Episode 139- Rico Chandra and developing Superpowers

Rico enjoying a magic day in the Alps

Rico Chandra is a Swiss pilot and musician who started flying 28 years ago. He’s recently popped up at the top of XContest and this past August he completed a 1,000 km solo vol biv across the Alps from Zurich to Slovenia. Rico has developed some really fantastic ground rules for keeping it between the lines when flying in his long accident-free history. In this episode we talk about his “superpower” that we should all develop ourselves; appropriate (and inappropriate) gear for a bivvy; preventing procedural mistakes by developing good processes; managing resources; necessary preparation before departure; his “hierarchy of 5 types of bad outcomes”; how we can develop skills to remove peer pressure; and his “rules of thumb” that help define the line when it comes to making decisions. I really enjoyed this conversation and hope you do too!

Some fun links:

  • Vlog of Rico’s trip:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1uNcwwg4W5j4wlAB8KaMpg/videos

The journal entries include links to the xcontest tracks & descriptions of each day’s the route

  • Rico’s blog is hosted on paraworld’s website

https://www.paraworld.ch/de/news/reiserueckblicke/rico-abenteuer/

Includes packing list (including the weight of each item)

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Show Notes: 

From Rico:

I did some serious analyzing during and after my volbiv trip in August (1000 km to Slovenia) that might be of interest to your audience, for example:

Mistakes I made: A lot of them were procedural and can be prevented by good processes. For example, pedantically checking I didn’t leave anything behind every time I set down my pack, no exceptions. Or managing water & power resources. Or installing maps before running out of cell phone coverage.

Also learned from mistakes in equipment choice.

I also set up a hierarchy for 5 types of outcomes of bad decisions, ranging from getting hurt (avoidance has highest priority) to looking bad (committed to not giving this any weight at all).

Also, and this relates not just to vol biv but free flying in general, I work with a set of “rules of thumb” that help me assess where to draw the line in my decision making. I’ve been keeping these “rules of thumb” as hypotheses and keep vetting them with every new experience. I have a rule of thumb how far to hike up before launching on a volbiv trip. I’ve also decided to discard some earlier hypotheses in the past, like “you’ll always find some place to land somehow.”

 

Mentioned in the Show:

Matt Scutter, SkySight, Eric Bader, Tim Pentreath, Josh Cohn

 

Episode 138- Nik Hawks and Expectations

Matt Beechinor during the shooting of 500 Miles to Nowhere. Photo Jody MacDonald

Nik Hawks returns to the Mayhem in response to the pilot survey we put out a couple months ago to take on a whole bunch of topics you, our listeners asked for. We broke this wide-ranging show into four main parts- Nik’s answers a bunch of questions about his own sometimes frustrating progression and how he’s had to adjust his own expectations in the sport in order to avoid being a “dangerous pilot”; I answer questions from Nik about a recent interesting discussion he had with a new pilot on launch; we revisit some of the takeaways from the Kiwi SAR effort in Nevada; and finally Nik interviews me about the upcoming Red Bull X-Alps, my own progression choices over the years, what makes a “dangerous” vs a “safe” pilot, gear choices for hike and fly and a lot more. We had a ton of fun with this show and hope you enjoy it!

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Show Notes: 

  • Survey results:
  • 60% of our listeners fly less than 100 hours a year & almost 80% identify as intermediate or beginner.
  • Most listeners into XC

Questions for Nik

  • How many hours do you have now?
  • Why hasn’t your progression been faster?
  • why don’t you fly more?
  • why don’t you do more SIV?
  • What’s your longest XC?
  • Do you consider yourself a dangerous pilot?
  • What “needs to change” in the world of free flight, if anything?
  • If you had 8 weeks over the spring and summer to do any flights anywhere in the world, what would they be?
  • What would you tell your 50 hour self?
  • What do you wish the new pilots on the hill would do more?
  • How have you handled reckless pilots on your hill?
  • Biggest eye opener/change of approach or attitude from when you first got into flying vs now. IE – what were the early misconceptions (“I’d like to race in the 2019 RBXA vs the reality”)
  • Tips for finding a good mentor? And…what makes a good mentor?
  • Top three frustrations in your progression

