Urs on glide towards the Matterhorn
Urs Haari has been at this game since the game began. He got several world records early in his career in South Africa in the early 90’s, stood on the podium multiple times at World Championships, PWC’s and at the European Championships and brought home champion titles at the Swiss, AND US Nationals. This past season he won the sport class in the Swiss Cup Championship for the remarkable 5th time, and is now the permanent holder of this coveted award. Given he only gets to go XC 4 to 6 times a year because of his work- a hell of an achievement! Urs is the owner and creator of High Adventures AG, a company that makes and tests reserves. He invented the Beamer steerable rescue that many pilots have adopted and use today. In this podcast Urs discusses his early success; a couple of very scary incidents; leaving the sport and going through a very difficult period and then rediscovering flight; creating High Adventures and the art of the reserve toss and what we all need to know about reserves and their correct use; and how he’s developed some very interesting mental exercises and techniques to stay safe in flight. This episode is packed with laugh-out loud moments and incredible take-aways. Enjoy!
PLEASE watch Urs’ reserve testing videos on any of these pages, you’ll learn a ton!
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From Urs Haari:
In March I will be 56 years old and live in Switzerland. I spent my childhood and adolescence in Matten, a small mountain village of 700 souls in the Bernese Oberland. I had the privilege of growing up in the great outdoors. In winter we made the ski slopes unsafe and in summer we were otherwise incredibly creative. You can take my word for that 😉
My father was a model airplane pilot and co-founder of the local gliding group. We spent countless weekends somewhere on a soaring slope or at the airfield.
At the age of 17 I had enough savings to afford the training to become a glider pilot. In the first year I was not allowed to leave the airfield within a radius of 50 km. Shortly thereafter, I was retrained to fly my first composite glider, and I found out quickly how to loop it quite nicely. The high alpine terrain offered enough side valleys to avoid being caught by the club’s umpires. The glider fleet was limited and four years later I had had enough of having to share the gliders with my club mates part time.
At 20 I was drafted into the military, completed a career in the army due to lack of career prospects and inbetween I hitchhiked through South America for several months.
In 1988 I grabbed my older brother’s paraglider and did a few jumps with it. It felt like proximity flying but in slow motion. In the following spring, I made my license and trimmed the newly acquired Condor HP9 (9 cells) right away. At a competition in Verbier I met the manufacturer, two months later he offered me a job. In addition to working in the atelier and sales department, I was also a test pilot.
In 1990, the pre-World Cup took place in St. André les Alps. I wanted to go there at all costs. I didn’t have enough results to qualify for the Swiss team. At that time, we were producing in Israel and a good friend of mine was the president of the paragliding association there. So, I started under the Israeli flag and finished the pre-World Cup as the best Swiss. That was the time of the flashy full-body preservatives, the hot gliders, and the all-night parties ;-). We were rock stars!
My successes continued, followed by several world records in South Africa, podiums at World Championships, PWC’s and at the European Championships as well as several champion titles at the Swiss- and the US-Nationals. What a time! I enjoyed the competition groove, the many trips and especially the friendships around the globe.
However, my medals also had their downsides. One month before the World Championships in Verbier in ’93, I had a near-death experience. After a small incident with a prototype, I landed in a lake a hundred meters from the shore. I was not prepared for it and there was no boat on the water. Ten minutes later I was tied up by my own lines and gave up. A fisherman had been watching the scenario from shore and pulled me back out by my paraglider. A month later, in the first run in Verbier, I bombed in on a grassy ledge in a rock face on the reserve. Fortunately, all this did not leave deep scars in my soul. In the mid-nineties I ended my career as a competition pilot. The serious accidents on the competitions increased and I lost a few good friends.
After the turn of the millennium, I was in a deep crisis and was hardly in the air. I had to find myself again. I found support in nature, hugged trees, dealt with my spirituality and shamanism, traveled alone on foot and horseback through Mongolia and hopped around on broken glass in Indonesia.
In 2008, I rediscovered cross-country flying. Since then, I enjoy the freedom in the air, the play with nature, the cocktail of experience, intuition, and adventure.
It all started a good 30 years ago and I’m still in the thick of it. We work with the same suppliers as back then, develop our own products (accessories and rescue parachutes) and employ 6 people.
My time budget is limited, and I can free myself for 4 to 6 days for cross country flights per year.
Before each take-off I get in touch with my power animals and other spirit helpers, thank them for everything and do my protection exercises. I visualize my flight plan once again and ask for my wish to come true. During the flight I influence wind and weather, chant in difficult situations, ask my power animals for help and enjoy the incredible privilege of free flight. Yes, I really can do this, but have no idea if it does anything. But believe me, it feels incredibly good. No negative thoughts and lots of confidence in what is.
I fly a High EN B. And of course, I am jealous when the competition orchids pass me by. I would love to fly something like that. But I do not have the routine. Maybe in the next life…
Mentioned in the Show:
Cross Country Magazine, Kevin Brooker, Urs Haari, High Adventure, Beamer Rescue, Nik Hawks, Till Gottbrath, Nate Scales, Nova Paragliders
Doesn’t get much better than this
Urs wins again!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 1:42:36 — 82.3MB)
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