Episode 87- Paul Guschlbauer and the Ultimate Adventure

 

Paul and his SuperCub bush plane that he flew from the northern tip of Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina

Paul Guschlbauer and his wife Magdalena have just completed a proper awesome adventure- flying his supercub two-seater bush plane from the northern tip of Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina, across thirteen countries. The journey took six months and took them slowly and usually at very low altitudes over the mountain ranges of north and south America all the way to Patagonia. “Project Overland” was the ultimate flying adventure – in search of mountaineering, paragliding and wild traveling experiences along the way. Paul’s plane, a 1956 Piper Supercub, was built to land and take off almost anywhere –  mountaintops, valleys, beaches and jungles. Come along for one of the most inspiring journeys that has ever happened.

See more of Paul’s amazing videos, photos and stories from the expedition at the Overland Expedition website

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Show Notes: 

  • The genesis of the project. Why a Supercub? What did he have to learn in advance, what were the main difficulties
  • The list- what needs to happen to make it happen?
  • The major stresses and challenges
  • What was the scariest experience?
  • The most memorable experiences
  • How did the paragliding go?
  • The crossover to paragliding
  • How did it shift and change their lives?
  • What’s next?
  • A look at Paul’s 5th Red Bull X-Alps

 

Oh the places you will land!

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Jake Soplanda, Ken MacDonald, Jody MacDonald, Magdalena, Hugh Miller, Ed Ewing, Salewa, Red Bull, Andy Hediger, Red Bull X-Alps, Piper Cub, Cross Country Magazine

 

Paul finds some interesting places to fly along the way…

Episode 86- Annalena Hinestroza and managing a passion for flight

Annalena, Lukas and Ernesto Hinestroza

Annalena Hinestroza was introduced to paragliding in 2007 when she lived in Merida/Venezuela for a university exchange and met her future husband, Ernesto, a name all World Cup pilots of course recognize. The couple have traveled the world together chasing airtime, competitions and the flying life. Annalena has been working with UP Paragliders since 2011 and has won the German Championships in 2015 and 2016. Their son Lukas was born last year, which hasn’t seemed to alter their lifestyle too much but has changed the way Annalena approaches flying. In this wide-ranging episode we discuss women in the sport, the importance of getting solid foundational skills, gear and why people choose the wrong equipment for their skill level, how to get into comps and how to be an efficient pilot, why learning slowly is so important, and why flying a more reasonable glider well is about the most rewarding thing you can do. We recorded this episode live in Colombia- enjoy!

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Show Notes: 

  • The magic flights
  • Meeting Ernesto and seeing the world
  • Mentors, obsession, and backing off- managing the arc of a flying career
  • Flying around the world
  • The comp arc- you get a taste, you get addicted, then it fades…but is there a hurry?
  • Would you encourage your child to fly?
  • How does flying change after you have a child?
  • How do you fly with more safety in mind- where to focus?
  • How to be “careful with your emotions”
  • How does flying differ between men and women?
  • Wing choice and moving up too fast
  • Flying good lines
  • What are the foundational skills you need to focus on?
  • Comps- what to look out for and the danger of wanting to win
  • The importance of learning slowly and focusing on the ENTIRE flight- it’s done til you’re on the ground
  • Know when to land and know when to stop the day- recognizing when you are worn out
  • Annalena’s favorite places to fly

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Ozone, Niviuk, Greg Hammerton, FlyBubble, British Open, Adel Honti, Ernesto Hinestroza, Carlos Cordido, John Sylvester, Eddie Colfax, Jim Mallinson, Isabella Messenger, Jamie Messenger, UP Paragliders, Josh Cohn, Xevi Bonnet, Jessica Love

Episode 85- Mark Watts and letting your subconscious do the work

Mark Watts in Sussex just after breaking the UK out and return record (120K) with Hugh Miller. Photo Hugh Miller