(local P3 new pilot w/100 hours, questions)

  • self taught, started flying at beginning of lockdown
  • kited solo for a month
  • flybubble, GoPro everything then ask another pilot for feedback, read the Art of Paragliding and other books, researched online stuff
  • launching lee side into 18 mph wind thinking it was fine, got lucky
  • “I’m often the lowest pilot, and lately I’ve been sinking out without warning.  If the wind shuts off, I’m fucked.”
  • tips on sidehill landings, because that’s where I get hurt
  • is it better to pick a safe spot and aim for that, or is it better to figure out the wind and land into the wind?
  • wind direction without indicators, how do you figure it out?
  • multiple intermediate syndromes
  • there’s not just one time that you realize you don’t know shit. It happens over and over.
  • I hurt myself on a launch after 60 launches and realized I got lucky 60 times
  • I’m psyched out on landing; every landing is an event now and it used to be something I looked forward to
  • I only get one shot at the “tricky” landings, which makes them even more nerve-wracking.
  • I have at least 50 landings “on the carpet”, but I missed twice and now I’m psyched out about it
  • I can stick 5 out of 10 landings on the box at Torrey. I don’t want to practice those at Torrey because then people will think I’m incompetent.
  • breaking hours up to ridge soaring (10 hours) & mountain hours (90 hours)

KiwiSAR

  • Should we have seen him?
  • What were our lessons learned?
  • gear (having a tertiary location backup)- 2 min tracking
  • comms, command, control (Telegram was amazing)
  • community really rallied. Was Kiwi that special, or can we expect that every time? USE US FIRST!
  • What was the best part of the SAR for you?
  • Other than Kiwi crashing, if you could change anything, what would it be? : Awesome Glass, SLOW Scans, SLOW down.

Questions for Gavin

  • Are you still doing your kite surfing business?
  • X-Alps: How will this one be different for you?
  • Thomas Theurillat
  • Operating mindset: “Everything to Gain, Nothing to Lose”- seeing opportunities instead of risks
  • It’s a GAME, treat it as one
  • Mastery approach vs external achievement
  • Process goals- eg packing/unpacking, food, recovery, mobility, visualizing, etc.
  • Whats the best possible outcome right now?
  • Bode Miller
  • Having different gears- climbing, gliding, surviving, decision making…
  • I know you’re not a gearhead, but…what are you flying & using both daily and for X-Alps?
  • wing- Klimber 2
  • harness Kolibri Pro, Kortel pack (260gr), Independence reserve (280 gr)
  • flight deck- XCTracer Mini (solar), InReach Mini, iPhone (they make us bring the FlyMaster Live)
  • misc- SHOES, SOCKS, z-poles, gloves, goggles, speed sleeves.
  • You jumped into 2 liners quickly but tell most people not to. What makes you different?
  • What piece of kit would you love to see that doesn’t exist yet?
  • Safety- location, and back ups in flight (cut away for XC pilots)
  • Three words to describe the safest pilots you know.
  • Confident, Fly the good days, Jedi’s with their wings on the ground
  • Three words to describe the most dangerous pilots you know.
  • Overconfident, Ignore the 5 hazardous attitudes of Aviation, don’t fly with enough margin for their ability, Flying a wing beyond their capability, using a rating to rationalize their ability
  • Describe to me what it feels like when you hook into a thermal. Be as descriptive as possible, and (as odd as it sounds) don’t worry if the words don’t make sense.
  • Let’s imagine you hiked up to launch and you meet a CBM supporter who’s a newer (50 hour) pilot. You can clearly see that both of you have arrived too early to fly, and no one else is there yet. The pilot asks you, “What are you seeing out there?” How do you respond?
  • “On The Hill” Segment: What’s one thing an intermediate pilot can practice the very next time they fly? (just thought of this, would be a cool way to end the show or include each time)

 

Mentioned in the Show:

