Episode 44- Caroline Paul and Overcoming Fear

Caroline Paul presenting at TED- listen to her talk here

“Gutsy girls skateboard, climb trees, clamber around, fall down, scrape their knees, get right back up — and grow up to be brave women. Learn how to spark a little productive risk-taking and raise confident girls with stories and advice from firefighter, luger, author, paraglider and all-around adventurer Caroline Paul.”- TED


I first found out about Caroline (@carowriter) after listening to her TedTalk as well as her podcast on the Tim Ferriss show. Caroline is the author of four books, including the NY Times Bestseller The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for your life of Epic Adventure. When I learned among many of her big adventure exploits Caroline was also a paraglider we had to get her on the show. In this episode we explore fear and developing bravery, specifically in women. Once a young scaredy-cat, Caroline decided that fear got in the way of the life she wanted–of excitement, confidence, and self-reliance. She has since flown planes, rafted big rivers, luged Olympic courses, climbed tall mountains, and fought fires as one of the first female firefighters in San Francisco. Like Helen Keller said “life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” and Caroline has developed the tools to help us all lead more adventurous lives.


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes:


  • Mentioned in this episode: Anneka Herndon, Chris Ballmer, Thomas Fey, Bill Belcourt, Caroline Paul



Episode 43- Matt Wilkes and Emergency Medicine, Hypoxia, and Extreme Physiology for Pilots

Tom De Dorlodot tests some of the FreeFlightPhysiology high altitude equipment in the Karakoram, Pakistan

This is probably the most critical podcast episode we’ve made available to date. As human flight junkies we participate in activities that let’s face it- are dangerous. In this episode we sit down with Matt Wilkes, an anaesthesia and intensive care doctor based in Edinburgh, Scotland who specializes in extreme physiology and remote medicine to walk us through best practices when things go wrong. Matt has practiced in Nepal, Bolivia and New Zealand and honed his remote trauma skills as a Flight Physician for the East African Flying Doctors, picking up casualties from countries including Somalia, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Matt takes us through what we need to be carrying in our first aid kit; how to operate in a wilderness environment; how to assess a casualty and make a scene safe; how to care for a victim including the use of narcotics and pain killers; how having a lack of equipment and difficult access to medicine can be overcome; the affects of cold and altitude on pilots (hypoxia); how an accident scene should be managed; best practices for trauma management (including splinting, binding the pelvis, opening an airway, the lethal triad and keeping people warm, pain relief, head injuries, tourniquets, removing a helmet…); controversies about spinal immobilization and a lot more. This podcast is CRITICAL. Make notes and PLEASE- share this with your fellow pilots! There are links to everything we discuss in the show notes below.

Matt has been a Lead Doctor or Medical Advisor for multiple expeditions, including leading a team on the largest group ever to camp on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Matt is the Director of Adventure Medic magazine, holds a Master’s Degree in Mountain Medicine, is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and is currently undertaking a PhD studying the interaction of altitude, cold and cognition on paraglider pilots.

PLEASE support Matt’s critical work on extreme physiology and high altitude affects through the http://www.freeflightphysiology.org/

Read a teaser of Matt’s article on high altitude physiology in Cross Country Magazine.


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes:

Matt’s contact details: matt@theadventuremedic.com, and The Adventure Medic 

More thoughts on Tourniquets from Matt after the show:

