Hang Gliding & Paragliding Vol48-Iss2 Mar-Apr 2018

Page 1

MARCH/APRIL 2018 Volume 48 Issue 2 $6.95

For change of address or other USHPA business:

+1 (719) 632-8300 info@ushpa.aero

Martin Palmaz, Executive Director executivedirector@ushpa.aero Beth Van Eaton, Operations Manager office@ushpa.aero Galen Anderson, Membership Coordinator membership@ushpa.aero Julie Spiegler, Program Manager programs@ushpa.aero

USHPA OFFICERS & EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Paul Murdoch, President president@ushpa.aero Alan Crouse, Vice President vicepresident@ushpa.aero Steve Rodrigues, Secretary secretary@ushpa.aero Mark Forbes, Treasurer treasurer@ushpa.aero

REGION 1: Rich Hass, Matt Henzi. REGION 2: Jugdeep Aggarwal, Paul Gazis, Robert Booth. REGION 3: Ken Andrews, Dan DeWeese, Alan Crouse. REGION 4: Bill Belcourt, Ken Grubbs. REGION 5: Randall Shane. REGION 6: Tiki Mashy. REGION 7: Doyle Johnson. REGION 8: Calef Letorney. REGION 9: Dan Lukaszewicz, Larry Dennis. REGION 10: Bruce Weaver, Steve Kroop, Matt Taber. REGION 11: Tiki Mashy. REGION 12: Paul Voight. DIRECTORS AT LARGE: Paul Murdoch, Steve Rodrigues, Greg Kelley, Felipe Amunategui, Mark Forbes. 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. 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.


NICK GREECE Tyr Goldmsith headed on glide in Chelan, Washington on a practice day for the Chelan Open.


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.

New Sportiness The SIGMA 10 continues the story of the legendary SIGMA Series. With an aspect ratio of 6.16 and 66 cells the new ADVANCE XC flagship is positioned at the centre of the EN/LTF C class. The high-tech sportster combines outstanding performance with sporty dynamic and distin guished colours. The best starting point for epic cross country experiences. www.advance.ch /sigma distributor: superflyinc.com, info@superflyinc.com 801.255.9595

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Epic XC




24 LIFT SHARING The Berkeley Hang Gliding Club Approach

The Red Bull X-Alps GAVIN McCLURG


28 36



YOSEMITE The Best Sled Ride in the World BRIAN MORRIS

44 52

FORBES FLATLANDS The Annual Big-Distance XC Comp Down Under OLIVER CHITTY









How to Avoid Airplanes

Tune in to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast

This year's recipients are crushing it.


2017 Results




8 62 62 64





hile I was at a launch in a foreign land recently, I observed a pilot who, even though he couldn’t inflate his glider, was determined to launch. A number of other pilots also looked on as he repeatedly failed. I

asked the pilots who had arrived with him if they were sure he should be attempting to launch, and one responded: “ He came all this way; it’s kind of hard to tell him not to launch.” This caused me to pause, wondering if I should push back or mind my business. It is incredibly difficult to confront strangers on launch in our sport that is not only serious aviation, but also a social activity. A Norwegian pilot who watched the attempts informed me that Norwegians have a term that applies in this kind of situation—Airmanship. Airmanship is what we need on launches in the US. We need to reframe our approach, so talking with less experienced pilots, assisting others, and working toward a more sincere aviation-based approach becomes an honor, not a chore. With this in mind, I am starting an award campaign for pilots in our community who demonstrate these qualities at sites nationwide. Please, take a moment to think about how you can personify working to make our sports safer this

year. And if you see someone who kindly, gently, and effectively helps others on launch make solid decisions, please send me a note. I will be giving away prizes to winners of the “Airmanship” awards, including free pairs of KEEN shoes and other items from partners in the flying industry. Let’s take time to consider how each of us can participate in a culture of airmanship and celebrate those who do so with empathy, education, and skill. The March/April issue kicks off with the announcement of the recipient of one of USHPA’s annual awards. Rich Hass, long time leader of the USHPA’s executive committee, great pilot, and even better person, received the well-deserved Presidential citation from current President, Paul Murdoch. Calef Letorney introduces a new series dealing with critical steps to take towards becoming a solid intermediate pilot, in his piece about minding the air flows around us in order to increase safety margins. Annette O’Neil caught up with one of the most interesting clubs in the US, the Berkley Hang Gliding Co-Op. Kurtis Carter came to the last USHPA board meeting with the hope of passing on their epic model of collaborative learning to others in the US who might be interested in keeping free flight alive in their community. Gavin McClurg is back with another installment of his epic journey into the depths of the X-Alps, as well as providing keen insight into the supporters of his all-star team. Brian Morris and Audray Luck teamed up to highlight the best hang gliding sled ride in the world—Yosemite. Oliver Chitty delivers a rousing account of the epic battle and world records set in Forbes, Australia, during the annual Forbes Flatland competition. I hope you’ll find something in this spring issue that inspires and that you’ll become committed to work together to engage in airmanship!

Martin Palmaz, Publisher executivedirector@ushpa.aero Nick Greece, Editor editor@ushpa.aero advertising@ushpa.aero Greg Gillam, Art Director art.director@ushpa.aero C.J. Sturtevant, Copy Editor copy@ushpa.aero Staff Writers


Annette O'Neil

John Heiney

Dennis Pagen

Jeff Shapiro

Jeff Shapiro C.J. Sturtevant

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

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) 6326417. Periodical postage is paid at Colorado Springs, CO and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER Send change of address to: USPA, P.O. BOX 1330, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-1330. Canadian Post Publications Mail Agreement #40065056. Canadian Return Address: DP Global Mail, 4960-2 Walker Road, Windsor, ON N9A 6J3 COPYRIGHT ©2016 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. HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE






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cluding hike-and-fly

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last year! And for those of you who do compete, “Thought for the Thermal,” a daily piece of advice from the Sky Gods, should help you fly higher, farther and faster. The App has four pages: Live Action, Latest Task, Latest Overalls and 2017 Results. The Live Action page displays the Live Commentary of the current task, Tracking and Leaderboard. Touch a



name on the Tracking or Leaderboard

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among others, top US pilots: Brad Gunnuscio, Andy Macrae, Owen Shoemaker, William Hughes, Cody Mittanck, Jared Anderson, Mike Steed, James Bradley, Bianca Heinrich, Tyler Bradford and Gavin McClurg. So come and join us at the next event for all the latest (uncensored) reports and results for Castelo, Brazil, 14/04/2018 to 21/04/2018.



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RETRIEVE GODDESSES Two professional nomads happily chase pilots—and their dreams. Coming from a history of flatland towing and retrieving, Brigieta Balsimo has vigorously pursued her passion for the sport in this unconventional career, and Audray Luck has thrived in the industry as a skilled photographer, ground-crew member and navigator. Together, they are the Retrieval Goddesses, known across the world to both hang glider and paraglider pilots alike. Systematically advancing from one competition to the next, they’ve


wander the Midwest and mountainous zones in summer, and enjoy fall on the


ASSOCIATION Crushing it: The Recipients of USHPA's 2017 Awards



ach fall, the USHPA Awards

BOD meetings I am certain Rich has

experience and social community

committee reviews hundreds

invested thousands of hours on our

which attracts us all to the sport. Rich

of nominations suggesting


has never shied away from this role,

dozens of pilots be recognized for

though accepting it only means more

their myriad contributions to our

work and more drama for him. 4) He has managed to retain a calm

free-flight culture. Sifting through all those letters to choose the recipients

objectivity throughout his tenure. It

is a time-intensive task, but review-

would be easy to shift into cruise

ing the enthusiastic and thoughtful

mode after so many years, but he

comments of the nominators actually

never did. He has seen us through

elevates the task almost to more plea-

years of extraordinary change and

sure than work. Following is the list

upheaval. 5) Ex-presidents often end their

of the committee’s selections for the 2017 awards, with excerpts from the

tenure by retiring not just from the

nominators’ emails to shed light on

presidency but also from the board. I don’t think it is immediately appar-

how the committee made its decisions.

ent to members what a huge time

Presidential Citation

commitment serving on the USHPA


BOD is. Rich didn’t hesitate to stay on

Unlike all the other USHPA awards,

board after retiring as president. And

this one does not solicit, or consider,

yet, when a recent election resulted

input from members. Rather, it is

in our long-standing treasurer losing

solely the choice of the current USHPA

his seat, Rich was quick to offer up his own seat as Region 1 director order

president. Paul Murdoch selected his

to retain a key contributor. That is a

predecessor, Rich Hass, as the recipi-

2) Rich is a detail person. He gets

ent of USHPA’s highest award for 2017.

into the weeds of an issue. He studies

clear demonstration that Rich always

Here’s why, in Paul’s own words:

it and determines the key decisions

has USHPAs best interests in mind.

“1) Rich Hass is the longest serving president in our association’s history, spending six years in the job. There

that will most impact our path forward. He is fully engaged. 3) He is not afraid to tackle the diffi-

Our association relies on volunteers for the majority of our daily

is a great deal of day-to-day work

cult jobs. Our current structure leaves

operations. I was recently asked by a

that must be done to keep the asso-

the unpleasant task of site and SOP

long-time USHPA instructor whether

ciation running. It happens behind

compliance up to the folks who are

the EC jobs were paid positions. The

the scenes, and isn’t especially sexy

already putting in volunteer time as

instructor was surprised to learn that

or inspiring, but it has to get done.

directors. Rich is always willing to do

none are. I don’t think members real-

Between that daily work, the monthly

this work even though it is thankless

ize what a sacrifice these directors

conference calls and the semi-annual

and normally detracts from the flying

are making. Rich Hass has served for



many years, and continues to serve,

sport and to spreading information,

and that dedication is deserving of our

supporting others and most impor-

gratitude and recognition. The USHPA

tantly keeping our club out of hot

2017 Presidential Citation is a tangible

water by building relationships with various park rangers and government

token of our appreciation.”

entities,” says one. Another adds, “Bill

Exceptional Service

has been a continuous force of good


for the hang gliding and paragliding

The story of Donnita’s nearly five

community in San Diego for three de-

decades as a hang glider pilot—which

cades. He has worked tirelessly with

is also a history of the development of

land owners, regulatory bodies and

hang gliding from its birth in the early

state officials to ensure the survival of

‘70s to the sophisticated sport that

hang gliding and paragliding at iconic

it is in the 21st century—is detailed

sites such as Laguna Mountain, Horse

in the January/February 2018 issue

Canyon, Palomar Mountain, Big Black,

of this magazine. Given her active

Little Black, Blossom Valley, and

involvement in so many facets of free

others. Bill also served as Region 3 director with dedication and distinction.

flight over the years, in a manner that has been well beyond excep-

With his intelligence, patience, boundless energy and tact, Bill has been of

tional in so many ways, it was an easy

safety and well-being of other pilots, a

choice for the Awards committee to

demonstrated pattern of self-sacrifice,

incalculable value in weathering the

present Donnita Hall with the 2017

the ability and means to help others

many challenges that have confronted

Exceptional Service award.

achieve flight and the drive to make it

the free-flying community in our area

all happen.”

and gifted generations of pilots with

The Rob Kells Memorial Award BILL HELLIWELL This award was established in 2009 to


include a driving concern for the

Bill Helliwell, who has been active in Region 3’s hang gliding community for more than 30 years, clearly meets

the joy of flying our amazing sites.” Another speaks of Bill’s personal interactions with the local pilots:

commemorate Rob Kells, who passed

these criteria. His many nominators

“Always ready to share his wealth of

away in August 2008 from prostate

provide the details: “There is nobody

experience and knowledge, Bill has

cancer. The purpose of the award

I can think of in the San Diego club

provided encouragement and wise

was to seek out and highlight pilots

who has dedicated more time to the

counsel that have greatly contributed

who, in a manner reminiscent of Rob’s

to my growth as a cross-country pilot.

interactions with and contributions

Every week, he sends out an email

to the free-flight community, have

to the whole local flying community

devoted a significant portion of their

about the weekend flying forecast

lives to the sport(s) of hang gliding

across San Diego County. He is always

and/or paragliding. Specifically, the

generous with the use of his vehicle

award qualifications state that “the

for retrieve. In fact, generosity of spirit

nominee must have a minimum of 15

is what defines Bill. It is this spirit that

years of service to the flying com-

has helped to keep the flying com-

munity, in an unbroken time frame,

munity vibrant in San Diego County

easily verifiable. This service must

and that has helped so many new and

have been to the broadest possible

existing pilots to flourish safely in this

community, and must have resulted

most wonderful of sports.”

in a dramatic impact on the communi-

Bill is clearly venerated as one the

ty that improves the perception of and

local sky gods, as one nominator evi-

participation in hang gliding and/or

dences: “At 73 years old, Bill continues

paragliding. This award should reflect

to work tirelessly for the viability and

all the qualities that endeared Rob

safety of our sport. He is also an amaz-

Kells to the flying community. These

ing pilot who continues to outfly pilots


a third his age. In fact, on August 26th, Bill flew from Mt. Laguna in San Diego to Desert Hot Springs, over 72 miles away!” It is easy to see how well Bill’s many years as a hang glider pilot exemplify the level of involvement with the sport and respect for and devotion to his fellow pilots that this award was created to spotlight. It is with great pleasure and appreciation that the Awards committee names Bill Helliwell the 2017 recipient of USHPA’s Rob Kells Award.

Paragliding Instructor of the Year HADLEY ROBINSON USHPA’s Instructor of the Year award recognizes the importance of our certified hang gliding and paragliding instructors in promoting safe flying practices and contributing to the positive image and growth of our sport. When considering candidates for this award, particular attention is paid to nominators’ examples of the nominee’s effectiveness as a teacher, providing a safety role model for both students and experienced pilots, innovative approaches that he or she uses

comments. Effectiveness as a teacher: “Hadley

focus on safety that my wife became interested in flying and we now share

to enhance safety or teaching, and

stresses mstering good kiting long

this hobby as a family sport; we will

other factors that the nominating par-

before getting your feet off the ground,

undoubtedly raise our children in it as well.”

ties may deem worthy of recognition.

and it pays off. His students are re-

If the Awards committee finds that no

sponsible aviators and they don’t do

candidate fulfills these requirements,

dumb or unskilled things.”

the award will not be presented that year. There were no qualified candidates

“Had’s website, www.southwestairsports.com, is arguably the most complete and rich site of any instruc-

Role model for safe practices: “Had always enforces safety above all, but at the same time knows how to show how much fun this great sport can be.” “I personally believe the role of a

for 2017 Hang Gliding Instructor of

tor in the USA. In particular, the

great instructor is to foster a relation-

the Year. In paragliding, however, one

details on meteorology and safety are

ship of trust and respect within the

candidate was the clear choice: Hadley


Robinson, who’s been teaching in El

“Mr. Robinson’s regimented and

USHPA community through responsible stewardship of the local flying area and inducting safety-minded

Paso, Texas, and SW New Mexico for

concise classroom instruction and

more than a decade. His nominators

ground handling training made me

pilots into the sport. Mr. Robinson has

sent in a boatload of enthusiastic rec-

a cautious, confident pilot through

gone unbelievably above and beyond

ommendations, detailing every one

my initial training and caused me

these requirements at great personal

of the USHPA criteria for Instructor of

to pursue additional qualifications

dedication and cost and continues to

the Year, plus a few examples of Had’s

including powered flight. So im-

emphasize training, training, training

contributions above and beyond these

pressed were my wife and I with Mr.

by dedicating every day of the week

basics. Here are just a few of their

Robinson’s quality of training and

to his small but dedicated student



and land anywhere within the State

and all aviators worldwide, be they

Park boundaries, even on paved

to our community. The department

military, commercial or sport can

roads! This alone ought to be enough

of Texas Parks and Wildlife has even

always help keep aviation safe and

reason to name him IOTY. Whereas

enthusiastically extended multiple

responsible—and I feel Mr. Robinson

most state parks prohibit PG and HG,

invitations to Mr. Robinson to fly local

is leading the way.”

we are not only tolerated, but encour-

sites in order to bring a greater aware-

aged to fly there.” (Check out the Texas

ness of both the sport of paragliding

complete his school, he keeps you

Parks and Wildlife video at https://

and the local protected regions!”

under his wing with continual


“Mr. Robinson truly is the nexus for

mentoring, constant tips of flying,

bGqP25c&feature=youtu.be, or just

free flight in the local community and

frequent invites to fly, and genuine

search for Flying the Franklins on

his impact in the region can’t be over-

reminders on flying safety. Had is an


“Once you partner with Had, and

off-the-chart PG enthusiast, with tons

“Had is constantly working to help

of airtime, who provides his students

others in the sport, opening new

with a bottomless and broad breadth

flying sites and maintaining current

of experience from which to draw.”

ones, giving instruction on everything

stated. There isn’t a local government official or state park manager that doesn’t know and respect him.” “Had may not manage or work for one of the large flight schools

from checking the weather all the way

that interact with large numbers of

learning or safety: “Had has single-

to flying cross-country through the

students, but he is the heart and soul

handedly been the voice and champi-

open desert of west Texas.”

