Episode 137- Kirsten Seeto and Making the Jump

Kirsten assisting a launch off Mystic in Bright, Australia

Australian pilot Kirsten Seeto has turned her dreams into her reality. By simplifying her life, making some calculated bold decisions, and focusing on airtime over a paycheck and on lifestyle over work she’s carved out what many seek but few achieve. In this wide-ranging inspiring podcast Kirsten shares how we can make flying a lot more inclusive; how to get mentors; the power of being vulnerable; how to behave and interact on launch; finding a mentor; why the sport is so dominated by men; creating events that appeal to more pilots rather than just racing for speed; when (and how) to give advice and empowering who you’re giving it to; the importance of role models in the sport; how to find help especially when you’re new; the infamous “Bikini-gate” from 2015; how to “be brave” in our community; creating a free-flight oriented lifestyle; the tiny house movement; simplifying life; what paragliding teaches us about life; the complexities of fear; unlocking “freezing”; listening…well to your gut and a lot more. Enjoy!

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Show Notes: 

  • Altitude with attitude, Kirsten’s website and her fly-ins (https://www.altitudewithattitude.info/)
  • Kirsten gets her aviation license when she was 16
  • The Tiny House movement (https://www.lilliputliving.com/)
  • The “Waypoint Challenge” in Australia- a different way (FUN!) to run comps: https://www.turnpointchallenge.com.au/
  • Travel and paragliding
  • How we can make paragliding more inclusive
  • Why the male domination in flying?
  • How to give advice to pilots on launch
  • Role models
  • How to get help, especially when you’re new
  • Lifestyle over work
  • The complexities of fear


Mentioned in the Show:

Advanced Paragliding, Cross Country Magazine, Rico Chandra, Jason Lauritzen, Brian Webb, Cedar Wright, John Brassil, Isabella Messenger, Adel Honti, Marko Hrgetic Hrga, Bruce Goldsmith, Ed Ewing, Reavis Sutphin-Gray


Kirsten getting a pilot dialed

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Speaker 0 (0s):

Speaker 1 (15s): Great. Welcome to the Cloudbase man and happy 2021. The bar has moved yet again on insurance. So I got a few things here at the top of the show to go through versus insurance. Geos is not offering a lot of their packages, like their extreme pack that we were recommending for a while. Since the Garmin buyout, we went into this last week with Bianca and a whole bunch of stuff on insurance at the top of that show, but I've just gotten some new information that is important. So they do still offer their high-risk benefit.

That is what you, when you press your SOS and geos is activated to come find you do the search and rescue. If you have just standard SAR, which is what you get, when you get an inReach just automatically, or you can get the SAR 50 or 100 that doesn't cover paragliding and hang-gliding and other quote, unquote, extreme sports. So we've always needed this high-risk benefit. They still offer that we were under the assumption that they didn't have to have the buyout, but they still do. So it's a $179 a year. You'll find the link to that on my website.

Just go to Cloudbase Mayhem dot com. And do I put the search terms in for insurance? You'll find that article under are you covered, and it explains all of this in detail. So I won't go into it too much right now, but you want that, that high-risk benefit for sure. The other thing that has changed is global rescue has removed their a hundred mile rule that we used to only activate. If you are more than a hundred miles from home, now it's activated. You can use it anywhere. So that's a no brainer. Get the global rescue it's 329 bucks a year, and you can breathe easy.

And again, the lakes, the links for that are on the website. Cloudbase Mayhem dot com, just put in the search term insurance. Next, we continue to get awesome responses to the survey. And that's also on the website. Cloudbase Mayhem dot com slash survey. And as a thank you to some of you who filled that in and keep doing it, if you haven't, I'm really paying attention to those that are giving me great ideas for improving the show and asking better questions and all kinds of things.

But we did a little drawing yesterday with my daughter, put it up on Facebook. If you want to go check it out for a couple of bass DNS beginner's books that we had her on the show awhile back. So she has that great book, a beginner's paragliding, and then also some Cloudbase Mayhem schwag. So congratulations to Simon Gabelli, Richard Ackerman, Dominique Peltz, and Cal breed. I've already reached out to all of you in that stuff is in the mail. So thank you all for contributing to that, that survey. I really appreciate it.

The book advanced paragliding, my book that I've been talking about now for last couple of years is finally well out. It's in its being printed right now. It will be shipped in early April and we're we're taking pre-orders of that through a cross country magazine. So I'll go to the, go to the, their website, XC mag.com for slash shop. And you can pre-order it. Now, if you use the code just for you all a CB Mayhem 10, that's all capitalized CB Mayhem 10.

You will get 10% off the book and free shipping. So go check it out. This has been a massive work in progress, tons of effort. I got a whole bunch of help from the entire team over at cross country magazine. You guys are awesome. Thank you so much. And it, it was a lot of fun and this is a, basically the best of the best from over the first a hundred shows. So there's kinda deep dives with 18 of the guests that we've got on the show will get. And Russell walked in and we went back to all of them and gotten more information so that a lot of this stuff that was not actually in the show.

And then there's a whole bunch of chapters on risk and safety and recovering from fear injuries and how to thermal better and how to glide better. It was 14 of those. So there was a ton there to kinda the best of the best, like an encyclopedia of the, of the Mayhem. So I think you, and that you're going to enjoy it. I certainly have of course read through it over and over and over again, editing and tweaking and making it better and better in each time I do. I learn something new. So I think you'll enjoy that that discount deal expires when we get to 750 books sold and were already over 500 and I'm recording this a few days before it's going to be out.

So if you want that discount in the free shipping, get on it pretty quick. This week's a top of the show tip comes from Rico Chandra. Who's a, a, a, a show that we're going to be putting out here in a few weeks recorded in a while ago, but Jason Lauritsen reached out a while back and he was kinda making the jump from a low end, be a three liner to kind of have one of these hybrid, sees two, three liners and was having some trouble with that Jump and wanted some advice.

So here's some advice for moving up to a little bit spicier, Wang, and a lot less line plan for them. So from Ricoh, and then we will get back into this show. What would be your,

Speaker 2 (5m 26s): For advice to someone like that for, you know, for one, when they move up to the wing, what should they be focusing on? What do they want to be thinking about? How can you kind of get up to speed on this new animal? Well, I, I, I, I definitely ground handle as much as possible. I also really enjoy a crown handling. There is, there is days where I'll be up online too, and you can do, you know, soaring conditions, but, but finding him more and pertaining to just be ground handling on launch, that's definitely one then I think, I think, I think awareness and, and observation, you aware of what you're doing, try to be aware of what you were doing.

It's super difficult, but it is, it's so helpful for flying. Maybe others can help point out stuff that you can't see yourself, but, but work on, on, on your awareness. I need to tell myself always be more aware. You know, if it's, I'm not for me at the moment, it's not that I'm too tied up with a glider as is, or, you know, this is that pilot might be for me. The glider is sort of second nature for me.

Awareness is hay. I should, when I'm through a mulling, always be, you know, aware of is, is there a cloud developing up above me as the cloud of a falling apart above me? Where are the other pilots? Where are the words all around me? Is there a debris flying around that sort of awareness when you, that, that, that's what I should be more aware of feeling very comfortable under my wing. And if you are not yet, if you have a new wing, it's being aware of all trying to be aware about what's going on, being aware of about what you are doing and maybe others telling you that helps, maybe I'm trying to absorb closer, helps maybe even journaling.

I was a strong feeling that journaling helps a lot. Most of us don't do it, but I think journaling probably would help.

Speaker 1 (7m 48s): Cool. I hope you enjoyed that. My guest today is Kirsten Seeto from, from Australia, she's down at bright. Now she's just built a little tiny home and she has been guiding or operating these kind of cool women's fly-ins for the last couple of years. And I've had her on my list who you have on this show for a long time. Last time I saw her was down there at the world cup a few years back in, and she's just doing awesome things in free flight. She has been really inspirational in the show.

We talk about how to get mentors and what they mean and how important they are and how to make the sport just a lot more inclusive and safe and approachable for a lot more people and more and more and more. We talk about all kinds of things, but I think you are going to enjoy this talk with a good friend of mine. Kirsten Seeto enjoy Kirsten. It's a, it's great to have you on the show. It's been a while since I've seen you.

