ER and Critical Care physician and paragliding hound Matt Wilkes returns to the Mayhem to share the many takeaways from several large studies he’s been involved with since his last talk three years ago on hypoxia and cold; the largest and most comprehensive study done to date on throwing a reserve; and an accident analysis study done with the BHPA and Cross Country Magazine. How dangerous is free flight really? What leads to most accidents and what does the data support? What do we find from the “Exposure Model”- ie what is more dangerous- flying more and having more currency, or flying less and having less exposure to risk? What are the most common pilot errors that lead to accidents? We know reserves work really well but many people either freeze up or lose track of their height and don’t throw- why? We discuss how should we throw them, what can go wrong if you do, creating the right mindset for throwing, the importance of standardizing the gear and a lot more on tossing the laundry. How much does cold, altitude, dehydration and other environmental factors cripple our cognition? How vulnerable are pilots who are just out of their initial training? We discuss the debacle on Mont Blanc last summer and how we can make bad judgements with the best of intentions, we revisit intermediate syndrome and a ton more. Listen, learn, and share with your friends; this one has a ton of valuable information we all need to digest.
Speaker 1 (26s): Hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the cloud mayhem. Got a few things of housekeeping here. Before we kick off this really good show with Matt Wilks, it's just packed with super valuable information. Firstly, I wanted to apologize for the irregularity of the shows coming out. As many of you know, I've been on a pretty major search and rescue effort mission to find our friend Kelly, who I had on the show back in July, I guess really July who's down with us in Texas flying.
And then shortly after that, I was up in Nevada with him flying. And then the next weekend he vanished literally right now into thin air. It's been as of record when I'm recording this and hopefully by the time the show goes live, we will have new information, but this is day let's see 12 that he's been missing. And I will do a full show on that and what we've learned and the just incredible effort of the community that came together from literally all over the world in this effort to find Kiwi and all that we learned and some of the mistakes we made, we haven't made many, but of course there always are some, and, but it was just a monumental effort by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people, both financially and online and teams on the ground.
So we learned a lot about devices and In-Reach and communications, and we learned a lot about a lot of things. And some of this was, you know, we, we learned a bunch about major search and rescue effort when guy Anderson disappeared here in sun Valley and the 2012 PWC. And unfortunately I've been involved in a number of these. So we keep learning and I'll do an article on that for cross country. And we'll also do just a show dedicated to that. But because of those efforts, I it's been difficult to keep up with putting a show at every two weeks.
And my wonderful editor miles Connolly has been wrapped up in big projects with his work with national geographic and the BBC and stuff. So we have had a hard time getting these out on time. And I apologize for that. We will get back to those and anything we've if we've missed any, we did a, we put out last week, a replay of a, of a past show with pal tickets. That was the most popular show we put out to date. So we kind of re-engineered that and put it out just cause I hadn't been able to interview anybody.
So now yesterday I interviewed three people today. Show's going to be the first of those. So we are well caught back up and we'll get back on our regular schedule to getting these out every other Wednesday, a new schwag got some fantastic recaps. They, they really redesigned their, their trucker hats arnica. And the hats that we've got right now are just gorgeous. So check them out. And if you go to our store on cloud-based mayhem.com and I've also got a whole new box of shirts from Patagonia just came in, got some new models, the new Fitzroy, these are all a hundred percent organic, fair trade, little water use they're terrific shirts, people really digging them.
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And certainly I miss some of those. And if you can't afford to support the show, I totally get it. You don't even need to explain yourself, just send me an email and say, Hey, I want to access the bonus content. And I'll set you up with a lifetime account and hopefully someday you will be able to support us. And on that note, I really appreciate that. You know, and I thought that when COVID hit, we were going to be in real trouble. Certainly my business is still totally on hold and in serious trouble, which is my main source of income.
And that just evaporated in March. And I thought that the same thing would happen with the podcast. And it's been the opposite of that. People have been really generous and our contributions are at an all time high and I just really appreciate it. And they just kind of keep trickling in and keep going up. And that makes me feel really good about what we're doing here. And I just appreciate that you appreciate what we're doing. So thank you very much for that. And as always, all we asked for is a buck show. It's kind of like a magazine subscription.
So if you're getting something out of it, we appreciate you helping us out. Thank you. This show with Matt Wilks, Matt was on the show about three years ago. He was, he took my, what we were calling the masters class and it was kind of a bivy oriented class, single day class up at the lakes with, at jockeys place. And he gave me a ride back to Edinburgh where I was flying out the next day. And I stayed with him and he's a, an ER doc and a critical care doc who has more recently also gotten into instructing.
He worked for the boys, Mike and Stu Elvis, very good friends of mine and kind of one of the, I cut my teeth with them back in the day at VBA summits. And so he's been instructing them and no doubt, you have seen some of his articles recently in cross country. He went the last time I had him on the show, we talked mostly about trauma and what should be in your first aid kit. And you really need to go back and listen to that show if you haven't and it's super valuable information and we kind of update it in this show, but in back then he was working on a big hypoxia project with Tom and others that were doing some high altitude flying in Pakistan.
And so he, he did a big study on hypoxia and cold, which we get into in this show and how it affects us and how we need to mitigate it and how insidious cold can be and how it affects and how hypoxia and cold affect our cognition. And we also talk about the debacle that was actually happening during X ops. Last year, I was a down low on the swamp trying to get to st. Hilaire while a lot of people were top landing on Montblanc.
And that didn't go so well now let's talk about SIV. And he's also completed two of the biggest that I know of certainly, but I think they just are the biggest reserve studies and that have ever been done. So how people pull, how they should pull, what can fail, what can go wrong, how manufacturers should potentially change things about reserves. So no doubt. You've seen some of those articles.
They're terrific in cross country and we'll be doing, he'll be doing more studies on that, but we get real deep into reserves in this one. And also he did a big survey in conjunction with cross country and the PA analysis on cross country accidents and flying accidents and acro action. It's just flying in general accidents and what the numbers truly are, who they affect more, you know, the, at the early end of the spectrum versus the expert end of the spectrum.
And we talk a lot about intermediate syndrome and pilot air and what are the main pilot errors that contributed, contribute to this proximity to terrain high pilot workloads and a lot of stuff. So we dig deep into what they've learned and what they still have to learn. And of course, data is, is hard to sift and, and, you know, figure out and come up with real certainties, but they've done a terrific job there. He and his big team on a lot of this, and we glean a lot of fantastic information from that, so they could really enjoy it.
And then finally, we tap back into his first aid, the talk he gave with us
Speaker 2 (8m 57s): Three years ago and is what should be in your kit and how he's maybe honed that a little bit. So a lot here, this is a long talk and, but there's, there's tons of great information. I think you'll really enjoy it. So please enjoy this talk with Matt Wilks.
Speaker 0 (9m 15s):
Speaker 2 (9m 19s): Matt, it's a pleasure to get you back on the show. I always enjoy talking to you and it's a cool to, we had a little chat there at your place in, in Edinburgh, where I stayed at a few years back and thanks for the hospitality. And thanks for coming back on the show to take us through all the stuff. Many of us have been reading your articles with a lot of interest in the last couple of years on your studies on hypoxia and reserves and accidents and risk and stuff. And also since the last time we talked, you've been doing quite a bit of instructing and a bunch of SIV.
We're working for the boys, shout out to Mike and Stu out in Verbier until I, I guess I understand this correctly until COVID kind of hit and had to go back to your main job, being a doctor and in critical care. So catch us up real briefly on what you've been up to. And then we can dive into this master syllabus. You've given me about all the things you've been doing since since last we talked
Speaker 3 (10m 18s): Great stuff. Oh, thanks for having me back on the show. Gavin, it's a real pleasure to be back and to catch up. Yeah. Life has been not quite how I thought it was going to go, but fun nonetheless. So since we last spoke, I have been doing better doctoring, quite a lot of paragliding research. And last season I was working for Verde summits and by as a kind of baby guide learning from their kind of expert instructors, they're all about how to take people flying, which is a really, really good experience bending at a tandem flying and then trying to work on my own flying.
And the plan was to do that all again this summer, which I was really looking forward to. And then, yeah, someone needs a medium Rabat and COVID became the same. And I went back to work in the hospital full time. So I've been, I've been in intensive care working as a doctor in Edinburgh until about a month or two ago.
Speaker 2 (11m 16s): I think. I mean, you know, this is of course a free flight show, but put some paint, some color for us on, on what you're dealing with there in the UK, what that's looked like, you know, cause we're all bombarded with many different things in the media these days and trying to stay clear of politics here, but what has it been like for you in the ER and what are you seeing on the ground?
Speaker 3 (11m 41s): Been interesting on a number of levels? I think when COVID first started, I was living out in Verbier through the winter. My wife was teaching yoga there. And I, you heard about this virus that came from China and then went to Italy and it was like, everything had a half life like, okay, well we should be able to stay till the end of the season. And then it was until next week. And then we read, Oh, actually we need to be heading back to the UK in about eight hours time. So we packed up the car and we drove and going through France was very, very interesting because they had locked down quite aggressively.
There was police on the streets, he needed to get papers from the town hall to be able to travel. And then we crossed back into the UK and it was like, nothing was going on. Everybody was still in cafes. Everyone was still kind of moving around. There was no social list and saying, and this is back in March. And I think that initial complacency bets us in the ass. And so when I got back to Edinburgh and started working critical care again, we were a little bit behind London.
So we were actually pretty organized. We had a bit of time to prepare and we were never overwhelmed. But when I talked to my colleagues in the hospitals, down in London, where they were hit, pretty hard, not as hard as the States or Italy, but they still had a good session. They really felt the effects of us delaying things like lockdown down and social distancing for us in the hospital and Edinburgh. It was as an individual doctor. It was, I was very glad to have the opportunity to help, to work with my friends who were full time in hospital side by side again.
And to look after people, we had to triple the capacity of our ICU. The hospital was pretty much exclusively filled with COVID patients. At one stage, we were very lucky that we never run out of resources or staff, but there were points where we thought actually this could get pretty serious. And so I realized the lockdown has been very controversial in different parts of the world, but I was pretty happy that we did it. I think we have versus something pretty big and pretty awful. We did it late.
At least we did it
Speaker 4 (13m 59s): See, you know, my good friend here, who I had on the show back, you know, when right before we went into lockdown. So when this thing was kind of just maybe a week or two after it was declared a pandemic in March Terry O'Connor, who's an ER doc like yourself and has been kind of the face of, of handling the COVID here and in our community, our little, little town in sun Valley, what he keeps impressing on me, you know, when we go have a socially distanced dinner together or something is that there's still a lot, the community and the science side and EPA epidemiologist side don't know about it.
How do you, how do you see this plan out for us as a community in the world?
Speaker 3 (14m 42s): We're learning all the time. And it's amazing. I think we're very fortunate in, in Edinburgh that we have one of the main centers learning about COVID. They do a lot of large scale research looking at population trends, and it's amazing how much work those guys have put in and how much more we know about the virus in terms of herd effects and how it presents than we did in March. When really it was kind of feeling our way fairly blindly. We now have some promising avenues of treatments using steroids and other things, but really the big thing that we need is a vaccine.
And on my radar is the fact that we're now going to start to come into flu season and how the countries manage flu, which can present a little bit like COVID and also puts a burden on the health service. And COVID at the same time in the run up to mass vaccination, I think is going to be very tricky. And I'm slightly wary about how the next few months are going to play out.
Speaker 4 (15m 44s): Mm yeah. And you were saying before we started recording that, you know, if the, if the stage three trials go successfully and you know, a vaccine is produced sometime early next year that, you know, it's still going to take, it sounds like quite a while, you know, it might be 20, 22 before you have enough people vaccinated that we can, you know, more easily jump on airplanes and travel around.
Speaker 3 (16m 10s): Yeah, I think so. I mean that one of the joys of paragliding is you hear on your podcast all the time is it takes us to some really interesting places. And we get to know communities that often you don't see, you know, be that in Nepal or be that, you know, Kalka and Colombia and those guys like the people that we know and care about over there are definitely not going to be first in the key because that's how these things have always worked internationally. And there's so much political clout amongst the big powers, particularly in the U S the UK Russia, to ensure that their populations are vaccinated first.
