USHPA Pilot Vol48-Iss4 May-Jun 2018

Page 1


Ensuring the future of Free Flight · JUNE 2018 · Volume 48 Issue 4 · $6.95

Wills Wing Sport 3 + Colima, Mexico + Thailand with the Locals + Scotland


2 North CA/NV Jugdeep Aggarwal Paul Gazis Robert Booth 3 South CA/HI Ken Andrews Dan DeWeese Alan Crouse

4 AZ/CO/UT/NM Bill Belcourt Ken Grubbs

5 ID/MT/WY/Canada Randall Shane



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.

Tiki Mashy

7 IL/IN/IA/MI/MN/ND/SD/WI Doyle Johnson

8 NH/CT/ME/MA/RI/VT Calef Letorney Martin Palmaz Executive Director Beth Van Eaton Operations Manager Galen Anderson Membership Coordinator

9 DC/DE/KY/MD/OH Dan Lukaszewicz Larry Dennis

10 AL/FL/GA/MS/NC/SC/TN/VI/PR Bruce Weaver Steve Kroop Matt Taber

12 NJ/NY Paul Voight



Paul Murdoch President

Paul Murdoch Steve Rodrigues Greg Kelley Felipe Amunategui Mark Forbes

Alan Crouse Vice President Steve Rodrigues Secretary Mark Forbes Treasurer

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.

For change of address or other USHPA business: +1 (719) 632-8300 POSTMASTER: USHPA Pilot ISSN 1543-5989 (USPS 17970) is published bimonthly by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, Inc., 1685 W. Uintah St., Colorado Springs, CO, 80904 Phone: (719) 632-8300 Fax: (719) 632-6417 Periodicals Postage Paid in Colorado Springs and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send change of address to: USHPA, PO Box 1330, Colorado Springs, CO, 80901-1330 Canadian Return Address: DP Global Mail, 4960-2 Walker Road, Windsor, ON N9A 6J3



Efficient Performance IOTA 2: the new Performance-Intermediate What is your cross country dream? To achieve your first 200 kms or land in front of your house after a long flying day? The IOTA 2 presents you with conditions. The latest technology also gives the high end EN-B wing an outstanding polar curve for its class. /iota distributor:,, 801-255-9595

P i c t u r e : F e l i x Wรถ l k | L o c a t i o n : O m a n

the most important ingredients: efficient performance and relaxed piloting in all

2018 Martin Palmaz, Publisher Nick Greece, Editor

Greg Gillam, Art Director

C.J. Sturtevant, Copy Editor

Staff Writers Annette O'Neil Dennis Pagen Jeff Shapiro C.J. Sturtevant

Photographers John Heiney Jeff Shapiro

SUBMISSIONS USHPA PILOT welcomes editorial submissions from our members and readers. All submissions of articles, artwork, photographs and or ideas for articles, artwork and photographs are made pursuant to and are subject to the USHPA Contributor's Agreement, a copy of which can be obtained from the USHPA by emailing the editor at or online at We are always looking great articles, photography and news. Your contributions are appreciated.

ADVERTISING All advertising is subject to the USHPA Advertising Policy, a copy of which may be obtained from the USHPA by emailing

NICK GREECE PREFLIGHT Dixon White once told me the key for a successful flying

Missouri and Kansas developed over last decade, by Kyle

career is “to engineer your environment for success.”


This prescient Instructor of the Year was golden at drop-

torcycle, diving, and flying trip to the ever-welcoming

interpretation of this varies across our diverse spectrum

Thailand, and Ari Delashmutt is back with another zany

of pilots depending on many factors, including wing type,

piece on his travels in Colima, Mexico where he guided

skill, experience, time of year, and currency, to name a

a group of pilots to the fun zone. C.J. Sturtevant shares


some details about her lifelong pursuit of free flight

It is a mantra, though, that if acknowledged regularly will guide one to conditions of free-flying happiness. The

across the globe with her partner-in-adventure, George. Jonathan Dietch presents a great first look at the

entertaining search for the perfect flying day is one of

brand-new Wills Wing Sport 3 155. Jonathan spends

the factors that goes into engineering our environments

countless hours chasing the aerial swell in southern

for success, as well as dialing in gear well before we ever

California and capturing his adventures through film

take off, clearing our mental schedules of anything that

and photos, so take a look at his report if you’re in the

would interfere with our unbridled enjoyment of days

market for a new ship.

spent in the saddle, and picking conditions well beneath

Tyler Bradford is here with a new column, Bombing

our skill levels to chase clouds in. Next time you’re out

Out. In this space he will interview interesting pilots

at the hill, check in with yourself and ask: Did I engineer

from around the world, asking them the hard questions

the environment to ensure my success?

in order to reveal some of the inner workings of the

The June issue kicks off with a call for nominations for the USHPA board of directors. A number of folks are up

best and the brightest in the field. The first subject, Matt Henzi, is featured in the back pages of this issue.

for re-election. If you think you might be interested in

We have started out the season with a solid safety

running in the future, now is a good time to get on the

record. This comes from diligence and focus on what’s

ballot for the following election!

important—keeping it fun. Hopefully every one of us can

Calef Letorney is back with a great piece on how to co-

continue to engineer our environments for success and

operate with a large number of other pilots in a thermal

charge forward for our goals simultaneously. The USHPA

and succeed together.

magazine staff wishes each and every one of you a safe,

The one and only Dennis Pagen sends in an article on how to thermal more effectively. Two locales, typically underreported, are revealed with a great report on the increasingly complex flights in New England, by Eduardo Garza, and how the flying in


Gingher Leyendecker reports from an amazing mo-

ping one-liner insights that resonate for decades. An


successful, and incredibly fun season. We can’t wait to share your tales over the next year!­ n ­


JONATHAN DIETCH COVER Torrey Pines, California

Copyright ©2018 United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Assoc., 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 USHPA.

JUNE 2018 COOPERATE TO CORE Calef Letorney








BOMBING OUT Tyler Bradford



50 COLIMA, MEXICO Less Known and Less Flown





Paragliding Thailand with the Locals GINGHER LEYENDECKER

MAKING GOAL Some of the Unexpected Rewards





Impressions of Wills Wing's Newest Addition JONATHAN DIETCH



Briefings USHPA Board Meetings OZONE RUSH 5

Fall Oct 18-20, 2018

Ozone’s new Rush 5, launched last

Board of Directors Meeting + Annual Membership Meeting

month, is off to a great start. In Austria it swept the podium of the Zillertal Battle, an EN B class comp that attract-

at the Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront Melbourne Beach, Florida

ed a list of heavy hitters from the alpine region. Ozone says that their testing of this new wing, against other top wings

Spring March 7-10, 2019 Board of Directors Meeting + USHPA Awards Banquet at the American

Mountaineering Center Golden, Colorado Visit the website for further details and the most up-to-date information

in the class, coincided with these recent


comp results. This was a hotly contested event with big names flying interme-

The Hyper’s pocket size and advanced

diate class wings; competitive tasks and

features make it ideal for your daily

racing harnesses were the norm. Rush 5

flying activities including hike-and-fly

pilots ended up on top. More info: www.

adventures. It will help you navigate

routes and around complex airspace

and also record all the details of your



The new Ozium 2 is now shipping, and

* Pocket size (107 x 70 x 18 mm)

offers pilots a high level of custom-

* Lightweight (135 g)

ization with three pod options, two

* Sunlight-readable color display

back-protector options, back/seat plate

* Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

options, and more. It weighs in at just

* Airspace

2.46kg in the M size with the Lycra pod.

* Hike-and-fly mode

Ozone says that it is an excellent option

* Stand-alone or backup for your Oudie

for weight- and pack-volume-minded XC pilots. It is not an extreme-lightweight harness, and there are lighter pod harnesses out there, but none with what Ozone says is the ideal balance of performance, comfort, and durability. More info:



Call For USHPA Regional Director Nominations DIRECTORS UP FOR RE-ELECTION IN 2018

Do you know someone who is passionate about hang gliding and paragliding, has a desire to help with the protection

Region 1 (1 seat)

Region 6/11

and growth of free-flight aviation, can both create goals to



achieve their ideas and then follow through on them? Then

Rich Hass is retiring


please nominate them for the Board of Directors at USHPA!

from the board.

No election this year.

Region 2 (1 seat)

Region 7 (1 seat)

You may also nominate yourself. Please only nominate people in your region who are interested in taking on the job. (You do not need to re-nominate current directors).

North CA, NV


Jugdeep Aggarwal.

Doyle Johnson.

Region 3 (1 seat)

Region 8 (1 seat)

South CA, HI


Dan DeWeese is retiring

Calef Letorney

Regional Directors are the cornerstone of the US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. They are the mouthpiece of the members that they represent and for the sports of hang gliding & paragliding. The USHPA wants and needs participation in this process. Regional Directors must be able to travel to board meetings twice yearly (some expenses reimbursed), interact with committees, participate in open

from the board. Region 9 (1 seat) Region 4 (1 seat)



Daniel Lukaszewicz

discussion forums, and represent members in the region. To become a regional director: 1. By August 11 - Nominate yourself (or another) by completing the online Regional Director Nomination Form.

Bill Belcourt is retiring from the board.

2. By September 1 - Submit a bio about yourself for the

Region 10 (1 seat)

upcoming election.

AL, FL, GA, MS, NC Region 5


ID, MT, WY, Canada

Steve Kroop

3. By September 1 - Submit a “VOTE FOR ME” statement for the November election issue of the magazine. 4. Starting November 1 - VOTE! Elections begin

No election this year, directors serve

Region 12 (1 seat)

November 1. On December 15th, Regional Director votes will


be tallied via online ballots from active USHPA members

Paul Voight

of each region. Election results will be announced on the

two-year terms.

USHPA website,

GEAR new graphic









for necklaces

bracelets & earrings



books + videos + calendars + cards USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE


Cooperative to the Core A Yearling's Guide to Thermal Traffic by CALEF LETORNEY


vividly remember the first time I

teaching novice pilots how to soar

must turn the same direction as pilots

joined another pilot in a thermal.

and navigate traffic. This lesson on

already established in the thermal.

It did not go well. The day ended

with beers in the LZ, so it could have

2. Pilots in the thermal have the right of way over pilots joining the

been much worse... but Rosco had

with some of my own ideas sprinkled

thermal. This means that if you’re in

spun his glider avoiding me and he

on top. To make this article appeal

the thermal, it’s your prerogative (and

wasn’t happy about it. Everybody (but

to a wide audience, I’ll begin with

I would argue responsibility) to fly the

me) thought it was entirely my fault.

the basics and work up to advanced

pattern that maximizes your climb

While arguing my defense, I learned


rate. Everybody wins when the join-

two valuable lessons: First, as long

Let’s start by reviewing the ground

ing pilot fits into the pattern of pilots

as I was explaining my perspective I

rules, known as right-of-way. For

was investing my energy in justifying

expediency, we’re only going to cover

3. The lower pilot has the right

my mistakes (complete waste of time)

thermal rules, but it’s your responsi-

of way because the wing obscures

when I should have been focused on

bility to understand them all.

upward vision.

Thermal Right-of-Ways

the right of way. In some places this

1. The first pilot in the thermal sets

is a rule, other places it is a courtesy;

the turn direction. When joining, you

regardless, this is a natural extension

learning. And second, I had a lot to learn. Fast forward 13 years, and I now have the pleasure/responsibility of


thermaling cooperatively is a mashup of tips I’ve gotten from other pilots,


climbing fast.

4. The fastest climbing pilot has


gaggle at the start of the Pan-American Championship in Brazil. Photo by Nick Greece.

of #3. This rule is logical and produc-

you and will not yield. Even if a pilot

The two factors are how fast the pilot

tive as we want the fastest climber

appears to be looking right at you,

is flying and what the pilot is flying.

defining the pattern of the thermal

don’t take anything for granted. Don’t

There is a big difference between

(location, size, shape, direction) so we

assume they understand the situation

training gliders and comp gliders, but

can all benefit. Be careful when claim-

(and who has right of way!) the same

a bigger difference between paraglid-

ing this right of way, especially if the

way as you do.

ers, hang gliders, and sailplanes. It

pilots above you have just reached an

generally makes sense for the slow-

6. It only takes one stray pilot to

inversion and are “bumping against

cause a problem. Whether it’s a gaggle

est aircraft to fly on the inside of the

the lid.”

of 75 or 2, it only takes one pilot to

roundabout with the faster aircraft

blow up the whole thing. Don’t be that

flying large diameter turns around

As you can see, the right-of-way rules are pretty sparse and provide minimal guidance, so here’s my additional instruction:

General Advice

the outside. It’s no problem to have

pilot. 7. Communicate early and often. If you think somebody does not see you

planes all in the same thermal, but

or is acting a fool, don’t hesitate to

you do need to pay a bit more atten-

shout or whistle.

tion and factor in the speed differen-

1. Right-of-way does not mean much

8. See the roundabout. I like to visu-

if you get injured or die in a mid-air

alize a gaggle in a thermal as cars in a

collision or crash into terrain avoid-

roundabout (Illustration 1). Flying in

ing said collision. Regardless of who has the right of way, it is always your responsibility to identify and avoid collision courses well before they materialize. 2. Thermaling in a gaggle is option-

paragliders, hang gliders, and sail-

tial. 11. It’s the ground that hurts. Watching the traffic is good, but

“Put your head on a swivel, and predict the future. It’s your job to avoid potential conflicts.” never forget your proximity to terrain.

al. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not having fun, so don’t do it. No thermal

Remember that your escape routes go

is worth risking a mid-air collision for,

way down and consequences for fail-

so if you don’t feel confident and com-

ure go way up when you’re adjacent to terrain, so give yourself extra margin

fortable, seek less crowded airspace.

for error.

