatively low EN ratings. But because of this, we need to rethink how we rate, market, and sell gliders. Everyone is responsible for co-creating our flying society. It’s up to the designers and manufacturers to accurately define the level of skill required to fly their wings, and who should be considering a certain wing for purchase. It is up to instructors and equipment shops to guide students to appropriately suited gear. I can’t tell you how discouraging it is to hear one instructor countermanding the advice of another by playing into a young student’s ego, in order to sell a glider. As a community of pilots, we need to encourage and support our fellow wingmates in making sound choices. Lastly, we need to press our governing bodies to keep improving and developing certification standards that are the most accurate reflections of a glider’s overall performance and “passive safety.”

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f your focus is shifting from ridgeratting to the more advanced paragliding disciplines, you’ll need to get comfortable with mountain launches. After all, it’s the really big rocks that provide the altitude you need to master big maneuvers. However, a big mountain requires a bigger, more developed skill set to negotiate than does a simple



training hill. Big mountains howl with big dynamics. Evidence abounds: the notoriously high winds howling over the sand in Iquique, Chile; the three often-nail-biting launches that march up the spine of mighty Mount Babadag in Ölüdeniz, Turkey; the electric-fencestrewn Swiss meadows at Mürren; the

nasty lee rotor at cushy-looking Monte Baldo. The list goes on. You’ll need to approach all of the above with caution to avoid being this week’s most-shared carnage video.

BE PREPARED. In most cases, mountain launches tend to be far from the snack bar, to say the

LEFT Jeff Annetts gets ready at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort | photos by Nick Greece. BELOW LEFT Jon Hunt getting ready for launch. RIGHT Josh Riggs launching a tandem for the top of the JHMR.

least. If you only rock up with what you’re used to bringing to your ridgesoaring neighborhood hump, you may have a startlingly long and uncomfortable wait. Bring plenty of water, caloriedense snacks and sun protection. It’s not a bad idea to bring a book, too, for the purpose of middle-of-nowhere parawaiting.

GET YOUR TIMING RIGHT Anywhere you go, you can expect that thermal currents will form at regular time intervals. These intervals are known as thermal cycles. A good rule of thumb: Before you gear up, find a comfortable seat and study the wind speed at launch for 20 minutes. Make special note of how long the wind stays at peak speed within each cycle. At that point, you’ll probably be able to reasonably predict the next cycle and launch in the window when it’s nice, just before the wind picks up again. As you become more familiar with the launch, you’ll be able to cut down your observation time—but don’t skimp on it when you’re new to the launch. Just because you have your home site’s timing dialed does not make you a weather whisperer.

LOOK OUT FOR ROTOR Do you feel a light headwind at launch, but the trees behind you are shaking around in something stronger? Don’t launch just yet. Instead, look up at the other indicators (such as the cloud movement above you) and think for a minute. You might actually be about to take off in rotor turbulence from a strong back wind. You’d be surprised at how often this dynamic feels like a nice little launching breeze before it turns into a gnarly wing-eater, 50 feet out front. If you see any indication that these dynamics are at play, pack it up. It’s not worth the risk.

DO THE MATH Yes. Math. Let’s look at some numbers. First, assume that the day isn’t very thermic. If, at launch, you observe a strong wind coming from the front—let’s call it 12 mph—and people below you are landing in light conditions (under 3 mph), you can safely predict that you won’t get much lift. If you launch in conditions like those described, you’ll be up against a strong headwind without much in the way of a lift component. You will likely sink out, losing much of the altitude you need to practice your maneuvers or make it back

to a long-distance LZ. Your guideline: Most of the wind speed must be coming from a lower altitude for the average lift component of the flight to be solid.

CLIFF LAUNCH LIKE A PRO If there’s one thing that tends to get intermediate pilots in trouble, it’s cliff launching. Cliff launches can certainly look inviting, especially when there are other pilots in the air. However, they are very tricky. It’s vital to know what you’re doing before you attempt one. Poor judgment in a cliff situation results in hair-raising incidents. Internalize the below advice, then get some coaching to commit the information to your body’s memory. Picture this: You’re about to launch a cliff in strongish conditions. The strong wind hitting the cliff in front of launch will create a consistent wave of rotor behind you. If you’re new to cliff launching (and—admit it—a bit nervous), you’ll probably want to start from farther back. When you move forward from that position, you’re going to hit a significant band of lift that will resist your entry, pick you up and try its best to shove you back into the rotor. To avoid that nightmarish scenario, you’ll have to have more than P-2 experience



wrangling a wing, and you’ll have to summon up some guts. Try to launch as far forward as possible, and immediately be ready to fly at top speed. One more note: Stopping at the edge of the cliff for any reason is a very poor choice. In this situation, the vertical wind direction will stabilize your wing in front of you and yank you forward

ABOVE Roy Morris flying in the Tetons.



unless you brake just right. This is, of course, the most dangerous possible scenario in which to practice that particular kind of braking.

DON’T GO IT ALONE Big dynamics, sweaty hike-ins, nailbiting launches, far-distant LZs: Mountains are not for the faint of heart.

They are, however, the home of the heart and soul of free flight. Don’t let the challenges scare you off. If you’re new, nervous or rusty, reach out to experienced help to dial in the details of your mountain flying. Once you’ve picked up a few new skills, you’ll “unlock” scores of great sites worldwide to dial in your flying—and you’ll have a great time.


More technology, more know-how, revolutionary performance, refined handling and even better climb characteristics. Everything the ambitious cross-country pilot desires.

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FIXIN' to FLY by Angela Galbreath



“A LOATHSOME GROUP OF GUYS, dressed in hang gliding harnesses and helmets, crashed a wedding on June 18, 1983,” reminisces longtime Texas hang glider pilot, Mark DeMarino. He’s blasting away in the very active Houston hang gliding group chat. “Thanks for that great memory, HHPA,” he continues. The thread blows up several times a day around topics ranging from XC flight plans to glider classifieds to the deep heartfelt connections present in any vibrant community with history. Mark is the current president of the Houston Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (HHPA). It’s one of USHPA’s oldest club charters, formed back when many pilots, Mark included, took their flying sitting down. The club enjoys a strong contingent of experienced pilots and

FIXIN' to FLY 20


a steadily growing number of enthusiastic greenhorns. Mark joined the very active flying scene back in 1978. He remembers, “I probably taught 350 students. Just a handful stuck with it in those days.” That’s not surprising, considering among many obstacles, hills in Texas are hard to come by. Not everything is bigger in Texas. Guys like Mark spent years stealing seconds of airtime running down the 35-foot-high Barker Dam. The real hill was hours away in another state and remains a modest 425 feet high. When winds didn’t cooperate for the hatchling hawks, they just camped out and tried again the next weekend. For those who stuck with the program, flying proved a necessity and, of course, birthed invention. Howdy do, winches, trikes, and aerotowing. The Houston pilots obtained a tow winch in a manifestation of easy solidarity and determination to fly. At times, the winch has been tucked away in the closet like an old pair


of rollerblades. Still, the club maintains the equipment, as winds always change and no one wants to limit opportunities to fly. About half of the 30-or-so Houston-area pilots also fly ultralight aircraft. With so many trikes in operation, the transition to aerotowing was a cinch. Hang Glide Texas was born when, once again, the community pooled resources. This time, they purchased a trike. All 28 members of Hang Glide Texas are part owners; a pilot’s dues pay for his or her share as well as upkeep and storage. It’s a commitment to join, but one that comes with the perks of a small isocracy in which each member has equal say. It’s a unique arrangement, to say the least. Stricter FAA regulations slowed Hang Glide Texas for a few seasons, when some of their tow pilots found themselves grounded. But just as the San Jacinto River runs steadily through ever-changing conditions, so the pilots of the Houston area adapt to go with the flow. New tug pilots are made, winch towing takes over during aerotow

lulls, and things go buzzing along for these sky cowboys and cowgirls. Houston local Gregg Ludwig is an expert in both aerotowing and winch towing. He uses his own ultralight to tow at local fly-ins, like the 4th of July celebration in Leakey and competitions like Big Spring every August. “Tug duty is a lot of fun; it’s not a chore,” he smiles. Gregg also owns and operates a winch-towing school on Lake Conroe called Lakeshore Hang Gliding. He states that most H-3s can master the method after just three tandem flights. “People get all uptight towing on asphalt. Water eliminates a little bit of the fear factor,” he explains. The seven-mile liquid runway allows for up to 3000-foot tows for hang gliders and paragliders. Boat towing is aces for another reason. Weather. In Houston, it gets hotter than sweatpants at a barbeque! BELOW LEFT Jack and Marty Lewis tandem | photo by Michael Hoffman. RIGHT Lake Conroe. Photo by Michael Hoffman.



A typical summer sees temperatures hovering around 100 degrees for weeks at a time. During the doggiest days, when the sky drapes over the dusty ground like a wool blanket, who wouldn’t want to go skimming through a pool of glassy water upon landing? As club president Mark is quick to point out, the climate in Houston suits pilots just fine. “We’ve got the best conditions in the world right here,” he says. Darn tootin’. The past two hang gliding distance records were set where the stars are big and bright. And speaking of stars. There’s a big one rising around Houston, and her name is Niki Longshore. She’s the young blood whose thirst for thermals made a splash at the Big Swamp Sport Klassic at Quest Air in April. “Niki kicked butt in Florida. I’m tickled to death. I tell the guys around here, ‘she’s flying circles around y’all.’ It shows that if you persevere and do it, you’ll do well,” chuckles Mark, no doubt recalling some of his past students who put in enough hours to get good. Mrs. Longshore is currently training to be a third mate on



big boats. When she’s not occupying the atmosphere, she’s out cruising the high seas or parallel parking 1000-foot vessels. With a ship-out date looming ahead, Niki jumped on the chance to motor over to Florida. She wanted to log as much airtime as possible. When a friend pointed out that in order to fly in the best conditions, she would have to enter the comp, she threw her hat in the ring. Why not? Niki flew six out of seven days and made it to goal on her single-surface kite, finishing 5th overall in the Sport Class. Not bad for someone who took her first tandem flight over Lake Conroe roughly a year prior. “I learned so much. I feel so much more comfortable on my glider,” says Niki. Niki and her Freedom trekked to Quest with a fun-loving group of Houston-based sky junkies. “I was lucky to be the youngest. All of us camped together and shared meals,” says Niki. “It was really a lot of fun. I consider everyone I flew with my guru.” It’s Niki’s determination to fly and her quickness to learn that are catching the eye of those who know how to spot a winner, and creating a little cloud of hype. After she graduates

LEFT Tracy Pinney ready to launch | photo by Michael Hoffman. BELOW High over Houston | photo by Rich Diamond.

from transportation school in December, she declares, “I will take the entire year off to fly.” VG in hand, she may just give Dustin and Johnny a run for their money on her brand new Orbiter. Niki trained at the recently closed Thermalriders, and she’s logged most of her hours with Houston’s latest outfit, Cowboy Up. That enterprise moved to the area two years ago and plugged in immediately with the community. Hang Glide Houston member Zach Castille appreciates the presence of the new school in Houston. “More

new pilots equal more trips and more fly-ins,” he says. He moved to Houston, in large part, because he knew he would have more opportunities to fly. With two trikes and two Dragonflies in operation this summer, Cowboy Up is a prime place for pilots to gather. Regular events like XC Wednesdays keep everybody fired up. The weather predictions over the group chat start on Sunday evening and roll through Tuesday night. Al Roker ain’t got nothin’ on this team of rowdy pilots fixated on Wednesday’s forecast.



