Episode 77- Comp Tactics and Strategies

The gaggle at the PWC in Australia, Feb 2017. Photo Jimmy Huang

We’re bringing you a live show from the road this week at the Argentina Nationals. I sat down with veteran comp pilots JP Robert Vandenbegine (Canada and Belgium), Chin Chien Huang (aka Jimmy from the US), and Francisco Mantaras (Argentina) to discuss the A to Z of comps. These guys collectively have decades of competition experience and we dove into pre-race strategies, how to get a good start, gaggle flying, finding good lines and gliding, safety and cautionary tales, tactics for winning a task vs winning the comp, instrument use, speed bar use, hand position and using the B’s, how to get into comps and why and a whole lot more. We’ve been getting a lot of questions from listeners on comps- this should answer a ton of questions. Enjoy!!

 

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Show Notes:

  • Gavin takes us around the world to the best places to fly month by month
  • The crew discusses strategies before the race starts and their race background
  • Fitness and flying
  • How to get a good start
  • Gaggle flying
  • Gliding and finding good lines
  • Flying with the B’s
  • Speed bar use, instrument use, tactics
  • Comp strategy for the day vs for the week

Mentioned in this episode:

Miguel Gutierrez, Alas Del Hombre, Bill Belcourt, Chris Galli, Cody Mittanck, Francisco Mantaras, Chin Chien Huang, JP Vandenbegine, Gareth Carter, Andre Rainsford, Chrigel Maurer, Yassen Savoy, Luc Armont, Russ Ogden

 

On Glide. Photo by Robert Vandenbegine

 

 

 

Episode 76- The Ask Me Anything show! And a fun little story of a Big day:)

running fast at 17,000 on my way to the North American foot launch record- July 15, 2013

This show is broken up into two different parts. The first recounts a story that many listeners have been asking for- the North American foot launch record I set back on July 15th, 2013. As we head into fall it’s likely the record will hold another year, which is pretty amazing given the talent and dedication of so many pilots in this part of the world who have been pushing really hard. It was a remarkable week- nearly 1,000 km in three flights, all of them one personal best after another. But the big one is a pretty wild story in pretty extreme conditions in huge terrain on a very marginal day at best, and one that probably should never be repeated. Top speeds of 115-120 km / hr in the flats is one thing, but flying over 6 major mountain ranges from Idaho deep into Montana at that speed is certainly living on the edge! The second part of the show is dedicated to your questions for the “Ask Me Anything” show. We discuss how to assess new sites, the advantages and disadvantages of pod harnesses, safety compromises with light-weight gear when it comes to harnesses and reserves, listening to your gut, shaking off the rust after not flying, reserve best-practices and what might be coming in wing technology, front mount reserve best-practices, how to keep your hands warm on cold days, keeping your legs from getting tired when pressing speed bar and a lot more. Please let me know if you find these non-interview format shows valuable!

 

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Show Notes:

  • Gavin shares his experience at Garmin HQ at the athlete summit and some of the new cool products
  • Gavin recounts the record foot-launch record set back in 2013 from Sun Valley 240 miles to Canyon Ferry Lake, Montana
  • Gavin takes your questions!

 

To see the Skywalk pod tests:  http://www.paraglidingforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=53367

To see Nick Neynens front mount reserve throw we discuss in the show:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwvpDy1m4hI&feature=youtu.be

And to see a GREAT blog post about reserve throwing best practices: https://flybubble.com/blog/how-to-deploy-your-reserve-parachute

Mentioned in this episode:

Garmin, Virb, InReach, Brody Leven, 360 camera, North American Foot launch record, Steven Kotler, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, Nate Scales, Matt Beechinor, Mike Pfau, Mitch Riley, Niviuk, Nik Hawks, Chris Santacroce, Jeffrey Ferrell, Superfly, Ben Abruzzo, Bruce Marks, Daniel Kahneman, Honza Rejmanik, UP, Triple 7, Flow, Russ Ogden, Rodrigo Cidad, Nick Greece, Eagle paragliding, Jocky Sanderson, Rob Sporrer, Passion Paragliding, Tim Ferriss, Stilian Blagoev, Matt Henzi, Nick Neynens, FlyBubble Paragliding, Daniel Schmid, Marko Hrga Hrgetic, Fabian Perez, Tom De Dorlodot, Karel Koudelka, Tom Sliepen.

