Page 1


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2019 Volume 49 Issue 1 $6.95


At Ozone we know that light is right. On your back, on the road, and in the air, light equipment means life improvement. With ďŹ fteen years of lightweight paraglider R&D, Ozone offers top of class light gear in every category.



= The World's Lightest CertiďŹ ed Flying System Pilot: Malcolm Wood Photo: Cody Tuttle Location: Base of Mount Lhotse, Nepal.


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 Mark Forbes Steve Rodrigues Greg Kelley Felipe Amunátegui Mitch Shipley

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.

Randall Shane Vice President Ken Andrews 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

2019 Martin Palmaz, Publisher

Greg Gillam, Art Director

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

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



nother year has ticked by. For those in aviation,

geriatrics gets after it. Annette O’Neil’s piece highlights

that hopefully means more hours in the sky, and

another college flying program that began at Virginia Tech

another building block or two for us to climb on in

and recently received a boost from the Foundation for Free

our practices toward becoming increasingly birdlike. Last month a viral video sent shockwaves through the free-flight world when Chris Gursky launched with his

Cherise Tuttle checks in on what it's like to fly tandem

instructor for an educational tandem flight in Switzerland.

with her husband when both of them are rated pilots, and

His instructor had forgotten to hook him in, and the three-

Tiki Mashy dives into a very important topic that affects

minute video of Mr. Gursky holding on for dear life as the

many women on the hill—mansplaining. It is a tough issue

instructor maneuvered to the best landing field he could

and usually gets someone’s hackles up, but my thought is,

reach has been viewed tens of millions of times. Human

if you are offended by this piece, you might be “that guy.”

error is endemic in our sports and is responsible, in one

C.J. Sturtevant introduces the 2018 USHPA award win-

way or another, for 100% of aviation accidents. What can

ners, the best and the brightest of our flying family. John

we do to mitigate this? Checklists, ritualized behaviors,

Harris, who received the 2018 Presidential Citation, will be

fail-safes, and community education are a few ideas that

featured in a full-length article in the next issue.

may help. In this case the outcome was positive, and the

Sara Weaver’s piece on racing Sport Class at the Santa

world was amazed at the ability of this normal man to

Cruz Flats Race showcases Sport Class competition as a

perform an extraordinary feat of strength.

pure pursuit where racers must utilize their minds much

Many have suggested that this video is bad for the sport, and the press received was negative. The fact is, Mr. Gursky commented in every interview that he couldn’t

more than their equipment to get ahead—in a lot of ways, for a lot of pilots, a much more difficult proposition. As the 2019 flying season kicks in I am going to chal-

wait to go back up and fly —this time, properly hooked in.

lenge myself, and all of the USHPA membership, to work

This is the story to me. Faced with a life-changing experi-

on our preflight checklists and perform a thorough safety

ence, his take-home was, “Man, I wish I actually got to

check before every flight. It takes at least 30 days to form

fly properly.” That is something we can all relate to, and

a new habit, so how about we all try to perfect our check-

definitely what I point out when confronted by non-flying

list before every flight for 2019? Let’s see if we can create

friends about the video.

a new habit that will benefit each of us for the rest of our

The January/February Pilot is a diverse issue that has been fun to put together. We have a piece from Susan Kent on an aging flying population and how this great group of


Flight to keep its doors open; students at the University receive free training to learn to fly hang gliders.


aviation careers.


CODY TUTTLE COVER Mont Blanc, Chamonix, France

Copyright ©2018 US 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.







THERMALS Honza Rejmanek








WHY FLY? Nik Hawkes




CROAK and CLUCK Harry Martin






Tandem Dates Play Together, Stay Together


Senior Class



Aging, Flying, and Performance SUSAN KENT

Sport Class 2018 Santa Cruz Flats Race


Virginia Tech



Hang Gliding Club ANNETTE O'NEIL



BRIEFINGS RECCO REFLECTORS Few life-saving products make as much sense and are so simple as a RECCO reflector. These

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

Spring Board Meeting March 7-9, 2019 Board of Directors Meeting at the American

Mountaineering Center Golden, Colorado

reflectors and their associated technology have been around since 1973 and were developed by Swedish inventor Magnus Granhed, who was inspired by the need to find and rescue skiers buried by avalanches. Over time, as RECCO’s designs have evolved and

ACRO 4 by SupAir SupAir has released

detectors have gotten lighter and more

the newest version of their ever-popular

powerful, the ever-smaller reflectors

Acro harness—the Acro 4. The geom-

have proliferated, and can now be

etry of the harness derives from the

found embedded in ski boots, jackets,

ACRO3, the reference in the ACRO

shoes and a variety of other outdoor

world. Highly precise steering and


mono block comfort were the design

RECCO’s reflectors can be applied

on end of flying and running with the

requiring no batteries or activation. A

ACRO3 led Théo de Blic, Tim Rohas,

RECCO detector sends out a search

Raul Rodriguez and the SUPAIR design-

signal; the reflector bounces back a di-

ers to overhaul the entire structure

rectional signal that directs the rescuer

of the harness. The parachute pock-

straight to the reflector.

ets have overlapping flaps offering

Many pilots already use technology

parachute handles fit into the harness,

tate rescue. But given the low cost of in-

are easy to grab, and are highly vis-

dividual reflectors and the proliferation

ible. More info:

rescue organizations in the USA have

Delight 3 by SupAir The Delight 3 is a

RECCO detectors on hand—it’s worth

light cross-country harness designed

seriously thinking about integrating the

for pilots who want minimal weight,

RECCO system into your flight plans. While Skywalk Harnesses are the

high passive safety and comfort. Its design was based on the successful

first and only paragliding brand to

Delight 2 before substantially improving

feature RECCO in their products, stand-

dorsal support, overall safety and pos-

alone RECCO reflectors are inexpensive

sible accessories. More info: gradient-

and easy to apply to helmets and other

gear, providing another layer of searchability for lost, injured or downed pilots. This year’s Red Bull X-Alps is requiring RECCO to be used by all participants. Details: $30 (approximately) single reflectors can be purchased directly online at


an excellent container closing. Both

for emergency assistance and to facili-

of receivers—nearly 100 search-and-


criteria according to SupAir. Hours

to any hard surface and work passively,

Gradient R&D team put all their knowledge and experience into trimming this new entry-level glider so it could provide every pilot the opportunity to learn and train acro safely. Pilots these days tend to move straight to a freestyle or acro wing to start learning acro. This can waste time and compromise safety in the progression. Now Gradient has an entry-level acro wing for learning wingovers, stalls, deep stalls, and also more technical tricks like helicos and

NOVA VENTUS According to NOVA, the

tumbles. The Xstyle has a precise but

FLOW YOTI2 Flow Paragliders, a new-

Ventus is a modern all-round paraglid-

still long brake range, a custom-de-

comer on the paragliding scene, has

ing harness with many well-thought-out

signed brake setting to facilitate easier

released its notes on their new Yoti2.

details and, above all, high levels of

and more stable helicos, and a huge

They state, “The Yoti2 is a mini para-

passive safety. In addition to a classic

passive safety during the collapses

glider designed for the most demand-

foam protector, there is a viscoelastic

and shooting recoveries that student

ing and challenging air. Its compact

back protector. The ergonomic para-

acro pilots often encounter. More info:

handling and playful characteristics will

chute container enables a particularly

reliable deployment. NOVA confirmed

make you feel comfortable soaring in strong winds above cliffs on the coast

this with intensive in-house tests, which

Gradient BiGolden4 For the

or launching from tricky mountaintops

well surpassed the industry standard

Gradient development team, design-

after a good hike. The shark-nose pro-

test procedures. Its sporty look, com-

ing a new tandem glider is not only a

file and tensioning have been carefully

fort, the ergonomic seat geometry,

great pleasure but also a great chal-

engineered to provide the best com-

and its small packing volume make the

lenge following the BiGolden3. In the

bination of collapse resistance, pitch

Ventus a great all-round harness choice

case of the BiGolden4, the Gradient

stability and comfort in flight.” More

for non-pod-oriented pilots. They also

team worked for eight months with


claim that it’s suitable for a wide range

six different prototypes, in all condi-

of uses, from ground handling, to the

tions. According to Gradient, this new


training slope, thermal flying, or even

tandem has increased performance,

new top-range pod harness designed

long XC flights.

stability, max speed, and passive safety.

for competition and cross-country

The BiGolden4 is the lightest tandem

paragliding pilots, who require comfort,

glider ever produced by Gradient. It

safety and minimal aerodynamic drag.

Xstyle was to create a glider that every

has the Skytex Everlast leading edge

According to Nearbirds, the harness is a

pilot could fly safely, and still have

to improve the lifespan of the wing

result of two years of research, testing

the energy needed to perform aero-

for commercial operation. More info:

and experimentation. More info: www.

batic/acro tricks. Theo de Blic and the

Gradient Xstyle The focus on the



ASSOCIATION Intelligent Growth

by MARTIN PALMAZ, Executive Director the October board meeting, I at-

hopefully will soon include hang

tended the annual conference of the

gliding and paragliding, serve as

Association of Outdoor Recreation

an essential bridge between mili-

and Education. There, I made some

tary and civilian life. Further, the

valuable connections in the outdoor

adaptive capabilities of our sports,

recreation arena. While I had some

particularly hang gliding, allow

interest from individual collegiate

free-flight to invite an even broader

programs, my main objective was

scope of ex-military participants.

to connect with military recreation programs at this event, which was attended by approximately 60

programs. Co-creating a program

representatives from a majority of

will require time and effort from

military bases around the US and

both sides. That said, with the internal support that’s already building,

Dear Membership: With the dawn

abroad. I had the opportunity to

of 2019 breaking over our launches,

speak at the end of their working

alongside the resources we’re being

the USHPA office staff has been

session and to pitch free-flight to the

offered to navigate the military en-

getting into the spirit of renewal

group. Several representatives came

vironment, I believe there is decent

that marks this season. As the new

up immediately afterward, express-

potential for creating programs

processes and paperwork slowly

ing keen interest in kick-starting a

at locations where we have the

become more routine, we’ve been

local program. One attending army

instructor resources to support the

able to put our resources toward

representative (a paraglider pilot

effort. During my upcoming trip to

other projects. Our next goal is

himself) also came to me with an

DC for meetings with the FAA and

clear: intelligent growth. As with

offer to help us establish a national

NAA, I also plan to meet with the

nearly everything else in our sports,

free-flight program from within the

Office of Veterans Affairs to ex-

there are many different possible

military programs.

plore grant programs that have the

approaches to reach this objective.

The feedback I received at that

potential of funding training for the veteran community.

To help illustrate our work so far,

meeting confirmed our thought that

I’d like to tell you a bit about how I

the intensity of our sports makes

spent the last few months of 2018.

them an excellent match for our

new source of pilot growth from a

military members. Several times,

community already accustomed to

A portion of our members count


The military, of course, follows a very specific method to engage new

It’s easy to get excited about this

themselves either active-duty

these representatives pointed out

activities that require a high degree

service members or veterans of

that since many returning combat

of training. As we begin to get a

the Armed Forces. We honor those

personnel have trouble adapting

better sense of needs and structure,

members, and we’re pushing

to civilian life, the army has estab-

I will reach out to you with updates

hard to invite more military and

lished programs to introduce activi-

and possible requests for support.

ex-military folks into the sky. To

ties that substitute for the intensity

that end, immediately following

of combat. These activities, which


The “intelligent growth” that stands as the meta-goal of our cur-

rent efforts will also entail more

is whether or not USHPA restruc-

direct engagement with the mem-

tures its board of directors. The

bership. To that end, you can expect

Strategic Planning committee has

there to be a very different, consid-

gone to great lengths to develop and

erably more emphatic approach in

incorporate your feedback into a

our outreach—and for our commit-

proposal that outlines this potential

tees developing policy to consist of

reorganization. The membership

members far beyond the Directors.

will begin to receive postcards and

We will seek a much broader scope

emails with voting information in

of feedback, input, expertise and

early January, and the vote on the

knowledge in that process, in-

governance proposal will be open

volving chapters, administrators,

until late February. We ask all mem-

instructors and pilots in a collabora-

bers to read the proposal (available

tive environment.

on our website) so you can make an

We’re in the exploration and plan-

informed decision about the direc-

ning stages for what these meet-

tion of your organization. USHPA

ings will look like, but it won’t be

has seen challenge after consider-

a group of people sitting around a

able challenge in the last seasons,

table. Instead, we’re thinking more

and we will certainly continue to

along the lines of fly-ins, presenta-

face more unforeseen obstacles

tions, and activities around various

ahead. Having a board and commit-

themes and topics that are of broad-

tee structure that can most effec-

based interest to our community.

tively handle those challenges is our

The core concept is to make these

ultimate goal. In the face of a small

get-togethers of larger scope than a

or large crisis, it might just prove

board meeting, fostering a sharing

itself invaluable.

of knowledge and information, as

At the very least, we’re confident

well as an opportunity to actively

that no matter what direction

participate in what we do as an or-

our membership votes to take us,

ganization. These meetings will be

we will continue to deliver more

considerably more visible, inviting

transparency, clearer feedback and

local participation and sharing the

stronger integration with the ways

beauty of free-flight with potential

our communities understand and

members who might just be in-

develop policy as we face challenges

spired to fly themselves. The diversity of those gather-

in the future. We will also, of course, continue pursuing the goal of at-

ings—and the spirit of inclusion it

tracting new members to our sports,

so visibly exemplifies—is meant to

as well as actively examine why our

put our wonderful sports on display

ranks decrease. On that note, we’re


are made to be


NAA encourages pilots 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: † 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.

Learn more at:

to foster the inspiration free flight

looking to learn directly from our

(General Info & FAQs)

invites in our collective conscious.

Chapters and expiring members,

It’s meant to welcome new members

and are in the process of developing

who perhaps even now aren’t aware

an exit survey to look for trends in

that this is, indeed, the community

pilots leaving the sport.

for them. It’s meant to help us grow, in the best possible way. Diversity, inclusivity, growth—all are important, but that’s not all that 2019 has in store for us. An important item before the membership

(Records & Sporting Codes Downloads)

Thanks for your collaboration. And thanks, as always, for your membership and your support.

Blue Skies, Martin Palmaz Executive Director, USHPA




ASSOCIATION Beth Van Eaton, Operations

by BETH VAN EATON, USHPA Operations Manager to pursue a degree in Applied Math/

Dakota Badlands.

Aero Engineering from CU Boulder.

What do you think is USHPA’s greatest strength? Weakness?

However real life intervened and I ended up choosing marriage over

How long have you been at USHPA, Beth? What do you do there?

Ten years now. I came on board in

October 2008, processing paperwork and providing member customer

but really USHPA’s greatest strength

into tech-writing. Over the years

is its membership. I’ve seen firsthand

I’ve worked at a wide variety of jobs

the time and effort put into sup-

including florist, over-the-road horse

porting local chapters, events, and

hauler, vet assistant, and casino VIP

favorite flying sites. I’ve talked to so

club & marketing manager. I did get to

many amazing pilots, all of whom are

spend a year living on my own in rural

passionate about their sport. They’ve

Japan teaching English, and several

shared with me their many stories of

years later built and lived in my own

free flight, as well as all their thoughts

off-the-grid (solar and wind powered)

and suggestions on what they expect

cabin in the Colorado Rockies.

from USHPA. Unfortunately, we

Where do you live, and what do you like to do when not at work?

haven’t been very successful at tap-

This spring I’ll be relocating back

ping into that resource for larger, USHPA-wide projects, so I would

to southern Colorado after spending

consider that to be USHPA’s greatest

with almost every aspect of the orga-

the last two years in sunny Arizona.

weakness—the inability to attract and

nization. These days I’m working on

I enjoy traveling and activities that

retain dedicated volunteers. There are

service. Since then, I’ve been involved

developing processes and procedures

allow me to experience the vast

so many great ideas floating around,

for many of the new USHPA programs

outdoors: kayaking the rivers of

all of which require a good deal of

and expanding online features. I also

Arizona, Sunfish-sailing in the waters

development, writing, and coordina-

help coordinate the elections, board

of the Caribbean, hiking the jungles

tion, and I’m sure there are people out

meetings, annual chapter renewals,

and Maya ruins of Belize, jeeping

there who would love to help. We just

publication of the magazine, and pro-

and off-roading the mountains of

need to find a way to bring them on

cessing of event applications.

Colorado, and soaring tandem off King

board. If we don’t, some of these proj-

Tell us about your background and training, and what you did before USHPA.

Mountain, Idaho (more on that later).

ects may never get off the ground.

Horses have always been a major part

What is funniest thing you’ve been asked while working at USHPA?