of the western Texas and southern

Innovative approaches to enhance

on of free flight in El Paso and SW New

“Hadley is passionate about paraglid-

New Mexico flying community. I have witnessed him interact with new

Mexico for the last 10+ years. El Paso

ing. Whether competing in cross-

was largely a PG desert until Hadley

country competitions in Florida, or

pilots and potential pilots and he is an

made it his mission to change that. No

flying at Valle de Bravo in Mexico, he

ambassador for our sport as well as a true professional instructor. Had is a

place to train new pilots? No problem,

constantly works to improve his own

Had negotiated agreements with the

skills. His enthusiasm about para-

tremendous resource and wealth of

owner of a local turf farm, where he

gliding ensures a constant stream of

knowledge and support for the El Paso

safely tows new students until they

students of both sexes and of all ages,

pilot. His continued guidance and sup-

have progressed enough to fly the half

from all backgrounds. He performs

port for local pilots has insured safe

dozen or so mountain launches he pio-

demonstrations at airshows with a

flying in these very difficult desert-

neered in various nearby ranges. His

team of local pilots. He educates gov-

flying conditions.”

unique and innovative towing system

ernment officials about paragliding

uses an advanced hydraulic winch

and works to preserve accessibility

and a pulley in a van which he locates

of government lands. He constantly

that were too numerous to include

on the opposite side of the turf farm;

scouts for and develops new sites to

in this article, USHPA is pleased to

For all of the above-cited reasons, and for the many more nominations

this allows him to be next to the stu-

fly in our area. He has worked with

honor Hadley Robinson with the

dents at launch for maximum safety

local Border Patrol to help them learn

2017 Paraglider Instructor of the Year

and efficiency.”

about how paragliding may be used to


Promoting the sport of paragliding,


local flying site currently available

and post-graduate base. The USHPA

transport drugs. Hadley is not just an

and enhancing the public’s perception

instructor, he is an AMBASSADOR for

Chapter of the Year

of free-flight: “Hadley could have re-



located to California and cranked out

“The American Southwest is not a

student after student, but he chose to

widely known nor enthusiastically

in NE Washington state, out in the

stay in El Paso where he is needed—

sought-after region in the minds of

wide-open country north of Spokane.

he is the only decent instructor in

most ultralight pilots. Mr. Robinson

It’s a small club, but its impact on

a 400-mile radius. The El Paso PG

has spent many years applying his

hang gliding and paragliding in this

community is small, less than a dozen

extensive experience to this region

relatively remote part of the state

pilots, but all were mentored by Had.”

to find and develop the contacts and

far surpasses what you might expect

“Working with the Superintendent

relationships necessary in advancing

from a group of only 20 members.

of the Franklin Mountains State Park,

the ultralight community as well as

Had negotiated permission to launch

scouting, testing and insuring every


The Center of Lift chapter is located

Nominations included numerous examples of the club’s impacts. WAC

(Washington Administrative Code)

to certain conditions and restrictions

the Center of Lift as the 2017 USHPA

352-32-130 has for several years

which are the same as those used for

Chapter of the Year.

allowed paragliding in some state


parks, but the WAC clearly stated: “’Paraglider’ shall mean an unpowered

This is a huge accomplishment, and it impacts parks throughout the state

ultralight vehicle capable of flight,

of Washington that already allow

consisting of a fabric, rectangular or

paragliding (and now hang gliding),

elliptical canopy or wing connected

and opens up the possibility of obtain-

to the pilot by suspension lines and

ing permission to fly in state parks


straps, made entirely of non-rigid ma-

that might be suitable for hang gliding

This video’s story line was developed

terials except for the pilot’s harness

but not paragliding.

by Jim Karnik, who then filmed and

But this rule change is not COL’s

edited the content. Jim passed away in

shall not include hang gliders or para-

only claim to fame. They’ve opened

2017; the San Diego Hang Gliding and

chutes.” After three years of negotia-

up two new sites in Chewelah,

Paragliding Association submitted

tions, as of last August that exclusion

Washington, and are working on

Jim’s film for this award. “We feel for-

of hang gliders has been removed,

other options. The article in the

tunate and privileged to have worked

September/October issue of this

with Jim to tell our story about flight

and fasteners. The term ’paraglider’

and WAC 352-32-130 now reads: “Individuals who have complied with

magazine showcases the Inkler’s site

preservation in San Diego County,”

the registration process provided or

and highlights how, as one nomina-

one nominator states, and offers this

who have obtained a special recre-

tor puts it, “the community and land

synopsis of the story line: “Follow us

ation event permit pursuant to WAC

owners welcome us and want to help

for a day of hang gliding and paraglid-

352-32-047 may launch and land

the sports prosper.”

ing at the Black Mountain Open Space

paragliders and hang gliders in state

In addition to developing sites, the

Glider Port, a historic San Diego loca-

park areas specifically designated by

club has a strong commitment to its

tion that has been home to free-flight activities since the 1930s. Unpowered,

the director or designee as available

members’ skill development, to safe

for paragliding and hang gliding.”

practices, and to presenting a positive

foot-launched gliders soar over Black

(According to WSR 17-15-082, this is

view of free flight to the community.

Mountain Open Space, offering a

a permanent rule change, and the ra-

If you want to see this group in action

unique way to explore the park and

tionale behind the change is worded

and enjoy the camaraderie at the

commune with nature.”

thus: “Pursuant to WAC 352-32-130,

COL’s flying sites, get yourself to the

hang gliding is a prohibited activity

Inkler’s fly-in next July.

in state parks. However, provisions

In recognition of this club’s many

Produced by the San Diego Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and the Friends of Rancho

are made for paragliding which is a

contributions to the sports of hang

Penasquitos Preserve (penasquitos.

similar use. This amendment would

gliding and paragliding in this off-

org), with support from the Black

revise existing language to authorize

the-beaten-path area of Washington

Mountain Open Space Parks Citizen

hang gliders to use state parks subject

state, the Awards committee names

Advisory Committee, Jim’s video



will be included in a series of films presented by The Friends of Rancho Penasquitos Preserve and will be posted on their website (http://penasquitos.org/video.htm). It will also be included in the San Diego Parks and Recreation Ranger Movie Nights play reel, and in the flight-history section of SDHGPA’s website, www.SDHGPA. com. Although the “long tradition of flying at Black Mountain” is condensed into a mere six minutes of video, there’s a lot of history and local trivia packed into that short span of time. The Awards committee found the video to be entertaining, informative, and professionally produced, with content that will hold the attention of pilots, local non-pilots, and anyone interested in the history of

Eastern Washington and is a friend

out that Mark, currently club trea-

aviation in southern California.

and always the first person to help a

surer, has been “my rock and sound-

fellow pilot with whatever they may

ing board for the tumultuous year we have had in our club. Mark has

Jim’s talents as a story-teller and videographer will be greatly missed.

need.” In recognition and appreciation

The Awards committee hopes that

of his ongoing enthusiastic and suc-

been there for me when I needed a

by presenting Jim with the 2017 Best

cessful efforts to advance opportuni-

level-headed friend to help guide me

Promotional Film award, his contribu-

ties for free flight in Washington State,

through the tragic loss of two of our

tion will become part of our shared

the Awards Committee presents Steve

beloved club members. I am not sure

history and cultural experience.

Baran with a 2017 Commendation.





and the entire Northwest free-flight

tor says, “Speaking for club members,

Steve Baran, president of the 2017

By April each year, as the Pacific

community, we owe our gratitude to

USHPA Chapter of the Year, Center

Northwest emerges from its long, wet,

Mark, and a USHPA Commendation is

of Lift, has been “in the front lines

gloomy winter season, hang glider

the least we can do.”

of getting hang gliding added to

and paraglider pilots are starving

The Awards committee (whose

the Washington state regulations,”

for airtime and the camaraderie of

chairman and some members have

enthuses one nominator, adding,

their flying community. And every

attended many Oceanside Opens)

“AND he officiallly secured our use of

spring for many years Mark Sanzone

wholeheartedly concurs with this sug-

Steptoe Butte State Park as a flying

has emerged as a hero, one nomina-

gestion, and with great appreciation

site, AND he has opened up several

tor points out, “taking on the role of

presents Mark Sanzone with a USHPA

new flying sites, AND organized a

point person for the annual biwingual

2017 Commendation.

great fly-in this year!” Other nomina-

Oceanside (Oregon) Open fly-in. This

tors reiterate the above and add ad-

event has been a success year in and


ditional commendable actions: Steve

year out, even when we don’t get to fly,


recently was instrumental in negotiat-

and it is all because of the dedication

Ron Jones is site steward for

ing a specialized deal that will keep

of Mark Sanzone.”

California’s Tollhouse biwingual

a Wills Wing hang gliding dealership


I could have made it through the last year without his support.” A nomina-

In addition to this role of Oceanside

flying site and, according to his

in Spokane, and he “is a strong voice

Open anchorman, the president of

nominators, he goes well above and

and leader in promoting free flight in

the Cascade Paragliding Club points

beyond what might be expected of


be recognized for his selfless contributions.” My husband George and I had the opportunity to take advantage of

onstrated, just one year was more than generous enough. His constant positivity and willingness to be the first person to step up and help have

Ron’s hospitality at Tollhouse right

been a treasure for our club and com-

after the fall 2017 USHPA BOD meet-

munity.” I’ve encountered David at so

ing. He met us at the parking lot near

many sites and events over the years,

the LZ, gave us a detailed site orienta-

it seems obvious to me that one of his

tion from the ground, drove us up the

favorite things is going to fly-ins and

horrendously steep and rocky road

paragliding competitions around the

in his Jeep, provided another site ori-

Northwest. And at the events where

entation from launch, made sure we

our paths have crossed, I’ve typically

all got off and up and then drove back

seen him dedicate the majority of his

down. We felt like visiting royalty! In

time not to flying but to helping out

considerable gratitude for his ongoing

the local club and other participants.

gracious and unselfish dedication to

“David is a treasured part of our com-

site management and landowner rela-

munity and deserves our admiration

tions at Tollhouse, USHPA presents

and love,” another of his nominators

Ron with a 2017 Commendation.

points out. The Awards committee


of his fellow pilots’ appreciation in the

local landowners and the US Forest


form of a 2017 USHPA Commendation.

Service to keep the site open and the

Oregon pilot David Le, in the words

a site steward. “Ron’s work with the

presents David with tangible evidence

launch road drivable, is commend-

of one nominator, “loves his flying


able. Ron has made innumerable site

community so much that he volun-


improvements, including building a

teered to lead the Cascade Paragliding

Bill Soderquist’s award is all about

trail on the LZ property to allow pilots

Club for a second year when, as all

his stepping up to improve safety for

access while preserving the privacy

24 previous club presidents dem-

paragliders landing at the Crestline

of the landowner’s home. He clears the starthistle and tall grass from this large LZ and also at launch. Without Ron, I don’t think the site would be open because his ongoing work makes smooth operation possible and relieves the non-pilot LZ landowners from having to be involved.” Another concurs: “Without Ron, it’s unlikely this great site would have reopened, or be as convenient as it is. He liaises with the Forest Service to keep the road to launch open, manages relationships with local landowners affected by the sport, hosts visiting pilots, constantly labors on maintaining the LZ and launch, and freely shares his decades of Tollhouse flying experience in a friendly and unassuming way. The flying community is deeply fortunate to have such an individual as Ron, and he deserves to



(CA) landing zone, where, according to

to increase visibility. “Not as good a

and his fellow pilots’ safety. With this

the regional director, there’s a section

solution,” admits the nominator, “but

in mind I nominate him for recog-

of powerline that two paragliders had

about all we could do.”

nition and commendation by our

flown into within 16 months. Clearly


But then, the story continues,

national association. His nickname is

something had to be done to prevent

Crestline pilot Bill Soderquist “found

Doggone Bill and doggonnit, we thank

a future event and its potentially

a couple of utility poles somehow

you, and Marilyn, too.” USHPA echoes that enthusiastic

lethal outcome; the proposed solution

and planned to install them over

was to string a barrier cable between

Thanksgiving weekend! Fabulous

two utility poles to prevent paraglid-

news! Bill drove the Line Truck home

for Bill’s taking the initiative and

ers from contacting the energized

for the weekend with the poles, and

carrying out this creative solution

endorsement, and in appreciation

conductors. “Easy game, right?” says a

his wife Marilyn drove the trailer

to a serious safety issue, awards Bill

nominator, but it turned out to be any-

with the poles loaded on it out to the

Soderquist a 2017 Commendation.

thing but easy: “The State of CA has

site and helped him with the instal-

deemed that creosote (used to treat

lation. Crestline Soaring Society

utility poles to prevent rotting) is a

member Gene Embrey, who lives

hazardous waste. Upon removal from

onsite, saw the two of them fixin’ to

service, the poles are ground up and

wrangle these two poles into place

sent to a hazmat landfill,” he explains.

unassisted and jumped in and helped.

New poles, along with associated

Six hours later, we have a barrier

costs, made the project prohibitively

strand in place! This man heeded the

expensive. Plan B: Ask the utility to

call and went above and beyond the

install marker balls on the conductors

call of duty in the interest of the club


If after reading the above you find yourself thinking, “There’s somebody who does stuff like that in our community!” consider nominating him or her for a 2018 award. The descriptions for the awards, and the online nomination form, are accessible from https://www.ushpa.org/page/ awards.

COMPETITION Northern California XC/Sprint League 2017 by Jugdeep Aggarwal


his was the third year both the XC League and Sprint League ran a program to assist pilots

in learning how to fly cross-country.

ibility of sites we use. 2017 was unique for the leagues in

Dunlap in March had to be canceled as requested by the local club, because

that they fell under the USHPA ACE

weather skunked several of the events.

program, which, through the generos-

As a result, we ended up only getting

Some years have been good and

ity of USHPA, provided event insur-

in a total of six tasks at Tollhouse and

some not-so-good. The 2017 league

ance to all of the league events for

Potato Hill.

season, unfortunately, was one of the

2017. This involved applying through

latter, with many of the events being

USHPA for ACE and then developing

canceled because of the weather. In

risk-mitigation plans for all 13 of the

being scored from events held at

addition, the loss of the use of one of

sites the league might visit during the

Tollhouse, Owens Valley, and Lake

the most consistent sites in the coun-

year. Once that paperwork was out of

Tahoe. At both Tollhouse and Slide

try—Dunlap—with little notice, played

the way, it was time to fly.

mountain (Lake Tahoe) we ran new

a significant part in reducing the flex-

ABOVE Launch

The initial Sprint league event at

The Cross-Country League fared marginally better with seven tasks

routes, which are always fabulous.

at Walts Point for pre-XC League event at Owens Valley | photo by Chuck Leathers.



ABOVE Tollhouse

gaggle | photo by Dietmar Burkhardt. RIGHT Coming in to goal at Tollhouse | selfie by Jack Diaz. wants fly-ins to help push pilot skills

have found the league meets, they

is similar to the Northern California

and explore the local areas of our

continue to return. As stated above,

Cross-Country League’s, it better

flying sites. How better to do this than

the camaraderie, the flying, the infor-

serves the lower-airtime pilot who has

with friends? It seems that once pilots

mal learning environment, as well as

Although the Sprint League’s setup

had limited cross-country experi-

bettering personal distances, all

ence. The Sprint is designed to fill

contribute to keeping folks coming.

in the gap between P-3/P-4 pilots who have just learned to thermal and those seasoned pilots who are familiar with cross-country flying. It serves as a training ground for future XC league pilots who fly EN-A and EN-B gliders, with no requirements for SPOT or HAM licenses. So why are the leagues so successful? Some unquantifiable aspects of

CATEGORY 1 Winner: Tyler Bradford Second Place: Jugdeep Aggarwal Third Place: Eric Ams

CATEGORY 2 Winner: Arthur Korn Second Place: Guido Zavagli Third Place: Bed Pedersen-Wedlock

With a goal of “a flyin-in with a mission,” these league meets also provide a forum for training for larger sanctioned competitions. With two different leagues, it is easier to cater to the differing pilot abilities for tasks. The Sprint League constructs more modest tasks, with distances of less than

the league, such as the mentoring


30km, normally around the 20km

program, the online tutorials and

First Place: Arthur Korn Second Place: Jack Diaz Third Place: Vincent Beukelaers

demanding tasks, with distances

additional web pages are significant sources of satisfaction. And the

mark. The XC League devises more typically of about 60km.

warm camaraderie maintains a high level of positive energy among participants. Whatever the source, the format works, and pilots are having a good time while improving their skills. Our pilot community definitely



Special congrats to Tyler Bradford who won Category 1, Arthur Korn who won both the Sprint League and the Category 2 Class in the Cross-Country

Attendees regularly get into the swing of things quickly, substantially reducing the task load of the organizer. Waypoints can be

League and to newbie Jack Diaz for

downloaded before the weekends

coming in second in the Sprint League.

from the website. Participants sign

in and pay by Paypal before the event


and submit their tracklogs via email in

“Just like riding a bicycle...” That is

order to be scored. This procedure has

what all my flying buddies would tell

run really well, providing a smoother

me any time I brought up the idea of

experience for all. Keeping track of the

getting back into paragliding. But is

large number of pilots is difficult; how-


ever, the buddy system has proven

I started flying in Venezuela back

to be a success. This allows pilots to

in the late ‘80s, back when paraglid-

verify the safety of their buddies. The

ers looked like re-purposed para-

only issue then is retrieval.

chutes. All it took was one flight and I was completely obsessed. Got my

The dedicated website containing

dad and sister into it and made it a

all information for the league, www.

family affair. Luckily for us, we had

santacruzparagliding.com, has proven

an amazing thermal site in Caracas,

to be a useful resource for keep-

so we could fly almost daily. It was

ing pilots informed throughout the

an incredible experience. We had a


really good group of pilots, discover-

Several additions to the website—

ing what was possible, learning to

online pilot registration using a

read the weather (without forecasts),

my competition gear from the late

Google form, a page directed at “first

going to new places, setting local

‘90s, how light it has become, and the

timers” about what to expect, and

records, starting comps, traveling

technological revolution around the

several pages on strategies and tips—

abroad. It was a lifestyle.

electronics. It all sounded like magic.

have helped everyone: http://www.