 

Flying King Mountain in the Big Lost. Photo Jody MacDonald

 

 

Episode 75- Dominic Rohner and Chasing the Dream

Dominic flying the Rift Valley in Kenya

I met Dominic nearly a year ago in the Sertau in Brazil and I’ve been wanting to get him on the show since. This one starts with a great (and a little harrowing!) paragliding story in Switzerland that leads us to discuss some safety stuff that cross country pilots really need to implement, and just keeps getting better. Dominic has been flying for 21 years, recently sold his share of a very successful school (Paraworld) in Zurich and has been living the dream- traveling the world in the pursuit of the skycrack. From Tanzania and Kenya to Brazil to Colombia Dominic takes us on a journey that only a paraglider and some imagination can do. This one is filled with great advice, many laughs, a few solid warnings, fantastic travel stories, the heuristic decision making process, and does what any good free flight talk should do- get you STOKED to go flying! You’re going to dig this- enjoy!

“I like flying, I like being with people, and I like drinking beer so I need to start a paragliding school!”- Dominic Rohner

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Show Notes:

Discussed in the episode:
  • Dominic discusses a pretty scary incident near St Moritz, Switzerland we discuss the takeaways- are there times you shouldn’t throw your reserve?
  • Acro training and cut-aways
  • Dominic takes us around the world and defines the magic
  • Flying into Guerrila country:)
  • Flying in Tanzania
  • Dominic discusses his school and travel business, paraworld and their unique approach
  • The world of acro and training and why acro is important
  • A risk pilots should avoid…and one they should take
  • What are the most important skills to tackle and master in the early days?
  • How to find a good school and a good instructor
  • Little things you should do that make you much safer- mentors, practice, SIV, reserves…
  • How acro helps your head, and what wing to learn on

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Aaron Durogati, Erik Reinfeldt, Odrej Prochazka, Michael Witschi, Cody Mittanck, Josh Cohn, Miguel Gutierrez, Alas Del Hombre, Monarca, Eric Reed, Stefan Wyss, Horacio Lorens, Felix Wolk, Michael Gebhart, Nik Hawks, Mitch Riley, Pal Takats, Theo De Blic, Niviuk E-Gravity, Jocky Sanderson

 

Those special moments…take off madness in Kenya

Want to Learn Acro? Start with the right kit.

Full stalls with the EGravity are hard to get wrong

Let me be clear. I am not an acro aficionado by a long stretch. After learning some of the basics- SAT’s, asymmetric spirals, big proper wing overs, etc I took my first acro course in 2012 with Jocky Sanderson in Oludeniz with the goal of dialing in deep stall and learning helicopters. But my instructor, Johan said attempting to learn helis with only a week would just be frustrating and suggested we focus on the dynamic stuff- loops, SAT to loop, dynamic full stalls, etc. At the time I was flying the Niviuk F-Gravity and doing the dynamic stuff on that wing is a blast- it’s a wing that has a lot of energy.

Fun for the whole family!

 

Since then because of where I live I rarely get an opportunity to practice acro and when I’ve done it the goal isn’t to become a rad acro pilot but to become a safer XC pilot. After the X-Alps in 2015 I made a goal to get totally dialed on deep stall, tail slides and spins so I could more safely get out of trouble flying in dicey conditions. After speaking to some of the greatest acro pilots in the world on the podcast (Pal Takats, Theo De Blic, Ondrej Prochazka, etc.) it became clear that learning these more technical maneuvers that require a much finer touch on a freestyle wing is really hard. These guys all said the same thing- want to learn Acro? Get a low end B wing! A freestyle wing like the F-Gravity is twitchy and jumps at mistakes. Tail slides are easy, but the next progression is deep stall and helis and it seemed like every other attempt at deep stall would end up in riser twists and one in four would have a cravat.

My acro partner Cody Mittanck could see that I was struggling, even though I clearly had good wing management skills and could acro and full stall all day. He made the same recommendation as the acro jedi’s I’d spoken with on the show- get a low EN B wing to learn.