3. Put your head on a swivel, and

12. All bets are off in mixed lift. Be

predict the future. It’s your job to

especially mindful of the complex

avoid potential conflicts. Continuously scan the sky in all directions. Your


goal is to understand the vector of

“pilot ahead of the situation.” 4. Make moves early and gradual.

traffic interacting with ridge traffic. It is easy to have conflicts when some

travel of the other wings and predict their likely next moves, so you can

situation when you have thermal

a thermal is much more complicated

pilots are following ridge rules while

as the size and location of the round-

other pilots are thermaling.

about constantly change, but the

This one comes from Tom Lanning,

roundabout analogy provides guid-

Entering the roundabout

who says “It is much easier to match

ance on how to interact with traffic.

1. Always approach the roundabout

speed and course if it is done over a

9. “Turn direction” only applies once

on a tangent. A tangent is a con-

long period. Pilots should watch a

you are in the thermal. Getting into

tinuous line that intercepts a circle in

gaggle and plan their entry far away.

the thermal, turn whatever direction

precisely one place, which can only

Start making adjustments early so

is necessary to gracefully merge into

happen if it touches just the very edge

corrections are smooth and minor.

the roundabout.

(Illustration 2). This sounds simple,

This also allows the entering pilot to see where the better lift might be.” 5. Assume other pilots do not see

10. Speed matters. When you have

but anything less than a tangent

gliders flying at different speeds,

has two potential points of conflict

thermal traffic can be harder to judge.

(Illustration 2B).



about. Note that if you are entirely to the left side of a right turn thermal, or right side of a left turn thermal, you need not do this opposite turn. You can just do a steadily decreasing radius turn until you come in on the tangent (Illustration 4).


3. Signal your intention to yield. There’s often uncertainty whether a merging pilot will join before or after a


pilot who is already going around the thermal. Remember, it is the uncertainty that causes issues, so yielding only works if you make your intentions clear early. If there’s any ambiguity, the merging pilot should indicate the intention to yield by over exagger-


ating a turn towards (or even past) the this signal, the joining pilot could pull in behind the pilot in the thermal, fol-

to go off on a lark (such as a suspicion

way to enter on a tangent. Huh?

lowing his path (Illustration 5, path A).

of stronger lift nearby), then just fly

Consider this example: When driving

As always, make these moves early, so

the pattern.

2. You often need to turn the wrong

in the USA, what does your steering

your intentions are clear and the other

wheel do as you enter a roundabout?

pilots have time to react. If you’re

manage your pitch to minimize

You turn your wheels to the right (op-

on the opposite end of this situation

canopy movements and keep your glider flying as efficiently as possible.

2. Focus on active flying. Actively

posite of turn direction), which lines

(established in the thermal, wonder-

you up to enter the circle on a tangent

ing what the joining pilot is going to

Be especially mindful of the inputs

(Illustration 3 at point 1). You only

do) you may choose to create more

you give to your outside wingtip.

start turning left once you are already

room by turning a little earlier so you

Active flying will help keep your

in the roundabout (Illustration 3 at

are clearly in front of the joining pilot.

bagwing inflated, which is crucial as

point 2). The same is often true of

Alternatively, you can invite the join-

few things blow up a gaggle quite like

entering a thermal. Once you have

ing pilot to merge in front of you by

a pilot taking a collapse and losing

identified the thermal roundabout,

briefly rolling out of the turn, showing

directional control.

start heading towards the tangent of

the pilot there is room to merge in.

3. Place yourself in traffic. Once in

the circle as early as possible. This in-

4. Make additional lanes: When

the thermal, adjust the size and shape

volves the least dramatic turns (most

there is no break in traffic for us to

efficient for you) and reduces stress for

merge in, we can’t just hit the brakes

those who are already in the round-


4. The passing lane is on the inside.

and come to a stop like we would in a

I am often frustrated by a wide roundabout that misses the core. Yes, flatter

to the roundabout. Sometimes the

turns have a lower sink-rate, but

outside lanes are still in lift, but other

when there’s a strong core, efficiency

times it is necessary to fly around the

be damned, you want to grab onto

outside of the lift, waiting for the op-

that rocketship. If the roundabout is

portunity to merge into the rising air

wide enough for me to establish an

Flying the Roundabout


of your circles to give yourself space.

car. So what do we do? We add lanes

(Illustration 5, Path B).



tangent (Illustration 5, point 1). After

inner lane that doesn’t cut anybody off, I’ll merge into the middle. There’s nothing discourteous about this

1. Fly the pattern. When thermaling, if

move, but it can be as intimidating as

you don’t have a well-informed reason

it is productive. The inside lane gets

flattening out as a foraging party, a hopeful mission where you roll out of the roundabout to explore potentially better lift. Leave from the outside lane without cutting anybody off and this is not an aggressive move, so you can try it as often as you want. We use this move because thermals can be snakey creatures and our roundabouts need to follow suit. Just watch a bird—they flatten out all the time. This technique is especially useful as you transition between air masses with different wind vectors. To recognize when you want to flatten out, watch your ground track and feel your harness. You will see and feel yourself being drawn towards stronger lift. If the lift keeps getting better, keep flying straight and try to feel where the thermal is drawABOVE The

author working above his friends.

ing you. You might fly straight for only 25’ or you could fly straight for 300’

scarier in bigger crowds, with less ex-

To pass the pilot, tighten your turn

and get sucked into the mothership.

perienced pilots, and when pilots are

during the downwind portion of the

How far you have flown straight im-

flying aggressively. Keep an eye out

roundabout to cut across the middle

pacts whether you’re still going to be

for rookies who wander out of the lift,

of the circle. You goal is to come out in

in the same roundabout or if you have

realize the mistake, then turn tighter

front of the other pilot and guide the

room to start your own roundabout.

into the lift not realizing you are on

pilot to the better lift. Taking a pass

Be mindful of the traffic as you may

the inside. Remember, with no quick

is a high-level maneuver that smells

need to yield to your original thermal.

exit, the inside lane can get dangerous

a lot like cutting off the other pilot,

quickly. But having properly warned

but when it’s done right, everybody

of the dangers, I must say that I’ve

smiles. Be careful not to take a pass

had so many good experiences in the

in the broken bubbles of thermals

passing lane, that I fully recommend

we often get with high pressure as it


hermaling in traffic can be a bit daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it most pilots

come to really enjoy gaggle flying. Like

you use this move when it feels right.

can often result in no improvement

anything else, you should work up to

This is the move that enables you to

in climb rate, which just serves to

the more challenging situations cau-

pass the gaggle, punch through the

increase stress levels. Remember, the

tiously. There’s bound to be confusion

inversion, and get 1500’ higher than

point of this move is to relocate the

and occasionally disagreements. Don’t

anybody else. Booya! Just keep an eye

circle for everybody’s benefit, not for

let this faze you. Just be sure to avoid

on the pilots around you, watch the

you to momentarily dip a wingtip in

collision and if you can, find the pilot

exits, and be ready to bail if there is

stronger lift at the expense of others.

later to have a friendly discussion

anything you don’t like.

Use this technique sparingly and only

about what happened. This is all part of the learning process, so if you’re a

5. Know when to cut people off.

when the juice is definitely worth the

Occasionally you will find yourself

squeeze. Otherwise, you’re just flying

new pilot be open-minded to criticism.

following another pilot around the

like a jerk.

And if you’re the more experienced

traffic circle thinking, “OVER THERE, the best lift is over there!” In the fol-

6. Know when to flatten out. Flattening out is the opposite of

pilot that nearly got run over by a rookie, take some time to educate the

lowing position it can be really hard to

taking a pass, but serves the same

next generation; I’m sure glad Rosco

correct the shape and location of the

purpose of adjusting the roundabout

and the gang schooled me all those

circle, so it can be best to “take a pass.”

to better suit the thermal. Think of

years ago!



17 Days 1800 Miles 10 Flights 3 Dives 1 Incredible Experience

Paragliding in the


or me, Thailand had always been what seemed like

paragliding in Thailand.” And a week later, our trip was in

an impossible dream. But last summer, a couple of

the works. We also requested diving, seeing elephants in

friends who started an adventure-travel agency an-

nounced a challenge: “Tell us where you’ve always dreamed

of going and what you’d like to do there, and we’ll make it happen!” My husband Jim and I took the bait: “We’ve dreamed of



the wild, visiting temples, and immersing ourselves in as much non-tourist culture as possible. We were paired with Suwat Hannarong and his assistant Meaw Thathong for an epic road trip that spanned mountains, jungles, beaches, islands, small towns, and major


Land of Smiles cities. It just so happened that our travel agents located the

Suwat had learned about paragliding while serving as

very person who had founded paragliding in Thailand, had

an electrical engineer in Japan, to which he later returned

25 years of experience, had served as the Thai National

to train in the sport. Back in Thailand, he decided to share

Paragliding coach and an inspector and judge for the Royal Aeronautic Sport Association, and had been an international judge for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, or FAI.

ABOVE A pilot contemplates top landing as the golden Buddha

looks on. Pilots are advised to fly in front of or behind him, but never directly over. Photo by Suwat Hannarong.



his experience with the people of Thailand. He bought

us to bless us with reeds dipped in water, and give us brace-

land across the country and created launches and landings

lets. He was surprised to hear that we were from Arizona

at five different sites throughout Thailand. He currently

in the United States. In fact, most Thais were surprised,

serves as the coach for the Thailand Krabi Paragliding Club.

because it seemed they felt American tourists are rare.

The sport has taken off, with many amazing pilots flying

The next day we made it to the mountains of Phetchabun,

throughout Thailand, with whom we got to share the air

and the Phet Dum flying site, where the landing zone has a

and the joy of the sport.

full outdoor kitchen with cook, rooms or tents to rent, and

Road Trip

ers and (even) the Terminator. The weather that day was

On our first day, Suwat and Meaw drove us from Bangkok to

misty and cool. But it cleared up enough to get five 20ish-

Pattaya, a beach resort town located a couple hours south

minute flights in, giving us a chance to meet and hang out

on the Gulf of Thailand. After a delectable seaside lunch,

with some great local pilots. So the day turned out to be a

we hopped a ferry to Koh Larn Island, checked into a hotel,


and headed up to launch. We could hardly believe our eyes

incredible welded metal artwork in the form of transform-

When we awoke, the launch was completely socked in

when we arrived at the site: A giant golden Buddha guard-

and continued to be all day, with low clouds. Jim opted to

ing it overlooked the ocean. We were cautioned that one

stay in, but I headed out to explore with Suwat and Meaw.


flying in front of a line of windmills at the Phet Dum site in the Phetchabun province | photo by Suwat Hannarong. RIGHT Four hundred young monks make their way to their new temple in the Chaiyaphum province, each carrying their drum and supplies. Photo By Gingher Leyendecker. may fly in front of, or behind, the Buddha, but never directly

delight a couple of the dozens of patches along the road. We

cross, but once we were up, we could see the entire tropical

ate lunch at a local eatery as well, where, since food licenses

island surrounded by ocean on all sides. We flew for a long

in the countryside are not required, anyone can set up and

time in laminar air, feeling like the luckiest people in the

serve. (We ate this way most of the time and the food was

world as we watched the sun set into the ocean, and finally


landed on the beach below. A Thai guitarist/singer playing

As we traveled, I noticed two older boys in elaborate

American songs at an outdoor bar entertained us as we

purple and silver costumes. Suwat explained they were

packed up.

wearing the dress of one of the tribes of native people,

After a day of beach lounging, we left Koh Larn for the


Strawberry season had begun, so we checked out with

over it. The launch was tricky that day, strong and a little

which meant a mountain festival must be occurring. After

mainland on a trip north to the more mountainous regions.

traversing a tortuous mountain path, we arrived there to

Partway there, we stayed in Ayatthaya, a city rich with

find hundreds of colorfully dressed people, food and craft

temples and World Heritage sites. The region was vibrant

booths, games, and music. Each tribe dictated the color

and colorful and the number of monumental Buddhas was

combinations for their group, but each person could make

astounding. In one of the temples, a seated monk beckoned

his/her costume unique. We spotted intricate headdresses


made of metal, vibrant colorful dresses and pants that had

and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as I drifted towards the

been woven and hand-embroidered with intricate patterns.