So I think some of the people that we care about in some of the countries that we like to go and fly, it's going to take a while before they get access to what they need. I hope to be proved wrong, but historically that's how it's always been.
Speaker 4 (16m 59s): Sure, sure. Okay. Well, moving on to, I wouldn't say, you know, totally more positive subject, but you know, we've got a lot to get through here and it's, it's good to have your, your insight into that. And obviously we're still, still got a long way to go. And that's what it feels like certainly to me, but let's turn the discussion to other things you've learned about safety and how we can be safer in what we're doing. You've been involved in some really cool studies. And the last time we talked, you were ramping up on your hypoxia study, which I want to hear about, but also you've done, you did a real massive study on throwing on reserves that I want to hear about, and this accident analysis you did with the BHP.
So take that however you want.
Speaker 3 (17m 47s): So Thanksgiving, yeah, it's actually, it's really nice to about paragliding know at times I felt a little bit silly that my kind of main research interest is keeping paragliders safe when all this kind of global pandemic stuff's going on, but it's also been a real joy to, to have been able to kind of look into this stuff because it's, it's something that I'm really, really passionate about. And yeah, since we last spoke a few years ago, we've been able to do a number of separate studies, kind of feeling our way a little bit through it.
So it's not, if I was to go back and do it again, I'd probably done them all slightly differently and in a different order, but we've covered some ground. So, yes, since we last spoke, we did, we analyzed the BHP, which is the person handling Parkland associations accident database. We looked in detail at about a thousand accidents. We've done the largest survey of paragliding today through cross country magazine. We had responses from 1700 pilots and that's going to come out next month. The results of that ad is very kindly said, I can chat about it on the podcast.
We've lipped at paragliders in flights. We've done all sorts of kind of crazy instrumentation of paragliders on XC and acro. And then we've done the reserve study work, which is the bit where I think we've probably had the most yields and had I known what I know now I'd probably started with that, but coming at it from the background as a critical care doctor, the physiology was the bit that seemed most accessible to me. So that's kind of where I started.
Speaker 4 (19m 16s): Well, dive into that wherever you want. Let's, let's, let's hear more and learn more. Your, your article about the, the reserves was, was, was actually really enlightening for me. I thought I knew a lot about reserves and you guys discovered some really valuable information.
Speaker 3 (19m 34s): Thanks guys. Yeah. Well, I'd say I'm going to make some tidbits together and that's, let's start with what we found from looking at the accident stuff. Cause that leads really nicely into the reserve parachutes. So when, as you know, in, in all countries, we have this kind of voluntary system of accident reporting, which I think works better than people give it credit for. But if you ask a question as basic as how dangerous is paragliding, it's very hard to give a good answer because we don't really know how much flying everybody does.
And it's all very well me saying, well, they were 10 accidents last year. If there are 20 accidents next year, is that because the sports got more risky or caused more people flying and people have made kind of efforts to, to answer this question in the past, but what they've tended to do, they tended to look at numbers of pilots, not how much flying needed. So what would people might say before is like, well, there are 5,700 members in the breast hang gliding paragliding association.
There were this many accidents. So our accident rates. So and so per hundred thousand members, or however you want to have what you want to do it, the problem is is that when you start to then look into that data, you realize that because people do such different stuff and as diverse a sport is flying, it's actually quite meaningless. So if you take a place like Baba, dive in Turkey, the dinners, amazing place to fly that they've actually got quite good numbers because that you have to buy a ticket to go up the road.
And so they know how many flights people do, and they have a fatality rate there of seven per a hundred thousand flights, which is actually relatively high. But then you think, okay, well what's Baba dilate. Well, there's loads of tandem pilots. There's probably more midaz than there are in other places. And people go there to do accurate. So is what happens in Baba diag representative of what happens everywhere. And I think it's probably not.
And so the thing that we got into and that's coming out in cross country next month is a good place to start is we surveyed 1700 pilots, three cross country magazine. And we said, well, what do you do? Like how much flying do you do? How much flying did you do last year? What incidents did you have? And the nice thing about using a database like cross country magazine is that, you know exactly how many people there are subscribed to the database. You can kind of tell how many people got the survey cause problems.
If you just fire out on the internet, you don't know who's reading it. And whether who comes back to you as representative. So what we found from that is that the rate of injuries and paragliding is about 20 serious injuries per a hundred thousand flights and about one and a half deaths per a hundred thousand flights. And to do that, to get that data, we have to work out how much flying people did from the ECC survey.
And then we had to look quite deeply into a subpopulation, which was the pretend gliding Paragon association database, to find out what accidents people had and then marry the two together. So that's a very long winded way of explaining how we got to where we got to, which is coming up with a number or be it a rough, one of how dangerous paragliding is. And I'm actually quite delighted that we now have a number because we can now start to compare ourselves to things like skydiving general aviation.
And we can also see if the safety efforts we make actually work, because we'll now know if these numbers go up and down over time, as opposed to just saying there are these many pilots and there are these many accidents
Speaker 4 (23m 33s): Because you did the study with the BH PA how the numbers assure that how relevant this is. But I would imagine there are areas in the world, like you said, in Turkey that are more dangerous. You know, certainly flying here in the Rockies would be more dangerous than most of the flying I've seen in the UK just cause the air and the desert and the, the launches. I mean, everything it's Rocky it's nasty. It's big. I wonder how does, does that go into your thinking and your modeling as well as it is because you're using the BHP?
Is that mostly pilots they're flying in the UK or is, I know British pilots fly a lot in the Alps too.
Speaker 3 (24m 17s): That's a really good question. And what I guess I should have probably perhaps more clear that the purpose of using the BHP data was to look at those BHP and members who filled out the cross country survey and start to compare accidents and deaths to the total flying that is done. But the interesting thing that came out of both of those analyses is the things that cause accidents, pilot era, but in particular, the decisions we make our abilities to control the glider.
And perhaps from time to time, our ability to judge things like distance, and I would argue that those are global concerns wherever you fly, those are going to be factors.
Speaker 4 (25m 7s): It'd be fascinating to know to the, if, if there's much of an impact in terms of where you learn and how you're taught, are you taught using the API system or something else, you know, are, are obviously the French and the Germans have the most numbers. And so I would think that they're accidents, you know, way heavier there. But I wonder if you know, the per capita, if the, if the, if the data shows that they're also learning better or worse,
Speaker 3 (25m 41s): It's difficult to say from what we learn as to whether there were kind of national trends in that sense, as we were saying before per capita, doesn't really work because you have to know how much and what kind of flying they're all doing. I think the conclusion I came to though is just how vulnerable people are when they come out of any training scheme, like be it in the U S or France or Germany. You know, Switzerland is one of the few countries, for example, where people need a minimum of 50 flights before they can get their license in other places that would be an unthinkably, large number.
But if you think about what somebody like when they come out of training, they've learned the very basics of launching and landing Midland a little bit about the weather, but we were all in this position, they are very, very vulnerable. And so one of the things that really struck me from the work at it is the importance of continued learning.
Speaker 4 (26m 39s): Yeah. Yeah. Well, let's slowly. Yeah. Let's dive into some of the, some of the takeaways other
Speaker 2 (26m 44s): Than, you know, that's a, that's a great one. Well, first, how do we compare to some of the other sports or high risk sports, and then, yeah, let's dive into some of these takeaways what'd you guys learn?
Speaker 3 (26m 57s): So, thanks. So, I mean, in terms of like those broad numbers that I generated, it makes us about twice as risky as skydiving and about twice as risky as flying a lighter aircraft. Those are very rough numbers and there are a big confidence intervals. So there's a big spread in which those numbers, the true value could lie, but we're roughly twice as dangerous as those things. I don't want to get too fixated on that though. I wanted those numbers because it's a start in terms of us growing up as a sport and comparing ourselves to these other disciplines.
But as you know, your podcast really ably demonstrates, you know, the number of people you've had on that, what really matters is why these things happen. And I think the takeaways there for me, where the glide is just don't break. Like we misuse them, but they don't break. The, there was about a four between three and 4% technical error rates and all the stuff that we found, everything else is us. Like we are there, we do the crashing, not the gliders.
Sure. And I know that's not particularly new, but some of the, the extra bits of lights I can shed on that are really, we have two big areas of weakness, the decisions that we make and how we control the glider. And that feeds into two things, really. First of all, in terms of how we compare to other sports or other forms of aviation, those are the things that we do wrong in other forms of aviation. So even in commercial aviation, it's still the decisions we make and how we control the aircraft.
It's not, it's not technical, it's not tactical, but it's also, it's not being drunk. It's not being, you know, it's not being reckless necessarily. It's making bad judgements with the best of intentions. The other things that I was able to kind of pull out of that though, is there are times of high pilot workload. And I think we know this intuitively, but I think it's something that we really need to think about when we train.
So in particular, take off flying in dense traffic and being close to terrain, which we are almost all the time, especially in Scotland. Those are times when we are vulnerable. The other things is that when we find ourselves in times of glider and stability, and once rotation starts to be a factor, that's another time where we become vulnerable again. And that was one of the reasons why we did some of the reserve work the way we did.
And the other thing that came out of that data is that reserve parachutes are massively under throne. And I think these were the, these were the key things we pulled from the analysis.
Speaker 4 (30m 2s): And what did you discover? Why? Because I, you know, I, I know we're going to get into the reserves pretty deep here, but in my experience, I have seen hundreds of reserve deployments. And I don't know that I've seen any accidents from any of them, you know, maybe other than a sprained ankle, but the, but I've also seen a lot of people not throw and those almost never go well. And so why aren't people throwing
Speaker 3 (30m 34s): Just fit to kind of actually put a number on your first point? Cause that's something we can now do from the work I've done. I calculated that you had a, roughly 50% reduction in chance of injury. If you throw your reserve, even if some of those are thrown low or they tangle, I mean, it could not be clearer. You just got through it.
Speaker 4 (30m 57s): I'm surprised it's even that low. I would have put the number at almost a hundred,
Speaker 3 (31m 3s): But I think the thing was, is I included when they, you know, I completed once where they chucked it at 20 feet, right. Where it was tangled is just that global. If it comes out of the bag, no matter where you are, it is very likely going to help you. And that's, I think that's a message that needs to be drilled home. So, so why don't we, you know, the, the key question that you asked, I guess let's look at the whole process and let's work backwards.
So throwing the reserve at its most basic is grabbing the handle and getting it out of the harness. But then going back one step, it's realizing that you need to stop trying to fit your wing and switching your mental program into now it's time to throw mode. I think that's where the problem lies. I think that's why people don't do it. And whether that's because they lose out sheet awareness or whether that's because they simply lose the ability to access that mental program of how to do it under stress.
I think it's still something that's not proven, but I think it's a mixture of both. And the reason why I think it's that is if you look at skydiving as an example, before automatic activation devices came in, these things like Cypress that Chuck your reserve parachute in skydiving, if you're traveling a certain speed below a certain height, they were examples of experienced skydivers, not throwing their reserve parachutes. They just freeze that have a main malfunction and they'd hit the ground.
It was called a no pool fatality. And when you then look at something like helicopter, underwater escape training, which is something that you have to do, if you want to work on the oil rigs around the world, where you basically get put in a helicopter, flipped, upside down, dumped in water, and you have to get out. Some people, if they've been told what they need to do, just can't access that bit of their memory. And I think that we reserves from such a small part of our lives as paragliders, you know, they're very rarely thrown students come out of school, not really knowing much about them.
And yet actually there's this lifesaving tool that we just get told about. But if you look at this other stuff, you look at what happened, the skydiving unit, what happened in the oil rig or the oil industry, like you need to live and breathe. The fact that you have a reserve, you need to know how it works. You need to Chuck it in practice. Even if you know, you don't have the opportunity to do that, you need to hang up your harness, attach the reserve, handle to a cushion as a reserve privacy and Chuck it and Chuck it, and Chuck it, like, know the force.