 

tail slides are a walk in the park

Wing manufacturers have also been listening to this advice and I was thrilled to get my hands on the new Niviuk E-Gravity which is built specifically for learning acro. It’s a certified B wing, infinitely more forgiving of mistakes than it’s cousin the F-Gravity but still energetic enough for all the playful stuff- Misty’s, dynamic full stalls, SAT, Rhythmic Sat, loops, wing overs, etc. The deep stall range is much, much wider than on higher end acro wings and after my first few stalls and tail slides I started playing around with doing things wrong just to see how it behaves. I’ve yet to have a cravat- in fact the shape of the wing and the line plan makes me think a cravat might be close to impossible? More testing is needed, but I did some pretty silly stuff and muffed up a ton of helis and never once had a riser twist or cravat. Was I nailing helico? Far from it. I’ve got a long ways to go, but it was a lot of fun landing after every run with a big smile and wanting more rather than trying to talk my heart down from being pinned for 5 minutes.

 

In summary- if you’re like me and keen to learn some of the more technical acro moves and also like me and have a limited playground, do yourself a favor and get the right kit. It’s sexy getting a bad ass acro wing, but you’ll pay the price trying to tame it. Everyone I’ve spoken with who has helis dialed says it takes hundreds and hundreds of attempts just to get close. You can get lucky every once in awhile, but to really nail it you’ve got to have a lot of time, a lot of patience and the right tool.

Episode 74- Theo Warden and Winning BIG

Theo launching into the record books

Theo Warden is only 19 years old and just took home two wins that would be truly amazing in a career of competition flying, let alone from someone who’s just getting seriously into the game. Theo took home gold at the Europeans in Portugal in August, then chalked up another win immediately afterwards at the British Nationals in Krushevo, Macedonia.  Two of the toughest comps in the world, two back to back wins. How in the world did he do it? This is the emphasis of this podcast- digging into all the things that go into winning. Theo began flying the day after his 14th birthday, after the British rules reduced the minimum age from 16 to 14. He’s been part of the British juniors mentoring program that Russ Ogden, Guy Anderson and a few other top British pilots set up a few years back which is clearly having incredible results. We talk flow state, being disciplined, the importance of having fun, dealing with pressure and keeping it simple. I can’t wait to see what this young Jedi pulls off in the years to come. Enjoy!

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Show Notes:

Discussed in the episode:
  • Theo discusses his rather brief flying resume and how he got into it
  • The British juniors mentoring program and “boot camps”- what’s involved and how it’s turning young pilots into amazing competitors
  • The headspace for winning- HAVE FUN!
  • Flow and getting in the zone
  • The key- being relaxed and just enjoying the game
  • The importance of feedback and analysis, but not getting bogged down in the negative
  • Trimming gliders and some key points- how big a difference does it make and how often should you have your glider checked?
  • How to approach the future after so much success.
  • How Theo progressed up to the Enzo 3
  • What now?

Read more about his win here in Cross Country Magazine: http://xcmag.com/news/theo-warden-19-wins-european-paragliding-championship/

Mentioned in this episode:

Cross Country Magazine, Jocky Sanderson, Russ Ogden, Ozone paragliders, Guy Anderson, Ed Ewing, Idris Birch, Malin Lobb, Jack Pimblett, Antonio, Jack Bailey, Lawrie Noctor, Niviuk, Ari Sahlstrom, Louis Tapper, Craig Morgan, Aaron Durogati, Michael Sigel, Ari Sahlstrom, Steven Kotler, Antonio Burian, Jessica Cox

 

Europeans

Episode 73- Mitch Riley and X-Alps madness, Developing Mental toughness, Thinking Fast VS Slow, Growth Mindset, Discipline and More

Mitch flies in the X-Alps in 2017. Photo Jason Lombard

Mitch Riley has been chasing the sky crack as hard as anyone the last few years. He’s averaging 500-600 hours a year, instructs full-time for Eagle Paragliding, competes regularly, does commercial tandems, competed in the 2017 X-Alps and guides around the world. Mitch’s approach to training and improvement isn’t simply airtime- this is a mental game we play more than anything and Mitch has been a student of sports psychology and mental training and gives us a ton of tips on improving performance through concepts like thinking fast vs slow, flow state, mental toughness, fear control, using language to deal with fear, using words to avoid negative thinking, and much more. What risks shouldn’t pilots take vs the ones they should? How can most accidents be eliminated? Controlling the fear response and why most pilots will screw up a collapse recovery; the importance of visualization- how, when and why, the importance of training on the bad days; why to fly the challenging days; the need to show up; building endurance for long flights and a LOT more. This episode is packed with super valuable advice. ENJOY!