“For a real great community to exist, there’s got to be a school. For a school to exist, there must be a good club and vice versa,” says Bart Weghurst. He and former Women’s World Record holder, Tiki Mashy, own and operate Cowboy Up. The school is based in Jackson Hole where it’s nearly unflyable in the winter. When Bart and Tiki recognized that the reward from their summer hang gliding school overshadowed the pair’s off-season occupations, they looked for a warmer place to relocate during cold weather. They found big air and a warm welcome in America’s fourth largest city. Floods back in Wyoming this summer prompted the duo to stay on in the Lone Star State through the heat. “When people realized we were here to stay, we got a lot of support,” Bart shares, adding that local club members have lent a hand with marketing strategies in the big city. One pilot even connected Cowboy Up with a local news outlet, which led to exposure on a major network. They’ve already trained 12 new H-2s this season, all of whom land on their feet. Bart believes it to be an essential skill, especially for new pilots with XC aspirations. Bart and Tiki anchored the gaggle of pilots, including



Niki, who flew at Quest together. They convinced another new XC pilot, Jeff Bohl, and his U2 to come along as well. Bart entered the race at the last minute, when another Houston pilot lent him a new Lightspeed 4. Tiki flew tug for the meet. Another Houston-based guy, Mick Howard, flew tug and competed after everyone else was airborne. What a bunch of hounds! As is true for all tight communities, people draw closer together during tough times, such as a loss of one of their own. Everyone mourns the recent death of pilot Mark Gibson. Mark lived just outside Houston in Magnolia, Texas, where he operated Gibbogear/Manta Aircraft. Houston pilots remember his pervasive smile and all that he contributed to both hang gliding and trike flying. He was a true innovator. Even as pilots organized to attend a memorial service, they conceived of a way to honor his life. A fly-in in his memory will take place later this year. It’s shaping up to be a busy season in Houston, with several other events listed on the calendar. An L-over-D competition will be held for fun out at the local “mountain.” The winner will receive a perpetual trophy that’s been in circulation since 1978! For 22 years, Houston

LEFT Niki Longshore launching. RIGHT, TOP TO BOTTOM July 4, 2015. Hang waiting on the dune buggy in Wharton, Texas. George Longshore assisting Niki at launch. Niki and her new Orbiter. Photos by Niki Longshore.

pilots have graced the skies at the area’s largest air shows. Wings Over Houston in October draws a crowd of more than 100,000 spectators who have the chance to see the balletic antics of a well-piloted hang glider. Crowds of 10,000-20,000 were exposed to the delta plane at the Ballunar Festival held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. HHPA members stand at the ready in case the festival is revived this year. Many Houston folks will make the trip over to Big Spring in early August and stay to compete in a comp Labor Day weekend to crown a Texas champ. The competition will be stiff, since many current international contenders like Robin Hamilton, Dave Williams, and Chris Zimmerman call Texas home. While Texas stars certainly stand out, there are no Lone Rangers flying hang gliders out there. Getting in the air in an environment that flat requires coordination. Community is essential. Towing is always a team effort and keeping current, a collective issue. Since life events outside the realm of hang gliding affect hang time, these pilots find one another on many levels. That’s why one can come across wedding anniversary reminiscences alongside wind direction updates. The dynamic flight scene in Houston thrives on diversity. Old timers, newcomers, and everyone in between mash up together in a hearty concoction full of flavor. Clubs and businesses function in tandem. Big names inspire. Big personalities entertain. Experts hold clinics to share what they know. Gifted organizers create space for fellowship. Talented engineers like Mark Gibson pioneer. In short, everyone does what comes naturally to nurture the community that feeds the need to fly. Yee-haw!





TARANTULAS Fly the Owens by Larry Fleming




like to fly the Owens Valley. I have vacationed there most summers since 1983 with a gang of friends. We call ourselves the Tarantulas. We have our own greeting gestures (a hand moving up and down in a mock zipping-up action of a harness), our motto (Live to fly, fly to die), and our own Tarantula nicknames (Mumbles, Gizmo, Donut, Lo Lo, Blinker, Skippy, Short-rib, Porno, Beaver, Squinty, Brother Mark, etc.). No Tarantula likes his name; he just learns to tolerate it. It is decided by group consensus, based on some aspect of the member’s personality, flying habits, or some incident or innocent comment made during a flying trip. The first time around, a nickname doesn’t always stick and gives way to a second. Most of us find it best, however, to quickly learn to embrace our first nickname, because the second is usually more degrading than the first. In our quest to fly long distance, our group has experienced a wide variety of flying conditions in the Owens and we have launched from every popular site. Horseshoe (now known as Walt’s Point) is one of our favorites. I have



a love/hate relationship with Horseshoe. Some days are awesome, with strong, consistent, smooth lift on every canyon’s razor-sharp spine, but other days can be twisty, gnarly, twangy, just-can’t-get-up kind of stuff! Over the years, we have learned to observe certain weather signs early in the morning that give clues as to what type of flying conditions we can expect, giving us time to make plans for the day. Depending on the conditions, the Owens can bring high risk or high reward. This is a story about the Tarantulas flying Horseshoe on such a day. We left our camp in Bishop by 7 a.m. to begin the hour-long drive to Lone Pine, eat breakfast, and get gas at the Carl’s Jr. The weather signs looked promising on the valley floor, a very slight northerly katabatic wind and a clear morning sky. As we wound up the steep, paved switch-backed road to launch, we were impressed again at how waaay back in a canyon it was, with sharp, steep spines on either side plunging far below, down to the valley floor. The canyon is so steep that a single rolling rock will trigger a cascading avalanche, with dust and debris

TARANTULAS Fly the Owens

falling almost to the valley floor itself. I always feel small, insignificant, and vulnerable there; it has high altitudes, steep sharp mountains, intense punishing sunlight, stark contrasts with patches of trees, high green mountain meadows, and bright white snow on shadowed north-side peaks, all dwarfed by massive stone canyons rising up from the 4000-foot valley floor into the cool, crystal clear, high Sierra air at 14,000’, where lift and turbulence seem to be magnified. We call it “Big Air.” We were the only pilots at launch that day. It was a very different and somewhat lonely experience compared to past years, when every inch of ground was crammed with the gliders and gear of 30 to 40 pilots, waiting to pile off to set new records as soon as the air rose strong enough to lift a glider up above the mountains, in what was called “The Crush.” Nowadays, the Owens is not as popular. We had the whole east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range to ourselves, and we planned a classic, well-used route: fly past Mt. Whitney up to Big Pine, cross over to the east

side of the Owens Valley, continue north in the White Mountains, fly over Montgomery Pass (about 105 miles away), and travel far, far away into Nevada. We were prepared with radios, water, survival snacks, GPS, and a chase truck manned by Dave and Jim, both Tarantulas and very experienced Owens Valley pilots. We all take turns, and it was their turn to drive that day. I launched first, with Tony, Rick, and Paul close behind. After climbing to around 10,000 feet ASL, nasty turbulence began to rock my Litespeed. This was not good news at 11 a.m.; a good day at Horseshoe usually starts out light and sweet. As my ratty thermal drifted eastward, out of the sheer, rocky canyon and away from the green mountain meadows that lie nestled in the tops of the gleaming row of sharp, Sierra mountain teeth and into the flat Owens desert thousands of feet below, I realized the LEFT Gabbs, adopted home of the Tarantulas | photo by Jim Okomoto. TOP At camp | photo by Rick Devlin. PREVIOUS PAGE Sierra wilderness | photo by Paul Clayton.



west wind that we normally expect later in the day had already kicked in. The entire east side of the massive Sierra Nevada mountain range was filling, twisting, and spilling with nasty rotors, like ocean waves crashing on a beach. We were about to spend the next two hours flying north through that mean-spirited air. I find it prudent to run when the westerlies start up, and run I did, away from danger and into the clean, sadly sinking air over Lone Pine. Although I told myself I could find early afternoon lift over the flat valley and begin a valley crossing right from launch, I really knew I was just trying to ease the pain of my failure. I arrived at 1000’ AGL, just north of Lone Pine and scouted out landing places; my total distance north from launch was four miles. The humiliation really set in, when I heard radio reports from the other guys who were 12,000 to 14,000 feet, just above the spine of the mountains, heading north. They had climbed high enough to ride the west side of the Sierra, the far side, the side on which the wind was pushing up, a very gutsy thing to do. Their path put them in jeopardy of crash-landing in that high mountain wilderness, should strong sink prevent them from flying eastward, back into the safety of the desert valley. After picking out a nice landing spot (shade, good retrieval road) and accepting my new position in the hierarchy for that day (Loser), my glider’s left wing twitched. “Could it be?” Yes, it was the beginning of a small hope, a single rising patch of air...drifting and climbing 50 with an occasional twitch of 100-feet-up-per-minute... away from my landing choice...into the desert...a tough



retrieval, but an only choice. Live to fly. Turning the glider ‘round and ‘round, while keeping contact with that light thermal, allowed me to barely stay in the air and drift north, towards my probably “ain’t-gonna–happen-today” goal, low over the desert dotted with sagebrush and crisscrossed by seldom-used dirt trails. I dared not fall out of that flight-saving, feather-light thermal; it was my last and only long-shot chance to save the flight. I spent the next two hours burbling and drifting north, losing contact with my salvation, then running slightly downwind to find something again. Up to 8000’ ASL (look around, breathe, begin to relax), down to 5000’ ASL (uh-oh, pick out another landing spot near a trail). Five thousand feet ASL translates into only 1000 feet above the desert floor in that part of the Owens, and even the small foothills of the Inyo Mountains alongside me, towered above. “Ah...this is Rick. I’m at...ah…12,000, behind the lava fields,” mumbled Rick. Although he was right on track for a classic valley crossing, Rick was still very far back in the Sierra, away from a secure retrieval on Highway 395. He was in an area that would make it tough to find him, should he need to land. Rick has been there before; it’s far from easy to find landing spots. (In fact, one is looking at challenging landing situations.) Early in his Owens career, Rick crashed in strong gusts of wind on the valley floor, was trapped and unable to unhook for 30 minutes under his glider, buffeted by a sandstorm blasting around his face and head, and, eventually, found himself recovering at the local hospital with a hyper-extended elbow. Rick often hangs out to the bitter end, refusing to

LEFT Horseshoe launch | photo by Rick Devlin.

give up (Live to fly, fly to die…); it is not unusual to find him at the end of a dirt road, right at the foot of some mountain. One time, Dave found him in the middle of 100 miles of wide-open desert. He had landed in the only five-acre field around that was surrounded by a locked and secure fence. Rick once attempted landing right on a dirt road that intersected with Whitney Portal road and wound up overshooting inches above the ground, blowing through a stop sign, and crossing over a paved tourist road to land in a field beyond. He told us later that he had to look both ways for cross-traffic before scooting over the Whitney Portal road. When Rick mumbles, “I’m at 12,000, behind the lava fields,” there can often be an untold story that makes his outcome uncertain. Tony, on the other hand, likes to follow roads closely. He has no desire to land anywhere but right next to a paved, main highway. If the road angles right, Tony angles right, too. One can almost imagine his using turn signals as he glides directly above a road; hence, his nickname of “Blinker.” Just north of Independence, Highway