The entire area was like a kaleidoscope of color. Because

About 50 feet over the deck, I hit a tiny gentle pocket of

I was evidently the only foreigner there, the governor of

uplift. I decided to try to stay in it, but it was close to the

the region actually wanted to take a picture with ME. My

hill, and I could only do figure eights. Slowly, I crept up the

window into the natives’ celebrating their festival was one

low hill, until I cleared it enough to start doing 360s. As the

of the most magical parts of the trip for me.

thermal started picking up about 10 minutes later, I found

The following day the clouds had lifted, but the wind

myself at cloudbase, just in front of the clouds, and pushed

had increased, to around 17-21mph. The windmills behind

out front. I found another nice thermal over a soccer field,

launch were active, but it was laminar and the locals were

and another over a farm. They seemed to be right there

BELOW LEFT Mist flows through the mountain jungle outside a wildlife rescue center in Central Thailand. CENTER Multiple Buddhas stack up at the misty mountain temple of Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew, which was being renovated during our visit. Photo By Gingher Leyendecker. RIGHT Gingher posing with girls from various mountain tribes who have gathered for an annual festival. Each tribe uses specific colors and patterns, but each person makes their own costume unique. Photo by Suwat Hannarong.

getting out their wings for some ridge soaring. Jim and I

every time I needed them, allowing me to cover some

held back until it came down a bit, and then Jim launched

ground in their easy lift. The day was beautiful, and I rode

for some ridge soaring as well. Being from Arizona, where

gentle thermals as long as I could, before the cloud cover

there is really no such thing as laminar, I was hesitant to

squelched the lift, making me choose a field to land in. It

trust the conditions, so I continued to wait while many flew

was the perfect window. I was so happy I had decided to try

and top landed, until it was in the 13-16mph range. My first

to get that one more flight!

flight was fairly uneventful, with some ridge soaring, but

Later we visited an animal rehab center with the Thai

when it began to die, I didn’t find many thermals on the way

pilots, and the Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew Temple, where

to the LZ. I was offered a ride back up and decided to try

multiple Buddhas stack up and oversee the mountainous

again. Jim had had a nice long flight and opted to hang out

jungle. The Thai pilots scanned the area, considering a new

with people in the LZ and relax.

launch and landing area for students. On the way home, we

The pilots on launch seemed unenthusiastic, because

stopped in at a roadside store. Upon exiting, our car was

the dying wind had made it unsoarable and clouds were

blocked by about 400 young monks who were making their

starting to cover the sky. The clouds thickened and lined

way to the monastery, with their drums in tow. They filled

up in mass just behind the launch, moving slowly forward

the vista as far as I could see down either side of the road. It

over the ground I had hoped to cover. When I felt a couple

took a good 10 minutes before we could start moving again,

of sprinkles, I decided that a sledder was in my near future.

but the sight was beautifully random and part of what

The other pilots didn’t bother setting up, but I didn’t fly

made our journey so special.

thousands of miles to Thailand to sit around. I launched

We continued to Chaiyaphum, where we did a home



stay with a family on the edge of a beautiful lake. The

turned out to be an amazing singer, as did everyone who

Chaiyaphum Aero Club was getting ready for a fly-in on a

took the mic. We were encouraged to get up and sing, but

new site. Our room on the family plot was in a teak house,

sheepishly declined a few times. We didn’t know any Thai

with lovely carved banisters and decorations. After settling

music after all, so how could we sing? We were safe. But

in, we walked down to the water with Suwat, who began

just then, someone found “Hotel California,” and we could

speaking with a local fisherman preparing to check traps

no longer decline. Belting out what we could, we had a great

with his son and then offered us the opportunity to accom-

time and laughed into the night with our new friends.

pany the fisherman to check his traps. The fisherman’s son

The next day was the big fly-in, and the club was busy set-

helped us while were in the little dory to balance ourselves,

ting up. The wind differential was getting stronger, and the

as we took take a lap around his traps made of sticks. Even

speed was picking up early, so I decided to launch sooner

though we didn’t understand each other’s languages, we

rather than later. It was nothing like the ridge-soar glass-off

laughed a lot as his little dog ran after us, barking at being

of the night before! After a launch that could be described

left behind. Late that afternoon, we headed to the Wat Prong Chang launch, by then only three months old, guarded by a giant

as “plucky,” and some turbulence around the hill, I pushed out. The thermals hadn’t developed yet, and the air was ”mixy” and what I would like to call “uninclusive.” I decided

white Buddha sitting in a lotus flower. As with the golden

that it was better to be on the ground, wishing I were in the

Buddha in Koh Larn, we were told we could fly in front or in

air, and headed out to land in a field about a half-mile from

back of it, but never directly above. The wind was coming

the LZ.

in straight and strong, and the mountain was a 30km ridge.

I had figured it would be an easy hike, but soon realized

We soared the ridge as long and far as we could, before we

I was in the middle of rice paddy fields, most of which were

were called on radio to get back before it got dark. Coming

flooded. The path was about a foot wide, with a two-foot

back was much slower, and, with the forest-covered ridge, I

drop into muddy water. The dry part I had hoped to trek

hoped I hadn’t gone too far to make the top landing. Edging

was inhabited by what looked like a bunch of domestic yaks

back slowly, we watched the setting sun reflect off the

with giant horns. I meandered around and finally realized I

rice paddy fields below. Another magical moment! We top

had to get past those yaks. Then I heard a motor, and a guy

landed with just enough time to fold up before dark and

on a small motorcycle came up and motioned for me to hop

learned that we were the first Americans to fly the site.

on. With my pack on my back and the two of us on that little

We headed with the local pilots, including one of

bike, we somehow managed to stay on the tiny muddy trail

Thailand’s three Royal Navy generals, to have a shared meal

and make it past the yaks. He dropped me off beside an-

in an outdoor mountain restaurant that also has rooms.

other guy who had a truck. I wasn’t sure what to do, because

Karaoke was included on the menu, and General Jaibunjong

I didn’t recognize him. But with hand motions, he commu-


and Jim enjoying one of three pristine dives in the Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea off the west coast of Thailand in the Krabi province. Photo by Suwat Hannarong. CENTER Jim making friends near the LZ at the Phetchabun site. Art abounds across Thailand, and these welded sculptures included Transformers and the Terminator! RIGHT Pilots Suwat Hannarong, Lek Rangsit, Tor Komson, and Jim MacKenzie enjoy breakfast while parawaiting for the rain to pass.



LEFT Sunrise on the Wat Prong Chang launch in Chaiyaphum on the morning of the club’s fly-in. Glistening rice-paddy fields reflect the sky in the background. Photo by Gingher Leyendeker. RIGHT Gingher launches next to the large white Buddha protecting the Chiayaphum launch. She and Jim were the first Americans to fly this site. Photo by Meaw Thathong.

nicated that he was willing to give me a ride back up. The wind had picked up in speed and gustiness by the time I returned, and we watched some pilots brave it. Some

high and weren’t going to change in time for us to fly, so we decided to head to the beaches of Krabi, where Suwat, Meaw, and their families live. We got to stay with Suwat for three

had good launches, but the air was turbulent and flying

nights, with his sister-in law cooking incredible food for

resembled a rodeo out front, so we stayed back. We saw

every meal, and learned that his children both dive and fly.

two pilots get their wings caught on a tree while trying

When we booked our trip and asked for diving to be

to launch, a couple having a problem with a metal shack

included, we were surprised to find out that Suwat also

behind launch, and one have an incident low to the ground,

runs a diving operation in his hometown of Krabi! He has

ending up in some trees. Others cleared out and had epic

been diving for 35 years and has built up the beach town

(and very active) flights. We waited for a while, and then de-

by starting the first diving operation. He used to run large

cided to make the five-hour drive back to Bangkok to try to

boat tours but has since sold his boat and paired up with

make it in time for the New Year’s countdown. It was a good

another operation to take his students/clients to the numer-

decision. We got there with 20 minutes to spare and made it

ous pristine diving sites in the area.

to a show that included celebrities, music, and fireworks! We missed flying Phu Tub Berk, another site in the moun-

We headed to the Phi Phi Islands and there found the reefs to be unbleached and unbroken, teeming with life

tains, because of the holiday weekend. People had pitched

like some kind of beautiful underwater rush hour. We did

tents all across the launch so we couldn’t fly. It was OK by

three dives total and wished we had planned extra days to

me, though, because I was already thinking about the next

continue the adventure.

adventure on the list—wild elephants. From Bangkok, we headed southeast to the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan, to the Yang Chum Reserve. We

Our last day was spent in Bangkok, traveling with a local guide named Artty, who gave us a living history lesson as we visited temples, markets, and landmarks. It was the per-

jumped in the back of a truck and drove about five miles

fect end to the trip. We splurged on a luxury hotel our last

into the jungle, where we spotted wild elephants in three lo-

night, where we viewed the city from the rooftop bar.

cations, as well as a herd of wild yaks. They were a welcome

Our trip total was 17 days, including two full days of

sight, after seeing city elephants giving tourists rides the

travel from Arizona to Thailand and back. We covered 1800

week before. We stayed until dusk, when we were warned

miles across Thailand, took planes, trucks, water taxis,

that mother elephants with babies come out around that

various ferries, a tuk- tuk (three wheeled taxicab), motor-

time and can be aggressive.

bikes, and sky trains. We stayed in hotels and homestays

Our next flying site was Khao Pang, but the winds were

that ranged from $10 per night to $25 and ate really well for



ABOVE Members of the Chaiyaphum Paragliding club: Somyot Charoenwai, Royal Navy General Prayut Jaibunjong, Tawat Phongpanich, Suwat Hannarong, and honorary members Gingher Leyendecker and Jim MacKenzie. BELOW Jim and Gingher enjoy lovely views flying the Phet Dum site in the Phetchabun province. Photos by Meaw Thathong.

about $10 a day for two. We were the only tourists in most places, and usually the only Americans in places where there were tourists. When I asked Suwat what he would like American pilots to know about Thailand, he said, “…that we are welcoming, that we offer a lot of culture, and that there are many options of things to do and see.” He also wanted pilots to know that they hold a free 10-day XC clinic every April. Last year over 200 national and international pilots attended, and great flights and learning were had by all. I wish we could have stayed another two weeks; we know we will definitely return!



If you are interested in flying (and/or diving) in Thailand, meeting local pilots and clubs, and immersing yourself in Thai culture, you'll find Suwat at suwat@aonangscuba. com or on Facebook at Thailand Paragliding Krabi Club. While in Bangkok, you can contact Artty for a local city tour at or at artty local tour on Facebook. And if you have a country that you’ve been wanting to visit and fly, or have some other adventure in mind but aren’t sure how to get started, contact Katya Nechaeva at or at 415-902-5597. The adventure of a lifetime awaits!



Less Flown Divine Nonetheless

Colima Mexico




Less Known


exico is a big country.

P2 learning to thermal, we were a

There are dozens of

wide range of ability and desire. This

incredible mountains to

is typically a nightmare scenario,

fly a paraglider from, and uncounted

trying to juggle everyone’s prefer-

others awaiting their maiden flights.

ence in launch times, flight plans and

People have been free flying in

retrieves. Not here in Colima, though.

Mexico since the very beginning of

The wind comes over the back until

the sport. For decades, pilots from all over the world

11:30a.m., every single day, until the sea breeze breaks

have traveled to Mexico to seek their winter flight hours.

through and the anabatic starts winning. By that point,

The hub of Mexican paragliding is Valle de Bravo. Valle

the local crows and condors are marking the climbs.

has held PWC Superfinals and a slew of other comps

The first puffs of uphill wind send the experienced,

that long predate my involvement in the sport. Everyone

local pilots skyward. They will cross the city and head

goes to Valle, and it’s great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been there three times and have loved every second of it. But, there are some lesser known sites in Mexico that are worthy of some praise. Cue the pipe organ and crack open your hymnal, Colima worship starts now! Colima is one of 32 Mexican states, and its capital city shares its name. It is in this city that I have stayed, three times now, and it is a paraglider’s (and adventurer’s)

“Cross the city and head towards the hills, or up the volcano, or to any one of the numerous little towns in the area, where cold beer, warm people and spicy food await.” towards the hills, or up the volcano, or to any one of

dream. Pure convection weather that you never have to

the numerous little towns in the area, where cold beer,

forecast; the easiest access around; huge, soft thermals;

warm people and spicy food await them. Ample taxis,

real Mexican culture; affordable and easy living; a stun-

buses and friendly people will bring the pilots back. I

ning and massive volcano; incredible people, and the

put a card from our hotel in each of my guests’ pockets

Pacific Ocean is just a short drive out of town. Can I get

and tell them to enjoy their journey back, if they can

an amen?!

make it far enough to need a journey.

