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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018 Volume 48 · Issue 6 $6.95

OZONE’s Instagram feed is full of great stories from team pilots and stunning images from their adventures. Follow along and get a daily dose of ying inspiration!

The Rush 5 is a top of class Sport-Performance-Intermediate wing developed with Enzo 3 and Zeno technology. Next-gen 3D shaping, a refined OZONE SharkNose, a new low-drag line plan, and an enhanced internal structure have taken the speed, glide, and solidity to a level not seen before in this class.

Pilot: Antoine Girard Photo: Nicolas Assael Location: France


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

6&11 AR/KS/MO/NE/OK/LA/TX 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 Erika Klein Communications Manager Chris Webster Information Services Manager Galen Anderson Membership Coordinator


9 DC/DE/KY/MD/OH/PA/VA/WV 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

DIRECTORS AT LARGE Paul Murdoch Steve Rodrigues Greg Kelley Felipe Amunategui Mark Forbes

EX-OFFICIO DIRECTOR Art Greenfield (NAA) The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association Inc. (USHPA) is an air sports organization affiliated with the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), which is the official representative of the Fédération Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), of the world governing body for sport aviation. The NAA, which represents the United States at FAI meetings, has delegated to the USHPA supervision of FAI-related hang gliding and paragliding activities such as record attempts and competition sanctions. The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, a division of the National Aeronautic Association, is a representative of the Fédération Aeronautique Internationale in the United States.

Alan Crouse Vice President Steve Rodrigues Secretary Mark Forbes Treasurer

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




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.

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

Greg Gillam, Art Director

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

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.

C.J. Sturtevant, Copy Editor

Photographers Jeff Shapiro

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

Nick Greece, Editor



ree-flight pilots are always right. We are one of the most passionate groups of people who have

where, after four days of racing, Donizete Lemos came out

dedicated a decent part of our cerebral cortex for

on top.

processing, participating, pontificating, loudly postulating

Ben White is back with a fascinating piece on mini-

in public (more likely behind a keyboard) where typically

wings with in-depth interviews with some of the world’s

each of us is 100 percent correct about what we think

top designers from Gin and Ozone gliders.

free-flight should, can, was, and will be. While we may not agree with all of each other’s theories, I think it is easy to

Krista Auchenbach, who took third overall in the US Paragliding Championships this year, contributed a brave

appreciate the passion and love that we do share for hang

piece on her hard-fought and well-earned recovery from

gliding and paragliding. Some folks are wondering, how

an accident that landed her in the ER two years ago. If

can we grow our sports, or stop the attrition. The number-

you’ve ever been injured doing anything from gardening

one way, in my sometimes-humble opinion: Cherish and

to paragliding or hang gliding, Krista’s story is an inspira-

nurture our shared passions and come from a place of

tional read. Sara Weaver recounts her experience on what

mutual respect. Don’t ignore someone in the parking lot

it’s like to enter the wild and exciting world of competition

because they fly a different wing than you. Go give them

hang gliding.

a high five and remember when we’re at cloudbase, or

James “Kiwi” Johnstone, our roving gonzo reporter, is

taking sled rides at places like Marshall, it’s all radically

back again with his rundown of four of the best con-


secutive racing days Chelan has ever seen, taking pilots

This issue kicks off with a passionate letter from an old time hang glider, Greg Black, who thinks we should change the name to Sky Surfing. Personally, I’m completely into this—it beats parasailing by a country mile. You’ll

to goals in completely new directions due an odd wind window. And here we are, almost finished with the bulk of the 2018 flying season. Hopefully you’ve had a ton of fun, met

also find accounts of both of the US National Paragliding

new friends, and cherished those around you who could

events: The first was held in June at Woodrat Mt., with an

quite possibly be the only ones on the planet who actually

outstanding crew of locals from the Rogue Valley Hang

understand what you are so excited about when you glow-

Gliding and Paragliding Club who did a fantastic job over

ingly reminisce about your flights.

the seven-day race, and increased their coffers by a significant number for future events and site improvements. The


second part of the series was held in Chelan, Washington,




Steve Van Fleet getting ready for an instructional tandem flight.

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.



ASSOCIATION Martin Palmaz / Chris Webster


THERMAL LOWS Honza Rejmanek


110% RECOVERY Kristen Auchenbach






1st Annual APPLEGATE OPEN Woodrat Mountain Season Starter


Henson Gap



New Paraglider Launch KATIE DUNN & RUDDER PEARCE

GREAT AMERICAN CLASSIC Pre-PWC / US Open / Canadian Nationals





Welcome to the World of Competition Hang Gliding SARA WEAVER




one comfortable and not slipping into the crevice of two pads pushed together. They offer everything from minimal bivy’s, single-person shelters, two-person dwellings, family-oriented options, and car-camping palaces that also function as sun shades for those of

USHPA Board Meetings Visit the website for further details and the most up-to-date information

us who are more into the flying than the hiking from the car. Its a great company run by a great group of outdoor


enthusiasts. Check them out at www. Nova has released a light

version of the Ion 5. Nova claims that at 3.1 kg (size XXXS) to 4.3 kg (size L), the ION 5 Light weighs very little, but it offers all the advantages of the stan-

Fall Board Meeting

October 18-20, 2018

Board of Directors Meeting + Annual Membership Meeting Hilton Melbourne Beach Oceanfront Melbourne Beach, Florida at the

dard version. They also state that the canopy construction uses mainly the latest generation of Porcher Skytex 27 light cloth. The double-sided coating of this cloth provides the same proven UV resistance as current standard materials that are significantly heavier. For more



info:, or www.superflyinc.

inReach Mini is your go-to connection


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March 7-10, 2019

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Board of Directors Meeting + USHPA Awards Banquet

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Reach connectivity, your family and Big Agnes has been push-

ing tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping-pad

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integration for more than 15 years. This

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year they have also made a two-person

at $11.95 per month.

tent out of Dyneema that has won a lot of awards as it weighs an incredible two



friends will know they can stay in touch



pounds. Their bike tents with

Ever dreamed of flying into the

shortened poles would work

mountains, landing, and finding

wonderfully for bivy flying or

a stream to pull fresh fish from

car camping where space is

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at a premium. Also, of special

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sleeping bag/pad design that

construction, ranging from $215

will keep you and your loved

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ground, disaster can strike. JET PACK

prevents punctures when packing up.

BAG contains the critical basics needed

Large openings allow insertion of full-

for 72 hours of living through disaster.

size dish-washing utensils for regular

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cleaning. The connection point for the

with essential food and water systems,

tube is located in a non-vital/wear-

first-aid supplies, tools, light and heat

intensive area, i.e.…the bottom of the

resources, and toiletries.


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Power Film Solar has

developed a flexible solar-charger solution that rolls up around the battery it charges, reducing the amount of space required to bring the unit with you. They claim, “We took our nearly 30 years of experience designing solar Adventure

Medical Kits has been in the game a

of ALL LEVELS of experience to set records.

Dozens of records are established each year.

Know the rules before you fly! † Is your FAI Sporting license valid? Check here:

coming soon—small, portable and


NAA encourages pilots

solutions for the businesses and the US military and built a product specifically

long time. They have a plethora of op-

for consumers. Both the LightSaver

tions to fit parties from 1 to 10 people,

and the LightSaver Max feature inte-

and expeditions from car camping to

grated batteries and state-of-the-art

dog first aid. I personally have a large

roll-out thin-film solar panels to keep

expedition-style kit that lives in my car

your devices powered on the go. The

for when I’m at flying sites in the US,

thin-film solar helps make these char-

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† Your Official Observer must not only be a member of USHPA, they must be independent and not be perceived to have a conflict of interest. † Initial notification of a record claim must be filed via the NAA web-site within 72 hours of the attempt.

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INCIDENTS Analysis by


AIRS Accident/Incident Reporting System

An intermediate mini-wing pilot flying

have any obstacles downwind of

at an inland mountain site launched


in strong thermal conditions despite

to third parties and property are of

launch. During his flight he chose to

considerable liability and concern to

fly with the trim tab set on fast, and

the organization. Most importantly,

was not pulling brake on the glider

though, choosing to inflate someplace

during the moment when he suffered

where you will not be penalized for

a large deflation. The deflation imme-

being pulled downwind is an easy

diately turned him toward the ground,

way to stay out of harm’s way.

resulting in extensive injury. Mini-wing pilots are reminded of three things:

If you have had a close call, logged a disastrous flight, or have been injured while hang gliding or paragliding, be sure to file a confidential accident/incident report. Together we can expand our knowledge of where, when and why flights go wrong. File at You could be saving lives.

Pilots are reminded that damage

advice from a local instructor not to

1. Mini wings can and do deflate, so strong and turbulent conditions should be avoided. 2. Mini wings are more prone to

An experienced pilot on approach to a familiar landing area found himself a little bit too low to clear a rock barrier. He, like many pilots over the years, made the choice to lift up his feet in an effort to clear the obstacle, and

deflation and have far worse recovery

also added some brake in an effort to

characteristics when the trim tab is

gain some needed altitude. He landed

set on fast.

on the rock wall and suffered a back

3. Trim tabs should be set on slow during turbulence. 4. Pulling brake prevents deflation. This is true of all ram-air canopies.

injury. No matter the circumstance, pilots are reminded that contacting the ground in a seated position exposes

Tight brake lines and a connection to

the spinal column to potential injury.

the trailing edge via the brake toggle

Whereas humans are characterized

are a pilot’s only recourse when con-

by having two or three feet of suspen-

ditions conspire to try and deflate the

sion built into the legs, we are also


characterized by having absolutely

Individuals unfamiliar with these

zero suspension in our spinal col-

notions should contact an instructor

umns. It is always better to make

for further guidance. Particularly, the

contact with the ground feet first.

precise amount of brake to fly with

Most will agree that leg injuries are

under normal circumstances and the

far preferable to back injuries. “Legs

maximum amount of brake that a

down, ready to run” is the preferable

pilot could pull for a moment to pre-

landing position for paraglider pilots,

vent a deflation should be identified

and pilots who consciously make

via professional guidance.

the decision to land with the feet up or on the harness back protection

A pilot inflated on launch in strong

are taking a grave risk. Pilots are

conditions and was subsequently

reminded to study the nature of the

pulled into a vehicle, suffering a

terrain that they are landing in. Some

broken ankle. This is a semi-common

landing environments are far more

occurrence and can be easily avoided

tolerant of poor landing posture than

by inflating in locations that do not


“Pilots who consciously make the decision to land with the feet up or on the harness back protection are taking a grave risk” 10


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AIRMAIL Letters to the Editor

won the Worlds back in the 1970s!

and goes easily INTO my car, not on

Today’s student pilots must invest

top, no rack needed. How cool is that?

significantly more time and money in learning to hang glide. Before certification became the

combination of both aircraft, a hybrid, something that weighs 40 pounds or

norm there were many deaths.

less, sets up in three minutes, could be

Experimental designs and a lack of

folded up to go on top of your car or, if

understanding of weight-shift-design

you choose to break it down to seven

wings put safety in the back seat,

feet, no tools needed, you could pack

giving the sport a really bad name that

it inside your car? No freaking ribs

we have not been able to shake. Some manufacturers saw this

to install! What if this wing hybrid would be fully certified and safe, had a

happening and started to “re-invent

speed range and glide ratio similar to

the wheel,” introducing gliders like

a Falcon, Easy or the Mars—wouldn’t

the Condor 220 and 330 for schools

you want one? What if you could use

and training only. Wings such as the

either a paraglider harness or a hang

Yes, it’s true: Hang glider pilots are a

Falcon, Mars, Freedom, and Easy were

glider harness to fly it? Have I got your

vanishing breed. Well, not literally but

designed with new pilots in mind:

attention yet?

for us old timers who can still remem-

still costly, still heavy, but engineered

ber when throngs of hang glider pilots

more for fun flying than performance.

could be found setting up their less-

Not so fun was the need to get a

Now let’s talk about saving the sport. Let’s face it, hang gliding doesn’t have a great reputation, not entirely

than-40-pounds wing in just a few

rack, and enough strength, to trans-

justified, but regardless, its reputation sucks.

minutes, things have changed for the

port the wing on top of your car, and

worse. I remember my 37lb Oly 160.

the still-somewhat-complicated (as

OMG, was that a sweet glider! Then

compared to a paraglider) setup.

there was my crossbar Stratus, just

That setup—what a pain in the butt!

What can be done to change the tarnished image that hang gliding carries with it? We can’t erase the past

42 lbs. and with the best performance

Every step according to a strict order

completely, but we CAN figure out

of any glider in the world—AND it

and procedure: Assemble the control

how to re-brand the sport, change the

landed so easy!

bar, flip the glider over, spread the


What happened? We all know what

wings (but not too far), lay out all the

My kids tell me no one wants to fly those hang glider things anymore;

happened: the need for speed and

ribs and hope no one steps on them,

better glides. We wanted more, we

start inserting the ribs (but not the

those are for old people. Younger

wanted to go faster, and we wanted

last two), spread the wings the rest

persons today want to fly paragliders.

of the way, pull the cross bar back…

It’s the same thinking kids have about

What a pain! In my opinion, the best

skiing: That’s for old people. Young

what cost? Modern gliders cost as

thing that has happened to modern

people snowboard.

much as a used small airplane and

hang gliders is curved tips, but getting

the best. We got what we asked for, but at

So, how do we go after the younger

require more skill to fly. To achieve

them in is tough and makes the whole

market, with something new and

more speed, hang glider design had to

procedure even more complicated and


change. Higher aspect ratios, stronger

a bigger turn-off for newer pilots.

leading edges and crossbars, exotic

Meanwhile, look at those paraglider

CHANGE THE NAME! Yes! Because of the bad reputation attached to the words “hang gliding,” we need

sail-cloth materials, VGs, all led to

pilots—they are already clipping in!

increased cost, weight and complexity,

Damn! Off they go into the wild blue

to change the name. OK, I can hear

and demanded greater skill to fly and

yonder while I still need to install the

it now but wait a minute before

land a glider with this much perfor-

tips and preflight.

you over-react. I am talking about a

Why go through all this when I can

process and a reason to get new blood

search of performance chased new

just get in a paraglider and fly off this

into this sport. We need to stop calling

pilots away. A modern training glider

hill? No ribs, light weight, still some-

it “hang gliding”—call it something

has more glide than the wings that

what complicated but hey, it packs up

that catches the young peoples’ ears

mance. All this modern technology in


What if the designers could create a


and their imaginations, making them

and light. It would have a very slow

Sky Surfer, which could be easily car-

want to know more; maybe they

stall speed similar to a paraglider,

ried when broken down to its seven-

will want to give this new and excit-

with the big difference of having a

foot size and its special pack bag that

ing sport a try. Yes, it will look like a

usable speed range.

turns into a harness and holds all

hang glider but be different enough

Just one step would start the infla-

your camping gear. Pie in the sky? No, the Sky Surfer

to deserve a new name. Tagging with

tion process and off the ground you

the word “hybrid” next to it is all I feel

would be. Sounding cool enough

already does exist, in the prototype

it needs, and I believe it will work. If

for you yet? It would be fully HGMA-

stage and being extensively tested by

they like it the students can become

certified with years of testing on the

both Kitty Hawk Kites and Mountain

Sky Surfers, or move on to real hang

design. Offering all the convenience of

Wings schools, with promising results.


a paraglider and the speed range and

There is still much work to do, and a

safety of a hang glider, who wouldn’t

lot of bugs still need to be worked out.

ear, your imagination, the younger

want one of these hybrids? The Sky

Currently there are just two sizes, 210

side of yourself? For me, I find myself

Surfer would appeal to the first-time

sq. ft. and 185 sq. ft., with a smaller,

dreaming of a glider that weighs 40

buyer, with its light weight, quick

lighter version coming in the future.