Will Gadd, Flow, Cedar Wright, Malin Lobb, Maxime Pinot, Thomas Theurillat, Chrigel Maurer, Marko Hrgetic Hrga, USHPA, Jeff Shapiro, JK Smith, Kirsten Seeto, Arthur Markowitz, Bruce Goldsmith, Armin Harich, Theo De Blic, Ozone, Cross Country Magazine, Kiwi, Bill Belcourt, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, David Hunt, Kurt Niznick, Meshtastic, Keith Cockrum, Ben Abruzzo, Kortel, XCTracer, inReach, Garmin, Vespa, Matt Beechinor, Sebastien Kayrouz, Ken Hudonjorgensen

 

Episode 137- Kirsten Seeto and Making the Jump

Kirsten assisting a launch off Mystic in Bright, Australia

Australian pilot Kirsten Seeto has turned her dreams into her reality. By simplifying her life, making some calculated bold decisions, and focusing on airtime over a paycheck and on lifestyle over work she’s carved out what many seek but few achieve. In this wide-ranging inspiring podcast Kirsten shares how we can make flying a lot more inclusive; how to get mentors; the power of being vulnerable; how to behave and interact on launch; finding a mentor; why the sport is so dominated by men; creating events that appeal to more pilots rather than just racing for speed; when (and how) to give advice and empowering who you’re giving it to; the importance of role models in the sport; how to find help especially when you’re new; the infamous “Bikini-gate” from 2015; how to “be brave” in our community; creating a free-flight oriented lifestyle; the tiny house movement; simplifying life; what paragliding teaches us about life; the complexities of fear; unlocking “freezing”; listening…well to your gut and a lot more. Enjoy!

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Show Notes: 

  • Altitude with attitude, Kirsten’s website and her fly-ins (https://www.altitudewithattitude.info/)
  • Kirsten gets her aviation license when she was 16
  • The Tiny House movement (https://www.lilliputliving.com/)
  • The “Waypoint Challenge” in Australia- a different way (FUN!) to run comps: https://www.turnpointchallenge.com.au/
  • Travel and paragliding
  • How we can make paragliding more inclusive
  • Why the male domination in flying?
  • How to give advice to pilots on launch
  • Role models
  • How to get help, especially when you’re new
  • Lifestyle over work
  • The complexities of fear

 

Mentioned in the Show:

Advanced Paragliding, Cross Country Magazine, Rico Chandra, Jason Lauritzen, Brian Webb, Cedar Wright, John Brassil, Isabella Messenger, Adel Honti, Marko Hrgetic Hrga, Bruce Goldsmith, Ed Ewing, Reavis Sutphin-Gray

 

Kirsten getting a pilot dialed

Episode 136- Rene Falquier and the ABC’s of Glider Design

 

Many of our listeners have been requesting more shows on gear and especially what goes into wing design. Here you go! Rene Falquier recently completed a year-long aeronautics and engineering thesis with BGD in France. In this episode we dive into how a wing comes to fruition. How much is science vs craft? How much is wing development driven by design philosophy? How does the design process work? And critically- does knowing anything about wing design help us become better pilots? You be the judge! Rene and I had a blast with this show, and I learned a ton. We’re trying something new out starting with this show after getting all the great podcast survey responses by dropping in a tip at the top of every show- let us know what you think and enjoy!

Here are the links to Rene’s thesis if you want to take a deep dive!:

http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1359785&dswid=-4304

https://www.flybgd.com/en/paragliders/rene-falquier–pilot-142-1503-0.html

Here is the Base 2 tech video we discuss in the show from 1:01:37 to 1:02:37:

 

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Show Notes: 

  • A review of travel and medevac (repatriation) insurance best practices with Bianca Heinrich
  • The thesis, sailplanes, aeronautics
  • Design tools manufacturers use
  • Technology in wings
  • Changing the degrees of freedom
  • Paragliding design and surfboard design
  • The design loop and possibly eliminating prototypes
  • How do gliders improve and is something as radical as the Sharknose in our future?
  • What about test pilots?
  • Objective vs human criteria of a glider
  • The “black art” of design
  • The certification process and the cost involved in bringing a wing to market
  • The roadblocks to wing progression
  • The fluid structure interaction- lift and drag and aerodynamics
  • Does understanding design help us pilot better? Analysis vs feel
  • Confidence in design
  • Risk and attitude
  • Flying polars- get off the brakes! How much bar?