On my latest trip, I received a group of eight pilots, all

I gave everyone a simple site intro: house thermals,

friends, with the intent of showing them the glory of

airspace, hazards and the most fun goals— mainly a

this holy land. They were a mixed bag of skills. From

Merendero bar called Don Comalòn in a quaint little

Tim, crushing it on a Zeno, to Patti, a freshly minted

town on the far side of the city. Merendero bars bring

ABOVE Turtles

and pilots both hatch here. BELOW Praising the break. OPPOSITE High above and well beyond the city.



you tacos, enchiladas, flautas and more, but you only

to overhear the chaos of all the bands playing at once

ever pay for your drinks! The more you drink, the better

from various tables. It’s worth every peso, and remem-

the food gets! Multiple mariachi bands all vie for your

ber, he who pays the piper calls the tune! La Bamba!

business, approaching your table and making a deal:

Everyone says a prayer that they’ll arrive there, and

three songs for 100 pesos. Some are three-piece bands,

then, one by one, they launch from the massive astro-

some are up to eight. If you don’t hire a band, you have

turf takeoff.




Visualizing and pondering.


stunning Volcan de Colima.

stoic. The wind is blowing by now, our groundspeed is satisfying. The little towns that surround the mountain

Once in the air, we gaggle up and everyone yips and

are rural and cute. Their residents are much less famil-

screams and kicks their feet in elation; the congrega-

iar with paragliders, so landing there brings spectators,

tion is speaking in tongues. The climbs are, for the most

curiosity and questions. Food and beer seem to grow on

part, easy and relaxing: 4m/s, wide with soft edges and

trees around here; it’s just everywhere. Landing always

plenty of avian expertise to follow the lead of. The first climb originates from the mountain, but the next ones will be from the flats. I leave the mountain and start leading the crusaders on our conquest. We don’t make it far as a group, but a few of us stay together in the air as we cross the city. Early in the day, the city works well, but by mid-day, there is too much heat and it becomes stable. It forces our lines to stay just on the outskirts of town, catching climbs rising from dirt fields and greenhouses. There is a notoriously strong and consistent climb coming off the junkyard, usually worth a visit. Just downwind of the city, the earth begins to rise steadily. Cane fields and huge ravines adorn the skirt of an incredible volcano. The summit is over 12,500’ and it is young and active. Smoke and ash plume from the crater every day. Red lava runs down its flanks annually. The heat that gets stuck over the city releases downwind and begins to rise up the towering mountain. Flying towards it feels like a pilgrimage, humbling and


The window finally opens.



LEFT About

to cross the concrete jungle.

old and has opened a skydiving dropzone and commercial balloon operation in Colima. He is a badass and his presence makes this city exponentially cooler. When Sean and I met at the local PG pilot bar in Colima, we immediately hit it off talking shop: XC routes, skydiving and our shared interest in developing a system for training acro out of skydive airplanes. We then got to talking about his new, sevenpassenger hot-air balloon. I told him I’d love to jump out of it with my excites me with the unknown, and I love having to ask the name of the town after landing. “I AM ALIEN, I

first roll-over out of it, and that they were flying in two


days. I changed some plans and stuck around, an easy

This is not a place you come to break your distance record, although some seriously epic flights are

decision. On the day of the flight, we showed up to Sean’s

common here. It is not a place that I consider pure

dropzone before dawn. It is located just in front of the

paragliding. It is the perfect crossroad of paragliding

mountain. The katabatic wind was rolling down the

and culture, recreation and relaxation. It is not a place

volcano, and it inflated the balloon in conjunction with

that you put on a catheter. Instead, you fly for as long as

the four-stroke fan. The first blasts of propane lit up the

you’re comfortable and you enjoy every second of it, not

morning with a loud roar. The balloon stood up, the pas-

too hard, but not too easy. Then you land knowing that

sengers filed in, and I stepped in backwards. They closed

there is an entire culture willing to cater to your com-

the door, smushing my glider onto my legs. Sean popped

fort and enjoyment. It is a schedule that you can get lost

the quick release and pulled a sustained burn, and just

in. A daily routine so sustainable and so enjoyable that

like magic, we started to rise quickly. We were pushed

relocation is a hard thought to keep out of your head.

by the katabatic flow, but only for the first 50 feet. After

And if you find yourself looking for a different, more exciting verse, I’ve got a new disciple to introduce. His name is Sean Farley Gomez. He’s a seven-time Mexican and onetime World Kiteboarding Champion. He’s an experienced and able paraglider pilot. He’s a talented wingsuit pilot and skydiver. He flies airplanes and now hot-air balloons as well. His father is from the Cali coast and his mother is a lovely Mexican woman, rendering both his Spanish and English in perfect, accentless form. He is kind and polite, knowledgeable and confident. He is only 30 years RIGHT Local spectators.


paraglider. He said that he’d be stoked to christen the


ABOVE LEFT Comfortably climbing. RIGHT Winning

with friends. BELOW Tim on glide.

that, we rose perfectly vertical for about 2000’. 600ft/ minute under a nylon-contained, manmade thermal,

At 4300’ AGL, Sean slowed the ascent then leveled off. I opened the door. I dropped my Uturn Blacklight2 down

silent and peaceful. Not quite flight, more like sustained

to linestretch, and got real scared. I knew I could, I knew

levitation. The sensation is absolutely incredible and the

I should, but I was scared. I couldn’t control the glider.

view of the volcano stunned everyone. We were high

The leading edge was being covered up by half the tail,

enough to see the line of sunrise. Soft, golden light on

and I couldn’t fix it. I tried hard to get it into a configu-

the mountain and the highlands, and a hard line where

ration I was comfortable with, but I couldn’t make it

the shade was still being cast on the towns below.

perfect. I tugged up on the A’s, hoping a little inflation



would straighten it out, but it had no effect. I tugged on

the last out of the plane, wearing my street clothes

thought. “Looks like it’ll open.” Ha. Good enough for me…

and my hair beating in the wind; true Mexico style. I

3…. 2….1…. See ya! A calm dive out towards the horizon

hadn’t done a skydive in a while, maybe 18 months or

in nice, warm light. I relaxed in the acceleration of free

so, and never had I done a dive at sunset in front of a

fall, and it lasted longer than I expected. Some 70’ later,

massive and active volcano. We skipped the recurrency

my glider exploded into flight. I gave it a quick brake

process and fees associated with American dropzones,

check, but it wasn’t even needed. I immediately turned

and instead we went off the balloon jump rapport we

back towards the balloon and stalled the wing, looking

had built between the two of us. Besides, paragliders

up at my friends as I fell away. We screamed to one an-

are much harder to fly than nine-cell skydive canopies.

other. I was on cloud 9. We had drifted far in the balloon,

After I exited the plane, I looked over at the mountain,

but I easily glided back to the dropzone and did five

then all the way to the ocean in the opposite direction. A

more stalls, some spins and huge wingovers. Loving the

massive and grand view, the best place I’ve ever done a

still morning air and the incredible view of the volcano!

skydive. The sun was setting over the ocean, creating a

Praising the place with as much participation as I could

diverse gradient from deep, dark blue water, to glowing

muster! I landed at the dropzone in gentle katabatic

hues of gold and orange highlighted by brilliant pink

wind. My Mexican friends were as stoked as I was.

clouds. Beauty and gratitude were washing over me at

Later that week we went skydiving with Sean. He and


dust billowing off them as they cracked open. I was

the brakes, nothing happened. I asked Sean what he

120mph, beating my clothes and making my face flap in

another one of his instructors took two of my guests

funny ways. I tracked right over the runway, grabbed

tandem at sunset. Even the ride up in the airplane was

my pilot chute and tossed it hard to the side. Linestretch

incredible, flying so close to the mountain that you

jerked me upright but my canopy sniveled slowly and

could nearly touch it. High enough to see down into the

symmetrically into a gentle and comfortable opening. I

crater, where smoke and ash were puffing out. High

saw the tandems under canopy, not too far from me. I

enough to see the ocean. I watched as the two tandems

grabbed the front risers and pulled down hard, tilting

exited the plane, watched their drogue chutes deploy,

the parachute into a steep dive. I quickly released the


back to the cane fields, and once I was under 200’, I remembered what a plummeting glide these parachutes have. Ground hungry and fast, descending at 3:1, this canopy is headed straight for the dirt. At 50’ I was convinced I was going to pound in, so I started pulling brakes. The startling vertical speed smoothly turned into tons of flare authority and I gracefully tip-toed back to Earth, singing Colima praises at the top of my lungs. The list of fun things to do in Colima goes on. My guests had an incredible time, many logging their best flights ever. Patti is thermaling like a champ! You’d all be proud. We’re going on a number of other international paragliding trips this year, and we’d love to have you risers, waited just a moment to swing underneath, then

along. Spain in July, Nepal in October and Iquique in

buried the left brake toggle, whipping the wing into a

November. Then back to Colima in January 2019! Check

quick loop. I tried to make the wing do a SAT, but the

out for more info! Stay happy, my

lines were just too short. Loops and spirals brought me




Missouri 2 Kansas Flying the Borderlands by KYLE LEWIS


n old pilot once said, “Life is

peration, I do a quick Internet search,

It wasn’t long before the pilot Curtis

an emotional journey we are

and a KC paragliding site appears. (KC

Falconer, Jr. sent an invitation to check

being shorthand for Kansas City, a

out the launch where the soaring had

city founded near the junction of the

occurred days before. We agree to meet

all in together, and flight with

friends makes it that much better.”

Kansas and Missouri Rivers.) I see there

later in the week. When I arrive at the

day in Kansas, and I’m traveling home

is an active group and even a mentor-

site, I see a freshly cut bean field in the

across the flatlands after finishing my

ship program for new pilots and realize

river bottom stretching out before me,

summer job in Colorado that left too

I’ve been too quick to believe these

marked by a windsock hanging from a

little time for flying. During a fuel stop,

flyover states offered little opportunity

corner fence. A tree-covered bluff sits to

a text message arrives from a buddy in

for a “paragliding flyover.”

the south where I spy an opening in the

No flying today. It’s a rainy November

Colorado with an invitation to fly. “The flying is awesome today; I just got in

trees that looks like a perfect launching

email list and explained my desire to

area near the top. Curtis arrives, followed closely by a farmer who shares

three hours. LOL!” I wonder if it’s the

fly in the area with local pilots, Marc

rain or a tear that wets my face as I

Radloff responded. He assured me that

that he is heading north to fix a broken

scan the prairie, seeing few potential

a number of pilots fly in the area; sev-

combine. He appears to be old friends


eral of them soared the day prior. Marc

with Curtis and asks if we are going to

To alleviate my frustration, I start


After I contacted someone on the

added my name to the group message

thinking about the possibility of flying

system, and several pilots instantly

opportunities in this borderland area

greeted me. I started feeling welcome,

between Kansas and Missouri. In des-

but wondered when we’d start flying.


ABOVE Looking

east from Vern's Launch near Wathena Kansas. Photo by Curtis Falconer, Jr.

LEFT Vern's Launch in the 1990s | photo by James Schultz. RIGHT Early spring. (L to R) James Bradford, Jerry Accardo, Len Smith, Randy Schultz | photo by Curtis Falconer, Jr.

fly. “We are going to give it a try if the

around, and am plucked from the earth.

Startled by the surprise launch, I regain

wind holds.” The farmer wishes us luck


my composure and start to rise above

and drives on, as we watch the cloud

Above launch, it’s beautiful, but cold.

the ridge. Curtis hollers on the radio,

of dust left behind float by, just as we hope to, soon. A short drive to launch provides time to discuss the history of the site called Verns. It was originally named Burr Oak but was renamed after Vern Ostdiek, a local pilot who flew it often, passed away. Several pilots approached the landowner who gave permission to use the site in the late ‘70s. While making our way through a cow pasture and arriving at the final gate before launch, I’m aware of the neighborly and trusting attitude of residents of the local area. As we walk the last few feet to launch, the windsock 300 feet below shows north around 9-12mph. Curtis shares that the weather pattern making this site reliable has changed in the last couple years for some reason, but today it looks good. As we discuss some site particulars, the wind becomes a bit cross from the NE, so we decide to kite until the more northerly component returns. I spread out my wing, pull it up in a reverse launch fashion, spin



A few weeks later, a meeting takes place—the monthly get-together of what remains of the Kansas City Hang Gliding Club. These days there are only around eight members who get together once a month to share flying stories. Its roots began in the late 1970s, when two instructors moved into the area to form a club of 30 members at its peak. Over some tasty BBQ, I’m learning quite a bit and beginning to wonder if these guys are pulling my leg. Curtis claims that while on a local training hill, he took time to cover all the cow manure with waxed paper, to keep his glider looking bright. Glen Bitikofer, a 75-year-old pilot, says he took his sons along for the ride, and they started flying at ages of 11 and 13 in SE Kansas. They all share the club’s activity on one particularly epic day: 16 gliders in the air at one time, just south of St. Joseph, after launching from a river bluff. One pilot decided to fly to his home and landed in his yard, some 50 miles to the southeast, in Liberty, Missouri. Mike Russel explains that flying sites here range mostly from NW to NE, along the river bluffs. Pilots discovered and pioneered five main sites by examining topographic maps and going to TOP Paragliding over Vern's Launch | photo by Curtis Falconer, Jr. BOTTOM

the location. Members would drive up

Training hill in Lycene, Kansas | photo by Jim Schultz.

to a home, knock on the door, and share

checking on me, and I respond through

Jim Schultz says that during many

the desire to fly with the landowner. frozen lips, “All is well, but it’s cold.” The

flying days, pilots spent time chatting

decided to join us, flying low along

with families while not in the air, in

but causes the air to feel much colder.

the ridge from the west, heading to

order to form relationships. And local

the local Air Guard base, so I tell him

families often enjoyed coming out to

while zigzagging back and forth, I see

to hold off on launching. As soon as

watch the pilots fly. These relationships

the historical brick downtown of St.

the aircraft passes, Curtis is airborne,

allowed the club to flourish. The club

Joseph, 15 miles away. The city of St.

crossing a valley and catching a ther-

often gave the families fruit baskets

Joe was the site of the first leg of the

mal—one of the two home thermals he

each Christmas as a thank you.