In the mid ‘90s I came to school

So, fast-forward to early 2017. I


in the Bay Area for a couple of years

decided to get back into the sport.


and met Ed Stein, who took me to

Talked to my wife about it, and she

all the local sites. Diablo became

could tell that my level of excitement

my place. Had a chance to spend a

was too much, so she agreed to let

ware package called Competition

month in Chelan, too, after flying the

me fly again. Next thing I know I’m

Manager to help with various aspects

‘95 Nationals. Had some of my most

back at the training hill, kiting a bor-

of the league, including pilot registra-

epic flights there.

rowed glider, doing a couple of short

Aaron Price, who runs the SoCal league, has been working on a soft-

tion, event signup, scoring, and pilot tracklog submission and verification. I have been running the league for over 10 years. Perhaps one of the

But back home around the year 2000, I started to reflect. I was not enjoying the sport as much anymore.

flights and I’m hooked. I’m definitely getting back into this. Next item in the list: getting a new

Paragliding through the ‘90s was a

glider. Sounds easy, right? Back when

most rewarding aspects of the league

truly extreme sport! I lost too many

I bought my last few gliders, we had

is watching the progression of pilots

friends. I just lost interest. A few

like two or three choices, depend-

over the years. The league meets

years went by and, with other inter-

ing on who was importing gliders to

definitely take over where formalized

ests, I almost forgot about paraglid-

Venezuela. Now, with the Internet,

training stops, by providing pilots

ing. But there was always this little

the information overload is insane.

a chance to fly with, and learn from,

voice in my head trying to talk me

Should I get a C glider? B glider?

very skilled pilots.

back into it.

I look forward to more leagues being

Years went by and now, back

high-end B, low-end B? a pod? a square or round reserve? lightweight,

organized around the country. They

in the Bay Area, I started to have

regular weight? So after a few weeks

help pilot quality continue to improve

dreams about flying almost weekly.

obsessing over data, reviews, pricing,

and reduce pilot attrition. With the

I would get a random email from

I decided to go for a Niviuk Ikuma, a

2018 season about to kick off, I hope

Ed every few months (thanks, Ed!)

Supair Delight Pod and a Flymaster Nav vario.

to see new pilots coming out to the

inviting me to fly again. And I started

league to learn what they’ve been

reading a lot about the new gear:

missing! Keep it fun, and see you in

how it has become super safe, how

flight at our coastal soaring site to try

the air.

an intermediate glider would outfly

the glider. Then off to the mountains

So the fun started. First, a quick




glide over the Owens River | photo by Dietmar Burkhardt. So, I joined one of the Sprint

we go. My first flight is at Mission. I had

League races in the Northern

to hike to get there, which is a new

California. First of all, how do you

an opportunity for me to discover

for me (back then, the concept of

fly a task without a camera? How do

Tollhouse as a new site.

hike-and-fly didn’t exist). Right after

you record the turnpoints? I needed

The Sprint League is a great way

takeoff, the first thermal hits. I can’t

to learn to fly a task with a GPS. So,

to experience more structured events

turn it because I’m not familiar with

easy—just focus on the flying. I ended

beyond casual flying with friends:

the turning radius of my new glider

up making goal on both days and

logistical support, weather brief-

(plus 17 years of lack of practice), so I

winning the race. I could not believe

ings, tips on what might or might not

can’t judge if I can clear the hill.


work that day on the site, external

But I keep scrapping around and find a few solid thermals I could turn

Now, I’m obsessed again. So happy I made the choice to come

feedback on the flights, and, overall, a context for intentionally improv-

in and get back to the takeoff and fly

back. The sport is very different. The

ing one’s flying skills. Launching

around. I can’t believe it! I’m thermal-

gear is just incredible. And, most

with a task in mind allows one to

ing after all this time! This is beyond

important, the friendships you make

gain better understanding of what

my wildest dream! I’m landing after

in this sport are very special.

it takes to have good flights: good

a 45-minute flight, and I can’t stop smiling. I’m alone, so I can’t talk to anyone, so I had to call my wife and

I’m so thankful my wife lets me get away with this. Like riding a bike? You bet.

prep the days before; close observation of weather, birds, and other pilots; timing of launch; proficient use of equipment; patience, patience,

tell her all about it.


patience in the air; and a little bit of a

new friends, building my new flying

2017 was the third year I participated

fighting spirit. For me at least, all that

community. And then the competi-

in the Northern California Sprint

would have taken a much longer time

tive bug bit me again!

League. Let’s forget about points

to grasp without the incentive of a

I spent the next few flights making


here, because I didn’t score enough to care about them. This year was


measurable performance I can track

mal” and “ah, he followed that line

and improve, and compare to that of

with really little sink” that now meant

with the aim to make goal in the


something tangible to me. It is worth

Sprint League and the first way-

5, 10, 20 flights of my own, sluggishly

point in the NCXC. The camaraderie

Furthermore, the task is shared

Sprint League regularly all season,

across 10 pilots or more, which gives

scanning the area. This accelerated

is great; everyone is there to have

one an opportunity to fly as a group,

learning made the following event

fun and awesome flights. I got to

watch what others are doing and

that much better.

discover Tollhouse, Slide Mountain

be opportunistic about it, and also

I get better with the Sprint league.

and the Owens and improved my

to observe and analyze the choices

The others also get better. Some even

personal-best distance by a factor

others made. Watching the tracks of

get good.

of five. Memorable moments are the

All that works because Jug puts

low saves, the odd hiss of a moun-

is a powerful tool for this. This year

in his expertise and work. Thank you,

tain lion while I was scratching, and

at Tollhouse was exemplary: The first


the people who gave me rides on

site. After walking the LZ and getting


I did not have a single scary or hard

the site intro, as well as the names

The Sprint League meet at Potato

landing at the NCXC meets. Nobody

of the waypoints, the good spots for

Hill in May was the very first compe-

had to throw their reserve or had to

the day in Doarama, after the events,

the way back. Contrary to my fears,

event was my first time flying that

thermals, the ways to manage transi-

tition I participated in. It was a good

be picked out of a tree. Next year,

tions, and the possible landing areas,

day to fly and fun to bounce around

I aspire to make goal in the NCXC

I was able to make a short, very

the bowl with the other pilots. I got

league. I think I have to learn to

local flight. It was, however, the real

hooked to the gratifying beep the

make faster progress while staying

experience of the place and watching

vario makes when I tagged another

in the air as on those days when I got

the Doarama replay gave many “oh,

waypoint. After that promising be-

close to goal and ran out of lift at the

that is where he caught that ther-

ginning, I joined the NCXC and the


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Yearling Notes:

Mind the Flows by CALEF LETORNEY




ou may have noticed that time after time the same pilots seem to get high and fly far. What’s the secret to their success? Is it high performance equipment?

Are they simply better? Nobody thinks repeated pilot success is just luck, right? I argue that glider pilot performance first depends on flying in the right place at the right time, second on mastery of kinetic skills, and lastly on equipment. Knowing where to fly is all about understanding the air currents and how to surf them to your advantage. Sounds obvious, right? But when you’re flying the world’s slowest aircraft, the implications cannot be over-exaggerated. So let’s dig into this topic. Our ultimate goal is to understand the air currents and how to sail them to maximize altitude, flight time, distance, and safety margin—a lofty goal indeed. How can we begin to understand an invisible torrent that we can’t see? Fluid dynamics, the study of the flow of fluids in both the liquid and gaseous state, can inform our piloting decisions. It turns out that the air we fly in flows very similarly to water. This is useful knowledge, because we can observe the movements of water as it cascades over and around obstacles in a way we can seldom see in the air. The same understanding of fluid dynamics that

Jasper Gibson hamming for the cam on tandem with the author. OPPOSITE Board shorts and flip-flops, because towing over the water is serious business. Paraglide New England offers maneuvers training so students can handle in-flight incidents with confidence.


allows kayakers to surf a “pillow wave” in the river enables glider pilots to soar the compression in front of a moun-

the two combined. The results proved fatal, as the strong

tain. That’s why whitewater kayakers make outstanding

wind crossing the mountain created powerful mechanical

paraglider pilots; just ask Will Gadd and Gavin McClurg. There are many comprehensive guides on surfing

turbulence that propagated parallel to the ridge. Be hyper conscious of how the wind may interact with the terrain.

sky currents. Read up and explore these concepts. Build

Surf the most windward faces and give a wide berth to

mental models of the fluid dynamics of the air you are

anything that may cause rotor. Mechanical turbulence will

flying in. While flying, you should consciously test your

often have a rising component, so don’t be that fool who

mental models of the air. Does the air you are experienc-

attempts to soar the rotor.

ing support your model? This is fun, but also serious, as

Wake: We have our friends to thank for wake turbu-

there are real consequences when we get it wrong. In this

lence. You primarily need to worry about wake turbulence

article I am going to share some thoughts on the hazards

while ridge soaring, because you’re typically quite close

in an effort to inform yearling explorations into the invis-

to the ground (the part that hurts), and the laminar air

ible currents.

flows associated with ridge lift create the strongest wake

The Jumbley Bits

turbulence. On the ridge, you will find wake both downwind and above your friend’s flight path. Above, because

Mechanical (Rotor): Wind rotoring over a row of trees or

the air blasting up the ridge propagates the turbulence

buildings is easy to imagine and avoid, but mechanical

upwards. The power of wake increases with wing load-

turbulence lurks in many places you may not expect. The

ing, so a tandem will rock your world. If you’re concerned

size and severity of mechanical turbulence depends on

about a wake, you need to keep extra ground clearance or

the terrain and the wind. “The wind” can be thought of

alter your flight path. Brace yourself for impact by holding

as a vector, which describes speed and direction. It’s the

an inch or two extra brakes. Respond to wake turbulence

combination that matters, and small changes in either

with timely active piloting. The one situation in which you

aspect can have dramatic implications. There was a tragic

can wake yourself is if you exit a spiral quickly and climb

accident recently when an enthusiastic P-3 launched alone

into the air you just mixed up. Don’t do that. Exit spirals

in a wind velocity he had flown before and a wind direc-

slowly to dissipate your energy. If you exit quickly, you can

tion he had flown before, but he had never experienced

avoid your wake by switching directions with a wing-over



type turn, but this has its own risks. Thermic turbulence: My favorite! Every day is different. So don’t assume you’re ready to rumble just because you’ve enjoyed a couple hundred hours in thermals.

focus on active piloting and keeping ample ground clearance when you suspect a wind shear.

Special Sauce

Stronger climb-rates, high pressure (with sharp edges),

Convergence: All sorts of interesting things can happen

and wind contribute to the rowdiness. Thermic turbulence

when two air masses collide. Convergences can produce

is most dramatic on the edges of thermals, so rather than

widespread lift that’s an EZPass to 501’ below cloudbase…

bumble in and out of them, it’s best to get into a thermal

or it can give you a 70% collapse at 200’. So don’t take

and crank a turn. Don’t stop until you’re as high as you

convergence lightly. Be respectful! If you’re down for the

can get. Get over any lingering fear of heights; higher is

tussle, when you’re high, convergence lift can mean a real,

safer. It’s the ground that hurts. If you’re concerned about

real good time. But when you start to get low, it may be

the thermic turbulence, turn harder. While less efficient,

safer to fly out of the convergence zone to find calmer air

the centrifugal force will load the glider and make your

to land in.

wing more collapse-resistant. This works especially well if you can center your turn on the strong lift in a thermal

Leeside thermals: Rotor mixed with thermals grows the forbidden fruit of the leeside thermal. The rotor can draw

core. If, for whatever reason (perhaps downwind drift or traffic), you want to leave the party before it ends, it’s best to sneak out the side, as the compression on the windward edge and the sink and turbulence typically found on the leeward edge can prove rowdy. Wind shear: Technically, all turbulence is wind shearing against itself, so “wind gradient” is perhaps a more appropriate name. Strong wind shear is created by laminar flows with different vectors transitioning in a small area. It’s really common to find this between different vertical layers in the atmosphere. In Vermont, we often experience a rowdy wind shear when going out to land after a smooth glass-off flight. Wind shear is less present earlier in the day, because the thermals mix up the layers and disturb the definition between the boundaries. When the thermals die, the atmosphere decouples into distinct layers again, which is why we find wind shear in the evening. Unfortunately, a friend of mine was recently trounced by a wind shear. He was flying at 6:30 p.m. in 13mph wind and the turbulence at the abrupt transition to calm air in the valley gave him a 50% collapse that cravatted. Let’s just say it ended badly, with many broken bones. A little extra brake while transitioning through the shear can help, but




excellent example of the fluid dynamics, river currents help us understand air currents. BELOW Calef Letorney, revisiting his whitewater roots. Photo: Ryan Dunn. OPPOSITE Chris Rodgers and the author enjoying glassoff at West Rutland, Vermont.

thermals from a source up the leeside of the mountain

It’s not uncommon for the atmosphere to have inver-

in a manner that can at times resemble windward side

sions at regular intervals (perhaps every 2000’) so you can

thermals… except the thermal is fighting up through rotor,

enjoy this fight several times in a single thermal. We often

so it’s rowdy by nature. This black magic is inappropriate

don’t punch through inversions on our first attempt, so be

for many pilots.

dogged in your determination. Pay attention to what alti-

Inversions: The atmosphere gets colder the farther away from the surface you get, except for intermittent warm layers. When you plot the temperature of the atmo-

tude the turbulence starts at. As the day progresses, the inversion will lift or break up all together.

sphere at each altitude, the slope of this line (referred to

Final thoughts

as the “lapse rate”) inverts at the warm layers—thus, the

Turbulence is attention-grabbing feedback that helps us

name “inversion.” There are two causes for turbulence at

evaluate the accuracy of our mental models of the air.

inversions. First, the different layers often have different

Sure, it can be scary, but try to understand why you’re

wind vectors, which create shear turbulence. The second,

getting jostled about. Does your mental model call for such

more “exciting,” cause for turbulence is that inversions act

turbulence? Sometimes it’s best to “put on your spank-

as a barrier to thermals.

ing pants” and get as high as possible. But digging in for

Here’s how it works: With a favorable lapse rate, your

a fighting when the situation warrants a swift retreat

hot-air elevator keeps going up as long as it’s warmer

invites catastrophe. Nailing the correct response depends

(less dense) than the air around it. When the thermal hits

on understanding the situation. How confident are you that

a warm inversion layer, it abruptly breaks apart. Many

you have correctly understood the fluid dynamics? Tough

times pilots happily soar in thermals, until they climb

is good, but only if you’re also smart.

high enough to bang up against the inversion and think: “The air is getting turbulent! Perhaps I should go land?” But

While the turbulence archetypes I’ve discussed are pretty easy to get our heads around, they’re just simplified

it’s important to recognize the inversion, because often

models. Reality is infinitely complex; don’t underestimate

the rest of the sky is perfectly enjoyable. So you need not

our ability to misunderstand the air. Remain skeptical.

rush out to land. Banging against an inversion isn’t much

Spook early and often.

fun, but it’s one of those situations where bump tolerance

Never forget: There’s no fame, fortune or glory in our

and perseverance can pay off. If you are able to punch

sport. It’s all about fun. If you ever don’t understand or

through the inversion, you can get rewarded with smooth,

enjoy what’s going on, make the conservative decision, so

abundant lift in a new layer of the atmosphere.

you can play again another day.



Lift Sharing

The Berkeley Hang Gliding Club Demonstrates a Different—and Duplicable—Approach by ANNETTE O'NEIL


he Berkeley Hang Gliding Club

potato bombs, ribs, s’mores around

ties,” laughs Kurtis Carter, current

has been teaching new pilots

the campfire, or ribeye steak with

club instructor and member since

how to hang glide since NASA

garlic. It’s only after everyone within

1999.* “Our club has a tradition of

unveiled the very first space shuttle.

earshot is good and hungry that they

having fun and eating well while

But curiously, most conversations

begin to talk about flying.

about the sport don’t start with talk

“We’re known for our culinary abili-

we’re teaching people how to hang glide.”

of flying. Instead, they begin with talk about food. Members monologue rhapsodically about barbeques,




Berkeley Hang Gliding Club hangar with Kurtis Carter, Grant Posner, and Eric Zhevel (left to right).

“A lot of people in this sport don’t learn to teach until they’ve been flying quite a long time; by then, they don’t remember the difficulty of the first few days” misses the point. To understand

up the training hill fairly recently

Berkeley Hang Gliding Club has cer-

what the club is today, you have to

and can empathize.

tainly broken a lot of bread. They’ve

know about its philosophical birthday,

In its 40 years of existence, the

also broken the mold of hang gliding instruction. Over those decades,

which came a bit later. “The inception of the club as it

“When we’re on the third or fourth day of teaching and the students are starting to get tired,” he continues, “I

they’ve developed a fully-functional

exists today,” Kurtis explains, “is due

often see the Hang 2s carrying glid-

model for a self-sustaining, “farm-

to the influence of George Whitehill.

ers up the hill for the new students so they can get in a few more good

to-table” hang gliding collective that

He volunteered his time to do an ICP

sets aside the commercial model for

(Instructor Certification Program),

flights before they tire. It happens

a fully cooperative one. It’s a well-

because he saw that the early club

regularly, is cool, and creates a bond.

oiled machine, and the club’s current

members, who did not hold instruc-

Even if they’re not ‘teaching,’ per se,

goal is, in Kurtis’ words, to “increase

tor ratings, were teaching fellow

they’re assisting in the next genera-

the accessibility of the sport and

students to fly. George wanted to

tion’s learning.”

provide guidance to pilots interested

make sure they knew how to teach

The volunteer-based instruction

in the cooperative equipment model.”

the sport safely. So some kind soul

model was in place when Scott joined

In so doing, they aim to contribute to

volunteered to do that.

a renaissance of the sport.