 

Mentioned in the Show:

Nik Hawks, Bruce Goldsmith, Bianca Heinrich, Eduardo Garza, InReach, Garmin, SPOT, GEOS, IMG Signature, Global Rescue, World Nomads, DogTag, JD Castile, BGD Designs, Felipe Rezende, Gin Gliders, PWC, Tom Lalise, Niviuk, Ozone, Torrey Pines, Kari Castle, Malin Lobb, FlyEO, Chrigel, Aaron Durogati

 

Episode 135 – Tim Pentreath and Vol Biv

On Glide with Tim Pentreath

Tim Pentreath has been flying paragliders for over 30 years. The new frontier for Tim’s flying the last few years has been multi-day bivvy trips in the Alps and this episode is dedicated to that art form in flying. The gear; the skills; setting appropriate objectives; how to prepare; where to go on your first bivvy; how to keep it simple; what you need to know; comfort vs going light; food tips;  safety tips; what to know before you go; weather resources; where to camp; tips for flying near wind turbines, communication tips and team tracking, when to go; and a lot more. Thinking of doing some bivvy? Listen up! Happy New Year everyone!

Check out some of Tims wonderful bivvy and flying videos on his YouTube Channel.

Tim’s bivvy kit list can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UFX_2WcF-veRY6AHSlbYLCw3tmg1b71bPrRibLDHLaQ/edit

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Show Notes: 

  • Your first bivvy
  • Gear tips- food, equipment, kit, comfort
  • Tim’s epic first day of the first trip in the Maritimes Alps from Col De Bleine
  • More tips on kit- phone, external battery, charging, etc.
  • Weather resources
  • Wind turbine tips, route and weather planning
  • How to communicate and track your team
  • To league or not to league?
  • A story of regret- go for it!

 

Mentioned in the Show:

Jocky Sanderson, Ed Ewing, XCMagazine, Will Gadd, Nigel Cooper, Greg Hammerton, Nick Neynens, XCTracer, Advance, Ferdy Van Shelven, Paul Guschlbauer, Bruce Marks, Chris Ashtown, Chrigel, Patrick Von Kanel, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, FlySkyHy, Telegram, Garmin_Outdoor, Benjamin Jordan, UK XContest League

 

Episode 134- Martin Henry and a lifelong pursuit

The magazine that started it all…

Need a good laugh? Kick back and listen to Martin Henry, a Canadian Hang glider and paraglider who has been chasing free flight for almost 50 years tell some really fun stories. Get on board as we travel around the world, learn how to thermal, fly triangles, retrieve your significant other, fly competitions, compete in the Worlds, compete in the Worlds with your wife!, figure it out, crash, tumble, bomb out, send it, learn, and drink a nice cold beer with your friends after yet another wonderful day at cloudbase. This episode is pure joy and filled with tons of great advice and great learning thrown in regardless of where you are in the sport and what you hope to achieve. This show is an educational, entertaining BLAST- enjoy!

Check out this 1975 era hang gliding footage that Martin put together (this was off a VHS folks, so give the sound a break!).

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Show Notes: 

  • The issues in the beginning. “This product can, may, and will fail under any and all circumstances.”
  •  “These gliders were VERY efficient at killing people”
  • How Mansfield, WA came into the picture
  • The wow factor of the Washington flats
  • Open distance on a rigid wing spells “divorce”
  • Flying triangles
  • The golden age of hang gliding
  • What got folks back in the day and “survivor bias”
  • What the early pilots brought from sailplane knowledge
  • Competition flying
  • Flying in the Alps
  • Maintaining control- don’t give up
  • Is paragliding heading the same way as hang gliding?
  • “Flying? You should maybe think about taking up heroin!”
  • The early days of comps
  • Chasing records
  • Hard lessons
  • Fear injuries and how to recover
  • How relaxed should we be? You have to feel the wing
  • How does our relationship with risk change as we age?
  • “I’m a mediocre pilot who tries to fly safely”. Don’t ignore your own skills, or the reality of the day.
  • Transferable skills between different aircraft
  • Don’t be a passenger
  • Stories of Larry Tudor (1:23:00)
  • Be wary of distraction- getting away with it until you don’t

