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!

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

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!

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

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.

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

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!

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

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

Episode 68- Nik Hawks and weighing the risks

Nik Flying Blossom when things are going well- photo Phil Russman

Nik Hawks returns to the Mayhem to share two pretty scary close calls that ended well, but came with a LOT of lessons that every pilot can learn from including: coming back from “fear injuries”  by using the big 4, time, building exposure, and pattern recognition; how to get better at self-assessment (wingovers, exit from 360, exiting and entering spirals cleanly, avoiding and handling collapses, etc.); how to ask older/better pilots for help and the best way to approach mentors; when a pilot is really ready to go XC and what risks that involves; what groundhandling can…and maybe can’t help with; the safest ways to fly and practice and approach progression; training vs. equipment; eating for mental performance; the lunacy of spending money on gear before training and a lot more. This is a critical episode for pilots who are just beginning their journey to the most experienced pilots in the world. This one will save lives, make you think, and make you a better pilot. Spread the word.

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

Show Notes:

  • Fear injuries- what are they, and how do you recover?
  • Intermediate syndrome- how to walk the line
  • Avoiding dangerous positions- what is safe for one pilot scratching is different for every pilot
  • Self assessment- how to do it better and why it’s so important
  • Being a student of the sport
  • Foundational skills that nearly all pilots don’t have well
  • Stalls and SIV- what’s important and what isn’t?
  • Where are you comfortable flying? Understand the jump it takes between flying different places and different situations. How to keep fun as the priority
  • How to approach mentors and learn from the more experienced pilots
  • The questions to ask- 1) What do you see? 2) What do you think about the conditions? 3) Have you seen these conditions before? 4) What happened?
  • It’s a lot cooler to be a better pilot on lower performance gear than a lesser pilot on a wing beyond your ability
  • Developing a routine and a mental framework for “bringing it” and being confidence
  • Be a professional pilot
  • Saving it for a better day and listening to your gut- think in decades, not in days
  • Thoughts on Groundhandling- where it can, and possibly can’t help
  • How to train to stay calm and mentally train yourself to manage fear
  • Visualization- what you can do to imagine your flight going well
  • Optimism vs reality and positive self-talk (the positive power of negative thinking)
  • How to develop a progression plan- write it down, journal, make a plan
  • Eating for performance

Mentioned in this episode:

Ben Abruzzo, Bill Belcourt, Adél Honti, Matt Beechinor, Marko Hrgetic Hrga, Brad Barlage, Trey Hackney, Fabien Blanco, Jocky Sanderson, Nate Scales, Russ Ogden, Josh Cohn, Theo De Blic, Will Gadd, Jon Sylvester, Bruce Marks


Nik and I spoke about his friends input in the show. Excerpts from those emails are here (these are REALLY worth reading):

From Brad Barlage (listen to more in a recent podcast he did with Nik on the Paleo Treats podcast)