Mark Watts is one of only a very few UK pilots to have won the British Championships, a PWC, the UK X-Contest League, AND held the open distance record (at 275 km, which held until 2017). He has been on the British team many times, currently shares the out and back record in the UK with Hugh Miller and has been competing for over 25 years. Relentlessly fast, tactical, and consistent whenever Mark shows up at a comp you’ve got a formidable opponent. Mark has been one of the most-requested guests we’ve had because he avoids the spotlight, so while his flying resume speaks for itself not much is known about what makes him tick. In this episode we rewind the clock to learn about his father, another UK legend and the rather unique steps he laid for his son to take up flying; how he got into comps and how he views them now; the personal costs of pursuing flying; suggestions for finding the headspace required for winning; being honest about the risks; and some rather sobering advice from someone who’s never really been hurt but has seen an awful lot and how we can do a better job at playing the long game. I felt honored to have been able to have this conversation, it really made me think and…you’re going to dig it!

 

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Show Notes: 

  • Mark recounts how his Dad got into flying and some rather remarkable incidents he and Mark had in the early days
  • Learning flying from building top end paper airplanes
  • Learning, teaching, and flying in the early days
  • The comps start and mentors
  • Sponsorship and learning from the legends
  • Keeping the passion alive…at what expense?
  • Chelan
  • Sun Valley
  • Crushing comps- the headspace to seek and why not caring about the result helps achievement
  • Flying tactics- Joe Jitsu strategies for every pilot. Hold everything- stay in the air!
  • Equipment- what Mark uses and why
  • Looking back- the moments you’ll never forget
  • Bucket list/ must hit spots to fly in the world
  • Rewind the clock- what would you do differently?
  • Advice to lower hour pilots and playing the long game. Let’s be honest about the risks.
  • It’s going to happen to you. Don’t be fooled. 
  • “We’re flying around in the sky looking for patches of turbulence. How is that being careful?”
  • Is it worth the risks?

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Guy Anderson, Lucho Jimenez, Air Nomads, Koni- XCTracer, Rogallo, Nate Scales, John Pendry, Robbie Whittall, Bruce Goldsmith, Fly Sussex, Gin, Ozone, Brad Gunnuscio, Bill Belcourt, Russ Ogden, Adam Hill, Seb Ospina, Gradient, Hugh Miller, Godfrey Wenness, Matt Dadam, Matt Henzi, Nick Greece, Craig Morgan, Fly Sussex

 

Mark Watts. Photo Hugh Miller

 

 

Episode 84- Adrian Garza and Chasing thin Air

After getting his novice sign-off in Mexico (30 flights) under the instruction of 2019 Red Bull X-Alps pilot and recent podcast guest Marko Hrgetic Hrga, for his very first solo flight (flight 31) Adrian Garza hiked up one of the highest volcanoes in North America and flew off. And it’s been all volcanoes since. Adrian is an experienced high-altitude mountaineer and when his wife showed interest in paragliding he thought he might as well give it a shot as well. It’s been a year since he got his license but work, living in Mexico city, and having a new baby has made it difficult for Adrian to chase cloudbase as much as he wants so he’s taken a very non-standard route to getting airtime. Finding the biggest volcanoes in Mexico and flying off! What’s possible with a wing and a ton of desire? Have a listen- this is super, super inspiring!

 

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If you like what you hear, please consider becoming a subscriber to ensure our high-quality content continues.

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Show Notes:

  • InReach best practices
  • Winter flying- what to look out for
  • Flying the right wing to match your skill level
  • SIV vs a real situation
  • Adrian takes his 31 st flight, his first solo off one of the biggest volcanoes in Mexico.
  • Dealing with altitude, especially as a new pilot
  • Training for high altitude and the risks of flying at high altitude
  • How to speed up high altitude acclimatization in advance of the trip
  • How to assess flying a volcano- weather, route, where to launch, the ascent, landing…
  • Baby on board! How having a baby has impacted Adrian’s flying
  • Equipment Adrian uses to fly off the volcanoes
  • Preparing for the Red Bull X-Alps

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Marko Hrgetic Hrga, Red Bull X-Alps, Matt Henzi, Miguel Gutierrez, InReach, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, David Wheeler, Valle De Bravo, XCSkyRace, Cedar Wright, Jeff Farrell, Matt Wilkes, Tom De Dorlodot, Triple Seven, Anneka Herndon

 

North of Known- Some new shots!