You need to pull the direction. You need to pull how hard you need to put it. I'd love it. Students when they were in school, when they finished that training, they were hung up in the hind point in their harness. And they went through those drills too. So they didn't become afraid of what was involved. It's that level of familiarity and understanding. We need an order of magnitude more. If we're to actually make use of what we have,
Speaker 4 (34m 25s): Has to become like our pre-flight checks. Doesn't it? I mean, I love what Theo said. And like you said, I mean, none of this was part of my initial training. No, you have a reserve that was kinda it, you know, or here's how you throw it, you know, and you know, at Theo says what the acro guys, because they do it so much. And then it's just, it's just part of their repertoire is first. It's a mindset first, you know, before every single flight you have to, I am willing to, this might be the day where I have to throw my reserve.
I'm going to throw my reserve if and then the second part is just having it totally done. I mean, as part of your, like your pre-flight checks, you know, every time when I get off the ground, that's the first thing I do is, well, not right off the ground, but once I'm safe is, you know, reach down and practice it. Because the other thing too is these days we're often, many of us are flying with different gear. You know, I've got my comp gear, I've got my Xcel ops gear. I've got my acro gear, you know, the first time, my funny story about throwing my reserve and it wasn't attached to me. You know, I had two reserves in that harness, but I wasn't used to flying that harness.
I didn't think about that until I saw my first one flying away and started laughing at myself. Wow. That's interesting. You know, and you know, we can't rely on luck, but it's so it's, it's the mindset it's having it down. You know, Theo talks about like every single time he has to go down his leg and right. It's right there down his leg right there, down his leg right there. It's, you know, it's because every harness is a little bit different. You have to switch your mindset. Okay. You know, my ex ops gear, I've got one in my comp gear. I've got two, that's a good thing to be practicing. And then, yeah.
And then that situational awareness is really hard for people to just, you can't tell somebody that on the ground at an instruction thing and go, remember, look at the ground. You know, it takes SIV practices. It takes, I mean, it's like you said, it's training
Speaker 3 (36m 16s): It's training. I think there are so many good points in what you just said. Gavin, the two that I think are really worth picking up on are what Theo said about really visualizing the circumstances in which you might need to throw it. And the other is standardization, you know, swapping gear to start with the first point I learnt skydive a couple of years ago. And it was, it was a great thing to do. And I'm wary of comparing skydiving paragliding too much because they are very different things.
Skydiving is quite in the best sense, formulaic, you're jumping in the same way, the same aircraft, but the same gear, usually with the same people and in the same en masse. And he's been most of your time away from the ground. But one of the things that they do really well, and when I learned was they, there are a limited number of malfunctions in skydiving and they're actually limited number of malfunctions and paragliding down. And when I was learning, they put me in a mock harness.
They had me look up on the ceiling of this little booth. And I'm the seating of the booth where a bunch of different glider or partially configurations malfunctions. And every morning before we went to jump, they pointed that one. And you worked through the actions on your harness that you're in. So you were already preparing yourself to see something abnormal. You were then not only working out what you would do, but you were going through those physical motions and you were doing that again and again and again.
And one of the things I loved the most about that drop zone does an amazing job. So was Scott of Spaceland and Houston was that you see experienced guys doing that, you know, guys with thousands of jumps, he just drop in there and just work themselves through it. And I thought that was incredibly admirable. And it's exactly what you were saying. What Theo is saying. You are preparing yourself for the circumstances in which you may need to throw.
Speaker 4 (38m 17s): And I think the, the Revis talked about this. I don't know if on the show and I've talked about this several times, I'm sorry, listeners for being redundant, but I think this one's really important. The other thing is in flight, I think it really behooves us to constantly have an assessment. As of right now, how much time you potentially have. As of right now. I just, I do that now. I mean, if I'm flying eight or nine hours, I do that constantly throughout the whole flight. You know, am I on the deck? Am I do I have 5,000 feet underneath my feet?
You know, like how much, you know, because you can kind of, if you're going to a cascading situation, you are going to be looking up and dealing. And so you have to have a framework in your head. How often do I need to look down? How much time do I have to solve this and then just make an automatic, okay, I've got five seconds. I've got 10 seconds. Or, you know, if something happens right now, this is how much time I'm going to have. And then you just don't push that. You just, you deal, don't have it thrill it's as easy as that, you know, you have to, you have to, I dunno, like prepare your mind for these frameworks before something happens.
Speaker 3 (39m 26s): I think that's right. I think it's very hard to do,
Speaker 4 (39m 29s): But it's like everything, it's a habit, you know, if you start just doing it in the air while you're constantly just, you know, just checking in with, it's kind of like a check-in okay, I've got a lot of time to deal with this. I mean, it also helps me kind of deal with fear. You know, there's not really, I mean, even if the air is really hairy, there's not that much reason to be all that nervous. If you've got a lot of ground clearance, you know, if you've got a ton of margin, you're pretty safe, really, like you said, the gliders not going to fail. And so you've got, you've got time versus you're scratching out on a windy, original line.
That's different. That's a totally different ball game. That's an instant throw. Something goes wrong. You're throwing instantly. You're not trying to recover that.
Speaker 3 (40m 10s): Absolutely. And I think that's a great way of approaching it to add a nuance to that. That was one of the coaches in the club in Scotland. So he's been flying a long time. He used to be a nuclear safety engineer, a guy called Dave Thompson. And he, he used to always say, just put numbers on something. So I like your idea of five seconds and he would do it on everything. He did it on wind on comfort on everything. He's like, just start to calibrate these things. And so I really liked your idea of saying I've got about five seconds or I've got about 10 seconds.
Something like that I think is probably a more approachable way of doing it.
Speaker 4 (40m 45s): Yeah. Just cause you're going to be, you know, obviously you're going to be very busy. Your mind is going to be working on overload, trying to solve this problem. And it's, I, I, I get that. I mean, it sounds absurd, but I get that people can lose that ability for situational awareness and you just go all the way in without ever even thinking about it.
Speaker 3 (41m 5s): And I think, I think that's true. And I think people when they're very stressed as well, they lose the ability to innovate. So one study that was quite well done again with the helicopter stuff, was they worked out. If there was a problem, how long does it take someone who's stressed to come up with a novel solution? And the answer is about 10 seconds on average. And we actually saw that on the first reserve study we did where we sent 55 pilots down. We had one chap, he grabbed his reserve handle and he also grabbed a stirrup.
So when he pulled the handle, it could only come out, you know, a few inches and he looked at it and he just went down the holes at plane, just looking at it. And this is, you know, this is an experienced pilot who when told what had happened was like, well of course I just needed to let go of the syrup or, you know, pull the package something, but he just lifted at any froze. And the other behavior that you see quite often is what's called perseveration where people just do the same thing over and over again.
Yeah, exactly. And people can't innovate. And so that leads into two things. Really. The first is that the kit has to work and it has to be as fluid as possible. And the second is, yeah, you're absolutely right. People have to prepare, this has to be on their radar that they might need to check.
Speaker 4 (42m 33s): This is a big part. I mean this whole psychological side of the sport that we play is, is a main ingredient in the book that will soon to be out about the podcast. But this, this came up again and again, that we have to know really clearly who we are and how we react. Are we a freezer? Are we a solver? Are we do we do things calmly? Do we panic? Cause a lot of that can be trained, but it's also just good to know it about you, you know, how much we're going to get into passive safety here, but you know, how much do we have to rely on passive safety versus getting things done?
Speaker 3 (43m 18s): Do you think that that is contextual? Do you think somebody is a freezer in all circumstances or just some, geez, that's a good question.
Speaker 4 (43m 30s): I don't know that. What have you learned from your studies? I mean, I, I think the, I have no data to back this up, but it does seem like, you know, more people are freezers than the other. And like I said, I think it can be trained, but it's, you know, you talk about kind of like the it's it's like the flow channel thing, you know, when you, when, when people are in a situation that is beyond their skill level, they often report that they don't remember any of it.
They can't, they can't process what just happened. You know? Whereas when you talk to really experienced pilots who have some kind of major event, it's really slow, it's like everything's happening in slow motion and you're dealing with it. It's just, it's not a big deal. You've, you've done it so many times and you've been through it so many times. So I, you know,
Speaker 2 (44m 32s): Was that person at once a freezer and they've solved it through training and skills or I don't know, I'm not sure. I don't, I don't have the, I don't have enough knowledge about that.
Speaker 3 (44m 45s): No, do I mean, I think from what I've seen in the medical field, it's, it's very trainable, you know, you see junior in a very junior anesthesiologists or ER docs who are confronted with something stressful and some will freeze, some will work things through lots of people do kind of stereotype behavior. They just do the same thing over and over again. It's usually trying to put a drip in somebody cause that's a thing they know how to do. But then by the time they've been doing that job, you know, a few years they're seasoned pros.
I think the issue is, is that flying is, you know, it's the dicing on many people's cake. It's very hard to get that degree of experience and familiarity with your hobby. And so I suspect that people who, who still freeze when they fly, it may be that actually they're trainable and they can get beyond that freezing phase. But it's going to take a lot more hours than they're able to Putin.
Speaker 2 (45m 47s): Yeah, I think so too. And I, when I look at myself, I wonder how much the other sports that have done that, you know, before flying, you know, with kayaking and really serious stuff in kayaking, waterfalls, and kind of things that were really very much on the edge. I dunno if that training helped or that kind of going through that mentally helped for flying, but I've always had a very unusual, I think it, would it be parasympathetic response, as I say that is that the right way.
But my, when I get in really extreme situation situations, I experienced fear like everybody else. So, you know, if I take some big whack or something, it's like, wow. I mean my heart rate skyrockets, but I think like most people's, but if it's a really serious situation, my heart rate plummets, it almost goes to resting heart rate and everything becomes really vivid. And it's just a problem that is to be solved. It's it's really, and I've always been like that.
So I don't know that that's something that training has done it. I kind of doubt it. I don't know. It's, it's really interesting, but I, I would, I would posit that partaking in this sport without some of that would be really kind of hairy, you know, you it'd be hard. It's hard to deal with things if you're just freaked out. Yeah,
Speaker 3 (47m 19s): Absolutely. So I, I used to kayak, not nearly at that level you did, but some, some reasonably intense stuff that was way above my skill level. And I just managed to myself through three, four months going around British Columbia with people who were much better than I was going. They were going down bigger and bigger stuff and I was getting more and more scared and more and more kind of incapable. And I think it can, it can work the other way. And I think that that actually that experience was incredibly useful because it meant that when it came to flying, I was able to pace myself and as it is, I find flying a very relaxing experience.
So I think it says, it's the experience you take in, it's the way you learn. It's probably a little bit about your personality and the other things that you've done, but it's, it's a fascinating question. And one that I would like to know the answer to one thing that did come up actually, which was very interesting is on the podcast. You know, you've talked a lot about intermediate syndrome and there's a book that many people will have heard of called the killing zone, which looks at general aviation pilots.
And that was, I can't remember, they called it intermediate syndrome in the book. I don't think they did, but they said pilots, you know, with about, up to about 300, 350 hours where the really vulnerable ones. And there was a, a critique of that book I read recently and the guy who wrote the critique kind of lifted the author of the book, smart and just sort of not to kind of oversimplify what he did, but he essentially said that well, most pilots in the 50 to 350 hours bracket.
And so the most light type accidents, cause that's where most of them are and used to compensate for that. And those who I've flown for longer are alive by definition, by the fact they've kept lying. So you need to kind of compensate for it. And what he came up with actually was he was like, yeah, there is an intermediate syndrome, but it is probably up to about 2000 hours in general aviation pilots, when you do the math properly, which was, was depressing for me. Cause when I read that it was about two years ago, I had just gone past 350 hours freed by enormous relief.