“Glad to hear you bounced instead of cratered.  A couple of points from my perspective:
  1. Ground handling is meaningless while in the air flying. (my opinion)  Two different things.  In my mind, it would be similar to sitting in a car explaining how to handle snowy spins and loss of traction vs. going out in the parking lot and spinning out in a controlled environment.  My advice is more SIV time – those are the lessons that stuck for me and how I learn.  Everyone learns differently though.  For me, it was a ton of time in glider and when I had thousands of feet of elevation I’d do collapses over dirt to practice.  Granted this is not likely the smartest or safest thing but my thought was that is how I’d learn with a margin of safety.  Everyone’s margin of safety is different.
  2. Ground flying is by far the riskiest part of flying.  Most top pilots I know don’t spend much time near the ground – this is the danger zone where one has little time to react.  Launch, do what you have to but the goal is to get high enough so you have options to sort things out – when the unexpected happens.  I know it sounds simple.
  3. Fear -Spent a lot of my life figuring out how to manage the fear.  In climbing, I am afraid of falling, but have learned to either take daily controlled falls to help instill that things will be OK or care so much about doing the route that falling is far from the first thing on my mind and as long as set safety requirements (gear) are met – GO FOR IT and sort the details later.  Never once been hurt.  Everyone has different ways but for me, it was rationally building up to it with many small micro goals to give confidence.  SIV clinics are sort of like renting skills, it is a great way to learn but how to OWN those skills is the question.  Think of how you OWN skills in other parts of life.  For me,it involves a lot of muscle memory practice, ability to have the skills to remain calm to make good decisions (but those don’t happen without push boundaries at some point).  Some people just have cool heads, most of my partners have better heads than I do, so I have to build up skills and practice a lot more than they do.
  4. Visualization – totally key.  I’d suggest taking a moment to do a walkthrough of the flight and potential issues before each flight.  It might only get you through the first few minutes but the reality is that is when most issues happen.  Stack the odds in your favor.  I’d pick a well sorted mentally prepared man to a physically honed but not mentally SOLID man every day of the week.  Paragliding attacks all types and I found some got pretty far in flying but when it came down to it they didn’t have the skills to really sort out when the shit really hits the fan.
  5. Surround yourself with OG and professionals.  I find this key.  Find the dudes that have a system dialed and watch them.  Belcourt has a system and ritual before each flight, sure it gets glossed over but I know it is going on, constantly evaluating conditions, options and flight plan.  I’m really into this with climbing.  It is a rare day you don’t find me prepared, with all the gear, with a plan, focusing on sending good energy to those I tie in with and also straight up asking for what is needed.   I also realize climbing is many things to many people and what it is in my life also likely really turns people off being way too serious about a sport/hobby.  For me, it is deeper and a reflection of how I live my life and to what standard. I see this in you also.  How you do one thing is how you do everything.  Often times the point of failure happened a while back in the process (not mentally prepared, didn’t read conditions right, not fed enough to have the energy it takes to concentrate fully…)  There is the moment of failure that we all focus on but I like to take a step back and look at the entire episode not the few second scene.  Find an OG pilot and ask him to mentor you for the day, launch or whatever.  Offer to help him with food, beer or some kind of kindness.  I try to climb with many different people for this aspect.  We all learn little bits and can pick and choose what we bring to our own game.
  6. Sometimes everything can go right (or close enough to right) and things just happen- unfortunately close to the ground.  That is the nature of the sport.  No amount of Monday morning coaching will change that.  Learn what you can and move forward with a lesson under your belt.  Perhaps maybe used a bit of luck and gained some experience.  Think what you could do better next time and move forward, knowing you have used a limited amount of luck.  Hence the reason I have not backcountry skied much in the last winters – my luck is all used up and I’m not sure my experience is enough to keep me safe.  A real tough decision and one I think you’ll have to be real with regarding your paragliding.

And another from Chris (more info on him in this interview on the PT podcast here, episode 10):