“That’s one of the trademarks of our

the club, but things felt a little different back then. “Our equipment was

club,” Kurtis continues. “We teach

a little more ragtag than it is today,”

has been an officially registered

students to learn how to instruct

Scott laughs. “Back then, the sport in

club of the University of California

others at a very early point in their

general was a lot more ragtag. At that

at Berkeley (a.k.a. Cal) since the late

careers as a hang glider pilot, so they

time, we mostly just flew around in

1970s, at which time a bunch of Cal

will be able to give the gift of flight,

the local foothills. Only after another

students read Popular Mechanics,

just as they have received it. Once

four or five years did we start to fly cross-country and go for bigger

The Berkeley Hang Gliding Club

home-built some hang gliders, and

they’re even a Hang 2, they learn

went for it. By 1976, it was an offi-

teaching techniques. We pass it for-

flights up in the mountains. That’s

cially registered entity with a club

ward from generation to generation.

what we do most often now.”

sports office run out of a suburban

And our instructors are with their

garage owned by a man known only

students from day one— all the way

as “Bird.” That status lasted until one pilot flew a glider into the middle of a USCCal football game, landing unexpect-

If the club still aimed to teach its members to ridge-soar the foothills,

to their flights in the mountains and

they’d have a much easier road

successively more advanced sites.

ahead. Flying big mountains is a cut

They’re true mentors.”

above and requires the volunteer

Kurtis’s first mentor was Scott

edly in front of 76,000 fans. The pilot

Seebass, the current club president.

who pulled the stunt was released

Scott joined the club in 1988, when

instructor roster to rise to the challenge. “Once a year, we teach lesson sets.

the same day by campus police, but

he was a sporty youngster studying

By lesson set, we mean the beginning

the hang glider, which belonged to

at Cal. He learned to fly, became an

lessons of H-0 and H-1,” Kurtis ex-

the club, was never returned. UC

instructor, and an advanced instruc-

plains. “These lessons are where the

Berkeley allowed the club to continue,

tor. He’s been teaching for the club

blood, sweat, and tears are shed at Ed

but dinged its official status. To this

ever since.

day, the club is registered with the

“A lot of people in this sport don’t

Levin Park, a training hill about an hour south of the Berkeley campus,

university, but hang gliding hasn’t

learn to teach until they’ve been

by beginning students. But we also

been an official club sport since the

flying quite a long time,” Scott muses.

continue that progression of lessons

awkward conversations following that fateful touchdown. That said: The simplified version of the club’s origin story completely

“By then, they don’t remember the

for H-2’s, 3’s and 4’s. Scott gives a

difficulty of the first few days. But

great ground school for intermediate

people who are only at late Hang 2

pilots who are headed to the moun-

are different. They’ve been slogging

tains. That typically happens three or



“The combined buying power of a large group of cash-strapped-member students grants each one equipment access they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy.” four months after the initial lesson sets.

intermediate pilots has been donated to the club. Previous Berkeley Club

students, once a year,” Scott explains. “That number is largely governed by

pilots (and pilots from other local

the availability of equipment in the

out their entire progression,” he

Bay Area clubs) donate intermediate

cooperative. We set a limit in order to

continues. “That’s another essential

equipment—chutes, harnesses, and

avoid having an equipment shortage.”

aspect of our model. All the way

gliders—which is important, since

through Hang 4 and onwards. We’re

that frees up the training equipment

members at any given time, with

constantly mentoring each other.

that the equipment cooperative usu-

15-20 incoming members selected by

This is the major difference between

ally has to buy and maintain for new

lottery for the lesson set. Each year,

our setup and a more commercial


“We stay with the students through-

operation; the mentorship is built in

“We teach between 15 and 20

These days, the club has about 70

the club parks a glider on the main plaza on campus for a couple of days

from the start and intentionally nurtured throughout the entire development of the student.” It’s different from some others. But Kurtis insists that the club actually complements the commercial model. The club’s local commercial school, Mission Soaring, enjoys a healthy amount of interest directed at its operation from the club. “Eventually our pilots buy gliders from Mission,” Kurtis says. “We really have a symbiotic relationship with commercial schools. It’s not competitive.” Of course, in order to learn how to hang glide, one needs a hang glider. It is for that reason that the club stands on two feet: volunteer-based instruction and a cooperative equipment library. The core concept for the latter is simple: The combined buying power of a large group of cash-strapped-member students grants each one equipment access they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. When members join the cooperative, formed as a California non-profit organization associated with the club’s West Oakland hangar, they pay dues to cover the cost of buying and storing the equipment. (Note that pilots who have their own equipment are free to join the flying club without joining the equipment cooperative.) Much of the equipment used by



ABOVE Kurtis Carter (top) and Eric

Zhevel (bottom) teach passing students how to

hold the glider on Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.

and stands at the ready to accept a

ABOVE Gliders

in the Berkeley Hang Gliding Club hangar.

barrage of applications. Thus far, there have been more students

from Sweden for the 2008-9 school

Mountain or in the Owens Valley, where it’s only our group, the stars,

interested than there are spots

year. Johanna earned her H-3 before

available. The club rewards stick-to-

leaving the US in August 2009 and

and nature. We sit around the fire,

itiveness, however, and guarantees

has returned to fly with the club

cook, watch the sun set and moon

a spot to those who don’t make it in

almost every year since then.

rise, gaze at the incredible night sky

on the first try but are keen enough

“I always felt accepted and taken

with stars so bright you think you

to apply again the following year.

seriously as a female pilot at Cal,”

should be able to touch them, and

(Occasionally, H-2’s with their own

Johanna remembers. “Later, I learned

share stories about flying. We sleep

equipment who learned elsewhere

that there are hardly any women in

under the open sky, and wake up to

also join the club.)

any of the other clubs around the

a completely calm and quiet morn-

world. When I returned to Sweden, I

ing, with the sun slowly rising, life

coming class is reliably comprised of

was the only female hang glider pilot

returning to the desert, and the pros-

women. This is by design. Incoming

in the country for a few years. I also

pect of flying again in a few hours.”

club members are selected by lottery

discovered that pilots back home had

from a very long interest list, but

a lot of ideas about how well a young

Notably, about half of that small in-

female applications are prioritized. “We train more female pilots than

female pilot could fly. I needed to outfly the guys several times, before

Kurtis rhapsodizes about the club’s legendary campfire culture, too. “Hat Creek is one of my most memorable experiences,” Kurtis says, “And

any other club I am aware of,” boasts

I felt they started to take me seri-

it continues to be every year. Hat

Scott. “And our equipment coopera-

ously as a pilot. I never felt the need

Creek is the celebration we put on

tive is geared towards that. We make

to prove anything to anybody in the

for new pilots who are graduating to

sure there are enough smaller glid-

Berkeley Club.

flights in the mountains. Every year

ers available.”

“Some of my favorite memories are

we go out to Hat Creek for the Fourth

of sitting around club campfires,”

of July. It is the most amazing feeling

pilots is Johanna Lönngren. She came

she continues, “for example, at our

to watch a student you saw on the

to Berkeley as an exchange student

camping spot near the top of Hull

first day of training finally get the gift

One of the club’s many female



ABOVE Eric Posner,

Kurtis Carter, and Eric Zhevel standing in front of the glider on Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.

of flight and hold on to it for hours.

ment maintains a re-supply of energy

Kurtis notes. “That is the place we

It’s the biggest party we throw every

that keeps our program dynamic and

call home in the summer. My first

year. All of the members also come

exciting. You wake up in the campsite

hundred-mile flight was there. I still

out for our big feast—a pit-roasted

in the morning to find that people

remember when Scott explained that


who are ready for their first altitude

these kinds of flights were possible

“We have a pretty ritualized way of

flight have been up for an hour. That

and my accomplishing one was a

camping,” Scott adds, “And, I must say,

constant energy has kept me return-

huge landmark in my life. And the

we’re pretty good at it. We live well

ing to our outings for 27 years. It’s

rest of the club below me cheered me

on the road and have no problem

just fun.”

on as I went for it.”

dealing with a lot of people shoved

“We are a lot more than a flying

destinations is the legendary Owens

club,” adds two-year student member,

Valley. The Berkeley Club flies more

Eric Zhevel, currently an upperclass-

kind of energy with a single group of

frequently at Owens Valley than any

man. “On trips when we are unable

people who never change,” he contin-

other active club.

into little cars to go on road trips. “I don’t think you can maintain that

ues. “People get older, get busy, have kids. But somehow the club environ-


One of the club’s primary camping


“We’re probably the most active club in the Owens Valley today,”

to fly, we still manage to have fun. We swim in lakes and have even gone water skiing and wakeboarding.

I hope to learn to kite surf with other members in La Ventana, Mexico. I’ve also learned a lot from older club members. There is much more to the BHGC than just flying.” “We want to get out this message to all the young pilots—or pilots who know of young pilots, or have a student in college,” Kurtis says. “You can start a program like this. Get in touch with the Berkeley Club. We want to help reproduce this model throughout the country. We believe it is really good for the sustainability of the sport. If anyone is interested in learning how to start a cooperative at a college, feel free to reach out.” “This is a model that succeeds, and we want other people to have it,” Scott adds. “The gift of giving is very powerful, and I want to see this model go much farther than just Berkeley.”

ABOVE Fun fact: Kurtis is the first person to land a hang glider in Burning

Man’s iconic Black Rock City.






Oliver Chittey launching at Forbes for start of Day 3 | photo by Mark Fox





The Best Sled Ride

In the World written by BRIAN MORRIS


t was a cool December evening in New Smyrna

photos by AUDRAY LUCK

This is where he met Adrian, who had just sold his

Beach, Florida, just before the supposed 12/12/12

tree-cutting company in Atlanta to do the same. Adrian

apocalypse was to sweep the countryside. I

is one of the most positive and entertaining people I have

squirmed into a tight ball and sought enough comfort

ever met. He doesn’t think twice about reconfiguring

to be able to doze off for the evening. I was on the first of

his life path and creating an environment to chase the

many spontaneous road trips with two new friends who

dreams that he conjures up in an incredibly imagina-

would eventually become my brothers—Kelly Myrkle

tive mind. Growing up in Michoacan, Mexico, he was

and Adrian Sanchez. The three of us slept in my 2004

often disciplined by his mother for attempting to build

Mercury Sable, nestled in between hang gliding equip-

kite-like structures and leaping off elevated places in his

ment, duffle bags, a cracked window, and cold leather

home, including his roof, hoping to fly. Thirty years later,

seats. That first road trip was in pursuit of a girl I had

he was chasing this same aerial pursuit. He had spent

fallen for on a study-abroad program the year prior. I

the last month living in a yurt with six other people,

had an expired driver’s license at the time, and my new

in order to save money while spending his days flying

friends demanded that they chauffeur me to Florida to

off Lookout Mountain, soaring over the valleys of the

reunite and try to rekindle this study-abroad romance.

Cumberland Plateau.

Little did we know that this was the first of many epic

“If you could fly any mountain in the world, despite

adventures and idealistic pursuits we would dream up

any impossibilities or obstacles, where would you

and chase together.

go?” I asked. A video of Adam West soaring over Table

Kelly had held a lucrative government contractor posi-

Mountain in South Africa had pulled me into this sport

tion in Iraq for several years, living in undesirable condi-

and had become my personal Mount Everest, five years

tions. The long, dry, and emotionally stagnant desert

previously. I wondered if my new friends had similar

days left him thinking about a void that existed in his

aspirations or dreams about hang gliding. “My dream is

heart. He had been a very passionate competition stunt

to go back to my first home in Michoacan and fly from

biker before, which filled his life with adrenaline and

the mountain that towers over our city. It has not been

an appetite for more. However, a recent traumatic injury

cleared of the forest yet, and I don’t believe anyone has

had left Kelly in a world of doubt and uncertainty as to

ever flown from there.” Adrian grinned as he thought of

a sustainable future with motorcycles. So when he had

the moment his feet would leave the ground one day to

come across a hang gliding video in the desert, the idea

soar over his hometown.

of soaring through the sky with no worries in the world,

“My dad had a life-changing experience while travel-

free from stress and Taliban rockets, was extremely ap-

ing across the country, hitchhiking his way to Yosemite

pealing. He swore that he would leave the desert at the

National Park. He spoke of the incredible views, the ad-

first opportunity and pursue this flying experience that

venture in getting there, and the feelings that the moun-

was tugging at his heartstrings. Thus, once he completed

tains invoked in him when he was our age. Ever since I

his tour and arrived back in the States, he gave up ev-

heard it was possible to fly there, I imagined myself in

erything and moved to Lookout Mountain to chase this

his shoes. How incredible it would be to make the same


journey 40 years later. When we all get our advanced rat-

LEFT Kelly

Myrkle on launch with site monitor Barton Davidson on the wires.



Our method of transportation was a large, 26-foot box truck that Corey was driving for his work that entailed moving shipments of goods from city to city. Our plan was to take on any available work along the way, picking up and dropping off loads at different locations along the route to cover the costs of the trip. Packed into the vehicle like sardines, we had camping gear, hang gliders, paragliders, and a cooler full of breakfast burritos. It was the perfect recipe for an adventuresome road trip. As Corey released the hydraulic brakes, the resounding blast of released air announced that our journey had begun. Our first stop was to be Salt Lake City, Utah, where we hoped to test our gear and make final preparations before the weekend. Still recovering from a recent shoulder surgery, I hadn’t flown a hang glider for sevABOVE Site

monitor Bart Davidson giving Kelly and Brian the rundown on the site.

eral months, and Kelly wanted to give his Moyes Gecko one last test run before Yosemite. Moyes had sponsored his competition pursuits over the past few years, and

ings someday, we need to make a trek to these places and

there was no other hang glider that he could imagine

fly them together!” In this way, Kelly initiated our pact—a

flying over one of the most beautiful sites in our country.

pact that we would work towards this collective dream,

Thanks, Jonny Durand and Vicki Cain!

no matter how long it took. That road trip proved to be

The conditions at Point of the Mountain that day were

a defining moment in our friendship and that initiated

far more ideal for paragliding, so we broke out the bags

ambitious pursuits in the future.

and left the ground in paragliders instead. Several hours

September 21, 2017: We had finally cleared our schedules sufficiently to attempt to make the epic journey

passed as we floated across the Utah sky, enjoying the sunset and quiet peace that accompanies free flight. The

to Yosemite National Park. By this time, we all had our

beauty of spontaneous road trips is that they never work

required advanced or tandem hang gliding ratings and

out quite the way you think they will, and random spe-

had spent the last five years flying nearly every day the

cial moments occur. You feel as if you are the only ones

winds allowed. This year, fires in the park had pushed

in the world experiencing them, and they are the world’s

our plans back, weekend after weekend, until we were advised to postpone our trip until the springtime of 2018. Nevertheless, we continued our attempts to rearrange our schedules to match the weather conditions during 2017, until we were close to throwing in the towel. Then an email unexpectedly hit our inboxes. Five days before the last possible day in 2017 to make the flight, it looked as if there might be a slight chance that the fires would have subsided enough for us to fly. Those odds were enough for us to start packing and fight the odds against fulfilling Kelly’s biggest dream. Unfortunately, due to insurmountable scheduling obstacles, Adrian was unable to make the trip, so my old friend Corey Cassidy joined us in his place. Corey had fallen in love with hang gliding the previous year, during a memorable weekend excursion to Lookout Mountain. Despite being a novice pilot, he offered to drive for us and to join the adventure while we mentored him along the way.




taking a last moment to himself before walking across the rocks to launch.

LEFT Launching! Kelly’s

dream finally comes true.

gift to you for going with the flow. One of the reasons we

ists. A small group of volunteers visit Yosemite a few days

are all addicted to flying is the uncertainty of the adven-

per year to act as site monitors and to host small groups

ture that each flight will bring. The uniqueness of the

of pilots who register for the epic flight.

air, the scenery, the surge of adrenaline, and the medita-

The number-one rule in cross-country flying is never

tive peace that accompanies each flight is special to that

to land in a canyon. The wind and thermals turn it into

moment. The cold beers around a fire at night are the

an environment similar to a washing machine that can

perfect icing on the cake and a tribute to these shared

toss you around like a ragdoll, while attempting to land.


Yosemite is just that: 3000 feet of solid rock surrounding

We hit the road towards Yosemite, with a couple more

a valley of gorgeous trees, streams, and grassy fields. The

stops along the way. After four days, the truck smelled of

flight must occur between the time the sun first peeks

stale fast food and body odor. The burritos in the cooler

over Half Dome and before around 10:00 a.m., when the

had been devoured before we reached the continental

weather begins to kick in. If the wind conditions are any-

divide, so we dined on gas station food or whatever else

thing other than gentle, the flight is postponed, and we

we could find quickly, in order to reach our destination

simply enjoy the park’s natural beauty, the way the other

on time.

99% of visitors do, on the ground.