 

Mentioned in the Show:

Malin Lobb, Bastienne Wentzel, Nik Hawks, Miguel Gutierrez, Larry Tudor, Stewart Midwinter, Charlie Baughman, Kari Castle, Willi Mueller, Chris Mueller, Alex Raymont, Wills Wing, Moyes, Aeros, Barry Bateman, Davis Straub, Brad Gunnuscio, Nicole McLearn, Joe Bostik, Manfred Ruhmer, Chrigel Maurer, Jeff Shapiro, Russ Ogden, Jeff Farrell, Randy Campadore, Chris Santacroce

 

Episode 133- Malin Lobb and Wing Control

Malin Lobb enjoying Annecy

Malin Lobb is the co-owner of Flyeo paragliding in Annecy with Fabien Blanco. He was one of the founders of the British Racing Academy, is a keen world cup comp pilot and an experienced SIV and paragliding instructor. In this information-packed episode that our editor called “One of the Best Episodes EVER!” Malin discusses wing control from A to Z- how to approach SIV; what to be thinking about when choosing a wing; the pitfalls of wing certification and relying on “passive safety”; the required skills to fly a 2 liner; the dangers of object fixation and why it occurs; why we freeze under stress; learning spirals correctly to prevent black-out; why the 360 to clean exit tells an instructor what skills you have; the 4 SIV/ piloting fundamentals (these will surprise you!); totally avoiding ALL cascading events; utilizing the FEAR acronym (feeling, eye, affirmation, relax) to decrease stress; mitigating your flying currency after even very short breaks; the reason most accidents happen; how much SIV is “right”; what makes a good pilot; NO, it’s not just “putting your hands up!”; when a pilot is ready for a 2 liner; “cleaning” a glider; efficiently clearing cravats; why you should see every collapse; building the foundation early; aggravating and cancelling roll and why it’s important; misconceptions of wing control, misconceptions of wing certification; how an ingrained culture of ignorance in our sport leads to so much mayhem and a ton more. This episode is jammed with really critical information for pilots at every level.

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Show Notes: 

  • The ethos of Flyeo and how Covid has affected the business and plans for the future
  • The art of instruction
  • Learning spirals
  • The four SIV/pilotage fundamentals- 1) trust your harness, 2) disassociate your arms from your body, 3) brake range, 4) situation awareness
  • The FEAR acronym
  • Flying currency and the dangers of even very short breaks
  • The most common cause of accidents
  • Becoming an autonomous pilot
  • What makes a good pilot?
  • There’s no blanket response
  • Regardless of your wing control, there are certain situations that there is no recovery
  • 2 Liners- there’s the skill side, and the confidence side
  • How much bar?
  • Experience in wing control and experience in XC- they are NOT the same
  • “Cleaning” a glider
  • Cancelling roll and active flying
  • The gateway to acro- the wingover
  • Misconceptions of SIV and specific maneuvers
  • The right thing to do is the right thing at the time. ADAPTION is key.
  • The massive problem of relying on certification and passive safety

 

Mentioned in the Show: Fabien Blanco, Pal Takats, Theo De Blic, Valle De Bravo, Cody Mittanck, Jeff Shapiro, Charles Cazaux, Seiko Fukuoka, Russ Ogden, Jocky Sanderson, Stefan Bernhard, Alex Robe

 

Malin and his son

Bonus Episode- Ask Me Anything with Gavin, your questions answered!

In this bonus episode I take on listener questions. We talk about coring thermals, Red Bull X-Alps preparation, the dream bivvy line, fear injuries, weather planning tools for bivvy flying, line and glider degradation, what qualifies as "big air", risk changes when you have children, flying performance under pressure, team flying tips, hydration and energy tips for big flights,  how to not be a "freezer" when anxiety jumps, Flow state and transferable skills from other sports, the "Survivor bias" and more!