Nik’s question:
Is my learning ability so rigid that I only pick up things learned through fear and huge consequence?  I’ve certainly read and studied a bunch about what the right thing to do is, and if you’d given me the scenario on the ground I could have talked you through exactly the right things to do.  Have you guys found this true for you?  I wonder if I haven’t achieved more just because I’m too lazy to push hard and learn all the time and I end up just stumbling upon learning experiences when it comes down to the wire.
Chris’ answer:
“Nik, I think this is mainly pattern recognition. I think most things that happen to us quickly, where we make a quick decision are mainly pattern recognition.
The more experience you have, the more patterns you can discern. You can also see the pattern developing earlier. With enough experience (meaning you’ve made some bad choices) you can adjust to the pattern you see developing.
A vehicle driving towards you and crossing over the center line is out of pattern and catches your attention early on. As a seasoned driver you’ll start making corrections the moment you realize something is out of pattern. That doesn’t happen with a brand new driver. They typically aren’t looking more than a few yards in front of their hood. They don’t see the problem developing, and when they do realize there’s a problem it’s right in front of them and they don’t have the experience to drive off the shoulder, into the dirt to avoid collision.
So the earlier you can see a pattern develop (especially something that’s dangerous) the more time you have to deal with it.
If your responses to this are practiced enough it becomes “unconscious competence.” You don’t have to think your way through the solution, you just do the solution. That allows you to focus on seeing new information and finding the new pattern. (The wing has collapsed enough that I can’t salvage this with the altitude I have – throw reserve, or ride it in, or use the remaining time to pump the collapsed side).
If I don’t have to think about how to shoot something – I can just watch for what needs to be shot. The actual shooting takes care of itself.
Brad’s comments about dealing with fear by taking little steps rings true for me also. Much of what keeps us safe is confidence in our abilities. I get that confidence by taking little steps and by controlling as much in my environment as I can. Gear, health, focus, briefing with other people, radio checks, etc. Same idea as Belcourt having a system before he flies. Same idea as Brad having a system before he climbs, and a protocol when he starts to put his harness on for how he’ll tie in, what gear he’ll bring, what mindset he aims for.
I’ve found that most of us are looking for a feeling of competence in a challenging environment that has high consequence.
Study hard. Prep your mind. Prep your gear.”

And finally, after we wrapped the talk, got this message from Nik after he listened to it again with more 20/20 hindsight:
Had a long chat with Ben today and came away with a few more foundational ideas:
1) Paragliding has huge consequence that are not worth the physical risk, those of us that fly have to accept that.
2) The most effective mitigating factors are the “uncool” ones:
-staying on a mid-B wing and in a padded seat harness until you have wingovers, spins, stalls, tail slides, etc completely dialed
-flying in conditions that are at your skill level with potential to go slightly beyond
Of course, those things can also take away how quickly you learn and how cool you look so we tend to ignore them.  Wilfully ignorant and iirrational, but that’s also paragliding.
Hearing Gavin say that “it’s cool to be a better pilot on lower gear” gave me permission to focus on that.
Gavin, I’d love to see you stress that more in your podcasts.
It seems silly/obvious, but “getting permission” or guidance from experts on what’s “cool” can make a huge difference in how we view ourselves and our actions.  More on “giving permission” in this podcast with Shawn Alladio, big wave jetski rescuer and probably the toughest human I’ve met.  Her story of pulling a dude out of a burning car is riveting, and worth the listen just for that.
3) Fear in flying is a guarantee if you’re going to do anything other than soar in laminar air.  Managing fear and fear injuries is easy to talk about and difficult to do, but all of us do it.  Probably helpful for the community at large to build some structure and vocabulary around it rather than just saying the air was spicy or that you were terrified.  Guilty as charged on both of those, by the way.
4) Without question, the safest way to get really good very quickly is the most expensive: Doing SIV once a month or more and getting lots and lots of guided instruction on all other aspects.  Few of us have the money or time for that, so we’ve got to accept that the sport is going to be riskier than it has to be.
5) Finally, the idea that competitiveness in paragliding increases risk.  Flying with buddies (and pilots) you want to be better than will push you into riskier positions.  It’s done that to me, and it’ll do that to every single pilot who flies and has aspirations beyond laminar soaring.  You’ll get better faster, but it’s riskier.
They all seem so bloody simple, but I’m as guilty as everyone else I’ve seen, flown with, or talked to of breaking all of those rules in full knowledge of them.  Maybe that’s the enticement, that we thumb our nose at safety and ride the sky at risk.  Stupid, but by God it can be satisfying when you get it right.
See ya in the sky!