I think it was the, the world cup down in Oz going on three years ago or something like that down in. I understand your living

Speaker 3 (8m 56s): In bright. Now, Andy is iron your sitting in your tiny hole, and this is cool. You know, the, the, the listeners can't see this, of course, because this is audio, but you built your tiny home. You were just getting into that project when I was down there as I remember last time, and you've, you've done some fun things. You are now the safety officer, and you've got this cool. It was just enjoying your web, your website, altitude with attitudes. So we're going to talk about flying in what you've been up to welcome to the show.

Speaker 4 (9m 24s): Thanks, Kevin. I'm really excited to be a on the, on the, on your podcast. I'm a huge fan and, and I'm honored to join the, the list of literally hundreds of people. Now that you've interviewed.

Speaker 3 (9m 34s): I know it just keeps adding up. Isn't it? It's just, it's crazy. I, you know, we're just finishing up this book. I can't, I know I keep talking about it and cross country, you keep telling me not to, but it's, you know, it's been a work in progress over the last kind of a couple years now, but yeah, they keep adding up the, you know, the books on the first a hundred and I think we're almost a one 40 now. Awesome. Cool. Well, thank you. So tell me, give me, give the folks that don't know, what's your, what's your history. Give us a brief history with flying, how you got into this absurdity and what led you to altitude with attitude?

Speaker 4 (10m 10s): Right. Well, I've, I've been thinking about flying all my life. I got my general aviation pilots license when I was 16. I wanted to be a fighter pilot because as a 13 year old, I had watched top gun. And could not, you could not think of anything else that I'd rather do.

Speaker 3 (10m 26s): How could you not? I mean, you watched that volleyball game, right. You know?

Speaker 4 (10m 29s): Right, right. But the reality is a big short struck when I applied to the air force and they informed me that I was too short to fly their fighter planes. Ah, so I, I kinda left flying for a while. It's a general aviation is not a sport for a university student. So I actually let flying off the hook for quite awhile. And about 15 years later, I was a backpacking in Europe and came across a couple of guys who told me that I had to compare a pin tie with them.

And I had no idea what this was about. I think that were telling me that I was going to go tandem with a, their English wasn't the best. Unfortunately it was too windy and I never kind of got to do it with them, which might've been a good thing. I'm not sure, but it kind of, you know, it stuck with me. So I was living in London for a while and was looking for an adventure. So I looked at what this pair of pants was a van and we call it paragliding and got my license in, in the French Alps whilst I was living there. A and haven't looked back. That was a, that was 12. That was in 2007. So yeah.

And then when did you move back to us? I moved back to Oz in 2009, sadly, immediately after getting my license, I had a, an incident that resulted in a broken elbow. It's the most stupid thing that I've done. And I guess I learnt that lesson early, but you know, I wasn't yet licensed that hadn't quite got signed off. I hadn't been able to get reverse launches signed off. And of course I tried to for the launch in when that was way too strong and I've got blown backwards and hit a, a dry stone wall and draw and a cross Bob wise, it was pretty ugly.

But yeah, anyway, the result was a bright myself, a hayfield. And then I would decide that it was time to go home after that. So I never actually got to fly Europe as a competent pilot. And I haven't been back since, no, you gotta go. Yeah, just, just as a, as I was getting my finances, if you go right now, I'm going to do my big Europe trip. COVID struck. So, you know, it will I'll, I will get there, but you know, I moved back to Australia and I've been doing a lot of flying around that, caught the cross-country bug and flew Manilla and bright.

And then, you know, actually I did an x-ray clinic with Brian Webb and he's the one who introduced me to flying to the States. And there are for a few years there, I was coming out to the States every year. And this is a lovely,

Speaker 3 (12m 53s): The Graham when he was in Oregon and Washington. And yeah, I

Speaker 4 (12m 56s): Know that that's right. Exactly. Yeah. And then I got a couple of times. Yeah. Yeah. I just, I just fell in love with the flying community in the States and the, the diverse places that you can fly, just mind blowing, which is kind of distracted me from, from going to Europe. Actually, a lot of people here in Australia will go to Europe every year, not so many go to the States and it's, I just think it's an underwrited area to, to explore, to fly.

Speaker 3 (13m 23s): Yeah. And even anticipated asking you about that. But in this, it'd be great to hear your perspectives on that because obviously we've had plenty of people on the show that are from my area, you were talking about my zone and a, what do you, what do you love about it?

Speaker 4 (13m 38s): It was just very different. I mean, I I've been fortunate enough to get some work in the States. And I spent six months in San Francisco and got to know the, the Bay area pilots there. And they took me out to all sorts of places. I got to fly in Bishop. Yeah. Yeah. And the people there were so accommodating to ensure that I got out there, they looked after me. They made sure that I was retrieved at the end of the day.

And also here's the thing that I love about traveling with paragliding. It puts you in places you really have no business to be in one of my favorite memories is landing in some towns, some hick town out the middle of nowhere. It had a saloon like where the swinging door is a type thing. And a bunch of us walked in and you know that there is that, that moment that you get anywhere in the world where it feels like everything stops. And everyone turns to look at you and they know that you don't belong here, but they're like, ah, whatever. And you sit down at the bar and you talked to the bottom and you just, you wouldn't be there under any other circumstances, but you landed there and you want a beer.

That's what I,

Speaker 3 (14m 46s): I had it to me, although that's not that unusual. There's a lot of those all over the, all over the, but that sounds like a bad, I bet that it was a Bishop flight and all of those little mining towns that, you know, I've spent quite a bit of time flying and Nevada East of the Sears in the past few years, you know, of course we had this key, we search out their this year, but it has been a lot of time with, with Levison. I mean, is, it is just, it's a vacant that there's not much going on out there. And these tiny little towns and they, these are not boomtowns anymore.

You know, they were gold towns at the last, at the turn of the last century. And so there, you know, most of them were kind of dilapidated and falling apart. And most of them don't even have concrete, you know, is dirt roads. And it's, it's a, it's a, it's a wild part of the world.

Speaker 4 (15m 35s): It is a well part. And then you do you compare that, then I am a cup about a year or two later. I think it was a year after I got some work in a Boulder and Colorado and spent some time out there. Cedar Wright was out there who was much more junior back then, and this is a cat. And, but then there they're flying is completely different. They fly in the Lake of the Rocky mountains and you need a lot, a lot about differential pressure on all the side of the Rocky mountains. That was just a whole other type of flying. And this is the great thing about paragliding too.

There's not, it's not just paragliding that you got coastal, you got in there and you've got mountain flying. You got, flatlines flying. And every, every sight you go to, if you can, if you can spend enough time there, you get to, to, to unlock this whole other area of flying that tells you about the meteorology. And, and also what's possible. You might go to one site and, and people are flying in the winds. You'd never fly in. And that's just what they've got. So they learn how to fly those wins when you go to another site and you'd be like, well, it's not on because there's no wind. And then you learn, no, no, no.

That there is a way to fly this site too. So it, it, it really broadens your, your toolkit, if you can get out and fly a lot of different sites. And, and I find that the U S has a lot to offer there.

Speaker 3 (16m 47s): Do you have a little bit of that there in bright two? Don't you? I mean, it's, it's, it's a funny pocket. I think that, well, you know, like Passie and for me, you know, just, just down the road from, from Shawmanee, you can fly in an, in a crazy strong North Fern there, but if you want to show me the value of your dead, you know, but it's right there. It's just right next door. And I like that about this sport, that the it's a very often we are, we're, we're working, we're operating. I mean, when you talked to the meteorologists, like nicknames and Haans and stuff, they're always saying, well, yeah, you know, having all of this knowledge helps, but we're not really operating in that part of the world.

You know, we're in, we're in the micro part where role models can only show so much. And then you have the sun and the thermals and the Valley whens and all the things that they don't do. A very good job of picking up,

Speaker 4 (17m 34s): Which is the other great thing about this sport. Like if you're going to fly safely, you have to contact your local. Do you need to have a conversation with them and understand all those nuances about the size of the microclimatic side of it. And, and as a bit of an introvert myself, that forces me to connect with other people. And then I discover a whole other side to this book, which is the people that you meet.

Speaker 3 (17m 56s): And so let's fast forward a little bit. When did you get into, I couldn't tell her this from the West side of it, is it, is it really guiding or is it instructor courses how to describe what altitude with attitude is?