Pony Express, and I wonder if any of the

had talked about during the site intro.

One hundred feet or so above launch,

Today, a renewed spirit spurring free

He makes it look so easy to stay aloft

flight is taking place in the area. The

glider over their route some 150 years

that I start to wonder if he will ever

demand to learn is present; however,

later. I start to get behind the ridge and

come down. Continuing for 40 minutes

it’s difficult to support a full-time

decide to fly out. After ridge soaring for

or so longer, he finally chooses to land,

instructor. Marc Radloff and Grace

20 more minutes, I get low and land.

a frozen smile on his face.

Stansbury are leading a mentorship

riders could have imagined a para-


Curtis is now kiting, but a C-130 has

humidity makes for smooth conditions


program to provide new-pilot training and give seasoned flyers an avenue to grow in their skills. The program teaches basic skills of paragliding. Once the students are comfortable with ground handling, they are partnered with a seasoned pilot to continue practicing. The idea is that most skills refined on the ground eventually will translate to smooth learning in the air. After much ground handling, the seasoned pilot gives the green light for the student to master the training flights required for a P2 rating. Additional ratings are achieved similarly, with the trainee partnered with a higher certified pilot for flights to refine skills. This design allows the local community to grow together, while provid-

ABOVE Launching

in the '90s | photo by Jim Schultz.

ing an avenue for new pilots to learn ships to happen. Whether flying with

I’m sure, as the old pilot said, “Life is an

a new friend or an old buddy, going

emotional journey,” but I’m also confi-

special relationships. The camaraderie

to a new site or an old favorite, bonds

dent that flying with friends makes life

of the community allows these relation-

form. This brings flying to where it is.

that much better.

locally. The experience of flight brings about






Wills Wing Sport 3 Impressions of the Newly-Released 155 Article and Photos by JONATHAN DIETCH


wider-than-anticipated VG range coupled with a surprisingly broad

been on that Sport 3 155. I wanted to

3—135 & 155 square feet. I’ll

speed envelope. At every combina-

know just where it might have taken

attempt to summarize the qualities

tion of sail tension, airspeed, bank

me on every new day. This is my over-

of the glider I flew for six hours in five

angle, turn radius, roll rate and yaw,

all impression.

flights on three consecutive days at

it was nimble, predictable, balanced

two sites in a variety of frequently

and enjoyable. I flew glassy, coastal

encountered conditions.

ridge lift and tightly blasting ther-

Sport 2 but were different. I promptly

mals. I regretted having to return the

asked Wills Wing for a demo flight.

tions in handling, performance and

glider. I flew my Sport 2 155 and T2C

Vehicle testing was performed by

just plain fun. I was delighted by a

144 on subsequent days and, in spite

early February and on short notice

This glider exceeded my expecta-


of respectable flights, I’d rather have

urrently there are two sizes of the Wills Wing Sport


Last November I spotted some prototype gliders that resembled the

in light wind. The ability to launch

I was ready for that demo flight. I weigh 170 pounds and have often

from shallower slopes in lighter

flown a Sport 2 155 since 2008. My

winds is another advantage of this

1976 hours have mostly been on

glider. In no case was wire slack

different T2C 144s. I like the per-

during launch and ground handling

formance but I’m often too weak to

an issue. I typically land VG loose and per-

handle 76 pounds of glider and cover bags. At 60 years old I’ve learned to

form many out-landings. I set up my

have fun while going far on sport-

first two approaches over the parking

level equipment. Lately, I prefer a

lot then punched through the house

lightweight, simpler, easy launching

rotor on my final leg. I received signif-

and landing, stable, maneuverable,

icant wire and harness line slaps. It’s

good climbing and reasonable gliding

to a glider’s credit if it can handle tree


rotor, wind shadow, lee-side eddy or thermal turbulence during approach.

With cover bags, my Sport 2 and

The Sport 3 tracked evenly in pitch,

Falcon 4 195 weigh 58 pounds versus 76 pounds for my T2C. I fly with the

roll and yaw in spite of the sharp

bags since I land out often and want

wind shear and abrupt changes in

to be self-contained. The Sport 3 felt

airspeed. I had nice skims with good

the same weight as my Sport 2. This

landings in the dead zone between

18-pound savings is often the differ-

the parking lot and setup area. I don’t always use my drogue chute

ence between going flying or loafing around at home. It means easier

for tight landings. I like to practice

ground-handling without straining

steep approaches with my body

while loading the wing or extracting

upright and VG loose for glide-path

myself from behind a bailout fence.

control. Some gliders are known to

I don’t want my soaring endeavors

were very easy to install without any

readily enter strong oscillations in

impinged upon by weight.

frustration. There’s an extra reflex

a dive with VG loose. I performed

bridle near the root to compensate

a downwind leg with VG loose at

My T2C is a well-tuned and highly agile wing but I can really feel that extra 18 pounds when I’m soar-

for the lower sprogs. I walked toward the ramp with

38mph airspeed and 51mph groundspeed. The Sport 3 tracked straight

ing. Where I fly, the ability to react

1/4-VG and noticed extra slack in

and true without any conscious effort.

quickly and maneuver rapidly means

the side wires versus my Sport 2 155.

The control bar felt solid as well. I flew the glider straight and level

the difference between specking out

Dave Aldrich discussed how this

versus the dreaded pinch. Many epic

glider has a wider VG range and the

just above stall while mushing in

days offer few stairways through in-

side wires need more slack to ac-

both VG loose and fully tight. I felt no

versions and access to upper strata of

commodate the extra change in nose

tendency to stall suddenly or drop a

lift. Safely working near terrain has

angle from VG loose through tight.

tip without warning. Lateral control

similar requirements. I’ve made my

It felt like a U2 145 but significantly

was good and it wasn’t difficult to remain straight and level. I did this

point about its weight advantages—

lighter. By my second flight I didn’t

so how does the Sport 3 155 handle

notice the wire slack. VGs can be

test with and without the prototype

and perform?

tightened to make ground handling

raked tips (see comment later in this

easier but remember to re-adjust it

article) and it seemed good either way.

Day 1 was at Torrey Pines where

I tested my arm reach during tight

it was blowing straight in around

before launching or disassembly. All

12-15mph throughout the afternoon.

three launches at Torrey were easy

turns with VG loose. If I run out of

Assembly was easy, straightforward

and uneventful.

reach then I have to tighten the VG to

and similar to the Sport 2. This glider

My fourth and fifth were from

shift the control bar aft which defeats

has much greater double surface and

Marshall Peak, including a top-

having VG loose. This costs maneu-

the fully-enclosed sprogs just zip into

launch from the shallow, upper slope

verability and risks a tip stall. Our

place without placing a shock cord over exposed tips. The tip wands

ABOVE Banked

up above the surf at Torrey Pines. OPPOSITE Paul Voight..



at Torrey and Marshall Peak. On one glide during a 99km race task I kept climbing at 46mph airspeed. The bar pressure was always moderate and it tracked true and confident. I felt like a kid, sledding across the sky. I never felt any tendency to oscillate, roll or yaw without my input. I really had a blast on fast glide. I also looked around at the wing and observed no hint of sail flutter, deformation, or obvious wrinkles. This Sport 3 155 sail had a 4oz. Dacron top surface with three speed battens per side and UVP2LXB clear laminate lower surface. I’m accustomed to Wills Wing speed battens. After a few iterations, they become pretty easy to install and remove. These are effective for preventing flutter and extending sail life. The effect of the opaque, colored top and clear bottom made a stunning visual first impression. My experience of the lower-surface laminate is that it’s more compliant under tension than other sail fabrics and contributes to a sail that responds more freely at every VG setting even if the lower TOP Racing

along Crestline Ridge. BOTTOM Launching the Sport 3 155 w/ prototype raked tips at Torrey Pines | photo by David Aldrich.

surface is tight and flat. I felt this glider achieved better handling at every speed and VG setting and my

local thermals can be rather tight and

only moderate pressure. The Sport

track logs plus video seem to back

if you can’t turn rapidly you miss the

3 155 has a VG that really works and

this up. This combination of extend-

climb. At 5’7” tall, I had good reach

a well-positioned bar at every set-

ed double surface and specially engi-

with VG loose while turning tight

ting. My enthusiasm grew as testing

neered lower-surface fabric strikes

in typical narrow cores at Marshall


Peak. The downtubes were also wellpositioned for good flare authority. Adjusting VG increases or reduces

pulley ratio than the Sport 2. I put an extra pulley inside my Sport 2 155

me as a winning combination and the glider’s handling plus performance support this observation. I mentioned prototype raked tips. I

wing twist which changes the at-

which yields 50% more rope pull and

had two flights at Torrey with these

titude of the keel and effectively

33% less tension. This glider felt simi-

innovative tips constructed from durable, shatter-resistant Lexan and

tilts the control bar fore or aft. Not

lar but had a bit more rope, likely due

all control bars are rigged where

to its wider VG range. The VG tension

flexible carbon-fiber sheet. They

pilots need them. This can make a

was light and felt just right as I fre-

could be rolled up and stored inside

significant difference in how a glider

quently adjusted it from end to end.

the glider and seemed nearly inde-

handles. With VG tight I pushed the


The VG on the Sport 3 has a lower

Fast-glide performance was a

structible. I believe these are still

bar down to my waist and still had

major improvement over the Sport 2

under development. Although I felt

good reach. The glider easily cruised

155s I’ve flown. I did several glides at

that the Sport 3 benefited at very

between 46 and 50mph airspeed with

46-50mph airspeed in moderate lift

low speeds, I didn’t find these were


essential for the glider to handle and

to take it XC but had no retrieve and

perform exceedingly well. Overall

didn’t want to hide a glider I didn’t

handling and speed range with and

own while I took an Uber back to my

without the tips were very similar


except at the lowest speeds which

On the fifth day I did some racing-

felt better with the tips. The glider’s

task practice with my buddy Bruce,

trim was not affected either way. My

who is a seasoned and accomplished

personal experience of flying with

comp pilot. We set up a difficult-

raked tips on my Sport 2 155 and T2C

to-complete 99km task along 10

144 is that they allow me to maneu-

or 11 turnpoints. We encountered

ver tighter and more safely at lower

nearly every kind of flying condi-

speeds. I have never been able to get a

tion, including good ridge lift, flatbottomed clouds, dead calm with

Sport 2 155 to perform a proper spin,

overcast, sunny and thermic, smooth

but the Sport 3 155 performed a

air through weightless turbulence.

sweet, nose-down auto-rotation in VG

I really got to put the Sport 3 155

tight, with the tips from a high-AoA

through its paces!

(angle of attack) post-wang and easily recovered as I relaxed my arms. I flew the glider in strong turbulence during my fourth flight from

At one point I pushed it too hard and was left to dig my way out from the foot of Sugarpine Mountain or go land. Two redtails led me to a wafting

Marshall Peak on a day with very

bubble in an adjacent canyon. The

strong sink and strong wind rever-

Sport 3 tracked the weak doughnut of

sals. I found myself in pretty deep at

air as it meandered and walked along

one point and in spite of a stiff head-

a canyon wall. The glider tracked this

ally worked my way up the side of the

wind, sink, and turbulence, I was able

marginal lift as if programmed on au-

canyon and popped out beside the

to work my way out without too much

topilot. The glider easily avoided the

surrounding peaks. I climbed away

fuss, and then hit a thermal and

rocky mountainsides and tracked the

freely, tagged the turnpoint, then

climbed out easily. I was prepared

weak thermal turn by turn. I gradu-

proceeded on course. The glider was truly confidence-inspiring as it maneuvered and thermaled beautifully regardless of VG setting. I completed 2/3 of the course before cold weather and lack of sleep caught up with me. After one failed “Hail Mary” save, I bailed into a small field aided by a drogue chute. I inadvertently left the VG on full tight yet landed smoothly and easily. Bruce completed the task on his topless race machine, then picked me up. Later he remarked how well the Sport 3 kept up on fast glide. The only thing holding this wing back was the pilot.

ABOVE Wolfgang

Seiss tiptoes down on the Sport 3 155 at Andy Jackson Airpark last November.

By the time this is published, details on the Sport 3 should be announced at or http://







Paragliding in New England by EDUARDO GARZA


wo questions pilots frequently hear if they free-fly in New England are: “You live near

Boston?” immediately followed by:

“Can you fly there?”