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Show Notes:

A bunch of useful links and info Mitch mentions in the show:

You can find Mitch via Facebook at Mitch Riley, and Instagram  @mitch.riley.84.  Mitch is doing instruction and running clinics and tours with Eagle Paragliding, eagleparagliding.com.  And he’s running the first multiday hike and fly comp in the US this September- more information can be found at faroutflying.com.

 

Growth mindset vs fixed mindset:  “Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential” By Carol Dweck

A fun read on flow state etc:  “The Rise of Superman:  Unlocking the science of ultimate human performance.”  By Steven Kotler.
Flow: Living at the Peak of Your Abilities“. By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Ph.D
Thinking fast and slow:  “Thinking Fast And Slow” By Daniel Kahneman.
Mental toughness, fear control:  “Unbeatable Mind: Forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level“. By Mark Divine
Endurance Psychology:  “How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psychology of Mind over Muscle“. By Matt Fitzgerald.
Discussed in the episode:
  • Mitch discusses what went right and what went wrong with the X-Alps and what he’ll do differently in 2019
  • Thinking fast vs thinking slow
  • The three P’s of learning- Preparation, Performance,
  • Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
  • Mitch discusses his mentors and how Primoz Podobnik has really helped his flying
  • Fly like you know how- stop fucking around!
  • Mitch and Gavin discuss recent things they have learned that have really helped their performance in the air
  • Speed bar use on 2 liners vs lower end gliders
  • Regular mistakes most people make and how to correct them- correct your landing posture!
  • The risks that pilots shouldn’t take, vs the risk that they should
  • Using language to avoid fear and using words to make you more optimistic
  • How to eliminate most accidents- take offs and landings
  • How a lot of pilots screw up recovery because of fear- overcontrolling the glider. Fear response.
  • Techniques to control fear
  • Why to fly the tough days, why training is so important
  • Hours- you have to put in the hours
  • Patience- why it’s so hard to master
  • Gavin and Mitch talk about the need to slow down in order to go fast
  • Discipline- develop discipline if you want to do well in competitions
  • X-Alps strategies and how to improve

 

Mentioned in this episode:

David de Siebenthal, Evgenii Griaznov, Tom De Dorlodot, Mike Lester, Neil Michaels, Primoz Podobnik, Brad Gunnuscio, Reavis Gray, Michal Hammal (Kansas), Josh Cohn, Killian Jornet, Trey Hackney, Bruce Marks, Ben Abruzzo, Nik Hawks, Nick Neynens, Chrigel Mauer, Nate Scales, Mark Twight, Matt Henzi, Russ Ogden, Ferdinand Van Shelven, Manuel Nubel, Pal Takats, Tom Sliepen, UP Paragliders

 

Mitch just before the 2017 X-Alps

Episode 72- Greg Hamerton and FlyBubble, gear choice, bivvy, and the road to Mastery

Lift off…

Greg Hamerton is a South African pilot who started flying in 1992 and made the UK his home ten years ago to join the  FlyBubble crew. You’ve probably seen his very professional videos on many aspects of flying and progression on their YouTube channel (and if you haven’t you should!). Greg is a former PWC pilot, participated in the X-Pyr in 2016, is passionate about vol biv and has a lot of great thoughts and advice for pilots at every level. We discuss gear and choices and how to not get sucked into what others are saying vs what’s right for you, how to get into vol biv and best practices, the difference and advantages and disadvantages of 2 vs 3 liners, why “flying slow” is a worthy chase, learning to develop intuition that’s not “intuitive”, comps and chasing the aesthetics rather than the result, quality vs numbers and distances, what makes a “champion” and mastery, how to find the winning line and so, so SO much more. THIS ONE IS AWESOME. ENJOY!