That's like three 49 of the danger life. And then three 51, I am so 100% safe and it's like, Oh
Speaker 2 (49m 53s): Yeah, you know what, that's I really liked that I have, you know, I think for a long time and this might be numbers I'm just pulling from the sky. But you know, for a long time I kind of heard like 500 hours, you know? So you're kind of 50 to 500 hours or like you said, I've heard three 50 a lot. I like, I don't have the data, but it sounds like this guy does 2000 sounds a lot more reasonable to me. And just, just now knowing the arc of, of my own flying and chasing it really hard.
I think the other thing too is if you don't log every flight and
Speaker 4 (50m 28s): Hours, you know, whether that's annex contest or somewhere else, I think we have an often really inflate the numbers that we do. I mean, I hear people all the time, you know, saying that they got 200 or 50 or 300 hours and I say, okay, well you have to be like me then. And basically unemployed and chasing it as hard as you possibly can. And I haven't seen you do that. You know? I mean that's a lot of hours, you know? So when you hear like Anton Gerard get that gets 500 hours a year, you know, I've known almost nobody that gets that kind of hours, unless you're like a test pilot, you know?
So yeah. Anyway, back to the point that I think, yeah, I think intermediate syndrome is a much longer part of our flying career than we were either told or taught or, I mean, I think it's something we need to be wary of for much longer.
Speaker 3 (51m 17s): Absolutely. And I mean, it comes down to, there's so many things in that. I mean the first two to your original point, like when you chatted to some of the guys at the British association and when people turn in their membership application every year, but it's always, it's always rounded and there's Ted, you know, no one is actually flowed like 93.6 hours. They flowed the foot 90 or they're fleeing a hundred. It's like, Oh man, everyone's landing like bang on the second. So that's one thing I think the other thing is, you know, it comes down to denominate is a bit like we were saying at the beginning with, you know, did it by people that you did by hours.
There's obviously the quality of the hours that you are flying and the way that you are learning. But the more global point, which is that, as they said in that critique that I read mastery is assumed long before it is achieved. Yes. You know, we think we know what we're doing a lot sooner than we actually do put myself in that bracket.
Speaker 4 (52m 13s): Yeah. And that was, I guess that's my point with that with the 2000 hour thing is that I was Al I was the same, you know, I I'd done, I'd done a couple of big Bibi's and my hours were getting up there and I'd done a bunch of SIV and some acro training. And I was kinda like, whew, got through intermediate syndrome. And then looking back at, when I thought that too, now it was just preposterous because now I know what I still don't know. There's just so much to learn. I mean, I think that's what keeps, most of us really fascinated with this sport is that, you know, even back then, when I had all that, I was such a neophyte.
I just, man, I didn't know a lot and I still don't know a lot. And so I think it's one of these things that we should probably drag out a little bit longer. You're you're, you're bending towards this exposure model. I take it. And we'll talk about that.
Speaker 3 (53m 4s): Yeah. So this is potentially a quirk of some of the stats that we've done and that's why I've not really published it. And anything that we've, you know, we've kind of put out so far, but when you, when I looked at the, the kind of flying people were doing through the cross survey in my head, I thought, well, the people who are the most current, so the people who have the shortest gaps between their flights and the people who did the most flying.
So the most current and the most experienced, well that gonna have the least number of incidents, because that's what you want to be. Isn't it, you want to be a pilot. Who's flown moves this year and flew yesterday, not somebody who flew one hour, six months ago. And the data that we got and I say this cautiously, because there are limitations to everyday to set, didn't really support that. I mean, what kind of came out of that data is the more time you spend flying, the more likely you are to have an accident flying and that doesn't negate the value of experience.
It probably reflects the fact that the more experience we get, the more risks we take.
Speaker 2 (54m 19s): Hmm God, I can't even imagine trying to parse that kind of data. That must be really difficult, but yeah, that's, that's something that we talk about a lot, you know, currency versus an exposure to risk. I, yeah. I've been grappling with this personally, lately. Cause I, you know, when I start adding it up, it's like, wow, I've been at this a long time. You know, I participate in the XL ops. You know, I participate in some stuff in aspects of the sport that aren't particularly quote unquote safe.
And yet I wouldn't do it if I didn't believe it could be done safely and through, you know, kind of religious training, but at the same time yeah, you're out there doing it all the time. It is just odd.
Speaker 3 (55m 3s): Yeah. I think it is. But there are nuances to it. And then the other thing is that, you know, if you don't want to die, paragliding, don't go paragliding. Right? So you have to, as with all of this, there's going to be risks and benefits. But I do think that there are safer ways for us all to fly. And I guess that's what the research that I've been doing is sort of coming towards is what are the, the key things that will make us safer pilots?
The problem is, is that we do do all this for fun. And so it's all very well me coming up with loads of rules, but you know, I would struggle to abate them. Like I, I fly cause I love to fly like the love to be in the sky. If I say, you know, don't go above this Alex cheat. Well, that's going to be hard when the thermal is going up and I'm having a great time. It takes an enormous amount of self discipline. And I think a really great example of that is what happened on my blog last year. Is that something you've discussed on the show before?
Speaker 2 (56m 13s): It hadn't even come up? That's a great example because I was of course suffering the heat, getting to st. Hilaire that day. So I'd like to hear about more fun, but also the dark side of that, that day as well.
Speaker 3 (56m 24s): Well, it was interesting. So I was working through in verbiage, so about 45 minutes from Chamonix and I went through on the Wednesday afternoon. And as I pulled in Chamonix, I saw all these gliders super high and they were, you know, when it's the learning field and there were all these guys flying down and it's like just been on the summit of mobile. And I was p****d. I have I've missed this.
I was such a grumpy Buster to my poor wife. I was like, right, that's it, it's done. Never going to be able to land on there. And like, cause actually the last time it had been landed, I'd actually been in the air in Germany. And I was like, Oh, this is a good day because we had to catch a flight back to the UK. So I'm like, man, this is never going to happen once, once again, a bit like a bit like the COVID crisis of new working for the boys is what happened to me.
Speaker 5 (57m 29s): I was p****d and
Speaker 3 (57m 32s): During the course of the evening and the next day on the lunch where the winds were different, they were kind of like northerlies, they were, you know, it kind of came out with just an absolute c*********k had been going on on the summit the day before, you know, there were these sort of tails coming down with all these people, being on their guys, slipping all over the place, failing to take off and you know, as a community we can be quite judging. Well, I mean, that guy should've never been up there. Right.
But actually I think the truth is if you look at what happens physiologically, when you fly at that altitude, probably none of us should have been up there. And so I took off the next day and managed to climb over mumble. Actually it was, it was gorgeous Blaine this way. Cause you couldn't come from the Italian side, you had to soar up the face of it. And just to be sewing up the face of mom belongings, absolutely incredible.
You know, it was super emotional. And as I was flying above the summit that had been a rule put out saying you can't bland. And I saw some people landing and like it took quite a lot of me not to just think, wow, it's super easy to learn. Cause it was just soaring up. So it was just a been like landing at the local Hills. Like, you know, you could just touch down, make some little touch and go, you know, maybe, maybe didn't tell anyone about it, but then at least you've landed. But I managed to resist.
I've managed to stay high and had a memorably wonderful flight, but it did take a little bit of resisting if you can bear, can we talk just a little bit about the physiology of what happens when you try and do something like that?
Speaker 2 (59m 26s): Of course. And it sounds fascinating. And I, and I had a lot of experience with hypoxia flying here. So we all need to know about this.
Speaker 3 (59m 34s): Well, I think that's a good point in itself. You have a lot of experience with hypoxia. I love the people who were there and that the, you take off it at the Brevard and you know, it's licensed wins. You run you forward launch and you start flying. Then if you were quick, you could have on that day, I'd certainly have a day before you could have got yourself up to 4,800 meters within about an hour and a half.
And that's an enormous ascent rate. And so you're up there and actually the Rooney reason, I think why your body can tolerate is because paragliding isn't very much work, but we did a, a study with the help of jockeys Anderson and the amazing focus sharper open, where we worked out how much oxygen and how much energy you consumed flying a paraglider. And it was roughly the same as if you're driving a car. And the reason why, again, that's one of the things that retrospective you like, well, of course it is you just sit in the chair and pull to your strengths, but I'm always retired when I learned from a long flight.
So I think that wasn't a given, but actually that is the treatments. It's not that much effort to fly your paraglider. And I think that's how you can get up to that altitude. But when you're at the altitude, you have very little reserve, like the margins are slim and it's only the fact that flying the paraglide doesn't require much oxygen that allows you to do it, to look at that at its most extreme. The fact that Antoine's your ride managed to fly at 8,000 plus meters, I think is Testament to the fact that one is an amazing pilot until he's a math guy, but also he was a climatized and it didn't require much oxygen from him.
But then you're then not probably not thinking that straight you're quite cold, you're tired, you're exhilarated and you don't have much margin then land on the top of mumble. Then when it comes to take off again, as we all know, you've got to run faster at high altitude because the air is thin. So you need more speed to launch the wedding, but then suddenly you need a massive amount of oxygen because you're trying to run fast at just under 5,000 meters and then your body completely decompensates.
And I think that's why we saw what we saw. It's because these guys were on a climatized, they'd go ascended 3000 plus meters in a very short period of time. They got there simply because they weren't doing much. And then when suddenly they had to do stuff, the wheels fell off, everything fell apart. And I think that's what we saw. But the point of that story is that, does it stop people doing it? Absolutely know it's that it's their hobby and it's what they want to do.
And it takes an enormous amount of discipline to put the lessons that we learn about how to be a safe pilot into practice. And I don't underestimate what discipline is required.
Speaker 4 (1h 2m 44s): Hmm. And I wonder too, you know, you say about that. It's physically not very hard, which certainly is true. You're flying cross country, but you know, to your point of being really tired, I think the calorific needs resemble jogging for the same amount of time or even more from what I can remember, we had, we had somebody on the show that, that spoke about all of this, but your, your calorific needs, your glycogen needs from your brain burning so much energy are substantial.
So I wonder how much that plays a factor into that. I mean, I, Matt B share my neighbor and, you know, mentor really is always talks about it. Kind of like going into the alien world. You know, when you're, when you have a really long flight and this, this is different for different people, but you know, for him, it'd be like an eight plus hour flight kind of thing. You know, you land and you don't really feel the first time. I really noticed this. I'm jumping around here a bit, but the first, really big triangle I did out of fish and I made it back at, you know, 10 hours and 10 minutes after I took off back and fish.
And until my feet hit the ground, I felt like I was really with it. I was really on it. And I'm, I'm, you know, I'm, I'm having a good day and it was a really good day. And then I landed and I could barely stand up. I was a gong show. I couldn't talk, I couldn't really process. I was just like, I mean, I was, I was euphoric and I'd had this amazing flight, but you know, I hadn't been eating enough clearly. I hadn't been drinking enough. And this was when I was pretty new. I've I've learned how to help those things. Obviously mitigate a bunch of that.
But you know, you, you are burning a lot of juice.
Speaker 3 (1h 4m 31s): You absolutely are. And I mean, I love that feeling. I love that feeling of when you land and it's like, the earth is alien for a minute or two. I mean, my longest flights have been in beer and God, I love it when you do that, but you absolutely have to look after yourself. And what you talk about is, is true. You need to eat, you need to drink when you start to get into the real weeds of what's going on in terms of your brain function and your, you know, your caloric needs.
And we can delve into that if you want. Cause it's, it's, it's something that I'm very interested in, that there are nuances to it. But the bottom line is you just need to look after yourself. You need to eat, you need to drink and you need to fuel your mind and body, whether it's actually calories in the purest of sugar sense or whether it's some of the other chemicals in the brain again, used up, I think is a point for discussion.
Speaker 2 (1h 5m 28s): I've never even thought about that. So you might just be running out of dopamine or something. You might be running out of adrenaline.
Speaker 3 (1h 5m 34s): It might be a Denison, I think is this is, so this is kind of getting into the edge of my area of knowledge here, but like, cause the way the brain works is it's a great big bunch of nerves that are constantly moving potassium and sodium mines around. So that's how the brain works and thinking hard doesn't necessarily require much more movement to those things than is already going on. So it may not require more calories, but the efforts of flying and the efforts of being up there and having your heartbeat fast and the physical and environmental stress of flying paraglider certainly does one of the, one of the things that, and again, this is jumping around, but one of the things that we tried to do was simulate the paragliding flight environment.