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.

An Evening with Paul Guschlbauer- 2017 Red Bull X-Alps Highlights

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 83- Ziad Bassil and Dust of the Universe

Ziad Bassil is someone most pilots who have gear questions already know. His blog the “Dust of the Universe” is probably (definitely?) the most comprehensive independent gear testing site on Earth. He does it solely for pleasure and is PROLIFIC. If it flies, he flies it and then gives his many, many followers his opinions. In this episode we spend some time discussing the unique challenges but also joys of flying in Lebanon and then get right into the gear. How he tests, what he tests and why. Come along for the ride and learn more about what you should be flying and why.

Find Dust of the Universe here on Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/groups/dustoftheuniverse/

And his incredible website / blog here: http://ziadbassil.blogspot.com

 

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Show Notes: (these are the questions we ran through for the show)

  • Flying in Lebanon- the many challenges, dangers, and the surprisingly good flying to be had
  • Testing- how it came about, the process, and how to keep it fair. And what conditions to test in. 
  • Ziad’s favorite wings in each category
  • If Ziad and I go fly in the Alps for fun- what wing and harness would you bring?
  • Hammock harness vs seatboard harness
  • Favorite race vs light harness

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Rony Jabbour, Felipe Rezende, UP, Flow, Niviuk, Ozone, Artik 5, Bonanza 2, Gin, Swing, Advance, Gradient, Woody Valley, Neo, Nova, SupAir, Sky, BGD

Episode 82- Mark “Forger” Stucky and becoming a Rocket Man

Mark Stucky, the lead test pilot for SpaceShipTwo. “As a Marine Corps colonel once told me,” Stucky said, “‘If you want to be safe, go be a shoe salesman at Sears.’ ”
Photograph by Dan Winters for The New Yorker

On December 13th, 2018 test pilot Mark “Forger” Stucky piloted SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic’s tourism spaceship into space for the first time after years and years of testing and many set backs. He and his co-pilot Rick “CJ” Sturckow had a “long burn” and reached 51 miles above the Earth (over 270,000′), and reached mach 2.9. It was a historical moment in the modern space race being waged by billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.   Mark is a modern day Chuck Yeager- if it flies, he’s flown it. He began flying hang gliders in 1974 and has over 10,000 hours in over 200 different types of aircraft- including sailplanes, paragliders, fighters, transports, blimps, spaceships and has uniquely flown more than 1,000 hours a piece in the F-4 Phantom, F-16, F-18 and T-38 and even flew the SR-71 before that program was shut down. Remember that scene in Top Gun when Tom Cruise flips upside down over a Russian fighter and takes a picture? Well Mark has ACTUALLY done that! But Hollywood could never do justice to the life he’s lived- one replete with moon-shot type risk, tragedy, unbelievable accomplishments, incredible talent and dedication and after 40 years of perseverence he got to experience what he’s been chasing since he was in his early teens- going into space. If this episode doesn’t make your head spin you don’t have a pulse. Enjoy.

The New Yorker article I reference in the interview that you MUST read: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/08/20/virgin-galactics-rocket-man/amp

The news release about the flight to space on December 13th: https://apnews.com/659f385710cc46fdb381c5f6dfbb6573

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Show Notes: (these are the questions we ran through for the show)