I actually live in Manchester, New Hampshire, but saying “near Boston” (or should I say “Bastahn”?) simplifies things. These queries bring up a good point, since, as many who have visited Boston can attest, the surrounding terrain is pretty flat, has a fair amount of airports, and is heavily forested.



Nevertheless, the answer to both questions is: “Yes, we fly in New England, and it is wicked good!” I entered the flying community in 2011 and quickly realized that if I wanted to fly, I really had to work for it. First of all, flying sites are located all across New England, from the densely wooded areas in Maine, to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Green Mountains in Vermont, Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, and the dunes in Cape Cod. It is not uncommon to

spend two to three hours in the car, just to get to the trailhead in order to start the hike up to launch (motorized options also available for the less spry). Additionally, launches are not exactly beginner-friendly, so good control of the wing is required for a safe start to the flight. From cliff launches to areas encroached by trees or laden with roots and rocks, ABOVE Towards


the Vermont State

it’s all part of the fun. Once in the air, things don’t get much easier, given that for a decent XC flight you normally have to be well aware of all the no-land areas in your route (woods, marshes, etc.), as well as the best way(s) to circumvent airspace, which can

be truly complicated at some sites. To put the area’s complications in perspective: According to the US Department of Agriculture and Forest Service, three of the top four states in the US with the most treecovered areas are in New England, with an average coverage of 80.7%. For all these reasons, most New England paragliding pilots in the early days didn’t pursue XC flying or, at least, not consistently. However, with the advent of better performing wings, improved navigation devices and a more ubiquitous online media that allowed the studying of thermal triggers, best routes, etc., the New England flying community has started to really explore the XC potential of its area. In addition to this, local schools, such as Morningside in New Hampshire and Paraglide New England in Vermont, keep constant the stream of new pilots. This advent of new blood more than compensates for pilots who move out to other areas or simply dedicate their time to other allegedly more useful activities. In order to show the actual growth of the community, analytics have been gathered for the past four years through a simple process.

Pilots upload their flights to an online database (commonly Leonardo, which is located at www., or to www., and at the end of the year, all the flights from the different New England launches are compiled and graphed for easy visualization. Awards are then given to the top three Open flights, top three Novice flights (people just getting into XC flying) as well as for any state record or site record broken. This not only brings the community closer together (any excuse is good to share a few beers), but it also encourages pilots to learn more about their wings, electronics, weather, etc., and ultimately discover how satisfying an XC flight can be. It has been genuinely




Paraglide New England crew on launch during the annual pilgrimage to Mexico. BELOW Over Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts after launching from Mt. Tom.

rewarding to see how delighted some of the award recipients feel, which makes the effort put forth in the preparation all the more worth it. As can be seen in the accompanying graphs, the number of pilots pushing XC in the past years has increased by more than 100%, from 13 in 2014 to an average of 30 in the past two years. Similarly, the number of combined kilometers flown increased, from 2340 in 2014 to more than 4500 in 2017, an increase of 92%. Regarding time of the year with



the best weather for XC flying, everything starts in mid-spring, after the snow has melted and the jet stream has been reduced in the vicinity. Cloudbase is typically 50006000 ft. during these months (April and May), and days are long enough to support three- to-four-hour flights. The beginning of summer is usually prime time for XC, though, with a typical cloud base of 60007000 ft. and days supporting five to six hours of flying. Once autumn sets in, conditions are milder, and the majestic red, orange, and yellow hues blanket the mountains. Lastly,

if you want to fly XC, winter is a great season to travel south and enjoy the sun elsewhere. Regarding the best flying sites for XC, Brace Mountain, located in the Berkshires (right at the point where Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York intersect), provides up to 35% of the total number of kilometers flown during the season. Other sites, such as Burke Mountain (ski area) and West Rutland, in Vermont, have now started to become gathering places for XC-hungry pilots, who usually team up to traverse the difficult

sections along well-known routes. Interestingly enough, sites with less than 1000 ft. of prominence surrounded by airspace, such as Mount Tom in Massachusetts, have provided the longest flights recorded by a paraglider in New

England, with 156 km and 135 km, just this past 2017. In summary, New England is home to an enthusiastic base of regular XC pilots who not only like to push the boundaries of what can be accomplished regarding free flight

in the area, but also nurture the community that is built around this life-absorbing sport. I sincerely can’t think of a more fitting group that joyfully personifies New Hampshire’s official state motto: “Live Free or Die.”

Pick up these hot titles by

DENNIS PAGEN Sport Aviation Publications PO Box 43, Spring Mills, PA 16875 | 814-404-9446



Some Unexpected Rewards of


by C.J. STURTEVANT efore my husband George and I were hang glider pilots, we were travelers. In fact, it was from a conversation during a

a new sport. At the time we were both teaching middleschool science, which included some rudimentary principles of flight; we figured we’d take the ground school,

diving trip to Mexico back in 1982 that we stumbled

get some photos and the T-shirt, have some personal

into hang gliding. We were all sitting around in a bar,

stories to jazz up those lessons. Never did we expect

decompressing over tacos and cerveza, sharing tales of

what happened next!

past adventures and plans for future ones. “We’re going

Our introductory lesson included two ground-school

to do a parachute jump when we get home,” George

sessions and three days on the training hill. Despite

announced, adding that since we lived near a jump site

being introduced to the sport by the “old guy” diver, we

and we’d never done an air sport, it seemed a logical

immediately realized that WE were the “old guys” in

next step. “Oh, don’t do that!” exclaimed the “old guy” in our

this group: instructors, pilots and other students were all years—even a whole decade!—younger than we

group (he must’ve been close to 50 <grin>). “I just took

were. And, except for me, they were all guys. Still, we

hang gliding lessons, and it was really amazing.” He had

were warmly welcomed into the community out on the

all of our attention when he pointed out that in a hang

training hill that first day, where George and I, along

glider you could stay up and “float around” in the air for

with a handful of other first-timers, got our first taste of

a while, whereas with a parachute it was just out-and-


down. George and I were sufficiently intrigued to do some research when we got home. Just for the record, neither George nor I have ever had “flying” dreams, and we weren’t really looking to take up




launch at Yosemite, June 27, 1987. Those loopy things on the downtubes are flare extenders, useful accessories for 60”-tall pilots. Photo by George.

LEFT C.J.’s 1st altitude launch, Barr Mt., WA, Dec 28, 1982. Instructor Chuck’s launch mantra: “Keep the nose down, run like hell, and at your last step pull yourself through the control bar.” CENTER C.J. and her new Gemini with instructor Chuck on launch at Dog Mt., WA, March 27, 1983. RIGHT C.J. waiting for a misty-morning “in” cycle at Plan Praz, France, July 1989. Photos by George.

We were immediately addicted—both of us, totally

traveling (pre-hang gliding) in Europe, so when a group

hooked. At the end of that day we just looked at each

of our Seattle-area flying buddies started talking about a

other, still high on the adrenaline and delight from

summer adventure to the Alps in 1989, we jumped right

those mini-flights down the training hill, and agreed: “We have to do this!”

in. Taking hang gliders plus all the rest of our flying gear on an airplane, we learned, was orders of magni-

And so we did. But our passion for flying never diminished our love for travel. So when hang gliding took over our lives, quickly pushing out most of our former vacation/recreation pursuits, it was no stretch to set our goal: Fly at least five new sites every year. No way could we have predicted the routes we’ve followed to reach that annual goal! I’ve heard it said, by pilots far wiser and more experienced than I’ll ever be, that setting goals and safe flying are not always comfortable companions. I’ll admit that reaching for this goal often ratchets up the adrenaline, but I can’t recall it ever pushing me to move beyond my personal “safe operating” limits. So, here’s how this quest has played out over the past 35 years. At first, of course, getting five new sites a year was easy—there’s an abundance of flying opportunities in Washington State and neighboring Oregon, and a couple road trips down to California to fly with my sister and brother-in-law kept us on track. As I mentioned earlier, George and I were both teachers, and summer roadtripping has always been a big part of our lifestyle. Up to Canada one summer, out to Utah another, off to fly-ins we saw on the USHGA calendar or that friends suggested—after five years we’d flown 36 sites, after eight years we’d logged 80, double our original goal. In the process, we’d met dozens of wonderful people throughout the western states and Canada, many of whom we still drop in on when we happen to be in their neighborhood. Obviously we were crushing our “five sites a year” goal—it was time to expand our horizons: Wouldn’t it be cool to fly on every continent?! We’d done considerable

TOP Looking

down on Col de la Forclaz launch, Annecy, France, July 1989 | photo by C.J. BOTTOM C.J. and Kari Castle heading home after the world meet in Hungary. This would be the last we’d see of our gliders for several weeks… July 1998. Photo by George.



LEFT C.J. and the Swiss Alps, July 2006 | photo courtesy Verbier Summits. CENTER George landing after a personal best XC in Chile, November 2006. RIGHT George towing up during an SIV clinic in Wyoming, May 2007. Photos by C.J.

tude more complicated than just tossing everything into

competitions: You had to have demonstrated some skill

and onto our pickup truck and driving off! After a couple

in XC flying, and be named by your national organiza-

of tense days when George’s and my wings did not turn

tion as a member of the team. Unfortunately the dead-

up as expected, it all got sorted out and we experienced

line for submitting the team roster for the 1991 world

the magic of hang gliding in those majestic mountains.

meet had passed, but the organizers of the Austria event

Soaring over King Ludwig’s castle! Looking down on the

told me I’d be welcome to compete as an individual.

wrinkled surfaces of massive glaciers! Pulling aside on a

George agreed that even if I couldn’t be an official US

narrow village road so a herd of cows, deep-toned bells

team member it would still be more than cool to par-

clanging with every step, could pass by! Eighteen days

ticipate in a world championship, and so 1991 found us

was way too short, and we couldn’t wait for our next

back in Europe—this time with only one hang glider.

international adventure.

After the 1989 gear-related stresses, George offered a

And then something totally unexpected, and life-

solution: He’d cut our baggage hassles in half by taking

changing, happened: A friend with whom I’d shared

paragliding lessons from our brother-in-law instructor

some fun XC flights suggested I should consider compe-

down in California and condense all his flying stuff into

tition, maybe even apply to fly with the US team in the

one easily transportable backpack.

1991 Women’s World Meet in Austria. Back in those days there were few requirements for women’s hang gliding

LEFT Kiting

That World Championship event, and the time we spent after the comp flying with women pilots from

on China Beach, Vietnam, February 2005 | photo by George RIGHT George enjoying some alpine airtime at Pemberton, BC, July 2012 | photo by C.J.



around the world, totally surpassed our expectations in every way, and opened up an avenue for us to continue pursuing our newly revised goal. We traveled to Australia for the world meet in ’95; this time I was an official member of the team, and George was an official team assistant. Three continents down, four more (OK, realistically three, as I don’t expect to ever have an

TOP George’s hair and the wind meter agree: It’s blown out in Oklahoma! October 2015. Photo by C.J. BOTTOM George launching his WW123 paraglider at Black Mt., WA, August 1991 | photographer unknown.


hat can this little trip down my personal Memory Lane possibly have to do with you? Maybe

nothing, but if you should ever realize

your passion for flying is burning a bit

opportunity to fly on Antarctica) to

less brightly, perhaps you should consider

go. George, incidentally, never went

setting a small goal that might nudge your

back to hang gliding, even in the US,

personal fun meter back towards the red.

after that first paragliding vacation

For George and me, realizing that we’re

in Europe—he really likes the “low

a site or two short of our magic number

and slow” aspects of paragliding.

when the year’s about to run out prods us

And although I continued to com-

to look for someplace new to us or new

pete, even internationally, on my

to the whole free-flight community (e.g.

hang glider until 2000, I also learned

Soboba in California and Inkler’s Point in

to paraglide, and our “just for fun”

Eastern Washington last year).

international travels have all been paragliding trips since then.

And those “unexpected” rewards I mentioned? Making new friends, and

So here we are, with 36 years of

seeing parts of the world you might not

flying at 296 sites around the world

have chosen to visit, are rewarding but

in our logbooks. Our first Asian

hardly unexpected. Less obvious, though,

adventure (continent #4) was to

is how questing for new sites will impact

Vietnam in 2005 (George found the

your flying skillset. Every site has its own

country, and the people, a lot less

quirks, of weather and airflow, hidden

stress-inducing than during his first

hazards and sensitive landowner rela-

trip there, back in the ‘60s). When

tions, all of which have to be recognized

our 30th anniversary was coming

and navigated, forcing you to revise and

up in November of 2006 we debated:

re-revise your flying-related world view,

How should we celebrate? “Let’s go

resulting in ever-broadening awareness

bag South America!” we both agreed.

and alertness at each site down the road.