And this was a classic example of me thinking something was a really good idea and getting way over my head, but I was helped by some really great people in doing so. So for the last few years I've been doing my research. I've been very fortunate to have signed on as a PhD student, a laboratory called extreme environments lab in Portsmouth. And they specialize primarily in cold water immersion. They're kind of a temperature lab. They do more hypoxia and other stuff. And the professor there, a guy called Mike tips and he's a remarkable guy.
And the other guys who worked there cleric then had the Mattie Jeff Long that these, these guys are masters at framing a question, you know? So I think, okay, well what happens to your brain when you fly? What question are you actually trying to ask? And so that was the question I came to them with. The question we ended up trying to test is if you went on a ramped flight, so if you flew over two hours to 3,658 meters and then came straight down, how well is your brain working?
Just pretty specific. And then we said, okay, well, if you add some environmental stresses, if you add codes and you add a headwind and you add the hypoxia that you would experience, then how is your brain working? And that was the question we tried to solve because I think when you fly into places you do in sun Valley or when you fly and you fly over mom blonde, like you're definitely not the full shilling, but I was kind of interested a bit more like if you fly, say Alpine announced what's happening there.
So we built the simulator and we got a pod harness and we got essentially a big fridge in a hypoxic chamber and a fan. And we simulated the headwinds as if you were flying, you know, 35 kilometers an hour. And we got people to do cognitive tests. We looked at these different aspects of brain function. And what I got from that result from that study was a great big model.
The reason why I've got a great big model from it was because we're all very different. So what, what physiologists would call into individual variability? There's a lot of it like, and when you look at cognitive function, particularly we really vary in how things like hypoxia and cold affect us, except in the broadest broadest sense. Some people get fit better with a little bit of hypoxia, a little bit of cold. Most people get a bit worse then because it's a simulator and it's really hard to do.
And it's really fluffy. We were able to test 20 people, 10 and tens controls, which isn't very many when you've got all that vulnerability. And then you say, okay, well I'm taking all these cognitive tests. If I, if my guy doesn't do so well on this puzzle, what does that mean when he's trying to say whether or not to land a mumble? Can I link the two? I don't know. I don't think you can very well. And then there's the last problem with simulating anything, which is, it's not scary in a simulator and the decisions you make in a simulator don't matter, you know, you lose the game, but you don't lose your life.
Speaker 2 (1h 10m 12s): That's a huge component. Yeah. I thought wasn't that? Yeah, of course.
Speaker 3 (1h 10m 16s): Exactly. So then you try and draw conclusions from this and it's really difficult. I think the only conclusion I could take from it is that when you're flying for a couple of hours at Alpine altitudes, you are not so grossly distorted that for example, you need oxygen, but I would be wary to make any broader conclusions from that.
And I really learned from that experiment and that's why in the reserve experiment. So then did, instead of 20 people, I had 55 in the first one in 88 and the next one, and we tried to answer a much simpler question. So that was as much my journey as a researcher, as anything else. But
Speaker 2 (1h 11m 8s): It's like, I mean, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like maybe the conclusion, the, the
Speaker 4 (1h 11m 15s): Hypoxia study mirror, in a sense, what we were talking about with knowing how you react. And my, my first real experience that I know of at least with hypoxia was many manuals is right after college. I was climbing down in the Andes in Bolivia and I don't know we were up 17 something. And that the day that we were trying to summit, there were three of us. And it was just really interesting. We all got hypoxic though at the time, I don't know if we knew what that was, but it was, it was really interesting to see the differences in the three of us.
You know, the, the, this girl we were with was just hysterical. She just became like a comedian. My buddy was like a tedious, turned into a little s**t. He was just down and p****d and irritable about everything. And I was just kinda like, happy go lucky. I was just kinda like, you know, kinda everything had better colors. It was almost like I was on something. And, and I've noticed this in. And I simply, my point is, I think you have to get kind of aware of how you deal with it.
And since then, and with all the flying I've done, even when I have oxygen, we just, we, we often spend a lot of time really high here. And especially this last month, I've had a lot of really tall flights and I I've gotten in a habit of trying to give myself, I'm not very good at math anyway, but I'll, I'll give myself like really basic math problems. As I start pushing up over 16 in a few of these flights, I haven't flown with oxygen more cause I hike and fly, whatever I've blown the forecast and I'm taller than I think I would have been.
And so most times just trying to save weight. And, and so I won't have the oxygen and I'll start doing these math problems and, you know, one plus one and two times two and easy stuff. But I started getting into the moderately difficult and I re like, why? And I, the point is I feel fine, but I'm not work. I'm clearly not operating very well. And it's, so it's just a, it's just a kind of a signal to me like, okay, you need more margin. You're kind of goofy. You're kind of silly if you were on the radio right now. I don't think anybody would understand you, even though in my mind, I feel like everything is totally fine.
Speaker 3 (1h 13m 31s): I think that's true. And obviously as you get more frostbit, and it's hard to do the mass problems as you lose the fingers. But I think that the bit that I think is important to separate there is this the kind of flying you're doing, like the really tall flight, when hypoxia is a problem, you should be flying with oxygen and you need to know, as you say, what, what they would call in aviation medicine, your hypoxic signature. So there's some great videos on YouTube of like where you, you see these super-competitive mega two American fighter pilots, you know, at 25,000 feet and the chamber embodies their training depressurizes and you see them just kind mashing these kids' toys together and giggling, which is, I mean, that's great to watch the, and you know, I actually discovered through myself that my hypoxic signature is very English, but the, the lower altitudes are the interesting ones though.
And that's why in the studies we did, we went up to 10,000 feet or 12,000 feet, sorry, 3,660 meters, because that, you know, as soon as you leave the ground, like your body starts to change. But I was kind of interested if in the paragliding environment, the unique mix of cold and hypoxia at these say, Alpine altitudes, what are our brains doing then? Are we impaired? And are we unable to make good decisions?
The answer is, I don't know, but I don't think so.
Speaker 4 (1h 15m 13s): Hmm. Interesting. That's that's super interesting before we totally leave this subject, you mentioned quite a while back that the three main things, the pilot air decisions in glider control, misjudgment and distance, passive state safety is the, is the, is not the most important factor. Can we dig a little bit more into those, especially misjudgment of distance. This is a new one for me.
Speaker 3 (1h 15m 38s): Yeah. No, with pleasure. And those are, I think, best approaches. Okay. I guess when you look at aviation as a whole, there's been some amazing work done by some guys called Wiedemann and Chappelle, and they've got this thing called the human factors analysis and classification system, each box. And it's actually really simple and it's well worth a look. And what they do is they have this big tree in which every era say a skill-based era, which has, you know, do you turn the glider left or right.
And you move your airliner where it needs to go. Is it the root of this enormous tree of different influences, but when they put all their findings together, initially for military aviation and then for commercial aviation and for general aviation, they found that it was well-meaning wrong decisions and an inability to adequately control the glider or the aircraft under the circumstances that led to the majority of accidents.
When I analyzed that in paragliding, it was exactly the same on a minor, on a more minor level. They have this category of perceptual errors and in commercial aviation terms, that might be, you know, how they read the instruments or how they read the landing lights. Really, the only relevant one for us was misjudgment of distance. So that would either be distanced on the cloud and which I always find really difficult.
Like I always think, Oh, I've got ages to go. And then suddenly it's all gone white or misjudgment of distance on landing. And those kinds of perceptual errors are a minor component of what happens to us. There are ways to make it easier, as we all know, you know, fixing a point or fixing a landmark or a time returns turns at least things, but that's still a minor part. The bit that really matters are the decisions we make and how we control the glider. And so the passive safety is not the most important factor I think is, you know, you talk to pilots and, and the same that you buy a new glider and you spend ages like, you know, you look at Dustin, the universe, you look at the reviews.
You're like, it's got this new Ian testing and the gliders are undoubtedly becoming more and more safe if you do nothing. But I think the problem is, is we do stuff. We try and control that glider. We make bad decisions and we misjudged it. So I don't think passive safety well desirable, and it's great that it's still improving and you get presented performance with it. I don't think it's passive safety that keeps us safe. And Stefan Bernhardt on a recent podcast was talking about that.
I think he's like, you need to train active pilots. You don't need safe.
Speaker 2 (1h 18m 36s): Yeah. Alex, Alex Robey said the same thing. I mean, I think that, yeah, and that, and that, and the classifications are we've. We have, I've talked about that stuff to death. I mean, it's, you, you really very much go from, as Theo shows in his videos, you know, just hands up and it will recover too. It's a whole different animal and then that's not gonna work. And, you know, so it requires very different skills, but yeah, I think it's, I think, again, it's more important to know who we are and how we react than, you know, relying on something like passive safety, you know, what kind of pilot do you want to be?
Speaker 3 (1h 19m 16s): Absolutely. And like I say, the glider is not the problem. It's great that it's safe. It's us, that's the problem. We make the bad decisions. We do the areas. I think so. I mean, we, we want to keep flying. We don't want to beat ourselves with sticks like you. So the question is, is how do you, how do you then build constructively on knowing that you are the problem? And I think I'm a massive advocate of SIB or pilotage or whatever you want to call it by.
I think the way you find out the kind of pilot that you are, and I think the way you train reactions and the way you understand is you have to feel stuff. So I've been trying to do as much sip as possible. Cause I, I try, I try at least try to practice what I preach. And I think the bits that are really valuable, I've done a few courses and brilliant ones with jockey yet, and some brilliant ones with, with Marlin and flight. And I've messed about over various lakes and occasionally hard grounds and the bits that are really valuable and SIB, I think aren't the complicated stuff.
They're not stalls. You know, they're not spins, it's useful to be able to spend, to get rid of a crevasse, but understanding the power of a glider, understanding how to get out of auto rotation, understanding when you've not got control. Those are the things that I think you need to gain from it. And the huge skill of the SIV instructor. And that's why I think it has to be done so sensitively because it has to build confidence. The huge skill is getting you to understand these things without scaring the witness.
Speaker 2 (1h 21m 5s): Yeah. And that takes time and train
Speaker 3 (1h 21m 8s): It really doesn't and SIV where someone comes out scared is a completely pointless experience, right? That's gonna make somebody freeze more. I'm utterly convinced of that. But you know, I, I lost a friend last year who was a relatively new pilots and he died because he wasn't able to correct auto rotation. He was flying a glider, slang, a glider with passive safety, how to collapse, who ended or to rotation.
And he was fresh out of school, you know, had the, and he was someone who would have trained. He would have done SAP, you would have done pelletize. We haven't had the opportunity to do that. And that's what we come back to what we're saying about the beginning of training being far, far too short. I mean, it has to be an answer why it's the length it is, but we are vulnerable when we come out, we need to keep learning. And I'm really desperate for new pilots to do these courses in the right way and with the right instructor early and to learn how to come out of water rotation.
If my friend had been able to just pull the opposite brake hard enough and soon enough, I am convinced that he would still be alive.
Speaker 2 (1h 22m 22s): Yeah, of course. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And I mean, that's, that's one of the big subjects with this search and rescue that I was on for Kiwi. And he's still, you know, this, hopefully this information will change by the time this show goes up. But as of Sunday, the 5th of September, when you and I are talking, he's still vanished. So it's been two weeks in a day. You know, there was just very little clues other than, you know, his last pain was at 14,500 feet and then everything just went dark.
So no radio, no inReach, no more, no more tracking, obviously no SOS, no, no messages. And so, you know, you start when you, when you really, really search, it was quite dense. So, you know, people can disappear
Speaker 4 (1h 23m 6s): In dense stuff as we see all the time and in the Alps and via, and you know, people go through the canopy and just vanish, but so that, that certainly could have happened, but you start to, you start to put together, okay, well, you know, what, what are the things that could have taken him down to the ground before a tent, you know, before the next ping, which was 10 minutes later, Hey, when you're that tall, you know, you're not, you're not really most likely you're not having a cascading event. You haven't thrown your reserve cause we would, you know, have a very good chance of, you know, one thing for your wing to disappear, but your reserve and your wing harder, you know, that's just more stuff that we can see from the sky, whether it be helicopters or fixed wings or drones, or just walking around.