The Navy Seals use the “Big 4” technique to conquering fear and panic

 

Episode 67- Fabien Blanco and SIV, Single Surface Wings, Bivvy and Safety

Fabien Blanco enjoying his passion

Fabien Blanco is the founder and head instructor at Flyeo in Annecy, one of the most-respected paragliding schools in the world. Their focus is on teaching SIV, Cross Country and adventure flying. Fabien was a professional acro pilot and is a passionate ski-mountaineer and brings a wealth of knowledge from various “extreme” disciplines to our sport. He discovered when they first started teaching SIV that rather than focusing on ticking off the maneuvers and calling it good they needed to focus more on pilots’ mental fundamentals. By watching a pilot doing very basic maneuvers- like a rapid exit from a 360 turn Fabien can assess 90% of that pilots skill and then adjust accordingly. Many high level pilots have very poor foundational skills and the Flyeo teaching method aims to resolve these basic shortcomings and help pilots do better self-assessments of their skills. In this information-packed episode we discuss SIV in detail- when is a pilot ready for SIV; the importance of becoming an autonomous pilot (and methods for gathering these skills); how to deal with fear in SIV; the fallacy of focusing on glider performance rather than pilot performance; single surface wings; how to “unlock” the genie in all of us; the danger of self-doubt and negative thoughts; the top three reasons for accidents and how they can be avoided; how to get into vol-biv and adventure flying and a LOT more.

PLEASE check out Flyeo’s Patreon page to watch their great instructional videos.

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

Show Notes:

  • SIV- maneuvers or mental?
  • When is a pilot ready for SIV?
  • The fallacy of focusing on gear rather than the pilot
  • The danger of self-doubt and negative thoughts- keep it positive!
  • The top three reasons for accidents and how to avoid them
  • It’s not the glider- it’s the pilot!
  • Single surface wings- how to learn flying these exciting wings- differences, advantages and disadvantages
  • What should and shouldn’t be done on a single surface glider
  • The dangers of getting lost in the distances and competitions and performance- fly to have fun!
  • What’s essential- just to fly!
  • Bivvy flying- how to learn, where to go, why it’s important to learn
  • Wings are built to travel, that’s what they are built for!
  • The Full Stall. How important is it for Cross Country Pilots?

Mentioned in this episode:

Flyeo, Honza Rejmanik, Karel Koudelka, Adam Robinson, Ben Abruzzo, Bruce Marks, Matt Wilkes, Fabien Blanco, Seiko Fukuoka, Adel Honti, Bill Belcourt, Niviuk, Ed Ewing, Cross Country Magazine, Anneka Herndon, Recaps

 

Episode 66- Andy Hediger and becoming an Airman

If it flies, Andy Hediger flies it (or jumps out of it!). Sailplanes, trikes, hang gliders, light-weight airplanes, wingsuits, Swift, Archaeopteryx, Virus, but he rates the paraglider as the king of them all. The developer of the D-Bag, Andy was there at the absolute beginning of Acro and cross country, sewing some of the very first wings and his passion and love of the sport is as strong now as it was in the beginning. The “Airman” has pushed the limits of flying, safety, instruction and certification from the advent of the sport and was one of the first pilots to develop SIV to help make the sport more safe, and why most schools still get it wrong and why so many accidents keep happening. One of the original Red Bull team pilots Andy has flown with all of the legends of our sport, many of them sadly no longer with us- Robbie Whittall, Hannes Arch, Guido Gehrmann, Ueli Gegenschatz, Hernan Pitico, and many others and he’s had several of his own very close calls, and several terrible accidents, including a recent trike/D-Bag accident with Hernan that nearly took his life. Andy won the PWC overall in 2000, is the head of AeroAtelier paragliding school in Argentina, and has done way too many things with flight to cover in this write-up or in a single podcast. This talk matches our sport- it has the highs, the lows and everything in between. This talk gave me the chills and made me laugh out loud. An amazing pilot and one of those rare pioneers who has driven much of what we can appreciate and enjoy today.