Speaker 4 (18m 10s): It is essentially a fly-in and it, it, it, it aims to bring women together to fly with other women and its at the beginning I found it quite hard to articulate. What, why would someone want to sign up to one of these? And somehow I managed to convince a large number of women too, to sign up. They're quite small. So normally I have between six to eight women on the tours, the idea is to expose them to new sites, but in a kind of a more supportive environment that they might be used to it.

And that is not to say that it's for people who are looking for support it's for women pilots who are just looking to fly with other like-minded women pilots, and it can be

Speaker 3 (18m 51s): Well like a safe place, safe place to get kicked out of the nastiness. And is that a good analogy? Yeah,

Speaker 4 (18m 57s): Yeah, exactly. The type of comments that have had back and that's kind of shaped how I'm trying to describe them is that there are so few women in this sport that they don't even know what female flying looks like. And it is a little bit different. It's the opportunity to like women. I don't want to generalize, but what I've observed on, on many of my fly-ins is when you get a bunch of women who fly together, they have the ability to laugh at themselves. I mean, it's such a humbling sport, the number of mistakes you make, whether you've just rolled down the Hill in front of a huge, a crowd of tourists and co pilots, and you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and find your dignity and courage too, to just try again or whether it's just admitting that you get scared and not feeling like you're pulling the whole group down by meeting that, I found that the conversations that we have about fear and how, what tools we use to, to get over that fear or anxiety, or even, you know, getting past an incident that you've had, it's just a little bit different.

And I actually don't think that men couldn't have those conversations. I think, I think that those types of conversations and that kind of environment is beneficial for everyone is just that when you have a bunch of women together, they're more likely to S to, to bring, bring those conversations to the table and be brave enough to talk about that stuff. And it's, and I have to always push that these events are not about segregation. It's actually about integration. I try to get women together. They find other role models too. I have women who are a novice pilots, intermediate parts, advanced pilots, and we all gain inspiration from each other.

And we realize that we've all got something to offer to this sport and they go back to their home clubs and then they inter you know, my goal is that they more confident to integrate and they'll reach out to other people in their club that they can see are struggling a little bit, whether they are women old men, whatever it is, the starting point of inclusivity.

Speaker 3 (20m 58s): Yeah. Because I mean, it's, it, it's super important. Isn't it for us to take our ego a lot. I mean, we need it at times, but we also got to set it aside. Don't we? And it's, if you're in this just a testosterone free for all which we normally are in any kind of a launch in the world is just it's so male dominant that I would think that's also, I was going to say, it must be incredibly intimidating for women, but it's also in a sense it's, you know, we have to learn, we as men have to learn to be able to let that go as well and be vulnerable.

That's important in this sport, man. You don't have it every day.

Speaker 4 (21m 37s): Yes, exactly. It's Oh, I can talk for hours about this topic, but when we first start having all women on a launch is fun and there's a lot less pressure. I think, I think, you know, the, the, the type of people who really Excel at this spot are the type of people who, for whom courage and pushing yourself out there come naturally at the top of people who are, who are more comfortable walking out to a launch and saying, Hey, I'm new here. I don't know what I'm doing.

Can someone give me a hand? There are a lot of people who really struggle with walking up to a group of people that they don't know and saying that particularly if you're as a woman who is maybe not that forthcoming, and there's a bunch of men standing around looking a little bit intimidating now, in my experience, I'm when you make the effort, all of that bravado falls away. You generally find a very encouraging bunch of people that are more than happy to help you, but it's just breaking that ice. And again, some of the stores that we share, how we do, we, how we get around those things, how do you know, what, what strategies do we employ to, to break that ice and to find people at a new site that can help us.

Speaker 3 (22m 46s): I'm glad you said that. It seems to me, and I'm just glad to hear that because that's always what I've felt in this community. I mean, even, even at the extreme end, you know, so the say the X outs end in that week before the race, there is no competitive. There is no competitive going on at all. I mean, everybody, there is a mentor, including the best of the best with Kriegel. I mean, he wants to share and teach everything because we all know what we're going into. We're going flying.

We could die and we can get really hurt. And we're all looking out for one another. And I, I have always found at least that, that exists at every level of the sport. I mean, I don't think there's anybody ever standing on launch that doesn't have some pretty intimate knowledge with the dark side of it. And so it maybe that maybe it's that you need to be approached in the right way, or maybe they could offer advice in a better way than we often do, but I've always found that kind of everybody's okay with being a mentor to the extent of their ability.

Speaker 4 (23m 50s): Right, right. Because we've all been, there is such a help desk, but I was on the, on the bunny Hill wondering why the hell we signed up to this cause. And it just seems to be a lot of hard work and then yep. And then battling our way through the invisible forces in the sky. We've all been there.

Speaker 3 (24m 6s): So these are fly-ins and I notice on your website, you've done a bunch of them. I mean, you get started in this 2018 and you know, you've been doing, you've been on the yeah.

Speaker 4 (24m 14s): Yeah. And it's interesting how this got started. I'm going to like my journey through, through being, in being a one, a very few women in a sport that is totally male dominated and trying to find my place in this sport has not been linear at all. And I, I know it was to say other women in various parts of this journey. So I started out pretty much saying I'm not going to acknowledge that I'm a minority in this sport. There is absolutely no reason why I can't do as well as any other man in this sport.

And to some extent that that was true. And the only reason that that I got involved in women's fines is because a great leader, you know, in our sport who, and, and just on this point, I find that certainly in the community in Australia, we're a little bit reluctant to call out ladies in our community who, who offer something else other than amazing flying expertise. We're not all cradles, but we have a lot of people in our community who offer laid at great leadership and, and vision for our sport.

And in Australia, one of those people is John brussel. He's been highly involved in the new South Wales paragliding association and is now a president of the, the, the Sydney club. He applied for a grant or the government grant for us to develop women in, in sport. And he asked how you approached me if I would lead these, he did all the organization, he got all the money. All we want to make to do is lay them. And I was at a point in time when I, some of the women had been running some fly's that just didn't really get the momentum that they needed.

And I must admit, I didn't even want to go to them because I felt that it would be a bunch of women sitting around talking about how scary it was to fly, which is interesting. Given what I just said before, you know,

Speaker 3 (26m 2s): So you thought, you thought it would potentially kind of even hold you back or, or just,

Speaker 4 (26m 6s): I felt that it was going to provide yeah. I thought it was going to fade my fears and give me more excuses. And, and anyway, so I didn't want to be involved. And then, you know, to be perfectly honest, John said, I've got some grant money I can actually pay you to do it. Does that make a difference? And I am going to be completely honest and said, Oh, I see. Yes. And now it wasn't a lot of money, but, you know, but I think it was saying to me, I actually value what you got enough to want to pay you to do this. So I did the first one and it was totally gobsmacked by how much I enjoyed it by the fact that it wasn't just me telling women had a, you know, it started giving them advice on, on how to fly.

I was getting out of it as much as they were getting out of it, to see somebody be brave enough to step onto a tow line at Western new South Wales when they've got not a lot of experience under their belt. And it's hot. And that you've been telling you that, you know, that they're intimidating conditions. When I see women who with less experience than me who are willing to do that as well, I get inspired as well. So anyway, that first one I got a lot out of.

And then John taught me how to apply for those grants. And I just picked her up from there and rolled it out to, to be a national program. I approached our national association of approach, the other state associations, and got enough money together to put together a program that look, to be honest, that the altitude with attitude program I've been writing to date. I don't know where I got the energy to do it. I just sat down to write the last report and I do at the end of it every year to, as a reconciliation on the funds that I get and over COVID that there was a part of me that was just like, Oh man, these reports are a lot of work.

And I didn't, it's kind of feels like the world is going to end. So why should I put the time and effort into this report? So I let it go for what the other day I've picked it up again. What I think the is going to be fine, and people are gonna want to know where that money went. And I, I don't know where I got the energy to write these reports. They use it, right. I basically get all my 10 days to complete a questionnaire. So I ask them what they're expecting, what they got out of it, where they thought there might be opportunities for improvement.

So I just ended up with an enormous amount of information from the, the, the attendees that I would use year on year to improve and tweak. And to be honest, I'm at the point in time now where I don't think I need all of that funding anymore. I use the funding to make it easy for women to make the decision to come along. In other words, I had the accommodation, all sorted. I had food included, all they had to do is turn up because there's a, there's that kind of momentum that you need to overcome to just get started and, and, and in the end.