This content is only available to Members of the Cloudbase Mayhem. If you have subscribed to our newsletter or have supported us in the past through PayPal, Patreon or another way you should have an account all set up with us and you can login below (username is typically your email). If you aren't a member, all we've ever asked for is a buck a show so please if you can join now! Can't afford a buck a show? We want all our content to be available to the flying community regardless of your financial position, so just send us an email and we'll sort you out.

Episode 132- Bastienne Wentzel and the Beginner’s Guide to Paragliding

 

Bastienne Wentzel is a professional science writer, editor of Lift magazine and assistant pilot instructor based in the Netherlands. A few years ago she became frustrated with the lack of comprehensive, correct information available for newer pilots trying to learn to fly and decided to write an instructional book in Dutch. It was such a hit that the team at Cross Country magazine, headed up by Ed Ewing decided to take three years re-writing and editing her original book in English. The magnificent result has just been published. The book is absolutely packed with tips, illustrations, and expert advice to help newer pilots learn the A to Z’s of learning to fly safely. From the history of the sport, to gear, understanding aerology, the fundamentals of flight, meteorology, getting licensed, understanding airspace and more it’s all presented in an easy-to-understand and highly readable format. This show is dedicated to Bastienne’s book and our listeners who are just taking flight and learning the ropes. Enjoy!

Find out more here: https://beginnersguidetoparagliding.com

And PLEASE take our podcast survey here that I speak about in the opener (win Patagonia schwag or a The Beginner’s Guide book!)

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Show Notes: 

  • How the book came to be
  • Bastienne’s history and becoming an instructor, and the lack of a proper instructional books
  • The various chapters and what’s available
  • Meteorology and aerology
  • What Bastienne has learned in her years in the sport

Mentioned in the Show: Jeff Shapiro, Ed Ewing, Cross Country Magazine, Greg Hammerton, Hugh Miller, Bruce Goldsmith, Kelly Farina

 

Bastienne

Episode 131- Ferdinand Van Shelven takes on his 5th X-Alps

Ferdy Van Shelven launches in the 2017 X-Alps

Ferdinand (aka “Ferdy”) Van Shelven, “The Flying Dutchman” is returning for his 5th Red Bull X-Alps this June after taking a break from the 2019 race. Ferdy has been in the top 7 in all of his previous 4 campaigns from 2011 to 2017. How has a pilot from the flatlands of the Netherlands become so competitive in the toughest race on Earth? We explore his flying philosophy; his approach to risk; the dynamic with his wife Nicole supporting him in the race; the right head-space for something as huge as the X-Alps; how his approach will change in this edition; the good and bad side of ignorance; some of the sketchy situations he’s experienced in the race; how to follow your instincts; sitting out the 2019 race and a lot more. Enjoy this fun talk with a huge fan favorite of the race!

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Show Notes:

  • The flying dutchman returns!
  • Some sketchy situations
  • Sitting out the 2019 race
  • Oh the crazy places you will go!
  • Pain
  • What rookies should expect, and are they ready?
  • Doing the race with your wife as supporter and a new baby on board!
  • The breakthrough of Ferdy’s 2017 race, and how he’s been so consistent
  • The crazy vertical the race requires on some days
  • Dealing with the risk of the X-Alps
  • Day 2 of the 2017 X-Alps when Benoit crashed and Antoine Girard got really hurt and had to retire from the race
  • How much psychological trauma can we handle?
  • Where and how Chrigel gains on the rest and the advantage of being out front early
  • Best/ worst experiences of the race

 

Mentioned in this episode: Red Bull X-Alps, Zooom, Tom De Dorlodot, Nick Neynens, Chrigel Maurer, Bruce Marks, Skywalk, Salewa, Toma Coconea, Aaron Durogati, Paul Guschlbauer, Simon Oberrauner, Rick Brezina, Michal Gierlach, Benoit Outters, Antoine Girard, Reavis Sutphin-Gray