SKY SURFING—Does that catch your

I believe that with lighter, easier-to-

pounds or less, has no ribs to install,

setup, no storage fees for apartment

is easy to unload off the roof of my

dwellers, choice of harness design

fly gliders coming to schools and flight

vehicle and in just minutes I am hook-

(prone or seated), short-pack capa-

parks around the country, making

ing in, ready to soar up to the top of

bilities. The seasoned pilots will also

flying less intimidating, more fun, and

the stack.

appreciate its light weight and short-

easier to learn, we can breathe new

The new Hybrid wing would inflate by way of ram-air pressurization like

packability. The Sky Surfer could lead to a new

a paraglider, with no ribs needed to

variation on paragliding’s Vol Biv: “Sky

shape the airfoil, keeping it simple

Packing” or “Sky Camping” with the

life into the sport of hang gliding, and start to grow again.



The Moyes Gecko 170 is now in full production and just like extraordinary The Moyes Gecko 170 is its now in full little brother, the Gecko 170extraordinary has inherited production and just like its all thebrother, superior qualities 155 little the Gecko of 170the hasGecko inherited – handling, mild powerful allExcellent the superior qualities ofstall, the Gecko 155 VG and looking every mild bit the part! – Excellent handling, stall, powerful VG and looking every bit the part! This glider has been designed to satisfy a broad rangehas of been pilots.designed Whethertoyour upgrading This glider satisfy a from singleof surface glider or excited broadarange pilots. hang Whether your upgrading about flying, Gecko 170 from arecreational single surface hangthe glider or excited offers fun flying while encompassing enough about recreational flying, the Gecko 170 performance for while you toencompassing push your skills and offers fun flying enough enter competitions. performance for you to push your skills and enter competitions.

- Greg Black

“I’ve never had more fun flying a Hang glider. am “I’ve never had moreI fun coming a single flying from a Hang glider.surface I am wing and wasaasingle little worried coming from surface about transition, but I wing andthe was a little worried could not happier but withI about the be transition, how seamless has been...” could not be it happier with David Morgan, how seamless it has been...” Lookout Mountain, USA David Morgan, Lookout Mountain, USA

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USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE /flymoyes /flymoyes


by MARTIN PALMAZ, Executive Director the invoice at the bottom of the box.

a manner that can handle its ever in-

Hang gliding goods, as you may or may

creasing volume. Historically, the FAA

not know, are not assessed an import

has been very specification-oriented in

tariff. If you import paragliding equip-

their instrument-development process.

ment, however, you know those items

Recently, however, they’ve signaled a

carry a sting of 3%.

change to their approach, realizing that

USHPA has been working on tariff

advancement in drone technology in-

years. We successfully had paraglid-

hibits their ability to effectively define

ers included under the Trans-Pacific

instrument specifications.

Partnership; when the US withdrew its

I attended the annual FAA UAS

signature in January of 2017, we imme-

Symposium in 2016 and 2017 for

diately started pursuing other strate-

USHPA to participate in these discus-

There’s a lot more to USHPA mem-

gies. At present, we’re working with the

sions in the interest of public aware-

bership than magazines and member

Outdoor Industry Association as they

ness around our sports. The goals: to

discounts. As a member, you should

draw up a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill for

make sure that industry leaders and

know that the USHPA’s operational

presentation to Congress in 2020. Since

policymakers are keeping us in mind

scope includes quite a few visits to

there are no domestic manufacturers

when they are not only formulating

Washington, D.C. on your behalf.

of paragliders and other items included

and drafting policy, but also when they

in the bill, it is highly likely that the

are developing technology. Several

be sketching out the “big stuff” that

legislation will pass without contro-

drone manufacturers and suppliers

USHPA has been working on—the ad-


have demonstrated interest in engag-

I mentioned in my last letter that I’d

vocacy-and-policy stuff that has long-

Drones | With the ever-increasing

ing with us for field testing. We’ve also

term benefits. While the perks and the

prevalence of UAS (Unmanned Aerial

provided site-location information to

insurance tend to be the USHPA mem-

Systems), numerous pilots in our com-

some drone manufacturers to incor-

bership benefits that touch individual

munity have had at least one close

porate GEO-fencing notification when

pilots most directly, it’s the effort we

encounter with a drone: After all, we

drone operators are flying in known

expend in the interests of this bigger

don’t carry any instrumentation—tran-

free-flight areas.

picture which also drives our sport for-

sponders or ADS-B, for example—that

ward in lasting ways. Even in the midst

can be easily detected by drones for

uncommon for us to receive panicked

of the insurance crisis, we carved out


calls at the USHPA offices from our

time to keep these chess pieces in play.

Tariffs | Trade agreements are dry,


the comparatively lightning speed of

relief on paraglider imports for

Drone technology is exponentially outpacing the regulatory process. As

Chapter Site Support | It’s not

chapters. Very often, emotions run high because the caller’s site is under

complicated stuff, and they tend to

the FAA is getting ready for the next

threat: that an accident, a change of

unfold on a long timeline. That said:

generation (NextGen) of advance-

ownership, or encroaching develop-

When successfully negotiated, the end

ment in air-traffic control, there’s an

ment has the landowners talking seri-

result is unmistakable when you see

process underway to integrate UAS in

ously about shutdown. In some cases,


the shutdown has already gone through,


by George Sturtevant

and the chapter needs our help to open up again.

How’s your flying been this season? Are you part of a community where the

In addition to USHPA’s comprehensive

whole is equal to much more than the sum of its individual parts? Can you

Site Manual (which is a living document

point a finger at someone who puts in extra work for your chapter or who

that is constantly evolving), we provide

produces photographs or video that show our sport in all its glory? Is your

the support of our staff and relevant com-

chapter’s website or newsletter worthy of more applause than it receives?

mittees to sites in distress. Depending

In fact, maybe your chapter itself deserves national recognition. And how

on the issue at hand, Regional Directors

about that instructor who taught you to fly and helped keep you safe—has

often travel to chapter and landowner

he or she received a USHPA accolade?

meetings to represent the chapter’s in-

USHPA has awards for all the above…and more. And it is easy to nominate

terests. In some situations, I myself have

someone, or more than one someones. Submitting a nomination for any of

appeared to represent the site. In many

these awards isn’t quite a no-brainer, but it’s close. Except for the photogra-

cases, these have been the deciding mo-

phy, videography, and newsletter or website awards, which require examples

ments in a site’s struggle for continued

of the nominee’s work, you can complete the nomination online at http://

viability. Those are always challenging Links to a more detailed description,

endeavors, but some sites have emerged

along with a list of past recipients of each award, are on that page as well.

victorious. Just last year, we were able to

You can submit a nomination at any time before the fall board meeting

redraft boundaries in a legislation pro-

(mid-October), when the Awards committee reviews the submissions and

posal that would close one of Colorado’s

makes the decisions, but earlier is better, especially if you’re gathering a

long-established flying sites, Williams

bunch of testimonials for the Instructor of the Year or Rob Kells awards, or

Peak, if it passes. Working with stake-

asking a photographer or videographer for samples of their work.

holders and user-groups before legisla-

Most of the award titles make the intent of the award pretty clear: Best

tion is drafted is always the most efficient

Promotional Film, Hang Gliding Instructor of the Year, Paragliding Instructor

path to protecting our sensitive sites.

of the Year, Chapter of the Year, Newsletter and/or Website of the Year.

Public Lands | We are entering into an interesting era in terms of our sports’

However, a few awards need at least a short word of explanation. Bettina Gray Photography Award: for a photographer whose images are

relationships with—and our pursuant

aesthetically pleasing, original and portray hang gliding and/or paragliding

access to—public land. As you know,

in a positive light.

America’s public land agencies work with diminishing resources for both staff

Commendation: for a USHPA member who has provided exceptional service as a volunteer for any number of local operations – work parties, fly-

and budget. Each is struggling. In that

ins, comps, public relations, rescues, or just about anything that enhances

threatened, reactive state, finding time

someone else’s enjoyment of flying.

to engage with a small demographic such as ours, with all its perceived risks, has proven a challenge indeed. Minimizing

Recognition for Special Contribution: for a non-USHPA member who would otherwise meet the guidelines for a Commendation. Exceptional Service Award: Nominate someone who has given outstand-

our burden and supporting their mission

ing service to the Association during the past year, more on the national

is the best path forward for maintaining

level than local.

a productive relationship that can even-

NAA Safety Award: The National Aeronautics Association awards this to

tually evolve into new levels of access

someone who has made a significant contribution to hang gliding/paraglid-

for our sports. When advocacy, policy,

ing safety.

budget and agencies properly align, we can start to see potential for accessing

Rob Kells Memorial Award: recognizes an individual who has been a major contributor to our sports over a period of fifteen years or more.

new areas of public land. We also partici-

Presidential Citation: USHPA’s highest honor; the recipient is chosen by

pate in and maintain important relation-

the president of USHPA from those nominated who have made significant

ship with multiple advocacy groups to

contributions to our sports recently or over a period of years

improve our visibility and potential for future access. Thanks, as always, for your membership and your support.

There you have it. Send in your nominations. Use the USHPA awards to tell those people who have done much for our sports that you value their contributions. Be sure to read the fine print on the requirements for each award – some require samples or their work (photos, videos, newsletters).



ASSOCIATION USHPA's New Information Services Manager

by CHRIS WEBSTER, Information Services Manager and I found myself in the same spot, watching my college girlfriend take the intro lesson. I knew better than

threw myself into our local commu-

to dabble, though, and couldn’t afford

nity and gave what I could, joining

to jump in yet. Fast forward another

the officers of Rocky Mountain Hang

decade, and I found myself flying 300

Gliding & Paragliding, redesigning

feet off the ground in Boulder, CO, in

their website (my specialty at the

a paraglider, by myself, having never

time), helping develop the sponsor-

done any other form of aviation. I

ship program at our local site, and

was hooked.

truly becoming an ambassador to the sport—I hope. Yet, as much as I con-

From what I know now about


One of the greatest pieces I did not expect has been the community. I

our community, we almost all have

tributed, I have been overwhelmed

stories like that. We knew it when we

by what the community has provided me.

must have been around 10 years

saw it, and once we did it, there was

old when I watched the hang

no turning back. Such is the story

gliders soaring the dunes in

of my free-flight addiction. And like

experienced pilots I know, I expe-

Kitty Hawk, NC, and told my mother

most life-consuming obsessions, I

rienced tragedy as well. As many

right then and there that I would do

could not have begun to fathom the

reading this may know, I experienced

that. Fast forward about 10 years

highs and the lows it would bring me.

one of the greatest tragedies possible,

Over time, like most or all of the

GEAR new graphic









books + videos + calendars + cards 16 USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE


for necklaces

bracelets & earrings


support to me when I needed it most.

brilliant Julie Spiegler initiated and

My gratitude to the community can

managed, doing much of the heavy

never be fully expressed. So, I am

lifting. Secondly, we are looking to

thrilled to have the opportunity to

consolidate and integrate legacy sys-

join USHPA and contribute to our

tems that have been pieced out over

national community.

the years. We hope to build more

I hope to bring my work and flying

cost-efficient and self-sustaining

experience to our organization, es-

systems on all these fronts. Finally,

pecially as we navigate complex new

we are looking to create new services

challenges, and create a valuable

that will be useful and beneficial to

information service out of technol-

our membership.

ogy projects for the membership, the

On that note, please reach out to

board, and the non-flying public. I

me and let me know what you think.

have “re-branded� the position title

I love to engage in our community

as Information Services Manager,

and want your feedback. Also, USHPA

much as I did at a large non-profit

depends on the efforts of volunteers,

where I managed technology and a

and I would like to create opportuni-

team of amazing experts for many

ties for many to contribute.

years previously. Words matter, and conveying the idea that we are pro-

Hope to hear from you and to fly with you!

viding a service to our constituents is paramount in influencing how we are perceived. For those curious about my background, my original experience is in development, particularly web development. I also have experience in systems administration (an old ABOVE Chris taking some time off

MCSE, even), desktop support, and all

from the computer to sample the skies.

aspects of managing technology for

I lost the love of my life and fiancĂŠ,

University of Denver. And I have

large organizations. I hold an MBA from Daniels College of Business,

Meg VanSciver. Meg was like many

spent most of my career involved

of us in her dedication to the sport

with non-profits, as an entrepreneur,

and community. She spent many

an employee, and board member.

long hours editing and producing a

I have sat on the boards of over a

video intro to our local site for newer

dozen non-profits and currently am

pilots, as just one of many examples.

on the board of COSA (Colorado Salsa

She and I were both well aware of


the risks, discussed it, and with my

Understanding the issues and

very reluctant blessing she joined our

challenges from all perspectives is

soaring friends playing in the skies.

enormously helpful in developing

Her passion and dedication has

solutions, and I hope I can bring that

been a pillar of strength for me to

experience to our collective chal-

continue participating and contribut-

lenges going forward. Specifically,

ing to our community. Further, our

I have the first task of completing

local community of pilots, who all

our transition to a more robust

knew her well, provided unlimited

content-management system that the



Henson Gap

Tennessee Site Gets a First-class Paraglider Launch by KATIE DUNN & RUDDER PEARCE



ver 40 years ago, the

own two launches and a 40-acre

together, we hiked, biked, swam,

Tennessee Tree Toppers

landing field. We added pilot- and

ate meals together, and shared our

guest-friendly amenities including a

homes with visiting pilots. There

was started by a group of local pilots.

clubhouse/bunkhouse, a bathhouse,

was a real sense of camaraderie that

Since then, the club has grown to

and a pavilion. The TTT would like to

helped us to become the thriving

include hang glider pilots from all

recognize local pilot and landowner,

biwingual USHPA club that we are

over the world. As the TTT evolved,

Bryan Burnside, who by enthusiasti-


we wanted to provide more for our

cally encouraging others to join the

members and visitors in the form of a

club, helped to transition the club

Hang Gliding Club (TTT)

In 2015, TTT club members voted to include paraglider pilots, but some-

hang gliding destination. We decided

into something bigger and more cohe-

thing was missing. We didn’t own

that owning our own launches and

sive, a community of like-minded

a paragliding launch, and our hang

landing fields was a priority. We now

pilots and friends. We not only flew

gliding launches were not suitable for


How the Foundation for Free Flight Works For You

by Jayne DePanfilis

The Foundation for Free Flight (FFF) is a 501(c)(3) public

Acquisition Fund” will be used exclusively for the endow-

charitable organization that serves the pilot community

ment of effort to procure and preserve the Burnside site

through its core funding for site preservation, safety and

near the present TTT hang glider launch.

education, and competition excellence. We are a completely volunteer organization that relies solely on taxdeductible donations to continue our work. In addition to providing grants for projects that fall within the scope of our core funding, the FFF also administers fiscal sponsorships, on a case-by-case basis, for

To review grant assistance guidelines, or to download a grant application, visit the Foundation’s website at or email for more information. To make a tax deductible donation to the TTT Burnside

targeted funds that fall within the scope of our mission.