Yosemite is a designated hang gliding site, in that hang

The campsite is a couple of hours away from the

gliding is the only legal form of free flight allowed in the

launch site, and we knew our gliders must be set up by

park. People have been flying there since the early days

7:30 a.m., forcing us to get an early start. Typically, hang

of the sport, and the founders of flying have fought for

gliding conditions are best in the afternoon. So, nor-

years to keep the location open for pilots to enjoy. Pilots

mally, hang glider pilots might be able to sleep in and

must have earned an advanced rating and have years of

enjoy a lazy morning over coffee, while paraglider pilots

flying experience to apply to launch from Glacier Point,

must wake up early and freeze themselves while flying

an epic rock outcropping that is very popular with tour-

in the light morning conditions they require. However,




world so big, to feel so small is something Kelly strives for.

Yosemite would be another story for us. Having gotten to know Kelly over several years, I have learned that he is not a morning person. Usually, until

like a water hose with a kink in it ready to explode. With

he has had his morning coffee, taken a visit to the oval

every turn, we looked for signs of a clearing in the smoke

office, and caught a glimpse at his favorite news feed,

that had engulfed the valley. As we reached the top of

no words are uttered. Kelly is a true hang glider pilot at

the canyon, we pulled over at a scenic overlook, where

heart. However, this was not the case at 5 a.m. on the

the smoke had not completely dominated the view. The

morning of Oct 2nd. A good friend of ours had joined

smoke, the morning mist, the rocks, and the twilight

us with fresh coffee, after pulling up in her old Jeep

were intertwined like the strokes of an artist’s painting. I

Cherokee ornamented with purple rims and steamed

have never seen so many shades of blue! It was still frigid

windows. Audray Luck had spent the past several years

cold, and the silence was overwhelming as we took our

photographing hang gliding and paragliding events, and

first glance into the abyss below. The mist encompassed

had developed a reputation for taking incredible pictures

the valley, giving the illusion of a mountaintop rising

of us doing what we loved most. We felt extremely fortu-

into the heavens. The massive rocks jabbed through

nate to have such a talented supporter and were excited

the cloudy layer like ancient gods rising above us. As we

to have her record a visual history we could share with

stared out at this magical view, reality finally set in: We

Kelly’s father.

had not only arrived; we had a solid chance of a dream

Precisely at 0500, Kelly shook me out of the hammock I had hung in the back of the box truck and pulled Corey out by his legs from the front seat of the cab. (Our spa-


the ride into the park and up the mountain. Our excitement, adrenaline, and the accompanying nerves were

flight coming true. The rest of the drive to our unloading spot was quick. Knowing that we would appreciate having some free

cious accommodations in the truck were an upgrade

time to take in the sights and relax before the launch

from the Mercury Sable days.) We then set out for the

window opened, we unloaded and set up our gliders with

launch site, and a mysterious and eerie silence filled

a careful sense of urgency. I was checking each connec-


“The drop-off after the launch is treacherous and unforgiving, so any wheels must be removed to keep the glider from rolling off.” tion carefully, one last time, when I met Barton. In his

moment that is part of this ritual. It’s quite unusual to

volunteer role of Yosemite Hang Gliding Site Monitor, he

compare that connective moment with a piece of metal

was the perfect character if cast for a movie. Imagine

and fabric, but you are trusting implicitly that the glider

a very chill, older, silver-haired hippy emerging from a

will deliver you safely to the ground from a height of

pine forest, with a clipboard and an old-school flannel

3000 feet over a rocky canyon. A few deep breaths, the

shirt, and you have Barton. Monitors come out to the site

clipping of the carabiner, and the zipping of the harness

several select weekends during the summer season and

initiates the mental sequence. The thought prevails that

prepare for pilots a detailed site briefing, check all of

if you make the slightest mistake, it could very well be

their ratings, and preserve the site for the future of the

the last one you ever make. It is that thought that sends

sport. Barton also brought along his glider to launch last

you into a hyper-focused state—a moment of intense

and enjoy the air with us.

concentration, leading ultimately to a meditative state,

He walked us out to a rocky outcrop and explained the

a meditation in which each breath, the nuances of the

logistics of getting the hang glider through the winding

wind speed and direction, and the feeling on every hair

boulder footpath before the launch. We were not allowed

of your body, are molded together. You are one with

to carry the glider “clipped in” on the off chance that we

the glider, the air, and the entire world below you, and

might take a fall. The launch site is a large rock with a

determined to nail this flight, enveloped in this perfect

fairly self-explanatory direction. There is room for just a few steps, and there are large trees just to the left, and just under the launch. The drop-off after the launch is treacherous and unforgiving, so any wheels must be removed to keep the glider from rolling off. Barton assisted us in holding up the wing until we were ready to run. Although not a technically difficult launch, it was obvious that any mistake could be a fatal one, reminding us of why it was reserved only for the pilot with ample experience. This flight was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and Barton was our leprechaun. Kelly was among the first to launch. He stood there for several minutes, paralyzed, one foot in front of the other. I wondered if it was nerves, excitement, or if he was simply having an emotional moment while taking in the view. Maybe he was imagining the parallel experience his father had had in the same place 40 years ago. “CLEAR!” he finally yelled, as all the electrons in his body energized and his focused stance turned into a perfect sprint into the air. Along with the quiet swoosh of the glider becoming airborne, the sound of 30 or so cameras clicking rang through the air at the scenic overlook. I had not noticed that a large group of picture-taking spectators had gathered at Glacier Point to witness the event. That was followed by a long silence, as we all watched the glowing red-and-green Gecko glider disappear against the shades of blue and silver of Half Dome. I quickly handed off my phone, which was recording the live event through Facebook, and headed over to the glider I had set up. If you have ever stroked the mane of a horse before you saddled it, you know the calming


looking out at Half Dome prior to walking out to launch.

“Everything was so untouched, so absent of civilization, that the Yosemite Valley seems a genuine Jurassic experience.” After speaking with Kelly later, we both agreed that the

moment. After nearly a thousand flights, this is still the mental wave I ride before every launch. I understand now why Kelly froze on the launch. The

flight could have lasted anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. It was a truly timeless flight. We were gliding through

panoramic view before me was a perfectly painted

the Yosemite Valley, through several thousand feet of

picture of magnificence. I wondered how many people

surrounding solid rock. Our wings scraped by unique

in history, including Kelly’s dad, had been affected by

rainbows that were forming in the mist of waterfalls

the enormity and purity of this place. I held the angle

dropping from the tops of mountains. We flew next to

of the glider a bit lower than usual to match the pitch of

solo pine trees growing in rocky outcrops, perhaps un-

the launch, and stared down a clear tunnel of morning

noticed before; everything was so untouched, so absent

ABOVE Kelly's Gecko rests, post flight, in the Yosemite valley LZ.


air, smoke, mist, and sunlight streaming from a nearby

of civilization, that the Yosemite Valley seems a genuine

peak. As my feet left the ground, I realized how small

Jurassic experience. I looked down and imagined ancient

and insignificant I was at that very moment. I surmised

pterodactyls having the same view, searching for prey

that, minutes, before Kelly had felt the same, and now

many millennia before. A winding river snakes around

he was in the moment of experiencing his dream flight. I

the designated landing zone, and, as we zoomed in for

felt honored to be in the air at the same time as my close

the final approach, the bright colors of our gliders stared

friend and lucky that the universe had paved the way for

back at us in the reflection of the water. We landed like

us to take this flight together.

birds on the beach. And the thrill of stalling our wings


LEFT A moment of post-flight reflection in the LZ

at the final destination was only topped by seeing the wide smiles of our friends in the landing zone. Kelly, still speechless, enjoyed a moment of reflection, while looking out at the long meadow as the sun crept up El Capitan, the famous rock-climbing ascent. When Audray and Corey arrived, we headed off to lunch and a day of hiking that kept our emotional high going until sunset. We raced as high as we possibly could up El Capitan as the sun started to fade. Looking down several hundred feet below at the top of the pine trees, we disregarded the amount of time it would take to get down or whether we would make it before dark. Instead we sat together and embraced the indescribable feeling that I find myself unable to properly express in words. It is the feeling that one can only get after experiencing a memorable adventure and chasing a wild dream in the company of the very best of friends, albeit a dream conjured up in the most unlikely of places: inside a Mercury Sable in a Walmart parking lot! The wild dream motivated by a study-abroad romance, or while pursuing a familial Yosemite vision—these are the defining moments of a great road trip, or, moreover, of a life lived fully.



Behind the


of the

Red Bull X-Alps





recent feature-length article in Cross Country Magazine called the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps “The Suffering.” It was unarguably the hardest edition

in the race’s already brutal history: Not because it was the

longest, which it was at 1138 kilometers in a straight line, crossing seven countries and seven waypoints. But because the weather was downright atrocious, from the moment the gun went off in Salzburg July 2nd until a LONG 11 days and 23+ hours later, when the race ended— 24 hours after the “eagle” Chrigel Maurer literally limped into Monaco, after injuring one of his knees, to claim his 5th consecutive title. Only one other athlete—rookie Frenchman Benoït Outters— would complete the gruel before the clock stopped. Over the course of the slog, five athletes were eliminated (whoever is in last place is eliminated every 48 hours) and seven had to withdraw due to injury or exhaustion. When the race ended, I was closing in on the Matterhorn, but still 308 kilometers from goal. I’d just completed back-toback marathons to stay ahead of a very tenacious Canadian (Rick Brezina) to secure 14th place. After finishing in 8th place as a rookie in 2015, our team showed up fully prepared and hopeful for a podium result, but I lost any chance of placing well after falling from the top three on day three, to nearly last that same afternoon, when an unfortunate bomb-out turned into a ground nightmare. But that’s another story. The numbers for every athlete still in the game at the end were similar to my own: 16.5 marathons on the ground, 120,000 vertical feet climbed ABOVE Gavin takes off from the Triglav turnpoint, day 4 of the Red Bull X-Alps. LEFT Gavin and Bruce Marks prepare equipment at the Triglav turnpoint. Photos courtesy of Redbull Photofiles/Vitek Ludvik.



(think Everest four times), and over 1000 kilometers in the

able job at covering what is a logistical nightmare that just

air, most of them wickedly tough. In a word: ridiculous.

gets worse as the days go by and the teams get more and

The obvious question, then, is, “Why do it?” I can’t speak

more spread out. But the fact is, there isn’t a cameraman on

for the other athletes, but somehow, even though there is

course-line who can keep up with us on the ground and no

undoubtedly an absurd amount of pain, not to mention the

sane tandem pilot who will put a cameraman in the air in

preposterous training, time, dedication, expense, risk and

the conditions that are typical in the race. So most of what’s

wholesale relinquishment of anything else important in life

going down is seen only through the eyes of the athletes and

that is required to participate in this lunacy, I’ve never done

their teams.

anything so repeatedly and remarkably fun. Near the end of

Here are a couple of examples.

day nine in the race, one that stands out for being even more

Day five was stellar. I’d flown a clean line directly over

stupid than the rest— with over 17,000 feet of vertical climb-

the Grossglockner glacier, the highest mountain in Austria,

ing to get airborne four times, crash landing into trees after

to jump a half-dozen places and tag turnpoint 3 at Aschau,

stuffing it into an unlandable canyon, and covering over 60

with just enough time to race 10 kilometers up to launch

kilometers on the ground—I got a text from Will Gadd, my

with Ben to get a final glide before the 9:00 p.m. mandatory

partner a few years back on a bivvy trip across the Canadian

no-fly cutoff. As we huffed it up the mountain, Bruce called

Rockies and a pilot who competed in the X-Alps in the first

with some bad news. The next day would be 100% overcast,

edition in 2003, that said: “There is nothing better you can

coupled with 40kph winds out of the west, which was the

possibly be doing with your time! Go!” And he was right.

direction we were headed. Basically unflyable, which likely

Here’s why: Fans of the race get to watch the live track-

meant I’d be walking 120 kilometers to Lermoos, the next

ing, which is no doubt remarkable. And they get to read the

turnpoint. The safe and sensible route was to head down

advertising-laced updates from the race journalists who

the Inn Valley towards Innsbruck, where at least five other

have an impossible job of trying to keep up, but who are also

competitors who were all less than 10 kilometers ahead of

under enormous pressure by the powers-that-be to write

me had chosen to go. But it felt wrong. Playing it safe wasn’t

short, dramatic and often pretty silly updates that leave the

going to move us up in the rankings. I launched exactly

good stuff behind the veil. But even the journalists don’t get

where everyone in front of me had, but instead of turning

to see what’s really happening on the ground and, of course,

SW down the Inn Valley, I flew directly west into the setting

in the air. This is no fault of Red Bull’s. They do a remark-

sun. Bruce arrived with our race van as I was packing up. “I

ABOVE Gavin desperately seeks a climb at the Triglav turnpoint in Slovenia | photo courtesy of Redbull Photofiles/ Vitek Ludvik



LEFT The end of day nine where Gavin climbed 17,000+ feet of vertical and landed in a tree and 60+ km | photo by Olga Schmaidenko. RIGHT In perfect position, Gavin prepares to launch on day three with Sebastian Huber above Spittal An der Drau. Things would go sideways from here. Photo courtesy of Redbull Photofiles/ Harald Tauderer.

know what you’re thinking, but I’m not sure I like it. This

of the mountains through Milan, so they could travel on the

is risky, skipper.” I was taking a more direct line than the

much faster freeway, and were hundreds of kilometers away.

others, but only if I could fly. The line would be torture if I

So Bruce didn’t have much weather help for me, but he did

had to walk.

let me know that Michal Gerlach (Poland 1) and Rick Brezina

The next day I flew four times and vaulted up eight posi-

(Canada 1) had chosen to fly the south side of the Sondrio

tions, one of them a 35km surf so low along the ridges that

and had overtaken me! I couldn’t believe it! I’d had 20 km on

I could wave to the team in the van following me. I’d land

each of them just an hour before, and we were convinced the

and Bruce and Ben had the next move perfectly planned

north line would be faster. Infuriated, I balled my wing up

out. And it just kept working. Rain and thunder be damned!

and ran higher a couple hundred meters and launched into

That day was magic, but you would never know it from the

the howling valley wind. I knew I just needed height to get

live tracking, and if you’d seen a live camera of the sky, you

out of the wind, and there wasn’t a moment to waste.

would have concluded my tracker was broken. It just wasn’t possible to be in the air. All the guys who had gone down the

To say the least, it was exciting. But in no time, I was back

Inn valley and were 15 km ahead of me at dawn were 60 ki-

at base, pressing full bar and following a cloudstreet and

lometers behind that evening and had never left the ground.

holding on tight. At the end of the Sondrio Valley I was in a

Three other pilots, including the Running Man, Toma

zone I’d flown several times before. If I could get one more

Coconea, had all decided on my same route, but they also

big climb, I’d be in Bellinzona, with plenty of time to close on

never flew that day, incorrectly assuming it was unflyable.

the Matterhorn. But it wasn’t in the cards. I was approach-

A bit later, Day 10, was the next day in the race with decent

ing a north-south running mountain range, with the sun

flying weather. If I could stay in the air, we thought we could

well to the west, which put me in full shade. I didn’t even

potentially make the Matterhorn, over 220 km west. A long

search for a climb; I could see a steep trail and just did an

evening glide the night before had put me in good position,

immediate fly-on-the wall landing 2000 meters above the

high in the truly wild Adamello Park of Italy, and I was able

valley floor and quickly packed and began climbing as fast

to ping off early and quickly reached base. The day looked

as I could. After 600 meters of climbing, I reached the Swiss

perfect! I soared easily to the north side of the Sondrio Valley,

border, but my position was horrendous. As far as I could see

which is famous for really strong valley winds, but even

in both directions was a 1500’ sheer cliff and, of course, the

though I was high, got smoked making a transition and des-

wind was coming from the cliff side, which was in the full

perately top-landed in a feisty headwind and called Bruce

sun. The backside of the cliff was nearly as steep, not quite a

to get a weather update. But the roads in that area are so

knife- edge, but most of it precipitous and way too dangerous

convoluted that Ben and Bruce had wisely driven south out

to attempt a leeside launch. The seconds ticked by like little



time bombs. TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK. Finally, in desperation I found a short ramp on the backside of the cliff that would give me a couple of steps to run hard in a forward launch, hopefully inflate the wing underneath the rotor and then bank hard 180 degrees, before the ground fell away like a concrete waterfall. I gave myself a quick little pep talk, trying to convince my brain that this would work, that I wasn’t crazy, and ran as hard as I could. But it didn’t work. By the time the wing inflated, I didn’t have enough height to punch through the col and had to kill the attempt. TICK TOCK, TICK TOCK. I laid out the wing again, took a couple of deep breaths and focused my eyes on the col. This time I felt wing pressure a touch earlier than the previous attempt, leaned hard to the left, pulled my left brake carefully, and for a brief moment felt like I was a basejumper leaping off El Capitan. Whoooooooosh! It worked! I quickly found a climb, called Bruce to let him know I was back in the game and set off towards the Matterhorn. Unsure of my position, I pulled up live tracking like the fans do and discovered I’d gained considerable ground. The Pole was low and in a poor position, and the Canadian was just two kilometers ahead, but was low and grinding it out into a strong valley wind. His patience would be his undoing. All I had to do was fly over his head and keep pace with him on the ground. Then we’d have him. On live tracking, it was a pretty typical day in the race. A flight and a top land; another flight and another landing; then a quick foot race up to some interesting-looking terrain (if you were zoomed in) and then another flight. The reality, of course, was quite a bit more intense! I ran a full marathon that night and another the next morning, to stay ahead of the Canadian, who I must commend for being a hell of a tough competitor. He gave it his all to the last second. After 11 days and 23 hours, our journey was finally complete. Even though our team was emphatically happy and all smiles, we were all also in 100% agreement: 2017 would be the last. The X-Alps box had been ticked. Why do it again? The time, the cost, the training, the risk: It just wasn’t worth it. Three weeks later, I got an email from Ben, who was back home in Albuquerque and another from Bruce, who was home in Perth, Australia, on the exact same day. “Skipper, let’s do it again!” I’d been thinking the exact same thing. TOP CGavin prepares for a hard day in the air on Day 4. Photo courtesy of Redbull Photofiles/ Vitek Ludvik. BOTTOM Finished! Gavin and Ben Abruzo celebrate the end of a brutal yet rewarding battle. Photo Olga Schmaidenko.