395 angles away from the Sierra and so did Tony. He had been flushed off the mountains and was now locked into following that paved road, trading altitude for distance, rapidly dropping towards the highway traffic below and hoping to find a thermal on the valley floor. I was low again, continuing to burble, just trying to stay in the air. After drifting very low into an area east of the Tinemaha Reservoir, which makes for a confusing retrieve, I was desperately trying to climb out in ratty pieces of lift, before reaching the next big challenge of crossing Westgard Pass, a low area between the Inyo and White mountain ranges. “Don’t get low behind Tinemaha,” Rick warned, adding to my concerns. “The roads are real tough.” “Too late, Rick,” I thought, “I’m already there!” A quick review of our Tarantulas found Tony (Blinker) closely following the paved 395, with a likely landing at Big Pine; Paul (Short-rib), on the chase truck with Dave and Jim, having landed somewhere around the old internment camp of Manzanar, where he had



previously lost a batten rib; Rick (Mumbles), not saying much, but staying high, way back in the Sierra, in a very good position to cross over the valley to Black Mountain and easily continue north in the White Mountains into Nevada, and me (Lo Lo), beginning an extended, low crossing of Westgard Pass, picking out landing spots to which I might safely glide, should those unreliable, drifting thermals dump me. The radio airwaves settled into a long silence as we all concentrated and worked on improving our situations. “Ah, this is Tony. I’m at 17,000 over Big Pine and crossing over to you, Larry. Hang in there.” Tony had hooked a thermal, right in the center of the valley, over Highway 395, and ridden it up above an old burned-out cindercone into a perfect position to easily glide over to Black Mountain— the gateway to a huge range of mountains, the Whites, leading directly into Nevada and our goal of 100-plus miles. “Great, Tony, I’ll see you at Black,” said I, approaching the base of Black Mountain with only 5500’ ASL, 500-700 feet above the alluvial fan, which gradually laps up the sides of the mountains. I was just about out of chances and a landing at the “Big Ears,” a weird-looking outer-space radio station, seemed likely. “This is Rick at 12,000 feet, trying to gain more altitude before crossing.” “Come on over, Rick; you’re stinking high,” I cried out, in frustration at being so close to the salvation of Black Mountain, but probably too low to find and hook a thermal, and climb back into the high mountain air. After two hours of flying apart, Tony, high in the Sierra west of the Owens and I, low in the east, rejoined at Black Mountain. We both continued north, towards Bishop, Tony,



cruising at altitude and I, drifting and continuing to fight down low. Rick had carefully climbed and had, in a miserly fashion, conserved all of his altitude possible and was beginning the long, silent glide across to join us. I finally climbed up enough to see Tony, relax again, and enjoy the ride north, high and happy. The hardest part of the flight was behind Tony and me, and we playfully coasted along (from 12,000’ to 17,000’ ASL), sightseeing and enjoying the spectacular view far below and far away, rapidly approaching the wide-open deserts of Nevada. Life was good and the thermals were fat. “Ahhh this is Rick. I’ve hit massive sink.” Rick was plunging toward the ground at about a 1:1 glide, caught in a gigantic wave of down, unable to fly his Talon through it into better air. “I

don’t think I’ll be able to even make Big Pine.” Rick was falling and picking out landing spots in an isolated area, west of Big Pine, where there were few retrieval roads or nice fields. Every Tarantula was listening to Rick’s radio transmissions with concern, wondering how his drama was going to play out. After a two-hour dirt-trail, turnback-around, gully-crossing, east-west, north-south search, the chase truck found him in the middle of an isolated area, way back at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, which had been closed due to a fire. The ground everywhere was blackened and hot with charred stumps of smoking sagebrush. Rick was staring at the departing firefighting crews, dressed in heavy, yellow fire-protective, moon-suit-like clothing, as they drove past with equally

incredulous looks at him and his colorful glider, standing alone in miles of carbonized dirt—a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of two very different worlds. Tony and I were already past the 100-mile mark, moving into hour six of our journey, flying over Montgomery Pass and leaving the Owens Valley and California behind. We were going to be on our own in Nevada for a while; the chase truck was over 50 miles behind, finishing up the two-hour search for Rick, and we were concerned about losing radio contact. When the road split, we radioed the chase one last time while they could still hear us. With our decision to keep heading north towards Mina rather than turning east towards Tonopah, it was important to us to end the flight near the main road, as we knew our support

would eventually be looking for us on that paved road somewhere between Basalt, Mina, Luning, or Gabbs. And although we would probably be able to reestablish radio contact several hours later, our past experience (late, dark, long, desert nights) told us it would be best to be waiting in clear sight next to the highway. Blinker was in heaven, following the road ahead, happily veering left and right with each asphalt curve below and drifting along in big, fluffy air. I was low again and ended up landing about 115 miles from my launch point next to the road in the quiet, lonely desert, where a single car may pass by every 20 minutes or so, just often enough to break the silence before fading into the distance. Tony landed about 10 miles further on.

We were all down; our latest, great adventure was over. The sun was lowering ever so slightly, signaling the start of evening and an end to the blistering hot day and the air’s changing from hot to warm. Waiting for a retrieve from my brother Tarantulas gave me time to think, and I took a few quiet moments, alone…no cars…no people…with only the wind blowing through the sparse sagebrush, to reflect on how lucky I am to live during a time in history and a place in the world where I can be so free; where I can race downwind as much as I want; where it seems as if my imagination has become reality; where I can chase my dreams with my friends, as if there were no limits; wide open…far away… Total Freedom.






Simulation OR





MIRACLE PILOT by C.J. Sturtevant


e all know pilots who say their lives revolve around their flying. Paraglider pilot Carson Stitt will tell you that his life IS, in a big part because of his flying. “There is something deep that draws you to free flight,” Carson muses, “like you have tasted it before.” Back in 1998, 23-year-old Carson answered the call, taking hang gliding lessons on the dunes at Oregon’s Cape Kiwanda. Somehow, though, hang gliding didn’t seem a good fit, wasn’t exactly what he was searching for. Somewhat reluctantly he set aside his dream of flying, and immersed

himself in other active sports: climbing rocks and ice and mountains, kayaking, mountain biking, and snowboarding in the winter. And then, in 2001, the young Carson suffered acute liver failure due to a rare blood disorder that caused a clot in his portal vein, and his active lifestyle suddenly hit a huge roadblock. The way around it (literally), says Carson, was “TIPS: Transjugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt—a mouthful to say!—a bypass around my liver and the clot.” And, of course, the bandaid for all clotting disorders, a lifetime on blood

thinners. Not surprisingly, after all this his docs cautioned him to avoid impact sports, and to always wear a helmet, which, at first, Carson found humorous. “I envisioned eating my breakfast cereal wearing a helmet,” he recalls, but he soon internalized the implications. “Life is precious, no one is promised tomorrow, so live the most out of every moment!” he told himself, and as soon as he felt able to return to being active, he went for it. “I finished that year kayaking the Grand Canyon and climbing my heart out in El Potrero Chico, Mexico—probably not the effect the

LEFT Post transplant, 2011—"almost cut in half" | selfie in hospital mirror. ABOVE Newly fledged Carson on Chelan Butte's Between the Rocks launch, 2005






doctors were hoping their advice would have!” Flying had still not found a place in his repertoire of active sports. Fast-forward to 2005. By then Carson had moved to Leavenworth, Washington, an alpine-style town nestled in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, where he continued to work with at-risk youth and pursue his favorite activities. And then he discovered paragliding, which he immediately recognized as the perfect fit—simple and portable—for his lifestyle, love of travel, and dreams of flying. He signed up for a lesson package with Doug and Denise (USHPA’s 2004 Paragliding Instructors of the Year) at nearby Aerial Paragliding’s Hay Canyon Ranch, and was immediately addicted, both to the experience and to the camaraderie of his fellow students and his instructors. Doug and Denise were aware of Carson’s health issues, but, says Denise, “it didn’t really show in his attitude or energy. And though he was respectful of our methods for safety and ‘by the book’ approach, you did get the sense that he wasn’t interested in limiting himself and was more ‘fun first, caution second’, where most students have the reverse approach.” From the get-go, Carson fully immersed himself in the flying community, forging deep friendships and taking advantage of the ease of traveling with a paraglider to explore sites both near home and, during the unflyable stretch of the NW winter, traveling to popular winter flying destinations. Mountain sites, especially hike-and-fly launches, were his passion. As his skills developed, he began working with Doug to obtain his tandem rating, knowing that being able to share his passion for flight with friends and family would be the greatest high imaginable. Meanwhile, his TIPS had been doing its thing, with annual adjustments and replacement of the stents. He built a log home, and with his close friend

I FIRST MET CARSON while I was still a trainee in the spring of 2012. I would see Carson regularly, almost monthly, to change out drains that had been placed into his newly transplanted liver to help it drain bile that it was not draining well on its own. Our team tried multiple times to take his drains out without success. Despite these setbacks, Carson always had a positive attitude and a wonderful spirit. These drains that were keeping him alive also caused him to lose weight. And they got in the way—with playing with his beautiful kids, with doing the activities he loves to do. When I finished my training I decided to make it my goal to help Carson become drainfree. I was frank with him. I wanted his drains out as much as he did, but given his prior inability to tolerate removal, I was not sure it would work. So we made a plan that took months.

LEFT Tumwater's totem, 2008. ABOVE Carson at his favorite hike-&-fly site, Tumwater, in 2015 | photos by Ryan Audett.

Remove them slowly and plan every step. Then finally—success! The day Carson’s drains were removed

Trish adopted two young boys. But in 2011, Carson says, “it came to the point where no more stents could fit,” and he suffered some bleeding episodes due to the resulting hypertension. One was so severe that he needed 26 units of blood in Wenatchee just to stabilize him enough to air-ambulance him across the Cascades to the University of Washington Medical Center, in Seattle. His family and friends, of course, gathered at the hospital. “My boys were told they would never talk to me again, and I would not make it through the night,” Carson recalls, and adds, almost gleefully, “Wrong!!” Kristine, a close friend and fellow paraglider pilot, was with Carson that night. She’d received a phone call telling her that “if I wanted to say goodbye, I had to go NOW.” She drove across the mountains to Seattle that night, and made her way up to Carson’s hospital room where “we were greeted by family members, and his many friends who rallied around him. They showed up

from all walks of life and from all over the country. In the moment of truth we were all waiting for, it was time to see if Carson would make it. When he woke up in the morning and asked, ‘Is this what I need to do to get all of you in one place at once?’ we laughed, we cried, we celebrated.” Even in these darkest hours, as visitors were allowed into his room in the ICU one at a time, Carson was overheard promising tandem flights to everyone just as soon as he could. Kristine and her husband, along with many others, treasure their coupons for a free tandem flight with Carson: “Come Fly with Me.” Some day, hopefully soon… Ryan, who learned to fly at the Ranch with Carson, recalls these difficult days. “His free spirit was grounded. I’ve never been around someone with such a great attitude during such a challenging time. Many tears were shed and we said our good byes on more than one occasion, seeming that the inevitable was a night away. But he fought. A liver

reminded me of why I had pursued medicine. Moments like this keep us motivated and humble. The entire staff in our department had come to know Carson well. In a place where bad news can be broken, where people can be told there may be no cure, we instead were all celebrating his success with him. Where drains once stayed for two long years, now two small bandages held their place. Carson has been an inspiration to me in treating other patients with a similar problem. Now that he is drainfree, he has gained his life, confidence, and health back. He can now play with his children and go paragliding again without worrying about two tubes getting in the way. I will never forget Carson’s smile and spirit. I enjoy hearing from him from time to time, hearing that he’s healthy and loving life. Stay healthy, Carson!

- Dr. Christopher Ingraham, M.D.