Property Acquisition Fund, or to donate to one or more of

A fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a

the Foundation’s core funds including site preservation,

501(c)(3) public charity sponsors a project that may lack tax-exempt status. This pre-approved grant relationship is an alternative to starting your own nonprofit; it enables you to seek grants and solicit tax-deductible donations under your sponsor’s exempt status.

safety and education, competition, or the general fund, click on the DONATE button on the FFF’s homepage and select your desired fund(s) using the drop down menu. USHPA matches member renewal donations up to $500

The Foundation for Free Flight provides fiduciary over-

annually, so if you haven’t already renewed your member-

sight, financial management, fundraising assistance and

ship this year, you can double your impact by contributing

other administrative services to help build capacity for

to one or more of the Foundation’s funds when you com-

charitable projects that are consistent with the organiza-

plete your membership application. Like us on Facebook

tion’s mission. In a nutshell, we work to assure that each project uses grant funds received to accomplish the ends described in the grant proposal. In 2018, the Foundation created a new “targeted” en-

to keep current on the Foundation. For more information about how the Foundation can help you, or to be added to our contact list to receive our

dowment fund to be used for the preservation of free

digital quarterly newsletter, contact Jayne DePanfilis, ex-

flight at Dunlap, in the area of Sequatchie Valley, TN. The

ecutive director, at or call

“Tennessee Tree Topper Dunlap Site Burnside Property


most paraglider pilots. In 2017, Bryan

* $202,500 for site purchase

were launching and landing their

Burnside, who owned 5+ acres to the

* $13,600 for improvements

paragliders, even though it was still

* $25,000 for services, labor, and ma-

just a dirt lot. Since then, grass has

north of the Henson Gap ramp, gave the TTT the first option to buy his

terials related to land clearing, and

begun to grow, and we have had

land. His offer came at just the right

club improvements

many successful launches and top

time to help solidify the inclusion of paraglider pilots into our ranks. Members assessed the 5+ acre site to

* Club Labor—countless hours of volunteer labor The TTT hopes to pay less than

landings. In an effort to bolster fundraising efforts, a board member came up

determine if it could be turned into a

$15,000 in interest until the mortgage

with the idea for the TTT 200 fund

PG/HG launch with top landing. We

can be paid off via additional fund

raiser. The club started raising funds

spent the last year developing a plan

raising. $38,000 is desired to be spent

prior to the purchase of the property

to purchase the property, and con-

for additional site developments.

by creating 200 virtual pins on the

tacted the Foundation for Free Flight

All in, the Burnside site acquisition

5.8-acre Burnside parcel. For a mini-

(FFF) for financial assistance in the

with improvements is upwards of a

mum donation of $1000, contributors

$300,000 project. Dedicated board

can choose any one of the 200 pinned

form of a grant. It was a long road, but on March

and club members took it upon them-

locations on the 5.8-acre plat. The pin

29th, 2018, the TTT became the offi-

selves to immediately begin work on

and its coordinates are eligible for

cial owners of the Burnside property!

the launch and within three weeks it

naming by the donor. The pin can be

We raised funds for the $90,000 down

was cleared; it was obvious that the

named for you, your business, a loved

payment towards the $202,500 pur-

acquisition of the Burnside site was

one, or a fallen pilot. There are sev-

chase price for the site. The project-

a good decision for all. A week or so

eral strategies for securing pins that

to-date financial expenditures are:

later, those same dedicated members

include monthly donations and fund



pools totaling at least $1000. One donor already purchased five pins for $5000. The pin is visually displayed as yellow until the $1000 donation is paid in full when the pin turns green. When the Burnside site is paid in full, we will celebrate with a site plaque that displays the names of everyone who donated $1000 for a pin. For pin reservations contact Katie Dunn, president of TTT at 423-488-1441 or For pin payments, visit the FFF website. The FFF has agreed to support the Burnside parcel acquisition by awarding a $25,000 matching grant. The grant agreement allows for a grant donation by the FFF at a 10:1 match up to $25,000 so that for every $10 dollars donated, the FFF will match it with $1 dollar up to $25,000. There is a web link on the FFF home page which directs you to the operating guidelines for the TTT Burnside Acquisition Fund. All donations to the Foundation including TTT-specific donations are tax deductible since the FFF is a 501(c)(3) corporation. Any donation amount to FFF on behalf of the TTT or any of the FFF other funds is greatly appreciated. Please visit or http://www.ushgf. org/ for tax-deductible credit card donations. Click on the DONATE button on the home page. You will be directed to the FFF online donation form where you can select the “TTT Dunlap Site Burnside Properties Endowment Fund� from the dropdown menu of funds. If you wish to donate more than $1000 and would prefer to mail a check, please mail your tax-deductible donations to:

The Foundation for Free Flight c/o Kimerling & Wisdom, LLC 150 Broadway, Ste. 1105 New York, NY 10038 Come fly with the TTT and try out the newest launch!





First Annual

Applegate Open



BELOW Meet director Eric Reed announces the day's tasks | photo by C.J. Sturtevant. OPPOSITE Photo by Alan Hirschmugl/

Racing-season Starter at Woodrat Mountain Continues Under New Leadership by C.J. STURTEVANT


ixteen years ago, in late spring

retiring from paragliding activities.

standards set by the Rat Race but also

of 2003, Mike Haley organized

The local flying community scrambled

bring new life to the event as a whole.”

the first Rat Race, held at

to find some way to keep the spirit of

It wasn’t easy, but the success of this past June’s Applegate Open is evidence

Woodrat Mountain in Ruch, Oregon.

the Rat Race alive. “We knew it was

For 15 years Mike and his wife, Gayle,

going to be a huge undertaking,” said

that organizers, volunteers and partici-

provided paraglider pilots of all skill

this year’s meet organizers Dan and

pants are more than willing to do what

levels, from the Northwest and, even-

Mary Beth Wells, “but with the out-

it takes to continue the tradition of a

tually, from all over the country and

pouring of support from the interna-

spring gathering of paraglider pilots in

around the world, with an opportunity

tional paragliding community and the

the Applegate valley.

to come together and celebrate the

local Applegate community, we were

While there were many traditions

start of a new flying season. Last year,

inspired to create a new competition

lost in the transition (I mourned the

Mike and Gayle announced they were

that would not only uphold the high

absence of the bright yellow banner at



the entrance to meet HQ, with its goofy

event may have a new name, new or-

expected highest-caliber competitors

rat declaring “My vacation was a Rat

ganizers and a different headquarters

were out there crushing each day’s

Race”), the organizers of the Applegate

location, but to most returning com-

full-on racing task. But within that

Open did an amazing job of preserv-

petitors, the essence of this season-

competitive framework the focus

ing the philosophy and structure that

starter remains the same.

all week remained on safety. Tom

had evolved to near-perfection over

Tom Chesnut and I are the only vet-

Chesnut’s mantra, repeated daily

erans of all 16 Woodrat events, he as a

(as it has been for 15 previous years),

fortunate that nearly all of the key

launch volunteer and safety-&-first-aid

reminded us that his goal is, quite

team members who made the events

guru, I as a pilot. Tom and I could prob-

simply, to “send each of you home to

at Woodrat a success over the past 15

ably fill an article with our own tales

your loved ones at the end of the week,

years collaborated with us on the very

from those 16 years, but that’s not the

safe and sound.” And so it was: During

first Applegate Open,” says Mary Beth.

focus of this story. If the past holds

the week-long event, with 130+ par-

Headquarters this year was trans-

clues to the future, last June’s event

ticipants, there were no major injuries,

ferred to Longsword Winery, but the

was history in the making. I invited

only a couple of chute deployments,

actual competition venue remained

several pilots from all three levels of

the rescue team needed to make just

unchanged: the same Woodrat

participation (Race, Sprint and Super

one short hike out into the poison oak

Mountain launches, with their well-

Clinic) to offer some details on their

to pluck a pilot from a tree.

oiled teams of launch directors and

experiences during this first Applegate

wing fluffers; the familiar turnpoints


astating accident coming in to goal at

the competition tiers of Race and

Safety first, always!

mendous emphasis on safety and not

the previous 15 years. “We were very

and landing (and no-landing) zones;

Race pilot Krista, who suffered a devthe 2017 Rat Race, appreciated the “tre-

Sprint, along with the Super Clinic for

Since the 2018 Applegate Open was

pushing too hard, particularly at the

pilots not yet ready to compete but

the first segment of this year’s USHPA

pre-flight briefings. During the week

wanting to learn how it all works. The

Paragliding Nationals series, the

we experienced some windy days that


Greece coordinated mentoring clinics tapping into the best pilots in the US to answer all questions from up and comers | photo by Audray Luck.



rose to Level 2 (meaning conditions are getting a bit dicey) for the Race pilots, and possibly Level 3 (meaning it’s no longer safe to be flying) for the Sprinters.” Pilots, particularly those selected for the Safety committee, were encouraged to report conditions during the task, allowing others to make better-informed decisions about continuing on course in increasingly challenging air. “I know a handful of folks landed because the risk/gain valuation had diminished beyond their point of acceptability,” Krista points out, and suggests “there may be opportunity to better recognize and commend such decisions” and thereby reinforce each pilots’ responsibility to recognize and act on their personal limits for fun and safety. At first, Sprint pilot Lisa says, “I was really dismayed with all the rules, having flown so many years of hangie comps with much less structure and rather laisse-faire retrieval and accountability plans. But seeing how smoothly 100+ pilots got off launch each day and how completely all were accounted for at day’s end made me a true believer in the system. I’m grateful for such a thorough set-up, from morning briefings to the final required PUP (pilot picked up) message sent via my InReach. By the third task I realized I was pushing my comfort and risk levels too much in close-gaggle flying and thermal turbulence tolerance in wind. I recalled one of Gavin McClurg’s Cloudbase Mayhem podcasts in which an interviewed pilot suggested flying at 85% of your limit, to offer a cushion for the unexpected. That advice helped

TOP It's

raining gliders at the Longsword goal! Photo by Audray Luck. LEFT Eric Reed's neck brace provided a visual reminder to exuberant pilots not to play rough at the awards ceremony. RIGHT C.J. consults with some experts re: programming her Flymaster. Photos by AlanHirschmugl/

me enjoy the last half of the meet much more, extending my physical

raison d’etre, but there were plenty of

the most part you’d be right. But veter-

and mental energies and keeping my

opportunities for every pilot to add a

an comp pilot Krista says she joins the

risk factor more reasonable.”

It’s all about the learning

few new tricks, techniques and bits of

Race “in order to learn; I love to suck

wisdom to their flying repertoire. You

up as much knowledge as I can absorb.

might expect the Race pilots to be on

The early morning sessions hosted

The Super Clinic holds skills develop-

the giving, rather than the receiving,

by Nick Greece and his band of merry

ment and advancement as its sole

end of the education spectrum, and for

pilots provided excellent snippets of




Huey's daily task-analysis sessions were much appreciated by the Sprinters. RIGHT Tom Chesnut safetychecks every pilot before launch. OPPOSITE LEFT Super-clinic pilot Jorge, focused on perfecting his launch technique. CENTER Zoe getting some pre-launch love from Kari. RIGHT Jon demonstrates the Super Clinic power launch. Photos by AlanHirschmugl/ insight before flying, and Mitch Riley’s

Sigma 10 in the Race class, came to the

worked, but it was a scary experience

evening talk was such a sophisticated

Applegate Open “because pretty much

and I was really shaky, my confidence

presentation of a mature athlete’s

everyone I look up to in this sport has

was really low. I wasn’t sure I should

mindset and approach to flying!”

a background in paragliding competi-

be flying at all…” Accepting that she needed to re-calibrate her in-air com-

Super Clinic pilot Jorge was also

tion, and they all recommend compet-

impressed with Mitch’s presentation,

ing as a great way to learn from better

fort level, she “set mini goals. I focused

especially the parts “on managing fear

pilots and accelerate your advance-

on the basics. I used a mantra when I

while flying—I put into practice sev-

ment in the sport.” He found the Race

got tense. These were my ‘tasks’. I tried

eral recommendations Mitch shared”

tasks “pretty demanding, especially

to listen to my inner voice and push

during the rest of his Super Clinic

for the sport-class gliders” and was

on my comfort level a little at a time.


delighted to put all the pieces together

I talked to other people and shared

and score his first-ever competition

my progress.” By the end of the week,

Mark, who’s almost a local at Woodrat, points out that his wing and

goal. He credits, at least partially, “the

she was back to loving her flights and

skill level should put him in the Sprint

awesome mentoring offered every day

enjoying her time in the air.

class, but he competes in the Race

before launch—it was super help-

had driven across the border by

because “I have been flying Woodrat

ful to hear from the top pilots like

for 19 years, and the Race tasks make

Nick Greece, Mitch Riley, and Bianca

herself to the Rat Race, where she felt

me fly farther out, to places I have

Heinrich about their strategies for

rather overwhelmed and somewhat

not been.” His favorite bit of wisdom

flying so fast and consistent!”

disappointed in her performance.

gained came from one of Nick’s talks: “‘You should be focused on XC first,

Zoe learned to paraglide just a year ago, and had signed up for the Super

This year, with nine more seasons of flying experience, she signed up for

racing second. And to go XC, you have

Clinic to improve her skills, to fly with

the Sprint class, arrived with a gaggle

to stay in the air!’ With that in mind,

other pilots who were also working on

of Canadian pilot buddies, and was delighted with how differently things

I am getting better about going back

improving their skills, and, especially,

and trying again, rather than pushing

to take advantage of the legendary

turned out this time. Some of her fa-

into the wind until I dirt. It works!” On

coaching skills of Clinic leaders Kari

vorite lessons learned came from Nick

a couple of tasks Mark forced him-

Castle and Ken Hudonjorgensen. A few

Greece’s daily mentoring chats featuring many of the top-ranked pilots at

self to go back several times to gain

weeks before the Applegate Open she’d

enough altitude to tag an upwind turn-

experienced a collapse that cascaded

the comp. “Nick’s voice would boom

point so he could continue on course.

into a nose-down spiral close to ter-

out like a hawker at a circus selling

rain. “Luckily,” she says, “my reserve

ice cream: ‘Anybody want to talk about

Cedar Wright, who’s flying an EN-C


Back in 2009, Canadian pilot Janet


paragliding?’ It’s always interesting

how best to fly it, each day brought a

to hear the best pilots talk about how

plethora of new skills to my XC collec-

they fly, how they race, sharing some


him hone his thermaling and XC skills. “He was right!” says Tony, adding, “That was also the first time I realized how

of their personal tips and concepts.