  • Mark your resume and achievements is well beyond ridiculous but before we get to that, this Thursday the 13thyou co-piloted with Rick “CJ” Sturckow the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket to 51 miles above the Earth, considered the boundary of space, and reached mach 2.9- three times the speed of sound. I can’t imagine putting a flight like this into words, but can you try?
  • Mark you’ve flown hanggliders, paragliders, sailplanes, fighters, transports, blimps, and obviously most recently spaceships, including I believe uniquely over 1,000 hours a piece in the F-4, F-16, F-18 and T-38 so clearly “pilot” would be how I would describe you, but if someone asked you at a party what you do how do you answer?
  • There was an article in the New Yorker printed in August about you titled “Virgin Galactic’s Rocket Man” that I can honestly say is one of the most riveting long-form reads I’ve come across in years. It documents the modern space race going on between Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. SpaceX and Blue Origin are pursuing a vertical-launch scheme, like we’ve seen in the movies. You say in the article “It’s automated,” “They’ve got some astronauts, but I don’t know what the hell they’re going to do besides act like they’re doing something.” Can you explain this difference (automation- “Spam in a can”)?
  • Take us through Virgin’s plan (WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo) and how it all works (difference in “sub orbital” vs orbital, costs, engines, ….)
  • In 2014 your best friend Mike Alsbury was killed when he made a critical human error, you watched the whole thing from mission control. You say in the article that the rocket is the most fearsome thing you have piloted in over 40 years of flying…and many experts have said these projects are “irresponsibly risky.” Is taking rich people into space a worthy objective, and is it worth the risk?
  • Lets roll the clock back. I understand an article in National Geographic inspired you to get into Hang gliding and in fact there’s a photo of you launching in Kansas, where you went to college in 1974 in the New Yorker article. We just did an episode on the history of Hang gliding, I’m assuming this is the same Nat Geo Article that made hang gliding a national obsession? Talk about those early days flying…
  • Your dad was a Mennonite and while he supported your early fascination with the stars and flight, he knew the only way in was via the military, which obviously conflicts with those beliefs. But after college you defied him and joined the Marines. I think a lot of kids, especially during that time were fascinated with being an astronaut, but you actually became an astronaut. Where do you think your drive and persistence come from?
  • In 1985 you graduate Top Gun school, you were flying on a patrol mission over the sea of Japan, spotted a Russian bomber, caught up to it, flipped upside down and snapped a photograph- Mark this sounds a lot like a famous scene in the movie! Care to comment?
  • Then you transitioned from the military to NASA in the late 80’s and ended up where Chuck Yeager spent most of his career…tell me about being a test pilot?
  • Then in the 90’s drones come along, funding for spaceships dries up, and you find yourself flying commercially for United and selling mortgages. I’m going to make a wild guess that this wasn’t exactly how you saw your life going?
  • So…You join the Air Force in 2003 and head to Iraq…and then in 2004 while sitting in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces watch Burt Rutan’s “SpaceShipOne” go to 62 miles above the Earth. What did this moment mean for you?
  • In 2007, after 4 deployments to Iraq, and a Bobby Bond Aviator award you move to the Mojave to work on some highly classified stuff, you get back into paragliding and even co-author a manual of paragliding which is still popular today, but it sounds like your family life begins to take a dive. By 2009 your three children won’t even talk to you. How do you balance a family and such lofty aspirations?
  • And then you have a bad crash paragliding in Vegas…let’s talk reserves and PLF, as I understand you’ve got maybe a unique view there?
  • I want to explore a sentence in the article about another pilot you begin flying with in 2009, Peter Siebold: “For aviators, confidence is an asset but arrogance is a liability. As Chuck Yeager wrote in his memoir, “Arrogance got more pilots in trouble than faulty equipment.”
  • You start doing a LOT of test flights for Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s company behind the engineering of Virgin’s rocket ships. Tell us about the most harrowing flight during those years?
  • Tell me about “Transonic” flights and why it’s the “Bermuda triangle of airspeed”?
  • How do you stay current during the LONG periods of testing and downtime? The article talks about all kinds of G-Force training and stick time- any cross-over to paragliding?
  • Let’s go back to your friend Mike Alsbury, who made a life-ending human mistake on a test flight in 2014. The fallout from that sounded like it almost ended the whole Virgin Galactic program. What happened and how can we as pilots avoid making these kinds of mistakes? Takeaways to PG?
  • As we already know in a way how this story plays out with you just flying to the edge of space on Thursday looking back over your long and storied carrier- if you could change one thing, what would it be?

“To paraphrase Harrison Storms, the North American Aviation project manager for the X-15 as well as Apollo, we need to work with thoughtful courage and not be blinded by fearful safety.”

