Episode 138- Nik Hawks and Expectations

Matt Beechinor during the shooting of 500 Miles to Nowhere. Photo Jody MacDonald

Nik Hawks returns to the Mayhem in response to the pilot survey we put out a couple months ago to take on a whole bunch of topics you, our listeners asked for. We broke this wide-ranging show into four main parts- Nik’s answers a bunch of questions about his own sometimes frustrating progression and how he’s had to adjust his own expectations in the sport in order to avoid being a “dangerous pilot”; I answer questions from Nik about a recent interesting discussion he had with a new pilot on launch; we revisit some of the takeaways from the Kiwi SAR effort in Nevada; and finally Nik interviews me about the upcoming Red Bull X-Alps, my own progression choices over the years, what makes a “dangerous” vs a “safe” pilot, gear choices for hike and fly and a lot more. We had a ton of fun with this show and hope you enjoy it!

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Show Notes: 

  • Survey results:
  • 60% of our listeners fly less than 100 hours a year & almost 80% identify as intermediate or beginner.
  • Most listeners into XC

Questions for Nik

  • How many hours do you have now?
  • Why hasn’t your progression been faster?
  • why don’t you fly more?
  • why don’t you do more SIV?
  • What’s your longest XC?
  • Do you consider yourself a dangerous pilot?
  • What “needs to change” in the world of free flight, if anything?
  • If you had 8 weeks over the spring and summer to do any flights anywhere in the world, what would they be?
  • What would you tell your 50 hour self?
  • What do you wish the new pilots on the hill would do more?
  • How have you handled reckless pilots on your hill?
  • Biggest eye opener/change of approach or attitude from when you first got into flying vs now. IE – what were the early misconceptions (“I’d like to race in the 2019 RBXA vs the reality”)
  • Tips for finding a good mentor? And…what makes a good mentor?
  • Top three frustrations in your progression

(local P3 new pilot w/100 hours, questions)

  • self taught, started flying at beginning of lockdown
  • kited solo for a month
  • flybubble, GoPro everything then ask another pilot for feedback, read the Art of Paragliding and other books, researched online stuff
  • launching lee side into 18 mph wind thinking it was fine, got lucky
  • “I’m often the lowest pilot, and lately I’ve been sinking out without warning.  If the wind shuts off, I’m fucked.”
  • tips on sidehill landings, because that’s where I get hurt
  • is it better to pick a safe spot and aim for that, or is it better to figure out the wind and land into the wind?
  • wind direction without indicators, how do you figure it out?
  • multiple intermediate syndromes
  • there’s not just one time that you realize you don’t know shit. It happens over and over.
  • I hurt myself on a launch after 60 launches and realized I got lucky 60 times
  • I’m psyched out on landing; every landing is an event now and it used to be something I looked forward to
  • I only get one shot at the “tricky” landings, which makes them even more nerve-wracking.
  • I have at least 50 landings “on the carpet”, but I missed twice and now I’m psyched out about it
  • I can stick 5 out of 10 landings on the box at Torrey. I don’t want to practice those at Torrey because then people will think I’m incompetent.
  • breaking hours up to ridge soaring (10 hours) & mountain hours (90 hours)


  • Should we have seen him?
  • What were our lessons learned?
  • gear (having a tertiary location backup)- 2 min tracking
  • comms, command, control (Telegram was amazing)
  • community really rallied. Was Kiwi that special, or can we expect that every time? USE US FIRST!
  • What was the best part of the SAR for you?
  • Other than Kiwi crashing, if you could change anything, what would it be? : Awesome Glass, SLOW Scans, SLOW down.