“Enjoy this time in which we live, when design and engineering let us take to the sky with our feet off the ground and our head in the clouds.” transplant happened, but with a body worn down and a spirit wounded.” Indeed, a liver transplant was the only viable option remaining for Carson; fortunately, within a few months a suitable donor was found. The identity of the donor and her family remains a mystery, but “all I have is gratitude and appreciation,” says Carson. He quickly discovered that “transplantation is no joke—I was alive, breathing, and almost cut in half!” Recovery was slow and arduous, giving Carson lots of time to ruminate on “all the hard questions in life, what gave me the most meaning and joy. The memories I wanted to take with me,” he concluded, “were ones of joy and bliss with people I loved. I wanted to leave a wake of positive vibes that rippled through time and space. I wanted to know Mother Earth intimately and Father Time passionately. I set my sights and gave out coupons to all who helped my journey toward health. Come fly with me, friends, and share the stoke that is free flight!” But there remained a huge gap between the reality of the present and his hopes for the future. Paragliding memories and dreams and friendships helped bridge that gap. “I found when I wasn’t well it helped to flood my body with positive thoughts, and flying was a big bank account for me to do so,” he explains, and adds, “It seems to lift the human spirit to defy gravity and live close to nature. Paragliding was that outlet in my life.” About a year ago he returned to his paragliding roots at the Ranch, to “get my wings back and boost my confidence,” he says. Denise Reed, his original instructor 10 years ago at the Ranch, recalls his return vividly. “When he showed up he looked so different. You could see the effects on his health



in weight loss, but then he smiled and it was exactly the same, possibly even brighter. His life force was definitely undiminished! Watching him get out on the hill and make that first flight back was a beautiful thing to witness, inspiring to say the least. Such a small thing we can take for granted, and to see it through the eyes of someone who thought they would likely never be able to experience flight again, it’s the biggest thing there is. I’m grateful to Carson for how he faced what he did with humor and courage and continually demonstrating how to appreciate every day.” Fortunately, Carson says, “it takes more mental toughness than physical toughness to paraglide. I’ve been easing back into our local hike-and-fly site Tumwater, in Leavenworth. This past winter I celebrated my one-year anniversary with no drain tubes (see sidebar) by flying in Yelapa, Mexico, which was extra-special because my docs said I could not travel to less developed countries.” No worries, though—he took his mother along, and wore his helmet! When I met Carson last July, he looked tan and fit, but when he lifted his T-shirt to show me his surgery scars, it was obvious that his body has taken a beating. He estimates that he’s about 85% back to his previous level, and is working hard to regain that last 15%. “I still need about 25 pounds of mostly muscle, which I’m finding is easier said than done. I can do most activities I want, but a bit reserved for sure. Snowboarding, rafting, wake surfing, SUP, and of course paragliding keep me active.” His love for his boys, Avie and Collin, is a huge motivator to keep him moving forward toward full recovery. “I am living that to the fullest I can,” he says. Those who know Carson well appre-

ciate the depths of that fullness. Fellow paraglider pilot Kristine says, “Knowing Carson is easy. As soon as you meet him, it’s as though you are already a part of his circle and important to him. His bright spirit and calm demeanor have the ability to slow down time when you are with him, although the activities you may find yourself doing with Carson are anything but calm! His love for life is about fellowship with others, and his intention is what makes the moments special and keeps you alive in that moment.” She sees in Carson a focus on “making memories through generous experiences that he wants to share with and give to others. Whether kicked back dangling your toes in a river talking about the deeper layers of life, catching thermals in Jackson Hole, or quoting Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ in a speech during my wedding ceremony, Carson’s ability to bring complete strangers

together and give them new experiences and friendships is a gift from his heart that he shares organically.” Carson’s journey back to health continues, slow and steady. Trish, his good friend and co-parent of his boys, rejoices to see him once again “forever watching the weather to get his feet off the ground yet another time!” With each flight, each hike, Carson is closely monitoring his strength and fitness level; he knows he needs to build up just a bit more of a reserve before he resumes working on his tandem rating. “So many have walked this journey with me, and were my strength when I was weak. I simply want to share the love of something that has given me so much,” he says. He’s confidently, steadily moving forward, determined that someday in the not-too-distant future, he’ll finally be able to redeem all those “Come fly with me!” coupons.

Kristine and Carson celebrate after a flight in Jackson Hole | photo by Cade Palmer. CENTER Carson snaps a selfie at Makapu'u, HI in 2010. BOTTOM Instructor Denise Reed helped Carson regain his wings post transplant, June 2014. ABOVE Flying at the Jackson Hole tram in 2010 | photo by Kristine Williams. BELOW Family portrait in the UW ICU: Avie, Carson, Trish, and Colli | photo by Tyler Stitt. LEFT TOP



Valle De Bravo, Mexico | photo by Antoine Boisellier



MAKE A CLOUD by Annette O'Neil


he process is the same in each Here’s how it works: case: Water in rising air condenses 1. Solar radiation heats up the around airborne “nuclei.” But there ground. are myriad methods by which that air 2. Warm parcels of air— gets to the condensation point in the “thermals”—develop, like bubbles, and first place. Some of these methods rise. are pretty violent, resulting in condi3. These thermals reach the condentions you’d never want to fly in. Many, sation level. however, can be read like maps—if you 4. Cumulus clouds begin to form. know what to look for. Today, we’ll be 5. Cooler air sinks down, taking looking at the upwards-pointing arrow the place of the warm parcels that rose that is the convective cloud. from the surface as thermals. This is Fair-weather convective clouds are called “subsidence.” pretty easygoing phenomena. They 6. The process repeats until the don’t need to be pushed around by ground isn’t warm enough to drive the surface winds in order to form. In fact, process, either because the sun sets they don’t like to be bullied like that. or the clouds become so prolific and (Horizontally oriented wind tends to thick that the solar radiation can’t get pull them apart as if it’s blowing out a through them to heat the ground. candle.) Instead, fair-weather convective After that six-step process produces cloud formation operates under its own the convective “roadmap,” we need a power: the mighty thermal. little more information in order to Since the thermal lift that creates successfully navigate the path it charts. these “puffies” is precisely the same If the center of the thermal tends to power that we use to get a boost, we can correspond with the center of a fairuse these clouds to locate the invisible weather cumulus cloud, where are the elevator. These conditions often make “shoulders” of the vertical road? And for brilliant paragliding or hang gliding, where’s the stop sign? because the conditions are delightfully The edges of this type of cloud tend easy to read. The cumulus cloud draws to be very clearly defined. The constant a more-or-less straight line from the downward air exchange of the subsidground to the top of the thermal. ence process (see #6, above) hollows A thermal is all that’s necessary to out gaps of sunny blue sky between the build a “fair-weather” cumulus cloud. cumulus clouds. This means it’s pretty

easy to tell where the lift will stop: just outside the cloud. The top of the cloud provides another handy indicator of the edge of the thermal. The air parcel, while it’s still on the rise, stays warmer than the air around it. When its temperature becomes equal to that of the surrounding air, it stops rising. Once it hits the stability* above condensation level, the cloud stops developing vertically. Because the stratosphere is super-stable, this type of cloud is unable to push its way in and, therefore, stops at the edge of the troposphere. (*Remember that “stability,” in this case, means a tendency to sink.) To determine if what you’re looking at is a fair-weather cumulus cloud, check for four giveaway characteristics: a smooth base; moderate (not towering) vertical development; copious amounts of blue sky in between individual cloud formations; development over a thermal “trigger,” such as a high point, darkcolored area or heat-generating surface on the ground. Fair-weather cumulus clouds are pretty difficult to mistake, and they’re a great way to get your “ups” on a sunny day. Use them to boost you up for your first thermal hang gliding or paragliding flights and to start your love affair with conditional instability.





FUN by Len Szafaryn

ABOVE Russ Detwiler over Elsinore.




wenty years ago, a 20-mile flight was a big deal in Southern California for paraglider pilots. Our learning curves back then were self-taught or based on word-of-mouth knowledge about flying cross-country. And participating in a major competiton almost always meant you were showing up inexperienced, unprepared, uninformed, and, certainly, lacking confidence. Even today, most pilots, both PG and HG, haven’t flown a 20-mile distance in a single flight. The Southern California XC League is a venue that’s leading the way for pilots to accelerate through the learning curve of both XC and competition flying. I spent a weekend earlier this year at a two-day event at Marshall Peak and was completely impressed by the enthusiasm of all the participants, the organizer, and the volunteers. At times the roles seemed completely interchangeable—which I think might be the secret to the success and repeatability of this yearly series. During the past few years, the League has excelled at overcoming the two major challenges of administering an ongoing event: maintaining organizer and participant enthusiasm, while also establishing a reliable and organized retrieval system. What makes a successful competition? In simplest terms, it’s an event where participants walk away eagerly anticipating the next event. Easier said than done, but a closer investigation into the inner workings of the SoCal XC League sheds some light on how to accomplish that goal. I talked with the main man, Aaron Price, along with a cross-section of pilot participants to find out what makes this league tick. You can follow the league at or





P-4 pilot flies an Ozone Delta 2

23 years flying experience flies a Niviuk Icepeak 8

2.5 years flying experience flies an Ozone Mojo 4 XS

3 years flying experience flies an Ozone Rush 4

What’s your most vivid memory or experience during a makes me push a little harder and try a little harder, and a goal league event? to shoot for. Flying with others and racing to goal broadens ALLAN THOE: My most vivid memory was the moment I my circle of friends and gives me a chance to fly with really launched from Elsinore and hit 10k. I had never been above good pilots. When I’m free-flying, it is easy to just go land 8k. I nearly hit 13k half-an-hour later. Four hours and nine for drinks, convenience, or out of boredom. Even flying with minutes later, I had more than tripled my longest flight and friends, everyone has different goals, or I’m with just a few— landed some 60 miles away at Hangar 24. two, three or four pilots. Having retrievals with the league is KATIE MYERS: Last fall, I acted as wind tech for the comalso huge and lets us do some long flights, without worrying bined SoCal/NorCal end-of-the-year meet in the Owens about how to get back. It makes going to a national comp less Valley. That weekend, I enjoyed three great launches, three intimidating and helps me get familiar with flying in larger great thermal flights, and three great landings. This was my groups and learn how to use my instruments better for racing first time flying in such big air, and it made me realize how far and completing the task format of the comps. I had come as a pilot and how much flying with the league had Has the league changed your overall perspective on flying? contributed to that. One very vivid memory occurred on the ALLEN: I now know that every good flight has at least one Day three task. Day two had been a bit slow to turn on, and good save. You’re never down-and-out, until you actually after I struggled to stay up during my flight, the launch time was postponed by a few hours and the task was relatively short. touch your feet to the ground. KATIE: When I first started flying, I was very intimidated So heading into Day three, the final day, I knew everybody by the sport and by the paragliding community. As a new, was eager for great flights and a long task. Immediately after nervous pilot and a naturally shy person, I felt out of place launch, though, I struggled to find lift. As I began sinking out and made the decision to head towards the LZ, I could almost amidst experienced pilots and was struggling to grow and even continue with the sport. My instructor did not have any hear the collective groan from the pilots on launch. I continother PG students at the time, so I was generally alone in my ued to search for lift as I headed out and was soon rewarded training, which contributed to my anxiety about flying. After with a fantastic thermal. And just like that, I was 1000 feet receiving my P-2, I struggled to find both pilots of a similar over launch, gazing down at a gaggle of 30 or so pilots, all of skill level and mentors with whom to fly. Being a part of the them staring back up at me. About a minute later, the gaggle league has helped to change all of this. Even before I was ready dispersed as everyone ran to get ready. to attempt a task, the league provided a community of friends It ended up being a great day all around, with nearly every and mentors who encouraged me to fly more often and impilot making goal. As for me, it was pretty cool to be the first pilot in the sky, looking down on everyone else, and being able prove my skills. I have really been able to learn a lot from more experienced pilots, which is helping me improve my confidence, to let them know that the day was on!  both in the air and on the ground. The league has also offered Has the league made it easier for you to get airtime and me many opportunities to give back to the flying community maintain your enthusiasm for flying? and become more involved.  JEFF WILLIAMS: The league gives me something fun to do,



How has the league changed your perspective on training and practice? KATIE: Before joining the league, I felt trapped by my nerves, my limited abilities, and the lack of community. I would stick only to the times of day and terrain with which I felt comfortable. This meant I did only late afternoon/ evening sled rides from Marshall for over a year, heading straight from launch to the LZ. It was only after I connected with the league that I felt comfortable stepping out of these boundaries. I drove retrieve for almost every meet in 2013 and 2014 and, afterwards, league organizer Aaron Price, as well as other league pilots, often volunteered their time to me, coming back up to launch to either fly with me or be on radio helping me develop my skills in thermaling, ridge soaring, and top landing. This was invaluable. The mentorship I received from league pilots helped give me the confidence to slowly step out of my comfort zone and fly earlier in the day, explore new terrain, and eventually start flying the Sprint tasks. The league definitely helped me change my perspective on what flying could be and what type of pilot I was capable of being! I am still very conservative, but I have the confidence now to practice more often and in varying conditions, which has definitely expanded my abilities as a pilot.  ALLEN: After the first event, I immediately signed up for an SIV course. I was not comfortable with the bumps I felt, nor was I capable of spiraling down if I needed to. Not only did



I complete the SIV because of my desire to compete in the league, I continue to work on my pilot skills so I can continue to compete and fly safely with other XC pilots. JEFF: It actually gives me the chance to practice having my instruments dialed in. And like any team sport or event, your improvement is exponential when you’re flying with other ambitious XC pilots.