Tony had learned to paraglide in

big this community is. I’ve been back

‘Rip your candy-bar wrappers open

Ecuador six years ago, and earned his

to Woodrat each year since.” In 2016

before you launch’ is one take-away

P2 rating from Ken Hudonjorgensen

Tony volunteered for the Super Clinic,

that sticks in my mind…”

a couple of years later at Point of the

Janet also really appreciated Sprint coach Jeff Huey’s daily task-analysis

Mountain. Soon after that, Ken suggested he join the Super Clinic to help

where he and the other volunteers “mentored as best we could, launched the pilots and stayed up at the top

briefings; “Jeff condensed his years of experience into bite-sized bits and flying suggestions. His voice often came back to me while I was flying the task, as though he was flying there right on my shoulder.” She (like many of us!) found programming the waypoints and tasks more than a little “foreign and awkward. But Jug (Aggarwal) was there, calmly giving directions and answering questions, making the cold logic of it friendly and reassuring.” Lisa has flown hang gliders since 1989, and paragliders since 1998. After stepping back from hang gliding comps in 2013, she began focusing on paraglider XC. The Applegate Open’s Sprint class was a perfect fit for her first paragliding comp. “Remembering how hangie comps gave me a quantum leap in XC skills back in the 1990s,” she says, “I was convinced para comps would offer me the same learning opportunities, and I was not let down. From route discussions to wrangling through gaggles, and discovering the micrometeorology of the valley and



until the last one landed. Those were very long, hot days, but it was incredibly gratifying to watch those pilots learn new skills and gain confidence. Everyone has unique concerns, needs and fears, and working through those issues with these relatively new pilots also helped me understand my own. Those Super Clinic pilots have the craziest smiles…”

Highs and lows The Applegate Open’s NTSS points are serious business for those Race pilots who are hoping to claim a spot on the US National Team, but for the rest of us, the points earned often did not reflect a pilot’s perception of the value of the task. Take Canadian pilot Janet, for example. She was over-the-top elated about “doing my first 103km flight, in 4.5 hours—even though only nine


final goal. Jared Anderson rocked the last day with Nick Greece coming in second, but at least 15 minutes behind, to secure the over-all win. BELOW Crazy, creative antics kept pilots amused while they waited for the day to turn on. Photo by Audray Luck. OPPOSITE Race conditions vary from day to day | photo by Nick Greece.

km counted towards the task.” She tasks is still messing with her psyche,

soaring Woodrat and Squires ALL DAY

cites Day 2/Task 2 as her favorite. “On

my own flight,” she explains, some-

LONG!! I just couldn’t get high enough

Task 1,” she says, “I maxed out my

what ruefully; having tagged a turnpoint, she “lost my gaggle and stopped

to go to Rabies until late in the day. But

bump tolerance about 90 minutes into

my lemons turned to lemonade when I

the course at Humbug Canyon, and

thinking—instead, I followed what

checked my track log and realized how

decided to land. For Task 2, all of that

I learned later was incorrect advice

far I’d flown!”

fear went away, and I had the most fun

instead of making my own analysis of

Krista, whose accident coming in to goal at one of last year’s Rat Race


a bit short of goal. “I had stopped flying

accumulated those 100 km “by ridge


in the air since my accident.” She made

the conditions and my position.” Then

it through most of the course, landing

she encountered the Sprint gaggle, and

assumed they were looking for lift. But

ing mentor Nick Greece rise from the

a great landing. I felt confident and

ashes of his last-place finish in a com-

happy throughout all of it. It was un-

well, as they were setting up to land. I

petition in Brazil, to take first place in

expectedly great. Maybe,” she muses,

followed them straight into their goal…”

the Applegate Open!”

“I really wasn’t paying attention very

which was along the same course line

“when we pursue longer flights, higher

“My most memorable flight,” recalls

altitudes, or otherwise more complex goals we get preoccupied with all the

as the Race task but several km short

Super Clinic pilot Zoe, “was a sledder

of the Race goal. Even so, she says, “it

on the last day of the comp. The Super

things we couldn’t or didn’t accom-

was an awesomely enjoyable flight,

Clinic pilots have to launch before

plish, and we forget how great it is to

and ended with an unearned ‘goal

the comp launch window opens. We

fly at all. Maybe when we are alone in

beer.’ (Thanks, Wes!)”

learned at 11:15 that the comp window

the air we forget that we are part of

would open at 11:30, so if I wanted a

a community of like-minded, quirky,

flight I had to do it RIGHT AWAY, even

generous souls. There was something

Mark, who’s flying his EN-B XC Summit3 in the Race class, had a personal-best duration of 3:56 on the third

though the day wasn’t working yet. I

in that flight that reminded me of

task, and was stoked to have flown 51

wanted to fly! Despite the short time

all that good stuff.” The Super Clinic

km, which was a couple km farther

frame, I was able to execute my usual

may not award trophies or prizes, but

than any other Racers in the Sport

methodical set-up and proceed to

clearly Zoe ended her week at the AO knowing that she’d come out a winner!

division. But his elation turned to cha-

launch without any inner sense of

grin when the scores were posted—“I

rush or pressure. When I launched,

got zero points for the day! Turns out

Tom Chesnut and George Sturtevant

The many faces of the Fun Factor

I’d landed just inside Medford airspace

were standing at my wing while Kari

Most pilots at the AO know that they’re

at the base of the hills. I was not any-

and Ken looked on. Somehow I just felt

not going to take home a trophy, but

where where planes were flying, but

surrounded by all the care and sup-

those who are not the declared win-

rules are rules…”

port and generosity of these individu-

ners definitely are not “losers”! There’s

als and the whole AO community. I

a mindset at this event that encour-

Speaking to the strength of the ties between pilots that have us celebrat-

felt like I was launching with love. It

ages pilots to set their own goals and

ing each other’s victories almost as

sounds cheesy, but who cares?! And

determine their own personal criteria

if they were our own, Cedar declares

then I had my best launch of the week,

for “winning.” We fly, after all, because

it was “super rad to see my paraglid-

followed by a lovely brief flight and

it’s fun!



LEFT A gaggle of women pilots in the Hunter's bailout LZ | photo by C.J.'s camera and some guy who landed with us. RIGHT C.J. starting the day's task | photo by AlanHirschmugl/

Krista agrees; “It is wonderful to

races! Also, Sprinters landing at goal

participants, the Super Clinic pilots

have the super long-XC stretch tasks,

may have even crazier smiles than the

in particular were blown away by the

but the terrain at Woodrat is so dy-

Super Clinic pilots…”

strength of the community ties that

Cedar, on his Sigma 10, was “super

namic that it is conducive to the com-

stretch across all skill levels, from

plex racing tasks that really emphasize

proud to make goal twice during the

those just dipping their toes into mid-

strategy and decision-making. That’s

competition. My favorite memory from

day flying to the world’s top racers. Jon

the comp was when I committed to a

discovered that “the sense of com-

what I love about the site: it’s complex.”

long glide to Longsword, hoping for my

munity here was incredible—in the

Sprint this year to volunteer again, but

second goal. A huge crowd gathered

clinic, and during the event as a whole!

I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve discovered I have

as I came in REALLY low on final, and

I learned from observing other pilots,

a competitive side and, apparently,

until about 100 yards from Longsword

and from talking about our flights with

some racing skills as well. There is so

it was unclear if I was going to make

each other. Being able to share and

Tony “almost dropped out of the

much more to racing than raw speed

it. I’d hit a bubble of lift and the crowd

learn from so many skilled pilots was

and reaching goal. Trying to figure out

would shout, and I’d hit a bubble of


my instruments, the weather, correct

sink and the crowd would gasp... when

lines, when to lead out, along with

I made it in to goal, super low, the

special the pilot community is, we

flying a brand-new wing, was really in-

whole crowd cheered! I felt like a hero

started as 22 unknown pilots at the

tense. There’d be a bunch of us on edge

for a few seconds!”

Super Clinic and in less than a week

night. We also watched our tracks

It’s (almost) all about the peoplE

awesome experience of free flight.” He

on Doarama obsessively. This comp

While all the pilots I spoke with for

also appreciated the opportunity to

been an absolute blast and I have a

this article raved about the camara-

form close bonds with several pilots

lot to learn, so I’ve signed up for more

derie and the close ties among the

from his home site who were compet-


waiting for the scoring results each

Jorge agrees. “To illustrate how

we became friends by sharing this





Nick Greece

Brad Hauge

Bianca Heinrich

Dave Achtemichuk

Anneka Herndon

Mitch Riley

Colin Rathbun

Lindsay Holden

Arthur Korn

Emily Mistick

Brad Gunnuscio

Cedar Wright

Mika Takahashi

Keith Lowe

Courtney Caulfield


NICK GREECE was the top-placing pilot in the Chelan meet making him the 2018 US paragliding champion.



ing in the Race and the Sprint, that

named the main players: Dan and

teer support, I want to thank Mike and

he’d barely known before coming to

Mary Beth, Pete “Reaper” Michelmore,

Gail Haley for their vision and legacy,

the AO.

Tom Chesnut, the wing fluffers. Zoe

and Dan and Mary Beth Wells along

gets specific about Tom: “He was really

with the RVHPA club, for continuing it

at the Rat Race had left her feeling a

important to me. His attitude and com-


bit lonely and discouraged; not so this

mitment are truly remarkable. I was

year! “Meeting Mary Beth whose smile

so grateful for his presence on launch

opened up like an umbrella! Bumping

every day.” She also offers kudos to

into pilots I’d met in Mexico and the

Rob Campbell, the retrieve driver for

Sprint pilot Janet’s 2009 experience

Canadian Nats in Pemberton 2017! I

the Super Clinic pilots—“He was amaz-

felt like I’d come home.”

ing, always going above and beyond.”

Cedar, whose enthusiasm for the

The Super Clinic pilots’ chant of “Kari

sport and love for the flying commu-

and Ken! Kari and Ken! Kari and Ken!”

nity seems to burst from between the

came through loud and clear.

lines of his email, declares that he “will definitely be back to Applegate next year to test myself against my

Lisa found it “really encouraging to see all the fantastic female pilots flying well in the meet. From thermal-

peers, and more importantly to spend

ing with old friends like C.J. Sturtevant,

time with the flying tribe that I’ve

as well as new ones like Anneka

grown to love and that has become

Herndon, and getting para-gaggle ther-

such a big part of my life.”

mal advice from Krista Auchenbach— every gal was so inspiring and helpful!”


Krista adds, “While no event is com-

Every one of my contributing pilots

plete without the tremendous volun-

Northern California


November 3rd - 4:30pm | Sunnyvale, California

Author’s aside: I just celebrated my 71st birthday, and with the wisdom that comes with age, I’ve determined that paragliding in “big air” just isn’t my thing any more. I sign up for the Sprint class, but joke about flying in the Geezer category of the Leisure class, where the goal each day is to have a good launch, fly as much of the task as fits into my comfort zone, and land happy. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve completed a task and landed at the official Sprint goal, but it’s a rare flight at Woodrat where I don’t score my personal goal. And that, along with the “family reunion” aspect of this annual event, is what has kept me coming back—for 16 years and, hopefully, well into the future.

Join us for an evening of informative discussion on a variety of free-flight topics. Hypoxia and flight safety Weather forecasting Creating stunning videos Strategies for successful SIVs Flight instrumentation Airspace at flying sites XC routes at Bay Area Sites Your first aid kit and how to use it ... And More!

Sponsored by No charge to attend. Register now at...



Thermal Lows and Windy Surprises by HONZA REJMANEK


ne hot summer day you

be the case. The thermals allow you

might have drawn in the afternoon

decide to visit a site that is

to gain height quickly and you start

wind that caught you off guard. This

rarely flown. The synoptic

to contemplate a late-afternoon XC.

seems contrary to what you saw on

situation is benign. Your region is

the morning surface-pressure chart.

under the influence of a subtropical

texture on the lake below changing

Where would the low have come

high and the morning sounding indi-

rapidly. Whitecaps are now evi-


cated light and variable winds.

dent and you realize a strong wind

Upon further research, you learn

has arrived below you. There is no

that a heat low, often referred to as

The sweaty hike up, and a lack of what most would consider landing

time to be surprised. It is time to

a thermal low, is actually a fairly

zones, insures that this tight little

run. Fortunately, you are more than

common diurnal phenomenon in

launch never gets crowded. The

1000m above the terrain and within

dry subtropical regions. It can also

site is located in a coastal mountain

glide of an open landing area. You

manifest itself in mid-latitudes

range approximately 60 km inland

manage to fly ahead of this low-level

in the summer months. In many

from the ocean. The equator-ward

wind and you land safely before the

places such as the Iberian Peninsula,

faces have dry grass and shrubs, the

strong wind reaches your landing

Tasmania, or the central valley of

pole-ward faces have shrubs and a

area. “I can see why hardly any one

California thermal lows form fre-

few trees. Arriving at 3:00pm you

flies this spot!” you tell yourself.

quently in the summer months, often

find conditions to be quite reason-

Having walked away from what

when there is a semi-permanent

able. The lake below has some

could have been a good day gone

high offshore. A strong sun, clear

texture but no whitecaps. Cycles are

bad, you become curious about why

skies and a semi-arid surface are

strong but not crazy strong for your

a strong wind came in so suddenly

all requisites for the formation of

skill level.

during a part of the day when you

thermal lows.

You launch by 3:30pm, figuring that thermals are now past their peak, and you hope to enjoy a nice afternoon flight. Indeed, this turns out to


By 4pm, however, you notice the


were expecting things to start mellowing out. After listening to your story, a fellow pilot suggests that a “heat low”

The strong heating of the land surface by the sun results in thermals, which in turn warm the boundary layer. Thus the lower levels of the

atmosphere become less dense. As the air become less dense it expands, and this results in an outflow above the region receiving the intense heating. Often this outflow occurs at the 2-3000m level. The divergence at this level results in a decrease of pressure at the surface. The developing pressure gradient eventually results in a low-level breeze that starts to blow in from cooler regions like an adjacent ocean. Despite the strong sun the surface temperature of a large deep body of water does not change very much over the course of a day. Most thermal lows follow a daily schedule with the lowest pressure occurring around six in the afternoon. Overnight the lows diminish in most places. Over large, dry continental areas such as Australia and Northern Africa, deeper thermal lows can develop. These can persist into the night and they can become mobile. Focusing on the thermal lows that tend to follow a daily schedule, it makes sense that surface winds begin to blow inland as the low intensifies. Channeling effects due to topography can cause these surface winds to reach speeds over 10m/s. This is where flying a new site in the afternoon hours can catch a pilot off guard. Just because the heating rate is diminishing and the thermals are However, they are a fair-weather

starting to mellow does not mean

because the air over the mountains

that the winds are going to follow the

heats more than the air at the same

phenomenon, in contrast to their

same schedule. The strongest pres-

level over the lowlands. When the

larger synoptic scale cousins that

sure gradient exists around six in the

Alps are under the influence of high

bring us bad weather. Nonetheless

afternoon and the resultant winds

pressure, an average 3mb pressure

it is important to note that this

can peak around sunset or later

drop over the course of a day can be

fair-weather phenomenon can still

depending on the particular location.

attributed to a thermal low. In the

stir very strong afternoon winds,

By six in the morning the thermal

northern Alps, the resulting norther-

especially when the topography

low is gone and the cycle is ready to

ly winds can flush you down a sunny

encourages their acceleration. They

start again.

south face in the afternoon, thus

can reach more than 50km inland,

prematurely ending a great XC flight.

and their late-afternoon arrival can

Over the Iberian Peninsula the

Thermal lows are considered a

catch a visiting pilot off guard. When

surface-pressure drop. Over moun-

mesoscale feature. Their resultant

possible, take time to question local

tainous regions thermal lows can

winds are strong enough to overpow-

pilots about the timing of their local

develop in summer months as well,

er local slope flows and valley winds.


thermal low can average a 4mb






Alex Colby over the North Shore of Oahu | photo by JORGE ATRAMIZ USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE




Size Matters:




any thanks to Torsten Siegel from Gin Gliders, Luc Armant from Ozone Gliders, Kevin Hintze from Fluid Wings, Blake Pelton from Super

a really small wing. The differences start to get fuzzy in the 15-18m2 range. The Ozone Litespeed and Gin Yak, for

example, both come in a 15m2 size but fly very differently.

Fly and Francois Bon from Level Wings for their input

A good way to differentiate paragliding from speed

and help with this article. These are some of the great-

flying could be to assign a number to wing loading. But,

est minds in the free-flight world, and it was an extreme

if a pilot at the top end of the wing-loading range ate a

privilege to have their input and feedback.

big breakfast and went over that wing-loading range, it

Paragliding is a great way to stay up in the sky. Our

would be silly to say she is going speed flying. Wing load-

wings need no motor, and provide us with the ability to

ing, or lack thereof, is just one factor in how a pilot might

land right back where we started, or maybe even travel a

choose to stay up for a while or race down the mountain.

few or a few hundred miles in a day. We can grab rising

Interestingly enough, weight does not change glide

air and stay up, while speed flying is more about getting

ratio, which is determined largely by the shape of the

down a mountain in an exciting way.

wing. Different weights under the same wing (different

Is it possible to stay up in the air with something billed

wing loading) changes forward speed and sink rate pro-

as a speed wing? Or can we take a long sled ride on a so-

portionally. Which shapes help us get down a mountain

called paraglider that involves some wingovers and kick-

in an exciting way or help us stay up and fly far?

ing a bush or two on the way down? As with any problem,

Aspect ratio: Aspect Ratio (AR) is the ratio of the

some specialized tools will help us answer those ques-

wingspan to surface area. Aspect Ratio for a rectangular


wing is equal to wingspan (measurement from wingtip

Look at the differences between the anatomies of a wing that races down the mountain, compared to one

to wingtip) divided by chord (measurement from front to back). A non-rectangular wing, such as a hang glider,

that flies for hours above them. If you study a speed wing and paraglider side by side on launch, you will detect obvious differences. Other, subtler, differences are best left for the designers to explain.

Size is a major factor that differentiates speed wings from paragliders, but it isn’t everything. Size can also be thought of as how much the wing is loaded (weight divided by surface area of wing). For the best chance to stay up, a large person would choose a big wing. To get down the mountain in a hurry, a big person would choose a smaller wing and a small person would choose


Caption | photo by Rebecca Bredehoft.




Cade Palmer carving in Wyoming. | photo by Rebecca Bredehoft.

jet fighter, or paraglider, is truly described as the span squared divided by surface area. But the same concept of the same surface area being distributed over a large wingspan or small wingspan still applies.

Rectangles: AR=s/c Everything Else: AR=s2/a

A high aspect ratio indicates the wingspan is large and the chord is smaller, with the wingtips far away from the center. A low aspect ratio means that the wings generally look short and fat, with more of the wing-surface area closer to the center. Wings can have the same exact surface area but greatly different aspect ratios. A 25m 2 Advance Epsilon (Low B wing) has a flat AR of 5.15 and a span of 11.35m, and a 25.6m2 Gin Boomerang 11 (One of the fastest XC competition wings) has a flat AR of 7.9 and a span of 14.2m. To generalize the difference in performance: High aspect ratio wings glide well but do not maneuver very quickly, and low aspect ratio wings can maneuver quicker but do not glide as well. The XC pilots who fly for eight hours at a time and set distance records typically launch

amount of material out at the tips. A high-taper wing will

a long, skinny wing. The Gin Boomerang and Ozone

stall at the tips first, which is helpful for letting a pilot

Enzo series are the extreme examples of these very high

know when to ease off the brakes before the stall grows

aspect ratio wings.

towards the center. A lower-taper wing will have more

The way a wing tapers is also important and easily no-

drag and be more ground hungry, but the flare can be

ticeable. Taper indicates that the wing has a larger chord

much more authoritative. A wing looking to cover some

(front-to-back measurement) in the middle and smaller

distance will likely be more tapered than a wing de-

chord towards the tips. More taper allows for more ef-

signed to hug the ground.

ficient glide, as wingtip vortices (and therefore induced

Getting down the mountain in a hurry while diving

drag) are minimized. Tapering a wing also reduces the

near terrain lends itself to wanting a lower aspect ratio. Observing aspect ratio and wingloading alone can create some confusion, when looking at an A-rated paraglider such as the Nova Susi (Flat AR 3.95) and the popular speedwing Ozone Rapi-Dos (Flat AR 3.86). If an 80kg beginner pilot is happy flying the XXS Nova Susi, would it stand to reason that their 50kg teenager would enjoy many of the same flight characteristics if they hooked into a ready-made 15m2 Rapi-Dos? Probably not, as the airfoil profiles are very different, among many other traits.

Profile (Cross section viewed from the side): The profile of the wing is one of the most important parts of how a glider performs. This is essentially the shape of the center cell when viewed from the side. Some gliders are obviously thicker than others (tall leading edge). Increased thickness will require more air for inflation and more air to be pushed aside as the wing flies, meaning it is slower to inflate and slower to move forward. A




Cade Palmer flying in New Zealand | photo by Rebecca Bredehoft.

thin wing needs less air to fill it, and can slice through

camber. Differences in where the camber is, how much

the surrounding air as it flies. So it can inflate and fly

it is cambered, and how camber changes from the


center out to the wingtips are critical in how a wing flies.

Thickness: Stall and slow-flight performance are

Camber also changes as a pilot makes brake and speed-

affected by thickness. A thick glider has friendly stall re-

bar inputs. When a wing works well, competitors will buy

covery characteristics, while a thin glider treats the pilot

that wing just to take it apart and study the camber and

fairly mean upon stall recovery. A thicker profile is often

how it changes from the center out towards the wingtips.

found on more beginner-oriented wings, and a thinner

Differences of a few millimeters in amount and location

profile is more prevalent on a wing where the pilot knows

of camber can make a wing a winner or loser.

more about how to avoid stalls or purposefully induce them. Getting down the mountain quickly and efficiently,

Cells and Openings

while gliding in ridge lift or from thermal to thermal

How air enters and pressurizes a wing is largely dictated

can benefit from a thinner profile. Interestingly enough,

by the number of cells and the openings it has. More

wings made for skiing, such as the Neo X Ride, are made

cells create a smoother wing surface, which allows for

to fly very, very fast but have a fairly thick profile. This

smoother air-flow from the center to the tips along the

helps during slow-speed flying when the pilot skis on the

top and bottom surface. This means less drag and better


glide. More cells also mean more ribbing. This increases

Camber: The most important part of how a wing flies

weight and the amount of walls the air has to pass

is its curvature from front to back. Differences between

through during inflation, and comes into play on launch.

one glider and the next generally are not noticeable

Somebody looking for a fast descent and launching at

while kiting or laying out on launch. This curve is called

the top of a mountain in little to no wind would value a

“When a wing works well, competitors will buy that wing just to take it apart and study the camber and how it changes from the center out towards the wingtips.� USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE


tool that can inflate quickly, with fewer cells aiding this.

is critical to recovery. If the lines snag around a very

before leaving the ground could handle a slower inflation,

closed-off wingtip, the air within the closed-off cells near

or even desire it in high wind.

the tip will be trapped like a balloon, causing the tip to

Opening size is largely dictated by the thickness of the wing and intended range of angles of attack. The latter is

remain stuck for a long time. A wing used by somebody who values efficiency and

not something that can easily be seen. Some cells don’t

can diligently prevent deflation might have more cells

have openings in the front. Where these cells are closed

closed off near the wingtips. A wing used by somebody

off, relative to the wingtips, is easily visible and can lend

who would rather sacrifice aerodynamic efficiency for

some clues to how a glider might perform. A closed-off

quick recovery from deflations will have fewer cells

front is more aerodynamic; the air can easily split around

closed off near the wingtips. Some wings have triangular

a surface rather than flow into an opening. Closing off the

or elliptical shaped openings, which serve more to create

front also prevents pressure from being lost out the front,

a signature look than to affect performance.

as the air in the closed cell must flow sideways into an open cell to exit the glider. In the event of a deflation, where a wingtip gets stuck


in some lines, the ability to exhaust air through the front

Somebody launching in some wind and kiting for a bit


Lines and Arc Fundamentally, all free-flight methods are a pendulum.

LEFT Cade Palmer testing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming | photo by Rebecca Bredehoft.

Arc: Another characteristic of a wing that is noticeable is how much arc the wing has. On a basic level, this is how high off the ground the center of the wing is, when compared to the wingtips. A high-aspect-ratio wing with already long lines is not particularly prone to turning, and an increased amount of arc helps to make a wing maneuver more readily, making a nice balance. On the other end of the spectrum, a low-aspect-ratio wing with short lines is very maneuverable, and less arc is incorporated into the design to prevent it from being too maneuverable. A tool made for diving in and out of canyons and close to terrain might work better if it incorporates features that lend themselves to turning and coming back to level quickly. Or, comparatively long lines might help hold a long, lazy turn in the core of a thermal or ridge-lift band.

Lines: The lines themselves are important as well. Drag caused by lines is a huge factor in speed and glide efficiency. The thinnest, least number of lines possible helps to achieve staying high for a while, as well as getting down the mountain in a hurry. However, thin (unsheathed) lines wear out and tangle more easily and require more diligence from the pilot. Fewer lines reduce drag, but allow the wing to be more susceptible to larger deflations. More pilot care is required to prevent or recover from a large deflation. Almost all slow beginner wings have a high number of thick lines. Small speed wings and hot XC racing wings both have very skinny and comparatively few lines. These are some of the obvious traits that an interested pilot might observe right off the bat while laying his glider out next to a friend’s. Most generally, a purposeThe center of gravity is suspended from something—be

built speed-wing will be smaller and have a lower aspect

it a paraglider, hang glider, or speed wing. The lines that

ratio compared to a soaring wing. Stacking a few traits

suspend the pilot under the wing are an important part

up that lend themselves to flying high and going far or

of how a wing flies.

getting down a mountain in a hurry will certainly steer

Line Length Proportion: Line length is very easily noticeable as soon as a new wing is pulled out of the bag,

the recipe in that direction, but does not at all make it something enjoyable to fly. Most of the real magic in what

as are diameter and number. Some wings of a similar size

makes a wing fly the way it does is stuff that can’t be seen.

have relatively long or short line-sets. Small wings tend

Camber, trim, subtleties in arc, location of line attach-

to have shorter lines, and big wings tend to have longer

ments, and wash of the wing are just a few of the factors

lines. But the important thing is proportion. In general, to get

that can drastically separate one wing from another. It is even possible for a designer to make a wing look as if

the line tension and angle correct, a higher-aspect-ratio

it will perform one way, but by tuning the subtleties the

wing will have a longer line-set than a lower-aspect-ratio

right way, it can perform differently. The balance that

wing. A long line-set acts like a long rope-swing. Changes

designers are capable of achieving is incredible. There’s a

in direction take a longer time to happen, and the oppo-

wing on the market that can solve every problem a pilot

site is true with a relatively shorter line-set.

wants to solve.



On Task for a

100% Recovery by KRISTA AUCHENBACH


gram into my training plan. The crash

n June 20, during the 2017

rassed to share it). Having been a jock

Rat Race, I flew the best I

most of my life, I (secretly) leveraged

became a setback on a bigger journey

had ever flown and was

my desire to identify as an athlete,

I had already begun.

stoked to finally make my second-

set up a multi-pronged training plan,

Second, I was physically prepared

ever race goal. Unfortunately, I was

and found a coach—my good friend

to crash. Prior to my crash, I had built

15-20 feet above the ground when I

and supporter, Peter Van Oevelen

up 10 lbs. of muscle to better place

saw the grass swirl; I took a collapse

of Shenandoah Paragliding, LLC. I

myself in the weight range of my

and recovered, but was in parachutal

busted my ass in 2017 doing every-

new UP Trango X-Race. This muscle

going backwards in the strong wind.

thing I could to improve mentally,

proved critical to my recovery. The

Going for the speed bar was enough

physically, and technically.

impact of my crash was so intense

to tip the careful weight balance; I spun in, breaking 11 vertebrae. Having just attended the 2018

It paid off. The day of my crash was

that when the left side of my body

the best and most fun flying I had

hit, I bounced and landed on my right

ever done; it demonstrated to me

side. I did not realize it at the time

Applegate Open, I’ve checked another

that my training was working, and it

(kudos to adrenaline), but I sepa-

box on my path to the 110% recovery

made me hungrier for more. While I

rated my spine from my left ribcage

I want. Just like every pilot’s reasons and

had to recalibrate significantly, I was

(and broke my butt and neck). My

able incorporate my recovery pro-

newly improved back muscles had

approaches to flying are different, every broken person’s approach to recovery is different. I share my story of brokenness as an illustrative example of an approach, and in an effort to share what I found useful and learned throughout the process. I will be the first to admit I am ridiculously lucky, but there were a few cards that were stacked in my favor. Here are the elements that I credit.

My recovery started before my crash. First, I had a plan. My pre-crash training plan was able to incorporate my post-crash recovery plan. As some friends could attest, at the end of 2016, I was frustrated with my lack of progress, and was further frustrated with my frustration. What most friends did not know, however, was how much effort I put into fixing that in 2017 (because I was embar-




may not be in the air but she's crushing the robot!

absorbed the impact and helped pro-

first started physical therapy, I could

tect against my crushing my spinal

barely move my body. It seemed like

(or days) for help. Not only did I have

column or having more significant

I was going to become a tin woman,

paramedics within 30-45 minutes, I

compression fractures. According to

always in need of oil to jolt my body

had a group of pilots, led by Christo

I crashed alone, or had to wait hours

multiple neurosurgeons, doctors, and

into movement. Working through

Johnson, to keep me calm, force me

a physical therapist, I probably would

soft-tissue damage was unpleasant

still (emphasis on force), and do an

not be walking if it were not for the

at best, and even became a science

interim medical assessment. When

strength of my back, flexibility, and

experiment for an aspiring massage

the medics didn’t appreciate my alert,

downright luck. Additionally, my

therapist specializing in trauma mas-

responsive sarcasm, Christo assured

prior level of fitness also accelerated

sage. However, when it got frustrating,

them I wasn’t delirious. He joined me

“While I liked (and still like) flying on my own, I enjoy flying with friends far more deeply now” my recovery significantly; the eight

I had a couple of mantras to help: “I’m

in the ambulance so I would have a

thoracic spinal fractures healed in

alive and kicking,” and “At least I can

friend and advocate in the ER as well

five weeks. Contrary to some of the

wipe my own ass.”

as a proxy for my family. I also had Jug Aggarwal, who held my arm off

common lore, there is a role for fitness in flying.

my ribcage so I could breathe and wouldn’t puncture my lung.

breeze. I lie. It hurt. But it was a hell

My recovery was enabled by immediate assistance and enduring support. Fourth, I had immediate

of a lot easier than the rest of the re-

help. Lying in the grass, watching

most definitely would have rolled

covery because every 3-5 days, I could

ants crawl, while you wonder if you

over, and could have very easily made

notice progress. Major milestones in-

will still be able to wiggle your toes

my bad situation worse by causing far

cluded walking a mile, holding more

tomorrow, is much better done in

more damage to my spine. Having im-

than two pounds above my head, and

the company of friends. I cannot

mediate help set me up for a success-

sleeping on my side again. When I

fathom what my life would be like if

Third, the physical recovery was a

Without them keeping me still, I

ful recovery. While I liked (and still like) flying on my own, I enjoy flying with friends far more deeply now, having the reassurance of a friend for in extremis circumstances. Fifth, I struggled to find good professionals. My recovery was impeded and delayed by bad physicians and inattentive nurses. There were several errors made at the hospital, and my relatively stable condition (e.g., no surgery) and DC residency inclined several doctors to not completely examine me according to medical standards. As a result, they missed an underlying medical condition (fractured C7 facet process) that was only diagnosed after the left side of my body went numb six weeks after my crash. It took a week of fighting to get doctors to complete the evaluation and get my second, super sexy back


author getting ready to launch.

brace. This doubled my recovery time.