Don’t miss Andy’s film “Airman”, its amazing: https://vimeo.com/178622126

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

Show Notes:

  • Andy discusses the very beginning of the sport and sewing the first wings for Advance, a relationship that exists still today
  • Andy discusses accidents and some of the highs and lows of his career and some of the many heartbreaking losses
  • Why Andy created the first schools, SIV, and how he endeavored to make pilots safer
  • Andy discusses sponsorship, Red Bull and personal risk
  • How age and family has changed his perspective
  • Why most flying schools get it wrong
  • Tragedy and recovery

Mentioned in this episode:

Advance Paragliders, Red Bull, Ulrich Grill, Hernan Piticco, Airman, Catherine Shanahan, Deep Nutrition, Ben Abruzzo, Vespa Energy, Nick Greece, Nate Scales, Anneka Herndon, Recaps, Roman Buhler, Swing, Robbie Whittall, Urs Haari, Alain Zoller, Dietrich Mateschitz, Hannes Arch, Guido Gehrman, Paul Guschlbauer, Bruce Marks, Uli Wiesmeier

 

Into the Lightness- Review of the Niviuk Skin 2 P and the Roamer 2

A breeze to fly, a breeze to launch (note I don’t have my airbag attached correctly!)

Paragliding was first envisioned back in the 80’s as a way to get down easier and more safely after climbing big peaks. As most accidents happen on the way down if alpinists could fly down they would remove a major component of risk, as well as save their knees (and have a lot more fun!). But serious alpine style mountaineering means going light and fast and carrying an extra 5-10kg of flying kit has kept flying off the big technical peaks mostly out of reach.

This is all there is to it- wing, Roamer 2 reversible harness (with airbag!), and light weight reserve.

Until now. After 30+ years of testing and innovation I imagine the climbing community is getting pretty giddy. I recently received Niviuk’s new Skin 2 P single surface wing. At a measly 1.9 kg I figured it was going to feel and fly pretty weird but when I learned from Fabien Blanco at Flyeo during a recent podcast that pilots were doing 100k triangles on these certified wings I was pretty excited to give it a try.

Before I even got to the hill I was amazed with the Roamer 2 reversible harness. This little bad boy is a MAJOR improvement over it’s predecessor. The rucksack is bomber and built with all the things that paragliding companies typically leave out of purpose-built backpacks. Ice axe straps, well-placed zippered compartments, light but solid straps for extra gear, helmet or jacket net- it’s all there. It rides perfectly and I can barely tell I’ve got something on my back. There’s easily enough room for your wing, helmet, reserve, extra clothing and a small climbing rack. Turn it inside out and you’ve got a harness, speed bar and an optional 250 gram self-inflating air bag! I have opted for the 1.4 kg front mount octagon reserve as well which at 1.4 kg has a remarkable decent rate of only 4.9m/sec.

Ready to launch? Blow on the wing and it’s overhead!

And now lets get to the good stuff. Ready to launch? Groundhandling with the Skin 2 P is as easy as it gets. It’s less than half the weight of a normal light-weight paraglider so just blow on it a little bit and it’s overhead. It immediately feels just like you’re used to, but everything is easier. Responsive and silly light just makes it all a deliciously fun toy. Now granted I launched late in the day into perfectly smooth air so this isn’t mid-day thermal tested but once I was airborne I was all smiles. It didn’t feel weird at all and the glide seemed much, much better than I anticipated. A terrific new bit of gear to add to my kit and makes a lot of big lines I’ve been eyeing over the years here in Idahome possible.

I’m supporting Ben Abruzzo in this year’s X-Pyr race across Spain in a little X-Alps role reversal. We can’t team-fly in the race, but my plan to get back to the van and get into chase mode when Ben is flying is to pack this super-light kit on the days where it’s pretty calm and I just need to get down and fly the Klimber P and my light-weight X-Alps pod harness for the days that are rowdy or I need more performance.

Summary- if light and safe is what you want in a compact, light and well-thought-out package, this is really sweet kit!

Thumbs up!

Episode 65- Myles Connolly and Reserve Toss Hindsight 20/20

Reserves work, let’s get comfortable with them!