Has the league changed your perspective on flying XC? ALLEN: This league has opened up my eyes and shown me that you can fly almost anywhere when conditions are right. There’s always another thermal out there, somewhere. I now know that every good flight has at least one good save. KATIE: Similar to racing, the league has taught me that XC flying, if done in suitable conditions, can be accomplished by pilots at many experience levels. Practicing XC is also a great way to improve your overall skills as a pilot, from thermaling and using speed bar, to flying in a gaggle. I have also learned that flying XC is a skill in itself. It requires pilots to think in new ways and pay attention to things that, while boating around a familiar site, they might not consider, such as reading terrain for thermal triggers, making decisions about what lines to fly based on the conditions, constantly thinking ahead about landing options, using instruments effectively, becoming familiar with air space, etc. I used to think that XC flying was reserved for very expe-

LEFT Happy pilots in goal at the Hangar 24 Brewery after a Marshall task.

rienced pilots, but the league has taught me that flying XC is actually a great way to become that better, more experienced pilot.

How has the league made it easier for you to get airtime and maintain your enthusiasm for flying? KATIE: The league has given me a great community, a place to learn, and the motivation to keep challenging myself as a pilot. I am eager to practice and improve my abilities, which has definitely influenced me to fly more often and increase my airtime. In addition to this, the confidence I have gained through my participation in the league, as well as the sense of belonging it has given me in the paragliding community, has definitely helped me branch out in other ways. I have recently taken solo paragliding trips to Mexico, Oregon, Arizona, and the Owens Valley, and felt completely comfortable reaching out to the local pilots and flying new sites. All in all, I would say that the league sort of opened the door to how great the sport of paragliding could be.  ALLEN: I love flying no matter what, so this has just given me an excuse to fly new sites and meet new people. Sometimes I am one of a few who sky out. Sometimes I am the only one who somehow can’t find the lift. But I always enjoy listening and learning from this group of pilots, and I definitely feel a sense of brotherhood among the pilots. How can pilots contribute to the overall health and growth of their league? ALLEN: All pilots can help by sharing their local knowledge about routes and weather to help contribute to calling successful tasks. This can assist the group in making decisions on a challenging, but doable (possibly) task for the conditions. Aaron knows his stuff, but his strongest attribute is knowing which local knowledge to use to help make important decisions concerning the events. KATIE: There are many ways pilots can contribute to the overall health and growth of their league. One of the best ways is just by showing up! It’s always a great time when there are many of us ready to fly together and support one another. Following protocol, such as registering for events on time and being prepared for the day, makes everything run more smoothly. Being familiar with the day’s conditions and, thus, able to give input on the task can also be very helpful to the league organizer. Beyond this, volunteering one’s time and effort to the league is an excellent way to contribute. This can include such things as driving retrieve, helping on launch, mentoring less experienced pilots, taking pics/videos (we know every pilot loves getting those), etc. And you definitely won’t go amiss

buying the league organizer a beer!

Aaron–how do you, the ringleader, maintain your enthusiasm for each new year of events? AARON: I guess the simple answer is to make the league a bit better each year. To do this, I need to listen to the participants and what they ask for, as well as look back on previous years and figure out what works and what doesn’t and go from there. An example: Splitting the league into Sprint and XC leagues. The biggest problem I’ve had with the league is keeping everyone happy, because of the wide range of skills. You’ve got new pilots with 100 hours coming out and wanting to try XC, and you’ve got some national or even world-class pilots who want to go big on good-weather days. I can’t charge $40-$50 for ride/task/retrieve/gas to the newbie who might bomb out at the first waypoint, but if I don’t challenge the top pilots, they will end up blowing off the league and maximizing the day by themselves. However, I need both pilots, if I want to grow the league. We always need new pilots coming out, but we also need top pilots to bring maturity and skill and advice to the newbies. In the Sprint league, I have an entry-level XC format that allows newer pilots a chance to tag at least a few turnpoints, fly in milder conditions, and get a chance to play with their instruments. I can also charge a lot less for this, since I can usually skip having retrieve drivers and do a self-retrieve. This makes it easier to attract new pilots to the league, which is really important. Most likely, those new pilots will find a community within the league and end up moving to the XC league the next year. I also decided that a new scoring formula was needed for the Sprint league, in order to emphasize the right fundamentals to new pilots. Essentially, I did away with everything except pure distance points, so pilots will value making it around the course, rather than trying to fly fast. I also make every Sprint task an elapsed time, so pilots can launch as early or late in the day as they like and not feel pressured to launch in stronger mid-day conditions. Now that I have an entry-level league to keep newer pilots happy, I don’t have to feel pressured about setting challenging tasks for the XC league. This has attracted and kept more people coming out, since the goal with each task is to maximize the day and perhaps fly somewhere new and interesting. This also attracts other pilots who have stayed away from the league because they fear that competition will ruin the fun of their flying. When they hear about their buddies’ epic flights with the league, they’ll be more inclined to come out next time and partake in the adventure.



How do you attract new blood to the sport each season? AARON: I’ve learned over the years that you will always have attrition in the league. Pilots get bored, move away, take up different hobbies, have families, etc., at which time you might see them only occasionally or not at all. So to keep the league a decent size we need to attract new pilots. Advertising at different sites and word-of-mouth are great and do bring in some pilots. Facebook groups have made it very easy to let people know we exist and, certainly, creating our own SoCal XC League group on Facebook has attracted a lot of attention and helped build the community by sharing pics, videos and stories in a way that people want to see (rather than through mailing lists). However, to attract new pilots we need to figure out what barriers are in the way of pilots coming out, and try to dispel false beliefs or remove the barriers. One method, as mentioned, is the Sprint league. But another huge barrier is lack of knowledge of what flying a task entails or requires and how pilots use their instruments to fly and record a task. So in the past few years, I’ve setup an XC Task Clinic to essentially boot-strap pilots with the knowledge they need to use their instruments and fly a task. This has been, by my standards, very successful. Each time I have a class it is full, and I have requests for future dates. Another barrier is that pilots don’t think they can afford the fancy new instruments to fly tasks. So I’ve become somewhat proficient in several cell-phone versions of flight software, such as FlySkyHy for iOS and XCSoar for Android. Since everyone has a smart phone now, this provides an easy



answer for many people to set up and record a task. Once you start talking to new pilots and giving them these solutions, you start seeing them come out to the league much more readily.

How do you juggle the complexity of Southern California flying, an area with an incredibly diverse set of meteorological and topographical conditions, with the wide range of pilots’ skills? AARON: The main complaint pilots voiced was that they were tired of boring, small tasks. As previously mentioned, setting up the Sprint league has freed us to go bigger more often; however, there were other details to figure out. Part of this involved removing barriers that stand in the way of flying different XC routes. Around Marshall, this meant we needed to get up to speed on the exact areas and regulations dictated by the Indian reservation and the Redlands acro area to the east, so we can set courses that won’t get us in trouble. It also means flying new sites and working closely with site gurus to get accurate weather predictions and beta on potential routes for the day. Finally, I try to set tasks with the pilots who are present in mind, and set tasks for them that are fun and challenging at the same time. Most pilots want to make the most of the day, so ideally we set a task that takes a few hours or more, but allows potential for most or all pilots present to make goal, if they fly well and with the group. Also, ending a task at a location where people can drink beer seems to keep pilots happy. Finally, I’ve realized it’s important to try new things and potentially fail

or succeed spectacularly. For the past year or so, I’ve been constantly increasing the distance of tasks and flights to new areas. Sometimes I get doubtful looks from pilots as to the difficulty of the task; however, 95% of the time we get a surprising number of pilots in goal, much to the excitement of everyone. As soon as we’ve done it once, the task becomes almost trivial to do again, provided we get half-decent weather. So we keep pushing out and trying new things, while operating within safety margins in the routes planned to keep the flying both fun and safe. In order to keep pushing boundaries, I’ve added a number of “challenge” points to the waypoint list that would be the next logical destination, once we’ve proved that the first portion of that flight works.

Pilot gaggles both in the air and on the ground are known for their sometimes eccentric behaviors. How did you manage to gather, organize, and lead so many often diverse personalities into such a successful and focused series of events ? AARON: This one was tricky for me to figure out. I spent a few years flying a lot with the NorCal League, which really set the bar for running monthly league events. The community they have developed and the numbers they consistently get out put the SoCal league to shame for a few years. I think, at first, I was trying to figure out how to make the SoCal League like the NorCal League. After some time, I realized that this was counter-productive and, instead, I should embrace what we have going on down here and set up the league

around the way pilots fly and interact in our area. First, our biggest supporters are the San Diego pilots (though this is slowly changing, as we get pilots from all over coming out more often) so I wanted to do more events in San Diego to keep engaging those pilots. We’ve now added several sites (Horse, Laguna, Palomar and Lake Elsinore) to the league’s potential locations in the past years. Having these new sites to fly rather than relying on the same one or two sites has kept pilot engagement levels very high. Next, I realized that the way a lot of pilots fly in our area is flexible. During good weather, a few pilots will start a discussion a few days before flying and start narrowing down sites. The final call may wait until the night before, or the day of, to get out all the pilots. This can be difficult to do in the league, where each site traditionally has its own waypoints, and people may drive far to get to one specific site. However, this year I’ve managed to get all the waypoints for the SoCal area onto one file, so wherever the final call is located, pilots will have waypoints loaded and ready to go. The reason this works so well in our area is that we have so many sites within close proximity that have distinct weather patterns. I also realized that leaving the site choice until the last minute was not a deterrent to getting out big groups of pilots. Quite the contrary. When we try to aim for the best site for the given day, we get a lot more pilots attending, rather than splitting the pilot base between those who want to fly a task and those who want to fly the best site.

Going into your third season, are there things you’re looking to modify or streamline? AARON: It’s a lot of effort running the league, and it’s easy to spend time on things that don’t matter to most pilots. I used to think that people cared about trophies and prizes and sponsorship for the league. However, after sending out questionnaires for several years, it became apparent that these things were the least important. This is just one example of things I don’t spend nearly as much time on anymore. At the end of the day, most pilots just care about having a good time and getting a good flight, and the XC league is becoming a very easy answer to both of those needs. There are various other things I’ve done in the past, but due to the amount of effort required, have phased out, with no complaints from league members. The next big goal I’m working on is automating a lot of the busywork involved in setting up registration, task submission, scoring and retrieval into a unified platform. It’s a big job, but I’m hoping it will cut down on a huge portion of my work in the long run and become a useful tool for anybody else who wants to run a cross-country league.