Mentioned in this episode:

Paul Guschlbauer, Ken MacDonald, Myles Connolly, Burt Rutan, Rick “CJ” Sturckow, Bruce Weaver, Nate Scales, Richard Branson, Sam Branson, Peter Siebold, Roy Haggard, Tony Lang

Owens Valley, California from Space, Photo Mark Stucky

Episode 81- Damien Lacaze and Touching the Void

Damien and Antoine dial up the Trango Towers

“During their six-week expedition to Pakistan this summer, Damien Lacaze and Antoine Girard traveled more than 1,500 kilometers in just 14 days of flight, making the second highest flight in the history of paragliding, bivouacked at more than 6,000 meters and attempted the ascent of Spantik, which rises to more than 7000 m. It was an adventure at the extreme boundaries of what is humanly possible.” – Alpine Magazine

Damien Lacaze has had an incredible couple years. He was Benoit Outters supporter in the 2017 X-Alps, the only other team to reach goal in Monaco and he flew EVERY SINGLE FLIGHT in the race with Benoit. But that was just a warm-up for the main event: a monster 1500KM vol biv with a big mountaineering objective in the Pakistan Himalaya. In this episode Damien recounts one of the most harrowing and yet magnificent and inspiring adventures in the history of the mountains, let alone human flight. Enjoy- this is flat out AWESOME!

DO NOT MISS Damien’s amazing three part story of the expedition- it’s an incredible, jaw-dropping story:

Episode 1: https://alpinemag.fr/le-survol-des-geants-episode-1/

Episode 2: https://alpinemag.fr/le-survol-des-geants-episode-2/

Episode 3: https://alpinemag.fr/le-survol-des-geants-episode-3/

And another great article and photos on the Advance website.

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Show Notes:

  • 2017 Red Bull X-Alps- Damien was Benoit’s supporter (the only other athlete to make goal in Monaco in 2017, in second place behind Chrigel). And he flew EVERY flight with him!

  • Why their team did well and what it’s like to support an X-Alps athlete.

  • Dicey flying on Day 2 of the race

  • How the team met and how the expedition took shape

  • What gear was used and how did the team decide what to bring?

  • Things go bad right off the start when Antoine lands hard day one

  • Problems on the climb of Spantik- including Antoine getting a bad case of Cerebral Edema

  • A close escape

  • Flying at 7900 meters in the biggest mountains on Earth- how does it compare?

  • The size and scope- how to compute MASSIVE?

  • Flying without oxygen- how did the team deal with acclimatization?

  • The mental side- how to deal with the unknown?

  • Making big decisions when you can’t fuck it up- rescue is not possible

  • How to come back to the “real” world after such an undertaking?

  • Damien discusses the difficulties of leaving on the expedition when he has a 6 month old girl, his first child

Mentioned in this episode:

Jayne Desantis, Foundation for Free Flight, USHPA, Willi Canell, Tony Lang, Marko Hrga, Doug Sharpe, Benoit Outers, Red Bull X-Alps, Chrigel Maurer, Antoine Girard, Gaspard Petiot, Cross Country Magazine, Maxime Pinot, Tom De Dorlodot, John Sylvester

Episode 80 – The History and Future of Hang Gliding

 