We had a lot of people on this, on this search and still do. So, you know, the, the two most dangerous things are the most, you know, the most consequential for sure are being gift-wrapped, you know, not sorting out a reinflation after a big stall or something, you know, maybe have a frontal and it goes behind you and then not catching it. And you go into the wing. So you can't because basically we were operating on, okay. He didn't get his reserve out because this is a pilot who has thrown on reserve quite a bit. He knows they work.
We know that, you know, he was pretty risk averse and pretty smart. And so we believe he would have gotten as reserve add if we could have. And so the other one is the auto rotation. Cause often it can be pretty hard to get your reserve out when you've got that much. G-Force so, you know, the, the, the possibilities are obviously more than that, but those are the two that we came up with it. Okay. Those are the two things that are going to get you to the ground pretty quick, without a possible deployment.
Speaker 3 (1h 24m 48s): Well, first and foremost, I really hope that he is found and he is okay to emerge like guy under some with it. I, you know, I realize how difficult that must be. And I'm very grateful. I guess we'll put this out there. People that you guys who go out and search, I mean, there is a third factor and this is not just speak to what's happened to Kiwi. But one of the things we don't know about pilots is how many accidents, there's a result of what you call medical incapacitation.
So if someone flies very high that's the other consequence of hypoxia is it puts enormous strain on the heart. And so you don't know about people who have hypos or who have heart attacks, if you have other things in the air, because when, you know, if there is an accident as a result of it, it's very hard to work out what caused what. And again, that's not to sort of dwell on this, you know, in this instance, but I think that's another factor that's not considered it.
Doesn't say we need to, we'll have medicals, she'd go down some big legislative route with that.
Speaker 4 (1h 25m 55s): Well, and it was, you know, and it, it also kind of fits the bill where, where this one fell apart for us a little bit was just the 10 thing. But, you know, if you're, if he'd had a heart attack in the air, you know, and he wasn't really fit, so that's certainly possible. And he was in his fifties. So certainly possible, you know, that would explain one of the reasons that the inReach stop tracking, cause he might've bent over his instrument. So certainly, you know, we, you know, we explored those and that's certainly a possibility, you know, the problem then is usually, you know, an unmanned glider, you know, unless he, unless he had like a big spasm or something and buried one of the breaks, he probably would have flown for awhile.
You know, there was some wind and he was tall. And you know, I think again, the chances are maybe higher to find a person in that scenario than, than not, but that does explain the potential for the, the enrich stopped working. Cause you're, you're, you're over it,
Speaker 3 (1h 26m 55s): You know, like I say, a hundred percent hoping for the best. Yeah, yeah, no kidding.
Speaker 4 (1h 27m 2s): Well, we've got, we've got the team out there looking for them. It's been, you know, there's, there's always positives out of these and that's hard to say obviously right now, but you know, we, we learn a lot from each one of these. Unfortunately many of us have been involved in many and you know, there'll be, there'll be great learning from this as there has been in all of them, but it's also, it's just, it's real heartening, I guess. I'm not sure that's the right word, but to just see our community in action, it's unbelievable.
You know, he, he, he disappeared on Saturday and by Monday morning, you know, we had just teams around the world and it's, you know, there'll be, I'll do a big article on this and we'll do a podcast. I'm sure, just specifically about this incident, but you know, it was, it was incredible to just see the organization a that's required on something like this, just from the, you know, managing the telegram groups and managing the gear resources and managing the fundraising and you know, there's, so there's all of that.
I mean, I know there's a lot of frustration in our community for people that couldn't be there looking for him, but it's been amazing to see, you know, there's so much that people can do. You know, we've had people working on this all over the world and it's been in there and it's been invaluable and it's not just, it's not just for them. That makes them feel better that they're helping, but it's actually stuff that we really need on the ground, you know, studying satellite imagery and contacting military. I mean, it's just, I guess when my point is, is that our community is way more resourceful than almost any search and rescue team.
And we, we have, we have people from so many different backgrounds that can pull in crazy resources, whether that's Google or satellites or tech, or, you know, like I said, fundraising, I mean, that's one of the main aspects of going to look for somebody is having the money to do so.
Speaker 2 (1h 29m 3s): Yeah, it was, it was, it was, you know, it's tragic and I do hope we find him and I hope he's sitting by a spring somewhere, but it's, it's also, it was, makes me feel better about us as a community for sure. Because it's been really, it's been really neat to see how everybody pulls together. It makes it happen.
Speaker 3 (1h 29m 23s): Definitely. I mean, there's been a lot of times over the last few years when I've been very glad to be a paraglider pilot and you know, you see things like that. So I think it was a Spanish choppy who went missing in beer, who fortunately turned up, you know, the efforts and fundraising that went into him. And, and even as I said, when I lost my friend, like there, I am fortunate to be part of a fantastic local group of pilots in Scotland. And they were amazing. They rallied round and I went flying 10 days later, the police had impounded my glider.
I mean, you know, got enough our friends, but you know, when something really tragic happens, what you tend to do is you tend to like pick some other random things to get really p****d off about. So I decided that the Hill upon which I would make my stand was the fact that the, the police had impounded my glider. Cause they couldn't tell the difference between the one that belonged to my friend. Who'd had an accident.
And the one that belonged to me despite the fact that my one had my name on it, didn't have any of the lines, God wasn't covered in blood. But when I was able to get my glider back, I went flying with my friends from the local club and they, it was just, it was, it was quite a moving experience to be back in the air again, but also just the supportive as those around you to getting back in the air, it was a really moving thing,
Speaker 2 (1h 31m 2s): Your friend and it's, it's UN unfortunately, I mean, that's why we talk about it so much on the podcast and going up to launch and everything else is just a part of our sport and it's just, it's going to keep happening. But hopefully we can, you know, through your studies and, you know, looking into all these reasons that happens, we can make it less and less. I don't think we'll ever get to zero obviously, but we can, we can help. And I appreciate that. But so before we're going to move on to SAV, some more thoughts there.
I forgot to ask you the final question about hypoxia. Are we doing damage to our cells? I mean, is it like mountaineers that spend time at death zone for too much time? Is it is part of the reason we should fly with oxygen just because we want to save our brains.
Speaker 3 (1h 31m 52s): I don't think we're doing that much damage for the short periods of time that were up there. There's been some really interesting studies, as you say, very high altitude mountaineers. And also speaking to someone who spent three months living it just under 5,000 meters and Nepal, Laurel steep mountain is that you can, you can get changes in the white matter of your brain on MRI scan, after spending long periods of time altitude. I think the bit where we might damage ourselves as cold. So one of the things that came out of that simulator study is just how cold our hands get.
We were kind of simulating new K style conditions. And when I was trialing the simulator, I was like, Oh yeah, just kind of feels like how it is flying at home. But I had temperature sentences on my skin because the university said we had to as part of the kind of ethics thing, and we were measuring skin temperatures that breach the university ethics guidelines, which was something of a word. And it made me think that it's not a huge thing, but, but we're quite vulnerable to something called non freezing cold injury, which is when you get frostbite, the tissue freezes, when you get a non freezing cold injury, it gets to between North and about six degrees.
And so it doesn't freeze, but you get changes in the nerves and the blood vessels of your fingers. And it means that the fingers become much more vulnerable to cold each time they then get re-exposed. So, you know, I guess anyone who was a kayak got really cold hands is then when they go into the outdoors, they often get this kind of white fingers and they get screaming bar fees. When they come back to you, it's becoming more and more recognized, but mostly in the military context where this has been well studied, but, and the outdoor industry as well.
If you keep getting really cold hands, you can end up with pain and you can end up with loss of sensation or altered and annoying sensation in your fingers. And when you talk to mountain guys and others, this is a bit of a part of life for them. But I think it's something that we can avoid as paraglider pilots. And we should avoid, because I think we are probably damaging ourselves a little bit. And you know, a lot of these people are focused into your podcast, you know, very hardcore outdoors people, but just the basics, keeping your core, warm, investing in a decent pair of gloves, but letting your hands down when it's safe to do so and letting the blood flow come back to them, don't let your hands get to that stage where they are ice cold, where you can't feel your fingers, where you get to screaming Barclays when they come back to you.
Because actually even that is a distraction. It's something that's going to mentally distract you from your flying. So irrespective of whatever damage you're doing, having very cold hands is going to pay your flight performance, but just pay, pay attention to your fingers. I would say, yeah,
Speaker 4 (1h 34m 47s): I can speak to this. Personally recently, this spring, I had a solo flight out of here and it wasn't a particularly tall day, you know, 13, 14, and still tall, I guess, for the Alps for here. Not so, but in spring, it's just, it's brutal. It's so cold. And I have tried everything that he had gloves on the whole deal. And I, I was really well-dressed and I had the heated gloves, which in my opinion, just don't work. And what I didn't have were the, you know, the kind of pokies that you're seeing, a lot of the Himalayan pilots use, which are now the way I have solved this, but I didn't have them that day.
You know, cities like the down warms the, you know, the, like the,
Speaker 3 (1h 35m 29s): The down sleep things, the wins, right as well.
Speaker 4 (1h 35m 33s): Do you have to think about the all aspects of that when it comes to reserves and flying on your B's and just mobility with your hands. But I just about a month ago, I got my middle finger back and, and not fully still, but you know, basically all summer, I couldn't feel down to the second knuckle at all, which for a writer make, makes typing really tricky. But yeah, I, I had never, I had never, they'd never gotten that bad.
I had always treated it as just, you know, like the screaming bar fees, but I am, I'm noticing it now, whether it's part of that's age or not, I don't know, but that it, they just seem to keep getting worse. And in other words, the damage has been done and I've gotta be way more vigilant about keeping them warm than I used to. They just seem to get colder faster.
Speaker 3 (1h 36m 28s): They do. And that's it. That is exactly what's going on. And it's not aging, particularly. It's, re-exposure, it's just that constant getting a cold we'll meet up again, getting it quarterly and up again. So as with all of these things, it's never too late and actually just really working hard to prevent those hands, getting cold is how you're going to stop it, getting worse. I think it's really difficult because the position we fly in as paragliders, it's like guaranteed cold that you've got the, your hands are high.
So the blood's got to overcome a gradient to get to your fingers. The warm bloods that kind of comes from your core goes under your armpits and then Ron posterior elbow, and then to the front of your wrists. So if you think about the position we have in the brake lines, all of that is exposed to the ass load. So that's going to get cold. And then what happens is when your hands are up for a while in the brake lines, the muscles particularly of biceps get cold and they start acting like heat sinks. So the warm blood that's coming from your core then passes by this cold muscle has to overcome this gradient gets colder and colder and colder eventually makes it your fingers and your fingers, a loop around the brake line.
So the it pools there. So if he wants to design a system to get cold, Hatton's, it's paragliding,
Speaker 4 (1h 37m 46s): It's perfect, perfectly designed for breezing your hands, Matt, I want to be mindful of your time. I know it's getting late a year end of the world. We're an hour and a half in and feel like we could go for several more hours. So we might have to, I mean, I didn't have to do a part two of this, but what in your list here, do you feel like we need to tag? I know I want to end on your refinement of accidents and trauma and what we should be carrying with us, which we did. We, we talked about pretty extensively in your first show and everybody listening, you need to go back and check that out and you know, what, what belongs in our first kid?
I know you've refined that. So I want to end with that, but what, what haven't we hit here that you want to before we move to that?
Speaker 3 (1h 38m 27s): So, I mean, there's a couple of short things that would be nice to mention. The first is I've been learning a lot more about G-forces lately, partly by screwing up a bunch of times, but also through the reserve parachute studies that I've just done G-Force is a really interesting, because your GI tolerance changes and you wouldn't think it cause you think it would just really be the gap between your heart and your neck and how fast you were going round and round. But I don't know if you've tried this, but when I start the season, you know, I start doing spiral dives and I'll start to get that kind of gray out thing.