So I've just decided that's, that's just a lot of work for the organizer. And, and I'm also at the point where I, I kind of want to hand this project over to some, I want to mentor the next female leaders of this, of the sport. And, but I, I just set such a high bar. I, I need, I need to be more pragmatic and, and, and make it easier for others to step up to date. It's been an absolute joy and the women that I have met, and also the women who've been inspired to step up now, are everything was worth it.

Just to see that happening as such a joy,

Speaker 3 (29m 33s): It's gotta be so rewarding. I've always said the best job I ever had paid the least amount of money. I was a instructor for outward, which you have in Australia and New Zealand, but that was an instructor for them when it came out of college fur, you know, and I made 50 bucks a day and I would take, it was mostly 15 to 18 year olds out into the wilderness for a month. And we would teach river skills and mountain skills and rock skills. And, and, you know, basically they ended up running the program at the end, you know, you're teaching them all the, you know, navigation and how to cook and all of that.

And eventually they kind of take it over and you're just observing. And I'm always just felt like, man, I can't believe they're paying me for this. It was just so rewarding, but I always felt like I was learning more than I was teaching and I get what you're doing it. Right. That's I guess what I'm trying to say, is it just when you give like that it's, it seems like you get back so much more, that's gotta be really inspiring to see that in just a, I would imagine these, these women are incredibly grateful and thankful and happy and, and a Sprite.

Speaker 4 (30m 34s): Yeah. But the one thing that I can, I continue to struggle with it, you know, I'm always blown away by the reaction of the attendees. Even people who weren't sure who turned up, they, they, they say, I didn't realize what I was missing in this community until I got to fly with just a bunch of women. It's super hard to articulate it. And I even think that if, if Kirsten from five years ago who was refusing to attend these women's events that were being run when I was a novice pilot, you know, could, could, what would I say to her to get her to, to get on board?

I don't know that that I could, because that journey to understand that sometimes spending time with a bunch of women is just re energizing enough to then push you further when you're in a different environment. Yeah. I struggled to articulate that benefit that it brings.

Speaker 3 (31m 27s): So it, it almost seems like, you know, when all those years, when I ran a boat, a wee, it became really important and really obvious that we needed females involved in the crew side because of energy and crew is three people, you know, but if it was three guys, it didn't work. It wasn't, it wasn't really right. We wouldn't, we weren't really nailing it with the, with the clients I'm talking about. It is a commercial operation and it would just, everything went better energy wise, if there is a balance

Speaker 4 (31m 58s): Balance and that this is, this is the other thing that I I'm trying to, to, to shift is that some people are thinking that this is all about women and you're getting, you're getting government grants for women. What about the men is like, this is it. It's actually just a bit rebalancing. The, the, the, the gen the gender representation, because an old women group will not do better than an all men group. It's, it's just rebalancing that, so that we get a good, a good balance of what women bring to a group and what men bring to a group.

And, and sometimes it's, it's, it's even the act of it has been explicit, but you and I are different. And therefore we bring different attributes to the table. Whereas if you're in a homogenous group, sometimes it's, you don't take the time to consider that. But yeah, it is gender balance is, is the goal here.

Speaker 3 (32m 51s): Kirsten, I've asked this of a few other female pilots that we've had on the show, and we've gotten some great answers. And also I, but I'm still confused by it. And I'm hoping that you can help cleared up for me. Why do we not have the demographic representation in the sport that we do in life in the world? But I still, to an extent that still kind of baffles me.

Speaker 4 (33m 18s): Yeah. And, and you've had some, some really interesting other guests on your show who have, have been able to, to answer a lot of these Isabella and Adele haunty have, have had very valid answers to this. Adele. Adele was talking more about the RI you know, what doesn't contribute to that. So it's not a gender thing. Women can, can fly. They can, they've got all the technical skills. They are lighter pilots that we, we represent more pilots than, than men do.

But I think there's two, two main issues that have yet to be really tackled. I'm going to talk about the easy one first, which I think is the point of our world championship, or is it should say the format of our championship competitions are focused on speed and the way that our wings are built, they're built for speed. So all of the R and D goes into foster wings. Now, the, the bigger you are, the faster you are fostered, you are the big, the heavier you are, the faster your wing is going to be.

Cause you can fly a big wing. Women just can never, I never going to be able to compete at the level that men can because they, they are not that heavy. And I am personally concerned about the, the change in rule's that, that, that is encouraging pilots to, to ballast up in order to fly the bigger wings, because it is dangerous. I've, I've broken my ankle when I was flying a small Zeno, just in order to get my, my weight up to fly.

Now I might add that flying the Zeno was the single best flying experience of my life. And it's very interesting to, to consider how a pot who has been restricted to flying like a very small wings. How has she then performed on a wing that was more average size because I'm telling you it was chalk and cheese, small wings are twitchy and more prone to get a little tux. And, and, and it feels you can feel all the T all the turbulence in the air flying a big wing is just another based altogether.

It is a magic, but I made the decision after breaking my ankle with 30 kilos, that I was not going to put my health at risk anymore like that. And I've stepped back on fly a and M seven a and extra small in seven. Now, for me, that's that the right balance. But, but the problem that I'm getting at is that whilst our competition formats are focused on speed, we're not going to be in a, our manufacturers have no incentive too, to develop wings that are, that are, that are made for smaller pilots.

For example, I would really like to see more focused on a row gaining format of, of, of competition. Because when you think about it, I mean, unless you're, your goal is to be a world champion pilot. You, you know, you, you, why are you flying? Competition's a, a a a hundred percent. I agree that everybody who says that competitions teach you a set of skills that would take you a year to, to learn Free flying, but inversely shouldn't competitions also then be training that they should be the training for your bucket list flights, right?

They should be training you how to have the best flights that you've ever had. Now, your best is that if you want to, if you've got a bucket list flight, it's not all about speed. It's about picking the, picking your weather. It's about picking your launch. It's about picking. When you get to know that when you're going to launch is about picking your route, given either the forecast or what you were observing the sky, it's a strategic decision-making. I think that we're going to end up with a much more rounded pilots. If we have a competition format that encourages a whole lot of skill sets, and then the person who, who wins that competition is going to be an amazing all around a part.

They're not, to be honest, they probably are going to be a larger part, but they have to be, they have to have all those other skills as well. So in my mind, you know, if we need to change things from the top in order to be more inclusive of not just our big, heavy pilots throughout the entire community. So

Speaker 3 (37m 40s): In what way would that, would that bring more women to the sport, or is that just something that needs a fix? And I agree with you, then it needs a fix, but I wonder if that would be more than women.

Speaker 4 (37m 51s): I think it would, because I'm the type of form. Like in my mind, I've been talking to people about my By a goal, a competition format for quite awhile, and I'm starting to see some, a little competitions pop up that are using white points and, and leaving it up to the pilot to decide how they're going to string those way points together. And then they get points by stone. How many, how many white points they've picked up along the way in my mind, you know, the way that you could have an all-inclusive competition that doesn't take away the thrill of racing.

Cause I, I, and just to be honest, I don't race very much because I don't have enough pilots that are at my speed, but I hear competition parts hooked on racing. So we don't want to take that away, but we just, we just want to create events that all the rest of us can have fun as well. So if you had an event where a, everyone launches from the same launch, they take off whenever they want, because the, one of the most stressful parts of the current format is, is, is having to take off in that short period of time. And then possibly being in, in the super gaggle, a with 120, 30 pilots in the year, that's super stressful.

If you could remove some of that stress and give parts the freedom to take it off, whenever they wanted start their flight, whenever they want it, if they want to race with a, with a bunch of pilots than they can, they can do that. But it just means all the other pilots get to it. It's about the, how do you get your, how do you get into competitions without, without that stress of being on launch and all those parts? So we were looking really serious and looking down at their instruments and they're struggling too, to get all the way points in before that. And then they got to get into the gear and, you know, they've got everything set up so that they it's just a tiny, stressful, I think that turns a lot of people off.

And when, when, when that scene is all male and you're one, a few women that even more intimidating, right? So the idea of like, just taking off and getting points for however many weigh points you got, and maybe my mind, the goal would be you get a bonus. If you all land at the designated landing zone, which means you get that party atmosphere as well. And everybody's, high-fiving each other, because maybe you've just got to weigh points, but you landed at the LSA and someone else, who's a lot done a tour of the whole area and has collected a hundred wide points.

And this is the absolute here of the day. They're having the same potty, you know, to me, that's about inclusivity and that's going to get more women into it. You know,

Speaker 3 (40m 14s): Marcos has been doing this thing down in via that. I think he calls it the XC sky race. That's kind of along those lines. I went down in the last couple of years and participate in it and it before the Monarch and it's really fun. He is it. So there's all the wings are handicapped. So there's, there's, he doesn't have the formula totally right yet, but it's in a perfect world. It wouldn't matter what, when you're on. You know, so in other words to be could, can very easily be to CCC wing because it's because of the handicap and, and handicaps is very fair. And you're, you really have to get home.

You're, you're penalized massive amounts if you don't, if you don't close the triangle, which just makes it because he doesn't have the personnel to deal with retrieve, you know? So, so you're, you're basically, if it, once the algorithm is perfect, how it should work is the best XC pilot. So that's not the best competition pilot, but the best pilots, pilot we'll win this competition. Know you get four, you get four scores instead of, you know, if it's, I think it's a six or seven day comp, but only four scores count.

So a couple of days you can really push it, or if you've blown it, you can kind of dial it back. And you know, there's a lot, there's still all the strategy and there's still all the competition. There's a lot less stress because you decide when you launched, you decide how you're going to fly. You're going to let you decide where you want to go. And then you get to see, Oh man, I blue that day, you know? So, and so did this kind of a triangle and, you know, cause you have to decide the weather. I don't know about you, but I've never, I don't pay any attention to the weather if it's a cop or if it's a world cup or that kind of thing, 'cause, it doesn't matter.

You gotta fried a task. I mean, you gotta, you know, you can't wait for the day to get a little bit better on launch. You're launching when everybody else is launching. And so you're not paying attention to a lot of the things that you really need to pay attention to, to be a good XC pilot. And in a lot of it's kind of follow the leader. And in a lot of it's just, you know, you got to get the good enough technical skills to follow, you know, to stay in a gaggle really well and then be able to break late in the game. So everybody knows the same things. And whereas this other format is it's really quite fun.

It's quite a bit more relaxing and it's, but you still learn a lot. You're still pressing on a lot of bar and you're still racing and fast because you know, you've got a limited amount of time to get as big as you can possibly go.

Speaker 4 (42m 35s): So that, that doesn't take away, like speed is a valuable skill to learn it. If you want to get the most out of your day, you have to be fast. So it's, I'm not, I'm not at all saying that we don't need that. I just think that it's one of a, a gamut of skills that a, a good essay pilot needs. Like you say, I like that. But the idea of that, it sounds like some of it,

Speaker 3 (42m 57s): You can have a mix maybe between like Bruce's weightless comps that they've been doing. And there's, there's a few formats of those and maybe kinda what Marco's do it. Like the, the one I was just talking about where we, we kind of put the pieces together in a, in a style that's going to reward the best pilot because the best pilot. Yeah. Isn't the, it doesn't necessarily mean you're that you're the biggest guy. And then, you know, the best, the best pilot, it makes a, makes the most sense of the day.

Speaker 4 (43m 25s): Right? I agree. A hundred percent. The other, the other aspect that I, I think it probably needs a bit more discussion. If we want to understand why we don't have that many women in this sport is, is the, the subtle subtleties of well-meaning sexism, which might be rushing to help a female, a novice female pilot on launch, which is pretty much center the message that I need help. I'm not, I'm not good enough to do this by myself.

We all know what a head game flying is. And it's the most subtle things that can make a difference. I was helping a friend out with a, a, a licensed course and observed the same type of behavior, not from the instructors. Actually, there was a couple of other people there helping, but when, when the female students are being helped, more than the male students that are being robbed of opportunities to build confidence, even though those helping think they're actually doing a good thing, they're, they're not helping at all.

Speaker 3 (44m 28s): So they're trying to do the right thing, aren't they? Yeah. Right. But that actually,

Speaker 4 (44m 32s): You know, we just need to, to, to, I mean, we just need to be thinking about Making small mistakes as opportunities as a learning opportunities and opportunities to build confidence.

Speaker 3 (44m 41s): Yeah. So give us, give us something, give us something exacting here that you know, that the, the males listening to that, what, what should be the overriding? What should we be thinking about a lot to give us some concrete advice that, you know, cause there's a lot of nuance there, isn't it? You know, so it sounds to me like if, you know, if it's just, if this is a, if this is an inexpensive mistake, let them make a mistake. It, you know, only really get involved if it's like, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, you are not clipped in a way.

Speaker 4 (45m 10s): Well, yeah, but it's also about like, letting anybody know that if they need help, you're there, you're, you're there to help, you know, and also something that happens quite often, let's say these dyes, but certainly more when I was a novice pilot is instead of, if you see a pilots plus to any pilot getting ready to launch and you can see that they might, it might be helpful if you, for, for them, you don't just go up and, and start pulling the wing up, ask them, just ask how would you like that?

Yeah. And some people height, their wing being touched. So in any case, so you should always ask, but also, you know, and this is what my, my edit my style on my fly and it is to just reassure, right. So I know, you know how to do this, but let me know if you want any tips, but if you're happy to, to give it a go yourself, go for it. It's just empowering them to ask for help letting them know that you're free. You're a developer to give the help, but kind of at the same time, reassure them that, you know, there are a licensed pilot.

You, you you've done this before.

Speaker 3 (46m 18s): It was something like that. Clearly you got this, you know how to ride if you need any help, but I'm here.

Speaker 4 (46m 24s): Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (46m 27s): So do you, in your experience, has, has this behavior as well-meaning is it is driven women away from the sport. And in other words, that's, that's it, we just fixed that are in it, because again, these are, these are the people you're talking about that are already there. Is there anything we could do to get them there?

Speaker 4 (46m 48s): Yeah. So, sorry, you reminded me of the other point role models. The more visibility you can provide of other, with other people like them, whoever you are minority, is that your trying to encourage more of that, I need to say, this is a, this is totally a sport for them. And they need to see that by seeing other people of, of, of that minority. So we're talking about women right now, so they need to see other women interests. Here's an interesting statistics. So our look as a state average for women participating in paragliding is 8%.

And in my local club, and then any of the high CC, we have double that we have 16%. So what are we doing differently? We've got a large number of women in our club. We've got a large number of women who are locals, who are on launch every day. And when you have novice pilots turning up and they turn around and they see that there are other women in this sport that it's not unusual for a woman to be in this spot, then they put in what they think it's worth it. I think it's worth the effort. Also, they've got people to reach out to, if they're feeling a little bit intimidated by asking some of the guys, there are people there, there are women pilots there who are more than happy to, to, to help.

But when I say help really is just like asking for some tips, like, you know, I, you know, I, a common complaint is I just don't feel strong enough to control my wing. I've there are techniques that you can use as a smaller person to, to, to improve your control over the wing, or even just advice about small wings. But the point is role models are so important. And I didn't understand that until I ran the women's fly-ins, that is what is going to make a huge difference. And it, it, it just requires getting some momentum and get to that critical volume, but that, that will also have a huge impact.

Speaker 3 (48m 38s): Yeah. And momentum, any momentum they're really to get a good to get that, get the snowball rolling in, and it will grow. You mentioned Cedar, who's like an extreme extrovert, you know, so for him, with his connections and media presence and all the things he's done in that world, it was incredibly easy for him to get top-notch mentors right off the bat, because he just walked right up and it was like, you got to teach me how to do this. Otherwise I'm going to kill myself. So you get to stay in my life. You know? I mean, it wasn't that wasn't his wording, but that's what all, we, we were all hearing that loud.

Jesus is this guy named mentor. He was going to kill himself. And, but I would, you know, but there's also a lot of introverts in everything, not just our sport. And I would think, you know, one of the, one of the questions I get all the time is, Hey, how do I find a mentor? And I would imagine this is great because you're, you're providing a platform. Oh, here they are. I got the signup for this week long, a fly-in and I get to ask questions. I think a lot of people have trouble with that, but it's not, you know, and I, I think back to my own learning and my own progression and just God, I was lucky, but I grew up in sports.

And so I was, I was comfortable with asking these pilots who were so much better than I was to help me out. But if I hadn't been, you know, you get kicked out and the nest in this sport way too early. Right. I mean, we do, we get our little, whatever, , whatever the equivalent is in Australia. Okay. And there you go, you know, no shit.

Speaker 4 (50m 6s): Oh, exactly. And, and that, that area is so out of all of these, fly-ins, I, I ride up a summary for the season of all the lessons I learned in the lesson. One of the big pieces that I think is relevant across all genders across all countries, is that transition from school to club. It's super hard, super hard to do it. And it's super hard to just, just to be able to turn up at a club meeting or an LZ and, and be brave enough to say, I know nothing or really need some help.

And, and the thing is that these are a bunch of people that are pretty excited about the day ahead and kind of have their own plans as well. So you've got to ask for time. And one thing that I think has kind of altered this for a lot of us are when I started flying in 2007 they've quality of weather forecasting was nowhere near it is today. So we spent a lot of time turning up to sites and not flying because, you know, the forecast doesn't work out and then spending a lot of time talking to people. And that's where I got to meet a lot of senior pilots who shared a lot of knowledge about, about flying on the site or, or even progression because we had time to sit there and to the fat today, the forecasting is so good.

People would just turn up on that flight with this is the case and brought in a way a sky site is so accurate for us. You, you, can, you just, you turn on any flying. That's the way it goes. And a lot, I think that our PG tool is kind of miss out on what I got the benefit of just sitting here

Speaker 3 (51m 33s): To the fan on the launch is much of that. Right. And you know, that that's important. Yeah. You, I read it on your about page, you know, it hasn't, it hasn't been roses. You, you talked about when you first got into this, you had thoughts and beliefs on how to encourage women and you, you got some back for that. Can you explain that?

Speaker 4 (51m 57s): Yeah. So what I'm referring to there is what some people are referring to is bikini gate. So that fact, and I think it was 2015 or 14. I can't remember there was a car that was a PWC or a championship. If it was a PWC in a row, maybe Bulgaria or Macedonia, somewhere, somewhere in Eastern Europe. And I was following it as a very Cain pilot to see what was going on.

And, and I noticed a, a photo that had been published by the, the, the competition. And it was a woman bending over in a bikini fluffing, a pilot's wing. And I was just really disappointed cause I'd been really excited to say the women that they were covering on this competition and feeling like, you know, this was something that I should aspire to, but there's this photograph it, you know, that the focus was clearly on this woman's crotch. And I just felt super disappointed. And so I went to a naively and not posted something to say, Hey, I think we can do better than this.

You know, how, how about we cover some of the female parts instead of just, it's not great and what I was exposed too, because that was a public post. And I don't generally write public posts anymore. It was the number of people in the community who really objected to me calling that out. And you know, it also, this is kind of back in the earlier days of social media where I didn't understand what I was opening myself up too. And I just got hammered and a, at a wing from ECC mag.

He actually came out in my defense and he got blow back to what kind of reflected on cross-country mags. Well, so I don't think he expected that kind of blowback either. It was, you know, a few years later now I understand that if I got that level of emotion out of people, then clearly I was picking on a nerve there. And, and I've, you know, from that experience, I guess, you know, what else has happened since then, as we've kind of understood this, this theory of, of filter bubbles were on social media, you tend to connect with people who think very much like you, and you can be lulled into this feeling that the world is completely aligned with your beliefs.

Speaker 3 (54m 15s): We're on our own echo chamber, by the way.

Speaker 4 (54m 18s): Exactly. So that was a, a, a, a lesson for me, but also I think a, a valuable lesson and in, you know, not everybody comes from a culture where we aim for a gender parody or we, we value everybody equally. I'm not saying at all that, you know, in Australia, we are there, but I think most people agree that, you know, that's something we want to aim for. And there are just, there are people out, you know, culture is out there that just don't see that at all. So sure. But that's kind of driven me to, to, I guess, stand up and, and say these things and, and, and I guess stand up for pilots who might be feeling intimidated or disadvantaged by those comments and just calling it out.

Maybe not everyone will agree with me, but there's going to be a whole lot of people that are going to go, Oh, shit, I didn't didn't realize that would be so offensive. That's not my intention at all. I will, I will look, I would think more carefully about the things I say.

Speaker 3 (55m 14s): So you can stick your finger feet into some places. Sometimes that it gets a lot of blow back, but sometimes they still need to be said,

Speaker 4 (55m 21s): Yes. And, and, and this is what I have learnt a lot lately. Sometimes you don't, you don't raise things too, too. Well, you know, you might start out thinking that you're making a point to change people's minds. I think that's a dangerous intention to have 'cause you, you know, if it's a, in a motive topic, people are going to, to bite back and that can be soul-destroying. And, and, and, and I can't really overstate how stressful personally it was that, that first incident on social media that I had, I, you know, that I felt brave.

I felt brave. And then there was just one comment to me on social media that sent me over the edge. And I was a bawling mess at work because I've read one to many bad comments, comments, but I think that if you, if you can step back and understand that we need brave people in our communities to S to, to say some uncomfortable things. And when people Bach with emotion, it just means if hit a nerve, which probably means you, you know, you've, you've got them thinking about the right things. It can be tough to get to receive some of that, but we need brave people to talk about uncomfortable topics.

Speaker 3 (56m 33s): Yeah. And the, in that day, what they call a silent majority were all, were all in a silent majority, everybody in here, you know, it it's, it's everybody on the, on the fringes that are, that are barking so loud. But yeah. Well, tell me about lifestyle. Let's switch topics completely here. You, the last time I spoke to you, you are just moving a bright and you were setting up in this cute little tiny home that I see in your background. You've really oriented your life around flying and in lifestyle.

Tell me about that a little bit.

Speaker 4 (57m 5s): Yeah. It's so my departure from what I would say is a pretty stock standard of life started when I decided to, to, to step out of full-time permanent work and enter a contract work. So I've been working as a business analyst in, in tech for probably the last five. Maybe it must be like 10 years now working for big blue chip corporates, getting paid a lot of money, getting sick and tired of being told that I couldn't take six weeks leave to go trouble the States, which is what I was doing at the time.

So I just got to a point where my boss had actually said to me, Kirsten I can't keep giving you this amount of leave. You're a permanent employee. This is not the deal. And I went, you're right. It's not the deal. I should be a contractor. I'm going to quit and become a contractor. So I did that. And then it got my six week, six weeks leave and then came back and said, so do you want to employ me as a contractor? I did. Yes. So I got it exactly what I want to do with more money, because it was a contractor I'm not, not having to do all those horrible, personal development reviews.

And it just seems like the universe is telling me this year is going in the right direction. And, and then I started to realize that if I, you know, took different contracts with different companies, I could take bigger breaks. So I can take a few months off. And it was, you know, during one of those things that I also managed, as I mentioned before, I got to do some work in the States. It was well, so it was over there in the States, the tiny house movement originated in the States that I got the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in an Airbnb, a tiny house. And I just knew, knew that that was what I wanted to do.

So interestingly, at the same point in my career where I feel like I reached the highest accolade where I got offered a job in San Francisco with a company that was going to sponsor me there, I turned around and said to him, no, I want to go home and build a tiny house. And I think he thought I was insane.

Speaker 3 (59m 2s): Wait a minute. That's not right. You have to do that to get the paycheck,

Speaker 4 (59m 7s): A job. Yeah. With a visa, you know? So, so that's what I did. I, I quit that contract and I, I went back home and I started to build a tiny house, actually, you know, what's, that was in San. I was doing a lot of planning and designing and talking to an architect, the, the architect of my tiny house, a at least in Ohio, in, in California as well. And I, so by the time we got home, I had ordered my trailer, the, the, the chassis, and I'd found some ways to build, actually, this is pretty interesting.

So my parents don't have a property that I can build on my sister. I didn't didn't have anybody who has a property that was a suitable to build on. So at that point and time again, tiny houses where we're only just becoming too to get bigger. And there was a tiny house Facebook group in Australia. And I just reached out to that group and just said, look, I dunno if this is possible, but if anybody has a property, that'd be willing to let me build on you. You'll get to what a tiny house get built. A it'd be really great if it was within 20 minutes of where I was living, I had to move back in with mom and dad to make this happen.

And, and, and it, it may be within 10 minutes of a hardware store in Australia, the big chain here is Bunnings. That would be great. And this man appeared and he had acreage within 20 minutes drive of my parents' home. I could see Bunnings from, from the property. He, yeah. He had a family who were all super excited about it. He was an ex builder. So he, he not only gave me space and some expertise.

He ha Oh, he was a hoarder. So he had five of it, every tool. So at the beginning of my day, he'd be, you can come out to me before he started work. And he'd say, so what are you going to do today? And I'd tell him, and he got it, right. How are you gonna do that? And I'd tell him what, I'd just YouTube. And he'd go, right. Yes. You could do it that way. You could do it this way. And he proceeded to tell you exactly how to do it. He's like, so are you going to need these tools? Do you have those tools that I'd be like, no, but I can lend you work it, come back, give me a five minute lesson. And he worked on site and then he'd come back at lunchtime and go, so how did you go?

And I'd have him a question saved up. It was just, honestly, you couldn't, you could make that happen again. So I got, I, I learned to build on the job. I don't know how it would've worked out if I hadn't met Wayne. And, and, but the thing was that he, he taught me exactly the way I needed to learn, which was not being shown for hours on end, just a quick five minute lesson, and then leave me to try and sort out some of those problems.

Speaker 3 (1h 1m 43s): Do you do this shelf, run this wire, put this sink in just a piece by piece. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (1h 1m 48s): Yeah, exactly. So I ended up, you were the contractor. Yeah. I built 95% of it. Myself. The only thing is I employed someone to do is the roof. And that's really because, you know, you can't ask friends to help you with a roof. It's up there with asking them to help you move. Nobody really wants to do it. So I paid someone to help me with the roof. I, a pen electrician to do the wiring and a plumber to do the gas plumbing. And that's it. I do that

Speaker 3 (1h 2m 10s): Smart. And that's smart. You don't really want to touch some of that stuff. I want to do. You don't want to burn your house down or you don't want to flood it. You don't want to have the rain to bring you a roof in. So, but you're, you're not in the future or you move in this thing around or is it, or do you know?

Speaker 4 (1h 2m 25s): You know, I know it, it's not, it's not built for, for moving very often. So at the moment I am on my friend's property, who Wally , he owns bright flight. So it's a paragliding school right next door to me. And he actually just, his property has this vacant paddock next door, which are the previous owners who were also, paragliders had leveled, it's a, on a bit of a slip, but the level that thinking that we're going to put cabins on it and it never got around to it. So I've got this beautiful spot that I can see mystic, which is the main paragliding launched here.

And all I need to do is look out my window and see if there flying. And I know if it's time to get to get out there or not. So I'm very privileged as to where I am. I'm pretty happy where I am, but I guess I love it so much now that I'm hoping to, to, to get my own little parcel of land. But as we were just discussing before, anywhere that is enjoyable to live in, that has access to internet. A lot of city folks after COVID are looking to, to make that transition now also because remote working is so much more accessible and that's, that's pretty much how, how, what, what I've said it on here.

I, because I leave a very cheaply in my rent. All I'm renting is land, so that's not very expensive. I have solar. So I'm off grid. I do type town water. That's, that's all I do, but I've got a composting toilet. I don't need a syringe or anything like that. My living cost is a very low, so I only work 20 hours a week remotely for a disability tech start up in Sydney because I'm still kind of earning a professional salary, but I don't have the costs. I don't have to work as many hours. So yeah.

And also they're very flexible. So then they know how much I love to fly. So I can, one day say, you know, tomorrow is such an amazing, fine day and I'm going to take the day off just so you know, and they go, great. Send us photos,

Speaker 3 (1h 4m 17s): Hey, try to give me, you know, rather than it all, just do it. So give me some, you know, for the, for those that are listening, they're like, man, I need to cut the cord. I need to do that. Give us some brass tacks of advice on how people could do that. Like for example, how much you spend building your tiny home and what would it cost? What, what would it take to, for someone to be able to, you know, cut their corporate job or leave whatever, you know, and they're nine to five and do something like you've done.

Speaker 4 (1h 4m 45s): So paragliding has taught me a lot about myself. And one thing I've, I I've come to know is that I, I take a long time to come to a decision and I need the space to be comfortable to do that. And then sometimes I need to be able to take big steps slowly. So for me, that was about how it was explained before I didn't just turn up one day and go, I'm quitting my job and I'm moving to, to bright. I like that. That's what actually thought about it a lot that I wanted to quit my job and move to bright, but it always got stuck on the, Oh, but what work am I going to do?

They're on their cars. It's a, it's a, it's a little, it's a hospitality town as a tourist town, right? So there's no tech or tech work here. And, and, and then how was it going to afford a mortgage? Right. And the solution I settled on has, you know, has overcome those in a very different way. So I started by going, well, I think contracting provides me with more flexibility. So I moved from permanent work to contracting and I worked out that that was fine. I didn't actually require the security have a full-time job, but some people do for some people that's important. It wasn't for me. So you can take baby steps along the way, you know, and then moving from contracting, you know, long term to taking smaller contracting jobs.

And, and then that, I mean, what that allowed me to do is to actually create a bit of a name for myself. It, the type of work I do in tech is, is quite niche. And if you can kind of get a network of people who will recommend you to out to other work places and other organizations, then that makes it a little bit easier to, to get that job. Now, I must admit like this wasn't all smooth sailing. I went through this period where I was just getting contract job after a contract job is to just let the stars were aligning for me.

And that actually allowed me, like I was getting paid so much that I could save enough to afford to take. Cause I, I was building, I kind of went back and forth between building full time and taking out a contract jobs when I ran out of money. But I was, I probably took about 12 months off altogether to build, obviously that's not the most efficient way to get a tiny house, but the process of learning to build was none. The less valuable life skill. I did that because I got those high paying contract jobs beforehand.

So the, I guess the other thing is that if you, if you start and I've observed this with a lot of other people too, once you start to follow your passion to the stuff you tend to align in, the universe tends to deliver, you know, things that will keep, keep you going down that path. So you don't get too upset. Don't get too focused on having to have it all planned out before you step onto that path. Just take baby steps and see how it feels. Does it feel right? Is, you know, are, are opportunities being presented to you that are pretty much the universe's way of saying keep going, you're on the right path here.

And that's exactly what happened to me. However, at the point where I moved to a contract work, I built my tiny house. I moved the house down to Brighton. I gave myself to summer off cause I've been working really hard. And then I was just like, well, so far the universe has delivered work to me. So its just going to happen

Speaker 5 (1h 7m 46s): And sad to run out of

Speaker 4 (1h 7m 48s): Money. A sudden I need to make more of an effort to try and find work. And that the point where it was just like, Oh my God, everybody's such a mistake. I can't get any work down here. You know, a, a, a LinkedIn post, which again, I did this, I did something quite unusual. Most people use LinkedIn. And if you're a professional, you know this site and if you're not, then you have no idea. What I'm talking about. It is basically social media for professionals. Mostly people post a job descriptions on LinkedIn and I flipped that on its and I wrote a big post about who I was and all the things that I'd done, both personal and professional.

And the fact that I was looking for some remote work and somebody turned up and said, actually, I'm going to start up that I can't really guarantee you a full-time job out of it. But if you want to be flexible, we can make this work. And we have, and that I've been there for three years and that's it. That's what gives me my flexible lifestyle at the same time. One of the, one of the benefits of covert is now working remotely is becoming a lot more acceptable. I don't feel the same pressure that I have to stay with that company more, any, you know, as much, I still love working for them, but I feel like I'm now set up well to take advantage of remote working anywhere.

Speaker 3 (1h 8m 56s): Hmm. I like how you say the stars align. I mean, you know, a ship and Harbor safe, but that's not what they're built for, is it right? And I mean, I, for some reason when you were telling that story, I was thinking about, I think a lot about the, you know, the two little people we have on our shoulders. When we fly, you've got the one barking at you that you're going to die and you've got the one barking out at you that you're going to be fine. And a lot of flying for me. See, it's the same with life. You have to, you know, there are times when you should listen to the other one. There, there are times when you've got to listen to both, there are times when one of them is just absurd and you got to set them aside and, and listened to the other for that period of time.

But it, it seems like when your doing the right thing, it does seem like resistance kind of peels away. It hasn't, it, it just feels right. And we have to, I think we can incorporate that into our flying. It's often not obvious, you know, which you should be listening to the devil or the, the, you know, the, the angel, which is which one's, which, but its, it sounds like your experiences is a lot like what we deal with when we go for a flight, its, you know, when your doing the right thing, it lines up.

Speaker 4 (1h 10m 6s): I refer to my experiences in the air when I am being challenged on the ground all the time, all the time. I think about, you know, the times when I listened to my gut feeling or I, or else I listened to people telling me that I couldn't do something, you know that this is what I'm saying. Like paragliding teaches you a lot about yourself when you're in the air and you're working hard just to keep the wing open and you're two kilometers above the earth and you're sitting there wondering what the hell prompted you to, to put yourself in such a precarious position.

You really get to understand your psyche. You have to challenge yourself. You have to find ways to work through that type of fear. And for, you know, the, the, the challenges and stuff, you know, for me, what I do when I'm in those types of situations, as I go through the REIT, do you see anybody else falling out of the sky? No. Are you the least qualified or you know, at least experience part of the air now, how do you even see anybody taking a collapse? No, I think you're going to be fine.

Speaker 3 (1h 11m 8s): Right? Right, right. There's there's a lot going on between our two ears. Isn't it? That often have to just kind of set aside. It's just attitude. It's a lot of it's irrational all the time. You know, there's a lot of irrational fear there you have, I don't know. I don't know your history with this, but you know, you mentioned in your website, a fear, how do you deal with fear? How do you teach this to your students and the, the women that join you for the fly-ins? How do you, what do you think about, what, what do you think about fear?

Speaker 4 (1h 11m 42s): I think fair is, is complex in it. You can't really tell somebody how to deal with fear. You can encourage them to unpack it. And I, I went through a period of, of, of allowing fear to dominate my flying. And I think if you've been flying for more than a few years, most people have been through such a period. Mine was triggered by doing an SIV at a point in time when I was probably in intermediate syndrome. And, and the, the amazing thing is that your dear friend, Bruce Marks was my mentor at this time at the bright open.

And he was, he was very patient and, and, and, and took everything quite lightly. But I remember after one task, I had found myself over a, I picked on a, my brand new Delta two, which was the, the next one I'd had after the Delta one. So I was feeling very confident on this wing and I I'd been excited cause I'd told him that I had suffered a, an, an enormous collapse where I'd looked up. My wing was just a bull of washing. And after watching a jockey, Sanderson, SIV videos, somehow I'd magically been able to refer back to the store part and, and execute a stall and I'd flown away and I was safe and it, it was pretty much going on a good Bruce.

And he just looked at me and laughed and went, yeah, let's, let's just rewind a bit of that shadowy because you know, it, it might've worked that well, but it could of gotten really bad. I have you done with this over yet. And it was like, no, not why wouldn't you probably go to it. So I did, I did go, I followed his advice and I went and did this over a and M and actually had some issues so much that listen, I didn't know, then that I've learnt since is that you shouldn't, it's not really advisable to do first SIV on an ENC.

And even today, when I do, I take a lot of an, a and B just to warm up on, cause I, I screwed up spins and big biggies for God's sake in, into uncontrolled spins. That, that, what, what happened was I found in a situation where I froze the, the, the incident that I was excited to tell Mark and Bruce about it was I didn't freeze and I sorted it out and, you know, I'm, I'm going to be fine doing the SIV and finding a situation where I froze then, you know, made me think that there were, I now had discovered situations where I might not be okay, cause I might freeze to my desk type thing.

And, and after that, I was just really of every single wing, tick tock, any kind of turbulence, which I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't work it out. Why, and I just, I kept talking to people about it. I kept talking to people about what I was afraid of what had changed. And so it, it wasn't until I'm a gain or Scoma. And actually she, she, she said to me, she was the one that released me by just picking up the right thing, which was Kirsten, you know, you, you may freeze again, but I guarantee you will not freeze as badly.

Next time that happens, you will deal with it better. And that's what unlocked me. So I don't have a, an answer to it, to everyone about their fear. I, I w most of my advice is just keep talking to people about it. Eventually you will find somebody who just is something, and they're not going to even realize how profound is going to be. That was going to unlock it for you. And, and that's what I hear from are a lots of other people. Like they, they eventually find the thing that unlocks that for them. And then I can move forward. It still took me quite a long time to get back into it, but that will least to me, and I could move on with my flying.

Speaker 3 (1h 15m 16s): Kirsten I've got a bunch of questions here, and I'm just gonna pick out a few, w we just did this survey. And by the time you were, and I did By by the end of the show goes live, we'll have done the survey weeks and weeks and weeks ago, but this just came out and I asked for a new questions and I'd love to fire some of them at you. Is that okay? Sure. Does Free flight make aspects, make other aspects of your life better or worse? So work relationships, et cetera.

Speaker 4 (1h 15m 45s): Do you know when it was 'cause it puts things into perspective.

Speaker 3 (1h 15m 51s): That's the, that's the Holy grail, isn't it perspective.

Speaker 4 (1h 15m 54s): Yeah. Th things that we get bogged down into, bring it up a level it's in the big scheme of things that often not that important.

Speaker 3 (1h 16m 1s): Hm. Why do you fly

Speaker 4 (1h 16m 6s): The release, the release and just the freedom I find in nature? It, it is, it is being released from the shackles of all of our worries on the ground and occupying a space that is it truly a privileged to be in, in the best flights. So when you get to share the air with Eagles and, and, and touch the clouds and see, and say the earth, like you, you end up with a connection for the area that you're flying over, that you would never get on the ground.

It's not, I mean, that's just an additional connection. Hiking is another additional connection, but it's just such a privilege.

Speaker 3 (1h 16m 50s): Hmm. Okay. If you had no restrictions on your life right now, financial or pandemic or otherwise, where would you go fly you to do you pack your bags? You can go tomorrow. You can go anywhere in the world. Where would you fly? And why?

Speaker 4 (1h 17m 6s): Either Slovenia of France Sylvania, because a friend of mine was showing me a flight he did on Avery. And I was, Oh God, it was just, it looked, just looked amazing. And to have his commentary at the same time, I was that man, I've got to go there, but France, because I learned to fly there, I never returned. There is a competent pilot. And I feel like a robbed myself of such an opportunity. And, and I have friends there now who are pretty much saying come, you know, we'll take you fly and will give you a place to stay.

And I, yeah, I just, I haven't taken up those opportunities. And I guess also there's, there, there was one video that I watched as a novice. I don't remember exactly who was in it, but somebody was flying in France. I've a Montblanc. And I just thought that was the best thing ever. I know it. So it's probably for many pilots that who have managed to do that. It probably is still the best thing ever, but that's, what's inspired me to keep pushing through a lot of the fear as this, this idea that like one day I might be able to fly the face of these rock cliffs.

And Oh yeah. I, I haven't, I haven't, I haven't, I haven't achieved that dream yet.

Speaker 3 (1h 18m 18s): We will have to, it's only, it's only a flight away. Once this pandemic gets under control, I think there's gonna be a lot of us itching to go do these kinds of things. Final one. Kirsten what skill or thing have you learned from life or any other sport that has helped you become a better pilot?

Speaker 4 (1h 18m 37s): Oh, that's a good one. Normally it's the other way around. I spent a lot of time thinking of what paragliding teaches me, but what, what has life taught you? Both? Paragliding has taught me to listen to my gut feeling the number of times when, just because you don't understand what it's telling you, you don't, again, you don't need to know everything. You just need to listen to your intuition and you can analyze it later. But in the heat of the moment, just listen to you, gut feeling. Sometimes your gut is saying, go for it.

You can do it in your head saying, this is dangerous. Don't do it. Sometimes. It's the other way around where your head's going. Everyone else is doing it. You should totally do it. And your guts going, this is not your day. But yeah, I think sometimes also it, you got might be telling you things that your, your head just doesn't want to hear. Yeah. So, but anyway, probably what life has taught me is that I can do hard things.

Building a tiny house is really, really, really work hard. And I, and I did it. And I think like, if, if there's something that I want to achieve in paragliding, yeah. Some things are really hard, but if you stick to it and, and you are determined, you, you can do anything you want.

Speaker 3 (1h 19m 57s): Excellent. Kirsten what a delight. Its awesome to sit here and see you. It's been, like you said, it's been a while and congratulations on your tiny home and

Speaker 1 (1h 20m 8s): These wonderful courses fly-ins that you are doing those sound awesome. I'm hoping somebody listening on this end of the, you know, in other parts of the world will be inspired by your story and set up. Some of the things is that that needs to happen more. We need more women in a sport and we need more people like you. Thanks so much. That was a blast.

Speaker 6 (1h 20m 25s): So it was, it was fun. Thanks so much.

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