Alex McCulloch flying in Colorado.





Part XVIII : Extraordinary Circumstances by Dennis Pagen


want my flying to be ordinary, meaning, I want to take o, bag some airtime, maybe some distance and land gently as a marshmallow on a mattress. No drama. But in 41 years of flying I have experienced perhaps 10 or 20 extraordinary circumstances where my attention was commanded or my control skills were demanded, or both. Some of these extraordinary



circumstances happened to other pilots nearby; some of them happened to me. Under the extraordinary circumstances I am happy to say I am still here. Probably, if you fly long enough, fate will conspire to deliver your own circumstances, so to avoid paying the alligator it is wise to review what happened to others. The little nuggets

of experience somewhere in limbo in your limbic system sometimes pop up when you need them and weasel you out of a dire situation.. So let’s start big.

TUMBLES I have never tumbled, although I have been upside down twice (described next month). But I have witnessed

19 tumbles. OK, 15 of them happened to one guy on one flight, but that makes five pilots who I saw flash unintentional topside. All of them lived to tell about it, and I have interviewed several other pilots in the tumble club. Once in a while a glider will go over in slow motion, but in most cases the action is sudden and abrupt. The out-of-control pilotsin-command report that they were flying blithely along, then suddenly their perspective was inverted. In short, you will often have no time to react. The reaction comes after the initial flip. Note to newer pilots: Remember, we are reviewing extraordinary circumstances in order to follow the Boy Scouts’ motto—be prepared, or be repaired. Most pilots never encounter tumbling conditions.


There seem to be two posttumbling scenarios: 1. The glider is intact and may even be flying upside down. 2. The glider is broken and either thrashing or it enters a high-G spiral. In the first case you may be able to right the glider by moving to one side (the glider is less stable with you on top of it, as opposed to when you’re hanging below) if, that is, you have enough altitude, and if you are not tangled around an upright or lower wire, as is often the case. The important matter is to assess the situation quickly and attempt to fix things. If the fix fails, it’s time to toss your rescue ’chute. In the second case, there is no time to lose. You must get your parachute out and billowing open as fast as possible. If you don’t, you may


be injured by flailing parts, wrapped up and unable to move, incapacitated by G forces (you can’t pull an arm in to reach the parachute handle) or rendered unconscious by vertigo. Tumbling is a bad rap, but the good part is, almost invariably adrenalin renders you lucid and ready for action. You are not terrorized until later when matters have stabilized. Because of this ability to react, all the practice of emergency parachute deployment that you performed— you have, haven’t you?—will have you looking for the handle, pulling the bag out, looking for a clearing and tossing into the airflow. Remember the long-stated rule: When in doubt, whip it out. We shouldn’t leave this fascinating (or mortifying) subject without


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talking an ounce of prevention. There are several important ways to avoid tumbling. Some are easy: Don’t fly in inland winds over 15 mph (shears and rotors can tumble you), don’t fly in the lee side of large objects, and don’t do aerobatics. The guy I watched tumble 15 times—about one per second—was attempting his first loop, blew it, but received a miraculous second chance. Thirty pilots watched him tumble over and over as he clasped onto the base tube. The fact is, he was wigged out and couldn’t respond—not an uncommon reaction. He never attempted to deploy, but after multiple tumbles the G forces slowly pulled out his parachute; it blossomed and slowed the rotation. But the parachute bridle had wrapped around the glider in the process, so the canopy was constricted. It went through cycles of opening wide, then collapsing and dropping the pilot. In the end, the parachute collapsed about 12 feet off the ground and he hit hard, but walked away with a small broken bone and,

hopefully, more sense. Another way to avoid tumbling is to pay attention, wise up and perfect your technique in thermals. It is in thermal conditions and during thermaling that most tumbles occur. Pilots making wide circles and flying slowly are the most vulnerable. Flatter turns tend to keep you in the turbulent boundaries of the thermal and generally make you fly slower. Both of these factors leave you more tumble-prone. The steeper you are banked, the faster your airspeed of minimum sink, so you have more maneuvering speed to stave off an inadvertent pitch or roll excursion. In seriously strong thermals, it is important to maintain a very steep bank and even exit the thermal in a steep banked turn to get through the sharp edge shear. If you are flying straight and suddenly encounter strong turbulence, the defensive position is to have your VG set on one-quarter, grip the base tube very firmly and place the bar somewhere between your sternum

and belly navel. This forward position of your body renders your glider more dynamically pitch stable. The last thing to think about is why did you encounter such strong turbulence? Could it have been avoided? Did it make a man out of you or did it take away a bit of machismo?

THE TERRIBLE TURN Sometimes you are flying blithely along, minding your own business when a rude bit of rowdy air slaps you across the wing. The result can be surprise fear and a quick scramble to recover flying and mental equilibrium. One such errant blast hit me from above and ripped the base tube out of my one hand while I barely held on with the other. In my view, if I hadn’t been so centered on my glider, or if I had been going slower, I might have tumbled. A couple of years ago at Monte Cucco in Italy, I was circling in a smooth thermal with a friend above me. Suddenly my glider dove nearly vertical and dipped left. I lost about

Photo by Felix Cantesanu



100 feet before I regained control and composure. I steered back into that thermal and it was still moderate and smooth. My friend above said he thought I had performed the maneuver intentionally, but not so. In both of these instances, the predatory swirl pounced without warning. In such a situation, you can only go into defensive mode, then reestablish normal flight as soon as possible. The main point of this discussion is we must always be ready for anything in the air. Quick, correct reactions will save the day, and having ingrained the automatic response will win the day. There are many times when I have been seesawed, dipped and tipped less dramatically than the above incidents and have merely smiled at the air’s feeble attempts to faze me, because I was prepared and ready for nearly anything. One of the most dramatic unintentional turns I experienced occurred during a landing final in a narrow field. The wind was 90 degrees cross to the

field’s long axis, so it spilled over and through the trees. We deal with the difficulty in this situation by landing later in the day and carrying plenty of airspeed on final for maximum control. On the day of my surprise, I followed the above procedures, but just as I was transitioning to upright, a hot thermal punched my right wing up and aided by the right cross wind, turned me leftward until I was headed directly at the trees. My immediate reaction was to utter an expletive while doing a pull-up on the right upright. The effect was to lower the glider’s nose while inputting a right roll control. Essentially, I was quickly in a diving right turn. I barely missed the trees, but as soon as the glider initiated a right roll I had to level it out with a left control. The glider swooped to the ground, I flared and landed on my feet. It wasn’t pretty, but I saved a sure crash and a sure loss of cash. During that incident I was flying a Litespeed S, in competition tune.

It wasn’t the easiest handling glider, and who knows if I would have been whomped so much by the thermal if I had an easy glider, but the point here—and the point of this whole piece—is that you have to react quickly, properly and continuously all the way to the sweet (or bitter) end.


ylan Thomas wrote: “Do not go gently into that dark night, but rage, rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I would modify his line to say: “Do not go weakly when turned in flight, but engage, engage, engage and keep flying with a fight”… or something like that. Do not give up the ship. We must always expect the unexpected. Then, in the rare instances we encounter the extraordinary we must react promptly and properly. Think about the possibilities and be prepared to beat the reaper. Next month we will explore more extraordinary circumstances.



Nelson Howe in Mina Junction, NV.

by Lawrence Lehman


nce upon a time, I was in the Owens Valley on one of my thenannual attempts to fly far from Horseshoe Meadows. I was traveling with two East Coast road partners,



Mike Neuman and Nelson Howe, as well as Annie Valdes, who was driving for us. As is customary at Horseshoe (or Walt’s, as others now call it), we were set up and ready to launch by 9:30

that morning, when the east-facing launch becomes soarable. For those who’ve not flown Horeshoe: It is located on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada range, 5000 feet above the valley floor.

Even on days when the prevailing a chance of finding a low save off the winds are blowing over the back from Alabama Hills in the middle of the the west, the early heating of that vast, valley. By the time he launched, about stony, east-facing slope provides gentle 11:00, the valley might be working. In thermals that allow an early start for any event, it beat the hell out of trying cross-country flights. to climb in the Sierra rotor. However, that morning the westerNelly waited for a good launch cycle lies were unusually strong, as was soon and executed our agreed flight plan, shown on the shredded cumies rapidly flying straight out to the valley, where drifting over the back from the west. he wound up scratching on a small Nonetheless, the morning thermals insouth-facing ridge above the highway. dicated it was clearly launchable within The valley winds were already coming the giant Sierra rotor. Even so, the from the south, as they almost always strong winds aloft produced a collecdo in the Owens. tive hesitation to launch. On one level, I was up next, but as the westerlies we knew it was a bad idea to fly. But were now beginning to show themsuch manly pilots as we weren’t going selves at launch, I had to wait a bit for a to break down. Actually, we should suitable launch cycle. When it came, I have known better than to fly. Owens launched aggressively and began to fly resident Mark Gibson, aka Gibbo, one out into the valley, as Nelly had done. of the most fearless pilots I have ever However, conditions had further deknown, and his then-girlfriend, Kari teriorated, and while Nelly’s glide had Castle, both decided not to even set up. been uneventful, I began to experience We began to launch, one by one, an endless-seeming series of violent, with increasing delays before the next turbulent hammerings, as though god lemming jumped, while we digested the were punishing my stupidity by repeatmanifestly ugly flights of the previous edly pounding on the upper surface and launchers. First off was the excellent thundering, “Stupid little insect!” From Geoff Loyns. His launch was uneventlaunch, Kari Castle later told me that ful, but as he turned towards the spine it looked as if I was constantly being to the right of launch, turbulence bounced off the keel. While, in fact, I violently rolled him towards the rocky never did hit the keel, I had a truly vislope. His instantaneous, aggressive cious ride, until I flew into the clear. It reaction narrowly saved him from slam- was so bad that only until I was well out ming into the hill. Soon after, he flew into the smooth air, did I dare release out into the valley to land and launder my death grip on the base tube to zip his soiled shorts. my harness. Next off was Mike who, having been Everyone else broke down. chastened by Geoff’s spooky close-in exMeanwhile, after a 3500-foot glide, perience, chose to fly further away from I arrived over the southern end of the the hill. He was duly (and turbulently) Alabama Hills. There I found only flushed to the valley below. That flight weak, broken trash in which I dribbled occasioned another delay before the towards the northern end of the hills, next victim found the courage to launch. drifting ever lower. Nelly had finally This was Nelly who, after discussing landed up there, and I presumed I with me what we’d seen in the previous would be joining him shortly. Now flights, decided that the only sensible down to six or seven hundred feet above thing to do was to dive off launch and the highway, I began to work some fly straight out into the valley to pass weak ridge lift on that southerly-facing beyond the leeside turbulence. Our hill and soon encountered an equally hope was that one might then stand weak thermal. Having nothing to lose,