Thank you so much for all the fantastic feedback on the podcast. Given the limited time available to Gavin and I, we couldn’t dwell on every topic in detail, so we have had some brilliant follow up discussions with individual listeners. A particularly interesting exchange has been with Dr Bill Beninati, a paraglider pilot and very experienced trauma doc, currently heading up one of Utah’s helicopter rescue services. We got stuck into the nitty gritty of tourniquets and the evidence behind their use. Bill was concerned that I had been too negative about tourniquets, which we both agree can be lifesaving in the right circumstances. To some extent, that was because I didn’t want to recommend anything on the podcast that didn’t have a solid evidence base, without a chance for a proper discussion about the pros and cons. However, neither Bill nor I would want people to be inhibited from using tourniquets following a paragliding crash. The following is a summary of our thoughts for those interested in delving into the topic in more detail:
1) Prompt tourniquet application is lifesaving.
2) Tourniquets have particular value use in penetrating trauma. This may be particularly important in areas like Utah where broken pine boughs can harden into a blade, injuring blood vessels on contact, less so in areas like Scotland where people tend to suffer more ‘blunt’ trauma.
3) Improvised tourniquets are probably less good than purpose-built ones such as the Combat Action Tourniquet (CAT) but do work.
4) Tourniquets must be correctly applied: too tight increases the risk of tissue/nerve damage, too loose and only the veins will be occluded leading to congestion, swelling and paradoxical bleeding. Apply a tourniquet so you can no longer feel the pulse below the wound, this means that the arterial as well as venous blood flow has been stopped. Better too tight than too loose.
5) Don’t release the tourniquet until medics are present and there is a plan for controlling any subsequent bleeding.
6) The most important thing is to aggressively stop bleeding. Do so in the following sequence until you have control 1) Direct pressure; 2) Haemostatic gauze; 3) Splinting; 4) Tourniquets. It may be that this sequence has to be followed in quick succession. Do not apply tourniquets unnecessarily, but equally don’t be inhibited in doing so by worries about future harm. Tom de Dorlodot’s maxim ‘if there is doubt, there is no doubt’ applies here.
7) Keep the casualty warm and remember that ‘the first clot is the best clot’.
What is the evidence behind our thoughts?
The best evidence from tourniquet use comes from penetrating trauma and blast injuries on the battlefield, where tourniquets have been applied typically for up to two hours (and sometimes up to six hours) and have definitely saved lives. Different studies have shown varying levels of potential harm from tourniquet application (typically nerve injuries) but generally complications have been low and those who have suffered complications have, by definition, survived. How much battlefield lessons can be applied to the civilian wilderness medicine world, and ‘blunt’ rather than ‘penetrating’ trauma is hard to say. There is almost no evidence for tourniquet use in the civilian wilderness medicine setting at the moment, but just because nobody has proven tourniquets help, doesn’t mean that they don’t help. Equally, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the potential to cause harm if misapplied. Until more evidence emerges, we still have to make a judgement based on the situation in front of us.
The follow is a summary of the evidence for tourniquets from the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine’s article ‘Bleeding Control With Limb Tourniquet Use in the Wilderness Setting: Review of Science’ (Wilderness Environ Med. 2017 Jun;28(2S):S25-S32.), which shows what we are up against when trying to make these judgments!


Countdown to the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps

My basic X-Alps kit- Niviuk Klimber, Sup’Air Strike harness, Salewa Mtn Trainers, XC Tracer Vario, Garmin InReach, Lightweight Patagonia clothing, Some Vespa Energy gels, External Battery, Garmin Virb camera, buff and sunglasses

Today is the day. With less than 40 days to go until the gun goes off in Salzburg it’s time to pack the bags and head to Europe, where I’ll have a full month to keep up the physical training and fly as much of the course as possible with Bruce Marks, my air-support guru in the race. I’ve got a quick stop at the Mountain Film Fest in Telluride this weekend with a couple screenings of North of Known, then Monday I’m on a plane. The flying in Europe all spring has been epic which has frankly been tortuous to watch. Sun Valley has been kind to us after a massive winter with a lot of flyable days, but we haven’t had a big day or an easy day yet. Ratty thermals, lots of wind, low base- ie perfect training!


North Of Known Teaser from Reel Water Productions on Vimeo.

A lot of people have been asking if it feels any different this time around. Am I more or less nervous? Are we doing anything different? Am I more or less confident? The truth is for some questions I don’t have a firm answer. Ben Abruzzo, my trainer and my ground expert during the race kicked my ass again this year. We started October 1st, like we did for the 2015 campaign which gives us just a little over 9 months of physical preparation. I felt so strong and good for the last race that I didn’t see much reason to change anything, but the training this time around has felt easier. Ben insists that it’s because I came into this year in much stronger condition and I’ve been through it once, so of course it feels easier.  When I look at the workouts in 2015 (we track every workout in Google Docs and I track all heart rate data and metrics with my trusty Garmin Fenix 5S) and compare them to this year, the load certainly seems no less, and when it comes to training Ben is simply a wizard, so in Ben I trust. No doubt it’s all pretty ridiculous and man am I fired up to go hard!