I was gen-‘80s, an avid Trekkie,


I know it sounds trite and cliché,

the engineering career, going instead

of my life—I’ve raised and trained Arabians, and still enjoy team-pen-

It would have to be the guy who

and always dreamed of joining the

ning in local gymkhanas and 50-100

Space Shuttle program and going

mile long-distance cross-country

in pieces, and wanted me to help him

into space. I even built and launched

endurance rides through wilderness

reassemble it over the phone. He was

model rockets in grade school. So

areas like Saguaro National Park,

going on and on about “downtubes,”

when college rolled around, I decided

Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and the


called up, his hang glider apparently

“kingposts,” “battens,” and “nose wires.”

what I get for stuffing myself on pasta right before a flight. But hey! Now I know better!

Who/What is your favorite USHPA member type? I love all the free-spirits that USHPA

attracts. These guys and gals know how to live life and how to make every moment count. They all work hard and party harder. And by “party” I mean doing whatever lifts their wing: flying the mountains of Nepal, trekking the deserts of Iran, or simply just a good ol’ fashioned BBQ with their families at their favorite flying site. Perfect example: George and C.J. Sturtevant: 70+ years old, still soaring across Thailand together... and they still adore each other! I can only hope Dude—if it doesn’t have a bit and reins,

Tempting… but no. Now maybe if it

I’m living life like that when I reach

I can’t help you! Then there are the

had been a night out in New York…

that age.

As for the funniest thing that ever

never-ending “please! please! please!”

happened TO me… that would have

requests we get to process applica-

What do you hope to accomplish in the coming years at USHPA?

tions before we receive the paperwork.

to be when I upchucked on a field of

One of my favorites was the doctor

cows from David Beardslee’s hang

ger resource for our members: more

from New York City who gave me his

glider as we thermaled up in a perfect

online tools, local collaborative meet-

credit card number and asked me to

glass-off one beautiful evening over

ings, better information access. USHPA

please process his new membership

King Mountain. Gorgeous, awe-in-

has a lot to offer, much of it scattered

To help USHPA become a stron-

that evening before his waiver arrived,

spiring view, perfect for an extended

and difficult to find or access, but

and oh…by the way… he wouldn’t

flight… and all I could do was dangle

there’s a lot of great projects on the

mind if some extra “night on the town”

weakly in the harness like a limp

drawing board to help correct that and

charges showed up on that card as

noodle. And it was all captured in glo-

I’m looking forward to being an active

well. What? Here in Colorado Springs?

rious living color on the GoPro. That’s

part of making those a reality.

GEAR new graphic









for necklaces

bracelets & earrings



books videos + calendars + cards USHPA + PILOT MAGAZINE



AWARDS Going Above and Beyond in 2018



t every Awards committee

and fellow pilots are sufficiently im-

international meets, including World

meeting I’ve attended over

pressed by and/or grateful for above-

Championships, but he’s not all about

the years, the committee has

the-norm acts, enough to take the few

had dozens of award-worthy nomi-

moments required to make a nomina-

nations that require considerable

tion for an official recognition.

debate and discussion to narrow the

Nominations may be submitted at

munity that has provided him with so much joy and satisfaction.

field. This year, however, there were

any time—a list of awards, includ-

far fewer candidates, and of those to

ing requirements and a link to the

that inspired several friends and

And it’s this spirit of “giving back”

be considered, even fewer met the

online form, is at https://www.ushpa.

former students to nominate Zac for

requirements for the award for which


this 2018 Commendation. One former

they were nominated. I sincerely hope

While nominations are not consid-

student specifies that Zac’s giving

this is an anomaly rather than the

ered “votes” for a candidate, the com-

spirit should be the focus of this

start of a trend; surely there are clubs

mittee appreciates receiving input

award: “Zac has been a good friend

worthy of being recognized as Chapter

from several nominators regarding

and a great mentor for me and helped

or Website of the Year, and pilots (or

the candidate’s contributions.

me progress in my flying with a lot of

non-pilots) whose contributions to the local clubs and flying communi-

And now, here are this year’s award winners.

help and dedication. I believe he deserves recognition in the community not just as an exceptional comp pilot.”

ties deserve a public “thank you!” via

Another nominator expands on that

a Commendation or a Recognition for Special Contribution award from

theme: “Zac is an exceptional asset to

USHPA. Our talented and devoted

the hang gliding community. He is the

instructors deserve to be selected as

voice of reason when there is none, a

USHPA’s Instructor of the Year, but

giving soul to the great many of those

that honor is not given lightly, and if

who ask for his help, and a shepherd

the nominators do not speak to the

of the sport with long locks of wisdom

specific qualifications of this award,

flowing in the wind. His leadership is

the committee cannot make that

based in humility and he is a ray of


shining light to the sport.” USHPA concurs that there’s much

You may think that receiving a USHPA award is no big deal, but in

photo by Tony Mercado

former recipient of any of the USHPA

Zac Majors Commendation

awards, and you’ll likely realize that

Zac Majors, aka Zippy, is a well-known

most cases you’d be mistaken—ask a


winning—he’s also very much into “giving back” to the sport and the com-

more to Zac Majors than the medals he’s received for his competition skills, and awards this 2018 Commendation to highlight his many and varied con-

there’s a warm, fuzzy feeling to being

name in hang gliding circles (pun in-

tributions to his fellow pilots and the

singled out as recognition-worthy—

tended), both in the US and all around

sport they’re passionate about.

from USHPA, of course, but even

the world. He’s received many awards

more so from knowing that friends

for his competition successes at US and


photo by RJ McKeehan

undoubtedly due to the hours spent

base. He is a constant advocate of

California sun, helping people learn

safety protocols.”

how to fly.” Regarding carrying forward in

Joe Greblo Rob Kells Memorial Award

sport while growing their knowledge

over the last several decades in the hot

SoCal pilots have first-hand knowledge, and a huge amount of grati-

Rob Kells’s signature style (e.g. a

tude, regarding Joe’s involvement in

driving concern for the safety and

keeping the sport of hang gliding

well-being of other pilots, a demon-

thriving through difficult times. “Joe

strated pattern of self-sacrifice, the

has worked tirelessly to preserve

ability and means to help others

our flying site, and was pivotal in

achieve flight and the drive to make

the creation of our club, the Sylmar

it all happen): “Joe has always been

Hang Gliding Association (SHGA),” one

a leading voice for safety and respon-

old-timer recalls, adding, “The Sylmar

sibility, and many of the sport’s steps

site is close to residential areas and

The Rob Kells award is one of USHPA’s

towards maturity are direct results of

also within the flight paths of three

most prestigious, and recipients must

Joe’s work,” states one nominator, and

airports. In such a location, we have

meet quite a list of rigorous standards:

provides several specifics: “Joe was a

faced many obstacles that threatened

In order to be considered, a nominee

founder of the Professional Air Sports

to shut us down, including a golf

must have devoted a substantial

Association (PASA) in 1997, predicting

course that tried to bump us off our LZ. In every case, Joe has led the fight

portion of his or her life to the sports

20 years ahead of time that having

of hang gliding, paragliding, or both;

such an organization in place would

to keep us flying, by working with

have a minimum of 15 years of service

prove essential to the survival of free

local politicians as well as the com-

to the flying community, in an unbro-

flight; Joe continues to be a board

munity that surrounds our property. I

ken time frame, easily verifiable; this

member of PASA today. He has also

have known Joe for over 40 years and

service must have been to the broad-

served several terms on the USHGA

know him to be absolutely dedicated

est possible community, and must

board, advancing the professionalism

to furthering the sport of hang gliding.

have resulted in a dramatic impact on

of the organization as a whole, and of

I can’t think of a better candidate for this award.”

the community that improves the per-

its network of instructors nationwide.

ception of and participation in hang

He is also one of the nation’s very best

gliding and/or paragliding in a spirit

pilots on single-surface hang gliders,

reason that our site still exists is because Joe has dedicated himself

Others concur, adding, “The main

that reflects Rob Kells’s signature

and it’s been said that on the competi-

style of personal interactions, creative

tion circuit in the early days, he was

to finding ways to keep us flying. His

problem solving, and joie de vivre.

practically unbeatable.”

involvement with local politicians

This year’s recipient is Joe Greblo,

Continuing the list of evidences

and some neighborhood councils and

for all of the above reasons and then

of Joe’s qualifications for this award,

community-based groups in Sylmar

some. Here’s what some of his nomi-

another nominator points out that

has resulted in city-wide support for

“Joe is the paragon of dedication and

hang gliding in our area. When I re-

nators offer:

contribution to the sport of hang glid-

turned to hang gliding, after a 30-year

substantial portion of one’s life to

ing. He teaches and shares knowledge

hiatus, Joe was my instructor. Joe will

the sport: “It would be hard to name

at every opportunity—always putting

be among good friends and colleagues

anyone who has shown such dedica-

safety first. His training methodology

in the circle of RKMA winners, and

tion, and worked so tirelessly, on

is clear and carefully crafted. He is

I think that Rob Kells himself would

Regarding the devoting of a

behalf of hang gliding, for nearly 50

very patient and goes out of his way to

enthusiastically approve this nomina-

years. A natural-born instructor, Joe

give extra attention to those who need


has taught many thousands of stu-

or request it. He stays late into the

dents through his Windsports flight

evening to help pilots with questions,

possible community, that resulted

school that he ran until he retired in

gliders, and gear. He makes much

in a dramatic impact on the com-

January this year,” says one.

effort to expose students and gradu-

munity in improving the perception

ates to new sites and experiences,

of and participation in hang glid-

thereby retaining their interest in the

ing and/or paragliding: One pilot’s

Another quips, “Joe is older than God, and looks it. Most of that is

Regarding service to the broadest



lengthy nomination sums up this service aspect of Joe’s career well: “Joe

broader contributions to the entire

has always represented himself and

hang gliding community: “I have

the sport in the most positive and

watched Joe work with politicians and

professional way. His prowess as an

community to support hang gliding

instructor and pilot are worthy of ac-

and free flight, and am awed by his

colades alone, but it is all of his other

ability to bring people to a consensus.”

contributions that make him worthy

On that same theme, another adds,

of this award. “One of the many ways that Joe has

“Joe is a tireless advocate responsible for keeping training sites open and

promoted the sport is through his

viable. He is the face and voice of

work with various Hollywood produc-

hang gliding with many government

tions over the past 40 years. He earned

agencies and private entities. Safety is

his reputation as the go-to guy in

always the first order of business in all

Hollywood because of his skill, profes-

he does for our sport. As an ambassa-

from above that I so dream about.” She

sionalism and dedication to safety.

dor and advocate for hang gliding, you

selected the photos she submitted

Those same traits are what made his

would be hard pressed to do better. I

for the Awards committee’s review

school, Windsports, so successful. If a

believe Joe deserves the special recog-

to illustrate, in her opinion, “the

pilot trained at Windsports, you knew

nition that the RKMA brings.”

perspective from which most of the

they were a good pilot. “He is constantly fostering connec-

The Awards committee concurs

public view our flying sports: from

with these pilots’ assessment of Joe’s

the ground. This is how I see flying

tions between pilots and the com-

over-the-top contributions to the free-

through my lens, and I take great

munity. I’ve witnessed him building

flight communities over many decades

pleasure in being able to share that

relations with neighbors, landowners,

(as already evidenced by Joe’s having

perspective with so many people.” The

community leaders, government of-

received USHGA’s Exceptional Service

captions she supplied with her four

ficials, and first responders. He goes to

award in 2000, a Commendation in

submitted photos clearly convey this

public meetings, makes phone calls to

2006, and a Letter of Appreciation


leaders, volunteers for the community

in 2008). It is with sincere apprecia-

on behalf of the pilots, and promotes

tion that USHPA presents Joe with

Her images and commentary resonated with the Awards committee

hang gliding at festivals. He invites

one of its most prestigious tokens of

members, and in appreciation for her

community members onsite, some-

gratitude, the 2018 Rob Kells Memorial

dedication toward presenting the won-

times to recognize and thank them


ders of free-flight to non-flyers, USHPA

for their community contributions in “Joe is a humble and generous pilot

Audray Luck Bettina Gray Photography

front of the pilots. who cares deeply about the sport and

Audray and her fellow Retrieval

about the flying community, and he

Goddesses are in high demand at

only ever projects a positive image of

most of the major US hang gliding

hang gliding.”

and paragliding XC comps (and many

Another nominator reminds us

foreign meets as well), following the

recognizes Audray Luck with the 2018 Bettina Gray award.


s pilots, we often idolize those hang glider and paraglider pilots who regularly sky out,

or fly the big distances. The USHPA awards offer an opportunity to focus

that one of Joe’s businesses, Stunt

pilots who have hired her retrieve

the limelight on those who go “above

Wings, managed the production of the

service from launch to wherever their

and beyond” the norm in the many,

flight takes them, while also capturing

often behind-the-scenes, aspects of

Washington State Lottery a few years

images of the action, the actors and

our flying. Please take a moment to

ago. Check it out at

the ambience that she then willingly

consider who in your community, pilot

submits to our magazine.

or non-pilot, is recognition-worthy,

“Flightless Birds” commercial for the

Surely that brief, humorous, joyful


Another nominator reiterates Joe’s

Audray focuses on showcasing the

and nominate him or her for a USHPA

advertisement had a small but signifi-

spirit of the moment in each of her

accolade. Award descriptions and the

cant impact toward erasing the nega-

photos. She asks the viewer to re-

nomination form are at https://www.

tive perceptions of hang gliding that

member “that I am not a pilot yet, so

have plagued us since the ‘70s!

I can’t get those jaw-dropping shots



This is one of my favorites because I believe it represents the pure joy and excitement a person can experience while watching from the ground. Photo by Audray Luck.Â



Nothing too exciting, just an Italian pilot coming in for a landing near Meduno, Italy — a feat that would have been unimaginable to the original inhabitants of the castle above. Photo by Audray Luck.Â



A five-year journey, a five-year year dream becomes reality for Kelly Myrkle as he runs off Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. I believe it is important to have stories like Kelly’s, and pictures to match, to remind people to chase their dreams. Photo by Audray Luck.

At the 2018 Pre-world Hang Gliding Competition in Tolmezzo, Italy, a local Italian woman enjoys her view. More and more people are becoming interested in what we do and how we do it. Photo by Audray Luck. More flying pictures on

Instagram @RetrievalGoddesses, and my Facebook page, Retrieval Goddesses. 




Garmin inReach by JEFF SHAPIRO


n the world of free flight, adventure is a given. One of the main

I personally choose to use (and sub-

of the most desirable features in this type of device. You can also exchange

sequently have the most experience

current locations with other inReach

gliders is because they afford a level

with) the Garmin inReach devices,

users, which can be super-helpful in

reasons I fly hang gliders and para-

of exploration that’s hard to find today.

because for me they’ve proven to be

the field for retrieve or to navigate

We often fly through and over remote

the most reliable, with the best cover-

back to your adventure partner.

valleys and oceans of trees, while we

age for the sports and adventures with

gaze at both sky and terrain that might

which I fill my life. For those reasons,

They all have an SOS functionality which, when activated, sends an

take hours, days, or, at times, weeks

I’ve been asked to review the options

interactive SOS to a search-and-rescue

to access by foot. The dream of leaving

of inReach devices and to discuss

monitoring center (GEOS emergency

the Earth in flight tantalized humans

some reasons you might choose one

response team, i.e., the cavalry) avail-

for centuries before the advent of the

over another.

able 24/7. Each device can send and

modern-day, foot-launch glider. It’s indeed a lucky time to be alive. Technology has also evolved. Determining our margin of safety by

One of the coolest and most ap-

receive inReach messages through

plicable developments within the

Garmin-compatible devices, including

Garmin lineup has been their choice

your phone or Garmin watch, and all

to evolve the popular Explorer+ into a

have internal, rechargeable lithium

staying connected to our adventure

package of tiny proportions. For pilots,

batteries that can be recharged using

partners and/or rescue services while

climbers, or any adventurer, “size and

a microUSB power cable or an in-

we engage in our sports has clearly

weight” matters and, for that reason,

vehicle 12V charger. They all track

helped us avoid possible accidents

the inReach Mini has been a game-

and share your location, can access

or tragedies. It’s clear that being able

changer. There still remain, however,

downloadable maps, U.S. NOAA charts,

to communicate effectively while in

very real benefits and a strong case for

and color aerial imagery and receive

remote places can and has made the

carrying the Explorer+ or SE+ in many

detailed weather updates directly to

difference between life and death.

cases. Below is a brief comparison of

the unit or a paired device.