It was the FBP that nursed me back to health (Sam Crocker), coaxed me back to the mountain (Carl Snitselaar and Neal Michaelis), and cajoled me into the air with some colorful language (Eric Reed—“Okay, Krista, enough p^$$y-footing around). Throughout all of this, I had John Wolfe, an FBP who was also recovering with me from a Rat Race injury. We shared achievements and setbacks throughout our times embracing the suck, and discussed why it is we still have this crazy desire to fly despite an incredible fear and insecurity to do so, and what that means to the people who love us. Getting broken extended my paragliding family.

The mental game is the crux. Seventh, I had to learn to trust myself again. Paragliding is all about decisionmaking. We analyze incomplete data about things we cannot control and make decisions about how to accept Back in DC, I found a second, awesome neurosurgeon, who actually

Sixth, I had the FBP (Formerly

and mitigate the risks associated with faking like a bird. At first, crashing

treated me as an injured athlete

Broken Pilots). There is isolation with

killed my confidence and reinforced

(looking at me as person + condition

injury—but it is far more perceived

the imposter syndrome I had been

= patient). The first one I had treated

isolation than real. Perhaps it was

struggling to overcome. I needed to

me like a 70-year old couch potato. I

surprising (or disappointing), but I

learn from the crash. I spent count-

also found a great physical therapist

did not get help where I may have

less hours rigorously analyzing every

that was outside of my insurance

expected, but rather places I never

aspect, component, and micro-

network, but well worth the expense

imagined. I am lucky enough to have

decision, and then interrogating it

(and torturous dry needling sessions)

some pretty amazing friends, col-

further. I tried to understand what I

that I could thankfully afford.

leagues, and family, whose support

got wrong, what other options were

was key to my recovery. And while

available, how they may have panned

with good healthcare, my crash and

I do not wish to begrudge or belittle

out, and what was beyond my ability

recovery cost me about $5000 out of

any of their assistance, the under-

to change versus simply just bad

pocket. (Important: Standard medical

ground cadre of formerly broken

luck. While I sought outside counsel

protocol for traumatic spinal inju-

pilots is truly remarkable. They came

to assist my analysis, I came to fully

ries is to evaluate the entire spine

out of the woodwork, some of whom

appreciate that the only opinion that

(cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral

I did not even know, and said, “Call

truly matters is my own. Coming up

spine); do not leave the hospital

me when it sucks.” Even with the best

with my own understanding of the

without the full examination. Also,

empathy in the world, it is hard to get

crash helped me not only to accept it,

take the time up front to find good

what you need out of someone who

but also deflect negative vibes, gossip,

doctors; those with experience treat-

cannot relate to the mental or physi-

or shaming, and to make better

ing military tend to have an apprecia-

cal brokenness. That’s what makes

decisions about re-entering the air.

tion for athletes with extreme sports

the FBP so special.

Contrary to my pre-broken self, I do

For those economically inclined,




not need external reassurance. I need

windy days to focus on non-flying

to be the only pilot in my head.


Eighth, I enjoyed the break from

Ninth, it took what seemed like

Over Thanksgiving, I spent a week out in Santa Barbara at the training hill and mustered a few mountain

flying. Before my crash, I spent

an eternity to enjoy flying again.

flights and a mini-XC. The normal DC

almost all of my limited non-working

Even though I was determined to get

winter soaring season was ruined

time flying. Unable to get airborne, I

back in the air from the moment of

by strong winds, so I pulled together

redirected my time into all sorts of

the crash, a large part of that was

a last-minute trip to Colombia in

other interests, lower priority goals,

simply stubbornness to get back on

February, where I got my bump

and random, crazy antics. I strength-

the horse. But I didn’t want to get

tolerance up in what seemed like 20-

ened friendships that had atrophied

broken again. So I took it super slow.

minute intervals. The spring season

between my non-flying friends and

My return to paragliding followed

in DC sucked this year, so with a

built even deeper ones with my para-

the progression of a newbie (twice):

huge stroke of luck, I found myself

gliding family. I came to appreciate

kiting, training hill, sledders, exten-

in Annecy for a week. Given the time

the fullness of my non-flying life in

dos, soaring sessions, XC, and then

between flying, my mental game atrophied. I had to restart my newbie

ways that made it easy to walk away

“racing” (e.g., my version of attempting

from paragliding. At first, that scared

to connect more than one turnpoint).

progression all over again, beginning

me because I still identified as a pilot.

While I was eager to kite, I was not

again with kiting, before I would take the morning sledder.

It also overwhelmed me since I know

in a rush to fly. It wasn’t the flying

how much time it takes for me to

part that concerned me; it was the

stay current in paragliding. Given the

requirement to land once airborne. I

safety derived from currency, it was

have never felt so much anxiety as I

back in Woodrat at the Applegate

a big commitment to try to fly again.

did before my first post-crash moun-

Open, that I was truly stoked while

I hesitated returning. Now that I am

tain flight. While it was nice to be in

flying. That was 356 days, 57 flights,

While I was happy to be back in the air, it was not until the second task,

back in the air, knowing that I could

the air again, I cannot say that it was

and 46.5hrs of airtime after my crash.

walk away helps me enjoy flying

fun. It was more of a chore laden with

It took time.

more. I even appreciate the rainy and

mid-flight trepidation.



part of my in-flight calming tech-

to recognize the fragility in our sport.

nique that I use with breathing when

With the FBP, I was able to find pilots I

to confront the fear. The fear is real.

the fear starts to set in. I notice that

trusted to talk about the fear in ways

Almost every non-sledder of a flight

I get tense in ways I never did before

that helped me manage it.

Crashing and recovering made me more resilient in life. Tenth, I had

Eleventh, I learned the power of

has been a struggle for me. It took

the crash; it takes deliberate effort to

being brutally honest with myself

notice it and release it. If I can’t get

positivity (and humor). It may seem

about where I was mentally and tech-

my head back into the game to enjoy

odd, but I had a ton of fun being

nically to be able to manage and push

flying, I tap out and land.

through the fear. I found a couple

However, there was another

broken. From the moment I saw people were coming to help, I had fun.

ways to manage it, leveraging the

element to managing the fear that I

I cracked jokes with medics assessing

techniques that had worked during

accidentally discovered. I hadn’t fully

me in the LZ, although my sarcasm

my pre-crash training and adding a

appreciated just how many “trau-

was underappreciated. (Do you know

couple new ones.

matic” flying experiences I had had

where you are? Goal. Where?! Goal!!!)

prior to my crash—losing friends,

In the hospital, doctors had ordered

what a “success” meant to me. It’s

seeing fatal crashes, seeing near-fatal

that I breathe deeply to keep my ribs

pretty simple: launch safely, land

crashes, having a reserve not open

from healing too close to my spine.

safely, have fun. But that’s after

(thankfully in SIV), etc. It is hard

Thanks to Clif Westin and Kate Eagle,

a year of working toward the fun

to talk about bad stuff in the flying

we one-upped them with some of the

part. The second part came in the

community. It can be ostracizing

hardest laughter of my life.

It started with having to recalibrate

pre-flight preparation. I now geek

to acknowledge the shitty parts of

out more on weather before flying to

flying for fear of earning the “ground

While my turtle shell was not as cool as my traction device, I used

ensure I have a better sense of what I

suck” label. For good reason, no one

the full-body nod and shake to great

am getting into. I also visualize flying

wants to even acknowledge the bad

effect at work, and mastered the sideangle snark-face for the more chal-

before I get to the mountain and then

before flying; pre-launch talk can

again on launch. I added a mantra to

undermine confidence when it’s

lenging debates. Crashing also rid me

my pre-flight routine, which is also

needed most. Yet, there is also a time

of my RBF (mostly). The braces helped

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me dance a good Irish jig and really improved my robot dance moves, which I showcased at a friend’s wedding. It even became the focus of party commentary to such an extent that I randomly found myself performing at a comedy festival. Now, when things get rough, I have a quick response to folks who ask me how I am doing. “Alive and kicking!” I cannot underscore how grateful I am to be walking. That overwhelming sense of gratitude has fundamentally changed me as a person, enabling me to be more positive. Time and time again, positivity and humor rewarded me. Twelfth, I learned how to make some mean lemonade. The saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Over the past year, I made a lot of lemonade. In a weird way, the crash helped me deal with the $h*t ton of lemons the universe handed me. Part of this was because of the clarity of prioritization that is required to reorient your life towards recovery. The second part of it was because I had a sense of how I wanted to be. Recovery was a tremendous opportunity to double down on strengthening my mental game for life and flying. It was and is tough. But having some self-awareness and

Tremendous thanks to Mike Haley

coach, empathizer, supporter, com-

using the recovery as an opportunity

for the quick call for support; Christo

miserator, and inspirer; Adel Honti,

for improvement has helped me to

Johnson, who is downright amazing;

Trey Hackney, and Christo for helping

keep things in a constructive context,

Jug Aggarwal, who appreciated my

me confront setbacks; Greg Kelley

particularly when facing setbacks.

broken banter; Sam Crocker and Jan

and the Colorado crew for the Alpine

The recovery and lemonade-making

Jackson for adopting me; Kate Eagle,

fun; my amazing family, who have

fests were opportunities to buckle

who kept my nurses in check; Thom

my back in every random adventure;

up, put it to practice, and strive for

Therrien, who has always supported

everyone else in my paragliding

something better. It was like a series

me and whose worry took care of us

family that helped and supported me

of leapfrog opportunities in self-im-

all; Carl Snitselaar and Neal Michaelis

throughout this good, bad, ugly, and


for getting me under a wing sooner

indifferent time; and, a particular

than doctors’ orders; Eric Reed for get-

thanks to Cliff Westin and J. Shawn

have done it without the amazing cast

ting my feet off the ground; Peter Van

Durham, who demonstrated laughter

of characters in my life. I am not sure

Oevelen and Shenandoah Paragliding,

is truly the best medicine, even when

how I got so lucky. I cannot thank

LLC, for tremendous and longstand-

it hurts.

enough the amazing subculture

ing friendship and support in life and

within the flying community of FBP.

flying; John Wolfe, my injured twin,

Throughout everything, I could not

Tremendous love and thanks to you all—Alive and kicking for 110%!!!!



First Flight



Welcome to the World of Competition Hang Gliding by SARA WEAVER




une 4th, 2017 marked my inaugural flight in the

should have tried harder to make better decisions, like

world of competitive hang gliding. Although I’d

patiently sticking with my last weak thermal that might

participated in a mentored competition once before

have brought me back to Twin Oaks.

(the Green Swamp Sport Klassic), this time I was truly on

The first competition day finally arrived. The strong

my own. No mentors, no daily feedback—this time it was

northeast winds meant we’d be launching from nearby

just me, my wing, the course and my competitors. I was

Palmyra Airport, so I used the opportunity to track down

nervous. My journey into competition flying had been

Bobby Bailey and asked if I could occupy the extra seat

pretty tumultuous thus far, and finding balance when

of his DragonFly to the airport. Really, I was just being

faced with constant failure and rare success still seemed

efficient—less time traveling meant more time getting

far from reach. From what I understand, this is an everevolving process that keeps us coming back year after year. I arrived at Twin Oaks Airport in Whitewater, Wisconsin a few days before the comp to practice. It’d been a month since I had aerotowed and three weeks since I last flew, so I was feeling rusty. Few sport-class pilots had arrived yet, which meant I was the only sport pilot flying the practice tasks. But that gave me the chance to relax and settle in to my little car camp for the week. My first flight was both challenging and satisfying. I flew straight downwind 14 km to Palmyra Airport, and struggled directly into the wind on the way back. I safely landed in a field right before Twin Oaks and still managed to tag the goal cylinder just a couple of seconds before I flared for landing. The day was a confidence booster; it was my first completed out-and-back, and if I could make goal after taking some time off, then the week was looking good. Practice day two brought another ambitious crosswind task, 15 km to the south and back. The first leg was uneventful, with slow and steady progress until I reached the turn point. I could have used some patience for the flight back as I landed about 10 km short of goal. Although my hopes for the competition were still high, I



ABOVE Trying

to relax under the wing before launching on day 1 | photo by Sara Weaver. TOP Back of the line | photo by Audray Luck. PREVIOUS PAGE Sara Weaver (top left) and other pilots line up to relaunch during the Midwest 2017 Hang Gliding Championships | photo by David Aldrich.

LEFT Soaring above Palmyra Airport on Day 1 of the Midwest 2017 Hang Gliding Championship | photo by Sara Weaver. BELOW Launching from Palmyra Airport in Wisconsin on the first day of Midwest 2017 Hang Gliding Championship | photo by David Aldrich.

were doing but watching them choose a preferred landing area over a safer LZ grated on me. If the top dogs are doing everything they could to be competitive, how could a less experienced pilot like me avoid caving under pressure? With only 30 minutes left in the window, the sport class was finally cleared to launch. The wind was crossing and my right wing was lifted. I left the cart too early, and my chest grazed the runway. I managed to keep my prepared, and a ride with a legend is always a bonus!

base tube from touching the ground, leveled out and had

Usually I take some time in between setting up and

an uneventful tow after that. After that launch, though, I

flying to remove myself from the hang gliding scene and

would wait until the cart wanted to come off the ground

unwind—a habit which helps me prepare for a relaxed

before leaving. It taught me the importance of having a

launch and flight. Since we were flying from Palmyra, I

controlled, aggressively focused launch in stronger condi-

had nowhere to chill out other than the shade beneath

tions, which came in handy over the rest of the week.

my wing. My nerves pounced on the opportunity and I found it increasingly difficult to get into a relaxed state. Watching the open class launch was distressing to say

I caught a thermal right off tow and stayed in weak lift, drifting downwind in the direction of goal. Kelly Myrkle entered the thermal below me, did a few turns and left. I

the least. A few blown launches, even when no one gets

had lost a contact lens on tow so I couldn’t see the glid-

hurt, never inspires confidence in the system. Pilots who

ers thermaling in the distance that he was gunning for.

needed to relight landed behind the line up even though

When he left the thermal lower than me and I stayed, I

we had all been instructed to land elsewhere. The nasty

wondered what the hell he was doing. Turns out I should

rotor behind the line caused more than a few pilots to

have followed him because he later made goal, while my

whack. I had assumed all these pilots knew what they

thermal fizzled and I only managed to score minimum




shot in front of hangar 4 showing the red pizza tent and the fun loving crowd | photo by Paul Olson.

distance. Lesson learned: Follow the good guys, and think

to measure my performance against more experienced

about position over altitude.