Two days before the Monarca kicked off in Valle de Bravo, Mexico this January our podcast editor Myles Connolly had a cascade episode low and threw his reserve for the first time. Myles got hung over 80′ off the ground in a dead tree without injury. Some locals came to help out quickly but when things started getting a little tense a calm head prevailed and Myles got down to the ground safely. In many ways, a benign event. But after a couple weeks of processing and reliving the day Myles breaks down the entire day for us, from the drive up to the launch and talking about the Theo De Blic episode and throwing the reserve (ie setting the mindframe), to the series of small but important mistakes that happened along the way. This is something most XC pilots dread- having to throw your reserve. We’ve talked many, many times on this show about how well they work and how important it is to get out the laundry- but there are MANY, MANY things that lead up to getting into a situation where you have to throw in the first place, most of them preventable. But we don’t often talk about all the little things that once it’s out could go wrong. There are a ton of lessons here for pilots at every level. A great episode to make our community safer.

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

Show Notes:

First if you’re looking for the “Pilot needs ride to car” sign I mention in the episode go here.

  • The psychology of throwing
  • Communication mistakes- using the InReach correctly, using your radio correctly
  • What is “scratching” and is it safe?
  • How to avoid complacency and be wary of the signs
  • The importance of SIV and why Myles thinks this was his biggest mistake- not having done one
  • The importance of emulating and being around better pilots
  • Identifying the situation, the time it will take to get out of it and when to throw- ie AWARENESS

Mentioned in this episode:

Eagle Paragliding, Rob Sporrer, Alas Del Hombre, Miguel Gutierrez, Theo De Blic, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, Pal Takats, Garmin InReach, Jon Hunt, Will Gadd, Mitch Riley, Chris Santacroce, Enrique Figueroa, Mitch Mcaleer, USHPA, Ben Abruzzo, Bruce Marks, Nick Greece, Andy Read

 

Episode 64- Till Gottbrath and Rethinking Performance and Risk

Till and his perennial smile

Several years ago Nova Paragliders changed the way we think about performance when they put some of their top pilots on the Mentor, an EN B wing and the world watched as they ticked off some of the biggest flights that had ever been done in the Alps, including the vaunted 300 FAI triangle. By flying wings that were less mentally and physically demanding pilots could stay in the air for 10+ hours and make less mistakes. Till Gottbrath began flying when a paraglider had a glide ratio worse than a Rogallo reserve in 1986 and has never had an accident. In this episode we discuss the arc of design and increased safety and performance in paragliders, the birth of the Nova Juniors team, Nova’s approach to their team pilots and decision to avoid building competition wings, the risk of competitions and the pointlessness of “fame”, why the sport isn’t growing, how to become a Nova team pilot, and the importance of not being a hero. This is a super engaging talk with a TON of takeaways. Enjoy and please share!

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!

Stitcher_SubscribeButtonitunesbutton

 

 

 

Show Notes:

First if you’re looking for the “Pilot needs ride to car” sign I mention in the episode go here.

  • Till recounts learning to fly in 1986 and what has happened in the sport in the last 35+ years
  • How Till became involved in Nova and the birth of the Nova team and the Nova Juniors team
  • Wing performance and risk. By flying a less-demanding wing we can fly longer and make less mistakes
  • The pointlessness of fame in our sport
  • The ego and and our sport
  • How to fly the best line
  • How Till has avoided an accident in 35+ years of sport- how did he do it?
  • How to become an “autonomous” pilot
  • How to be the world champion of having fun!
  • How can we standardize instruction and create better instructors across the board?

Mentioned in this episode:

Josh Heater, Adel Honti, Berni Pessl, Nate Scales, Toni Bender, Chrigel Maurer, Ozone, Gin, Skywalk, Aaron Durogati, Paul Gushlbauer, Simon Oberauner, Theo De Blic, Jean-Baptiste Chandelier, Michael Gebhardt, Michael Witchi, Tom De Dorlodot, Chris Bessi, Fabien Blanco