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Show Notes:

A bunch of useful links we mention in the show:

https://flybubble.com/ for flying resources, knowledge base and great gear. Pilots from the USA and Canada can order from us via info@flybubble.com (we are in the process of enabling our website to handle international orders). This probably won’t make sense for small items but for larger kit purchases, part exchange and personalized wing matching service we have a unique advantage.
https://www.youtube.com/flybubbleparagliding for instructional videos, wing reviews and freeflight movies
https://www.patreon.com/flybubble for behind the scenes and filming tips
https://www.facebook.com/Flybubble.Paragliding to keep in touch on social media
Videos mentioned in the interview
https://youtu.be/RHIj3TaTW2g   I caught a cloud on my paraglider
https://youtu.be/o52Ldul4JLQ   Paragliding Skills: Improve Your Ground Handling
Discussed in the episode:
  • Greg discusses his most memorable sufferfest in Africa
  • Vol biv- a cool approach
  • Greg discusses gear and why he flies a lower level wing
  • We discuss training, pilot ability, and why FlyBubble got out of instructing and are now focused on gear and the videos
  • Greg discusses why high level instruction is so hard to make a viable business and why pilots don’t pay for it
  • Using your speed bar correctly and learning to go against what’s intuitive
  • There is no magic pill- airtime, airtime, airtime
  • Self assessment- where are you, really
  • The difference between 2 liners and 3 liners when it comes to collapses
  • The difference between a standard weight wing and light weight wings and some heads-up
  • Bivvy practices- gear, training, weekend trips, how to get started, etc.
  • Groundhandling– best practices (watch his video!). Greg has thousands of hours of groundhandling.
  • Comps – the good, the bad and chasing the aesthetics instead of the result
  • Quality vs chasing distance and numbers
  • Attitude is everything
  • Bivvy kit
  • X-Pyr stories and the X-Pyr vs the X-Alps

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Matt Wilkes, Matt Henzi, Donizete Lemos, Ed Ewing, Hanness Papesh, Flyeo, FlyBubble, Tom Payne, Ben Abruzzo, Chrigel Maurer, Jon Pendry, Ferdinand Van Shelven, Paul Gushlbauer, Aaron Durogati

 

The FlyBubble Crew

Episode 71- Bernhard Kalin and the coming future, dangers of overconfidence, Speed flying best-practices

Benni doing a little waga in Grindelwald, Switzerland

Bernhard (Benni) Kalin is a Swiss all-things-flight instructor at ChillOutParagliding. Based in Interlaken, speedflying was his initial addiction but over the years it has spread to all canopies- paragliding, base jumping, kitesurfing, kiteskiing- you name it. Last year flying with his father in the Wallis Benni had to deploy his reserve for the first time and ended up in a terrifying position that required a helicopter recovery. He walked away physically uninjured but getting his head straight has been much more difficult. In this episode we discuss the exciting future of Reflex wings, dealing with fear injuries, some of Benni’s most-memorable flights, speed-flying best practices and why it’s as dangerous as base jumping, how to safely get started on mini wings, why learning paragliding before speed flying is so essential and the risks of overconfidence. Enjoy!

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Show Notes:

  • Benni discusses his most memorable flights: Top Landing Mont Blanc, and soaring the Jungfrau and Eiger at night.
  • Benni discusses his first reserve toss in the Wallis that ended perfectly well but left him flying pretty scared
  • How to recognize when you are overconfident
  • Fear injuries- how they can affect you and how you can find the fun again
  • The dangers of having an incident early in your career
  • The correct way to learn speed flying and understanding the inherent risks
  • Why speed flying is as dangerous as base jumping and why learning paragliding first is the much safer way
  • The  most common pilot errors and how to avoid them
  • Barrel rolls- how to learn and why to start them in a very particular way

Mentioned in this episode:

TruckGloves.com, Evan Bouchier, Ueli Kestenholz, Chris Banford, Adel Honti, Nick Neynens, Nik Hawks, Armin Harich, Chrigel, Ben Abruzzo, Nick Greece, Antti Joensuu (show notes link), Cloudbase Foundation, Karma Flights

Going to Switzerland and want some help? Check out ChillOutParagliding.

If you would like to contact Antti about his psychology help that we mention in the show, please email info@flyingfinns.net.