All the US X-Alps teams would like to thank the Foundation for Free Flight, USHPA and the many generous private donors who helped support our campaigns this year. We hope we made you proud.

The race as seen through the eyes of ben abruzzo and bruce marks, team usa 1 supporters 1. What is your unique perspective of the X-Alps as a supporter? Bruce: The good news is Red

Close second is the danger factor.

place just an honor system. We all

We all agree that my driving is only

have eyes. Not a lot different to cloud

slightly more risky to one’s health

flying IMHO.

Bull was conceived by passionate

than flying in the mountains in shitty

adventurers, and it’s still run by


4. High point of the 2017 race?

Ben: Having to claim the night pass

Bruce: The three weeks’ route train-

evolved such that every third post is

by noon. It makes it a nearly useless

ing beforehand. We absolutely nailed

an advertisement, and your online

tool unless you are stupid like us and

the critical places to recon, the weather was sensational, and the lifestyle of

them. But, just as Facebook has

behavior is tracked because it’s worth

use it the first day or you are using

a fortune to them, so has the Red

it at the end. Would be much more

training and learning the terrain was

Bull X-Alps. The success of the event

intrigue and strategy if you could pull

very cool. I’m secretly planning on

is measured in website hits. Gear is

it anytime.

training for 2019 and pulling out of the

provided to teams not because it

race a week before. Don’t tell Gav.

will help the athletes and supporters

3. How could the race be improved?

(it’s often not even good equipment)

Bruce: One must remember the

it’s there because the corporation

Ben: The day Gavin flew with no sun, in the rain on the way to Lermoos,

limitations implied by point #1. I’d

when everyone else was walking (see

makes money out of it, which in turn

love to never see Monaco again (well,

main story).

makes it economical staging the

we solved that issue last year by not

event. Likewise, compulsory landing

getting there, but that’s an unsatisfac-

at turnpoints in towns that pay for the

tory tactic for 2019). Ideally the race

4. Low point of the 2017 race? Ben: The walk up to the Col on the

privilege. It would be impossible to

could end in a beautiful alpine location

massif the second morning in the rain

argue that this favors the race in any

where people actually gave a s%#!

and quickly realizing there was no way

way other than ensuring it continues

about paragliding.

Gavin could fly, meaning our night-

to exist. We must reflect: What

I’d love to see the playing field lev-

are we helping to promote by our

eled so that elite European pilots

participation? Selling an energy drink

couldn’t gaggle up with their mates

to an obese world.

who just happen to turn up on launch

In saying this, I offer no criticism of

with an Enzo3. I suggest in the first

pass gamble had been wasted.

5. Most stressful moment of the race: Ben: For me it was the last day. That day we had to put how fast we know

the Red Bull Corporation. They are extremely transparent with regard to what they are doing. It is rather us, the teams and the fans, who might be the guilty ones with regard to selfdeception. All that said: It’s still the coolest thing in the world!

2. What don’t you like most about the race? Bruce: The worst part of my day is making breakfast at 5:00 a.m., to be confronted at 5:10 a.m. by Gavin’s naked frontside as he slides out of his bunk. You can set your watch by it. I tried using the eye covers you’re given on the plane, but I always ended up knocking over his breakfast shake.

BELOW Team USA 1 discusses strategy at the Triglav turnpoint on day 4 | photo courtesy of Redbull Photofiles/ Vitek Ludvik.

Gavin covers ground (he’s fast!) to

up on foot and would have to try for

determine if he should run, walk, or

the launch. Sure enough, he went for

turn on. So we’re sitting in the van at

hike up to a launch, all in order to

it. Was our math correct? What if he

9 a.m., beautiful day, cu’s on the high

keep the Canadian, who was chas-

could get off lower and make a miracle

peaks. Gav is playing it cool, fooling

ing hard, at bay. It was even more

flight? Fifteen minutes before the race

around with his high-tech headphones,

interesting, because we had to guess

ended, it was obvious he wasn’t going

and I’m thinking, bull*%**! It’s always

what his intentions were. The location

to catch us even if he got in the air, but

better to be on launch than play-

favorable area that needed time to

was unique in that it was essentially

there was some serious pucker factor

ing with electronics before a big day.

unlaunchable, except for one particu-

going on there in the van for a few

So off he races. I get to launch five

lar place. The math confirmed that if


either athlete went for the launch, they

Bruce: Watching Gav nearly bomb

minutes after to find a great face wind, and Gav’s wing laid out ready to go. I’d

would run out of time. We made the

out launching from Triglav on day

had more time in my head. We’d stroll

decision to keep Gavin running until

4. We all agreed that morning it was

to launch, chat, smell the roses. But it

the race ended at 11 a.m., because we

not a day to rush. We were coming

does look ON. What follows is an hour

knew the Canadian could not catch

from high terrain down to a much less

of scratching misery. The obvious solution is to top land, but it’s not allowed within the Triglav National Park. I even called the race director to double check. Then I got a call from our meteorologist to say the inversion in the lowlands won’t break for another hour … all the while Gav is starting to get lower and more and more stressed. It was awful.

6. What training or prep did you have to do to support Gavin? Bruce: My race starts in March when the route is announced. It’s actually my favorite part, working out route options by drawing on my memory of 10 years flying in the Alps, flights we’ve done together, previous races, studying Google Earth, emailing my European pilot contacts … and discussing all with Ben who works out a ground game plan, and then all three of us together sorting out the preferred options. Then repeat for all possible weather scenarios. Next it’s putting aside time to train on the route, which in effect means limited local flying for me, then chasing in the van. So we are talking a lot of hours, but it’s mainly good fun. ABOVE Ben Abruzzo and Bruce Marks make up USA 1. With Ben focused

on fitness and keeping Gavin moving and Bruce the master strategist and comedic relief. RIGHT Oh the places you will go! Photo by Olga Schmaidenko.



7. Most people don’t know: Bruce: Design our preferred route so as to avoid Swiss food.



COMPETITION Forbes Flatlands 2018 written by OLIVER CHITTY photos by MARK FOX

The Annual Big-distance XC Comp Down Under


opens at 12:30 so the atmosphere is

record. Taking off from Forbes, she

relaxed; the trip to the takeoff field

flew southwest to West Wyalong

formally known as the Bill Moyes

and east to Grenfell, before pushing

International Airfield only takes 10

back northwest to Forbes, complet-


ing her task by landing after 19:00.

he Forbes Flatlands competition

Congratulations, Sasha! This was 210.4

Day One: Canned

in Australia, that began this

km over a triangle course. Before she

During day one of any competition,

year on December 29 and ran

would leave Forbes she would nab

competitors are always tense. The

through January 5, is usually the first

three more records, including speed

familiar adage, “You can’t win a com-

big comp of the year. After hosting

of 37.83 km/hr over a triangular

petition on the first day, but you sure

the World Championships in 2013,

course of 200 km, straight distance

as well can lose it!” runs through our brains.

Forbes made its mark in the hang

of 407.99 km to a declared goal, and

gliding scene as being the site with

free distance of 417.1 km over three

some of the best and most consistent


flying conditions during the winter.

Of her first record, she stated, “And

The task set for day one is a 155km task to the SSE. The conditions are overcast with a strong breeze. Some

Consequently, it attracts pilots from

to think this is only the practice task

cumuli are forming under the high

all around the world who are looking

at Forbes!”

cloud, but a band of rain is possi-

to stay current and have fun when the snow flies in other hemispheres. This year, a gathering of pilots


Open-distance Female Triangle world

Every year, the competition head-

bly pushing in from the west. After

quarters is located at the rugby club

discussion between the safety and

in the center of town, where all the

task committee, the launch window is pushed back from 12:30 to 14:30

arrived early for a few practice

pilots assemble for a 10:00 task brief-

competition days, during which the

ing. From this spot, the pilots are

to give the strong winds time to die

weather put on a good show. Notably,

told the task course, start time and

down. As 14:30 arrives, nearly half

Alexandra “Sasha” Serebrennikova

any other details they need for the

the field is in the air and climbing

managed to set a new Declared and

day. The first launch window usually

well—maybe too well—as a large area


arrive after taking the more direct route without straying far from course line. Ten minutes later, the next competitors arrive: Guy Hubbard and a chasing pack of second starters (15:15): Josh Woods, Steve Blenkinsop and Niki Longshore. Niki also takes a decisive Day Win over other females in the competition, being the only one in goal.

Day 3: Task 2 A switch in the wind brings a steady northerly flow, which means we will be seeing predominantly blue conditions early on, with only 10 knots of ABOVE

Ollie Chitty from the UK on tow and happy about it!.

wind from the north in the boundary layer. With this forecast, we have a

of rain starts to descend on course

wind, while others push much harder

185.7km race-to-goal via two turn-

line. The safety committee decides to

into the crosswind to make the latter

points, finishing at a town called

cancel the day on grounds of safety,

parts of the flight easier. First into

Bookham, northwest of Canberra. The

because the laminate gliders we fly

goal are first starters Atilla Bertok, fol-

conditions are noticeably slower in

in competitions don’t handle well in

lowed closely by Ollie Chitty; they

the start cylinder today, and climbs

the rain. And everyone makes it back down to the start cylinder safely.

Day Two: Task 1 The weather for day 2 looks far more promising, with strong winds out of the WSW, without over-development and a 9000’ cloudbase. Since day one is out of the way, pilots are more relaxed before takeoff in the tow field. Our task today takes us north to Trangie, just to the west of Dubbo, for a 142.8km optimized race-to-goal. Again, we have a later start, in order to let some of yesterday’s bad weather clear the area. A strong crosswind may challenge us for the first part of the flight but should provide a more predominant tailwind later on. All of the competitors get up and off with plenty of room in the 10km start radius. A large proportion of pilots take the first start at 15:00 and quickly take different routes on course line. Some choose a more direct route by keeping just far enough left of course line to battle the



are only getting to 7000’. When the first start clock comes around, only a few pilots at the top of the gaggle take the plunge. Everyone else seems to agree that a later start gate will prove more efficient, if the conditions get better. A short time (15 minutes) later, the second start is activated and everyone begins hunting down the lonely few gliders on course line. With two large-radius turnpoints along the way, there is a split of pilots along the course line. Josh Woods takes the Day Win, closely followed by Jonny Durand and Atilla Bertok, all of whom took the second start.

Day 4: Task 3 The ever-reliable southwest wind returns for the Day 4 Task 3, and a 195.2km task to Gulgong Airstrip is set. In this wind direction, we get a cooler air mass and even better flying conditions. Some pilots talk of getting to over 10,000’ today, so we are reminded at the pilot briefing about the effects and dangers of hypoxia. Straight off the tow, we realize that this day is much stronger. We are getting close to 10,000’ by 12:30, with climbs well in excess of 1000fpm. Almost everyone takes the first start, and a good strong gaggle makes the first 50 km look easy. Niki Longshore

The view of the launch paddock from above. TOP RIGHT Richard Hughes, Sport Class, with his Moyes Gecko. CENTER Day 1 skies look ominous, lots of discussions with the safety and task committee. BOTTOM Tow pilots on approach.




is once again one of the top pilots pushing the gaggle. She’s on glide heading for other climbing gliders ahead of her, when she is hit by an

incredibly strong patch of rough air,

At mid-day, there are good cumulus

sending her glider pointing straight

clouds. Pilots are reporting climbs to

up to the sky. With no airspeed left to

over 11,000’, even though many have

recover, Niki quickly pulls her para-

Niki’s accident in mind. Glides are

chute and descends through a gaggle

noticeably slower for the first portion

of gliders from 8000 feet! She does an

of the course. Two main routes are

incredible job of stopping the rotation,

being followed: A few take the direct

before being placed quite perfectly in

course line, while other pilots head

a paddock with road access, under the

farther west of course line to follow a

shade of trees.

line of mountains, hoping to use them

Jonny Durand is first on scene after

as triggers. Only five hours later, the

seeing Niki pull her chute. He de-

first pilot, Ollie Chitty, calls on final

scends with her side-by-side and lands

glide. Ollie, from Great Britain, is first

in the field within seconds of her

in goal, with a time of 05:18:23, just

arrival. Many pilots stay in the area to

ahead of Jonny Durand, with a time

make sure Niki is OK before heading

of 05:19:27. Tyler Borradaile takes

back on course. Unfortunately Niki’s

third place just a few seconds later.

competition will be over, after such

Eventually, we see 16 pilots make the

a strong and dominating start. And

record task, with many personal bests

Jonny will receive his score composed

broken and smiles all round, except

from an average of his future total.

for the retrieve drives who have com-

Atilla Bertok once again arrives first at the Gulgong goal, closely followed by Tyler Borradaile and Josh Woods.

Day 5: Task 4

pleted over a 1000km total journey— the real heroes of the day! Sasha takes an early-bird launch and flies 10 km into the headwind to a declared starting point, in an attempt

Upon waking on the morning of

to break another women’s world

January 2, our competition WhatsApp

record. This extends her flight to over

group greets us with the message:

409 km. We now know that she has

lowed closely by Jonny Durand and

Briefing at 10 a.m. Be here, ready to fly!

grabbed four records this week!

Guy Hubbard. Only nine pilots com-

Talks of going big are circulating

his second consecutive Day Win, fol-

plete the task.

today. The south wind is still blowing,

Day 6: Task 5

slightly stronger today, and we have

With many pilots not getting back

Day 7: Task 6

even higher bases than yesterday. So it

until the early hours of the morning,

Finally, we have a day with less

looks as if the task committee is plan-

the next task briefing is delayed by

wind, and task 6 is called a rest day

ning a big one. In 2014, the distance-

a few hours in order to give people

for retrieve drivers. So we will be

to-goal record in a competition task

time to rest and recuperate before

flying a closed-loop triangle of 166

was set at 368 km, flying from Forbes

flying again. A shorter dogleg task

km. Pilots are starting to look noticeably fatigued, after five back-to-back

to a small town north called Wallygett.

via one turnpoint of 155 km is called,

Today we sense a slight west compo-

with landing at Wellington airstrip,

long tasks (including a record task),

nent to the wind and will be flying 389

starting at 15:00. Today is the polar

so the towing is slow to get going.

km to another flying site, Manilla.

opposite of the previous day, with no

Fortunately, there are good clouds in

To make a new record, task pilots

clouds and slow climbs. Many pilots

the start cylinder and everyone has

will be taking off much earlier than

drop in the first hour, while struggling

plenty of room to pick his or her start.

on previous days, so the first start at

to find climbs. Once at the turnpoint,

Almost everyone takes the first start

12:00 is just 1 hour 30 minutes after

the conditions seem to get better, but

again at 13:50, with only a few pilots

the briefing in town. For many pilots,

there is a strong crosswind for the

choosing to take the gamble on a later start at 14:10.

this will be a personal-best flight, so

final leg. Some people land short, after

nearly everyone takes the first start,

drifting too far downwind, resulting

hoping to get there as soon as possible.

in a hard final glide. Ollie Chitty takes

The shorter first leg of the triangle goes fast, with a slight chasing tail-

LEFT Leon Hardaker-Brown, from Australia, getting ready to launch in Sport Class. CENTER Alexandra Serebrennikova, Russia, on tow to 4 World records! RIGHT Olav Opsanger, Norway. BELOW Ollie Chitty the author from the UK on tow.

wind. But some pilots get low and have

back to good climbs and long final

Day 8: Task 7

to take slow climbs from the foothills

glides of over 30 km. Jonny Durand

The final task! After seven straight

at the turnpoint, heading northeast

takes the Day Win with a time of

competition days, the field of com-

into the second turnpoint. The day

03:33:59, closely followed by a consis-

petitors is looking and sounding

starts to blue out and becomes a little

tently well-scoring Rory Duncan. Jason

exhausted. We have a weather system

trickier, giving the fast first starters a

Kath takes third place for the day, just

passing through the area today and

slight time advantage over the strag-

30 seconds behind Rory.

glers. The wind has picked up slightly,

the wind direction might be anything later in the day. We have a task that

making the final leg of the triangle

are handed out in goal as pilots and

heads us northeast into a large 40km

more difficult, as pilots head over high

retrieve drivers celebrate at last a task

radius, before turning west into a

ground with minimal landing areas.

with no five-hour drive home.

50km radius and returning south

But once out onto the flats, they are


Good music and many margaritas


down to goal at Peak Hill airstrip.

Depending on the weather, this might

and Rory Duncan, who appears sec-

He took the Overall win and became

mean a final 15km strong headwind

onds later.

National Champion by one point,

stint. Pilots at the discussion at the

The scores for the top three pilots

from a total of 5880. beating seven-

pilot briefing question if we will be

are incredibly close. No one knows the

time champion Jonny Durand, who had 5879! Josh Woods took a strong

safe crossing over a firing range, but

final scores until the awards are given

eventually everyone agrees this is the

that evening. So it is a quick pack up

third place, after completing another

best bet, considering the conditions

and off to get home and ready for the

consistent competition. Alexandra

forecast in the local area.