And that’s what we did: Our two

George and I will be celebrating our

weeks in Iquique included our anni-

36th anniversary of free-flight this

versary date, when George and I flew

September, our 42nd wedding anniver-

40 miles, side-by-side, for his longest

sary in November. We expect to get our

XC ever, landing together in the

five sites for 2018 this summer on a trip

Chilean desert in sight of the ocean.

to Macedonia and Spain, but we’re still

How romantic is that?! Continent

one continent short of the full set. Does

#6, Africa, remained out of reach

anybody have connections for paragliding

until 2014, but since it’s such a huge

in Antarctica?

chunk of land, our brief two weeks in South Africa has left us plenty of sites in the rest of Africa still begging for a spot in our log books.









(PREVIOUS PAGES) A view of the Quiraing on Isle of Skye. TRIBUTARIES Flying cross-country in Glencoe, Rannoch moor. LINES The coast of the Highlands, north of Ulapool. INLAND Flying the Quiraing on the beautiful north end of Trotternish ridge.







GAGGLE The beginning of an XC (or a cross-country) start with an eager group of Scotts in Glencoe. HIGH GROUND Flying over Stack Pollaidh, north of Ulapool. SHADOW The epic low hills of Quiraing, and Trotternish in far background. CORNICE XC league winner, Hugh Miller, sending through the Scottish Highlands. (FOLLOWING PAGES) Commited flying over Inverpolly forest, looking north to mythic Suilven.





Riding the High

Fantastic Thermals and Where to Find Them by DENNIS PAGEN



he air is cool, the sun intense

highs are typically formed in the sub-

in winter—but the intense sunshine in

and the wind is straight in. What

tropics and can pump warm, humid

the arid conditions serves to break up a

a perfect day for portable flight,

air northward, again in the eastern

high pressure sooner in the West than

right? Maybe you’ll even set a personal

half (or so) of the country. Such a high

the East.

record with smiles all around. Life is

often lingers for days and is so notori-

good, until you launch and piddle in

ous it has a name, such as the Bermuda

In any case, a high-pressure area results in gradually sinking air that tends

pitiful little thermals. What bedevil-

High. The source and cause of all these

to suppress and alter thermals, while

ment rained on your parade? What

highs is the upper-level circulation,

at the same time clearing the sky.

went wrong with your best-laid plans?

created by the sun’s intense heating in

Easy answer: You’ve been had by a high.

the equatorial bands and modified by


Pressure, that is. We’re going to explore

Coriolis Effect. But this isn’t an article

Research has shown that a typical

the whats, whys and workings of highs

on the cause of highs or lows, but on

rate of sinking air in a high-pressure

this time around.

how to get high in either of them.

system is about 3 cm/minute (about 1.2

High-pressure systems can also exist

inches/min.). That sure ain’t much, but


out West, especially when a cold front

it is enough to suppress thermals be-

Classic high-pressure systems (known

drops down from the eastern part of

cause it prevents the vertical expansion

to pilots and other weather geeks as

Canada and settles the high over the

of a mass of warming air at the surface. As a result, when a bubble does break

simply “highs”) inhabit the eastern part

Great Basin. Such a spreading high can

of the US, most commonly a day or two

influence a large area, even so much as

from the ground it is smaller and

after the passage of a cold front (indeed,

causing Santa Ana winds in southern

comes up as individual bubbles as

a strong northern high is what typically

California. In some cases these western

opposed to more sustaining, longer-

propels a cold front southward). Other

highs can linger for days—especially

lasting columns. In addition, the gradu-



Bomstad out over the flats in Washington. ally sinking air in a high becomes more stable as it sinks. There are plenty of high-pressure days that exhibit no thermals whatsoever, despite bright

“Many times I have watched lesser experienced pilots fly through or pass in and out of weak high-pressure thermals and descend haplessly to an early landing.” should be based on what experienced

min sink and best glide. The reason

sunshine. What usually happens on

pilots have told you, and what you have

is, you need to be able to turn ASAP

these days is the warm air is sliding

experienced in the past at the place.

when you encounter lift to conform

upwards along the hill/mountainsides

Note again that we mentioned that

your circle to its small dimension. Also,

and is generally not vigorous enough

high-pressure warm surface air likes

the thermal edge may be surprisingly

to be soarable, except in very high and

to leak up along the mountain sides, so

turbulent for such weak lift, confound-

dry mountains.

the best (highest/steepest) sun-facing

ing your control. Generally, high-pres-

slopes may be your best place to look

sure turbulence is not pitch-altering

for a thermal riding along with the

and dangerous as long as control and

out with multiple cores. There is some

upslope air. Also pay attention to where

clearance are maintained, but it can

variety, however. Sometimes the ther-

other pilots have hit lift, even if they

be somewhat continuous and uncom-

mals come up frequently, bubbling up

flew a long time before you launched,

fortable or tiring in the extremes. Too

in nearly the same area for minutes.

for thermals in highs often bubble

often, inexperienced pilots will fly

Sometimes they can be surprisingly

up in the same place continuously, or

as slowly as possible in the hopes of

strong with shots of turbulent, hard-


minimizing their sink rate in the weak

A typical high thermal is weak, broken, short-lived and often is spread

lift. What they do instead is assure that

to-work lift. They lack the vig, but have

Once you have a flight plan, which

excess vinegar. We’ll look at the general

may be as simple as: “I’ll go over there

technique of dealing with all of these

first, then if that doesn’t pay off, over

thermal and only wallow in the general


there; then over there,” head out and be

area, followed soon by wallowing in

ready for any patch of lift you encoun-

pity in the landing field.

FLYING THE HIGH The first thing to do in order to success-

ter. Here is the first big lesson, which

they cannot grasp any passing small

In a paraglider, maintain good pressurization to combat expected turbu-

fully sustain or prolong flight in high

often has a big payoff: Maintain ample

lence and turn with weight shift and a

conditions is to be aware that the high

control speed while gliding. In a hang

careful amount of brake for quick re-

is there. You can do this by noting how

glider, this speed will be faster than

sponse. A bit of speed above stall helps

clear the sky is (no cumis, no haze, no

minimum sink—generally between

prevent a stalled wing when you need

birds?), and also by watching other

to make a sudden turn. In general, the

pilots right after launch. If you see

slower circling speed of a paraglider

pilots hit a little patch of lift, turn in

compared to a hang glider makes it an

it normally and quickly fall out, it is a

ideal vehicle for scratching, which ap-

good sign that the thermals are small

plies to climbing in weak lift anywhere.

and may be high-influenced. Of course,

Reversing turns is quite easy in a

you can also look at the weather on

paraglider, and as we shall see, some-

line to check the pressure and relate

times such a maneuver is desirable in

it to what you have experienced on

high-pressure thermals. The second big lesson is to bank

other days (different sites have differ-

comparatively steeply (in a hang glider).

ent levels of high pressure that affect thermals—partially influenced by the

In fact, this point is the real reason for

dryness and elevation of the site).

writing this article. Many times I have watched lesser experienced pilots fly

If you see evidence of high-pressure

through or pass in and out of weak

thermals, prepare yourself before launch with a plan of where to go and how to turn. Where to go depends on the site, of course. Part of your decision


Morrison enjoying an evening flight at his site, the “T” in Pocatello, ID.

high-pressure thermals and descend haplessly to an early landing. When we mention turning more tightly and
















roll back out to set your position again in the place you have determined to be best to intercept further rising patches

initiating more quickly the response

prolonging your time aloft—always a

of lift. Sometimes you may perform a

is usually, “But that will increase my

plus—and possibly keeping yourself in

continuous dance of steep bank/shal-

sink rate, won’t it?” Well, yes, but in

position for finding the next patch pass-

low bank, all the while controlling your

fact, remaining out of the lift, or pass-

ing through. It is this philosophy that

positioning in relation to the ground.

ing out of it into the general sinking air

works best in high-pressure thermals,

Here’s a hang gliding tip: When

will increase your sink rate greater and

and often surprisingly pays off.

irreparably. For the purposes of this discussion,

Another table to consider is the circling diameter of any aircraft as a

working in the bubbling air you should be flying faster—perhaps best glide around 27mph—so if you hit a sudden

I did the math using the standard

function of flying speed (opposite page).

shot you can bank up steeply—say 45

equations defining aircraft perfor-

In this case we use our stall speed, be-

degrees—for about half a turn to locate

mance (these equations appear in the

cause our most efficient circling (slow-

yourself in the little devil while paying

appendices at the back of my book

est descent) occurs at minimum sink.

off your speed, which actually briefly

Performance Flying for those who want

I have included 16mph stall speed be-

eliminates the extra sink rate in so steep a bank. Then you can level out a

to explore glider performance more

cause some paragliders are near that.

deeply). I took the minimum sink to

Eighteen mph is for a single-surface

bit, if the thermal is wide enough, for a

be 180 feet per minute for both a hang

hang glider, such as a Falcon. A 20mph

net gain.

glider and paraglider for simplicity. As

stall speed is similar to a higher per-

long as we get the same minimum sink

formance hang glider (perhaps an in-

The most common form of highpressure thermals often has patches of

rate, we do not need to worry about

termediate) and 21mph is for a heavier

lift at various stages of invigorating or

wing loading, glider size, stall speed,

loaded topless glider. It should be clear

dying as they progress upward. In fact,

or whatever—the increase in sink rate

from this that paragliders can get away

the constant reminder should be “this

will be the same at the same bank

without banking too steeply because

can’t last” as you continue to circle. In


their turning diameter is much less

other words, max out what you have,

than a hang glider’s at any given bank.

while constantly being aware that

What we know is that in a bank our G-loading increases, so our stall speed

For example, for a hang glider with a

you may need to move to a new patch

goes up—we can’t fly as slowly in a turn

stall speed of 20 mph to achieve the

soon. Where you move to depends on

as we can in straight flight. In addi-

same turn diameter of a paraglider at

the terrain, the wind and the presence of other pilots indicating lift. I am re-

tion, in a bank our aerodynamic forces

15 degrees bank, the hang glider would

are not pointed straight up away from

have to bank 26.5 degrees with the

minded of about seven pilots working

gravity, but are angled a bit to the side.

corresponding higher sink rate. Still

weak thermals for a half hour, gradu-

These effects combine to increase our

it should be noted that banking at 30

ally moving along course line on a

sink rate as shown in the table above.

degrees results in a circle diameter

high-pressure day in a Texas comp. The

that is nearly half that made when

ones who stayed with the pack helped

or 4.2% increase of sink rate when

banking only 15 degrees. That is why

each other find the varying and elusive

going from a 15- to a 20-degree bank

it is important to bank more steeply in

lift and were successful. I have experi-

and a 19fpm or 10% increase when

small high-pressure thermals.

enced this arrangement many times in

From this we see about an eight fpm

competition and recreational flying.

going from a 15- to a 30-degree bank.

There are occasional shots of hot

In fact, this amount of added sink rate

lift that come through on some high-

At the Team Challenge in the

isn’t all that much, and if the thermal

pressure bubble days. In these cases

Sequatchie Valley some years ago

is so small that you can’t stay in it with

it is useful to bank even steeper for

there were about 10 of us facing the

a 15- or 20-degree bank, then it is too

a short spell—up to 45 degrees in a

real challenge: a high-pressure day.

small to sustain flight, so you might

hang glider—perhaps for half a turn

We launched hopeful at the day’s peak

as well bank steeper and see if you

to a couple 360s. Usually these hot

heating and scrabbled from bubble to

can stay in it and possibly climb. The

shots do not last very long, but if you

bubble. Occasionally a bold (or exas-

main point is that even if you can only

can gain even 50 feet in them as they

perated) pilot moved over slightly and

attain zero sink in the small thermal

pass through you are bettering your

found some more bubbling lift. We

position. In a steep bank it is easy to

would all join him or her and slowly,

by banking more steeply, you are









15º BANK

132.2 ft.

167.3 ft.

206.4 ft.

227.7 ft.

20º BANK

100.3 ft.

126.6 ft.

156.2 ft.

172.3 ft.

in most high-pressure thermals you

30º BANK

68.4 ft.

86.6 ft.

106.9 ft.

117.8 ft.

cannot expect any one patch of lift to

45º BANK

48.3 ft.

61.2 ft.

75.6 ft.