Also, having the ability to let the

the features and capabilities of each.

people who care about us know we’re

Now for the differences

OK and, through tracking features,

First, what they ALL do

allow them to follow our flights in real-

The standard inReach Explorer+, SE+

sizes of each unit: Both the Explorer+

time is not only fun for them, but also

and the Mini are all housed in a very

and SE+ are 2.7” wide x 6.5” high. Their

tough and impact-resistant case that’s

display is 1.4” W x 1.9” H and their

water-resistant to splashes, rain or

weight is approximately 7.5 oz. The

provides peace of mind. As our world gets smaller through


sent at all!

First and foremost, let’s look at the

easier travel, remote adventures are

snow, and “incidental exposure to

new Mini, in contrast, is a mere 2”

more popular and common than ever

water up to 1 meter for up to 30 min-

wide and 4” high and weighs 3.5 oz.

before. Consequently, several brands

utes,” but not prolonged or continuous

Less than half! Although the size of

have developed versions of personal

immersion. I’ve used mine in both

the Explorer+ and SE+ are still im-

location/satellite communication

rainy and snowy environments and at

pressively compact, easy to pack and

devices. Some allow for pre-set mes-

high altitude, with zero issues.

hold, their extra bulk over the Mini is

saging and two-way communication,

All three devices are satellite com-

but I’ve found that not all are created

municators that enable two-way text

equal. Coverage can vary, which may

messaging (to email, phone or other

tral processing unit) and functionality

have an effect on how long it takes to

inReach devices) through the global

unique to the models.

send the message (help to be dis-

Iridium satellite network (subscription

patched) or even if that message gets

required). In my opinion, this is one


required for the extended battery life (more on that later), larger CPU (cen-

Both the inReach SE+ and Explorer+ offer the same messaging features.


Garmin mini is much smaller than the Inreach + which is great for day-long adventures but can also have an impact with a smaller battery if you're out on a multi-day bivy. I’ve found that for flights, comps, or

But, relative to GPS navigation, there

pay attention to relative to battery life

are some differences. The inReach SE+

for each device. The first is how long

situations where reliable recharges

uses GPS to provide “basic grid naviga-

the battery will last, while sending po-

are available, my preference has been

tion and allow the user to drop way-

sitional information only in 10-minute

the much smaller Mini, since I’ll carry

points, mark key locations, track your

intervals to Garmin’s MapShare, so

my phone anyway, and all functional-

progress, and follow a breadcrumb

others can follow and/or find you. The

ity is extremely similar. But for expedi-

second is how well the device operates

tions where I want all the power and

when you want to record log intervals

strength of the inReach capabilities to

also provides “GPS on-map guidance,

(up to 1 second) of your GPS location

be in one package and have maximum

with preloaded TOPO mapping and

and other information internally on

battery life, I still choose to carry my

waypoint routings viewable directly

your device.


trail back to base.” In contrast, the inReach Explorer+

on the unit.” A built-in digital compass,

With the inReach Mini paired

It’s nice to have choices, and each choice has proven to be a reliable

barometric altimeter and acceler-

to your smartphone and recording

ometer are also included with the

10-minute intervals to update your

travel partner where consequences

Explorer+. The Mini has, for basic

MapShare page, you will get ap-

are important. Free flight (and the

navigation, a compass that shows

proximately 90 hours of battery life

freedoms it provides) is all about

bearing and distance along a route or

and, while recording information

choices, isn’t it? I can appreciate the

to a waypoint on the device. But for

internally at the maximum 1-second

desire to disconnect, to seek places

viewing preloaded TOPO maps, aerial

intervals, approximately 35 hours. A

where the answers are “found and

imagery, NOAA charts, or waypoints

commonly used setting would be to

learned” and not predetermined. But

within a map, the device needs to be

record internally at 2-minute intervals

I also place high value in technology

paired through Bluetooth wireless

and, in that mode, the Mini provides

that allows me to provide greater

technology to your smartphone, via

around 75 hours.

consideration of my responsibilities

Garmin’s Earthmate app. In other words, the Mini and the Explorer+ do

In contrast, the + series (both Explorer and SE), while paired with

to my family and friends while in and over the mountains. I also find value

essentially the same things, but the

your smartphone and recording in

in following and finding inspiration

Explorer+ allows those functions to be

10-minute intervals, will last ap-

from my friends’ wildest adventures

contained in a single device, whereas

proximately 134 hours and 76 hours,

and flights.

the Mini requires the Earthmate app

while recording 1-second intervals

If you’re looking for help to stay con-

and your smartphone to view the full

internally. In the 2-minute mode, the

nected in any corner of this amazing

color, moving-map functionality.

devices will last around 119 hours—a

world, please check out what’s being

difference that could play into which

offered today. It could end up saving

device to pack.

your life.

Another difference to note is the battery life. There are two modes to



Senior Class Aging, Flying and Performance by SUSAN KENT


citizen” when you are 65. Worse, age

perks, such as life experience,

65 is technically the age when you

lege? It’s b-a-c-k. Some of us will deal

wisdom (hopefully), retire-

are termed (shudder) “elderly.”

with more aches and pains than ever.

ment, and, for many, more time to

Our bodies start to change with

We tend to gain fat and look a bit

play and pursue hobbies and fun

aging. Look in the mirror: The

more rotund, and our reaction times

activities like paragliding. But aging

wrinkles, gray hair, and sagging

start to increase. Yes, increase, as it

brings changes to our bodies as well,

skin in places may startle you. (I get

takes longer to process information

and for the senior paraglider pilot

around this by never wearing my

and make decisions based on what

some of those changes can be critical

glasses when I glimpse myself in the

we hear, feel, see, and so forth. So

in our sport.

mirror in the morning.) Our muscles

how do we deal with this and stay

start to decrease in size and strength,

safe when paragliding? Here are the

Senior? An adult “senior” basically


away). That knee you injured in col-

ging brings some wonderful

is an aging person. Depending on

our joints aren’t as flexible, and old

stories, backgrounds, and words of

how well you age, you may feel the

injuries that we thought were gone

wisdom from senior pilots and how

process acutely in your 50’s, but in

years ago may start to bother us

they are dealing with the aging pro-

the US, you are considered a “senior

again (if they ever even totally went

cess and flying.


Kenneth Hudonjorgensen

to live long enough to be thought of

me (although I am pleased to say

I started paragliding in 1989 at age 40.

by most of you as being old. I do not

that I won it six times, which is more

There was no rating system or asso-

feel old. When I look in the mirror,

than any other para pilot). I was also

ciation or lessons. I purchased a wing

though, I do think, “Who is that

the first paraglider pilot to fly into

and in two weeks it was in my hands

old guy and what is he doing in my

another state from the Wasatch front

and we were flying. The two English


and organized/ran 13 National XC

guys I bought it from asked me if

I feel as if I should be about 40,

Competitions. I have delighted in

they could come and watch because

as if these decades of flying were a

pioneering a new site or establishing a new XC route or seeing a new view

they wanted to “see if it worked.” I

non-aging free ride, but my brain

promptly said “sure” and we were off.

is thinking how old I should be, not

that no human being has ever seen.

Many great adventures and 15,000+

the age my body feels. I do not have

I am happy and peaceful about all of

flights later, I am now 69 years old. I

the balance, speed or quickness I

that being the case. I was the first to

am grateful to still be able to fly.

used to have when I played college

receive the Fifth Diamond Safe Pilot

football and boxed Golden Gloves. I

Award for paragliding and have held

Those first few years were a dangerous game of Russian roulette, and

the P5 rating longer than any other

I invested quite a bit of “good karma”

paragliding pilot. (I was asked to

to live through them. The wings had

include some of this personal history,

names like Meteor, Spin, and Twist

but that is enough.) At this point, I enjoy helping

(very aptly named). There was no

someone else have a great XC flight

certification process for the wings. They were dangerous, as was our ig-

more than having one myself. One

norance and abilities, or lack thereof.

of the most endearing traits of being

We learned in fits and starts through

human is that we love being useful

close calls, yes, but also through in-

to each other. I think that is one of

juries, deaths, and, preferably, from

the better parts of aging as a human.

our hang gliding friends. When we

I am good at teaching and feel great

had an accident, it was a mistake, not

joy while doing it, because I am

a learning opportunity, because we were addicts who were blinded by


Hudonjorgensen. Summerhawk


paragliding. I can be useful to other

our need for MORE, and then MORE and then MORE! It was an intense, stressful, adrenaline-filled, and dangerous time. Accidents were always for someone

being useful. That is one of the ways I am choosing to adjust to aging in

have needed to learn how to adjust.

pilots. We do not just get to choose

Fortunately, that has been relatively

how we age in paragliding; we have

easy. For the first 25 years or so, I could

to choose. For all sentient beings, the only thing we do not have a choice

else, not for the individual pilot who

not say “no” to flying when the

about is that we HAVE to choose, all

was doing the thinking. No back pro-

weather was appropriate. Now I am

the time and constantly.

tection was used, or even available.

not just able to say no to flying, but I

The thinking was, “You do not need

find saying no delightful and com-

are aging, think clearly and hon-

a reserve, just fly the canopy you

forting. I still enjoy flying, but other

estly about it, and choose well, using

already have over your head.” I pur-

factors—many other factors—of

some of that newfound wisdom you

chased an old hang gliding reserve

having a body on this planet have

have acquired. Decide what parts

and attached it to one carabineer

become more enjoyable.

of paragliding are FUN for you, no

after my first week and 100 flights.

Reducing my operating parameters

Be cognitively aware that you

matter your age. Reducing the ways

The icing on the cake was that I had

is probably the most critical part of

in which we participate in paraglid-

to buy a climbing helmet, because

aging in paragliding. I am less enam-

ing is appropriate for when we have

the two English guys said we did not

ored with getting a personal best or

been away from it for an extended

need helmets and nobody else wore

pioneering a new route or inventing

time, just as it is appropriate as we

one. I needed one almost immediate-

a new kiting/inflating technique or

age. (The latter changes are more or

ly and was VERY pleased to have one.

setting a new US record. My days of

less permanent, though.)

In spite of all of this, I managed

winning the Utah Cup are behind

I have had a GREAT life, in and out



of paragliding. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

and did fairly well in the women’s

too tame, and now I am flying on an

being less competitive and having

competition. When the Sprint was

outstanding A wing, which I love. I

less of that testosterone edge. I feel

introduced, I won the women’s comp

also spent a long time thinking about

peaceful about aging. I embrace it.

one year and was 9th or 10th overall

what gave me happiness when flying.

in the Sprint division. By then, I was

It wasn’t XC or competing or having a

in my mid-60s, flying a Delta 2 (EN-C)

hot wing or keeping up with the guys.

I started paragliding at age 53. I was

wing. I decided to try my first nation-

It was simply enjoying the air, hang-

healthy, active, and had a background

als in Chelan, but I found the condi-

ing with friends, and just being able

Susan Kent in sky diving, surfing, skiing and rock

tions intimidating and realized I

to fly around safely. Now, if I don’t

climbing. At that age, I felt as if I was a

was out of my league on many levels.

like the air, I land, even if others

bit slower learner than younger folks,

Aging was a part of that.

think it is fine. I am an older, but not

and as a woman pilot, I think I lacked

For several years I had been think-

Besides having a lower-class wing

ing about the aging process and

as some of the male pilots. Sixteen

how it was affecting my flying, but

and picking my conditions, I work

years later, at age 69, I have a different

had not come to grips with it. But it

hard to try to stay in reasonable

attitude and perspective than I did in

preyed on my mind a lot. I became

shape. I found that inactivity and

my 50s and early 60s.

nervous in the air, and although

lack of exercise makes my body older

I had never had a major collapse

and slower. So I bike twice a week, do

Like many people, I quickly got addicted to paragliding. I would try to

stretching and core exercises twice a

fly every chance I got, and felt “down”

week through Pilates, and paraglide

if I went to a site and couldn’t fly, or

when I can. Exercise goes a long way

if I spent several weeks between

towards helping the aging process.

flights. Once, when my husband

It helps offset muscle decreases and

and I were scheduled for a cruise

helps keep me mentally and physi-

to Alaska, and the day before, I had

cally aware. Another thing I discovered is that I

planned to go shopping for a new dress, but saw the local beach site

constantly need to work on my flying

was flyable I decided to fit in a flight

skills. For some reason, I lacked

before the trip. I thought: Forget the

light-wind skills. Being a bit lazy and

dress: flying and getting “my hit” is

busy, I wasn’t kiting very often, and

way more important. Unfortunately,

found my launching skills not as

I made a launch mistake, got gusted

good as I they should be. So I have

in strong winds and smashed into



been working with instructors and others on kiting, launching, and even

a sand cliff, resulting in a broken

the timing of landing. It all helps, but

collar bone, all because I felt I “had’

I couldn’t handle and had never

to fly. Fortunately, I had purchased

thrown my reserve, I was increas-

truthfully I can’t get complacent. I

trip insurance and we rescheduled

ingly scared on launch and in the air.

need to stay as aware as possible

the cruise three weeks later.

This fear was intensified by several

about my shortcomings. This is a

My progression in paragliding

friends being seriously injured or

delicate dance, and I still make mis-

was slow but steady and thanks to

killed in accidents. In most cases,


the local Northern California Cross

they were younger, more experi-

Country League (NCXC), I gained

enced, and better pilots than I.

experience in cross-country, easy competitions, and thermal flying in

After taking a break from flying

As part of my paragliding journey, I also wanted to contribute something back to the sport, particularly to

and engaging in contemplation, I

my local club, Bay Area Paragliding

different conditions. And I also de-

started stepping down in level of

Association (BAPA), where I have met

cided to “prove” myself. Prove that I

wings and choosing my flying condi-

many good friends and participated

could keep up with the more experi-

tions very carefully. I dropped down

in fun fly-ins and safety seminars,

enced pilots, especially the guys.

to a high B Mentor 4 light, which,

like first-aid and reserve clinics. I

despite the good reviews, I hated.

became the treasurer for two or

Then I went to a low B, which I found

three years and then served as presi-

Early on, I went to the Rat Race, before there was a Sprint section,


a bolder, pilot.

confidence and was not as aggressive


dent for three years. I still continue

When first taking up hang glid-

glider off the truck because I was too

as membership coordinator and an

ing, the funny thing was, even when

short (I’m not quite five feet tall), and


we were the newest pilots in our

I gratefully accepted offers of help to

Seattle-area community, we were al-

carry it to the setup area because it

how long I will be flying, but it will

ready, chronologically speaking, the

was huge and weighed almost half

be as long as I have the skills and can

old folks. Our instructor was barely

what I did, and who wants to lug any-

enjoy the air, even if it is a sledder

half my age; in all the world cham-

thing that awkward and heavy?

At age 69, I honestly don’t know

or a short flight. To me, that’s the

pionship events, I was always the

key—having fun. I no longer feel as if

oldest competitor. Somehow, it never

When I stopped competing on my hang glider and began flying a

I’m addicted and “have to fly,” which

really sank in that I was “too old” to

paraglider almost exclusively, most

sometimes meant flying in marginal

be flying hang gliders, or that the

of those challenges became irrele-

conditions. I fly for fun and enjoy-

challenges that seemed to trouble

vant—my paraglider pack was bulky

ment, which means I land if I don’t

me more than others were due to my

but light enough for me to carry for

like the air or am not happy. The

elderliness—I couldn’t get my hang

small distances, and I could manage

big guns may be flying in stronger conditions and having a great time, but those kind of conditions are no longer my happy place. For me, just being under a paraglider wing and enjoying the views is exhilarating. Joy in paragliding is where you find it.