Questions for Gavin

  • Are you still doing your kite surfing business?
  • X-Alps: How will this one be different for you?
  • Thomas Theurillat
  • Operating mindset: “Everything to Gain, Nothing to Lose”- seeing opportunities instead of risks
  • It’s a GAME, treat it as one
  • Mastery approach vs external achievement
  • Process goals- eg packing/unpacking, food, recovery, mobility, visualizing, etc.
  • Whats the best possible outcome right now?
  • Bode Miller
  • Having different gears- climbing, gliding, surviving, decision making…
  • I know you’re not a gearhead, but…what are you flying & using both daily and for X-Alps?
  • wing- Klimber 2
  • harness Kolibri Pro, Kortel pack (260gr), Independence reserve (280 gr)
  • flight deck- XCTracer Mini (solar), InReach Mini, iPhone (they make us bring the FlyMaster Live)
  • misc- SHOES, SOCKS, z-poles, gloves, goggles, speed sleeves.
  • You jumped into 2 liners quickly but tell most people not to. What makes you different?
  • What piece of kit would you love to see that doesn’t exist yet?
  • Safety- location, and back ups in flight (cut away for XC pilots)
  • Three words to describe the safest pilots you know.
  • Confident, Fly the good days, Jedi’s with their wings on the ground
  • Three words to describe the most dangerous pilots you know.
  • Overconfident, Ignore the 5 hazardous attitudes of Aviation, don’t fly with enough margin for their ability, Flying a wing beyond their capability, using a rating to rationalize their ability
  • Describe to me what it feels like when you hook into a thermal. Be as descriptive as possible, and (as odd as it sounds) don’t worry if the words don’t make sense.
  • Let’s imagine you hiked up to launch and you meet a CBM supporter who’s a newer (50 hour) pilot. You can clearly see that both of you have arrived too early to fly, and no one else is there yet. The pilot asks you, “What are you seeing out there?” How do you respond?
  • “On The Hill” Segment: What’s one thing an intermediate pilot can practice the very next time they fly? (just thought of this, would be a cool way to end the show or include each time)


Mentioned in the Show:

Will Gadd, Flow, Cedar Wright, Malin Lobb, Maxime Pinot, Thomas Theurillat, Chrigel Maurer, Marko Hrgetic Hrga, USHPA, Jeff Shapiro, JK Smith, Kirsten Seeto, Arthur Markowitz, Bruce Goldsmith, Armin Harich, Theo De Blic, Ozone, Cross Country Magazine, Kiwi, Bill Belcourt, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, David Hunt, Kurt Niznick, Meshtastic, Keith Cockrum, Ben Abruzzo, Kortel, XCTracer, inReach, Garmin, Vespa, Matt Beechinor, Sebastien Kayrouz, Ken Hudonjorgensen


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Speaker 0 (0s):

Speaker 1 (20s): Hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase. Mayhem got a really fun show for you today. That was based off the survey questions that many, many of you have supplied the last couple of months since we put that up. And the big one, and we've talked about this in the last previous shows was just the eye-opener was for me for how many beginner and intermediate pilots listened to the show. So, and how many asked four more interviews with not just the greatest of the greats, but people that are going through the same learning curve that they are.

And so I reached back out to Nik Hawks who I've had a ton of requests for, especially in the survey. Who's definitely in that intermediate zone. I think he's about 250 hours. Now. We had them on the show when he had zero, we had a mom when he had about 10. And so we got Nik back on the show to talk about, we kind of broke the show into three different segments. The first is me interviewing him about risk and progression and safety and kinda what he's gone through and really the big, the big one, which was where he thought he would be back when he got into the sport.

After watching the Rockies traverse in 2014 to where he is now and how that kind of lack of progression, I guess we could put it that way has been really frustrating just because of life and work. And, and that he discovered, even though he was a Navy seal, that he wasn't so immune to risk and fear that he thought he would be. So I think this is something that all of us can really relate to. Then we talked a little bit about what we learned from the Kiwi SAR effort out in Nevada.

Nik joined us there in Eureka for a few days for us from San Diego and really helped us out. So we talk a little bit about the SAR effort there and some of the takeaways, and then we turn it around and he interviews me about just a bunch of things that he's trying to figure out in his own flying out on his own Hill, in his own community. And so you talk a little bit about what I'm changing this time around with the X, Alps what I'm not thermal fling and gliding and wing choice and a bunch of other stuff.

And just he's, he's really paid attention to my own years in this sport. And his, obviously he listened to all of the shows and so he kind of picked my brain. And so we had a lot of fun with this part of E. One of his suggestions was to put this on top of the show tip in which we've been doing the last few shows. I'm not going to do that this time, because this is an already over in an hour and a half show.

Speaker 2 (3m 0s): So I think there'll be plenty of tips within this one. And just a reminder that advanced paragliding is now in the pre-order phase, it has been shipped off for printing. It is done. It will be shipped in early April and we read the orders have been incredibly strong on this. If you go to ECC, mag.com for slash shop, you will see it. And I believe you can still get in on the pre-order special by using the Mayhem code, which is CB Mayhem 10, put that in the checkout code and you'll get 10% off plus free shipping, really excited about this.

It's been a long work in progress, and I think you will enjoy it. It's kind of a distillation of the best of the best from the first a hundred shows in the Mayhem. So you've made that purchase. Thank you. If you haven't, I encourage you to, you think you'll dig it. So enjoy this great talk with my friend Nik Hawks

Speaker 3 (3m 56s):

Speaker 2 (4m 7s): Nik by popular demand. Welcome back to the show. You know, we just did this survey, which was super enlightening with me, which I shared the results with you. And one of the big ones that came out of that was getting Nik back on the show, you know, it's so good talking to people at kind of the other end of the spectrum. And, you know, we've talked to you a few times as you've kind of come up through and learn and things about this sport and you and I got to see each other in a quite bad circumstances, but in some ways we're going to be talking about the Kiwi SAR effort here in a bit, but got to see each other in Eureka in Nevada, which was, which was great.