Episode 70- Nick Greece and Comp Tactics, Discipline, Progression, Performance and Mentors

Nick Greece celebrates dead last while Michael Kuffer celebrates the win in Baixu Guandu, Brazil PWC

Nick Greece returns to the Mayhem to share a wealth of insights into competition and flying and some very honest talk about the manic ride that often defines our sport. Nick’s had quite a year. He was witness to a horrifying tandem accident in Kenya this winter; went from an easy podium to a cruel grovel across a swamp in the Pan Americans in Brazil; to the notable achievement of coming in dead last at the Brazil PWC and then just a month later dominating the Applegate Open (formerly the Rat Race) and winning with incredible style and grace. This is an honest and at times hysterical talk about the risks of our sport, dealing with PTSD, creating positive headspace, the psychology of finding flow, rationalizing the risks, finding mentors, how to be a disciplined pilot, the importance of staying calm and enjoying the process, racing the course instead of other pilots, why failure is important to winning and a LOT more. You’ll laugh, you’ll scribble, you’ll improve- LISTEN.

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Show Notes:

  • Nick discusses finding the headspace to perform
  • Why being calm and having fun leads to success
  • Dealing with PTSD and pain and fear injuries
  • Discipline in flying
  • Strategy for comp flying and flying in general
  • How to get good- there’s no magic pill, it’s just hours
  •  Fly day by day and using failure to win
  • Compounding mistakes- fly as well as you can
  • How to get in the “zone”
  • How to mitigate the risk
  • How to find the Flow- the importance of routine, and the importance of recognizing when you’ve lost it
  • Keep your mind fed- the importance of eating and drinking
  • Clean slate

Mentioned in this episode:

Rat Race, Applegate open, USHPA, Cedar Wright, Insurance, Global Rescue, Evan Bouchier, TruckGloves.com, Recaps, Felix Wolk, Bob Drury, Gin Seok Song, Urs Schoenauer, Martin Orlick, Andy , Michael Kuffer, Bill Belcourt, Michael Sigel, Tyler Bradford, Jeff Shapiro, Torsten Siegel, Kavu, KEEN, Ozone, Team Loser, Josh Cohn, Donizete Lemos, Aaron Durogati, Xevi Bonet, Nate Scales, Horn Creek Hemp, Flytec, AMD Performance Training center

 

World cup gaggle, Baixu Guandu. Photo Nick Greece

Episode 69- Armin Harich and Sending Flatlands and Flying accident free

Flying Namibia

Armin Harich is the co-founder of Skywalk Paragliders, started flying in 1989 and has never had an accident, and is the first person to fly over 300km in Germany- and he did it on a EN B wing (the Skywalk Tequila). I was told by many people before speaking to Armin that he’s a flatlands “SkyGod” so we focused much of this show on flatlands flying techniques and how people started flying the flatlands, dealing with airspace, how to assess weather in advance of a potentially good day, how to get established early, the stupidity of frustration, why it makes sense to try early, and a lot more. But we also discuss the genesis of Skywalk, wing advancement, the X-Alps and metrics of having Chrigel on a Skywalk wing for the race, what’s possible in the future, the synergy between kites and wings, certification and how Skywalk plans for the future. There’s a ton of great take-aways in this show- enjoy!

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Show Notes:

  • Armin recounts the best flights of his life in a LONG career of accident-free flying
  • How Armin has never had an accident.
  • Flying the first 300km in Germany on the Skywalk Tequila
  • Dealing with Airspace
  • The genesis of Skywalk
  • Chrigel on the Skywalk for the X-Alps
  • Synergy between kitesurfing wings and paragliding wings
  • The pressure on a manufacturer to come up with the latest and greatest
  • Developing the sport
  • Thoughts on Sink and flying good lines
  • Keys to flying far in the flatlands
  • Getting established in the flats when it’s not yet “on”
  • Flying cross country is not random
  • How to studying areas you plan to fly in advance to identify tricky spots
  • Air and energy air masses
  • The stupidity of frustration
  • Try early
  • Keeping the passion
  • Where to exit a cloud on a cloudstreet day

Mentioned in this episode:

Paul Gushlbauer, Chrigel Maurer, Alex Hollwarth, Stephen Gruber, Arne Wehrlin, Till Gottbrath


Links to Armin’s Films:

https://www.youtube.com/user/haricharmin/

Armin Harich