C.J. Sturtevant My husband George and I took hang gliding lessons together back in 1982—we were looking for something new and cool to do, and an air sport seemed the perfect choice to round out the mountaineering/climbing/ scuba diving/caving adventures we’d thus far enjoyed. No one warned us that flying a hang glider would be as life-changing as any other addiction/ obsession! You can read about our history as free-flight pilots in the 2018 June issue of this magazine. To summarize my background, as a hang gliding pilot, I attended 8 to 10 HG Nationals and was part of four Women’s World Hang Gliding Championships: Austria (1991), Australia (1996), Hungary (1998), Greece (2000). As a paragliding pilot, I have attended every Rat Race in Oregon and the first Applegate Open. Additionally, I was the editor for the USHPA Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine from 3/04 to 2/08 and still contribute articles.



to load it into the back of the truck

ing (which is why I always fly with

as long as I didn’t have to hoist it up

wheels on my basetube—just in case).

onto the top of the stack. Since being an “old” pilot has

I also cherish my membership in Richard Bach’s (of Jonathan

black rectangle; attaching a chicken feather to that rectangle activated the membership. On the other side

always been the normal for me, it

Livingston Seagull fame) Captain

was printed the club motto, Vivo

wasn’t until fairly recently that I

Chicken club. Richard flew paraglid-

volare alter diem—I live to fly another

began to pay attention to the chang-

ers with us in the Pacific NW back

day—which guaranteed permission

es—both mental and physical—that

in the early ‘90s, and he invited

to chicken out with no shame. I car-

have been creeping up on me due

our whole PG community to pledge

ried that card for years, and invoked

to advancing age. Free-flight is a de-

allegiance to Captain Chicken. In

its privileges numerous times. Sadly,

manding avocation, though, and in-

return, we received a bright yellow

that card was in my wallet, which was stolen on last August’s trip to

attention or small mistakes can have

Macedonia, but I figure that I’m

disastrous consequences. So, here are some of the accommodations I’ve made in the past several years to

Things to think about as an aging paraglider pilot

First, I lightened my load: I changed from a bulky, heavy harness to a sleek, lighter-weight reversible airbag harness. For the first time

• Stay active. Staying in shape and stretching help minimize the aging process. • Fly for fun and enjoyment. Pick

ever, I have a pack that actually fits

your conditions and fly what

my very short body and is reasonably

you enjoy.

comfortable to carry. I replaced my reserve with a new, lighter version; ditto for my helmet. And on the advice of the instructors I consulted to help me resolve some launch issues, I shelved my heavy Hanwag boots and now fly in lightweight trail shoes. I worry a bit about the loss of ankle support, but I love the increased agility I now have on launch. Second, I pay closer attention to how I’m “feeling”—both physically and mentally—whenever I go flying. I have a wonderful massage therapist who works magic on the aches and pains that seem to be increasing with the passing years. Ibuprofen is as much a part of my flying “essentials” as my flight computer and

grandfathered (grandmothered?) into the club after all these years and can claim chicken-out privilege with-

keep myself safe and happy.

• Consider dropping down in wing level. Increase passive safety where you can. • Share your wisdom. Teach, volunteer, and encourage other pilots. • Lighten your load. Lighter equipment is easier to haul up those hills and hike-up launches. • Keep your skills up. Kite and practice when you can. • Make accommodations for yourself. That may mean Ibuprofen or other NSAIDS, taking a rest day, seeing a physical therapist or massage therapist. • Monitor your medications.

out having to produce my card. Also, I try to minimize the physical discomforts that develop from hanging/sitting in a harness for an extended period. Compression socks seem to help, as does staying hydrated, and having a snack before getting airborne. I stay active, and I know I’d benefit from a regular workout routine, but I’ve never managed to discipline myself to stick to one. My massage therapist has suggested several stretches and warm-ups that seem to produce tangible and lasting results and thus provide motivation for me to make them part of my daily routine. Finally, I’ve changed my mindset regarding my expectations for my flights: It no longer matters to me (or to anyone else, as far as I can tell) whether or not I make goal, or even a turnpoint, in an event with a set task. Just the mere fact that I am 71 years old, and I am still flying my

radio; if it’s one of those days when

Don’t fly on medications that

hang glider and paraglider totally

my back or shoulder or hip feels es-

make you drowsy or reduce

blows my mind, every time I step up

pecially creaky, I’ll pop a few before

motor skills.

I suit up to launch, and for the most

• Hang it up when you feel done.

to launch. When I learned to fly hang gliders, at age 35, never in my wildest

part I’ll fly in reasonable comfort. I

When you are done, you are

imaginings did I picture myself still getting airborne on a regular basis

stay aware of my limits of endurance,

done. You can still go tandem,

e.g., knowing that if I fly my hang

drive retrieve and hang with

36 years later! These days, I joke

glider for much more than an hour,


about flying in the Geezer category

I’ll have trouble running out a land-


card that on one side had a small


of the Leisure class, where the goal

each day is to have a good launch, fly

I took hang gliding lessons in

changes the rules and costs once you

within my comfort zone, and land

the Seattle area. Then I transi-

reach 75 years of age, so that could

happy, which might possibly mean

tioned to paragliding in 1991 (to

be a clue. We’ll see.

getting high and going (relatively) far

avoid taking two hang gliders to

So what has changed? I think I’ve

but more likely entails a scenic hour-

Europe for the Women’s World HG

always felt intimidated by strong,

or-so flight followed by a landing in a

Championships in Kossen, Austria)

rough thermals, so that isn’t really

friendly LZ (or a field of flowers, pref-

and currently hold an H-4, P-5 rating

new. But I’m definitely avoiding them

erably near an ice cream shop…) with

with about 1800 PG flights, and

more these days. On our trip to Ager

my flying friends, who are second

about 900 hours. I’ve gone to 225

this past summer, I chose to not fly a

only to family on my list of favorite

sites and flown in the US, Canada,

couple of times when the wind was

Europe, South America, Asia, and

kind of strong on launch. I think I

Africa. Additionally, I served as

could have gotten off safely because

usually-funny aspect of this “elderly

USHGA Regional Director two terms

my launches are still solid, but the

pilot” thing: I don’t know if it’s my

when paragliding was being phased

risk-to-reward ratio seemed a bit

small stature or my snow-white hair,

into the Association, and as USHPA

skewed to the risk side. I really did

but it’s quite common for spectators,

Chairman of the Awards committee

not want to get dragged on that rocky

or even other pilots, to come up to

until 2017.

launch, as plenty of other pilots were.

people in all of this wide world. A sometimes-distracting-but-

Hiking to distant launches or up

me and ask, “Do you mind if I ask

As for aging, I’m pretty darn

how old you are?” My response, “I

healthy for a 73-year-old. That is

steep trails is a thing of the past,

was born in 1947—how about you?”

especially noticeable when I look

unless it’s short, and I HAVE to get up

often elicits a laugh, followed by a

around and see people suffering

there to bag a new site. I lightened

request to take a selfie with me. I

from various diseases and degenera-

my load at least a little when I went

wonder what these folks do with

tion. I feel really lucky to still be able

to fly in Europe this summer, by leav-

those photos of themselves with the

to fly at all. Nevertheless, there’s

ing my boots behind and flying in

little old lady and her wing!

going to have to be a time when

sneakers. That was a distinct break

George Sturtevant

I stop flying. I notice that MedJet

in my practice of the last 27 years

Assist, which C.J. and I use for our

of always wearing ankle protection.

I started flying 1982 when C.J. and

medical evacuation “insurance”,

The sneakers worked fine, but I also



My last flight was an uneventful, pleasant little sled ride to the Hunter’s LZ at Woodrat Mountain in Southern Oregon this last June. As I took off, I thought to myself, “This is it; it’s enough.” I wasn’t frightened nor physically challenged, and the flight certainly wasn’t above my pay grade, but it was time to hang up my wing. Why now, at 72, when I’m still fit and still so in love with this wild and wonderful sport, am I finished with solo flights? I’ve had sixteen awesome flying years, with some evening flights that lasted over two hours, attaining a top altitude of 8700’, as well as short distances across the Applegate and in ABOVE George

and C.J. OPPOSITE Barbara Summerhawk.

front of Mt. Fuji in Japan, where I live. I treasure vivid memories of flying

hard enough to hear when the wind

dozens of areas on three continents,

in a roughly plowed field, or rocky

whistles through your helmet while

chumming with para pals at coastal


doing a spiral dive.

and mountain sites, and hanging out

lucked out and never had to land

I find my preference is to avoid

ation: When you gotta go, you gotta

is a way to avoid the risk of launch-

go. I don’t think it’s a new thing for

with our unique community before and after launches. Beginning in 2002, I received a

ing and landing—the most danger-

me to make sure I urinate just before

ous parts of a flight, because you are

I fly, but it’s become important, not

the sport and carried on the study

near the ground. But, nah, I’ve never

just convenient, that I do so. My

in Japan and at two US sites. In the

been interested in doing top-to-

flights aren’t usually much longer

early years, I flew nearly every day in

warm, enthusiastic grounding in

bottoms. Must be a hangover from

than an hour, so there has not been a

the summer, sometimes twice a day,

my hang gliding days when it took so

problem so far, but with an enlarged

as a recreational pilot. Long XC or

much time and energy to set up and

prostate, it’s a concern.

competitions didn’t interest me. As I

break down a hang glide that a short

I’m hoping that my flying commu-

grew older, I set a rule for myself to

flight was hardly worth it. So that’s

nity will tell me clearly if they see

not age-related.

evidence that I am becoming unsafe

a week, then twice a month. The

in my flying, before I do something

cost of replacing gear and getting to

surprised that hasn’t caused more

that’s going to put me in the hospital/

the areas I flew loomed larger after I

problems. I switched from contact

nursing home/morgue. Especially if

retired, and the two-hour-plus drive

lenses to progressive eyeglass lenses

I can’t see it for myself. I never really

one-way to my Japan-based club, Sky

years ago and thought that that

thought I’d still be flying hang gliders

Asagiri, took its toll, literally and

would make it difficult to judge dis-

or paragliders into my 70s, when I

figuratively. In 2014, I fell out of an

tance to the ground when I was land-

started back in my 30s.

My eyesight has changed, and I’m

ing, but that does not seem to be the case. Hearing, though, especially of radio transmissions, is problematical. And don’t get me started on trying to interpret British accents—no way would I be able to do an SIV with our favorite British tour guides! It’s


And then there’s the urinary situ-

sledders. I am trying to decide if that


Barbara Summerhawk Barbara Summerhawk is an Emeritus Professor at Daito Bunka University, speaks fluent Japanese, is an Aikido Master, a published poet, and manages the Tokyo Poetry Journal.

only fly once a day, then three times

800-fpm feisty thermal and threw my reserve. I came down in a tree and was able to climb down with no injuries and just minimal damage to both wings. While I waited on the steep slope in snow for the boys from Asagiri to come and help me out, I pondered how close I had come

USHPA who keep us current, to my

to wiping out on the ridge. I thought

last few years, however, August has

of friends who had been severely

been smoky, and flying days few in

trailblazing women inspirations, C.J.

injured and who had healed, some

number (This year, 2018, Woodrat

Sturtevant and Kari Kastle and Keiko

bowing out and others returning to

closed down in mid-July because of

Hiraki, and mentors and instructors

the sport. This time, I was lucky, but

the fires surrounding the valley). In

Kevin Lee and Rick Ray, but most

was there a next time? I wasn’t going

May, I boated around the valley and

of all to my dearest friend, Debbie

to reboot and fly more, fly higher,

landed at Longsword Winery; it felt

Vosevich, for supporting my flying

farther. Maybe if I had started at an

right, like maybe I really could fly on

and winging it with me. Above all, I

earlier age, I might have flown on as

‘til 100.

far as my wings would carry me. The older I got, I also found it just

thank the winds and the sky that

The last day, as mentors and friends Rick Ray and Debbie

a little more difficult to pack up my

Vosevich drove up to top launch in

wing and carry it out of the field.

the morning, the thought brushed

The drive up the mountain seemed

the back of my mind, “Let’s make it

longer. Evening flights at Woodrat

the last, no matter what,” and that’s

were from the “Mid” launch, and

what I did. I still fly tandem with

if the winds weren’t right, I drove

pilots in training for their tandem

home. Whereas, years before, I

licenses or with friends, but no more

would go to the top with others and


try there. I was slowly taking myself out of the sky.

guarantee always that a part of my soul will be soaring.

Sixteen wild, wonderful years I treasure with gratitude. I was never

When I returned to Oregon in

injured (apart from a pulled muscle

the spring of 2018, I knew I would

or scratches) and felt challenged but

wrap it up and thought I might fly

safe most of the time in my soaring.

the last solo flight in August. The

I am so thankful to the officers of

Pick up these hot titles by

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


MANSPLAINING Sexism in Free Flight by TIKI MASHY


his isn’t a male bashing article; it’s meant to help the 95%ers better relate to the

5%ers in the sport. Though these

So here we go. Don’t worry; we’re not bra burning.

Mansplaining: “Men explaining

women—on the basis of sex.” Yep, that sums it up. The majority of you 95%ers are on firm ground, but sometimes y’all

numbers vary only slightly in hang

something to a woman in a con-

might find yourself backsliding. I’ve

gliding vs. paragliding, the numbers

descending, overconfident, and

asked your “womenfolk,” HG and PG,

for mansplaining don’t.

often inaccurate or oversimplified

young and old, foreign and domestic,


competitive and recreational, H/P2s

When is it OK to mansplain? Never. Is a little sexism OK? Are you


wacky-on-the-junk? No, it’s not.


Sexism: “Prejudice, stereotyping,

to H/P5s to share mansplaining and

or discrimination—typically against

sexist comments, issues, situations,


Best to ask oneself, if it were the same sex person, would I still be enthralled to give them the advice? . someone is being paid for instruction, mansplaining is not really a thing.


etc., that they have encountered. These are accounts that they shared:


the hill where people never launch.

Author’s Note: When it devolved

When the pilot started to move his

into baby speech, did you inwardly

gear over to that launch (I couldn’t

my skills, I received a lot of feedback

roll your eyes and look for the quick-

stand it), I announced that I was the

from male pilots. At first, I wel-

est escape route?

“As I was learning and developing

comed everything, until I realized

“One day I drove up to the paraglid-

pilot and showed him the proper launch. I was irritated with both my

the comments were endless. They

ing launch with my husband, who

husband and the pilot. My husband

knew best about everything—from

does not fly. One other pilot was on

and I had an ‘interesting’ talk about

setting up to breaking down, to

launch. He immediately assumed

the whole situation later, after I took

launching and landing, and even to

that my non-flying husband was a

off and he drove the car down.”

tying down the glider on the roof of

pilot and asked him the best place

my truck. Someone always chimed

to launch. For some reason, my

a euphemism for getting one’s ears boxed?

in to interrupt me with an unwant-

husband did not tell him he was not

ed session of mansplaining on why

a pilot. He just responded ‘This looks

his method was better or mine was

right,’ and pointed to a place on

Author’s Note: Is “Interesting talk”

“Some men feel the need to mansplain. Sometimes I don’t think they

“Sometimes I don’t think they realize they are doing it, but other times you can tell it’s just a part of their DNA” USHPA PILOT MAGAZINE


knowing my skill level, because I’m a girl, but, alternatively, men don’t take my advice because—you guessed it—I’m a girl. But, noticeably, I’m given extra attention at launch and on landing, because . . .” Author’s Note: Because . . . you have tampons stuck up your nose? “When I first started training to become a pilot, I was at lunch with a few male pilots who were explaining the rating system to a male ‘tourist’ who had come out for the day to watch us fly. One of the guys jokingly explained that there really wasn’t a difference between an H4 and a Master—except when you receive a Master rating, ‘your wiener grows a half inch.’ The pilots all laughed, but the tourist looked a little uncomfortable, probably because I was the only female in the group. However, I felt vindicated when I asked, ‘And what happens when women receive a Master rating?’ . . . crickets . . . uncomfortable silence. Sigh…boys… So many never do grow up!” Author’s Note: Aaawkward. “I was at a competition, standing amid a group of pilots near my glider, when one guy I didn’t know singled me out, came up, shook my hand, and said, ‘My name is ___. I’ve when you are the recipient of a

flown this site probably more than

times you can tell it’s just a part of

mansplaining session. The take-

anybody. Do you want my advice?’

their DNA to mansplain.”

away message for guys to realize

Before I could respond, he proceed-

is that we women are capable. We

ed to hurl a myriad of unsolicited

have an instructor, and it’s not

advice at me. He literally ended with

could not accept that I was learning

you. We don’t need to be treated

the words, ‘You’re welcome.’ I didn’t

quicker than they, and so their de-

differently, and we don’t need your

thank him. I think the worst part

fense mechanism was to mansplain.

mansplaining. So do us all a favor

was that I was standing with three

I guess it made them feel better

and save your breath.”

other pilots he didn’t know either,

realize they are doing it, but other

Author’s Note: Sing-it, sista. “For whatever reason, some guys

to offer their (to them) more wellinformed opinion.” Author’s Note: I say, “Give’em a binky and call it good.” “Don’t get me wrong. Advice can be


Author’s Note: Ouch! “I run a free-flight school. Men (pilots or not) come into my shop and assume I don’t fly, because I’m a girl. Customers and the general

yet he felt it was OK to come up and vomit this information onto me. And I think it was because I’m a girl.” Author’s Note: Naaa, you must have had a “kick me” sign on your back. “Somebody asked me to babysit his

useful. It is foolish to dismiss help

public are astonished that I do fly,

from others, but it can be frustrat-

because I’m a girl. Less-experienced

kid during soarable conditions in

ing, insulting, and overwhelming,

male pilots give me advice without

the middle of the day. This guy liter-


“Why do men always assume you start flying because of a man?” ally asked me to babysit his child

to decide if the closest launch would

male pilots on launch. A visiting pilot walks up and starts talking to

so he could fly. I was standing with

work. A young buck/new pilot

other pilots. I thought, ‘Hey why

(compared to my 20 years) told me

the male pilots. Then he turns to me

aren’t you asking any of the guys if

it was flyable, and suggested I might

and asks, ‘Hey, can you drive my car

they want to babysit your kid?’”

want to hike out to the way upper

down?’ I smile and say ‘Where are

Author’s Note: Because you have “child-bearing years” written all over you.

launch. I thanked him, telling him

the keys?’ It was dark by the time he

I could probably get up from where

finally hiked back up for his car.”

we were. I got my wing out, finessed

Author’s Note: Ahhh, sometimes they hear what they want to hear.