People think it’s all walking and vertical, but strength and mobility are massively important

A year ago we met with Dr. Willey (https://www.getwell3.com/), a hormone and sports-nutrition expert to find out if we could decrease the swelling that takes place during the race from the constant trauma through nutrition instead of pain relievers, as well as pick up speed on the ground (and hopefully fix my feet as they looked like someone had beaten on them with a hammer in the last race). The doctor ran a huge swath of labs on both Ben and I and as a result my diet and supplements have changed radically this time around. Without going into all the details, the short of is that I’ve never felt better. The basic concept is to make me more fat adaptive through a diet rich in fat and protein. Carbs still have their place, but by utilizing organ meats and other meat protein, not skimping on good fat (avocados, grass-fed butter, nuts, etc.) and limiting the sugar gels and replacing them with products like Vespa Energy, Crik Protein Powder, Skratch labs electrolytes and hydration elixirs, and collagen (gelatin) for the joints we’ve radically reduced gut GI during really hard sessions when the heart is maxed out and I recover WAY faster.


By also utilizing regular heat (sauna) and cold therapy (ice showers and ice baths- if you want to learn more of the crazy benefits of heat therapy listen to this Tim Ferriss podcast with Rhonda Patrick) at my awesome gym (Zenergy Health Club and Spa) and all the mobility tricks found in Kelly Starrett’s “Supple Leopard” after every workout (which I also do every night of the race before bed) I wake up ready to roll. The final big change we’ve made this year was to radically improve my sleep hygiene. 13 years of living on a sail boat made me a light sleeper at best, but with the help of Ian Dunican and Nik Hawks who have taught me all kinds of tricks about sleeping well (no screens at night, meditation, banking sleep, etc.), and a whole host of things like Rishi Turmeric tea, Superfoods and mushrooms from Four Sigmatic, Onnit’s Total Primate Care supplements, and things like fish oil, magnesium and turmeric supplements have me at peace at night like I haven’t felt in decades. When you train for something like the X-Alps it’s all about recovery and sleep is the key.


Drink up!!

Winning the race of course goes to the best pilot. He who clicks off the most kilometers in the air and makes the least number of mistakes goes home with the trophy, so why all the emphasis on physical training, nutrition and sleep? Fans of the race probably already know the answer. A lot of the athletes who go out strong for the first few days crumple. Their bodies break or their brain breaks or usually both. That’s why the X-Alps is so uniquely difficult. The physical requirements even on years where the flying weather is good is bordering preposterous- most athletes will climb the height of Everest (30,000 feet) four or more times in ten days. Now add in the stress of flying in dicey conditions, very little rest, no time to recover, and the million decisions that are required both by the athlete and their support teams (who often get even less sleep than the athletes do) and you start to see why you’ve got to play the long game. In the last race I went from 4th at the end of the 1st day all the way back to 21st at the end of day 6. But I felt strong right to the end and more importantly we were having a blast and that combination started paying dividends going into day 8 when I flew a much more direct line than the rest of the field on a tough day and moved all the way back up to 7th position.



A couple weeks ago I started laying everything out that needs to go to Europe with me. Can you believe that during the race I’ll have about 24 pounds of gear on my back, but I’m bringing nearly 200 pounds of gear to Europe!


Here’s an abbreviated list:

In the old days of the X-Alps athletes would carry stoves and camping gear and it was an adventure across the Alps. No longer. These days the fastest teams are as modern and prepared and as well trained as a winning team on the Tour de France. 32 athletes and their teams set out July 2nd and in all likelihood a small handful or less will make it to Monaco. Injuries, eliminations, and exhaustion will take their toll. The tiny little things add up and make a difference but in the end there’s a reason the X-Alps is the greatest game on Earth. There’s nothing else in the world like it and I’m honored and chomping at the bit to have another opportunity to play. Let’s do this!