83.3 ft.

slowly climb. Had we been alone, perhaps we would not have survived (aloft). This story serves to illustrate that

be your ticket to heaven. It usually takes a combination of different groups of thermals, lots of patience and a bit of luck. Other pilots help, but if you are alone, expect to have to explore and range out a bit once your lift starts to die. When you are in the lift, focus on climbing as efficiently as possible, but always have an exit plan: Where are you going to search next, and at what speed will you fly? Often it is a good technique to simply extend your circle in one direction and probe for lift. If it doesn’t pan out, return to your original circle, then try to extend it in another direction. In a hang glider you may have to pull on a bit more speed in order to control through any turbu-

ABOVE Colter

Morrison enjoying his 25th flight.

lence lurking on the edges of lift. Sometimes it is expedient to change

the lower layers. Sometimes there is

chinook, Hamsun, etc. I guess that ap-

thermaling direction if it will put you

an inversion associated with the high

plies to highs as well. Here in the East

quickly in the center of lift you detect

that puts a cap on lift or suppresses it

we have the Bermuda high that shuts

to the side. Normally, changing turn

altogether if the inversion is close to

down thermals for a week and jacks up

direction in a thermal is a sure way

the ground. Sometimes you can slowly

the sales of lemonade, if not Prozac. But

to lose the thermal temporarily or

climb above the inversion layer using

we have to live with the weather we are

certainly lose some positioning, but

all your high-pressure skills, then

given, so becoming adept at high flying

with light, broken thermals that can

reach for the sky. In any event, the

will greatly increase your performance

consist of many weak bubbles beside

slowly sinking air in a high will lower

and pleasure.

one another, it can be a plus to work

any inversion so that it may blend with

from one to the other, even if you have

a ground inversion and eventually

to change directions to get into the new

disappear in the next day’s surface

preparedness. Prepare to turn quickly

lift efficiently. Of course, this is espe-


when your thermal signals, don’t be

cially true if other pilots are circling in

Finally, the takeaway is to fly in highs with awareness, alertness and

afraid to bank steeply (especially tem-

the new lift in the direction opposite to


you in your current lift. By some per-

We should finish by noting that highs

vary your circles when necessary. All

verse law of nature, in weak bubbling

aren’t forever. In general, they move in

these qualities are really what we use

porarily) and be prepared to constantly

lift pilots always seem to be circling in

after a cold-front passage, and gradu-

when we are scratching up on weak

random directions, mainly because the

ally move out as new fronts approach.

days, so there are lots of times you can

good ones know they have to grasp on

However, some highs can linger

practice your high-pressure thermal-

to every passing patch of lift—if it’s on

long since they can appear in stable

ing skills. If you only fly in solid ridge

the right, they are turning right, and

summer conditions. I was told long ago:

lift your high pressure success rate will

vice versa. High-pressure conditions often weaken the lift most specifically in

If you want to get in lots of easy airtime,

be low. You may not be able to avoid

never go to a place where the wind

them, but the best approach is to accept

has a name—sirocco, mistral, foehn,

the challenge of riding the high.





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

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:

JUN 2-3 > Lookout Mountain Flight Park—Instruc-

JUL 13-15 > Inkler’s Point - Chataqua Days Fly-In The

JUN 2-4 > Jackson Hole, WY - Instructor Certification Clinic Instructor Certification Clinic presented by Scott Harris at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Mountain on June 2-4. More Info: Scott Harris, 307 690 8726,,


JUN 8-10 > Cherry Hill, New Jersey—Instructor &

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




JUN 1-3 or 22-24 > 3.5-day SIV clinics in north-

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.


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 glid-

ers 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 noncircular 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 paraglid-

ers 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.

clinics & tours

tor Clinic: Instructor Certification Clinic will be held at Lookout Mountain Flight Park on June 2&3 this year. All participants must have a current USHPA rating of at least H3. More Info: or call 706-398-3541.

Tandem Clinic: Combined Instructor’s and Tandem Clinic for new candidates, re-certifications, and upgrades (T-1 to T-3 & Basic to Advanced Instructor). FOI test will be administered, if needed. More Info: Pete,

JUN 8-10 > Jackson Hole, WY - Tandem Certification Clinic Tandem Certification Clinic presented by Scott Harris at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Mountain, June 8-10. More Info: Scott Harris, 307 690 8726,,

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: 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.


Report it on AIRS!

US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association


AIRS IS STANDING BY - FILE A REPORT TODAY! All AIRS reports are completely confidential



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.

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:

JUL 8-14 > Chelan, WA. US OPEN of Paragliding Chelan 2018" will be a Pre-PWC event 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,, 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, davis@, 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:

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, or contact Jamie Sheldon at



Paragliding equipment used one time: Alpha 5/28-orange wing, Gingo Airlite MG38, stuff bag, hook knife, and helmet. Paid $5000.00 new couple years ago. Asking $2800.00. All offers considered.


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,




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 845-647-3377

GUNNISON GLIDERS - X-C to heavy waterproof HG



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

Beginner & Intermediate Courses, Iquique, Chile

- Learn to fly with Zion Paragliding 9 day all-inclusive P2 course - Improve your flying with the 7 day XC advancement course - or contact for more info FLYMEXICO - VALLE DE BRAVO for Winter and year round


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

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

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

Paragliding Tours 2018 with USHPA Advanced


Instructor and veteran guide Nick Crane. Jan/Feb/Mar - Costa Rica; Jun/Sep/Oct - Europe; Mar/Dec - Brazil.;


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

WINGS & HARNESSES 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.;

KITTY HAWK KITES - The largest hang gliding school in

tain training center to Orlando. Two training hills, novice mountain launch, aerotowing, great accommodations., 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,





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

Chattanooga. Become a complete pilot -foot launch, aerotow, mountain launch, ridge soar, thermal soar., 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

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

Fly beyond! with the Oudie

• Touchscreen • Color moving map • Highly customizable • Thermal assistant • 800.662.2449




Talented, lucky, or both, we want your best shots for the 2019 calendar.






H1 H1 H1 H1 H1 H1 H1 H2 H2 H2 H2 H2 H3 H3 H3 H3 H3 H4 H4 H4 H4 P1 P1 P1 P1

11 2 2 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 2 5 10 3 3 9 9 3 4 9 9 2 3 4 8


Haley Smith TX Mutahir Ali CA Anthony Yob CA Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Sana Amin CA Mark Drury CA Chris Hinrichs CA Diego Miralles CA Randal Weiss Kyle Orth GA Jeff Odle CA Sujata Sen CA Timothy Glenshaw MD Kacey Loughrie VA Mark Selner CA Good Dog Test - Director CO Christopher Bruno PA Landry Poole VA Richard W. Neumann CA Jason May CA John Zyadet AZ Daniel Walsh NH

Bart Weghorst Eric Hinrichs Eric Hinrichs Paul Voight Paul Voight Paul Voight Paul Voight Eric Hinrichs Eric Hinrichs Eric Hinrichs Michael MacDonald Jeremy Armstrong Richard Westmoreland Andrew T. Beem Andrew T. Beem Richard Westmoreland Richard Westmoreland John Heiney Paul Voight William Perez John Heiney Wallace K. Anderson Jc Perren Chandler Papas Jc Perren


P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P2 P3

1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 4 4 4 4 5 6 7 7 7 10


Gustavo "Gus" Colberg AK Matt Kirsch OR Yun Lin WA Greg Slyngstad WA Carly Anderson CA Kurtis Carter CA Timothy Duong CA Jason Elder CA Martin Gardner NV Cynthia Harvey CA Fabio Maenchen CA A. Keith Miles CA Peter J. Proxee NV Alexander Laurich CA Jason Brownell UT Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Elizabeth Van Eaton AZ Alfred Orth AP Yam Siu Fong Kelly Bozyk MI Danny Jamerson IL Paul Thieme IN Chris Gay GA

Jake Schlapfer Kelly A. Kellar Marc Chirico Rob Sporrer Wallace K. Anderson Jesse L. Meyer Jesse L. Meyer Mitchell B. Neary Mitchell B. Neary Jesse L. Meyer Joel McMinn Joel McMinn Rob Sporrer Christopher Grantham Chris W. Santacroce Paul Voight Paul Voight Paul Voight Rob Sporrer Yuen Wai-Kit Luis Ameglio Kay Tauscher Marc Noel Radloff Stacy Whitmore


P3 P3 P3 P3 P3 P3 P3 P3 P3 P3 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4 P4

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


Robert H. Glazier NC Lb Golemon TX Carolyn Reuman CA Spencer Mar CA Awais Raza CA Jason B. Ball UT Eric Edmond AZ Carson Cantrell MT Rena Brown OK Gianlucke Lopes Ferreira MA Connor Dixon WA Theresa Fielding WA Blaine Harmon CA Ian Kirk CA James LaBarge CA Michael Martin NV Andrew Byron CA Chris Clontz CA William Hofmann HI Peter Weldon CA Philip Wessinger CA Fio Antognini UT David Van Wyke CO Tucker Long OH

Kevin McGinley Blake Pelton Ken W. Hudonjorgensen Rob Sporrer Dave Turner Chris W. Santacroce Michael D. Masterson Rob Sporrer Jerome Daoust Davidson Da-Silva Marc Chirico Andy Macrae Andy Macrae Mitchell B. Neary Jesse L. Meyer Mitchell B. Neary Christopher Grantham Rob Sporrer David (Dexter) Binder Christopher Grantham Philip D. Russman Stacy Whitmore Rob Sporrer Jaro Krupa

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 to purchase yours.

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 Save the PDF on your mobile device for easy reference.





Name: Matt Henzi. Hometown:

Matt Henzi

Vancouver (not the cool one).

Years flying: Nine. Age: 41. Current kit: Enzo 3 (Svetlana) X-rated 6 for sending, Thriller 2k12 for acro,

we flew together most of the time. Best wingwoman is

Scientific. Have you ever thrown your

reserve in anger? Not really. Care to elaborate? I was over water and practicing maneuvers so it doesn’t really count. Who’s your favorite

Rapido for my hike-n-fly. Favorite

my girlfriend Anneka. It’s so cool to

up-and-coming US pilot? Gavin

color: The red and white stripes of my Beamer reserve. Longest retrieve:

share the air with her. She’s always SO

Friedlund. From where/who do you

stoked after a good flight. Weirdest

find your inspiration in the sport:

Coming back from Rome, Oregon, after

place you’ve landed: On top of the El

That’d be all my heroes in this sport

driving up alone and launching solo

Peñon rock. I slept up there because

who’ve showed me and continue to

from Pine Mountain, near Bend. It took

I couldn’t relaunch that night. As my

show me what it is possible to do on

24 hours, four different drivers, a night

local Valle friend Charlie flew off to

a paraglider. Knowing that I have so

sleeping in my wing and a long hike

land at the Piano he yelled, “Watch

much more to learn keeps me in-

back up to Caballo, my trusty Subaru—

out, man, there’s lots of scorpions on

spired, too. If you could assemble

it was all definitely worth it. Favorite

the rock!” Power Animal: Not scorpi-

paraglider of all time: When the

ons. Three words to describe free

a dream team of pilots to fly with who would it be? Oh, man, this is

Icepeak 6 came out it was the first glider I had that (sort of) kept up with

flight: Yippie Kai Yay! Strange fact about Matt Henzi: I was scared on

my heroes. I did acro on it and flew it

my first high flight. I got towed up to

Forslund, and Dean Stratton—all those

like it was stolen. Pre-launch rituals:

3000 feet and I remember thinking, “If

OGs who showed me how to really fly.

I get mega amped up and start freak-

it’s always this scary I’m not going to

Will Gadd, Belcourt, Honza because,

ing out if anybody’s soaring before I

enjoy this sport.” It got easier. I also

well, of course those guys. My flying

launch. So I’m basically just rushing to

enjoy tennis. Best bombout: On the

homies that I always seem to end up

launch as fast as possible. Favorite in-

last day of my first Rat Race back in

flying next to like you, Trey, Eric Ams,

flight snack: Chips. Song that best describes your flying style: Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins. Favorite feeton-the-ground activity: Muay Thai

2010, I launched early but sank out

Francisco Mantaras from Argentina.

fun! Chrigel for sure. Farmer, Scales, Greece, Marty DeVietti, Van Duzer,

for the first time before the start of

Some crushers who won’t ever land

the race. I ran to the road and begged

like Mitch, Gavin, Karel Koudelka, and

this random poor lady to drive me

Reavis. The rad international guys

Boxing. I don’t do it but I really respect

up to the top, promising a spectacle

who have been a pleasure to fly with,

those who do. Three items you won’t

of pilots that would make her day. I

like Ronnie Helgenson from Norway,

fly without: My phone, my wallet, and

launched about five minutes before

that kid Zion Respect from Costa

my vario. I am lost without my vario.

the window closed and that day I

Rica, and Andre Rainsford from South

Best wingman/wingwoman: Best wing-

finished my first task and made goal

Africa. Michael Sigel, of course. Man!

man: Eric McCauliffe—we flew almost

for the first time. Stay connected or

We would line up in a big V like ducks

every stinkin’ day one winter in Santa

disconnect? Connected. Thermal turn direction—left or right? Left. Are you more artistic or scientific?

and dominate the sky! If you could

Barbara. I had my Icepeak and he had his old Buzzz but that guy charged


so hard


change one thing about the sport: No injuries and accidents.

Your expertise as a pilot has earned you exclusive access to top brands. Your involvement with the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association and your status as an advanced or master-rated pilot have earned you an invitation to join Experticity. It’s an exclusive community where you can get deep discounts and insider information from brands like Kelty, La Sportiva, The North Face, Brooks Running, Diamondback Bicycles and many more you know and love. Because brands like these recognize that experts like you know more, do more — and deserve more. Signing up is simple and free: • Go to the members-only section of the USHPA website to learn how to sign up • Join the USHPA team • Complete your profile to lock in your access • Start enjoying up to 70% off top outdoor brands



The combined expertise of Naviter and Flytec help pilots fly farther, safer, and beyond their expectations. or 800.662.2449