“Guys desperately run out to the

my way down the low ridge, tran-

middle of the field to help me carry

sitioned to the high ridge and was

my hang glider. I’m like, ‘I’m fine; it’s

up. I saw him try to follow and land

of the male pilots approached me

okay.’ They wouldn’t do that for their

on the road just after launching. He

during one of my first lessons and in

guy friends.”

was right. He should have hiked out

a very annoying tone said: ‘So, you

to the way upper launch.”

are trying to learn to fly, huh? Ha ha

Author’s Note: They would if the

“When I started to learn to fly, one

guy friend was holding a beer – duh.

Author’s Note: LOL . . .Heeeheee.

ha…who do you think you are? You

“At the comps, could we get some

“I’ve been at competitions where

are just a woman!’ Coming from a

scantily clad male helpers? Because

I compete and help with a retrieve/

very macho culture, I am used to

I wouldn’t mind having a few of

tracking system. I overhear some-

those kinds of comments. And I’ve

those around.”

one describe, incorrectly, how to

learned to ignore people who say

use the system I designed and built


Author’s Note: Banana hammocks on parade—seriously…OK. “Why do men always assume you

with my husband. I try to step in and provide the right info, but these

Author’s Note: …And she persisted . . . This was the saddest one I received.

start flying because of a man? How

guys say to me: ‘No, this is about

I’m happy to say she has been hang

can this be an independent thought

how the pilots use it’ or ‘I don’t think

gliding for five years now and is to-

and ambition?”

that’s how it works.’ It’s tempting

tally rockin’ it.

Author’s Note: Why else would we

to let them just be wrong, but that

start? Wait. Was that an independent

would just make things harder for


the retrieve and safety crews.”


“No one remembers that the ladies’ team won a bronze medal at the worlds! And what about the laughter

Author’s Note: What doesn’t kill us just makes us bitter. So frustrating. “I’m taking a group photo, and the

have to say, that along with each story these women shared, they all agreed on one thing: for

every guy who mansplains, is sexist, or is a total a-hole, there are 10

that arises when you are the best

camera isn’t working, and my hus-

woman during a competition with

band asked me—OK, wait for it—‘are

treat us as equals. We share and

only two women competing, but

you pressing the button?’ ”

receive advice and help from each

nobody informs the mocking crowd

Author’s Note: Auughhhh!!!

amazing guys who support us and


that you are in the top 10 overall?”

“I’m squatting under my hang

This article isn’t meant in any

Author’s Note: What the heck are

glider putting the undersurface

way to shine a negative light on

you doing in the top 10, without a

battens in, when a guy walks over to

the entire group. It’s just meant to


me and says, ‘So are you setting his

heighten awareness, along with a

glider up for him?’ Still squatting, I

splash of humor, and to remind all

a flying site on the first day of a

look him straight in the face and say,

of us of the support and respect we

contest: ‘…and who do you belong to?’

‘No, I’m taking a dump under here…

should give each other.

Implying that I was the driver rather

ya mind?’”

“I met a man who asked me at

than a female pilot.” Author’s Note: OK, hold me back, hold—me—back. “I was assessing conditions, trying

Author’s Note: Well played—ya little stinker. “The hill is full of guys setting up. I’m done and standing with some

Finally, the second most common thing the women said about mansplaining sessions is: “There have been so many, that I have forgotten a lot of them.”






Flying the Wasatch | photo by JEFF AMBROSE



Tandem Dates by CHERISE TUTTLE


enough, we make it work in a mostly

ters little, though, when we are both

their relationships where

peaceful manner. We can agree to

confident in our own abilities. I love

they need to shut their

disagree as we both smugly know in

hike-and-fly’s, sledders, and short XC

mouth and let the other person lead…

our minds that we are still the only

flights. Cody Tuttle thrives on epic XC

at least for a minute? I wouldn’t call

person in the room who is right.

flights, rowdy conditions, and speed

ho hasn’t had moments in

myself an alpha, necessarily, but I do know that I’m always right. The

Now take this interesting relational dynamic to launch. We’re

flying. But sometimes we align and decide to go on a tandem date. This

problem is that my partner often

both paragliding pilots—one more

is when I set aside my differences

feels the same way. Interestingly

advanced than the other. That mat-

and allow him to take the reins. That

BELOW Adventuring together

in the Himalaya, Nepal | photo by Suresh Nepali. OPPOSITE PDA in the sky while on glide during our “big” XC day.



is, until we get into the air.

closer than it should be. I’m thinking

hopes, snacks, and an extra water

we should go to the far left ridge, but

bottle. Our shorts and sandals were

assess wind direction, sink spots,

Cody steers right. Well, as the more

packed for a fun hitchhike back to

where the thermals may be popping

advanced pilot, he does know things

the truck. Today was a good day. We

up. That’s what pilots do. However, I

that maybe I don’t. Still sinking. The

could see the solo wings high in the

have little-to-no control over where

ridge to the right totally sucks. I

sky already making the traverse

we point our gigantic wing as it

tactfully shout out that maybe we

down the ridge. It was on!

boats through the sky like a dump

should try the ridge to the left. OK,

truck. Thermals that we would

it probably wasn’t that tactful. Cody,

the low ridges feeling the warmth

crank in on solo wings are often

ever humble, concedes, so we boat

of the lower elevation seep through

too small, so we rock in and out of

over to the left ridge, where we sink

our many layers. Suddenly, we heard a faint beep…beep, beep…beep…

Once in the air, I can’t help but

But, alas, we were bumping along

them. But, finally, we find the good

like the Titanic. I can hear the sad

one—the one that will take us to the

violins playing their last song as

beep, beepbeepbeep! We were back

moon! Our vario is making happy,

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet

in the game. Cody cranked as hard

beeping sounds as excited smiles

race to find each other amid the

as he could with our tugboat, and

crease our faces. I break out the

chaos. The vario sings as well, and

we started our climb… almost back

GoPro selfie stick, extend it, and

Cody changes course. I don’t blame

to the height of launch. We moved

start posing. What good is a tandem

him. But I’d like to say that I should

up the hillside in the thermal and

without a selfie? Cody looks down

have been right.

finally we were above launch. Those

and, as the typical photographer

Silence hangs in the air. I know

who were still laying out their wings below hooted and hollered.

would do, proceeds to tell me that

he’s concentrating. This is probably

I’m holding it wrong and haven’t ex-

not a good time to Instagram Live

tended the stick long enough. With

our flight. As a pilot who’s riding

hopped to the next ridge to another

that distraction, he falls out of the

passenger in a tandem, you suddenly

bubble of air. I finally let out the

thermal, and I’m frustrated because

find so much time to do random

breath I didn’t know I was holding

I lost the selfie I was crushing.

stuff, like document every moment,

and “whoopwhooped!” It was game

We reach the top of the thermal

as your pilot in the background

on! Well, as much as a gigantic tandem could “game on.” It’s like

We topped out that thermal and

and go on glide in search of the next

is trying to keep the flight from

one. Our sink rate is awful, which we

tanking. I keep quiet, being sensi-

the Hare and the Tortoise: “Slow

sometimes forget since we’re typical-

tive to his concentration. Today we

and steady wins the race.” Right? I

ly flying solo, and the ground seems

had planned to fly XC. We had high

definitely understand the parable,


Flight Lab 3D Terrain images can also be used to make CFD (computational fluid dynamics) model of pilot and harness.

but in this case, slow doesn’t win the race, the fast C’s and D’s do. Their performance is like a Lamborghini versus a Dodge minivan. No matter how much that soccer mom needs to get to practice, she’s still riding a 2.2L engine. It just can’t compare. Needless to say, we had high hopes of crushing it, but realistic hopes. The skies weren’t epic. Otherwise, let’s be honest: Cody would have been on his Alpina, cranking downwind on bar with electro-Jazz fueling his stoke. This was a day to see how far we could get, and we would try not to land at the LZ. We made it about 15 miles. We landed by the highway, high-fived, peeled off our many layers in the 90-degree heat, packed up, and stuck out our thumbs. I learned that day that we could work together, but also that as the passenger, I needed to allow the pilot to do his job. There were moments I didn’t mention when I was totally right and had sniffed out an awesome thermal. But I didn’t mention it, because at that point, it didn’t matter. What mattered was the time we had in the sky together. What mattered was allowing my ego to be set aside, so we could work together and have a good time while doing it. Flying together when you have such strong emotional ties is interesting. You aren’t as patient as you would be when flying with a stranger, nor do you expect your passenger to be giving you a constant


are dressed and ready for a big XC day. We landed 15 miles down the ridge, stripped off our heavy winter clothes in the 95-degree heat, and hitchhiked back to the truck. OPPOSITE Cherise enjoying an easy flight off Paiute on a mellow day in the Owen’s Valley | photo by Chris Harder. NEXT PAGE Tandem date in the Owens Valley.

barrage of advice, be it sometimes executed in the right way or, some-

beat yourself up, because you never

times, not. You have the additional

want to put her in harm’s way.)

Our relationship is established and if we maintain it well, we can have

But Cody and I realize we’re in

a really cool way of spending time to-

safe because she’s your wife—talk

this together. We both know the

gether, without picking at each other

about pressure! And then there’s the

risks, and we certainly know the

for not finding the best thermal or going the farthest distance.

concern of keeping your passenger

fear of the no-wind landing: What if

rewards. It’s not a “me versus you”

you end up riding her like a cowboy,

activity. We can’t launch without the

because she trips and falls, her feet

support of each other—literally. So

about as fast as we can go, and we

dragging behind her. (You might

why would it be different in the air?

love every moment of it!

So we fly on slowly, because that’s









Hang Gliding Club by ANNETTE O'NEIL



LEFT Nolan, Hunter, and Ryan Salvo teaching the first official training session at Clover Hollow training hill. OPPOSITE Hunter (left) and Nolan (right) instruct Emily Webb in her first competition flight at the 44th Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular, Nags Head, NC.

sioned suggestion that the twins go to Kitty Hawk Kites and get their instructor ratings. No teaching experience necessary, the instructor added. The proposition came as a complete surprise, but it landed on interested ears. The Hollingsheads headed east, to the dunes. “So there we were,” he grins, “sprinting up and down the sand dunes with the students, helping with the tether, having a ball. It was the best job I have ever had in my life. Kitty Hawk Kites has got a really vigorous training program; if you’re excited about it and can learn quickly

“It started totally by accident,” Nolan Hollingshead laughs. From my perspective, it doesn’t seem like an accident

(which are pretty much the only qualifications they look for) you’re a beginner instructor by the end of the summer. Hunter and I were hooked. Just like that.” Nolan and Hunter went straight back to school from

at all: a preternaturally charming pair of athletic twins—

the dunes. It was their second year at legendarily club-

Nolan and Hunter—got roped into sprinting the dunes at

rich Virginia Tech, where both were studying engineering

Kitty Hawk. They then created a movement around their

(Nolan, mechanical; Hunter, aerospace).

new passion that fostered it in an unbroken chain of new

“I couldn’t help asking,” Nolan muses, “why other people

participants. Far-fetched? Not really. Their foundation was

weren’t flying, why there wasn’t a hang gliding club. I

already there. The brothers were rock climbing together by

asked Hunter what he thought would happen if we started

age 12, as well as wakeboarding and free running. To cel-

a hang gliding club at VT and tried to bring more people

ebrate their shared 18th birthday, they skydived together.

into it. He was down for it, so we started a Facebook group

They both became fixed-wing pilots, sharing their dad’s

and started organizing trips to Kitty Hawk Kites. It seemed

airplane. They do a lot of activities and they do them with

obvious. We could already teach there. It was just a matter


of bringing some friends along.”

That said: Nolan chortles, “I didn’t even want to go hang

In those first days, being a club member “just meant

gliding the first time. It was all Hunter’s idea. He had to

you were one of the twins’ girlfriends,” Nolan explains, “or

drag me to that first tandem.” Of course: Where one twin

somebody we rock climbed with.” To change that, they real-

goes, the other follows. That’s been the pattern since the

ized they’d have to build an entire infrastructure. Luckily,

Hollingsheads were toddlers.

there was precedent.

To hear Nolan tell it, the twin dynamic looms large in this story. “I’ve always described our relationship to people in these terms,” he explains. “We are cheating at life, because any

“Part of the structure came from talking to the guys at the Berkeley Hang Gliding Club,” Nolan says. “Actually, back then, I didn’t know they existed. Bruce Weaver from Kitty Hawk put me in contact with a couple of the Berkeley club

idea one of us has, we’ve got double the effort to explore

members, and I called them. They explained that students

it. Paragliding and hang gliding are hard sports to get into,

will pay a couple of hundred dollars in dues for a semester,

because you want a friend to do it with, if you even want

with all the instruction volunteer-based. It got us thinking.”

to do it in the first place. You need someone who is down

With the starting-gun fired, of course, came the challeng-

to doing basically anything you want to do, and that’s who

es: insurance, the conspicuous absence of a teaching glider,

your twin is.”

site details, and working out a legitimate setup, since both

After a successful (if reluctant) first few flights, Nolan

brothers had started out as non-rated instructors, only able

and Hunter continued dabbling a bit in hang gliding, as

to teach their closest friends. The club also had no local

they dabble in so many other adventures. One day, how-

site. Growing the club under those conditions seemed to be

ever, an instructor on the hill made an earnest and impas-

a non-starter.




Nolan Hollingshead helping Ryan Salvo launch at Eagle Rock, VA

But, ever the engineers, the Hollingsheads went about

standing and explained that the locals formerly used it as a

solving those problems one by one. They started by earning

hang gliding launch, before interest in the sport tapered off.

their credentials. Next, they searched for a glider to teach

It was called Clover Hollow.

on. They raised a thousand dollars through a VT tailgating event, staffed entirely by stoked volunteers, half of whom had never touched a hang glider (and never intended to). One terrible glider purchase later, they had a too-heavy

there right now’.” After a warren of winding bends, the 200-foot hill loomed magically into view. Still a little stunned, Hunter

groundhog, suitable only for flat-ground running. This was

meekly approached the front door of the farmhouse to ask

evident when on a “trial run” training session, one pilot

the owner’s blessing. Miraculously, he got it.

managed to sprint his way into the air, float farther than

Things were starting to come together. The nascent club

expected and head straight for his final destination in a

was starting to figure out a glider, a hill, and instructors.

ditch. While the student was “the most excited person on

Progress was slow, however, as the ever-twisting Rubik’s

earth” to have gotten airborne for the first time, Hunter,

cube of a volunteer flying organization tends to be. One

who had been running alongside him for the entire abor-

side is almost blue, and’s not. Interest was a prob-

tive event, explained nervously that they would not be

lem for a long time. However, when the twins graduated,

doing that again!

their then-girlfriends, Emily and Megan, took over, and that

During one of those ground-handling sessions in the spring semester of 2016, a gentleman came up and intro-


“We piled into his car,” Nolan grins, “and said, ‘take us

interest picked right back up. “Having Emily and Megan running around Virginia Tech,”

duced himself. He told the slack-jawed students about a

Nolan laughs, “arm and arm, best friends, screaming ‘who

200-foot hill not 10 minutes away from where they were

wants to come hang gliding with us?’ with their big, conta-


gious smiles, to anyone who will listen... There was a line out the door.” Thanks to the Foundation for Free Flight, a glider was waiting once a student got to the front of that line. That boost, as Nolan will cheerfully tell you, was the best thing that happened for the club. “We were thinking about glider funding while I was at Lookout Mountain,” Nolan says. “And I heard from a pilot there that when the Tennessee Treetoppers club had bought some land for their launch and landing site, they had gotten help—a grant—from the Foundation for Free Flight.” That pilot explained that the Foundation for Free Flight is a 501 C (3), non-profit, completely separate from USHPA and staffed by volunteers. Their sole purpose is to support the free flight community by providing assistance with site preservation, safety and education, and competition. And he gave Nolan the phone number. Nolan wasted no time in calling. Jayne DePanfilis, the Foundation’s volunteer executive director, answered Nolan’s phone call; their conversation lasted for a solid hour. Nolan told her about the club and the fistful of excited people at VT stoked to fly, but that they didn’t have an appropriate glider to teach newbies within the context of Clover Hollow. “She was so excited,” Nolan grins. “She was blown away that all of this had been happening under the radar. She said yes, absolutely, apply for a grant!” Jayne asked if the club was a USHPA-approved chapter and Nolan told her he was working with USHPA to complete the application. He had already secured his regionaldirector’s endorsement, and he received the final go-ahead for the chapter before the grant was approved. He assured Jayne that they were USHPA-certified basic instructors and, Nolan recalls, “I emphasized that we provide only completely free instruction, without compensation, and that we do not sell equipment. We charge reasonable club membership dues to help offset the costs associated with maintaining equipment, and to maintain our chapter status. We had already obtained landowner permission for instructional and recreational flying at our sites, and our risk-mitigation plans were in place. We were ready to go fly!” When Jayne asked what the club needed from the FFF, Nolan told her that, ideally, they needed the majority of the funding to purchase two brand new Alphas. “We have a dilemma,” he pointed out, “where the majority of the people at Virginia Tech are 90-pound girls, which is the total opposite of others in the sport, while everyone else in hang gliding is a 175-pound male. We needed a smaller glider. It’s essential for our club. In an ideal world, we need one of