Hang gliding is arguably the first “extreme sport” in human history and its influences radically changed the world. Drawing inspiration from Leonardo Davinci, Otto Lillienthal built the first foot-launched hang gliders in the late 1800’s. His wings inspired Octave Chanute and his assistants to make thousands of flights at the turn of the last century on the shores of lake Michigan which led to the Wright Brothers’ remarkable inventions- and humans take to the skies. Orville and Wilbur Wright’s flights in the early 1900’s are still hard to wrap your head around. Imagine picking up a 150 pound glider built out of bamboo, balsa and muzzen cloth in 30 miles per hour of wind and actually soaring! Their flights in 1911 wouldn’t be matched until the early 1970’s! Their passion for flight lead to the rapid development of powered aircraft which had a massive impact in the devastating air campaigns of World War I and World War II. Interest in unpowered flight returns after the Wars and the arrival of Francis Rogallo and his genius leads to Hang gliding as we know it. Suddenly we can chase the birds, fulfilling a shared dream that has existed from the beginning of human history. The sport goes crazy in the early 70’s, over a hundred manufacturers get into the game, performance gains go through the roof, but then so do the accidents. In the late 70’s the Hang Gliding Manufacturers Association creates a certification process and the sport becomes more interested in safety than just getting off the ground at any cost. Gliders continue to innovate at an insane pace and incredible distances are flown- the first 100 mile flight goes down, then Larry Tudor flies 200 miles, then 300 but as wings get more and more sophisticated and fast, they also get more difficult to fly and importantly- to learn. In 2012 Dustin Martin flies an unbelievable 475 miles in Texas, the farthest anyone has flown on unpowered aircraft but the future of hang gliding is anything but encouraging. What’s next for the sport, and has what’s happened to hang gliding foretelling of paragliding’s future? This is a remarkable tale told eloquently by the legendary Bruce Weaver from Kitty Hawk Kites, the president Wills Wing Steven Pearson, the former president of USHPA and former world record holder David Glover, the “Dark Prince” Larry Tudor and the current world record holder, Dustin Martin.

 

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Show Notes:

  • KittyHawk kites and the beginnings
  • Otto Lillienthal and then up to the Wright Brothers. The first “hang gliders”, taking from Divinci and Lillienthal
  • “Sacrifices must be made!”
  • Octave Chanute carries on the legacy of Lillienthal and the Wright brothers take notice
  • Wright Brothers Innovation and inspiration- thousands of flights go down before they add engines!
  • Changing the course of mankind
  • First time soaring- on a 150 pound glider, in 30+ mph wind with bamboo and a kitchen curtain!
  • Francis Rogallo- the lightbulb goes off. NASA and the space race
  • National Geographic and the birth of Wills Wing under Bob and Chris Wills
  • Wills Wing- from the Boom to accidents to the decades of decline
  • The space race and how it affects Hang gliding and free flight
  • David Glover and Rogallo and the “Killer van”
  • Steven Pearson and the birth of Wills Wing and the crazy boom of Hang Gliding in the early and mid 70’s
  • Hundreds of manufacturers form around the world, performance increases and the accident rates goes through the roof
  • Distance flights starts to hit, and the Dark Prince- Larry Tudor flies 200 miles, then 300 miles…
  • Zapata “fucking” Texas- chasing the longest flights on Earth
  • Dustin Martin and Johnny Durand battle it out, and Dustin goes farther than anyone ever has on a hang glider. The record still holds.

 

Mentioned in this episode:

Miguel Gutierrez, Rob Kells, Chris and Bob Wills, Steven Pearson, Mike and Linda Meier, Larry Tudor, Benny Abruzzo, Ben Abruzzo, Dean Potter, Gerry Katz, Trip Millinger and Gene Blythe, Steve Moyes, Don Partridge, Joe Bostik, Gerry Forberger, Manfred Ruhmer, Bobby Bailey, Moyes Dragonfly, Campbell Bowen, Bill Moyes, Brad Kushner, Mark Knight, Icaro, Moyes Gliders, Aeros, Pete Lehmann, Gary Osoba, Frank Brown, Davis Straub, Alex Ploner, Bruce Weaver, Nick Greece, Leonardo Davinci, Ted Boyce, Pete Layman, Gary Osoba, Dustin Martin, Jonny Durand, Bill Moyes, Pete Brock, Zac “Zippy” Majors

1959 Wind Tunnel Test

 

1976 on an SST

 

Bamboo Bombers

 

 

Chris and Bob Wills

 

Rogallo’s Daugher Carol on a Rogallo design, 1968

 

David Aldrich

 

Roger Flying Jockey’s Ridge

 

Francis Rogallo on Jockey’s Ridge

Watch this amazing film, “Playground in the Sky” that documents the beginnings of hang gliding: