Episode 130- Instruments and chasing beauty with Koni Schafroth

Koni flying over a glacier in Switzerland

Koni Schafroth has been flying over 30 years, but you’re not going to find him chasing distance and trying to win XContest. Koni pursues free flight for the beauty and tapping into the incredible emotion that flying provides. Soaring over glaciers on a perfect day; midnight flights under the full moon; flying with friends; and coming home safely. Koni is a mechanical engineer and is the creator of the XCTracer varios, the most sophisticated and accurate variometers on the market today. In this episode we explore how best to set up your vario; FLarm use for safety and collision avoidance and buddy tracking; avoiding costly mistakes and a reminder to watch for complacency; 30 years of learning; how to think about risk and some fun stories. Enjoy!

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Show Notes:

  • Koni discusses the very beginning of the sport and some lucky near-misses
  • Yet another engineer takes to the sport
  • Chasing it…but not by kilometers
  • Why engineers love flying
  • How varios work and the difference between an accelerometer and a barometer
  • Should we not dampen our varios?
  • Improving your climbing
  • FLarm collision avoidance and buddy tracking
  • What vario is right for you?
  • Making cheap mistakes
  • Chrigel, everyone else, and risk
  • Don’t run out of luck

 

Mentioned in this episode: XCTracer, Tom DeDorlodot, Ferdy Van Shelven, Flytec, Alex Robé, Coupe Icare, Chrigel Maurer, XContest

 

The XCTracer Maxx



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Transcript

Speaker 0 (0s):

Speaker 1 (28s): Hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the cloud-based. Mayhem don't have any housekeeping for you this week, except to go boat. We're running out of time and he States deadlines for registration has already passed. So make sure you are registered to vote. If you're not sure or need some help voting, just go to patagonia.com forward slash elections, and they'll walk you right through it. So please do it. And this is a big one. My guest this week is Koni Schafroth. He is the brain child engineer and designer behind the XC tracer, Barrios, that whole family of variables, which are the most accurate and sophisticated Varios on the market.

Many, many people have now switched over to them and you'll find most of the ex ops athletes use them. I've been using them since my first race in 2015. These are just featherweight. Many, the Bluetooth ones are just solar powered. You never need to charge them. They just released their max, which is a fully independent. It has its own. Yeah, it has a screen. And so it's a very, you know, that gives you everything like the variable, but much more accurate.

We talk about, you know, the difference with what goes in to them and what makes them different from other Barrios. The main thing, being the accelerometers and different between that in a barometer. So talk a lot about various, but also how to climb better, how to find a cor and his amazing history he has been at this has been at flying for more than 30 years. And he's from Bern, Switzerland. So the Bernie's Overland and one of the most incredible places to fly in the world. This is the interlock and Uyghur valets part of the world, pretty amazing zoned flying in Switzerland.

And so we talk about how he flies and how he chases it. He doesn't chase kilometers, he chases beauty and flying over glaciers and midnight flights and his pursuit is pretty, pretty clean. And I liked that. So talk a little bit about dangerous risks and one accident he had along the way and what he learned from that. And just a really fun talk with a very interesting mechanical engineer, a yet another engineer who's taken strongly to the sport.

So without further delay, please enjoy this conversation with Koni shark.

Speaker 0 (2m 52s): great

Speaker 2 (3m 0s): To have you on the show. We've been having lots of emails over the years as the designer of the XC tracer, which everybody knows who listens to the show, knows a lot, a huge fan of, and we'll be using again. And my fourth, Xcel keeps coming up crazily enough and in June. So that was just announced. That was pretty exciting, but really funded to talk to you and talk Barrios and climbing. And you're quite considerable history. I didn't know, you've been flying for more than 30 years. How did you get into all this craziness?

Speaker 3 (3m 33s): I don't know. I'm, I'm a curious guy and they always have a lot of ideas and flying. I was interested in flying sense of a sense. I was a kid and when I was 16, I started learning to fly gliders and a wooden on a book on a plane on a K eight. And then I made my glider license. And after that, I went to Zurich and studied mechanical engineering. So flying was not that much a priority rather parting and all this stuff.

And then when I was a 22, just paragliding started and I had the opportunity to fly with a sore throat or a parachute. And that was the world. This can can be made different. And then do you know, my parent's was a guy who was making his own paragliders and it was called North sails. I think then, and then I contacted this guy and said, Hey, I can make a paraglider, which plays a much bigger than at what you have on the set. I don't believe, but you can try 10, I think the first one, and it was a really, really flying better than the gliders he had.

But to be honest, you also had a lot of luck that you didn't have the bad accident. It's really, you have to be the lucky, this is how it all started.

Speaker 2 (4m 52s): That was this back in the, in the eighties, I guess, late eighties, early nineties. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (4m 57s): Yeah. It was 80, 87, 88. Something like that. When you started,

Speaker 2 (5m 2s): How many cells did your first glider have? This always cracks me up. I think letters back in those days,

Speaker 3 (5m 9s): I think it was a brand around 20, 20, 20 and 21 sales. And that was the first gladly where you could fly or what the Lake of Toon, you know, you could fly from Nissan and cross the Lake and land on the other side of the Lake. This was really fantastic.

Speaker 2 (5m 24s): Wow. So what was that glide ratio? Is that like a four to one? Six to one really? Oh, wow. Yeah. So it was, it was a high performance glider for back then.

Speaker 3 (5m 35s): Well, I work on the fly now to do these days with

Speaker 2 (5m 39s): Right? How many people ended up in the Lake back then?

Speaker 3 (5m 47s): Only me once, because we had a, you know, we have the first day, it was my brother flying over to elect. That's not it, but that was not a problem. Then we had a smaller blader and that the most of the companies that, Oh, we want to know the smaller players. You can make it to. And then I took over from Nissan and that was the era where you didn't have the flight Instruments you had no idea, but if you do, you just want to flying. And then I had the impression, well, a glide ratio, it's not so good. That will not make it a bit because there's to much headwind. The guy said, no, no, no, no, no, no. You're far off the mountain.

It works. What you didn't tell me. He was crossing the Lake with his motor boats to the other side of the Lake, just in case. So of course a much higher than the, the, the, the top of these. And then, and then in the end I landed in the boat. Nice. Which was, yeah, but that's easy. Just that there's no way that it was a Episode I think when we did it and that's easy, but then you have a stupid idea to have to have to you, you know, to, to, to tell me back to the, to the shop.

That was not a good idea.

Speaker 2 (6m 49s): Oh, you mean with the glider still up? So you landed and you kind of started accelerating a fantastic, yeah.

Speaker 3 (6m 54s): He started at the accelerating and then you can imagine the rest that's not good

Speaker 2 (6m 59s): In your, does your brother still fly?

Speaker 3 (7m 2s): Yes. With the T doesn't have that much of opportunity because you moved to the Netherlands, which has not so good for flying, but you can't fly it.

Speaker 2 (7m 10s): Yeah. I mean, my, my next guest is going to be Ferdie a, you know, van Shelvin, who is, he has done really well in. He took a, he took a by last year, he took some time off and he was hanging out with Tom to Darla dough during the race, just to see if he really missed it, which he did. So he's applied again. And he's, he's also, he'll be he'll is always one to beat. So he's going to be in the next show, but he's, he's from the Netherlands and he's doing pretty well flying in the mountains. So they must figure it out.

Speaker 3 (7m 38s): No, you can't, you can't fly. I actually was flying once in the Netherlands funny story. I went to visit my brother and then a year, at least to my, I suppose, wanted to, to, to, to, to go to the sea and to want to work. And then my brother, his wife made the proposition to go to, to walk in the dunes and the maybe for, I don't know, half an hour or so. And suddenly I see something red, just a short glimpse, something, read a period and disappeared a strange world as it. And then a few seconds later, it appears again, it was a ladder.

Then I said, okay, it might be fun too, to find it at the dunes. And then I couldn't convince my brother to fly with, to, to ask a guy that that can fly or uses you use a slider so that he didn't want to do anything. So I said, okay, tell me a safe home. And you can imagine there's, there's a, the Dutch expo, but experts did the guys that were not really sure how to fly on a, on a deal that comes to a guy who's 30 jeans with a little leather jacket. Looks a little bit, I dunno, not so fresh. I approached the first one that helped him kind of take your Glade.

And he looks at me and yeah, if you want to try, you can try. I'm sure he was convinced that they will not be able to take off, but the story was, it was not too difficult because there's the spot in Switzerland, wherever you often go Soaring in the winter. So it was quite used to it. And then I just, yet you inflate the glacier and flight deleter and then my brother pushed me to the, to the June and I was flying there back and forth and a, with a little, a bit of break, the gladiator was trying to, it was almost stalling and a little bit lower.

If I have the angle of attack, it was collapsing. So I flew, I flew for a few minutes, the debris, the interest that I flew for a few minutes, and then I landed set a goal with this slide. The police never fly, never fly again after the flight or something is wrong. And I asked him for his address because a thought, a thought, well, he maybe will be a good idea to send a link, to send him a, a, a mini cheap, a mini tool, because he was so nice to let me fly. And then a week later he sent me a mail saying, Oh, thank you very much for flying from the glider.

I had to drain it afterwards. It was really completely out of trim. You were right. It was a very dangerous to fly. I think it was 15 centimeters. The long, the longest deviation from a boot.

Speaker 2 (10m 1s): Yeah. That's a little out. Yeah. That's, what's fun. I've actually sold quite a few of my comp lighters to pilots in the Netherlands because they apparently, you know, it's, it's pretty windy and they, and it's in the sand. So they, you know, they're, they're, they get abused quite a bit. Cause you're, you're flying a lot in the sand and the dunes and, and so they just want gliders that are really fast, but they don't really care if they're old or, you know, the lines are bad as long as they're, you know, somewhat and trim and they're fast and they can do that.

Sounds like a perfect kind of waiting for their cause. You can just, you can fly on a little bit more wind. Is there a nice and fast and it sounds quite fun. I prefer snow. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Totally.

Speaker 3 (10m 47s): Yes. It's not a soft, if you make, if you make something wrong, if you can crash into snow, if you have a one meter of powder snow, nothing happens if you have sand or yeah.

Speaker 2 (10m 56s): Yeah, exactly. No, it's very, very forgiving. I think that's, that's a, Kriegel always talks about that. That's one of the ways he's gotten so good at dealing with a lot of winds just going out in the snow. Cause you can, you can mess up. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And that's that. So that's kind of your, your zone. That's where you fly, you live in Bern. Have you been to, are you from Bern originally or is that just the area you're from

Speaker 3 (11m 20s): No, I was a, I was born in born and then the family moved to, to just, this is the other one says I grew up in tune and then I went to Soaring for the fur for studying mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich and dynamics back to Berlin,

Speaker 2 (11m 37s): You had another engineer in flying. This is a topic that comes up a lot on the show. It seems that the sport really attracts your kinds, that you are an engineering type of mind, which I don't have a much more, much more by feel. But it's interesting that the number of mechanical engineers and the number of engineers in the sport.

Speaker 3 (12m 1s): Yeah. I think that normally engineers, so I'm not sure. Well, not, not so the emotional people and paragliding, so this is only about emotions in fact, and I think that's a good way to, to have good emotions. I think that's why it's very attractive for engineers or programmers or just kind of people.

Speaker 2 (12m 23s): Hmm. That's interesting. I hadn't heard that side of it before. So it allows you to tap into a part of your brain. That's not very natural to tap into

Speaker 3 (12m 32s): Think. So it might be interesting.

Speaker 2 (12m 36s): You told me before we started talking that your real passion for the sport and then now over 30 years, has it has never really been, or maybe it wasn't some point, but it certainly, isn't now kind of a kilometer crunching, which is for many people, eh, you know, they, they get into it and it's just amazing. And you know, the they're, they're blown away and then they get into this kind of endless search of bigger and bigger and bigger that doesn't, that doesn't drive you.

Speaker 3 (13m 3s): No, no, not at all. It's just, I like to Butte your fate and it can be short flight. You can be a long flight. They can be a flight at 4,000 meters flying over to the glacier, the glaciers, it can be midnight Soaring or abdomen, nights, whoring and deep snow, all the stuff we're going to solve for us for Soaring along the coast. It's just when it's a beautiful, when it's nice. That's what I like. I don't have to prove anything. So it don't have to count the kilometers or whatever it it's not mastered.

Speaker 2 (13m 34s): Is that been, are you, are you quite passionate about it? If you, if you kind of kept that passion for the sport since the beginning or just to kind of ebb and flow?

Speaker 3 (13m 43s): No, it's I think it's, it remained. It's just a, if a client go flying for, for two or three weeks, I get a little bit nervous. It's not that good. Thank you. You know it's. Yeah. But when I can fly it in a nutshell,

Speaker 2 (14m 1s): Huh? How has flying changed your life?

Speaker 3 (14m 7s): I think it, it makes it a bit unpredictable. And to sense, when you have an office job, you have an office job, you know, more or less what's going to happen. Then you go to paragliding. You never know what was going to happen. And I'm pretty sure that I look at the back of the money piece, but you never know that you're very, very, very, very dense up. If it's a long flight, it's short flight dates. If it, if you fly for, if you fly home, you never know. And this is the way it gives some kind of, of, of, of adventure, some kind of unpredictable unpredictability to, to, to daily life.

So it makes it more interesting. It's difficult. Explain. And maybe you get it on there.

Speaker 2 (14m 54s): Oh, that doesn't, that's not difficult at all. You explained it really well. And when you, when you plan your flying adventures, Oh, is it? Oh, it's a good day. I'll just go see what happens or do you have a, an objective

Speaker 3 (15m 12s): Depends a few times and a few times a year where I go, go to fish and then the objective is always to fly as far back to burn as possible. But the old until now it does not possible to do it completely. Yeah. Sometimes I have objectives. Sometimes I don't care about the, the antiquated. I don't care at all that just fly. And very often they go to testing. So meaning if it's not, it's not, if its not for the fun of it, you go testing hardware and software.

So that's a completely different than sometimes you just have to stay in the air for three hours to see if it has to code is a relevant, reliable, consistent. So it's different.

Speaker 2 (15m 57s): And is your job now exclusively XC tracer or do you still have your day job and XC tracers on the side kind of thing.

Speaker 3 (16m 7s): You're right. You know, we actually chose to the consuming, consuming farm for far too much time. It's impossible to have a choice to besides the AC tracer.

Speaker 2 (16m 15s): Well, that's good though. So you can, you can pursue something that you're obviously really passionate about.

Speaker 3 (16m 22s): Yeah. That's fun, but it's really a lot of work and nobody imagines how much work it is. It's really, we try to make a product which is as reliable as possible and purchase as simple as possible. And this makes it so complicated. Sure. This is the, this is that this is the main problem.

Speaker 2 (16m 42s): Yeah. It's like Yvon Chouinard said the hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life.

Speaker 3 (16m 48s): Yeah. It's a little bit, a little bit of that. It's really, it's really a big effort. I'm the producer, the developed a robot's for example, for reproduction, you have now how many or six, I think you have a six different robots. So you use for production. You mean put together a two to three years. Wow. Well it's not a complicated robots, but you have to do, you have to develop them and nobody knows, and we don't yet you don't show them it's because you don't find a competition to know that you're doing, but the, its it's a lot of the stuff that, that the, the, the customer doesn't see.

So it's a really, it's really, really time consuming.

Speaker 2 (17m 29s): Yeah. I can't, I just, I can't even imagine how much it goes into the well let's well, okay. Let's rewind. Did the Genesis, how did you decide to even get into this project?

Speaker 3 (17m 44s): As I said, I'm curious and I like to make sports and a few years ago, breeze through, I wanted to go skiing and a better forecast was so bad and needed a desperate desperately needed to do something to do that. I stumbled upon the over an Arduino star to create, or do you know, some kind of a microprocessor, the simplest and microprocessor, a new environment. And ah, I bought such a nice, a starter kit. The antenna was tinkering and it first led blanking and then you have to fuel it.

LED's blinking. At least all of us that are not good for us at the time I was a working mom from 10 to 10, we still do on the watch a project. And after a few days I had to have to the, Oh, I could use it for making the measurement measuring measurement Instruments for, for my watch a project. And this is how it started. And I always said that Instruments the timeline. This is something that I didn't like, because it's not intuitive.

It's like when you're sitting in the car and then you are on the highway, then you know, you know, the exit is coming and a two seconds before you exit, you have to turn the steering wheel, roughly 30 degrees. And then one to two seconds late to the wheels will actually turn, I don't know, this is the more years, a few years ago. And I didn't like that. And always tried to convince a friend of mine who was working at a startup to, to build this, but you never want it.

And then with the Arduino starter kit, it wasn't so complicated to add a pressure sensor and starting green. So nothing was planned.

Speaker 2 (19m 21s): And so that the first ones, yeah. Okay. Let, let's get into the technical side of the things a little bit. W what is an accelerometer

Speaker 3 (19m 30s): On XL? A reminder is a simple, a simple as a small device, which is a measuring acceleration.

Speaker 2 (19m 39s): And so, and how does that differentiate between a barometer,

Speaker 3 (19m 44s): A bar on metrics? So it's a pressure sensor. And as you can imagine that when you measure the pressure, there's some kind of noise on the stage, and that means you can measure the pressure. And then you can measure a measure with a very short time afterwards to go get the different result. So it's noise, it's noisy. The signal, when you're on a new, make the average, it's a very, very, very stable and very, very accurate, accurate, but this noise, you have to filter the noise.

And when you filter the noise, whatever you do, you always have a time lag because you may, you make some kind of on average or whatever you have a field tracker algorithm you use, but it's, it's, it's ending up with some kind of a time delay. And this is a way I've already on mute too, with just only a pressure sensor, always hands on a timeline.

Speaker 2 (20m 37s): So when I first started flying with the XC tracer I meet, and this was your first edition, this was way back, you know, the bigger one and a, without the solar and right out of the box, I loved it, but I felt like it was so fast. Like, it, it, it, it felt the air as fast as I could feel it. And I was used to flying, you know, my 60, 30, you know, my fly tech, which has obviously, like you said, that's, that's measuring it differently.

So it's, it's more of an average or a, as I understand it, then something immediate I was. And so I got the config, a config file from a PWC pilot, which I've now shared with hundreds and hundreds of people. Cause I've put this out on the show a few times. Are we wrong? Should we not be dampening? Should we learn how to fly with the device? Just set up as it is as you send it to us, is should we, in other words, should we learn to fly immediate?

Speaker 3 (21m 40s): I will say so. A big I would, yeah, I would say so because I'm actually twice to indicate exactly what you feel because when you feel that acceleration, it's beeping or one, the toilet, when the thermal stops, the various stops beeping immediately. So it's, it's, it's, it's immediate feedback. You must get used for a bit because when you're flying with a funny old Vario for 10 or 20 years, then you might have some issues because it's like a marriage you get used to it.

And it has, has called science has downsides, but you're used to it. And yeah, I think so. It's, it's really just try to remove the damping factor as far as much as you can do, you can't leave a little bit, but go down for them to be a factor as much as for, as far as you can.

Speaker 2 (22m 30s): Alex Roby, I had him on the show a while back. It was actually just after the last race and he he's always, you know, write up there and the top five XContest at the end of every year. And does these just amazing triangles this year went down to a while. Actually the last year you guys went down to Brazil for a COVID and did you know he's, he's an amazing pilot. He actually flies with two, he flies with an XC tracer that's dampened on one shoulder and an immediate let's call it out of the box on the other. I thought that was really interesting. Maybe a way to here, you know, to kind of balance between the two, because I loved the immediacy of it, but I just, I found it harder to find the core.

I found it harder to just because it's so immediate. It's so quick. So that, that's interesting. If I may be maybe if I just slowly lower my dampening down, then I'll improve in terms of flying in terms of climbing. Sorry,

Speaker 3 (23m 24s): That was so yeah.

Speaker 2 (23m 26s): What would you recommend to people, pilots who are, you know, you gotta, you gotta think back along the ways here, because this was 30 years ago for you, but pilots that are just getting into the sport, you know, it, you know, learning on their ENA wing and they're just starting to punch into the thermal part of the day. What would you recommend to them for learning how to utilize thermals?

Speaker 3 (23m 56s): What's difficult to say. It depends on the Vario. They have, normally the instructor tells them you, when you fly into a thermal it's accelerating. So you know that you were climbing and then after a second or two, it starts beeping. And then you wait two seconds. You can't find you a 21, 22 until you told to the left to go to the right. And this is a conventional Vario. And when you have an extra tray, so you can't just wait until it's peeping less, and then you can make the turn. The fact that what are you with a conventional, Verio what I feel, what my ball and what the body tells me and what the Vario is telling me is never, it's never the same.

So I always had to do to judge, is it it's a very correct or I am correct. Or what is it? It's not nice to fly like that. And when you have a virtual, like a situation, you don't have to judge because a lot of the world tells you is what you feel. So it's consistent.

Speaker 2 (24m 56s): Yeah. I can, I can vouch for that. You know, a, a hundred over a hundred times, it's just, it's, it's, you know, you feel that a little bump in your left butt cheek, and that tells you that at the same time that you just felt, this was a little bumpy on your left button, I'm doing a show coming up with a week. We call them, ask me anything shows. And one of the questions that came in, I haven't recorded the show. You will do that in the future, but I'm going to give this one to you. It was a newer pilot who said, you know, I'm starting to really get thermal ING.

I understand that. I'm starting to feel okay, it's it's this one's more on my left or this one's on my right. I'm going to turn that way or that way. But I I'm very often being out climbed. So the question was, how do I find the core

Speaker 3 (25m 44s): Of what I normally see when people are out climbed? They make circles that are too large. That's a, that's the, that's the main a, that's the main issue. They don't, they don't there to make tighter circles. So a lot to control is just wait until the Vario speaking less and then make a tone and then you will find it quite quick.

Speaker 2 (26m 10s): Hm. And what if you turn the wrong way initially?

Speaker 3 (26m 14s): Oh, and then you follow up with a third one. That's a very simple,

Speaker 2 (26m 19s): What do you recommend people stay with that turn and just widen it out and come back on, on the next one or immediately make a change in and say, if you were going left or do you immediately make the change go? Right?

Speaker 3 (26m 32s): Depends a cartel. Depends on the situation where, where you are when the glacier already has taken a lot of speed, a lot of energy, then it's better to continue with the turn. If you were thinking a lot, I think continue with the term. It's difficult to say. It depends on, are there other pilots flying you say is this, this is the mountain to close. So there's a lot of factors playing into this

Speaker 2 (26m 58s): When being a big one as well. Koni when you say you're, you're, you're doing a lot of testing and, you know, refinements, you know, you just released the max, which has kind of the, the gold standard of Varios in the world today. And there's no real doubt about that, but how can these things keep being improved? W what, what do you, what do you try to enhance at this point?

Speaker 3 (27m 29s): They're different, they're different things. We tried to make the constantly tried to improve the quality of our products, because when you go to the very back for the after sale service, it's always a pain does. It's one thing to try and do. The other thing with Ray is to improve the production for that. You can produce more of our years in the same time. Then we try to make them a more reliable to, to, to get to an even better GPS, reception.

You're constantly trying to improve the sensor throughout the fusion algorithm. If you're trying to improve the, the, the wind estimation, for example, it's just a small improvements here and there. And, and then we have something new that we just release it to pilots.

Speaker 2 (28m 21s): The, tell me about F alarm. 'cause, that's not a, something that's very prevalent in the U S you, you may have followed, you know, we had this, just had this massive search and rescue effort for QOE, and there was a lot of discussion as that was going on. And then after he was found about how we could improve our Instruments and the ability for sending and receiving information, that would be helpful to the outside world, especially because we fly most of the very, very often.

And in the Western us, we don't have cell service where we fly, or at least a huge patches where we don't tell me about FRM. And it's why it's valuable it mostly in Europe. And what that allows, what is the added safety of having F alarm?

Speaker 3 (29m 14s): The thing is we have a, an a in Europe, if you have a lot of a traffic engineer, so you have a lot of gliders. You have a lot of helicopters are a lot of small motor Plains and formulas initially developed for a anti-collision systems for the leaders, because Gladys are white, the clouds are wide, and the three difficult to spot them, and they have to be flying with high-speed one on a 50 K to a hundred K a global cloud.

So they approach each other with 30, 40 meters per second, or even more in 50, it can be a very difficult, difficult to spot the articulator. And there was quite a few accidents where glad you were collating and then a glider collides. And it's almost always, at least one is going to exclude is going to die. And so that, that's why a florist was developed. And then it's also for some people just for gliders. And now, as I said, it's also used by, by helicopters and premotor planes, and that we use it as a for, for, for paragliding and for paragliding.

They're the two effects with, with a foreign deacon. I can make myself visible to, to glider pilots or to helicopter pilots or whatever. So they know that I'm here. Even if there's a cloud between us, they will see me over a distance for a few of a few kilometers. So this is one aspect is just the way the safety aspect of getting seen, even if the, the, the is not so good. And you're flying below the clouds, a visible disability can be a very bad, but the clarity will know that you were there.

This is one aspect. Then the other aspect is that if I were flooded, you can also see where the others are. So you can see where the other paragliders for Henkel Anders are. And if you can use this as a party, a Bali feature for when you fly a, in a, in a team, then you can see, Oh, this one is flying just the two kilometers on the left side of my, of me, or a 10 kilometers ahead, or whatever you see them. And the third feature that can be very useful is that the max will not switch off automatically.

You have to switch it off for yourself. And the reason for that is it will send, as long as the batteries is, it's still a bit charged. It'll send the alarm peak in twice per second. And these could be used for a four for tracking in a worst case. Then you have an accident.

Speaker 2 (31m 49s): Mm. Is that, would the FRM be as accurate as say, a live track 24 that has, when the devices have cell service? Is it, is it the same kind of accuracy, better worse?

Speaker 3 (32m 5s): I don't know the other one, but the accuracy that we have is a few meters. So we're just going to be a very accurate, this is not a surprise.

Speaker 2 (32m 10s): Oh, wow. Amazing. You know, in the last three XL ops, you have created a config file for all of us that has allowed us to use it as an IGC tracker when we were on the ground. So it's another backup feature, which has been just unbelievable. And the, the, the sower version that the, the mini it has, I don't have to charge it. It just goes for forever. So things like that you have for the, when you have

Speaker 1 (32m 40s): All this other stuff to charge is, is really valuable. I mean, obviously at night, we're going to put it on charge just to be safe, but I don't know that I've ever, I mean, this whole summer, I've flown with my mini all summer. I've never charged at once.

Speaker 3 (32m 54s): Yeah. This is, this is, as I said, that if you're constantly trying to improve our product, a vehicle, the engineer's a bit of a, not a good salesman. Can you see that on our webpage now? Yeah. And do you have, if it's difficult to explain, we have a, you know, how should I tell them we have a work in a certain way of, of, of doing things. First of all, we try to source as many stuff as we can. And in Switzerland, for example, for the Macs, the Colossus from Switzerland, the plastic injection molding has made and Switzerland, the PCB manufacturer ism is in Hungary and the, the PCB pick and place a mounting has made in Switzerland, the assembly's made in Switzerland.

So we'd tried to make as many things as we can with the local suppliers, as long as it's a, as long as its, as you can pay for it. So we've tried to get a little bit, try to avoid, to buy stuff from China. For two reasons. One reason there is that its going to have a product production locally and a second, it doesn't make sense to buy something a 10,000 kilometer support and then to transport it here.

It's just, I know it's just a certain way of doing business with just trying to make a note on this business. We don't try to, to sell as many of our shows as we can, which is when you have a customer, for example, a coupon, it could be cars coming to us and then a potential customer being very enthusiastic and blah, blah, blah, blah. And then the engines, it turns out he's flying parallel to tell him, to tell him, okay, we can tell you an extra suit, but it's not worth it because you will not need an instant Varrio for a while for flying part.

That doesn't make sense. You go to a competition, the competitors that you can do, you can buy a cheap for a while. You're there. This is good for you. That's it? The reason for that is first the realest. Thank you. So it doesn't make sense to sell a product. So to someone who cannot fully use it, this is a 0.1 0.2 is we will then C a C. This is the same guy wanting to write a letter and they will not be pleased when he sees us because he says, well, he, you sold me something, which is good for me.

No, it's true.

Speaker 1 (35m 15s): No, I get it. I get it. Yeah. It's, it's funny to think that something is too good for somebody, but they're more of a world that I totally understand that that makes sense.

Speaker 3 (35m 24s): And that it doesn't, it doesn't make sense. So that's, that's, that's how you said you knew maybe a bit different than not. I don't know. We just want to make a, we want to make on this business. And for example, we had a, we launched the XC tracer tool and when you launch the ECC choice to choose critical was flying with the prototypes of a mini to GPS first tech soaps. I don't know if you've seen that. Yeah, for sure. But do you, if you have not been in a hundred percent sure that ah, the solar panel was really a good enough for charging the hole, the hole Oreo.

So you said, okay, the bedroom make a bigger product, even if, even if it's bigger than some competitors, but then we know that the solar panel have a charge to worry that it will work. And that's the one has to be a really short that, ah, the mini also works. We'll have the solar panel. Then you release the mini not before.

Speaker 2 (36m 15s): And is there any, this is a curiosity cause I, I still have that one and I have that on my cop kit. And I have you used the mini three a month later on a hike and fly it just because then I don't have to switch them back and forth, but I know that's crazy, but it's just nice. I see keeps me from forgetting something, but is there, is there any, am I missing anything with that? I mean, in terms of the, you know, each one gets a little bit better, but in terms of they're the sound and the accuracy is is there, is there a much reason to, if you've got one of the older models to do upgrade?

Speaker 3 (36m 48s): No, no, it's not that no, there's no, there's no need for that, but it's, it's the, if we have a code or new sensor dot a fusion that also runs on the old various, the new Yorker also a release it for the old videos, the sensors are not that good, but you don't most of the time you don't feel the difference. Hmm.

Speaker 2 (37m 9s): Yeah. That's a, that's a hard way to Koni you're not making things obsolete. Like Apple, every phone got to get another charger and a new thing and a new remote and a new headphones and Oh my God drives me crazy.

Speaker 3 (37m 24s): That would be trying to make that the product's as good as we can. So maybe not good for business wise, but that's how you work at the moment.

Speaker 2 (37m 30s): Good for you. That's for a refreshing. Okay, well let's, let's switch to some of your flying. I wanted to ask in all these 30 years you've been at this, you had any accidents.

Speaker 3 (37m 44s): Yes. I had one, a three years ago for me. It's like, it's like always, it's a lot of factors who play a role, play a role there. I had a glider which was before I was a clitoris that when you break too much, a two wing is going to Ben's before it'll to make a stole. And this new glider was just rolling over the whole bank's punches was a stalling Beck. This is one reason.

Another reason was I was a testing for years. And then I wanted to land on a, on top of the Hill. And there's a lot of rotting Marshfield. And I didn't know that there has been some clouds and that didn't really look carefully because when you approach the field and it covered by coasts, but do you know the real cause the horns? So it was not possible to land there.

And the, the, the large field was in some kind of a leap, but the census large, it's not a problem. And dentures before the field, there was some kind of a platform made of concrete. So in a, in a land, on a concrete, a Cree, concrete, a blood form, it's not a good idea when you, when you were in a li, so there try to how to avoid that. I had to fly to the left side on the left side that has been treated and to leave a stronger. And then I had a stall roughly to meet to some of the ground and it was falling on my back, which was not good.

What did you break the back? Yeah, it was just heartbroken, but that was really lucky. So I don't feel anything today.

Speaker 2 (39m 26s): Oh, wow. Great. Did, were you, did you have a good proper harness where the big pad or was it just you just landed or is that okay?

Speaker 3 (39m 35s): No, no. Adequate to have to have the corners and to truly, it just was just different, different factors that, that led to this accident. And I was really embarrassed because before a snow, before that, that was flying without any accidents for 30 years,

Speaker 2 (39m 49s): It's funny how the embarrassment comes in. It it's a, it's a, it's an interesting emotional aspect to what we do where just a little tiny bit of complacency or just, you know, thinking about something else briefly, or it just doing something that, you know, you do, you know, you didn't need to do and then a doula. Exactly. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (40m 10s): Yeah. I learn whatever learned in 30 years, this, that paragliding is very, very difficult. In fact, and my landing spots get bigger and bigger and I still have to have 30 years. You kind of, you, you can learn new things about aerodynamics, for example, or about other things you would never would have thought its possible, but it happens. Yeah. I think prep paragliding is probably more, more dangerous than we think that we believe.

Speaker 2 (40m 40s): I think that's probably 100%. I think that's for sure. We've pushed the boundaries a bit too far.

Speaker 3 (40m 49s): That's a, that's the issue.

Speaker 2 (40m 52s): Why, why have we done that? What's what's pushing that.

Speaker 3 (40m 56s): I don't know. It's a, I think its just a joy to have more color and kilometers a day and a log book and the end of today, I think, I think it's the same as the reason. I don't know.

Speaker 2 (41m 7s): Yeah. I would agree. I think there's a, you know, there's a really good side of something like X contest and there's a bit of a dark side as well. It's, you know, it's great to have the database. That's great to have the knowledge. It's fantastic to have the inspiration, but it's also, there is a dark side. There, there is a, you know, that's not really the reason why this has come up a lot lately. I'm not to be preachy in any means because I've, I've definitely fall into that category 100%.

But it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a dangerous pursuit.

Speaker 3 (41m 45s): Yeah. It's just, I think a

Speaker 2 (41m 49s): Lot

Speaker 3 (41m 50s): Paragliding is dangerous and touches some certain weather conditions where we simply shouldn't fly. Kleagle can fly maybe, but the artist shouldn't

Speaker 2 (41m 59s): Perfect.

Speaker 3 (42m 1s): This is the only problem. I think

Speaker 2 (42m 3s): The, for sure. I think, you know, it's, it's, it's interesting. I, I asked a lot of the, we did this kind of a, we did three shows after the X apps where I interviewed a lot of the participants and a lot of the athletes in it. And afterwards in that, that came up a number of times that it's, it is quite dangerous, but it's the least dangerous for Kriegel he's the most relaxed, he's the most trained, he's the most calm.

And when you watch him, especially when it gets out in front, he's a, he's, he's having a lot of fun. He's not eating. He doesn't seem to be, is having to press it nearly as hard. Whereas the rest of the field is they're they're, they're sleeping less, they're pressing harder. They're they're pressing their bodies harder and harder to try to keep up. And so I think, I think in the end that he is, he's actually taking the least risk

Speaker 3 (43m 0s): Because the way that's always the case, when you're in the front, you have to take this risk on the other ones.

Speaker 2 (43m 5s): Sure, sure, sure. Well, we get to see him perform in this seventh for this June. And that will be fascinating as has always a, if you could rewind the clock to your 50 hour flying self, what would you tell that Koni knowing what you know now

Speaker 3 (43m 26s): Be more careful I will say. Hmm. I have an a, when a, when I had 'em, when I was a flying on my own, paragliders learning to fly my regulators. We had a lot of luck. I was 20 something, 22. So yeah. So you don't know what that is. I see things completely different, but that much

Speaker 2 (43m 50s): Right. You did you say a, do you have kids know, but you have a year, you mentioned your partner. Lisa, was that her name? Yes. And does she fly? Yeah. Okay.

Speaker 3 (44m 6s): Sheila, Sheila. And she was flying at a time with me for more than the 15 years and so on. And she said, okay, we want to learn it myself.

Speaker 2 (44m 12s): Wow. Where are you? A commercial tandem pilot for a while or just for fun. Okay. Wow. Interesting. I was going to say, if you had kids, did that change your well, let's talk about risk. How has your risk profile changed over the years? It's less and less risky.

Speaker 3 (44m 32s): Yeah.

Speaker 2 (44m 34s): You do you, do you attribute that to age or knowledge or seeing accidents or all three?

Speaker 3 (44m 40s): I think it's all the, Free all three. That just the way you learn more, you, you know, more of that can happen. You see things that you wouldn't like to see. Then you get an old, you can, the older, I think you have to adjust when you get older. If you think more and which to simply take less risks.

Speaker 2 (44m 59s): Hmm. Well, let's, let's in this on a super positive note, a best flight, best flying experience you've ever had and feel free to think about it for a while. I know we've all had many, but is there something that pops to mind you can share

Speaker 3 (45m 18s): That there are a few of them. There's not just a one.

Speaker 2 (45m 21s): Yeah. Share more than one when we have plenty of time.

Speaker 3 (45m 26s): No, it's always absolutely the rate when you can fly over the glaciers and it's fun, a fun to see when everybody's chasing rallies up and down and I'm trying, I'm trying to climb over a glacier. I had to climb the things that are on or whatever, and a monkey on the fly. As I, as possible. It's a very, this is a very, very emotional, it's a very, really, really great thing. The other thing, which can be a very fun, this, you have to be in the holidays and a lease has kids.

I wanted to have fun, some fun, but there wasn't much spend, but you have to put unity to 'em to rent a, a ton of them and then give her soaring along the coast with the fountain until sunset. Wow. That was really, you know, that that's really amazing because we didn't take anything with us. We never even able to thought that there would be a pair of lighting in this time of the year, but they floor. And you could do, you could rent a taunting for, for, for a little money. And this was a really, really great, it's just, you have to come out of the blue.

Speaker 2 (46m 43s): Yeah. I've sailed around me or a guy. I can't remember. I think, I think we flew. Would it be like the Northeast side of the Island? We flew from a little mountain, but it wasn't on the coast. It wasn't, you know, we flew over dirt, but it was, this was the flight. You did one of these cliff kind of flights where you're you're over the water. So a lot of those flights, yes, those are just magic. I had one of those. It was actually a picture from that when all over the place and outside magazine and stuff that the Jody took. But I flew, ah, what's the name of the Sao Miguel in, out in the eighties doors where we, we were staying on the South, we were anchored on the South side of the Island and the local paragliders and they have a really active club.

You know, they have that huge festival out there, every August

Speaker 1 (47m 31s): And Joelle was the head of the, the, the club they're a, or he was at a time and he, he took us over to the North side of the Island every day for 30 days, we went over there. Cause just, just in the hopes that we could fly to a spot and it was always to cross or too strong or too light or, you know, it has to be just right, because otherwise you go on the ocean, they had a finely on the last day we were there, we got it. Right. And it's still to this day, that was a long time. That was 2009, I think 2010.

And it's still one of the most memorable flights I've ever had. I mean, you just couldn't, it was just perfect. You know, you didn't have to worry about going in the ocean and you're just flying, flying over the Atlantic ocean next stop. United States. That was, that was pretty special.

Speaker 3 (48m 22s): When you go flying on the stories, it's a really special, the problem is that when you go fly on our sores and when you come back, then you need holidays because you do, you want me to the local guys and then three or four times at the ends up a two o'clock in the morning and you do that. That's really the case for some kind of crazy. It's really, really, really right. This is also one of the, of the best flights we have here.

Speaker 1 (48m 46s): Yeah. Those, they are a special group and man you're right. That they know how to party and have a good time, big thing, shout out to them. They, they, they throw a good, they throw a good festival. Koni really special to spend some time with you. Thank you for your amazing Instruments. They have changed my world radically and I appreciate them. And I know everybody else does as well, who uses them and look forward to sharing some skies with you in the boonies Overland, you live in a special place.

Thanks. Koni appreciate it. Talk soon. Cheers. Thank you. Bye. Bye . So if you find the cloud based may have valuable and you can support it in a lot of different ways. You can give us a rating on iTunes or Stitcher, wherever you get your podcast, that goes a long ways and help spread the word. You can blog about it on your own website or share it on social media.

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Speaker 0 (51m 51s): .


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