Day 2 was blown out so we went paintballing. After

I shook off the bad feelings and got hyped when I heard

getting absolutely destroyed (including a paintball right

the rumor of a triangle task for Day 4. I LOVE triangles.

to the noggin), I won a $40 dollar bet by swimming

I love being pitted against the wind in a different way

across a pond by the paintball field, fully clothed. Feats

for all three legs and the challenge that presents. After

of strength are a true love of mine. I borrowed some

bombing out in a blue hole, though, I had to relaunch for

tattered men’s jeans and a huge sweatshirt to get me

the first time ever. It was frustrating because I thought

through the evening and proudly earned the nickname

that meant I’d failed and it didn’t help that I whacked.

Swamp Thang. We got tipsy at a lakeside tiki bar and

Later I started to understand that relights are just part

I learned another lesson—Long Islands have enough

of the game. Sometimes you get a crappy cycle or a blue

alcohol that I felt great walking around in oversized, dirty

hole overhead and conditions are simply not conducive to

man clothes with moss dangling from my dreaded hair.

staying up. Better to stay calm and try again.

As the day relented I relished in my contentedness of doing what I love in the lands I grew up in. Energized, I set up my glider but ended up having an uneventful flight during a 76km dogleg to the southwest.

After relaunching and chasing a thermal wildly offcourse, I turned to bag the first turnpoint. I tried to return to the thermal I’d left after tagging the point and got low over a town, played in some weak lift and ultimately

“Suddenly I hit a sweet spot, dropped a wing low and began an unbelievable upward spiral. It wasn’t the most impressive thermal core in the world, but dammit, I was in it...” The thermals were smooth and I trucked along, mostly

happened to my good landings? Where did my decision-

up to 7000 feet over the city of Beloit and failing to find

making abilities disappear to? What the hell was I doing

another thermal in the following 30km glide. I was abso-

flying in competition conditions when I couldn’t do a

lutely jazzed! It was my one of my best altitudes, longest

single thing safely or right? Not wanting to spread my bad

glide and farthest distances.

vibes, I put on a good face for the pilots in our retrieval

I was so stoked, but as soon as I packed up I checked the live tracking results and realized how many pilots had beat me. The resulting feeling of defeat was the first


whacked into a large, beautiful field. Cue my anger. What

alone. I landed just a few km short of goal after getting

vehicle and largely ignored my growing disappointment. That evening a friend from college drove up to fly tandem for the first time. As Troy and I walked between

sign of my subsequent dive into several days of endless

the gliders that had made it in to goal, the other pilots

discouragement. Every time I think of this day, I’m so dis-

and I traded the day’s stories of success and failure. I

appointed. I should have been celebrating! Instead I chose

glazed over the personal frustration I was feeling with


ABOVE Recovered

from a sketchy launch on the first day of the competition | photo by Dave Aldrich.

beer-slung banter and hoped I was showing Troy how much fun our sport is. When he came down smiling from

cided that I wouldn’t be able to leave the field anyway. I watched the open class launch, scratch, stay up, and

his tandem with Zac Majors, I eased up on myself and re-

leave. I was surprised by how few pilots came back to

membered the way it felt when I was first learning to fly.

relaunch, but didn’t feel any better about the conditions.

I should probably mention how even though my flights

I actually think my dejectedness made my shoulders

weren’t going well, at least I was having a blast morning

a little more lax, and launch came and went without

and night. I was meeting insanely talented and friendly

issue. I parked myself below the pack to the north of the

pilots from all over the world, there was an entire trailer

field, and slowly, slowly, slowly moved up and away. As I

filled with free, local beer and I couldn’t spend a quiet

neared the edge of my Sport2’s ability to make the glide

minute at my car camp without being approached about

back to the airport to relight if I needed to, I was faced

the evening’s adventures to be had. Competitions are a

with a decision. I could leave the start cylinder low and

magical place, where kid-grown-ups take a whole week

risk barely making any distance or I could turn around,

off to participate in one of the most freeing sports in the

relaunch and try again. As I watched the gliders above

world. Not a bad place to be having a breakdown.

me make upward progress I decided to leave low and

On day 5, I hit a new low point. I woke up totally discouraged. I avoided friends and hid how upset I was behind my sunglasses. It felt like a chore to set up my glider. The clouds weren’t looking good, and a front was

work the cruddy lift with everyone else. Who cares how poorly I did anyway? As the only pilot down low, I could find the core of the thermal without needing to accommodate or push

moving in from the west. I was less than stoked. The task

past other gliders. Suddenly I hit a sweet spot, dropped

was a short 39 km to the north northeast, but I no longer

a wing low and began an unbelievable upward spiral. It

believed in my abilities or the conditions, so I left behind

wasn’t the most impressive thermal core in the world,

my second warm layer and water bladder and firmly de-

but dammit, I was in it, I was going up and I made it to the



ABOVE Women with Wings at Midwest 2017, all crushing

I saw the front of the pack in a better thermal ahead and

on our Wills Wing flying machines. L to R: Linda Salamone, Majo Majors, Jamie Sheldon, Sara Weaver, Makbule Baldik, and Tiki Mashy. Photo by David Aldrich.

made it to the top of the thermal with Richard Milla and

top. I was above the gaggle, nonplussed but still certain

so nervous. Final glide was above forests, a huge lake and

I’d mess it up and deck it. I considered my options. I was a

a residential area just before the airstrip we were going

joined them. Miraculously, I was able to core out again and swiftly Knut Ryerson. My vario said I had goal on glide but I was

Sport2 in a sea of U2s. If I went on glide and no one came

to land at. If I came up short, finding a landable area

with me, I’d have a hard time finding another thermal on

would be ridiculously difficult. My gut told me to go for

my own. I wanted to fly alongside other pilots so we could

it. The weather front was encroaching from the west and

look for lift together. The thermal we were in had obvi-

I knew we’d be shut down at any moment. It was just me

ously gotten weaker since we’d topped out, so I made the

and my Sport2, chugging out ahead, knowing the U2s and

decision to leave.

Discuses weren’t far behind. I wanted to stay in front so

Thankfully, several pilots came with, passed me, and started looking for thermals out front. I was able to shuf-

The line I chose was riddled with 500 ft/min down but I

fle behind in my little Sporty and pick the best line with

kept trucking. Halfway to the airstrip I realized that most

the least sink, since I could see how everyone else was

of the other pilots had found a thermal behind me to the

doing ahead of me. I chose to stay farther west than most

east and were all gaining plenty of altitude to guarantee

of the pack, and we were all nervously watching the front

their arrival into goal. It was extremely likely that I was

coming from that direction, clouds shading the ground

going to pull up just short and fail again.

beneath and shutting off the thermals. I hit a broken



But then, in one of the most fun moments of my hang

intermediate thermal and John Blank and I stopped and

gliding life so far, Knut snuck up just to my right and we

did a few circles in it. I made up a few hundred feet before

were neck and neck, racing to the finish 30 feet away


from each other. I instinctively pulled in but couldn’t fly

comp. My secondary goal was to place in the top ten out

as fast as Knut’s Discus without losing too much altitude.

of 21 pilots in the sport class.

I eased up and he finished ahead. Another glider was already on the ground in goal. At 400 feet, I tagged the

I accomplished my second goal, but at what point did making the top ten become more important than being

cylinder and let out a big yell. To top it off, I even had a

happy? I rode the emotional roller coaster hard that

beautiful landing. What the H had been wrong with me

week. I went from hyped to angry to depressed then

all week?!

joyful and wrapped it up with the greatest embarrass-

When the results came in, I was astonished—I was just five seconds behind the day-winner Kelly Myrkle. Knut

ment of my career. Fortunately, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without

was a mere 16 seconds behind me. Talk about a close

Midwest 2017 and all its ups and downs. Since then I’ve

race! It was absolutely the most fun I’d had all week. In

focused less on winning and more on goal #1: BE HAPPY.

typical Sara form, I overreacted with happiness and was

That’s why I’m here. That’s why we do what we do.

wide-face grinning into the next day. I blindly reveled in the idea that all my problems were solved. Our final task took us 54 km southeast. After a slow start and a lowish save I enjoyed a cloud-tastic jaunt

My perspective on competitive hang gliding is all about finding balance. It’s about how to win and lose gracefully. It’s about the fun and the stress, the hard decisions and the little victories. It’s about the friends around the

downwind. At one point I was thermaling right along,

firepit and happiness found under metal and fabric. The

banked up and thinking I was the baddest babe in the

community is so obviously at its strongest and most sup-

bunch, when a pilot entered the thermal below me, casu-

portive, ironically, when we’re pitted against each other.

ally climbed past and took off ahead. He was there and

What I know for sure? I love besting the roller coaster, I

gone in minutes and I could feel the laser focus radiating

love learning from the pilots who are reading this and

from his wing. I don’t know much, but I know I want to be

saying, “Been there, done that,” and I love the challenge

that guy when I grow up.

ahead figuring out how to keep it together and keep it

I arrived at goal with plenty of height, a far cry from the


stressful low entry from the day before. Totally psyched, I did a bunch of wingovers to lose the extra altitude. It turned out to be the worst decision of my career to date.

Follow my dive into competition hang gliding on Instagram: @sweaverflies.

I should have been paying more attention to the pilots landing before me and to the wind ripples in a few nearby ponds. I should have used my extra altitude to confidently plan and execute my landing. The surface wind was blowing in the exact opposite direction than the wind up top. I still cringe every time I think about it, even a year later. I celebrated myself into a downwind crash in a rough field and completely turtled. After righting myself and waving “I’m OK!” at the pilots desperately running toward me, I assessed the damage. My left arm showed signs of a nearly missed spiral fracture, the injury most signature to the sport of hang gliding. That was it. I made the exact wrong decisions, and I’d made it out with noththat’ll stick with me the most from that week: always, always, always stay focused. I still think I don’t deserve goal until I can keep my head on straight. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself to perform well at Midwest 2017. After all, I was completely new to competitions and knew the atmosphere would be stressful. I knew it would be difficult not to be swept into the chaos, so I set a specific goal to stay happy during the


ing but a sore wrist and a dusty glider. This is the lesson

The Great

American Classic

2018 Pre-PWC/US Open/Canadian Paragliding Nationals




niquely positioned like some

Nationals’ most popular home (eight

Paragliding prepared for the return

mighty petrified Colossus

times), and as North America’s most

of the World Cup circuit to the United

between the serpentine

legendary competition venue. This

States and Chelan in 2019. In a sure

course of the fast-flowing Columbia

reputation became internationally

sign of the resurgence in interest in

River and the broad and idyllic

recognized in 2010 when Chelan was

paraglider racing in the USA over the

waters of Lake Chelan, the sheer bulk

chosen as the site of the USA’s first-

past few years, conscription for the

of its mountainous nature dividing

ever Paragliding World Cup, and then

130-pilot event was filled in 36 hours, with nearly half the field flying

the hundreds of cultivated square

became further immortalized in the

miles of the flat eastern-Washington

2016 US Open, when the 300 Peaks

two-liners. As is traditional with US

desert from the long chains of snowy

organization retook (from Australia)

Opens in Chelan, along with attract-

peaks in the Cascades to the west,

the record for the longest competi-

ing legendary American names like

Chelan Butte is both the crucible of

tion task ever flown, with a 136-mile

Nate Scales, Bill Belcourt, and Marty

North American paraglider racing,

(218km) race-to-goal that over 70

DeVietti out of retirement, a number

and its most important site. Since the

pilots completed.

of top foreign PWC pilots also attend-

first US Paragliding Nationals were


Chosen to host both the US

ed. The participation of these “wild-

held there in 1995, the combination

Paragliding Open and the Canadian

card” pilots along with the majority

of generally flyable weather and

Nationals again in 2018, this year

of the top North American competi-

iconic flat-land flying has estab-

was also a Pre-PWC as Matt Senior

tors greatly added to the flavor of the

lished Chelan Butte both as the US

and his organization at 300 Peaks

event, and none more so than the


presence of the Swiss pilot Michael

in above us from their line in the

11,000 feet, and then actually did lead

Sigel, the reining PWC champion

mountains, with Sigel then arriving

start-to-finish all by himself, while

who was instantly the overwhelming

first into goal, followed by the red-hot

the rest of the field struggled along

favorite to win the event.

Russian pilot Dmitry Korolev, and

mightily far below on the course line

another long-time Swiss PWC pilot,

(and the wrong side of the river, as it

While Chelan is best known for its flat-land flying, meet organizer

Urs Schoenauer, tying for third with

turned out) on a windy and tricky day.

Matt Senior and his main task-

the world-distance-record holder,

Over the last 30 km, the pack behind

setter, Owen Shoemaker, earned a

Donizete Lemos from Brazil.

De Bruin tried to reel him in, but his

reputation in the 2016 US Open for

In an early indication of how

fairy-tale race prevailed as he beat

imagining innovative tasks that

competitive this US Open would be,

Mickey Sigel by 30 seconds, closely

incorporated the wide variety of

in Task 1 the first 10 pilots all ar-

followed by the 2010 PWC winner

mountainous terrain in the area. In a

rived in goal within forty seconds

and two-time US national champion

taste for what the world’s best pilots

of the leader, and the next 10 in the

Josh Cohn, Donizete Lemos, and two

can expect at the Paragliding World

next five minutes. Task 2 would be a

more former US champions, Brad

Cup next year, this philosophy was

very different story, however, when

Gunnuscio and Nick Greece, who

on full display for the first two tasks

the South African pilot Theunis De

were engaged in a tight battle for

of 2018, first with a 96km race-to-goal

Bruin slipped across the Colombia

the overall US Championship after

deep into the Cascades to the town of

River to the rim of the flatlands

the recent Applegate Open in Ruch,

Mazama that was an instant classic,

unnoticed before the start, and as

Oregon. (The US National Champion

and then the next day, an 130km epic

in every competition pilot’s fantasy,

would be decided from the com-

that sent the field zig-zagging across

caught the thermal-of-the-week to

bined result of the two US competi-

the Columbia along a number of possible routes to the town of Oroville, a mere five km from the Canadian border! From the very start of Task 1, “Sweet Mickey” Sigel lived up to his speedy reputation by attempting to lead from start-to-finish, his lonely blue Gin Boomerang 11 seemingly pulling a pack of more than a dozen snapping Ozone’s through the heavily wooded mountains up to Mazama hard on his heels; however, one of the American X-Alps pilots, Mitch Riley, (all three of the USA’s X-Alps most recent athletes were competing: Riley, Gavin McClurg and Jesse Williams—while the French X-Alps star Nelson de Freyman was forced to withdraw after suffering an accident on the practice day), Owen Shoemaker, and myself had quietly broken away on the other side of the valley, and managed to arrive first to the last turnpoint. As we struggled to climb the few hundred feet needed to glide in to goal and a 1-2-3 finish, as happens so often in paraglider racing, the merciless main gaggle came

ABOVE Michael Sigel, the Paragliding World Cup Superfinal winner in 2018,

flying above Mazama, WA. OPPOSITE Watching Violeta Jimenez getting ready to fly to goal on a day that was called off.