After launch, many pilots comment

The only pilot to make goal every

on the rough air in the 5km start cylin-

day of the competition is Rory Duncan.

der. Some manage better than other to get up, and everyone at least manages to get away for the start. The task sees

Serebrenikova took first place in the woman’s competition just ahead of Yoko Sano from Japan.

Results at www.forbesflatlands.com/results

a fair tail wind for the first 50 km on course line, before dropping to almost nothing before the first turnpoint. The faster pilots of the day make a better run, after the first turnpoint, and make short work of the second leg. Because of the two very large radii, it’s possible to take a few different routes. Depending on where you intercept the optimum point of a turnpoint, this expansive field results in the formation of many small gaggles. Atilla Bertok takes another Day Win, closely followed, again, by Tyler Borradaile

LEFT Winners are grinners. Forbes Flatlands 2018 Champions L-R: Josh Woods (Aus) 3rd, Alexandra Serebrennikova (Rus) 1st Woman, Jonny Durand (Aus) 2nd, Rory Duncan (Aus), 1st. RIGHT Sport Class winner with competition organizer, L-R Vicki Cain, Peter Garrone.





e fly our gliders in uncontrolled (Class G) and also controlled (Class E)

airspace, and we share this airspace

VFR versus IFR. Pilots flying under

on their altitude, and it is a violation to be more than 100’ above or below.

visual flight rules (VFR) above 3000

So that means WE KNOW RIGHT

feet above the ground and in cruising

WHERE THEY ARE, or at least should

space with other aircraft. By follow-

flight, are to fly at odd altitudes plus

be when hearing an approaching

ing the cloud-clearance rules and

500’ (3500, 5500, 7500, etc) on east-

aircraft depending on the direction of

understanding the flight rules, it is

bound headings (from 0-179 degrees).

their flight.

possible to reduce the chances of con-

And VFR traffic flying west-bound

flict with other aircraft and make our

headings (from 180-359 degrees) are

flying at the altitudes by the rules

sport far safer for us, and for others

to fly at even altitudes plus 500’ (4500,

of direction of flight, is when climb-

The major exception to aircraft

6500, etc). IFR traffic (Instrument

ing or descending. This is the major

flight rules) are flying on the alti-

reason why the rules are different for

proach cloudbase and choose the

tudes; East-bound (3000, 5000, etc),

cloud clearances above or below the

direction to head out on your XC flight.

West-bound (4000, 6000, etc).


with whom we share the sky. The vario is singing as you ap-

Then, you hear the humming of an

These are the altitudes airplanes

aircraft engine in the distance, and

are required to fly at during cruising

it sounds like it is west of you and

flight. Of course there can be aircraft

getting closer. You scan and scan

climbing to their cruising altitudes or

the sky but see nothing. It is getting

descending from these altitudes any-

than 500 feet below, 1000 above, or

louder and louder; you look up and

time and anyplace, but the majority

2000 feet horizontal to clouds in most

down and all around and can’t find

of any flight is spent cruising at these

circumstances. This increases to

it. Where is it coming from? Well, if

altitudes. And IFR traffic are required

1000 feet above or below, and 1 mile

they are in cruise flight (and follow-

to be at their assigned altitudes

horizontal to clouds above 10,000

ing the rules) they should be on the

within 100 feet at all times.

odd altitude, or the odd plus 500 feet.

The big jets, almost all commercial

“I made cloudbase! —I mean of course, 500 feet below cloudbase.” Remember you are not to fly closer

feet MSL (above Mean Sea Level). Airplanes flying through clouds

So you check your altimeter, adjust

operations, fast corporate aircraft

your altitude to maintain distance

and anyone flying in or through the

looking outside the window for other

from these altitudes, and watch the

clouds should be flying under IFR;

aircraft while in the clouds. So when

aircraft safely pass by with adequate

these are the ones that pose par-

climbing up through the clouds, they


are flying by instruments and NOT

ticular risk to gliders flying near or

are expecting anyone else up there is

around the clouds. This is because

also on an instrument flight plan and

tional flight rules, we can do diligence

these aircraft are flying fast, with

in contact with ATC. So 1000 above

to maintain a safe distance from

faster closure rates, flying by their in-

clouds is deemed adequate to see and

aircraft in cruise flight. Remember

struments and probably NOT looking

avoid other aircraft when climbing up

that EAST-bound aircraft are at ODD

outside, and certainly NOT looking

through the clouds. When descend-

altitudes, and WEST-bound aircraft

for a glider near the clouds. The good

ing through the clouds, pilots are

are at EVEN altitudes as a basic rule.

news: They are required to be right

flying by instruments, but they are

By understanding the basic interna-


“East is Odd, West is Even odder”


expecting there could be VFR traffic below, and so should be more vigilant to look for traffic when descending out of a cloud. So 500 feet below the clouds is deemed adequate to see and avoid. An aircraft descending at 1-2000 feet per minute out of a cloud, however, is not expecting a glider to

“For many of us, our sport is all about making cloudbase and cruising XC. Flying to actual cloudbase, or in or close to clouds, is not only a violation of FAA regulations, it is dangerous, and puts the glider pilot and everyone else sharing the sky at risk.” deemed minimal safe distance to see

requirements are as outlined in the

likely not be adequate time to react

and maneuver to avoid other aircraft,

table below.

to avoid a midair collision without at

or gliders.

be “at cloudbase” and there would

least the required 500 foot cushion mandated by FAA regulation. Horizontal distance of 2000 feet

Below 1200 feet above the surface

For many of us, our sport is all about making cloudbase and cruising

in most locations (except around

XC. Understand the dangers of flying

some airports) we are flying in Class

near clouds, and the regulations.

from clouds is mandated in all but

G (uncontrolled) airspace. And in

Flying to actual cloudbase, or in or

Class G airspace, and increases to

Class G airspace, cloud-clearance

close to clouds, is not only a violation

1 statute mile above 10,000. This is

requirements are to simply stay clear

of FAA regulations, it is dangerous,

because aircraft popping holes in the

of clouds. But above 1200 feet in most

and puts the glider pilot and everyone

clouds, flying in and out at cruising

locations, we are flying in controlled

else sharing the sky at risk. A pilot

altitudes are flying by instruments,

airspace (Class E above 1200’ or above

flying by instruments through the

and NOT looking outside for the most

700’ where there are magenta circles

clouds might not be able to maneuver

part. And so when popping out of a

over many airports on sectional

in time to avoid a catastrophe if en-

cloud at cruise speed, 2000 feet is

charts). And the cloud-clearance

countering a glider breaking the rules.

APPLEGATE OPEN June 9-16, 2018

Woodrat Mt. Ruch, Oregon Open Race, Sprint Race & Super Clinic

Info & registration:


Save $100 and register before April 30






Not Applicable

Not Applicable

3 statute miles

Clear of Clouds.

Class B:

3 statute miles

500 feet below. 1000 feet above. 2000 feet horizontal.

3 statute miles

500 feet below. 1000 feet above. 2000 feet horizontal.

3 statute miles

500 feet below. 1000 feet above. 2000 feet horizontal.

5 statute miles

1000 feet below. 1000 feet above. 1 statute mile horizontal.

Class D:

Class E:

At or above 10,000 feet MSL

flight level. Except while holding in a holding pattern of 2 minutes or less, or while turning, each person operating an aircraft under VFR in level cruising

Class C:

Less than 10,000 feet MSL

References §91.159 VFR cruising altitude or

Class A:

flight more than 3000 feet above the surface shall maintain the appropriate altitude or flight level prescribed below, unless otherwise authorized by ATC: (a) When operating below 18,000 feet MSL and— (1) On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd thousand foot MSL altitude + 500 feet (such as 3500, 5500, or 7500); or (2) On a magnetic course of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any even thousand foot MSL altitude + 500 feet (such as 4500, 6500, or 8500). (b) When operating above 18,000

Class G:

feet MSL, maintain the altitude or

1200 feet or less above the surface (regardless of MSL altitude) 1 statute mile

Clear of clouds.

More than 1200 feet above the surface but less than 10,000 feet MSL

500 feet below. 1000 feet above. 2000 feet horizontal.

1 statute mile

More than 1200 feet above the surface and at or above 10,000 feet MSL 5 statute miles

flight level assigned by ATC.

1000 feet below. 1000 feet above. 1 statute mile horizontal.

Doc. No. 18334, 54 FR 34294, Aug. 18, 1989, as amended by Amdt. 91-276, 68 FR 61321, Oct. 27, 2003; 68 FR 70133, Dec. 17, 2003 §91.179 IFR cruising altitude or flight level. Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, the following rules apply: (a) In controlled airspace: Each

Don’t post photographs of yourself violating FAA regulations!

risks of encountering other aircraft by

person operating an aircraft under

being aware of the direction of their

IFR in level cruising flight in con-

As an instrument pilot, seeing photo-

flight, and remembering the rules. In

trolled airspace shall maintain the

graphs of gliders playing around actu-

and around clouds, most aircraft will

altitude or flight level assigned that

ally in the clouds is terrifying. Flying

be flying IFR and on the altitude corre-

aircraft by ATC. However, if the ATC

through the clouds as I often do at

sponding to the direction of their flight.

clearance assigns “VFR conditions

200mph, by instruments and with an

So stay off the exact altitude by at least

on-top,” that person shall maintain an

autopilot on, there would be little that

100 feet. Below clouds, there could be

altitude or flight level as prescribed

could be done if I suddenly saw a glider

a mix of IFR and VFR traffic, so stay off

by §91.159.

filling up my windscreen. We would

the altitudes, or the 500’s when you

probably all go down together in a

can. The only caveat is they are flying

while in a holding pattern of 2 min-

tangled mess of metal and nylon and

barometric altitudes, so if you set your

utes or less or while turning, each

dyneema lines. I assure you that other

vario to proper barometric altitude

person operating an aircraft under

commercial pilots and the FAA don’t

before take-off, you’re golden.

IFR in level cruising flight in uncon-

like seeing these photos either. So in general we can minimize our



Safe flying, my non-feathered friends!

(b) In uncontrolled airspace: Except

trolled airspace shall maintain an appropriate altitude as follows:

(1) When operating below 18,000 feet MSL and— (i) On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd

290 (such as flight level 290, 330, or

Dec. 17, 2003; Amdt. 91-296, 72 FR 31679,

370); or

June 7, 2007

(ii) On a magnetic course of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any flight

§103.17 Operations in certain airspace. No person may operate an ultra-

thousand foot MSL altitude (such as

level, at 4000-foot intervals, begin-

3000, 5000, or 7000); or

ning at and including flight level 310

light vehicle within Class A, Class B,

(such as flight level 310, 350, or 390).

Class C, or Class D airspace or within

(ii) On a magnetic course of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any even

(4) When operating at flight level

the lateral boundaries of the surface

thousand foot MSL altitude (such as

290 and above in airspace desig-

area of Class E airspace designated

2000, 4000, or 6000).

nated as Reduced Vertical Separation

for an airport unless that person has

Minimum (RVSM) airspace and—

prior authorization from the ATC

(2) When operating at or above 18,000 feet MSL but below flight level 290, and— (i) On a magnetic course of zero

(i) On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd flight level, at 2000-foot intervals

degrees through 179 degrees, any odd

beginning at and including flight level

flight level (such as 190, 210, or 230); or

290 (such as flight level 290, 310, 330,

(ii) On a magnetic course of 180 de-

350, 370, 390, 410); or

facility having jurisdiction over that airspace. Amdt. 103-17, 56 FR 65662, Dec. 17, 1991 §103.23 Flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements. No person may operate an ultra-

grees through 359 degrees, any even

(ii) On a magnetic course of 180

flight level (such as 180, 200, or 220).

degrees through 359 degrees, any

light vehicle when the flight visibility or distance from clouds is less than

(3) When operating at flight level

even flight level, at 2000-foot intervals

290 and above in non-RVSM airspace,

beginning at and including flight level

that in the table found below. All


300 (such as 300, 320, 340, 360, 380,

operations in Class A, Class B, Class


C, and Class D airspace or Class E air-

(i) On a magnetic course of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any

Doc. No. 18334, 54 FR 34294, Aug. 18,

space designated for an airport must

flight level, at 4000-foot intervals,

1989, as amended by Amdt. 91-276, 68

receive prior ATC authorization as

beginning at and including flight level

FR 61321, Oct. 27, 2003; 68 FR 70133,

required in §103.17 of this part.






be submitted online at https://www.ushpa. org/page/calendar. A minimum 3-MONTH LEAD TIME is required on all submissions and tentative events will not be published. CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING RATES - Rates

start at $10.00 for 200 characters. MINIMUM AD CHARGE $10.00. ALL CLASSIFIEDS ARE PREPAID. No refunds will be given on ads cancelled that are scheduled to run multiple months. For more info, visit www.ushpa. org/page/magazine-classified-advertising 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. BUYER BEWARE - If in doubt, many hang gliding

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

CALENDAR MEETINGS MAR 8-10 > Golden, Colorado - USHPA Spring Board Meeting and awards banquet. Be sure to RSVP if you plan to attend the banquet.

clinics & tours MAR 25-27 > Quest Air Soaring Center 6548 Groveland Airport Road, Groveland Florida 34736 - Tandem Instructor Clinic The clinic will start the day after the end of the Green Swamp Competition at Quest. Open to Hang-4 pilots with turbulence sign-off and aerotow rating. Applicants must have a current “hands-on” Red Cross First Aid and CPR certificate. More Info: Contact Jonny at (252) 207-9597 or seaswept@mac.com. APR 6-8 & JUN 1-3 or 22-24 > 3.5-day SIV clinics in northern California with Dilan Benedetti of Let Fly Paragliding. More information at www.letflyparagliding.com, or (917) 698-4485.

JUN 9-18 > Soca Valley, Slovenia - Slovenia - paragliding in the Alps Slovenia, hidden treasure of the Alps near Venice. Europeans flock there to fly in gentle thermals. Consistent conditions make it a flyers’ paradise. Trip for XC beginners and veterans. Takeoffs are grassy and landing zones big. We’ll fly high mountains and cross borders in the air. Includes English-speaking coordinators with years of guiding experience, lots of coaching, transport, and accommodation. Take a non-flying spouse. Guided and organized by Jarek Wieczorek, expedition leader and XC expert. More Info: www.antofaya.com. JULY 13-15 or 27-29, SEP 7-9 or 21-23, OCT 5-7 or 26-28> 3.5-day SIV clinics in northern

California with Dilan Benedetti of Let Fly Paragliding. More information at www.letflyparagliding.com, or (917) 698-4485.

FLY-INS APR 28-29> Oceanside, Oregon - Oceanside Open Annual event hosted by the Cascade Paragliding Club. (www.cascadeparaglidingclub.org) Fun events/awards for hang gliders and paragliders. Dinner at the Oceanside Community Center on Saturday. More Info: http:// oceansideopen.com/. MAY 25-27> Lookout Mountain Flight Park, TN. Women’s Fly In Festival at Lookout Mountain Flight Park (just outside Chattanooga).Learn about the sport. Lots of fun flying activities. Seminars and Clinics by world renowned pilots. Men are encouraged to register too. More info: www.hanglide.com, or call 877-426-4543.



JUN 29-JUL 8 > Talihina, OK - Buffalo Mountain Flyers July 4th Fly-In Yes, we have mountains! The Torrey Pines of the central states! 10-acre roll-off pasture launch. Thanks to FFF we have five launches covering all wind directions & all within a 45min drive. Launch from 1400’, five-mile-long ridges, soar for hours, mass gaggle multi-wingual 50mi+ XC’s, altitudes >6K AGL, easy retrieves, come back for epic evening glass-off flights. Hotels, cabins, camp at launch, share the stars with all your flying friends. This is THE place to enjoy air sports to the fullest. More Info: tinyurl.com/bmf-flyin. JUL 13-15 > Inkler’s Point - Chataqua Days Fly-In The

2nd annual Chewelah, WA-area fly-in will be based at the Inkler’s Point flying site. We’ll venture out to other immediate-area sites to fly as well, depending on wind direction. Inkler’s Point is a USHPA-insured flying site. Camping will be available adjacent to Inkler’s LZ. This event is being held during Chewelah’s Chataqua Days— fun for everyone! Visit the Center of Lift website for updated event information during 2018 :) More Info: www. centeroflift.org.

SANCTIONED EVENTS APR 15-21 > Quest Air, Groveland, Florida - 2018 Quest Air Nationals Series. Flatland national-level competition in Florida where the weather is so good so early. Open, Sport, and Rigid wing classes. Pilots from Europe and South America join in the fun. Light winds mean that we can often return to Quest Air. Powerful tugs for quick tows to release altitude. You can find out more about Quest Air, the site of this competition here: http:// questairhanggliding.com, and more info about registration and event at www.ozreport.com, davis@davisstraub.com, or 863-207-2634.

JUN 9-16 > Woodrat Mt., Ruch, Oregon Applegate

Open—Open Race, Sprint Race, Super Clinic Open/ Sprint Race $575 plus $20 RVHPA local club membership ($595 total); SuperClinic $675 plus $20 RVHPA local club membership ($695 total). Registration opens Feb. 15, and registration fees increase by $100 after May 11. Info and registration: wingsoverapplegate.org.