Gavin McClurg (USA2) performs during the Red Bull X-Alps in St.Moritz, Switzerland on July 11th 2015

Episode 42- Benjamin Jordan and taking the Leap


Benjamin Jordan made history in 2016 flying a 1,000 km bivvy line solo from Vancouver to Calgary across the Coast Range and Rocky Mountains of  BC and Alberta, an expedition that took 39 days to complete. To some bold pilots maybe an obvious and tempting line, but there were plenty of reasons it had never been flown, which are in part the subject of Benjamin’s new documentary “Strong the Wind Blows“. We sit down with Benjamin to discuss the harrowing journey but also delve into his dark past; losing the love of his life; his work (and set backs) in Malawi; and dealing with depression and how human flight and dreaming of embarking on hard missions has literally saved his life. Benjamin admits he is not an expert pilot and in fact only recently felt like he had the skills to take on such a monumental challenge- how did he find the courage and stamina to forge ahead? How has Ben approached risk? How to tackle personal demons and chase the huge? If life isn’t worth dying for- is it worth living? This is a fun talk with a fantastically interesting and entertaining human. Enjoy!


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Strong The Wind Blows – Trailer from Benjamin Jordan on Vimeo.

Show Notes:

  • Benjamin recounts his skateboarding journey across Canada (8,000 KMS!) and raising over a million dollars for Breast Cancer
  • Ben talks about his transition from being a fashion photographer to taking on big missions.
  • Benjamin talks about flying across Canada using a powered paraglider…while not knowing how to power paraglide!
  • Benjamin talks about learning how to fly in New Zealand and how the sport transformed his life.
  • The joy of being a “knob” paraglider
  • Becoming an alcoholic after the skateboarding expedition and dealing with recovery and finding himself again through flying, and discovering humility
  • Ben recounts how sometimes things go pretty poorly on a film project gone bad and the lessons learned, and how the experience led to setting the world record for distance with powered paragliding
  • Benjamin recounts flying over the Georgia Straits. A fantastically dangerous and (stupid?) attempt.
  • Benjamin recounts some terrifically harrowing moments flying across Canada by powered paraglider, and attempting the cross to Newfoundland
  • How to justify such phenomenal risk…and how did depression and lack of love play a factor
  • How to find resolution and finding peace by risking it all
  • Failing, and finding a way forward and understanding mortality
  • Why the destination is necessary but why it sucks- getting to the end is meaningless if you aren’t enjoying the process
  • Benjamin honestly shares a very dark past and being a compulsive thief, and how giving back has been his way to in a sense- pay for his sins and inspire people to be generous
  • Benjamin talks about his adventures in Malawi, the School of Dreams, the Boy Who Flies film and some of the incredible difficulties of those projects
  • Benjamin talks about the XBC project, making the film and the journey- the good, the bad and the wild
  • Mentioned in this episode: Garmin Outdoor, BlueFly Vario, Nick Greece, Matt Beechinor, Erica Dobie, Jeff Shapiro, Will Gadd, Godfrey Masouli, Kevin Lee, the Cloudbase Foundation




Episode 41- Chris Santacroce and Set Ups for Success


Chris Santacroce has been a pillar in human flight for nearly thirty years. A long time Red Bull Air Force athlete; co-owner and founder of Superfly Paragliding in Utah; founder of Project Airtime which allows the disabled to fly; total air Jedi on anything that flies- from powered trikes to wingsuits and everything in between, Chris has been one of the most requested guests on the show and now here it is! Chris and I discuss his cross country competition years; his wild flights across the Andes with Will Gadd; his transition from being a Red Bull athlete to having a family and becoming a successful businessman; how to improve flying safety and have a lifetime of safe flying; the “random factor” in flying and developing intuition; improving your ability and habit of making good decisions; how not to “con” yourself; modern SIV; the dangers of ambition; how to pick an instructor and a LOT more. This show is packed with humor, knowledge, humility, and just flat out rad advice. Have a listen, then listen again and make notes- this show is the air and water essentials of flying, you can’t live without it!


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes:

  • Chris recounts his early days and initial forays into the big leagues
  • Chris talks about starting SuperFly Inc, being asked to join the Red Bull Air Force, working with guys like Othar Lawrence and Will Gadd and how his passion became his lifeblood
  • Chris recounts how his passion and stoke has channeled into different things over the years, all related to flying, like his disabled flying missions through Project Airtime.
  • Chris talks about his Safety App, which was created to help facilitate easy feedback between pilots
  • How do we develop good intuition?
  • How to set yourself up for success and how to avoid the potentially lethal “random factor”
  • How to develop good habits, and why it’s so important to avoid the marginal days
  • How not to “con” yourself- developing the skill and patience not to fly
  • A warning about ambition
  • Modern SIV and what Chris has learned over the many years of teaching active SIV
  • How to pick an instructor and school
  • Mentioned in this episode: Blake Pelton, Greg Smith, Dave Bridges, Chris Davenport, Will Gadd, Jeff Farrell, Othar Lawrence, Superfly Paragliding, Rob Sporrer.


Episode 40- Bill Belcourt Your Questions Answered!

And here it is! The long-awaited show hosted by Bill Belcourt, dedicated 100% to your questions. We asked fans of the show to send us any questions related to flying so the Yoda of the sky, Bill Belcourt could answer them in the unique way that only Bill can. We talk about how to deal with turbulence, creating better headspace, how to mitigate intermediate syndrome, how to gaggle fly, how to deal with negative people in a positive way (ie avoiding ground suck), when to leave a thermal, techniques for landing backwards, how to pick the good days, team flying, when to launch in a thermal cycle and a LOT more! Enjoy!


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes (Questions that were asked):

  • Fabian Perez:Can you talk a little about thermaling when reaching top of the thermal, some tips when to leave the thermal and go on glide? How these strategies change when you’re XC flying and when you’re in a comp? Even in a comp, when you’re in a gaggle and then how is it different when you’re leading or left behind and now flying by yourself. I always have trouble deciding when to leave, I never know if I left too early or too late?Can you share tips, techniques; BKM’s for when you’ll land backwards? First, is don’t get into those situations but if you’re in it, then do you go full speed bar until you touch the ground and then collapse the wing? Or do you prefer to have one leg out to try to turn and run to the wing while collapsing it? Any other approach?Can you talk about tips to check the lines? How often? Easy ways to do it?Gabriele Bonafini:

    In your opinion the mindset of a pilot can affect his feeling with the air and especially with turbulence? Recently I’m having some bad trouble at home and since that moment I don’t feel as comfortable as before in turbulent air.. Any recommendations for feeling more comfortable when life is not going smoothly? Should we just not fly?

    Negative people (pilots in this case) can affect our sport negatively and in every flying site there are a lot of them, they show you the negative part of our sports for example:

    “if you have a pod harness you’ll surely have a twist in case of collapse ” or they see the wing from EN C to CCC class as killing machines. They want to transfer their limits to you and this is obviously a bad thing. How to avoid this crowd and negativity?

    Derek Musashe:

    As a pilot with 60 hours under my belt and slowly progressing into XC flying, are there any tips you might have that can help me (and other pilots like me) avoid or at least mitigate the “intermediate syndrome.”

    Blayde McIntyre:

    It would be interesting to hear about picking your days and picking lines/flying styles for different conditions. How to approach learning about meteo and using XC Skies as a tool for example?


    Matt James:

    1. Talk about team flying. I am a ten hour pilot that flies with a pilot with four years experience. We want to fly cross country together in the spring. Just as often as I hear about flying with others to make good distance I also hear about pilots taking off and splitting up (maybe see other later 20k downwind). I want advice on how to fly together for the best results.


    1. I hear about these amazing places like Valle de Bravo or Roldanillo. Where are the epic places in the U.S. for Pacific Northwest pilots to thermal fly Dec.-Feb.?


    Eric Toshalis:

    For those of us who have to budget the days we can fly, maximizing the potential to bring our wing up into good air is crucial (i.e., when time = money, too much parawaiting can really drain spirits and resources). So, on those days you have set aside to fly, what’s your process for assessing the weather in the morning before you pack up and head to launch?

    What sites do you visit 1st/2nd/3rd, what do you look for, and how do you triangulate those data to make a reasonably confident decision? Basically, I just want to learn what a seasoned expert’s weather-assessment process is when making the decision to get out of the house and up in the air.

    Brian Morrison:

    When to launch in a thermal cycle?

    How to avoid / prevent a collapse on a thermic takeoff?

    I assume these two are related?

    On an alpine launch (not a dedicated site) When to forward or reverse launch, (assuming one is equally proficient at both) what are the primary factors that influence that choice?

    Assume one either sinks out or gets spooked and needs to land mid day and it’s either thermic or windy or both in the valley what is the best way to mitigate risk and not get throttled on the landing? Apart from active flying, any tips or approach techniques to prevent collapses when getting bounced around on final?

    Thermal mapping / visualization?   Is it really visualization or is it feel?

    Or a blend?

    Mikolaj Uskrzydlony:

    How should we approach scouting a new mountain start?

    Thorlak Nielsen:

    how do I approach a new flight in a very very remote area? I live in Greenland. And I would love to fly some thermic conditions, and we only have this area a long ways inland. All the city’s are located on the coast of Greenland.


    How do you repel down from a tree? What kit should you carry?


    You’ve had a long career from first starting to use a paraglider as a descent tool from an alpine climb in the 80’s to racing world cups and flying open class gliders. When you look back at the last 25 years of flying if you could change anything, what would it be?


    You mentioned this summer when asked about your opinion of flying competition gliders that “you need the performance 95% of the time, and you need the safety 5% of the time.” Clearly that is advice for a very specific pilot. Can you elaborate on wing choice- what people should consider when potentially stepping up to a hotter glider?


    I know you lamented the loss of Open Class gliders, and the loss of companies pushing that end of the spectrum. Is the CCC class a good compromise? What would you like to see happen at the manufacturing end of the sport?


    What advice did you get or wish you would have gotten back when you were a 50 hour pilot? What advice would you give for the newbie today?


  • Mentioned in this episode: Hugh Miller, Ed Ewing, Cross Country Magazine, Gillis Bengsston, Cody Mittanck, Kevin Lee, Thermal Tracker, Garmin, InReach, Russ Ogden, Kevin Brooker, Fabian Perez, Gabriele Bonafini, Thorlak Nielsen, Mikolaj Uskrzydlony, Brian Morrison, Eric Toshalis, Matt James, Derek Musashe, Blayde McIntyre


Episode 39- Antoine Laurens and a Lifetime of Life Lessons

Antoine Laurens on the Sierra Vol Biv in 2012- see the full video here.

Antoine Laurens began flying in 1992 when he was just seventeen years old. He’s lived a life of adventure and flying has been a way of life for the last two and half decades. One of the world’s great vol-biv pilots Antoine crossed over a 1,400 km route of the Himalayas (the film trailer of the “Himalayan Odyssey” can be seen here) and was part of the small team I joined in 2012 when we flew from the south end of the Sierra range to the Oregon border. He guides vol-biv trips in the Alps and in the Himalayas with the Himalayan Sky Safaris team (Eddie Colfax, Jim Mallinson, and John Sylvester); is one of the best Waga pilots I’ve ever seen; has flown thousands of tandems; and thousands and thousands of hours without a single accident. Antoine’s experience around the world, passion for adventure and his incredible passion for free flight is infectious and his thoughts on improvement, training, safety, vol-biv, top-landing strategies, landing in strong wind, planning and a LOT more are lessons we can all learn from regardless of our level. A special interview with a special friend and mentor, please enjoy this episode with Antoine!


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes:

  • Antoine recounts how he learned in 1992 and having his first “incident” which made him realize the importance of ground handling
  • Becoming an instructor and getting into guiding and tandems
  • Travels in India and discovering vol-biv and the flying possibilities of the Himalayas
  • Antoine recounts his 44 day vol-biv of the Himalayas – nearly 1400 kilometers
  • Where to do your first vol-biv, and skills you should have before your first trip. Gear, attitude and skill level are discussed.
  • We recount the accident with Brad Sander and lessons learned from the Sierra bivvy
  • How to maintain the passion
  • The most common times for accidents in most pilots level and how they can be avoided
  • Going with a guide- why you should really consider doing flights with experts
  • Tandems- are there downfalls?
  • The problem with flying- you cannot stop, so you are committed!
  • Toplanding strategies and strong wind strategies- identifying the right time to land and the importance of patience
  • Landing in strong wing (landing downwind strategies)
  • Mentioned in this episode: John Sylvester, Eddie Colfax, Jim Mallinson, Nick Greece, Eric Reed, Brad Sander, Oriol Fernandez, Toby Colombe.


Surfing the Sierras from Offshore Odysseys on Vimeo.

Episode 38- Jeff Shapiro and cracking the code

Jeff dropping in

Jeff Shapiro returns to the Cloudbase Mayhem! We sat down with Jeff in episode #3 of the podcast a year and a half ago right after Jeff lost a number of his closest friends to Wingsuit basejumping and had an amazing talk about risk, danger, gratitude, life, love and the art of living a life of adventure. At that time Jeff was just learning paragliding after a lifetime of hang gliding and “high risk” sports so we wanted to catch up and find out how his progression has gone. What’s different other than the aircraft? How have his thousands of hours of flight helped (and potentially hurt) learning cross country with a paraglider? We talk about risk; revisit his decision to wingsuit jump again; delve into what it’s like to be a beginner again as a professional athlete and why learning is so necessary to joy and happiness; how to “crack the code”; how to manage fear and realizing perspective can be changed; controlling a glider if you have dramatic riser twists; unpacking learning a new activity and a LOT more. Jeff is an amazing human and articulates the beauty of our sport in a way very few can. Please enjoy this amazing episode.


A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!





Show Notes:

  • Jeff revisits his past and how living with risk is acceptable- and necessary
  • Being a beginner again and detaching from ego and identity and how precious it is to let go
  • Learning and growing as a person- why it’s so critical
  • Paragliding- the meld between alpinism and flying
  • Comparing the mix of knowledge and the “dark arts”
  • How a paraglider as an aircraft allows so much more adventure than a hang glider- Freedom!
  • Fear is something that keeps you safe, but managing fear is critical- remember to have fun and remember that perspective can be changed
  • Methods to relax when things are stressful
  • Flying within your means- understanding your own skillset and mindset
  • “Cracking the code”- what’s on Jeff’s wishlist?
  • Why alone time is so important
  • We revisit Jeff’s losses in the Base world. Why Jeff has decided to jump again and how he justifies the risk
  • To not do something you’re passionate about because of fear and doubt is unacceptable because it would have to apply to the rest of your life- don’t deprive yourself of being you.


Episode 37- The Groundhandling Podcast

Ground handling is the cornerstone of being a good, safe pilot. But of all the most important foundational building blocks you can practice it is often the most neglected. For many pilots “groundhandling” is pulling the wing up and getting off the hill. This is only the first step. Many of our listeners have asked for a specific ground handling episode and now here it is! Nik Hawks, former Navy dude who passes his time climbing Mt Whitney in sandals and running mellow events like the Leadville 100 and sailing from California to the Caribbean on a J22 contacted me after seeing the Rockies Traverse a year ago inspired him to learn how to fly. He’s thrown himself into the game with both feet and taken on the practice of ground handling seriously. But as a new pilot, he quickly became confused with the mixed information regarding ground handling. In this episode we turn the tables around and Nik takes my seat as the interviewer and we dig into the art form. We also talk about SIV and other methods that greatly increase our risk to safety margin.

Nik hosts his own adventure podcast called PaleoTreats and he and his wife make paleo based edibles that are TO DIE FOR. They are going to be a big part of my nutritional fuel and ammunition for the X-Alps. Nik had me on his show a few months ago, it’s a really fun listen and if you’ve ever wanted to know about some of the wacky shit I’ve participated in over the years and what led me down this cloudbase mayhem road, have a listen. Make sure to check out the show notes below for the links to some of the films and otherwise we mention in the show. And PLEASE check out Nik’s site, he’s an inspiring dude putting out awesome content and his company, Paleo Treats is something really special. Enjoy!

A buck an episode, that’s all we ask.

Support me via Patreon

Subscribe to the Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast on Stitcher Radio, Google Play, Tune In, or ITunes!



Ground Handling Exercises with flyincanarias.com from Christian Fernandez on Vimeo.