and miles of landable terrain to the 1993 Worlds, at which time, on home Flying off the Whites and into north along US 395, I committed to ground, the US Team won its only Nevada, conditions became more difthe thermal and began an agonizing, Gold Medal. ficult. In the Whites, the clouds had drifting climb alongside the road. After I had climbed atop the range been rather sparse, and as I headed into After passing Manzanar, the infabehind Black Mountain, I cruised easily, Nevada, they were even less common, mous WW2 Japanese internment camp, albeit slowly, in the now-light winds only to be found atop the smaller and I steadily, if still slowly, climbed and fialoft. Heading north, I crossed the vast disorganized mountains out there. nally topped out the thermal at 15,000 rocky maw in front of White Mountain, Annie and the van finally caught up feet, near Independence, 15 miles north before passing behind the historic to me in the desert. In the car with her of where I had first picked it up. The Gunter and Paiute launches. Next I were the disconsolate Mike and Nelly. climb had finally led to one of several spotted the 12,000’-high Pellisier Flats, They had accompanied her after having cumulus clouds that, unusually for the site of some of the earliest sky-camping been picked up 115 miles back in Lone Owens Valley, had formed mid-valley. expeditions (sadly, Geoff Loyns died Pine, in the vain expectation that I, too, These clouds allowed me to easily move there many years later in a sailplane would soon be landing. By now bored northeastward for another 25 miles, accident), before coming to Boundary and intoxicated, they stopped at Mina before jumping onto Black Mountain, Peak, the last of the Whites. Junction, a desert crossroads with the ironically named south end of the As its name suggests, Boundary nothing to mark it but an abandoned White Mountain range. marks the border with Nevada, as did concrete foundation distinguished by a The 14,000-foot-high, 50-mile-long, the infamous Janie’s Ranch brothel on bold MONDO DUDE graffito. While harsh and unforgiving Whites are the highway below it. In the earliest waiting for me to climb out above Pilot one of the great racing ridges of hang days of hang gliding competitions, Mountain behind it, Annie instructed gliding. They have been the setting for Janie’s provided gift certificates to Nelly to strip naked and climb onto many of the greatest and wildest early the winners of the Owens Valley XC the colorfully decorated concrete for a hang gliding contests, as well as the Classics. But I digress. photo. Ever mindful of the harsh desert



conditions, Nelly complied by stripping to all but his desert boots and hat. The spectacular resulting photo still occupies an honored place on our wall. But, again, I digress. North of Mina (the town where a young Chuck Yeager and his WW2 fighter-pilot buddies patronized its brothels), I was flushed off the low mountain and into the valley. Nelly and Mike were kicking dust to indicate my landing direction, as I overflew the van at 350 feet with my harness open. However, at that point I ran into a solid thermal that once again took me to 17,000 feet. From that vantage point, I was able to cross the next low mountain range and fly northeast into the desolate Gabbs Valley beyond. (I had landed at the town of Gabbs a couple of years before, on my longest Owens cross-country flight, but the place had since gotten its name in history as the spot where a local driver named Melvin

claimed to have picked up a very disheveled, bearded hitchhiker by the name of Howard Hughes.) Passing across the valley west of Gabbs, I soon observed a profound change in the clouds. The cumulus clouds were now multiplying and rapidly overdeveloping. Soon the sky became completely overcast, although at first I had no trouble staying near cloudbase while flying through curtains of snow. As I continued my bizarre zero-sink glide northward, I felt as if I were flying along the 17,000’-high ceiling of a vast dark hall. It was surreal. The zero sink soon disappeared, and I began a long final glide to the now gloomy earth below. Nearing 8:00 under the overcast sky, it was apparent that the day was done; however, I still believed I might glide far enough to get my first 200-mile flight. But this remarkable day had one more surprise in store for me, which

explained the suddenly overcast sky: a headwind. The previous southerly surface winds had encountered a strong northerly wind. The resulting air-mass collision created the enormous convergence clouds under which I had, at first, been so effortlessly gliding. Now, as I descended further, I began to experience the full force of a 20mph headwind that swatted me to the ground 10 miles short of the 200-mile mark. The van was waiting as I landed, and I was grateful for the help I received in breaking the glider down in the gusty desert wind. Measuring 190 miles, the flight was both my longest cross-country to date, and at 8:40 hours, my longest duration. It was not a bad outcome for the single dumbest launch decision I have ever made as a hang glider pilot. Sometimes it truly is better to be lucky than good.




YOGA Still Your

GLIDER Still Your

MIND by Sofia Puerta Webber photos by Anna Van Fleet


elcome to flying yoga. I would like to help you create a healthy routine and incorporate endurance, strength, balance and flexibility into your life. I will share with you simple yoga postures, exercises and tips that can become an important part of your flying lifestyle. When we fly we need to be focused and concentrate; our lives depend on it. Even though many thoughts cross our minds such as check the glider, the direction of the wind, other pilots,



thermals, obstacles, landing options, the mind is focused on one action: flying. If we wander about other things such as issues at work, situations at home, remembering the past or planning the future, we immediately bring our mind back into flying. That awareness allows for a certain meditation state. Yes, when we fly we meditate! You have a smile on your face, especially when the conditions are excellent and you are having a good time. Perhaps you have noticed a certain degree of

peace, happiness and stillness, a level of satisfaction, love and appreciation towards life, the sport and our flying community. If you would like to experience these feelings of joy, appreciation and love in your daily life you will have to train your mind. Let’s understand how the mind works by comparing it with your glider. Based on the yoga sutras, the mind has six states in the process of meditation, like those you had to face in the process of learning to fly. Remember?

In your first lesson you used force instead of knowledge in your eort to keep the glider steady and still. You were breathing fast and your muscles were tense. In your frustration for not being able to do what your instructors showed you, you blamed the wind, the lack of food, the heat or the instructor. The glider was all over the place! At the beginning the same happens to the mind. This state is called Kshipta, which in Sanskrit means scattered, dispersed. Thoughts and feelings flow over and over. Perhaps some people called you crazy but you kept practicing. In the next lesson you were more comfortable with the glider and little by little developed the skills to stabilize it like your instructor showed you, although the wind and the glider were still playing tricks on you. You were tired, thirsty or hungry. Your body and your ego were achy. The second state of the mind is called Mudha meaning dullness. Then you understood the glider a little better and you were able to keep it under control in spite of the wind. Less strength was required. Your muscles were more relaxed. This third state of the mind is called Vikshipita, or gathering/centering. The mind, like the glider, is focused in one thing and is easily guided. With more practice the glider started doing what you really wanted. You were ready to take o and land. No matter how many times you had to climb that hill, you did it! You forgot how thirsty you were—flying was your goal! You felt more enjoyment and centeredness. Time started to fly! This fourth state of the mind is Ekagrata, when the mind is focused and concentrated. Your started soaring and went high. Now you knew what the instructor was going to tell you even before you heard it on the radio. Now you were allowed to take o and land by yourself. At this point of the process, you and the glider

developed a great relationship. The glider felt like an extension of you. You were flying! This fifth state of the mind is Niruddha, full concentration. After more practice you flew in unison with your glider. The wind, the thermals, the clouds, the sun, the other pilots, the birds, the mountains, all felt like one. This state is called Samadhi, supreme bliss or absorption. The mind is not easy to control. Like flying, meditation requires three main things: practice, practice and more practice. Let’s commit for a month, 15 minutes per day. Ready? Sit, concentrate, meditate! t'JOEBQMBDFJOXIJDIZPVGFFM comfortable. Sit on a chair or in a cross-legged position. Keep your spine straight, shoulders relaxed and your head aligned with your back. Support your back with your glider if you like, as shown in the image above. t1MBDFZPVSIBOETPOZPVSLOFFT  palms up, in chin mudra, thumb and index fingers touching. t4PGUFOUIFNVTDMFTPGZPVSGBDF Close your physical eyes or gaze at a point in the ground. t'FFMUIFPYZHFODPNJOHJOUISPVHI your nose. Your abdomen expands as the lungs fill with air and contracts as your breathe out. Be aware of each inhala-

tion, each exhalation and the brief pause between them. t'PMMPXUIFSIZUINPGZPVSCSFBUI with your mind.

TIPS t*GZPVGFFMBOJUDIJOFTTPSBTMJHIUJSSJtation in your body or ego, acknowledge it and let it go! t*GZPVSNJOEXBOEFST CSJOHJUCBDL to your breath. Be patient! t&WFSZNPNFOUJTBOPQQPSUVOJUZUP meditate. Be present! You will gain the ability to calm your inner weather and control your mind, bringing wellness into your life. The action of non-doing that sitting meditation requires takes discipline, perhaps the same discipline and commitment you have for flying. If you learned to pilot your glider, you certainly can learn to maneuver your mind. Fly high! Tell me how you feel. Sofia Puerta Webber is a journalist, certified yoga therapist, fitness instructor and pilot in the San Diego area. She conducts Flying Yoga sessions on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. at Torrey Pines Gliderport, La Jolla, CA and is the founder of Paragliding and Yoga tours. For more information visit











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RENEW your membership at to participate in our Green initiative. Online renewal is only available to current members, and members who have been expired less than 3 years. Members who have been expired more than 3 years must contact the USHPA office.

CALENDAR CLINICS & TOURS SEP 5-9 > Cross-country and open-distance 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 SEP 19-20 > Site Pioneering. Utah sites with Ken


CALENDAR & CLASSIFIED CALENDAR, CLINIC & TOUR LISTINGS 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), re-used Nyloc nuts, loose thimbles, frayed or rusted cables, tangs with non-circular holes, and on flex wings, sails badly torn or torn loose from their anchor points front and back on the keel and leading edges. PARAGLIDING ADVISORY: Used paragliders should always be thoroughly inspected before flying for the first time. Annual inspections on paragliders should include sailcloth strength tests. Simply performing a porosity check isn’t sufficient. Some gliders pass porosity yet have very weak sailcloth.

If in doubt, many hang gliding and paragliding businesses will be happy to give an objective opinion on the condition of equipment you bring them to inspect. BUYERS SHOULD SELECT EQUIPMENT THAT IS APPROPRIATE FOR THEIR SKILL LEVEL OR RATING. NEW PILOTS SHOULD SEEK PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTION FROM A USHPA CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR.

Hudonjorgensen. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email, or

SEP 21 - OCT 1, OCT 2-12> Paracrane European

Tour. Austria, Slovenia, and Italy. "The Sound of Music" meets the X-Alps! 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: nick@paracrane. com, 541-840-8587, or

SEP 28 - OCT 3 > Red Rocks Fall Fly-in, Richfield Utah with Ken Hudonjorgensen and Stacy Whitmore. More info: Phone 801- 971-3414, email twocanfly@, or OCT 12-22, 23-29 & OCT 29 - NOV 9 > Iquique,

NOV 15 - APR 17 > Valle de Bravo, Mexico - Yes, great flying and fun during the months Nov. through April in central Mexico. Hang gliding and paragliding. Team FlyMexico has been at this over 20 years and continues to offer packages for all levels, big selection of wings, more local knowledge than anyone, and the attitude to keep it all fun and safe. Basic package is in and out on Sundays with lodging and airport pickup and return included. Thinking about your winter flying? Think FlyMexico based in Valle de Bravo, Mexico More Info: Jeff Hunt, 800-861-7198, 512-656-5052,, NOV 12-14, 16-18 > Yelapa, Mexico. SIV/maneuvers clinic. Join us for another great learning and fun experience in beautiful tropical Yelapa. Tow up and land on the beach in a warm, friendly location with lots of great places to stay and eat. Brad Gunnuscio, world-class XC and acro pilot, will be teaching the courses. As Brad says, «Yelapa is by far the best place to do an SIV clinic.» More info: contact Les at or Brad at or 801 707-0508. More info: www, or

Chile - Iquique, Chile—the most consistent thermals on earth! Luis Rosenkjer and Todd Weigand have been winning competitions, leading trips, and working as local guide/tandem pilots in Iquique since 1992. With 22 years of combined guiding experience in Chile, nobody can lead new pilots to this region with the expertise that these USHPA certified, bilingual gentlemen provide. Four-star hotel overlooks beach landing. 115km flights possible. Improve flying skills, break personal records, enjoy the best of Iquique! More info:

NOV 28 - JAN 17 > Valle De Bravo, Mexico - Fly Cuervo! Fly south this winter! Fly Cuervo! The best-valued tour package available. World-class lodging and logistics in one of the most flyable winter destinations on planet Earth, Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Improve your thermal and XC skills with advanced instructor/master guide David Prentice, aka Cuervo, with more than 20 years of paragliding experience and 16 years guiding in Valle. We fly twice a day, every day! Valle de Bravo has something to offer for every skill level of pilot and is very family friendly. More info: call 505-720-5436 or email

OCT 31 - NOV 2 & NOV 7-9 > Sebring, Florida (SIV) maneuvers training over-the-water SIV maneuvers clinic, boat tow to 3000ft over white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters in Sebring, Florida. Gain priceless knowledge and experience under your wing. Advanced instructor/guide David Prentice, with more then 20 years of paragliding experience, will guide you through the full range of maneuvers from beginner to advanced as each pilot progresses at his or her own pace. More info: 505-720-5436 or

DEC 7-16> Brazil. Paraglide Brazil with Paracrane Tour.