LEFT Hiding from the sun and waiting for briefing. RIGHT Eric Reed took over as launch director and did a fine job.

tions). The pair were greatly aided

and the race turned into a survival

task started; the 130 competitors

on the first day when Mitch Riley,

test. Only eight pilots made goal, with

were then forced with the choice of

the 2016 US Champion and their

Eric Ams, (one of a pack of promis-

either staying to try and gain altitude

closest competition for the National

ing newer US competition pilots that

in the weak and broken lift; return-

Championship, landed 300 meters

includes Riley, Henzi, Evan Bouchier,

ing a few kms to the Butte to gain

short of goal on Task One after being

and Reavis Sutphin-Gray), winning

altitude and a guaranteed late start;

overtaken by the main gaggle, and

the day from Donizete Lemos and

or plunging onwards over a series

then again on Task 2, when Riley

Nick Greece. Mitch Riley bounced

of small canyons towards the first

went down before the start on a day

back from his bad start to the week

turnpoint in hope of a thermal. Once

when over 60 pilots made goal.

with a fourth-place finish, followed

the more confident pilots elected

by Bill Belcourt, and then Gunnuscio.

on the last option, a great number

This task was also memorable for a

of pilots followed them, and when

Task 3 arrived windy and with an uncertain forecast for the week ahead, while the 300 Peaks orga-

rather wild reserve ride by the world-

very little lift became evident on the

nization were forced to deal with

class climber and recently addicted

way to the turnpoint, the lee-sides of

the unexpected departure of Matt

paraglider pilot Cedar Wright, who

these shallow canyons soon became

Senior due to sudden health issues.

after managing to take a selfie on his

a vicious battlefield that resulted in

Eric Reed (the race director of the

ride down, ended up hanging high

quick endings for a number of the

Applegate Open and two-times US

on a water tank, and had to utilize

top-ranked pilots, including the 2017

National Champion) ably stepped in

his considerable climbing skills to

US champion Michal Hammel, Urs

as race director, but strengthening

get himself the rest of the way to the

Schoenauer, Josh Cohn, and the com-

winds on launch led to the cancella-


petition leader, Donizete Lemos.

tion of the task on what might have

In the ever-fickle nature of para-

Task 5 will probably become infa-

glider racing, those pilots who managed to make it through the

had things been a little less tumultu-

mous in the annals of US paragliding

ous. A number of pilots elected to

racing history, if only for the carnage

mine-field of the first turn-point

free fly on this epic cloud-studded

they caused to the final rankings. A

and then back to Chelan Butte were

day on the flats, with Donizete Lemos,

large cylinder west of Chelan Butte

rewarded by being boosted to up-

Mitch Riley, and the irrepressible

resulted in weak conditions at the

wards of 10,000 feet. After the highest

Matt Henzi team-flying to Idaho.

optimum point for the start as the

crossing of the Colombia River all

Task 4 was a 108km race-to-goal to Saddle Mountain to the south, with a difficult start on the flats, followed by a fast run in strong conditions to around the 70km mark, where the desert then turned to green fields


The start and finish of the 97km

been another record-breaking day


“The start and finish of the 97km Task 5 will probably become infamous in the annals of US paragliding racing history, if only for the carnage they caused to the final rankings.�

ABOVE Nick Greece over goal near the Candian border. The lead gaggle averaged 51 km/hr over a 110km task hitting

over 100 km/hr on a 38km final glide to goal | photo by Michael Sigel.

turned up at the goal-field even

week, the final two turnpoints of the

Anderson—coming up mere meters

task were set out on the flats in clas-

short of the goal line. Chaos thus

though he had bombed in the

sic Chelan conditions, with plenty of

reigned supreme in Task 5, with

carnage before the first turn point

+7m/s climbs, clouds, and the mighty,

Mitch Riley making the most of it by

and undoubtedly thought he was no longer leading the competition.

almost psychedelic, dust devils that

wining the day, from Matt Henzi in

define this unique flat-land flying

second place. The almost inhuman

However due to the wonders of FTV

experience. It was full-bar racing

competition between Nick Greece

scoring, 25% of the score is subtract-

at its finest, seemingly textbook

and Brad Gunnuscio continued,

ed each day which effectively means

in nature, but Task 5 still had one

however, with both pilots refusing to

that after four tasks, a pilot’s worst

trick up its sleeve yet, for as the lead

make a mistake and coming in third

task can be discarded. Thus when

gaggle made the final turnpoint, and

and fourth respectively, and along

FTV was applied, Donizete was still in

went on a short into-the-wind glide

with Bill Belcourt—who won the US

the lead from Nick Greece by a mere

to goal at the town of Mansfield, they

Nationals in Chelan in 2005—were

five points, with Brad Gunnuscio only

encountered over -8m/s sink, with

the only three pilots out of 130 to

50 points behind him, and Josh Cohn

some pilots—including Mickey Sigel

make goal on all four days.

and Mickey Sigel still in the hunt.

and the 2016 US Champion Jared

In an act of sheer class, Donizete

After five days of racing, and with



ABOVE Getting in the start gaggle over Chelan butte is always exciting.

two tasks still to go, the competition

the unruly conditions bringing a

time winners, David Bridges, Josh

was thus set for an epic fight-to-the

premature end to one of the most

Cohn, Dean Stanton, Len Szafaryn,

finish between three of the USA’s

entertaining battles in US Open his-

and Eric Reed). Mitch Riley (Ozone

three most experienced competitors,

tory, and delivering one of the most

Enzo 3), proving that you’re never out

(one of) the world-record distance

popular victories to Donizete Lemos

of the game in paragliding, pulled

holder, and the reining PWC cham-

(Ozone Enzo 3), whose tremendous

himself back into third place in the


speed all week made him a worthy

combined USA standings on the

Overall Champion. Nick Greece

strength of his final two tasks, while

somewhat failed us when the final

(Ozone Enzo 3) and Brad Gunnuscio

Patricia Garcia de Letona of Mexico

two days were cancelled due to high

(Ozone Enzo 3) rounded out the

(Ozone Zeno) won the Women’s title

winds on launch. With only four

podium, and during one of the more

from Bianca Heinrich (Niviuk Peak 4),

tasks flown (the least ever in a US

entertaining prize-givings in recent

and Lindsay Matush coming in third

Nationals at Chelan), the 2018 US

memory, Greece was crowned the

(Advance Sigma 10). The Canadian

Open thus ended with something

US National Champion for the 2nd

Championships were won handily

of a whimper rather than a bang,

time, (joining the list of other two-

by J. P. Vandenbegine (Ozone Enzo 3)

Alas, however, for this time Chelan



LEFT L to R: Nick Greece, Donizete Lemos, Brad Gunnuscio. RIGHT Nick Greece on glide early on day 3 over the flats.

who finished a very credible seventh overall. Bill Belcourt (Ozone Zeno), in 9th place, was the first pilot on a production (D-class) glider, while Dustin Pachura won the US Open Sport Class on a Triple Seven Queen 2. For the 2018 US Open, Chelan gave us a taste of what it is capable of, with some of the highest-level paraglider racing seen in North America in the last decade. An irresistible mix of perennial legends and new

US OPEN/PRE-PWC OVERALL Donizete Lemos (BR) Ozone Enzo 3 Nick Greece (USA) Ozone Enzo 3 Brad Gunnuscio (USA) Ozone Enzo 3 US OPEN WOMEN Patricia de Letona (MEX) Ozone Zeno Bianca Heinrich (USA) Ozone Zeno Lindsay Matush (USA) Advance Sigma 10 US OPEN SPORT CLASS Dustin Pachura (Triple 7 Queen 2)

heroes, this year offered a tantaliz-

Mike Lester (Skywalk Chilli 4)

ing glimpse of what will be on show

Martin Machacek (UP Trango XC3)

in 2019, when the very best in the world come to race in the World Cup against the seemingly reinvigorated pool of top-class American pilots. Congratulation to all the champions, and to all the pilots who competed, with many thanks to Eric Reed for his fine job as meet director, and congratulations to Matt Senior, Graham Saunders-Griffiths, Roger Brock, Scott MacLeod, and the entire organization at 300 Peaks for a safe and well-run event. See you all in Chelan next year, for what promises to be one of the biggest events in US paragliding history!

CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS J. P. Robert Vandenbegine (Ozone Enzo 3) Andrew Berkely (Ozone Zeno) Christian Grenier (Gin GTO2) US PARAGLIDING CHAMPIONSHIPS (APPLEGATE + CHELAN) Nick Greece (Enzo 3) Brad Gunnuscio (Enzo 3) Mitch Riley (Enzo 3) US PARAGLIDING WOMEN Bianca Heinrich (Niviuk Peak 4) Lisa Dickinson (Ozone Delta 2) Krista Auchenbach (UP Trango XC)




CALENDAR clinics & tours


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

- Rates start at $10.00 for 200 characters. MINIMUM AD CHARGE $10.00. ALL CLASSIFIEDS ARE PREPAID. No refunds will be given on ads cancelled that are scheduled to run multiple months. For more info, visit magazine-classified-advertising HANG GLIDING ADVISORY: Used

hang gliders should always be disassembled before flying for the first time and inspected carefully for fatigued, bent or dented downtubes, ruined bushings, bent bolts (especially the heart bolt), reused Nyloc nuts, loose thimbles, frayed or rusted cables, tangs with non-circular holes, and on flex wings, sails badly torn or torn loose from their anchor points front and back on the keel and leading edges. PARAGLIDING ADVISORY: Used

paragliders should always be thoroughly inspected before flying for the first time. Annual inspections on paragliders should include sailcloth strength tests. Simply performing a porosity check isn’t sufficient. Some gliders pass porosity yet have very weak sailcloth.

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., or (917) 698-4485.

SEP 30, 5-8pm > Free-flight Film Festival - Tucson, AZ (Southern Arizona HGA) Open to the public and all ages at Cans Deli (340 N 4th Ave, Tucson) Sept. 30 from 5-8pm. There will be free-flight information, films, and a raffle for a variety of prizes. Come meet local pilots and get insight into flying the desert. More info:,

SANCTIONED EVENTS 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

‚SANCTION REVOKED FEBRUARY, 2018‚ Whitwell and Henson’s Gap, Dunlap, TN. East Coast National Paragliding Competition. Eastern US Cup.



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

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


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



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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.

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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,




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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.



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Philippe Renaudin Peter Clifford Humes David John Hebert Jesse L. Meyer Jesse L. Meyer Jesse L. Meyer Klaus Schlueter Ron Peck Chris W. Santacroce Jesse L. Meyer Hadi Golian Rob Sporrer Marcello M. DeBarros Lane B. Lamoreaux Kay Tauscher Bill D. Soderquist Lane B. Lamoreaux Gregory Kelley Lane B. Lamoreaux Etienne Pienaar Bill D. Soderquist Dale Covington Jonathan Jefferies Stephen J. Mayer Rob Sporrer Gregory Kelley Hal Franklin Ryan J. Taylor Jerome Daoust Lane B. Lamoreaux Andy Macrae Gabriel Jebb Chris W. Santacroce Hadley Robinson Calef Letorney Davidson Da-Silva Peter J. Van-Oevelen Thomas McCormick Thomas McCormick Chris W. Santacroce Marc Chirico Kelly A. Kellar Hadley Robinson Thomas McCormick David John Hebert Chris W. Santacroce Jeffrey J. Greenbaum Jesse L. Meyer Jesse L. Meyer Kimberly Phinney Jerome Daoust Jonathan Jefferies Pete Michelmore Justin White Etienne Pienaar Peter Hammett Derek Goldman Joshua Winstead Marc Noel Radloff Peter Clifford Humes Jaro Krupa Davidson Da-Silva Peter Williams Thomas McCormick

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Hang Gliding & Paragliding (through April 30, 2018) USHPA Pilot (as of May 1, 2018)

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Bombing Out with

Name: Michel Hammel. age: 43, but

Michel Hammel aka "Kansas"


in Owens around 2008. First

to kill a lamb, start the festivity and

I thought  I’d lost my hearing

get married. Thermal turn direction:

because of hypoxia, but then I

hometowns: Bratislava,

frequency range, with climb +10 m/s. 

Graz, Kansas City, Berkeley. years

Three items you won’t fly without: My

Left or right? Right for sure. Reverse launch turn direction: Left or right? Right. Romantic partner who flies or a partner who doesn't fly? My

flying: 20 (on and off). current kit/ kits: Ozone Enzo 3 / Exoceat and Gin Bolero XS. favorite color:  Color of the ocean. Longest Retrieve: For sure

daughter’s stuffed animal, my glider,

wife Teresa was a paragliding pilot,

and harness. Weirdest thing you’ve

too. The picture of her flying still hangs

ever seen while flying: At the PWC

in the living room. Hope we will do

Superfinal in Monarca, when two huge

some tandems in future. Do you play

any musical instruments? Harp. How many sisters do you have? I have one sister back in Slovakia. Are you more artistic or scientific? I’m working in

my daughter says 33.

realized my vario went out of the

from St. John +200km from Chelan on

gaggles of 50 pilots each, while turning

July 12th, during US Nationals.  Where

in opposite directions started to con-

and/or who inspired you to pursue the sport? Learning to fly in Pinzgau,

mid-airs, but still, nobody wanted

verge, and nobody got hurt. We got few

Austria, with the smell of fresh-

to give up.  Competition mindset

Berkeley Lab as a scientist, so I’m more

cut grass. For sure, the smell, is

on steroids. Weirdest place you've

artistic in my life. Basically, I have a

what got me addicted to the paraglid-

landed: It was probably my fifth flight

very different type of flying from my

ing. What was your favorite paraglid-

when I decided to learn to fly on my

Bay Area wingman, Josh Cohn, but we

er/hang glider of all time? Icepeak

own. I landed on a blooming apple tree

still manage to fly together. Have you

6; After flying Boomerang 8, I discov-

in a Slovakian village, surrounded by

ever thrown your reserve in anger?

ered again that paragliding is fun. The

the villagers hanging onto the apple

I threw my reserve twice and twice

irony is that Boomerang 8, not Icepeak

tree. A nice old lady brought a saw

it saved my life. There is no time for

6, is hanging over my bed as a decora-

to help me out. What is your power

anger. How many countries have you

tion. Do you have any pre-launch rituals?  Taking few minutes meditation

flown in? A lot, more than 10. Gaggle flying or solo flying? Gaggle. Pushups or sit ups? Neither. Acro or XC? XC. Tandem to learn or just send it?

and it may be pretty hectic at the take-

animal? Gecko Three words to describe Free Flight: Beep, beep, beep. If you could assemble a dream team of pilots to fly with who would it be? I prefer US community and we, for

off? What is your favorite in-flight

sure, have some good ones. We can go

snack? Banana, banana, banana. What song best describes your flying style? I think every minute that I’m

now to list all top US pilots, but I will

in the air can be described with a

Greece, Nate Scales, Jared Anderson,

and break from the crowd. Did I tell you that I have only time to fly competitions

select those that are closest to me and fun to hang out with. Josh Cohn, Nick

different song. What is your favorite

and Andy Macrae. That would be a fun

feet-on-the ground activity? Surfing,

dream team with the potential to be in

it is not on the ground but it’s closer

top ten. Best bombout: PWC in India. I

to the ground than paragliding. Most

bombed-out on the task but got treat-

memorable thermal: Boundary Peak

ed like a  hero from the locals, offering





Send it.

The Wisp is an ultra-light tandem, perfect for mountain hike & fly adventures. It is fun, agile, and easy-to-use, with the weight and pack volume of a solo wing. With an incredibly easy launch, enjoyable handling, and performance for XC flying, the Wisp is the perfect tool to share travel adventures and mountains with your friends.

Pilots: Dave Turner & Cherise Tuttle Photo: Cody Tuttle Location: Eastern Sierra, CA USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE


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USHPA Pilot Vol48-Iss6 Sep-Oct 2018  

Official USHPA magazine.

USHPA Pilot Vol48-Iss6 Sep-Oct 2018  

Official USHPA magazine.