JUL 8-14 > Chelan, WA. US Open of Paraglid-

ing Chelan. US OPEN of Paragliding Chelan 2018" will be a Pre-PWC event will the goal, pending approval of running PWC in July 2019 the week after the Nationals. Volunteers, competitors and spectators welcome. Registration open March 1st 2018. More information at www.300peaks.com, mattysenior@yahoo.com, or 206420-9101.

AUG 5-11 > Big Spring, Texas. 2018 Big Spring Nationals Series. 2018 Big Spring Nationals Series site of the 2007 World Hang Gliding Championship, the finest cross country hang gliding competition site in the US. Big Tasks (world records), smooth thermals, unrestricted landing areas, easy retrieval on multiple roads, consistent cumulus development at 1 PM, air conditioned head quarters, hanger for setup, free water and ice cream, welcome and awards dinner, live tracking, many drivers available, strong safety record, highest pilot satisfaction rating. More information at www.ozreport.com, davis@ davisstraub.com, or 863-207-2634.


SEP 2-8 > Whitwell and Henson’s Gap, Dunlap, TN.

East Coast National Paragliding Competition. Eastern US Cup. FAI Cat 2. Race to Goal format. More info: www.flying.camp.

SEP 16-22 > Francisco Grande Hotel and Golf Resort,

Casa Grande, Arizona. 11th annual aerotow competition with both desert flatland and mountain flying. Primarily triangle and out and return tasks with goal at the Francisco Grande Golf Resort. More information at www.santacruzflatsrace.blogspot.com, or contact Jamie Sheldon at naughtylawyer@gmail.com.


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

FLYMEXICO - VALLE DE BRAVO for Winter and year round

flying tours and support. Hang Gliding, Paragliding. Guiding, gear, instruction, transportation, lodging. www. flymexico.com +1 512-467-2529

Paragliding Tours 2018 with USHPA Advanced

Instructor and veteran guide Nick Crane. Jan/Feb/Mar - Costa Rica; Jun/Sep/Oct - Europe; Mar/Dec - Brazil. www.costaricaparagliding.com; nick@paracrane.com


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

Fly Center of Gravity: The CG-1000 is the original custom fit, single line suspension harness. Built to last from your H1 through your H4. Choose from our list of options to suit your needs and select your colors and special designs to make the harness your own. www. flycenterofgravity.com; flycenterofgravity@gmail.com



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




AAA HG & PG Three training hills,certified instructors, mtn launch,pro shop,pilots lounge,camping. North Wing, Moyes demo gliders 77 Hang Glider Rd Ellenville, NY mtnwings.com 845-647-3377

GUNNISON GLIDERS - X-C to heavy waterproof HG



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

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

KITTY HAWK KITES - The largest hang gliding school in

tain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations. hanglide.com, 877-hanglide, (877) 426-4543.

the world, teaching since 1974. Learn to hang glide and paraglide on the East Coast's largest sand dune. Yearround instruction, foot launch and tandem aerotow. 1902 Wright Glider Experience available. 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 NH location, Morningside Flight Park. 252441-2426, 1-877-FLY-THIS, www.kittyhawk.com





5 times as many pilots earn their wings at LMFP. Enjoy our 110 acre mountain resort. www.hanglide.com, 877-hanglide, (877) 426-4543.

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



PROFLYGHT PARAGLIDING Call Dexter for friendly

BLUE SKY located near Richmond , year round instruction,


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

all forms of towing, repairs, sewing. Representing Wills Wing, Moyes, Icaro, Aeros PG, Mosquito, Flylight,Woody Valley, HES , www.blueskyhg.com

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H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-3 H-3 H-3 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-4 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2

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Susan Hannon OR Sana Amin CA William Slofer Jr DE G. Douglas Marley NC Gavin Pierce NC Hector Realubit CA Diego Posada CA Justin Hawkins NM Samuel Petrosky PA Paisley Dominguez GA Stephen Marcum TX Brent Enniss TX Robert Andrews WA Daniel Garcken CA Katherine Brackett FL Robert Hugel CA Arthur Gwozdz VT Paul Golas PA David Fitzhugh TN Michael Lehl OR Regan Byrd WA Kurtis Carter CA Duncan Skinner CA Devan Carlson CA Michael Mccook CA Katharina Roesler CA Joshua Trenter CA Eric Setton CA Aurelia Setton CA Alexandra Levine CA Mathias Lundblad HI Dolan Paris NM Adam Jess CO Suen Biu Man Black Yeung Sai Ho Ngai Kwai Shing Pedro Ricardo Velasco Taboada Pang Chi Hong Karl Hering TX Cory Mcniven NY Bryan Becker OR Daniel Coslic WA Whitney Freya OR Louis Sass AK Bryn Clark AK Forrest Cox OR Hunter Lane Jacobs WA Lucas Schlemme AK Ian Garcia WA

Andrew Beem Eric Hinrichs H-bruce Weaver-iii Billy Vaughn Luke Robinson Andrew Beem John Heiney Charles Glantz Matthew Taber David Miller Mel Glantz Jeffrey Hunt William Dydo William Dydo Matthew Taber Kurtis Carter Dean Slocum Paul Voight Matthew Taber Maren Ludwig Matt Henzi Wallace Anderson Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Harry Sandoval Harry Sandoval David Binder David Binder Jc Perren Gabriel Jebb Charles Woods Douglas Brown Yuen Wai-kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Miguel Gutierrez Ma-chiu Kit Stephen Mayer Brian Petersen Kelly Kellar Jonathan Potter Todd Weigand Chris Santacroce Chris Santacroce Todd Weigand Justin Boer Nathan Taylor Matt Henzi




P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2


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

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Kenneth Brewer David Homa Rifeta Zejnic Alain Plattner Tu Nguyen Vadim Furman Anatoly Georgiyvich Pavlov Jeff Fisher Paul Morgan Dzmitry Vadalazhski Christopher Budicin Paul Armstrong Ian Moore (patrick) Brent Rickheim Daniel Quick Benjamin Peck Todd Davidson Zachary Creager Robert Gray Sean Alley Josef Bostik Yoshitsugu Morita James Mowdy Sarah Crawford David Fox Brix Casserly Fred Genske Katerina Golcova Jenna Boeing Adam Jess Whitney Martenson Andrew Dorais Jason Dorais Sarah Mcnair - Landry Emily Garlough Alex Church Patrick Mcfarland Jeff Runck Tanner Rodgers Wendy Hafemeister Kyle Oldemeyer Justin West Greg Ticknor Lara Russell Ben Marr Ching Yan Chow Yeung Shing Tak Wilson Wong



Evan Mathers Jesse Meyer Wallace Anderson Wallace Anderson Jesse Meyer Jesse Meyer Jesse Meyer Jesse Meyer Jesse Meyer Jesse Meyer Stephen Nowak Michael Masterson Rob Sporrer David Binder Stephen Nowak Rob Sporrer Rob Sporrer Dave Turner David Binder Stephen Nowak Bill Heaner Chandler Papas Chandler Papas Chandler Papas David Binder Chris Santacroce Mark Rich Chris Santacroce Chris Santacroce Douglas Brown Chris Santacroce Jonathan Jefferies Jonathan Jefferies Patrick Johnson Joshua Winstead Justin Boer Lane Lamoreaux Lane Lamoreaux Jonathan Jefferies Andy Macrae Nathan Taylor Rob Sporrer Andy Macrae Christopher Grantham Matt Henzi Tung Ng Yuen Wai-kit Tung Ng

6 6 6 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 10 11 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 6 6 8 1 2 5 6 7 9


Chi Wa Lam Au Siu Hang Ho Sui Tse Kwok Kin Kevin Ngai Chiu Kwok Wah Pedro Ricardo Velasco Taboada Hau Wan Tang Lloyd Main MI Michael Stolz ND Stephen Wright-eaton ME Robert Finch VA Ned Mccracken Jr VA James Stinnett GA Matthew Park TN Steven Lowrey TX Nathaniel Mote WA Kenneth Wong WA Dmitry Lepikhin CA Karl Heiman CA Naomi Plasterer NV Freddy Oropeza NV Vladimir Uspenskiy CA Dean Barker CA Nikolaus Wogen CA Justin Hawkins NM Josh Gray CO Dana Orzel ID Cs Ling Kwok Hei Leung Chi Wai Koo Siu Kei Wyman Yip Pedro Ricardo Velasco Taboada William Gottling NH Brian Simmonds WA Don Saxby CA Matthew Morton ID Pedro Ricardo Velasco Taboada Lyubomyr Lushchynskyy IL John Dorrance VA

Tung Ng Yuen Wai-kit Tung Ng Tung Ng Ma-chiu Kit Miguel Gutierrez Tung Ng Rob Sporrer David Hebert Ryan Dunn Bo Criss George Huffman Marc Radloff William Purden-jr David Hebert Steven Wilson Marc Chirico Jeffrey Greenbaum Harry Sandoval Mitchell Neary Mitchell Neary Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Michael Masterson Chris Santacroce Granger Banks Charles Smith Rob Sporrer Yuen Wai-kit Yuen Wai-kit Yuen Wai-kit Miguel Gutierrez Calef Letorney Marc Chirico Scott Amy Andy Macrae Miguel Gutierrez Jaro Krupa Jerome Daoust


Report it on AIRS! airs.ushpa.aero


US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association


Take your ratings and expiration date everywhere you fly. Download from the Members Only section of the USHPA website. Print, trim, and store in your wallet. Great for areas without cell coverage.Always available at


www.USHPA.aero Save the PDF on

All AIRS reports are completely confidential

your mobile device for easy reference.





H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-1 H-2 H-2

1 2 2 2 6 12 1 1

Brian Svik Brian Sager Dahl Prescott Michael Colella Bill Mitchell Corey Gower Jim Mooney Chris Murra


Michael Macdonald George Hamilton George Hamilton Robert Booth Jayson Holland Greg Black John Matylonek John Matylonek

H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-2 H-3 H-4 H-4 H-4 H-4 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-1 P-2 P-2 P-2

1 2 2 4 4 9 4 4 8 10 10 1 2 2 3 3 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 1 1 1

Robert Horning Terry Garnier Plaridel Caparas Monte Lunacek Steven Sweat Richard Foy Tony Villalpando Ian Brubaker Russell Kelley Ricardo Rojas Jason Anderson Matt Kirsch Louis Brunel Nathaniel Kitchens Michael Lodge Ray Cobo Fahimeh Asadi Golpaygani Kin Man Ma Ho Chak Shing Cliff Yu Shing Yan Liu Chor Hung Jimmy Lui Kam Hung Andree-aude Lambert Joaquim Manuel Pereira Mestre Christopher Walker Yeung Ka Kit Daniel Florin Cristurean Elliot Ericson Robert Onstott


John Matylonek Robert Booth Eric Hinrichs Mark Windsheimer Mark Windsheimer Steve Wendt William Holmes Andrew Beem Dean Slocum Robert Hastings Oswaldo Lopez-armas Kelly Kellar Mitchell Neary Steven Yancey David Binder Michael Masterson Seyed Alireza Amidi Namin Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Steven Yancey Maren Ludwig Kelly Kellar Kelly Kellar

P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2 P-2


1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6


Ryan Winfield WA Alyson Mcphetres AK Melanie Corey-ferrini WA Danny Zemanek CA Baoxuan Yin CA Joseph Phillips CA Celeste Swatling CA Duncan Skinner CA Devan Carlson CA Steve Schuman CA Michael Mccook CA Don Clutter CA Mark Betzer CA Preston Young CA Michael Mccaffrey CA Andrew Ayala CA Isaac Lammers CA Monte Lunacek CO Curtis Harvey UT Benjamin Lussier UT Kevin Mower UT Marshall Hill CO Fahimeh Asadi Golpaygani Jeremy Leslie ID Tom Hutchings Agost Makszin Josiah Sewell AR Chan Siu Ning Kong Yau Chau Ma Po Shing Lau Ming Kuen Jensen Li Kam Tong Lam Kok Man Ip Tin Lung Tang Cheuk Kwan Mun-juen Jeffrey Choi Hui Siu Man

Lawrence Wallman Evan Mathers Christopher Grantham Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Jeffrey Greenbaum Charles Beaudoin Jc Perren Marcello Debarros Jc Perren Rob Sporrer Evan Mathers Chris Santacroce Stacy Whitmore William Purden-jr William Purden-jr David Hebert Seyed Alireza Amidi Namin Justin Boer David Hebert Steven Yancey Britton Shaw Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit


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

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Lam Kin Wah Fung Long Yi Yeung Sai Ho Yung Man Hon Samuel Hiu Wai Ng Leung Hon Wing Shum Kam Yin Erik Fernando Sanchez Romero Wai Keung Tse Wing Hang Cheng Dan Cosma IL Kenneth Strunk WA Ray Gu WA Aaron Napoleon WA Stephen Buckingham CA Patrick Dempsey NV Vladimir Likhtenberg CA Xavier Grobet CA Chris Kuech CA Saeed Barati CA Lena Lander CO Casie Hanson CO Carl Marvin CO Nikolay Anishchenko CO Darren Kimoto UT Fahimeh Asadi Golpaygani Erik Fernando Sanchez Romero Cory Winter Ehsan Alikhani MA Valentyn Kropov TX Jason Densley HI Jessica Frump CA Derek Musashe CA Eric Moles UT Juan Alberto Gonzalez Lugo Erik Fernando Sanchez Romero Victor Jose Figueroa CT

Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Ma-chiu Kit Miguel Gutierrez Tung Ng Tung Ng Jaro Krupa Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Calef Letorney Jerome Daoust Mitchell Neary Jesse Meyer Jerome Daoust Max Marien Gabriel Jebb Kevin Howe Jonathan Jefferies Chris Santacroce Granger Banks Chris Santacroce Seyed Alireza Amidi Namin Miguel Gutierrez Yuen Wai-kit Calef Letorney Jon Malmberg Pete Michelmore Michael Masterson Christopher Grantham Chris Santacroce Miguel Gutierrez Miguel Gutierrez Bianca Heinrich

GIVE & GET! Make a $250 donation to the USHPA General Fund today and receive a Free Flight Forever t-shirt as our thank-you gift! Super soft 100% combed-cotton tee that's light and comfortable to move in. Available in Blue or Gray. Make a $1000 donation to the USHPA General Fund today and receive a Free Flight Forever jacket as our thank-you gift! 100% polyester soft shell with bonded fleece interior, light snow and water resistant.

Visit ushpastore.com to purchase yours.

Talented, lucky, or both, we want your best shots for the 2019 calendar. SEND US YOUR CALENDAR PHOTOS. „ ushpa.org/calendarproject HANG GLIDING & PARAGLIDING MAGAZINE


FINAL Cloudbase Mayhem by GAVIN McCLURG, Cloudbase Mayhem Host


ix years ago Nick Greece, Josh

along for a scary hang gliding ride in

worth hundreds of hours of experi-

Cohn, Bill Belcourt, Russ Ogden

episode 29 flying near tornados with

ence in the air, because we are gain-

Larry Tudor, the first person to fly

ing the experience of the best in the

and other top cross-country

World Cup pilots who collectively had

over 300 miles—in 1994! Learn how

biz. Gavin makes you feel like you’re

an encyclopedic knowledge of flying

to pick your day and enjoy a lifetime

a part of a team of the most diverse,

gave enlightening talks about XC

of safe flight with Chris Santacroce

qualified, and entertaining pilots

strategy, safety, SIV and other topics

in episode 41. And the MANY things

in the world. Because the culture of

at a World Cup in Sun Valley that

cross-country pilots should be learn-

paragliding and hang gliding is beau-

quite simply blew my mind. Much of

ing from the acro aces in Episode 58

tiful and the top pilots so willingly

what was said wasn’t something I’d

with Théo De Blic.

share their knowledge, the talks are

read in magazines or seen in films or

eye-opening for anyone who wants

what people are saying about the

to be at the top of their game, in any

one thing: If this wealth of knowledge

Cloudbase Mayhem podcast:

profession or sport. In addition to

could be shared we’d encourage more

“I want to send out a big ‘thank you’

the most incredible flying tips, I have

people to learn to fly, see a lot fewer

for putting together your years of pod-

learned how paragliding can per-

accidents, save lives, and SEND IT

casts. They are extremely interesting,

meate into every aspect of our lives


educational and a massive generator

including culture, teamwork, flow,

So I set out to speak with the best

of stoke. But maybe more importantly,

competition, relationships, safety,

pilots in the world (I often think of the

they are super beneficial for all pilots

spirituality, and mental and physical

talks as a fireside chat) with the objec-

out there—the full spectrum. The

health. With CM you can fly through

tive of tapping into their vast archive

insight and understanding that you

life!” — Gabriel Bass I want to encourage readers of

of experience in order to shed light

pack into these conversations are

on their secrets. And the Cloudbase

gems and they are a huge way to give

Mayhem podcast was born.

back to the flying community. Props

podcast to their “must do” list this

to you.” — JK Smith

season. It has radically improved my

In episode 8 with Will Gadd learn about the positive power of negative


Here’s just a small sampling of

heard from my instructors. But I knew

“The Cloudbase Mayhem is the

USHPA to add the Cloudbase Mayhem

own flying, made me a much safer pilot, and it’s an honor and privilege

thinking. Learn how we as a commu-

ultimate mental training, one of the

nity could eliminate 90% of flying ac-

most essential aspects for the para-

to share these incredible insights

cidents in Episode 52 with legendary

glider pilot, or any human being for

with the community. Thank you,

Red Bull acro pilot Pal Takats. Come

that matter, to master. Each podcast is

USHPA, for your support.


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