NOV > 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

JAN 17-24 & JAN 31 - FEB 7 > Tapalpa, Mexico.

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: 541-840-8587, or nick@ Tapalpa, Mexico Fly Week. Parasoft has been guiding pilots to Mexico in January since 1990. In 2002 we discovered Tapalpa, site of a 2003 World Cup event. With big launch and landing areas and no crowds, this is the best in Mexico! With three other sites nearby, you soar in any wind direction. To guide our clients well, we limit our group size to four and offer tandem flights to improve flying skills. More info:, granger@ or 303-494-2820.

JAN 18-28 > Valle de Cauca, Colombia - Fly Cuervo! Fly Colombia! Fly south this winter! Fly Cuervo! The Valle del Cauca, Colombia, has quickly become one of the most popular winter vacation destinations for paragliding, with amazing XC potential and breath taking views, Valle del Cauca is world-class paragliding. Improve your thermal and XC skills with advanced instructor/master guide David Prentice with over 20 years of paragliding experience. Enjoy world-class lodging and logistics as we fly several sites along the Valle del Cauca, Colombia. More info: 505-720-5436 or email JAN 22 - 29, JAN 29 - FEB 5 & FEB 5-12 > Anserma Nuevo, Colombia - Colombia Thermal and XC Clinic Roldanillo & Anserma, Colombia. Pennsylvania Paragliding is running a thermal and XC clinic in sunny warm Colombia. Escape the winter and come to fly with us! Our focus is on improving your thermal & XC skills using both visual and radio contact and air-to-air guidance. Daily analysis of flights in a 3-D simulation program will give you a great insight. Contact, 610-392-0050 or _ Paragliding/ Colombia _ Tour.html COMPETITION - SANCTIONED AUG 30 - SEP 5 > DINOSAUR 2015 More info: Terry, and Chris Reynolds,,, 970-245-7315. SEP 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,,, or 831-261-5444. SEP 20-26 > OVXCC - Owens Valley Cross Coun-

try Classic 2015. More info: Kari Castle, KARICASTLE. COM,, or 760-920-0748 .

SEP 4-7 > Pine Mountain, OR. The Annual Pine Mountain Fly-In has been high flying since 1991. Join the Desert Air Riders for midday and evening glass-off flights in the High Desert or Central Oregon. The fly-in is a fundraising event to generate revenue for site insurance, Pine Mt and Mt. Bachelor, and for site improvements. Past events included raffle prizes, breakfast, and BBQ, expect some of the same this year. This is a free event with free on-site camping (we do gladly accepts donations)! More info: index.php


SEP 25-27 > Wingman Weekend. Come to Lookout

Mountain Flight Park for a fun flying weekend. Each Hang 4 pilot will be teamed up with a duo of Hang 2/ Hang 3 pilots in a low-pressure, friendly competition. Events will be dictated by weather conditions, but tasks may include duration, a closed course race, best launch, and best landing. The goal is to improve our flying skills and have fun. Please call 706-398-3541 to register.

SEP 28 - OCT 3 > Richfield, Utah. Red Rocks Fall Flyin. Fall colors and beautiful mountains and flying activities for all levels and interests. Clinics, ridge-soaring task competition, morning sledders, distance challenges. Low pressure, fun-flying activities to give everyone a chance to mingle and enjoy flying from Central Utah’s many world-class flying sites.

OCT 2-4 > Craters, AZ - Dixon White Memorial

Fly-in—The Arizona Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association is hosting another great event with the annual Dixon White Memorial Flyn-i! HGs and PGs, beginners to experts, the Craters offers almost 360 degrees of launching and landing. Saturday dinner, camping, and contests included. Hotels in nearby Flagstaff, AZ. Come join us for another amazing year! More Info: Call Gingher Leyendecker at 480688-2170 or visit for more info.


is always looking for talented Paragliding Instructors. Must have years of experience in light wind, mountain conditions. Please contact Dexter:

FLY-INS SEP 3-7 > Mingus Mt., Central Arizona. 40th Annu-

al Mingus Mt. Fly-In We're planning a big bash, Thursday through Labor Day! HG launch! PG launch! AZHPA campgrounds at launch! Details to follow. More Info: Bill Comstock 602-625-4550;; AZHPA.ORG.

SEP 4-7 > Ellenville, NY. THE USHPA NATIONAL FLYIN! Calling all hang gliders and paragliders. Come one, come all–let's gather and fly and celebrate the sky! More info: at

CLINICS & TOURS 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!

PARAGLIDESHASTA - Guided Paraglider tours in beautiful Northern California. Whaleback, Hat Creek Rim, Woodrat and more. Located in Mt. Shasta, Guided by Brian Kerr with 15 years experience in area! HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE



PARTS & ACCESSORIES GUNNISON GLIDERS - X-C, Factory, heavy PVC HG gliderbags $149. Harness packs & zippers. New/used parts, equipment, tubes. 1549 CR 17 Gunnison, CO 81230 970-641-9315 HALL WIND METER – Simple. Reliable. Accurate.

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

SPECIALTY WHEELS for airfoil basetubes, round basetubes, or tandem landing gear. 262-473-8800, www.

POWERED & TOWING PILOTS: FREE CROSSOVER TRAINING when you purchase your Miniplane Paramotor! Instructors: Add PPG to your offerings and watch the fun begin! Visit our website for more info: USHPA AZ PARAGLIDING: The World Record setting SlingMachine air sports winch is available to address your towing needs. It is"The Mountain on Wheels". www., Sean @ 480-294-1887

REAL ESTATE OWN A FLYING SITE 5 miles from the tourist mecca

of Salida Colorado. Salida known for its " banana belt" weather, white water rafting and mountain biking in massive mountain ranges. An excellent place for a tandem operation. $299K Erik 970-209-8376

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


instruction, Southern California & Baja. Powered paragliding, clinics, tours, tandem, towing. Ken Baier 760-213-0063,


best year round flying in the nation. Award-winning instruction, excellent mountain and ridge sites. www., 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.



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.

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,

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.


Road 80, Clewiston, Florida 863-805-0440, www.


mountain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations., 877-HANGLIDE, 877426-4543.

MIAMI HANG GLIDING - For year-round training fun

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

WALLABY RANCH – The original Aerotow flight park.

Best tandem instruction worldwide,7-days a week , 6 tugs, and equipment rental. Call:1-800-WALLABY 1805 Deen Still Road, Disney Area FL 33897


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,


time flight park: tandem instruction, solo aerotows and equipment sales and service. We carry Aeros, Airwave, Flight Design, Moyes, Wills Wing, High Energy Sports, Flytec and more. Two 115-HP Dragonfly tugs. Open fields as far as you can see. Only 1 to 1.5 hours from Rehoboth Beach, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia. Come Fly with US! 410-634-2700, Fax 410-634-2775, 24038 Race Track Rd, Ridgely, MD 21660,, hangglide@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,

MONTANA BOZEMAN PARAGLIDING - Montana’s full time connection for paragliding, speedflying, & paramotoring instruction & gear. Maneuvers courses, thermal tours abroad, online store.

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. 603-5424416,

NEW YORK AAA HANG GLIDING Teaching since 1977, Three

training hills, certified, adv instruction with mtn launch, tandems, towing, pro shop, pilots lounge, camping. We carry North Wing and Moyes, 77 Hang Glider Rd Ellenville, NY 845-647-3377

FLY HIGH HG Serving the tri-state area with beginner

and advanced instruction- the only school with THREE USHPA Instructor-of-the-Year recipients! Area's exclusive Wills Wing dealer. Superior customer service, lifelong support, the most competitive prices. Just 90-minutes from NYC. Come Fly High with us! www. 845.744.3317


UTAH CLOUD 9 PARAGLIDING - Come visit us and check out

NORTH CAROLINA KITTY HAWK KITES - The largest hang gliding 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. 252-441-2426, 1-877-FLYTHIS,


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

TENNESSEE LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN FLIGHT PARK - Just outside Chattanooga. Become a complete pilot -foot launch, aerotow, mountain launch, ridge soar, thermal soar., 1-877-HANGLIDE, 877-426-4543.

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 801-576-6460 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, www.blueskyhg. com


Airsport Venue: PG, HG, PPG: by, He’ll hook you up! Site intros, tours, & rooms., 760-203-2658


TEXAS FLYTEXAS TEAM - training pilots in Central Texas for





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.,


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: pchumes@

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

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.

GLIDING and PARAGLIDING. Gear, guiding, instruction, transportation, lodging - 512467-2529 / 1-800-861-7198 USA


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


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

STUNTS HAWAII - 147 Moyes Xtra Lite + 2 harnesses,

1 moyes w/ parachute + 1 UP harness. Less than 25 hours on the wing and in excellent condition. Wing has been stored in my garage. $2,500.00 OBO. John 805798-1121.

Support the Cloudbase Foundation buy Keen bags through USHPA


Start ALL of your Amazon shopping at the "Shop Amazon" page at Buy ANYTHING at smile.Amazon. com and Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of your purchase to USHPA!


Now in Stock!



Until Dawn Do We Part


ell, it’s not what I expected. I’ll do my best to describe it. So I’m at this sweet party, the music’s on point and everyone’s mixing it up, you know, getting amongst it. I’m not quite feeling it yet so I post up at the bar. Drink in hand I start working my way through the crowd. I’m on my way to the center when I notice that one dude is absolutely killin’ it in a bird costume with feathers everywhere. The whole center of the dance floor seems to be stoked off this guy and I start dancing my ass off with them. I remember hearing about this dude once, I think at a party in L.A., or maybe it was that I saw a video of him crushing it at The Burn.



by Matt Blanket

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because he’s bringing the whole room’s game up. I’m vibing with this girl who’s feeling the same energy and the song just keeps getting better and better. Heads down, hands in the air, drinks being spilled everywhere, no one cares about anything but dancing together. Just as the beat is getting super heavy I look up to find the birdman and see what kind of moves he’s going to throw down, but during the raging he had danced his way toward the door and walked out before the song had ended, his half-heard farewell still lingering in the air. The beat switched up and everyone

in the center picked their head up to notice he was gone. Even the DJ gave him a shout out and the people around the outside, along with the new arrivals, looked around quickly trying to figure out what they’d missed. And as much fun as I’m still having I wish he’d stayed, and I wish I could’ve gotten one more song in with him, but the party must go on… Me: “So that’s what it’s like to be in a sports community which loses someone that you may not have known all that well.” Stranger: “So what’s it like when you lose someone that you did know? Is it still like being at a party?” Me: “No.”

Profile for US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol45/Iss09 Sep2015  

Official USHPA Magazine

Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol45/Iss09 Sep2015  

Official USHPA Magazine