Show Notes:

  • What does “good” ground handling mean?  Is some “dragging” inevitable? Is there some kind of progression beyond “stable over head, then helico”?  What’s in the middle of that?
  • Would you say that treating GH as almost a necessary evil to flying progression does disservice to all pilots?  If so, why do you think that it’s viewed as just a “stepping stone” rather than a fundamental?  I think this is a key point, as when I see expert pilots take off they don’t seem to want to ground handle a bunch first, its almost as if they’re too cool or that GH is for beginners.
  • What is (or should be) your ratio of ground handling to flying when you first start, say for your first 50 hours?  51-100, 101-500, 500+
  • I hear a lot of “go slow when you’re learning” from all the pros on the podcast, how does GH fit into that?
  • There’s a huge eagerness to get in the air and fly, but it seems like a bloody dangerous sport to be eager for.  Why do you think so many people ignore getting good at GH?
  • Is there any value in buying a separate GH wing that is smaller/faster/more maneuverable?

More flying related questions.  Some of these might sound stupid or too basic or easily Google-able, but I’m guessing for your brand-new-to-flying audience (like me) they might address the “There are no stupid questions” idea along with the mess of sorting out the *right* Google answer.  🙂

  • where are the breakdowns for hours flown = expertise in your mind?  I hear you say 50 hour and 500 hour pilot a bunch to refer to rank beginners on up to intermediate, are there any further break downs of that?
  • thoughts on really working to fly without instruments for as long as possible in order to develop that feel for the wing, for thermals, etc?
  • what does the “perfect” progression look like beyond the first flight school?  I get the P1-Pwhatever, but if you wanted to build a truly excellent pilot, I’ve been thinking about the following:

Flight school 

GH::flight ratio of 5::1 for the first 20 hours, 

an “intro” SIV (which may be different than a more advanced SIV?)   

another 30 hours of 5::1 flight/kite

then the 2nd SIV 

then an hour or two of basic acro

and then start to push into XC with a solid understanding of the wing, dynamics, recoveries, and reserve throws under your belt.

  • Over and over on your podcast I’ve heard that the mistakes come from not just pilot error, but easily preventable pilot error.  Is there a way to build a better system of teaching & learning to address that?  Maybe a mantra for flying?  
  • How have you not had any big accidents yet?  You’re flying big lines on an advanced wing.  What are your methods/rhythms/mantras during flight prep, takeoff, flight, pre-landing, landing?
  • What’s the difference between a 2 liner and a 3 liner?
  • What I’m hearing on “when to move up a wing” is basically “never” after an advanced EN-B wing for the “regular” pilot.  Why do so many people ignore that?
  • Paragliding in general seems like such a “feel” sport, but the attraction (at least for me) is that it’s a very technical sport in the sense of technique completely trumps fitness and strength.  Can we talk about how you learn the technique of something when it’s almost all “feel”?


Here’s my list of what I’m working on, lately I’ve been putting in about an hour a day, 5-7 days a week:

-Build a wall

-Prep for forward (layout, lines check, riser routing, CLEAN launch with kite absolutely straight over head)

-Prep for reverse (same as above)

-Cobra launch

-Spin L & R 180°

-Spin L & R 360°

-Holding position (standing still and keeping wing overhead)

-Moving left, right, forward, and backward under control

-Climbing, both objects and hills (I used my truck until I cracked the windshield.)  🙂

-Launch from rosette

-Kiting facing forward w/ kite forward

-Kiting facing forward w/ kite reversed

-Kiting facing backward w/kite forward

-Kiting facing backward w/kite reversed

-Collapses of one side, fly the other in control, inflate at will, facing both forward & reverse

-Big ears, forward & reverse

-Stall & recover, forward & reverse


-Kiss the ground with a wingtip, side to side, under control

-Kiss the ground then collapse the ground wingtip with A, then reinflate

-Frontal symmetrical collapse

-Helico via running start, up to 5’ high, hard on brake on one side, full weight on other, hard on opposite B (just saw this, haven’t tried it yet)


All of those (of course) depend on how much wind you have at your practice site.  No wind means lots of forwards.  🙂