Several of the club officers show off the club’s new Wills Wing Alpha at Virginia Tech’s club expo, GobblerFest. MIDDLE Nolan, Hunter and Emily pose together at Lookout mountain flight park after a club trip. BOTTOM Hunter Hollingshead (left) tells tales of wonder to the first-time pilots during our lookout mountain beginner trip. TOP




Several VT Club members soaring together in Eagle Rock, VA

each size...” Another wrinkle was that, ideally, the gliders needed to be available by the start of the fall semester at VA Tech, ready to impress the crowds at the VT Club Expo. Jayne proposed a matching-fund strategy, explaining that the Foundation requires grant recipients to take an

could pull it off again. He mentioned, that, too. She let him know that she’d bring it to the Foundation for Free Flight board at the very next opportunity: the next day, as it turned out, at their annual face-to-face board meeting. Talk about good timing! She seemed confident that,

active, leading role in their fundraising efforts. She asked if

although the FFF hadn’t historically funded glider pur-

it would be possible to raise the matching funds and Nolan

chases, this request—because it was for training gliders to

responded that some folks at Kitty Hawk Kites might be

be used for completely free instruction, by USHPA-certified

willing to kick in. Because of the club’s previous success

instructors, organized under a USHPA-approved chapter,

in their tailgate fundraiser, Nolan was confident that they

with permission from their landowners— would likely fit under the “education” segment of the FFF mission. Clearly she liked the idea. The call came back just a week later: Approved! Jayne informed Nolan that the trustees were excited to support a college club’s effort to provide completely free instruction to grow the sport. There were conditions spelled out in the grant agreement letter: The VT Hang Gliding Club had to raise the $1000 as pledged, and the club had to actively seek help from the Kitty Hawk crowd and other resources. “She said, ‘OK, you guys get fundraising, and we will get to working out the details’,” Nolan beams. “She continued, ‘I am so excited about what you are doing. I think this is going to be huge!’ I could hardly believe it. I was so stoked.” Immediately after hanging up, Nolan rallied the troops. He called up Hunter and Megan and Emily. “I told them they had to bring the energy for this,” he says, “because I already knew it was going to take a massive joint effort.” The team got right to work. Megan fired up a Go Fund Me page. They started talking to friends. Notably, they did not



raise the club dues. “This funding would normally come from club dues,” Nolan explains, “but our original goal was to make hang gliding as accessible and free as possible. We didn’t want to have multiple-hundred-dollar club dues if we could avoid it. To do that, we had to meet this goal with old-fashioned fundraising, so that’s what we did.” The donations started rolling in. Individual pilots familiar with the club donated. So did friends of Jayne, people at VA Tech who wanted to fly, the brothers’ friends, families, and so on. In the end, the club raised about $1200, of which $1000 was used for the down payment for the training gliders, which were purchased at a significant discount from the manufacturer. The Foundation for Free Flight matched the remaining, and the club got its gliders. Those brandnew flying machines would be on the hill at Clover Hollow by the fall semester, right on schedule. “We are getting attention now!” Nolan exclaims. “People know who we are!” When he started this club, Nolan muses, “I had no idea what it would become. I thought it would be awesome if we could get maybe two pilots trained or, at best, three or four, so it could be a ‘real’ club. Now we have the biggest collegiate hang gliding club in the country.” They might have the biggest smiles in the country, too. Nolan’s, at least, is in the running. “I love teaching hang gliding,” Nolan enthuses. “It is so much fun! There’s nothing like it. At first, people don’t understand why I am willing to do all this stuff for free— why I’ll drive six hours just to teach someone to fly. They make fun of me, until they come out to Kitty Hawk Kites to do a training session. When they come down, they finally understand why I get so excited about this.” “Our goals are simple,” Nolan continues. “We want to see a self-sustaining club, and a big part of that is accomplished by bringing people to Kitty Hawk Kites to become instructors. As much as I’m excited to drive six hours to teach people how to hang glide, I’m not going to be able to do it that often now, since I have a full-time engineering job. I want it to be something I can walk away from while it keeps growing. That is the ultimate goal.” Well, it’s working. And Nolan insists that it’ll work at other schools, too, just as it’s worked at VT and Berkeley. “Anybody who has an interest and passion for the sport is perfectly able to start up a club at his or her school and build up their skill sets with a similar, like-minded group of people,” he says. “ I think that’s an excellent way to increase numbers around the country. For us, this all began

Kitty Hawk is great for pilots and co-pilots alike.. The dunes of North Carolina are a fertile training ground.

with one person enthusiastically reaching out to spark the


idea that we should continue hang gliding. Let’s keep that


chain going!”




Santa Cruz Flats Race 2018 by SARA WEAVER



he 2018 United States Hang

flyable days as either of the previous

naturally stands out amid miles of

Gliding National Series culmi-


orange sand. Temperatures over the

Santa Cruz is one of the most

week ranged from the mid-90’s to

Grande, Arizona, under a blazing

peculiar competition sites in the

a high of 107°, meaning hydration

sun, with six (out of seven possible)

US. Most pilots choose lodgings at

was the name of the game for many

taskable days. The sport class was

the Francisco Grande Resort Hotel,

visiting pilots.

relatively small compared to Big

a nine-story building bursting out

Spring and Quest earlier in the year,

of the desert floor, right beside the

a mile to the airstrip at the desert’s

with just 13 pilots. Although condi-

airstrip. The crunchy green-brown

edge. Most pilots choose to set up

tions were challenging, the Santa

grass of the golf course is perfect

their gliders in the shade of the

Cruz Flats Race saw twice as many

for setting up hang gliders, but un-

resort, then carry their wing to the

nated in the desert near Casa


From the hotel, it’s about a third of

launch line—a long walk under a blazing sun. However, with a pool and a bar within steps of each hotel room, it’s no wonder pilots consider the SCFR one of their favorite competitions in the US. Day 1 acted as a test piece for pilots to acclimatize to the site. The sport class headed 18 km over Casa Grande Mountain and back, for a total of 37 km. Most pilots were easily able to make the turnpoint, after a nice altitude boost over the mountain. The long glide on the first leg to the river wash/thermalpopper at the foot of the mountain was easy, with a weak tailwind, but proved to be a bit challenging on the way back. Half of the remaining pilots bombed out just three kilometers from goal, although five made

The second day presented weaker conditions and a slightly longer

finish the kite-shaped course back at the Francisco Grande. It was slow

it in. Matt Pruitt claimed his first

task, at 42 km. After tagging the

going and difficult to find thermals.

1000-point day win on a Wills Wing

mountain again, pilots headed

The mountain didn’t provide much


south, then west, then back north to

help, although Matt reported decent

TOP Matt Pruitt in first (L), Dave Aldrich in second (C), and LJ Omara (R) in third for the sport class at the Santa Cruz Flats Race 2018. BOTTOM Sport-class pilot Jeff Parrot working light lift. OPPOSITE Organizer Jamie Shelden with open-class pilots Kevin Carter (L) and Owen Morse (R).



LEFT Second-place finisher Dave Aldrich lining up to crush another day. RIGHT Competition winner Matt Pruitt topping out the gaggle. OPPOSITE Tug pilots lined up and ready to go.

far from over. The 5th task on Day

lift on the lee side. He won the day

from the start circle. The day was

again, followed closely by Dave

valued at just 203 points. A cold

6 attempted to send pilots slightly

Aldrich in a Wills Wing Sport3. They

front rained out Day 4, but the last

crosswind to the northwest to tag

were the only pilots in goal for Task

three days of the competition were

the first point, on a long downwind



leg to the southeast, then back to the

Stronger winds were predicted for

The rest of the week proved to be

Francisco Grande. The winds were

“Regardless of the challenging conditions in 2018, the Santa Cruz Flats Race is still one of the best competitions held in the US.� Day 3, which sent both the sport and

stronger than predicted, pinning the

open classes on a downwind zigzag.

the sport class. The 4th task took

pilots to the start circle and killing

With a strong northwest component

pilots straight downwind to Eloy

any dreams of making the first turn-

pushing the narrow thermals south,

Airport, where they met up with the

point, much less goal. Dave took the

open pilots at goal. Matt again made

day with a resounding eight points,

on the 41km task proved extremely

it the furthest, 27 km along the

while the rest of the field was close

challenging for the sport class. Dave

38km course. The day was valued at

behind with seven.

was the only pilot to make the first

only 192 points.

the first northwest crosswind leg

turnpoint, but sank out just 18 km


extremely challenging for most of


The sport-class battering was

The final day saw three pilots in goal, so all hope was not lost. The

35km task was mostly downwind,

retrieves are easy, landing fields

The Foundation for Free Flight

doglegging north of the hotel to keep

plentiful, and the poolside bar

pilots from the fields to the north-

service in this mid-desert dust bowl

is a non-profit organization run

west that are known for sink. Dave

ridiculously appealing. Hang gliding

wrapped up his already impressive

competitions aren’t exactly a relax-

mission prioritizes site preserva-

week with another day win, fol-

ing vacation, but the SCFR almost

tion, safety and education in free

lowed by Doug Hale and Matt.

qualifies. Thanks to Jamie Shelden

flight, and support of US competi-

Matt’s consistently strong perfor-

for organizing, and to all the tug

completely by volunteers. Their

mance throughout the week earned

pilots and support crew for making

tors nationally and internationally.

him an overall victory 500 points

this race so special.

Recently, other FFF projects have

ahead of Dave, whose scrappy flying

After competing at both Big

funded the Virginia Tech Hang

in the worst conditions earned him

Spring and Quest, the SCFR was the

three day wins (Matt had the other

last stop on my 2018 goal of flying

three). LJ Omara wrapped up the

in the sport class at every sanc-

ing wings, and the acquisition of a

tough week in third.

tioned US competition. Without

new paragliding launch at Henson

the Foundation for Free Flight and

Gap, Tennessee. The Foundation

Regardless of the challenging

Gliding Club’s purchases of train-

conditions in 2018, the Santa Cruz

everyone’s support of the FFF’s

Flats Race is still one of the best

Women’s Competition Fund, I never

competitions held in the US. The site

would have made it. I was the only

For more information or to apply

demands far more patience than

female competitor at the Santa Cruz

for an FFF grant, visit

Quest, Big Spring, or Dinosaur, but

Flats Race this year.

exists to help pilots and clubs.



Different Flavors of Thermals by HONZA REJMANEK


t is noontime on a hot and

get back above launch but it feels

going flying. Unfortunately, it is not

sunny day. There is not a cloud

like a lot more work than it should

quite that simple.

in the sky. However, birds are

In order to judge the importance

airborne and you decide to make the

of one meteorological phenomenon

climb rates. It might not be a record-

best of the challenging conditions.

with respect to another, it is impor-

breaking day but it looks soarable.

That evening you have a chance to

tant to keep in mind a sense of scale

The wind is light and the cycles on

talk with the other pilots who flew

both for time and space. Sinking air

launch indicate that it should be pos-

that day. They explain that it was a

in a high-pressure system descends

sible to stay up. The only other pilot

high-pressure day with “bullet ther-

on the order of approximately a cen-

on launch looks over at you and says,

mals.” As you go to sleep that night

timeter per second and can persist

you can’t help but wonder, “Why

for days. Thermals rise at meters per

Being proud of your thermaling

should thermals on high-pressure

second and last minutes. Thus the

skills you decide to take off. Losing

days be punchier, and presumably

generally sinking air in the center

the first thermal right off launch you

smaller? How does this contrast

of a high might slow the thermal

find nothing but sink. Soon you are a

with days when thermals may be

ascent rate down by 1% at most. This

third of the way down to the land-

stronger and more usable for better

alone should not account for any

ing zone wishing you had insisted

climbs but not so rough-edged?”

detectable change in the behavior of

“Looks good—you go first.”

on the other pilot going before you.


be. Regardless, you are glad to be

spiraling skyward with encouraging

If thermal quality were only re-

thermals. Rather than initially focusing on

Suddenly you hit a strong punchy

lated to surface-level pressure, then

thermal. Knowing that this might

a simple barometer would tell us if

be your only shot at staying up, you

we should head to launch. If great

behavior of thermals, it is prefer-

hyper-focus on finding the core and

thermal conditions were only depen-

able to first focus on surface heating

staying in it. Despite your best ef-

dent on our location with respect to

rates and depths of the convective

forts, you cannot keep a full circle in

synoptic highs and lows, then all we

boundary layer, the layer in which

lift. Passing in and out of this punchy

would need is a recent surface-pres-

thermals are found. Only then

small-cored thermal you eventually

sure chart to decide if it was worth

should we focus on how high- and


synoptic pressure to categorize the

will certainly descend due to the

low-pressure systems might exert

the strength of the capping inver-

their influence.

sion. Greater heating rates lead to

sinking airmass. During the day, the

an increase in entrainment velocity,

capping inversion might continue

as would be typical of dry surfaces

whereas increasing the strength of

to lower over humid regions that do

experiencing a high sun angle, it is

the capping inversion decreases en-

not experience strong surface heat-

possible to create strong contrasts

trainment velocity. Typical entrain-

ing. This is because much of the net

between the temperature of the sur-

ment velocities are on the order of

radiation goes into the evaporation

face and the overlying air. The over-

centimeters per second. Additionally,

of water from plants. After several

With strong heating rates, such

lying air heats rapidly, becomes less

the subsiding or sinking, stable free-

days of shallower boundary layers

dense, and quickly becomes buoyant.

atmosphere air above the boundary

and narrow thermals, the capping

As enough of this air coalesces, it

layer is warming as it sinks. This

inversion can lower enough to

begins to rise as a thermal. How fast

warming above the boundary layer

where it might eventually be eroded

and how wide a thermal will eventu-

top is having a stabilizing effect

much like a surface inversion. Good

ally be is dependent on the depth

similar to that of warm-air advec-

thermals might return once again

of the convective boundary layer.

tion above the boundary layer top.

despite the fact that the high pres-

Given the same surface-heating

Remember that warming from above

sure remains.

rate, a deeper boundary layer yields

slows down the rate of boundary-lay-

wider and stronger thermals, while

er convection despite strong heating

summertime daytime entrainment

a shallower boundary layer yields

at the surface.

velocities can more than keep up

narrower and slightly weaker ther-

The center of a surface low pres-

In high mountain deserts the

with the sinking air in the center of

sure is experiencing low-level con-

a high. Thus convective boundary

boundary layer will be stronger

vergence and this leads to general

layers may remain deep with great

because they will have had a longer

ascent of the whole airmass. Capping

thermals despite the big H on the surface chart.

mals. The thermals in the deeper

vertical distance over which to ac-

inversions become less stable in a

celerate compared to their shallow-

rising airmass, and the air above

boundary-layer cousins. A shallow

the boundary layer is cooling due to

populated areas the lack of strong

boundary layer will have narrower

the ascent. Cooling at the top of the

winds in the center of a high-

thermals; nonetheless they can have

boundary layer promotes convection

pressure system can allow for the

Lastly it should be noted that in

“Given the same surface-heating rate, a deeper boundary layer yields wider and stronger thermals, while a shallower boundary layer yields narrower and slightly weaker thermals.” accumulation of aerosols, and the air

significant punch to them because

within the layer. Thus several fac-

the greatest rate of acceleration

tors conspire to deepen the bound-

in the boundary layer can get quite

occurs in the lowest layers where

ary layer. As a result, wider thermals

polluted. This has a stabilizing effect,

the thermal is most positively buoy-

will reach greater heights. Of course,

especially in the early morning and

with enough moisture present we

late afternoon as the sun’s rays are

often develop widespread clouds

intercepted by more of this dirty air

deeper by entrainment, or mixing

that shut off the surface heating

before reaching the surface.

at the top. Overshooting thermals

rate, thus weakening or all together

chew away at the overlying capping

shutting down the production of

inversion. They mix in some of this


ant. Convective boundary layers grow

air from above, thereby increasing the depth of the boundary layer. The

In the center of a high pressure, air is descending. The capping

The take-home message is that narrow “bullet” thermals can result in high-pressure scenarios in certain locations. However, high pressure over your flying site is not enough

rate at which the convective bound-

inversion is becoming stronger

to write off a flying day. A sound-

ary layer grows in depth is called the

and whether it descends or rises is

ing offers far more insight than a

entrainment velocity and is depen-

dependent on the entrainment veloc-

surface pressure chart for predicting

dent on surface heating rates and

ity. At night the capping inversion

thermal characteristics.



Tussling with Turbulence Strategies for Hang Gliding & Paragliding by DENNIS PAGEN


rit and gumption are the

such as tornados, hurricanes and

qualities that most pilots

low-pressure systems are not included

have in spades. But we all

in our discussion because they are

The one takeaway from our water analogy is that the stronger the flow,

can be turned into simpering milque-

caused by other factors (pressure im-

the stronger the turbulence—from

toasts when confronted by in-flight

balances, for example).

purely mechanical forces, at least.

threats. The most common of these

We can readily visualize turbulence

However, in the air we have thermal-

in the air by watching flowing water.

induced turbulence as well, and we

pilot who has progressed beyond the

Near the banks of a slow moving

can say in general that the stronger

training hill has experienced at least

stream you may see lazy eddies roll-

the thermal the stronger the potential

“threats” is turbulence. Almost every


below us.

mild turbulence, but have they formed

ing along the bank. In a fast flowing

turbulence. Rotors are a special case

good habits and strategies for dealing

stream you will see stronger swirls

in that they are usually large in com-

with turbulence? Let’s see how best to

and often confused mixing, especially

parison to a glider, and should always

handle scrappy air.

near solid objects such as rocks dis-

be considered to be a threat—more on


rupting the water’s flow. Sometimes

this matter later.

a large object will have a permanent

We can almost always categorize tur-

swirl or eddy right downstream from


bulence as swirls in the air. Perhaps

it which tends to stay in one place. We

One of the easiest ways to deal with

we only feel gusts from one direc-

call such a swirl a “standing eddy” or

turbulence is to avoid it entirely.

tion, but what we feel is normally just

a “rotor.” These different effects in

Hopefully that’s what your early flying

part of a large swirl. The swirls can

water have direct parallels in the air.

does. Usually we have new pilots flying in the morning or evening when

be small—almost down to molecular

In fact, what you feel moving through

size—or huge. We are mainly inter-

the swirls in water in a small boat or

the sun’s heating is reduced. Solar

ested in swirls that are caused by

kayak is very similar to what you feel

heating causes thermals, of course,

mechanical mixing or thermals. Some

in the air, except when we are flying

but also causes general convective

large-scale swirling of the atmosphere

the swirls are all around us, not only

mixing which can bring the usually


faster moving upper winds down to the surface and therefore produce more turbulence. Smooth-as-glass evening flights are a boon to early pilots. One note of caution: Beware of late morning flights when the surface air can reach trigger temperature so that thermals suddenly release, turning a formerly cupcake sled ride into a churning mixing bowl. Such a morning release usually results in many thermals rising all around. They tend to be weaker than thermals later in the day, but they can be disconcerting for a turbulence “newbie.” But the plain truth is, if we chose to always try to avoid all turbulence we will not be likely to progress much in our flying. Perhaps a pilot can learn to soar on a coastal ridge without turbulence, but in order to really get beyond a couple hundred feet up or to fly inland, textured air comes with the territory. So we really are speaking here of how to avoid the worst turbulence. As alluded to above, rotors are

be a bit conservative, but not always if

we limit our takeoff in the evening to

there are circumstances like conflict-

winds below approximately 8 mph. I have encountered inversion layers

mega-bumps. We should avoid them

ing flows behind the object, the ad-

at all costs. Fortunately, with only a

dition of thermals into the mix or an

on a number of flights during the day,

basic understanding of the wind’s

inversion altering the flow.

with little or no warning. However, as

flow we can. The simple rule is to not

Inversions are layers of air with

long as the winds were reasonable for flight, the turbulence was not too

fly directly downwind of a tree line,

different compositions, be it tempera-

building, hill, cliff, ridge, mountain,

ture, density, humidity, flow direction

bad and we can almost always fly

etc. The same rule applies to unor-

or any combo of the above. If the air is

away from the turbulence by descend-

ganized turbulence swirls that drift

flowing with different velocities in two

ing or going back to a place where it

downwind from a solid. We can make

nearby layers, a band of turbulence

wasn’t turbulent. Photo 1 illustrates a

our rule more specific by including

will be formed between them. We call

sky showing signs of inversion-layer

the size of the solid blocking the wind

such turbulence “shear turbulence,”

mixing. Several of us flew into this

flow and the speed of the flow with

since it is caused by a shearing action

sky but landed after about 15 minutes

the following guideline: Avoid the

between the layers. One of the most

because the turbulence was constant,

downwind area of a solid by a distance

common times to encounter shear tur-

unorganized and unpleasant. Such

equal in feet to the wind speed (in mph)

bulence is when descending to land

mixed-up clouds are a sign of a shear layer and potential shear turbulence.

times the solid height (in feet). So, for

in the evening when the ground has

example, if you are in a 10mph wind

cooled to create a stable, dense layer at

The one important way to avoid

behind a 60-foot-tall tree line, better

the surface below the general airflow.

the worst turbulence is to limit the

remain 600 feet (two football fields)

Usually such turbulence exists above

maximum wind strength and gusti-

away from the downwind side. If you

the ground and we can pass through

ness in which you fly. Remember, the

are in a 15mph wind on a 1000-foot-

it in time to perform our landing

force in the wind increases by the

high ridge, remain 15,000 feet (2.8

setup in smooth air. Evening shear

square of the wind speed (double the

miles) away downwind. This rule may

turbulence can usually be avoided if

wind speed, its potential force and



swirl strength goes up by a factor of

interface. But the most severe turbu-

is between 30 and 40 mph (basetube

four). For myself and many experi-

lence in a thermal is felt on the sides,

between your chest and bellybut-

enced pilots, our maximum cutoff

where the lifting air in the thermal

ton). At these speeds the bumps will

wind has been considerably reduced

is usually sliding by sinking air that

feel sharper, but you will have an

over the years. This approach has not

the thermal has displaced as it climbs.

enhanced ability to control out of

been dictated by age, but by experi-

At this interface can be swirls, felt as

an inadvertent roll or speed change.

ence, wisdom and the fact that better

sudden bumps or strong opposing

Often the gusts will tend to reduce

glider performance allows us to soar

flows (up and down) that tends to lever

your airspeed (especially if they come

in lighter conditions.

us into a roll. Figure 1 shows some of

from behind), so remember, “airspeed

these effects.

is your friend.”

Ground turbulence—caused by the wind tumbling around ground

The turbulence effects we feel in

you to make quick, positive controls

objects—is the most common cause of

thermals tend to be related to the

turbulence we encounter. The stron-

strength of the thermal (how fast it

mostly in roll as a gust tries to lift

ger the wind, the stronger it can be.

rises). A faster-rising thermal natu-

one wing or the other. Sometimes

You can detect wind strength before

rally pushes the surrounding air aside

the bump comes so quickly that you cannot prevent some change in your

you launch by watching its effect

more vigorously and the swirls are

on trees, bushes, dust, other gliders,

then typically stronger. Also, windy

wing’s orientation, but you should

birds, water, etc. In a similar manner

days result in more random turbu-

quickly make the control that restores

you can detect gusts by watching for

lence because the thermal can be a

it to your desired attitude, bank and heading. Experienced pilots handle

the changes. Part of being a good pilot

bit torn apart and doesn’t rise in as co-

is learning to assess the air’s nature

hesive a mass. Finally, high-pressure

turbulence of this ilk almost automati-

before you are immersed in it. If you

days usually exhibit more turbulent

cally as their muscles react to produce

cannot do this, ask the opinion of an

thermals since they tend to be small

the correct amount and sense of

experienced pilot.

and shred as they push up through

control instantly. Newer pilots should

the slowly subsiding air mass typical

learn these controls gradually by

to the realization that thermal flying

of high-pressure days. Usually high-

flying in only the slightest textured air at first.

Those with experience have come is extreme fun and the stronger the

pressure-day thermal turbulence isn’t

wind, the less formed and more elu-

too radical, but it is less than pleasant

sive the thermals. There is a reason

since it often thwarts the good han-

encountered if we’ve made a mistake

that many hang gliding and paraglid-

dling we need to work the elusive and

or choose to fly in very strong thermal

ing events take place in Florida with

weak high-pressure lift.

conditions. The mistakes are flying


downwind from a large object.

its good thermal production and normally light winds. Finally, we avoid some serious

Here we will address flying in tur-

Horrendous turbulence is only

in high wind or letting ourselves get Extremely strong thermal turbu-

turbulence by avoiding thermals (as

bulence for both hang gliders and

lence can be readily found in semi-

noted for beginners) or avoiding the

paragliders separately.

arid or desert conditions. In decades of flying, I have only encountered two

strongest thermal conditions. We deal

“extreme” thermals in the East, while

with the special case of thermals next.

Hang Gliding Turbulence Strategies


If we have been unlucky or unper-

the Owens Valley, CA; Sandia Peak,

ceptive and blunder into turbulence,

NM; Dinosaur, CO and other sites have

Thermals, those rising clumps of air

what is the best procedure—the best

offered a few overly exciting thermals.

we all learn to love, roil the air even

way to minimize the turbulence ef-

While entering into or exiting from

when they rise in zero-wind situations.

fects? In mild turbulence we suggest

such a thermal is when we usually en-

They bulldoze through the ambient air,

you fly around best-glide speed (not

counter the most problems. The ther-

pushing it aside, and can leave a wake

minimum sink) for a bit of maneuver-

mal effects can pitch us up abruptly

ability, and focus on keeping your

or nose-down to the point of tumbling.

aloft. Often the top of a thermal can

speed steady and your wings level

But just as often we can be rolled

exhibit choppy air as it rises, because

when going straight. In stronger

beyond 90 degrees by the upward flow

the border of the thermal and the

turbulence we must strive to maintain

on one wing and the downward flow

surrounding air is a miniature shear

best maneuvering speed. This speed

on the other. We have dealt with this

of unsteady air as the thermal passes


Often turbulent conditions require


emergency in previous articles, so suf-

amount of force or pressure upon

Ankles and legs are easier to repair

fice it to say here that if you are about


than spines.

move to the low side of your base bar

canopy directly above you (in its

or the glider will be more likely to

normal flying position) and main-

end up upside down. In any case, we

taining good pressurization equally

recommend maintaining extra speed

on both sides as much as possible.


when gliding between thermals and

The whole subject of active flying is

with the air to minimize the effect

maintain much steeper banks in the

beyond the scope of this article, and

it has on us and in some ways even

thermals in strong thermal air. The

newer pilots should have guidance

learn to welcome it because frequent-

speed provides a bit more glider pitch

from an instructor concerning active

ly it identifies thermals. In addition,

stability and maneuverability, while

flying for their glider type and skill

we learn “bump tolerance,” simply by

the bank angle allows the shear along


to be rolled over you must instantly

the thermal boundary less leverage to

Active flying involves keeping the

Even with good active flying skills,

umps are a part of our flying experience. Turbulence comes with the territory. As we

advance, we learn to tussle and scuffle

being more familiar with its limits. Every year when we would travel from

roll you over. This strategy has saved

a wing fold—known as a “collapse”—

the relatively soft East to the big air

many pilots grief in strong conditions

can occur. Many pilots have tried to

out West, it would take a flight or two

since the ‘80s.

correct the situation by making more

to become relaxed in the more active

dramatic controls than necessary

air. In other words, we still had our

and occasionally end up causing a

safety margin, but our grit and gumption had just bumped up!

Paragliding bump strategies Paragliders (the wings) mainly defend

deteriorating situation with a collapse

against turbulence by being flexible

or even a spin to the other side. This

(passing swirls disturb the wing, but

event can happen more readily when

it soon restores to flying shape) and

the turbulence is constant or frequent

maintaining pressurization. A good

(in an inversion turbulence stream,

pilot will aid the former by perform-

e.g.). A good training program teaches

ing the control that restores a wing to

the proper reactions and timing for

its flying shape if it hasn’t automati-

handling run-of-the-mill wingtip

cally done so, and assure the latter by

folds and other canopy deformations.

keeping off the speed bar and holding

In almost all situations that devolve

a steady pressure on the brakes (flying

beyond the short-lived wing ruffles,

slowly). While paragliders cannot fly

folds and tip collapses, the best thing

in as strong winds as hang gliders,

to do is to look for your parachute

they tend to be less adversely affected

handle and throw the chute. Ground

by strong thermals. This result is

clearance is at a premium, so do not

mainly due to the tendency to fly a

hesitate if the disturbance does not

paraglider slowly in thermals, which

resolve quickly.

increases its pressurization so that canopy deformations are minimized. The pilots’ main job is to try to avoid severe turbulence as described

Thanks to Josh Cohn for the suggestions concerning paragliding flight.

Landing mode is one of the vulnerable situations for our little wings, because even a small collapse can increase our sink rate or ability to

above, of course. Besides limiting the

flare when the time comes. For that

maximum wind you fly in, be aware

reason, we recommend that pilots

of thermal strength and avoid dust

keep good pressurization with ample

devils below at least 1000 feet above

brake pull, while not getting near

the ground (more in areas of heavier

stall position. Also, coming in to the

debris). If you do encounter turbu-

ground in a somewhat standing posi-

lence, practice “active flying.” This

tion in the harness is a good defense

label is simply a name for the tech-

for a possible near-ground collapse. If

nique of constantly feeling the brake

you are sitting back in this event, your

pressures and maintaining the same

butt will hit first rather than your feet.



photo by NICK GREECE

WHY FLY? by NIK HAWKES The answer goes deep, maybe deeper

There is joy in flying by (literally) the

wing out

than I can take you. Still, I’ll try.

seat of your pants. Sitting in a harness

to my

loosely strapped, connected by strings

side, to feel

I fly because it’s the loneliest, most self-responsible activity I can find to

to a few layers of fabric, listening and

the g-force

fill my spare time. Once my feet leave

responding with my hips and gut, and

load up in a tight

the ground, there’s nothing anyone on

the sense so undeveloped in most of

spiral or a build-

the planet can do to help me if I need it.

us—the kinesthetic sense of where we

ing wingover. I fly to

The only way to safely get a paraglid-

are and where we are going in space—

watch the mountains

is exhilarating.

drop away, to go wing-to-

er pilot back on the ground is through that pilot’s actions. I fell in love with that aspect—the

To follow air-dancing swallows, witness pollen rushing skyward, or a

wing with ravens, to see maps made real. I fly because it requires

aspect of assuming total personal

lonesome hawk circling to invisible

responsibility—when blue-water sail-

elevators of air rising and falling in the

all my concentration. I

ing in my early 20s. On a small boat

sky: All of these factors that require

cannot think of bills or

in heavy seas, I found protection-less

knowledge just to stay aloft introduce

strife or what’s for dinner.

sovereignty that wraps like a cloak

one to a realm of joy.

My mind re-organizes just

around those of us who enter the ele-

I fly because it’s quiet, but not silent.

before launch, with all attention

ments without safe recourse. We work

I’ve never liked motors or city thrum

focused on the act of aviation. As

within the elements, acknowledge

or most noises we raucous humans

many of us say, “We step off the moun-

their power, and know they do not

make, with the exception of music.

tain and into meditation.”

acknowledge ours. Still we go.

But even then, I leave my music on the

There is little I can profit by materi-

ground. The whish of wind on the lines

ally from flying. Perhaps I’ll sell an

reasons. I cannot believe that mine

is song enough for me. No phone calls,

article, or maybe I’ll get a sponsor to

are the only ones. I go to feel small in

no texts, no beeps. Many pilots fly with

buy a wing or harness. Compared to

a big sky, to take my measure against

a vario chirping faster or slower to

what I put up as collateral, these would

no tape but what I lay out, to know for

tell them if they’re going up or down.

provide a pittance. This inability to

myself, and myself alone, whether I

I turn the sound off and revel in the

profit from joy freely given has a hold

have made the cut.


on me. It’s another reason I fly—the

Why? We each must have different

Of course, I don’t go just to feel small.

I fly to see the horizon tilt, to see the

incorruptibility of it.




“Our ability to fly a fabric wing lies within such a narrow realm of the possible that we inevitably face conditions beyond us.”