And these really not very deep spiral dives, you know, four, six meters per second. And then by the end of the season, you can confidently hit 60 down without any problems. And it really hit home to me that your ability to tolerate G-Force changes it's affected by how cold you are, whether you're hydrated, whether you've had some D drink. Yeah. Another good reason, certainly if you're hypoxic or if you've got any illnesses and also just how often you've been flying, that's gonna change your tolerance to G and I think one of the things for people who do long flights is be aware that your tolerance to G can drop through that flight as you become tired.
And as you perhaps eat last, you know, you're not drinking cups as much as you should, as you become a bit colder, all of these things are gonna drop your GI tolerance. And I think that can sometimes catch people by surprise, even for those who aren't doing kind of big, big lights or big spirals, it's worth just having a little look at some of the ways you can trade your GI tolerance. You know, there are, there are maneuvers that pilots do these kind of straining maneuvers, where you like attend to your abdomen and like, imagine that you're trying to have a big s**t or you're, you know, you're really trying to kind of breed out against resistance.
If you look for it's called the G straining maneuver, then you'll see loads of examples and information to you about on the internet, but just learning something like that is really helpful and it can massively increase your tolerance. So if you do find somebody have a long flight, you need to do a big spiral. Diet's worth knowing how to do these things beforehand. So it's just a quick mention of Jean and the other, the other bit that I kind of wanted to mention where some of the reserve parachute stuff that we've been doing. So I I've done two experiments with reserve parachutes, one where we sent 55 people down his airplane.
And we said, as soon as you feels like going down zip line, try and check your reserve parachute as fast as you can. We stress people out a little bit. We gave them tasks. So before they were sent down the zip line, we had them look at two led lights and try and match what those lights were doing with our brake lines. That meant that I use, whereas if they were looking at what their wing, we then tried to get them to say every word they can beginning with the letter a, which was absolutely hilarious. It was mostly our community as speaking for the brisk crowd who needs it at least seems to be focused on odd box.
The antichrist on a**l. Those are the big hitters for that. People said, there's a lot. Then we sent people down the zip line and we found a bunch of stuff. And I think, like I said earlier, we have all these barriers to us through the reserve that we have barriers, like, you know, us trying to fix the wedding or us becoming task fixated or losing our street awareness. So when we actually decided to throw it, I mean, that thing is just got to come out.
And so the purpose of the studies that I was really doing, we're kind of working out some of the kind of barriers between human and reserve parachute to getting that parachute out. There's a video that I'm sure we can link to that. I made sharing the zip line studies. It's actually, it's really long. It's quite dry, which I apologize a little bit. Like it was hosted by the amazing Andre bundara, who wasn't dry, but it does look on the video. Like I've been locked in his basement for some time, but we kind of go into the findings and details there.
But there's some things that I would like people to know. The first is that you need to work out what direction your reserve parachute likes to be pulled out. If I can make one plea and manufacturer is people who set standards and I have been making these, please please design harnesses. Where is that price sheets come out in any direction? But if you look at some harnesses, some harnesses say you have to pull a partially out sideways laterally.
70% of people on the zip line pulled up woods. That's just what we humans do. They're like, you like to use the big muscles of your biceps and not my big muscles. Those are thick muscles like to use them, but you like to use these kind of core muscles and instinctively pull up was, and we saw people on those videos change. Their grip to pull up was even harder. Even though there was a parachute was stuck. So work out what direction your parachute likes to come out in. If it likes to come out sideways practice, practice, practice, you are the person who needs to be, you know, hanging up from the pull up bar with a cushion, repeating that action over and over again, and then partition your harness, manufacture it and make your parachute come out in any direction.
When you say
Speaker 4 (1h 44m 4s): Sideways, do you mean? So you're like, let's just all together right now. We're facing forward. We're in our pod. We reached down. You mean sideways, like doing a shoulder, raise out to your side. Yes. Geez. That's hard. That's not where most of us, aren't very strong in that position.
Speaker 3 (1h 44m 21s): Yeah. It's not strong. It's not natural. And as a result, we don't do it. Like most of us told to do it. We just pull up with, which is what you want to do. But unfortunately, some harnesses are designed such that the parachute doesn't come out very easily. If you do that. And that is, that is an example of a gear fail. Like that's where the gear needs to be better. Like any direction you pull it, it needs to come up.
Speaker 4 (1h 44m 44s): Here's another, sorry to throw this in. But here's another gear failure that I just learned on this search and rescue. We do not, we should not be making wings that blend in with our environment. You know, I'm over the white and blue wings that they don't. I mean, we should all be flying red or orange gliders unless we're flying in the Wyoming red desert, then you need something else. But think about this. There are things, you know, you, your rescue teams need to have orange shirts on.
I mean, it's just, then you can spot everybody. You know, if we wear colors that blend in and fly wings that blend in, think about that if you go in.
Speaker 3 (1h 45m 26s): Yeah, absolutely. And so Stefan who you had on your podcast, who's a fantastic guy. As you know, he is all, you know, he is all that is man. And I was flying with him in Columbia and he was flying a black glider and a black harness. And you just see this thing, this black ends come up behind you and you hear through the radio contact for ship.
But yeah, you're quite right. Some of the other things that I, it would be great people to check is we found that the harnesses, you know, the harnesses that have an integrated deployment, the deployment by comes with the harness, not, not with the reserve, those went back generally speaking, but for the ones where you have to attach a handle, check how long the strap, the bit that connects the handle to the reserve bag, it needs to be long enough that, you know, when you pull the handle, it doesn't rotate the deployment bag or political the pens, or at least cause that's not going to come out at all, but it needs to be short enough that the bag is well clear of the harness before your arm is fully extended.
And if you look at the videos show, example of this, but we, we had quite a number of smaller pilots, shorter pilots, female pilots, who they would pull their reserve handle. And this strop was so long that the reserve was just still be in the harness when the arms fully extended. So that's definitely something to check again, hang it up, have a goat. But those are the things
Speaker 2 (1h 47m 10s): Matt, doesn't that resolve itself when you throw it?
Speaker 3 (1h 47m 13s): Well, it's really hard to throw if your arm is like fully out as if at the end of your throat and the bag is still in the harness.
Speaker 2 (1h 47m 22s): Hmm. Okay. Cause whenever, whenever I've thrown, I always do this kind of double motion thing. I rip it forward, like up near my head and then I Huck it back.
Speaker 3 (1h 47m 32s): Yeah. That's an interesting one of itself. We found some problems with that. So I was taught the same. I was taught kind of do a two thing, you know, get it out and then throw it backwards. The problem is, is that the bag has obviously its own inertia and there's a slight delay between your hand and it, and so we saw a couple of examples of the most memorable one, which I showed in the video is where the bag comes out on reps around the gut, the strap wraps around the guy's wrist because it's also locked.
And then he's able to, through the bridal wraps around the guy's rest and then he throws the reserve. So actually if that reserve had come out, it would have just pulled his shoulder out. Oh God, I know. So that's the disadvantage of the double. So I kind of came away thinking that people should just throw in a single sweep that you should locate the handle and just Chuck the whole thing backwards. So what people will then say, and this is another interesting thing is, well actually if you Chuck it backwards, isn't it going to tangle?
And the, the big problem is, you know, as you can throw your reserve and then it can get stuck in the main way. And if you're in a kind of auto rotation or such that configuration, that's when it's most likely to get munched. And I was chatting to a guy called Gabe the other day is quite a remarkable book. If you look at party till impact is his Instagram, but he's a man who set his reserve parachutes on fire, who does all sorts of crazy things. And he's like, well, the thing you need to do is you need to Chuck the reserve parachute down between your legs, because then it's least likely to end up in your parachute.
And when the DHV did some studies, they've got some mathematicians to work out. What's the best direction to Chuck your reserve parachute. And they should always, should always Chuck it towards your feet. The problem with this advice is that one, it relies on that kind of two-stage motion, which I don't think works very well. Secondly, it relies on people having the kind of wet to do that. And my other place is don't overcomplicate the process unless you are a test pilot, unless you are an ACRA pilot.
And I see someone who's super used to checking their reserve, please just throw it. Don't waste too much time and effort thinking I should throw it in this direction or that direction, or it might get much just get the thing out and then fix any problems that might arise. That would be my advice. And particularly for people training pilots, I would strongly advise them to just train, find the handle, Chuck, the thing away. That's what matters.
Speaker 4 (1h 50m 20s): This, this sounds like this is going to go against this. You tell me what you found. One of the things I learned from Cody and all the accurate training I've done with him and you know, he's doing the infinite and stuff. I mean, he's way beyond my level, but I, I promised not him, but one of his students recently about a week ago is, has been learning the heli for the last couple of years and wanted me to reemphasize this on the podcast. Cause it's something I've talked about quite a bit. Cause I, I feel like it's really important, but before you throw whether it's left or right, or, you know, if you've got two systems or one to bury your brakes, you know, to grab, you know, before you just let go of your right brake to go with your right hand to reserve, just put them in both hand.
And you know, ideally you're in like a nice deep tail slide here. You're not holding it in like deep stall, which is a really, you know, configuration that can go haywire really fast. But, but it tail side super easy, just bury the brakes. And I mean it worse you're in a, in a stall ball, which is also fine. But the point is is if what happens to a lot of people is they're way too hands on. And so they, they, they, in other words, they haven't relied enough on the passive safety.
They put, put their hands up, it's going to solve most of the problems. A lot of people don't, they feel like their hands are up and they're just waving all over the place with their arms. And so that puts them into the cascade and then they go to throw and the wing is finally given an opportunity to get back under control, which it does when you go to throw and then you end up in the wing, you ended up getting gift wrapped. So this keeps the wing in a stable configuration where it's not going to restart. And I think that's especially important if you're low, you know, if you allow your wing to restart and your low, then you've got the whole pendulum thing happening instead of just, if you just kept it in a, in a pretty stable, deep stall or a tail slide, you're probably gonna walk away.
That's basically like coming down under a very small reserve.
Speaker 3 (1h 52m 26s): I'm not sure. I agree with that. One reason. Why is, yeah, it's just too complicated. I think if you're the sort of person who has the skills and presence of mind to be like, Oh, I need to remind you, I'm going to put myself in a really deep tailslide then, you know, you might not have found yourself in that situation in the first place. I think the reason I think if you have the skills and presence of mind and experience to really control the reserve throat, then, then there are definitely configurations that going to be favorable to you.
Exactly like you just described. But what I've seen from my studies, 55 pilots and zip line, and then 88 pilots, you know, going round and round for GT. What I've seen that is people don't have that capacity. Like they, you know, even just trying to get people to do his task, as simple as saying words while moving their brake lines, most people can only do one or the other. They can't do both at the same time.
And seeing people trying to fail to problem solved, seeing people scrabbling around for handles all these things. A lot of times people some would leave their hands in the brakes when they grabbed the handles, some would let them go completely. Others would grab the rises. People do all sorts of funky stuff. I think it's unrealistic to tell people to do anything other than just throw it, just throw it. That would, that would be my view. Again, as you train more and you become more experienced the time slow is, as you say, you can do more.
You can put yourself in a better position, but I think for most people, rather than thinking, I've got to be the breakthrough. We'll do that. Just get the thing out, just Chuck it.
Speaker 2 (1h 54m 13s): Okay. Great. Anything else on the reserve stuff before we move on
Speaker 3 (1h 54m 21s): Very small one, just if you are a front mounted reserve person, make sure that it's secured at the base because what tends to happen with the front mounts as you grab the handle, you pull the handle up and the reserve pod comes with you. Like you said, if it's not secured at the base, it's just secured. The Caribbean is then it's really mobile and you get a much less effective.
Speaker 2 (1h 54m 43s): I want to make sure that everybody understands what you're talking about. Describe secured at the base.
Speaker 3 (1h 54m 49s): Sure. So imagine you've got a front reserve that's secured from two leaks at the top of it to your carabiner. So it's kind of dangling there and it can be up and down. And imagine if you then put your hand on the handle of that reserve and you just very gently lifted the handle. You'd be able to move the whole reserve pod with you. It would come up. So what you need to do is have some other point at which it's secured. So be it that it gets secured to a leg strap or something else.
So when you then pull the handle, the reserve pod doesn't move, it stays where it is. So you pull the handle and the parachute comes with you.
Speaker 2 (1h 55m 29s): And is this something in your video?
Speaker 3 (1h 55m 32s): Yes. Okay. Yeah. It's really clear. We've got some examples of that
Speaker 2 (1h 55m 36s): Hard time visualizing that.
Speaker 3 (1h 55m 39s): Yeah, no for sure. And it's yeah, it's definitely not something it's definitely easier to see, even describe. And again, apologies for the, the, the next study that we've done. We then took the lessons we learned from that zip line. And we went to in Germany, which is an amazing place. And we had 88 pilots, super welling, 45 went backwards at three 43, went forwards at 4g as if they were in a spiral dive.
And they chucked there is a parachutes and we've got a video coming out of the conclusions from that scene, but they are broadly similar. The only bit that I would add to it from that experiment is if you are someone who flies very varied gear, you have the kind of person who needs to practice and practice and practice. When they're in the air, locating their reserve handle. We saw lots of people who had, for example, a front Mount reserved go to the hip because presumably that's what they used to or vice versa.
I would really love it if reserve parachutes locations, where standardized on all harnesses, we saw
Speaker 4 (1h 56m 54s): This comes back to that kind of just training your brain to do it over and over and over again. Cause I, I have been caught out by this in an actual situation, throwing my reserved, just totally forgetting that I had to cause I'd been using my ex ops gear and then suddenly I was done with my acro kit and you know, it didn't occur to me till five seconds after the first faulty deployment that I had a second reserve.
Speaker 3 (1h 57m 19s): Yeah, exactly. And it's amazing how your options narrow when you're under stress. So I would love to see partially handles or be put on the hip because when we did our study, we saw that the majority of pilots that's the first place they look. And I think because it's, maybe it's where your pockets are, or maybe you just orientate yourself by where the bones of your skeleton are, but that's where people's hands went. First. There are technical difficulties in doing that, relating to the back protection. And also to that, that strap like how you have something that's not too long that will understand your hip, but it is doable.
And again, my cleats manufacturers, I would love to see reserve parachute handles all in the same place. And the other thing is if you're moving around, because you're being thrown around the place, your hip tends to stay in roughly the same place compared to say your thighs, because they're, they're going to wiggle around more. So I would really love it if all handles, you put that that's my plea. Yeah.
Speaker 4 (1h 58m 12s): Yeah. And again, I mean, again, this comes down to training though. I, you know, like, like Theo, I mean he probably throws reserve more than anybody and he, this is something he does every single time. He talks about it every single time he launches and he does the movement, both sides does it, does it, does it, you know, it's just, it's something we have to make a habit of when it comes to safety, because there are a lot of situations where you can't see it,
Speaker 3 (1h 58m 37s): Devin and people don't look. I mean, that was what we discovered our experiments. People just don't don't look, they what they do. And it's really, it's almost universal. They turn their head in the slight direction of where the reserve is, but they don't look at it. They don't look for the handle, they feel for the handle. And it's only when they can't find it and we're talking seconds that they will actually look and try and see it. So that's one of the reasons why, yeah, it's really striking because people like to look in the direction that they're going, especially when they're stressed out.
So people just don't look. And so what I get concerned about is this bit of a trend for these like really thin, like strimmer wire handles on some harnesses that are really flushed with the harness that we're going to really flat against it. I'd really like to see. Yeah. I'd really like to see handles that are prominent, such that you can Incircle your hand around it. Cause people will say it's really notable. People like to get a grip on it. Even if they've got their thumb through it, they still don't like to throw until they feel like they've got a grip on the handle.
Obviously, if you have the handles, like supermassive, it's going to catch on stuff, but there's a compromise. And I think the compromise, isn't a very thin, hard to feel in gloves handle. It's flush against the heart.
Speaker 2 (1h 59m 56s): Actually, one of the reasons, I mean, I know we shouldn't be talking about manufacturers specifically, but that's actually one of the reasons I stopped flying the XR seven. I didn't feel confident that I could, you know, that's not where I need to shave a quarter of a percent of aerodynamics. You know that that's not where you, I mean, I don't know. There's there's we, we take, we take our glides and performance a little too far sometimes. And I think that that's one of them. I totally agree. And that, that thing's almost invisible and very hard to feel.
Speaker 3 (2h 0m 28s): I mean, I've had some great discussions with manufacturers. A lot of brands have been really engaged with what we've been doing. So I definitely don't want to knock your manufacturers and they have a lot of different priorities and the ultimately they are companies, people need to buy the harness and the things that people care about when they're buying the harness is by and large weight and aerodynamics. And so they know the reserve parachutes and tends to come quite far down people's shopping list. But as you say, I don't think those are the places to get your extra 0.00, zero, zero one point of glaze.
Right. It's by the driver of the handle. I agree with you.
Speaker 2 (2h 1m 8s): Okay. Should we transition to your updated drama kit?
Speaker 3 (2h 1m 13s): Yeah, for sure. So in terms of the first aid stuff, I really appreciate it. How many people listen to the last podcast that we did on that? And also how many bands got in touch with me and had some really good discussions with lots of your listeners about some of the stuff that we talked about since, since we did that, cause actually three years ago, since we did that, I've kind of refined a bit. What I think is important. So I've kind of distilled the things that people need to know about, I think, and this is dealing with major paragliding crashes, not the little stuff.
I think people need to think about how to work together as a team. They need to know how to manage the airway. They need to know how to locate and control external bleeding. They need to know how to bind somebody's pelvis and they need to know how to protect someone from the environment. And I think those are the key topics. I cover all this in the podcast that we did before. And I've written some various things cross country and I'll try and put stuff on the website that I have that as lead Christiana to date.
But those are the things that if you like, what do I need to know to treat a paragliding accident? Those are some of the things you need to know. And anybody of any experience, there are always things you can do under each of those headings to make things better.
Speaker 4 (2h 2m 38s): I will. So we'll, we'll put all that stuff that you just mentioned in the show notes. And I promised earlier in the show, I will be writing an article also in cross country about this search and rescue. We just wait. It actually is ongoing right now for Kiwi, but, and what we've learned from that, but I also want to implore all of you who are listening to, you know, when we get done with this show and after this, you know, this other information comes out, go do it, like go make the kit and put it in your bag and make sure that your community, your club, whoever it is, make sure everybody on your team that you could potentially have an incident with.
We all know each other's resources. This is something that's so important. You don't want to be doing that on the fly. You know, when Ben broke his back in Nevada, a couple of years ago, it was crushing to learn after he'd gotten in the helicopter and taken him away. Cause when the ER guys showed up in Nevada, that it's not legal for them to carry any painkillers, they don't carry any opiates. And you know, so my best friend lied in the dirt for three hours in excruciating pain, not from his back, but from a shoulder that was out that we could have done something about had we had painkillers.
And we learned after he got helicopter in a way that we had a really good first aid kit in the truck that was about a hundred meters away, but that hadn't been, you know, that wasn't something we knew. We didn't know it was under the seat and, and my own, you know, my own kid in my own gear was too far away. So, you know, these are little things that really help your victim just knowing what resources, you know, you've got, does everybody have their maps share page? Does everybody have the downloads to their inReach, that particular area, if you're not in cell?
I mean, so there's a million things here. I'm not going to go into them right now, but you know, if, if we just share what we, what resources we have before an incident, it can really help the scene.
Speaker 3 (2h 4m 53s): Absolutely. And I think we talked about this in the last podcast, but communication is 90% of everything you do in the kind of rescue arena, communication and logistics. So yeah, knowing what you have, knowing where you are and knowing how to get help knowing about your casualty, if it's not someone you've met before, all of these things matter,
Speaker 4 (2h 5m 13s): It's, you know, kind of like the, the reserve thing, you know, if you're trying to learn all that in an actual scene, you're wow, it's frustrating and it's way too late, you know, it's just so nice to know how to use that stuff in advance. And that's, you know, that's what we can learn from people like you who are professionals and paramedics and stuff, is that, you know, you don't go fight a fire without any training. You got to do that stuff over and over and over again and make the mistakes. So you don't make them in an actual situation. I mean, there's still always going to be mistakes, but we can make a lot less and have a lot less trauma and suffering for our victims if we're, if we're honest,
Speaker 3 (2h 5m 52s): Definitely. And I think, you know, knowing what's in your first aid kit and how to use it, it's pretty important. Cause actually if you buy a first aid kits kind of off the shelf, then they're there, wasn't built as a relatively pointless and paragliding irrelevant stuff. I do want to say like, you know, I really recognize when I do all the safety stuff that people go flying for fun, you don't go flying in anticipation of having an accident. Usually when you go flying, thank God that aren't accidents. So I do sort of keep all of this in perspective, but there are certain basic things that you can do to keep you and your friends safe.
And they're the things that you're talking about. They're being organized, knowing what you have doing a bit of first aid training, carrying basic kit. So again, the key is the least important part. Like the most important part is your knowledge, your skills, and your ability to communicate with the people around you and the rescue services and just flying a sensitivity. As you can, given everything that we've talked about, the environmental limits and your own personal ones in terms of the specifics of what should be in a kit, I've kind of honed it down quite a lot.
The things that I think are important are pen and paper, some ability to write down what's happened to go with the casualty pair of gloves, sterile gloves, a really decent bondage. So, and by that, I mean a trauma bandage or what's called a battlefield dressing. So that's something that's got a big thick pad on it and a kind of elasticated bandage attached. And that's something that allows you apply continuous direct pressure, which is the best way to stop external bleeding.
And then that's actually the barest minimum. I would say then if you want to improve on things a little bit, you can start to add things like tape, a flexible splint. So like a Sam style splint, you can add some basic analgesia. So paracetamal acetaminophen as you guys would call it and you can add things like try and get a bandages to support shoulders. You can have things like Hema started goals, which are, you know, kind of ways that again, ways of stopping bleeding, you can add all these things, but bleeding is what kills paraglider pilots, knowing how to stop bleeding, how to find bleeding, stop bleeding, and find somebody's pelvis, which is the way of stopping it.
Internal bleeding is the minimum of knowledge I would say.
Speaker 2 (2h 8m 27s): Great. Matt is always such a pleasure. Thank you so much for everything you're doing for the community. And also just people in general at the hospital there and this trying time. And thanks for sharing your knowledge. It's just, it's fantastic. It's one of the I'm loving what's happening in the community these days with just expanding our knowledge. And you're a big piece of that, a chess board. So thanks very much.
Speaker 3 (2h 8m 54s): Thanks Kevin. Thanks. Tell me about, and it goes without saying that everything that I do, all of this research stuff is actually a massive team effort, that there are huge numbers of people who've been involved in all of these studies, not just the participants in the studies, but so many people from my home club, from the university to which I'm attached, you know, it's, it's a massive, massive team effort. So thank you to everybody who's involved and continues to be involved. And there's so much more to learn. That's why I'm excited about there's so much more to learn and so much more we can do,
Speaker 2 (2h 9m 25s): And a shout out to cross country for, for helping us out with, with putting these studies together and, and having our back and publishing all this. So thanks ed and the crew for helping us out.
Speaker 3 (2h 9m 36s): I mean, I've almost deliberately not listed people because there are so many who have helped, but yeah. Cross country has been absolutely stellar. So, and thank you, Kevin, for all that you do for the community. I love these podcasts and it's a real pleasure to be on it. I used to listen to them.
Speaker 2 (2h 9m 49s): I can't wait for the next one. Thanks, Matt. Appreciate it.
Speaker 6 (2h 9m 52s): All right. All right. My friend, thanks. Take care.
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