I do it because it doesn’t matter.

as a trained soldier, adult male who is

This fear is not ever-present. If

There’s no money in it. There’s little

running a business and is empowered

it were, I wouldn’t fly. It’s just ever-

chance I’ll make a living from it. Even

by his belief in thinking nothing is

possible, and I know on any given

if I become the most famous paraglider

beyond his reach.

pilot, I’ll still have less visibility than a

flight I may be called to face it. Ready, not ready, it will arise. Those of us

pet squirrel on YouTube. The likeli-

qualifications. The giant sea of air has

who work with fear on a level so

hood of being a household name from

no port reserved for me. In the sky,

consequential know the extraordinary

any paragliding exploit hovers just

the world is ruled by physics; human

pleasure that managing fear brings, as

above -459. Ever heard of Jean-Baptiste

law has little sway. Our ability to fly a

well as the lingering effects of losing

Chandelier? Not if you’re not a pilot,

fabric wing lies within such a narrow

control. When the glider crumples,

and even then...

realm of the possible that we inevi-

we must work quickly and accurately

tably face conditions beyond us. Fear

until the problem is remedied, or we

is nothing like being in the air and

lives outside the thin boundaries of

run out of altitude. We choose be-

wanting to be on the ground. I’m

our skills. Fate, as Ernie Gann says, is

tween critical outcomes in our bout

nearly at the apex of my life on earth,

the hunter.

with fear, between survival or oblivion.

I fly because it scares me. There


But the sky does not consider my


Even in success, we are haunted by what might have been. I fly because I love it. I love the sky,

weirdos, the engineers,

the trails I hike, the mountains I climb,

the geeks, the newbies, the

fly off, and land on. I love the conse-

cackling joy-riders, the stoners, the

quence, the challenge, the feeling of

glory hounds. Together, we enter a

narrow-big world that only we know. And at the end of the day, we drive

kissing the ground with my feet at the

game of consequence that we ulti-

end of the day. I love the hip-clawing

mately must play alone. We cannot

back to our other lives, nurturing the

turns up a thermal close to the hill,

help each other except remotely. We

shared secret joy of a small group of

where full circles aren’t possible, I love

all have our unique interests, and

people attempting difficult endeavors.

seeing a faraway glider ride a lifty line,

none of us seems to care whether we

I love the pitch stalls and the spirals

share the sky with a software engineer

joy, the challenge, the people, the time

and the wingovers.

or screen printer or baker. We fly for

in the wind. And now that I’ve flown, I

ourselves and share our joys within a

could not not fly. That is why I fly.

Hell, I even love the people. The

I fly because of all this—the fear, the





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Matt Senior Matt Senior Matt Senior Matt Senior Yuen Wai-Kit Yuen Wai-Kit Hong Kong Matt Senior Matt Senior Yuen Wai-Kit Yuen Wai-Kit Matt Senior NH Calef Letorney VT Calef Letorney MA Calef Letorney VT Calef Letorney PA John E. Dunn OR Matt Henzi WA Matt Senior OR Rob Sporrer WA Owen Shoemaker WA Jon Charles Malmberg OR Steve Roti FL Chris W. Santacroce FL Thomas Jaeger GA Jaro Krupa CA Owen Shoemaker CA Jesse L. Meyer CA Richard Kennedy CA David John Hebert CA Jeffrey J. Greenbaum CA Hadi Golian UT Hal Franklin UT Thomas McCormick CO Gregory Kelley CO William H. Stites NM David W. Prentice UT Brian Petersen UT Stephen J. Mayer KS Marc Noel Radloff MI Luis Ameglio KY Jonathan Jefferies

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James Parker Teddy Tehrani Nicholas Franczyk Kin Man Ma William Bean Nancy Black Fabio Lourenconi David Martin Colin Martin Dale Chenault Tim Coahran Jonathan R. Combs Ross Desmond Russell Devries David Fitzwater Valery Rymasheuski David Winters Jeff Shellenberger Jeff Butler Arnel Barquira Martin Bialy Ashly Gillis Patrick Krause Christina Whittle Stan Barankiewicz II Steve Carter Noel Famatiga Greg Firth Ottis Gillespie John Spindler Preston Young Rosbitt Gonzalez Justin Hoggatt Daniel Jones Tyler Lucas Monte Lunacek William Swattling Caleb Allen-Schmid Steve Gerard David Pennington


Jonathan Jefferies Kay Tauscher Casey Bedell Yuen Wai-Kit John E. Dunn John E. Dunn Calef Letorney E. Scott Edwards E. Scott Edwards Steven R. Wilson Mike Bomstad Richard Kennedy Calef Letorney Jake Schlapfer Samuel Crocker Marc Chirico Marc Chirico Giuseppe Free Max Leonard Marien Jesse L. Meyer Joseph B. Seitz Mitchell B. Neary Mitchell B. Neary Jesse L. Meyer Jerome Daoust Gabriel Jebb Hadi Golian Gabriel Jebb Rob Sporrer Gabriel Jebb Marcello M. DeBarros Miguel Gutierrez Benjamin Brunsvold Gregory Kelley Andy Macrae Chris W. Santacroce Christopher Grantham Benjamin Brunsvold Benjamin Brunsvold Josh Riggs

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

Li Ka Fai Nelson Lee Ho Cheong Chun Lung Lee Yim Chi Ling Kwan Fei Pang Dick Kan Ping Hang Tang Siu Tong Ho Kin Sun Kwan Wing Wah Tong Kam Wing Chan Kwong Yiu Eugene Boisvert Alek Jadkowski Anthony Sergi Johannes Ziegler Pascal Liddane John E. Cady III Austin Cox Christopher Garcia Alderik Gastmans Wesley Heustess Rod Ragsdale Jerome Bocuse Andres Urrutia David Ionut Melniciuc Troy Bainbridge Vincent Beukelaers Aasun Laine Guilmette Taylor Smallwood Glenn Warren Dennis Johnson Anant D. Asthana Dan Evans Bart Garton Kristopher Holub John R. Kear Patrick Nedele Darren Verploegeen James Daniell Hayes Christopher Rancont Subodh Pandey



CALENDAR CALENDAR & CLASSIFIED can be submitted online at https:// calendar. A minimum 3-MONTH LEAD TIME is required on all submissions and tentative events will not be published. CALENDAR LISTINGS


- 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

clinics & tours JAN 25 - FEB 2, FEB 2-10, FEB 10-18 > Roldanillo Colombia - Eagle Paragliding 2019 Colombia Tours Eagle Paragliding - 3 weeks of tours near Roldanillo Colombia. Pilots of all levels will get coaching on thermaling, XC Flying, Tandem XC. We've offered tours for over two decades all over the world. The number of high caliber staff members supporting pilots at Eagle clinics and tours is unprecedented. Let Mitch Riley, Marty DeVietti, Brian Howell, Dave Turner, and Rob Sporrer support you in achieving your goals for the week. Visit, or contact us——805.968.0980 More Info: THRU APR 14 > Valle de Bravo, Mexico - FLYMEXICO - Valle de Bravo Flying every stinkin’ day in our week long Sunday to Sunday base packages. Flexible for duration, accommodation upgrades and even competition support. Hang gliding and paragliding in the free flight Mecca of Valle de Bravo. No one matches our service, price, and capabilities in transportation, facilities, and equipment. Twenty five years of doing it here has enabled us to offer culture and flying with knowledge and contacts that enable you to have a memorable flying vacation. More Info:


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



FLY-IN FEB 8-10 > Jaco Air Festival - Jaco, Costa Rica - Come

fly (& swim too) in paradise with locals (Tico's) and come to know what Pura Vida means. Contact Xavier Escalar at +506 8345 5703 SANCTIONED COMPETITION MAR 23-30 > 2019 Green Swamp Sport Klassic USHPA

Sanctioned HG Race To Goal - AT Quest Air, Sheets Field, Groveland, Florida; This is a Sport Class only event. There will be advanced pilot mentors to help with small groups of pilots. Hang 2+ or 3 rating with aerotow sign off or extensive experience is a requirement. Aerotow practice and sign off is available before the competition. Tows outside the competition days are paid for separately. The weather turns soarable in February/March in Florida and Quest Air is a great place for cross country flying. Register Dates: November 1, 2018 - March 23, 2019 Organizer: Belinda Boulter | Website: https://airtribune. com/2019-green-swamp-sport-klassic/info/details__info APR 13-19 > 2019 Quest Air Nationals (pre-Worlds) -

Week I USHPA Sanctioned HG Race To Goal – AT. Quest Air, Sheets Field, Groveland, Florida; Flatland competition in Florida where the weather is so good so early. Open, Sport, Swift, and Rigid Wing classes. Site of the 2006 Worlds. Country club flying. Register Dates: November 1, 2018 - April 13, 2019 Organizer: Belinda Boulter | belinda@davisstraub. com Website:

APR 20-27 > 2019 Quest Air Nationals - Week II USHPA Sanctioned HG Race To Goal - AT Quest Air, Sheets Field, Groveland, Florida; Flatland competition in Florida where the weather is so good so early. Open, Sport, Swift, and Rigid Wing classes. Site of the 2006 Worlds. Country club flying. Register Dates: November 1, 2018 - April 20, 2019 Organizer: Belinda Boulter | Website: JUN 8-15 > 2019 East Coast Hang Gliding Championship USHPA Sanctioned HG Race To Goal – AT. Ridgley, Maryland; The East Coast Championship returns to Ridgely MD. Pilots can expect smooth thermals and open field with plentiful access roads for easy retrieves. Pilots are welcome to camp onsite or can stay at some nearby hotels if camping isn't their thing. Live tracking will be provided to simplify scoring. Many drivers are available. The competition has a strong safety record. This is a great community that is within an hour’s drive of several beach resorts and a short drive from Washington DC. Practice, Check-in and Welcome on Saturday, June 8th. Live tracking with Flymaster trackers provided. Register Dates: November 1, 2018 - May 15, 2019 Organizer: Dan Lukaszewicz | Lucky_Chevy@yahoo. com Website: none JUN 15-22 > 2019 Applegate Open USHPA Sanctioned PG Race To Goal. Woodrat Mtn, Ruch, Oregon; Mark your calendars. The tradition of great racing continues in the Applegate Valley at Woodrat Mountain in Ruch Oregon. Come fly with some of the best pilots in the USA. $50 discount coupon available for returning pilots from 2018. Register Dates: February 2, 2019 - June 15, 2019 Organizer: Dan Wells | Website: JUL 6-13 > 2019 US Open of Paragliding Chelan USHPA

Sanctioned PG Race To Goal Chelan Butte, Chelan, Washington Register Dates: March 1, 2019 - July 6, 2019 Organizer: Matty Senior | Website: AUG 10-17 > 2019 Big Spring Nationals (pre-Pan-

Americans) USHPA Sanctioned HG Race To Goal – AT. McMahon Wrinkle Airport, Big Spring, Texas; The 17th Big Spring National Series, site of the 2007 World Hang Gliding Championship, the finest cross country hang gliding competition site in the US. Big Tasks (world records), smooth thermals, unrestricted landing areas, easy retrieval on multiple roads, consistent cumulus development at 1 PM, air conditioned head quarters, hanger for setup, free water and ice cream, welcome dinner, live tracking, many drivers available, strong safety record, highest pilot satisfaction rating. Also easy airport access to Midland-Odessa airport, inexpensive accommodations, plentiful infrastructure (restaurants), great community support, superb meet director. Register Dates: November 1, 2018 - August 10, 2019 Organizer: Belinda Boulder | Website:

PARTS & ACCESSORIES SEP 15-21 > 2019 Santa Cruz Flats Race - Mark Knight

Memorial USHPA Sanctioned HG Race To Goal – AT. Francisco Grande Golf Resort, Casa Grande, AZ; We're back at the Francisco Grande Resort in Casa Grande, Arizona for the 12th annual Santa Cruz Flats Race. Come on out and join us for some unique technical flying and loads of fun in the desert. Register Dates: December 15, 2018 - August 15, 2019 Organizer: Jamie Shelden | naughtylawyer@gmail. com Website:


Venue: PG, HG, PPG: by, He’ll hook you up! Site intros, tours, & rooms. bajabrent@bajabrent. com, 760-203-2658 Paracrane Paragliding Tours - Nick Crane, USHPA

Advanced Instructor, Veteran Guide | Costa Rica 2/11-2/21 | Brazil 3/4-14 | Europe 6/2-16, 9/9-19 and 9/21-10/1 | www. | VALLE DE BRAVO for Winter and year round flying tours and support. Hang Gliding, Paragliding. Guiding, gear, instruction, transportation, lodging. +1 512-467-2529


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

Paragliding Tours 2018

GUNNISON GLIDERS - X-C to heavy waterproof HG gliderbags. Accessories, parts, service, sewing. Instruction ratings, site-info. Rusty Whitley 1549 CR 17, Gunnison CO 81230. 970-6419315.

WINGS & HARNESSES Ozone Rush4 mid size canopy, SupAir Xalps harness and round reserve. Almost new - only about 30 flights. $3,500 for complete rig.


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


Susquehanna Flight Park - 40 acre flight park; 160' main training hill; Bunny hills in all directions; Best facility in NY; New Alphas & Falcons in stock; Trade in Trade up; www.

NORTH CAROLINA KITTY HAWK KITES - The largest hang gliding school in the

world, teaching since 1974. Learn to hang glide and paraglide on the East Coast's largest sand dune. Year-round instruction, foot launch and tandem aerotow. 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. (252) 441-2426, 1-877-FLY-THIS, hang-gliding

- A Kitty Hawk Kites flight park. The Northeast's premier hang gliding and paragliding training center, teaching since 1974. Hang gliding foot launch and tandem aerowtow training. Paragliding foot launch and tandem training. Powered Paragliding instruction. Dealer for all major manufacturers. Located in Charlestown, NH. Also visit our North Carolina location, Kitty Hawk Kites Flight School. 603542-4416,

FLYTEXAS TEAM - training pilots in Central Texas for 25 years. Hang Gliding, Paragliding, Trikes. Hangar facilities Lake LBJ, Luling, Smithville 512-467-2529



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

BLUE SKY located near Richmond , year round instruction, all forms of towing, repairs, sewing , tuning... Wills Wing, Moyes, Icaro, Aeros PG, Mosquito, Flylight, Woody Valley. www.




Fly beyond! with the Oudie

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



King Mountain by IAN BRUBAKER


he towering slope of the moun-

awaited me just a few thousand feet

a hawk flying 10 feet in formation

tain stood behind me, its harsh,

higher was the full draw of the entire

off my left wing caught my eye. We

steep lines beckoning only

valley to carry me high above The

flew in formation, the hawk sizing

those who were willing to engage in

King. A few thermals later, luck was

up the threat of something that was

a battle of wits. The King’s mighty

on my side, and it wasn’t long before

able to conquer what was known

presence was already starting to

the jagged rocks crowning King were

by very few. A dive, a climb, a full

affect the expanse of air around it.

far below me: the first triumph.

brandishing of wings that looked like

Waiting on launch, I felt the moun-

a chessboard melted into the pattern of dull arrowheads—these presented

protrusions, massive slide areas,

ing the wind vigorously up the gentle

and that its beauty is mirrored on

themselves in a spectacular display

slope of launch.

both sides of its peak. The twist-

almost as if The King had guardians

ing peaks draw perfect concave

for its precious secrets.

A slight exhale, the streamers

The day was just starting, the

settled. As the giant started to inhale

bowls that focus thermals like an

once again, the streamers coming

expertly-tuned beam of light. Having

mountains breathing ever deeper,

alive, I knew the timing was perfect.

conquered the peaks of King, the

but the weekend was ending. A

Leaving the smooth lines of launch,

mountain range rewarded me with a

gentle landing at the King Mountain

the serene feeling that I was back

restless road of lift weaving along the

Glider Park marked my yielding to

home again in the mountains I had

spine of the mountain range. Onward

The King, but only for it to be battled

left in the Mojave desert long ago

my wing cut through the air, never

again. As history has shown, kings

came over me. But the clock was tick-

losing enough altitude to submit to

are to be conquered. King Mountain

ing, and The King had to exhale at

the mighty King. Through landslides

rules with the might of an army of

some point.

that would make Zeus jealous, and

molecules, and knights with chess-

jutting rocks only matched by cities’

board wings. The challenge awaits,

launch, I circled until I topped out

skyscrapers reaching into the air, my

and perhaps you may find your home

at around 9000 feet. I knew these

journey only gave more to explore.

here among the knights of King

Snagging a thermal shortly after

were mere sniffles from King; what


The King’s beauty lies in its violent

tain breathing, each inhalation draw-


As I returned, the razor glare of


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



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

Profile for US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

USHPA Pilot Vol49-Iss1 Jan/Feb 2019  

Official USHPA Magazine

USHPA Pilot Vol49-Iss1 Jan/Feb 2019  

Official USHPA Magazine