And I thought it'd just be really fun to catch up and see how your progression is going and see where are the differences are between your initial perceptions of the sport versus reality. And some of the things you've kind of been, I don't know, battling is the right word, but, but dealing with, and so, yeah, man, welcome back to the show and I'm excited to talk to you, sir,

Speaker 4 (5m 10s): Super psyched to be here. I was actually thinking this morning, it's, it's such a, such a gift to have a podcast because you get an hour with somewhere in there an hour and a half, whatever it is to have a direct one-on-one conversation with them, with no interruptions and everyone around you knows you that he knows that like, that's your deal for that moment. So it's a, I'm super grateful for all of these podcasts. And in this one, I like your energy. I like talking to you. So I'm excited for it.

Speaker 2 (5m 32s): Yeah. A long form like Sam Harris says it's it's, it's how we sell things. Isn't that? It's a good I I dig it to, it's almost kind of a meditation these days. It's just a really nice, I'm just, and I'm amazed how, you know, what it's made me do is realize how neophyte I still am, I guess, is what it comes down to is. It's just, I just feel like God, I'm just, I'm just getting going here. I'm not talking with a, Podcast just talking about flying. I just, it just makes me feel like a beginner all the time and over and over again.

I mean that this show we did with mal and law of us, I w what, I, I haven't heard any of this stuff. It was great.

Speaker 4 (6m 8s): We had one such a good one. So let's, let's kind of kick it off. Some of the survey results, the ones that popped out to us was that 60% of your listeners fly less than a a hundred dollars a year and almost 80, 80% identify as intermediate or beginner.

Speaker 2 (6m 22s): This blew me away. Nik yeah, I, it was cool. You know, having the Google graphs kind of break it all down in the, you know, the circle graphs. And I, I just had no idea how it was, you know, the, the, the, the base of the, the listener base. I mean, we've got actually, we're more experts than there were advanced, you know, experts. I think I put over 2000 hours in more than 10 years, you know, that was almost 10%, which was also a surprise, but yeah, it's this, it's this beginner and intermediate that are the real base of the listeners, which I, I don't know why that surprised me so much.

I mean, that's what it is in the sport, of course, but that's great. And that's that's, and it's going to help me tweak things more to, I mean, I think we'll keep going with talking to the best of the best, but we've gotta bring in people like yourself. And, you know, people mentioned in the survey, some of their best, you know, some of their favorite shows were with Cedar when he was getting going and just talking to people and we're just getting going.

Speaker 4 (7m 22s): Yeah. Yeah. It, it, when I was thinking about this show, I kind of wanted to call it like an interview with an average pilot. And they're like, eh, like I always like to think of myself as special, but I think that's kind of the, the whole angle of this show is like, Hey, you've got these really exceptional pilots who know everything. That's, that's kind of going on around them and can understand it. And then you get the rest of us and it might be helpful for folks out there to see that, you know, most of the pilots out there are, are just as kinda, maybe a little less ignorant than I am, but, you know, we're all in the same boat, kind of wondering what's going on,

Speaker 2 (7m 52s): You did this great article for cross country magazine about, you know, kinda being a beginner in progression. And then they, then they revisit it at the end of the article, which was, I thought it was terrific because, you know, with your background, you know, we did this show, what was it, 68 on risk. And, you know, you're an ex Navy seal, you're a bad ass. And, and I think that it's, it's interesting. Our must, it must be interesting. And I wonder if hard is that the right way to describe it to, you know, to get into this sport, you know, as, as I understand you got into after the watch and the Rockies film with, with, with that.

And I, that was kind of the inspiration or the catalyst. So that was 2014 and you get into the sport and you know, it hasn't all shaped up and ramped up like an ex Navy seal would approach things, right. That didn't happen, right?

Speaker 4 (8m 48s): No, no, not at all. Not at all. No, I, I think, you know what I started, so we know this is the fourth time we've of had a public concert or the first time I was like a, a zero minute, I'm going to be a 10 minute pilot. The second time I was at 10 hours, the third time was at 85, a non that to 150 starting in 2016. So it averages out what are a little bit more than 50 hours a year. And that was not my plan when I started, you know, I was like, Oh, I'm, I'm, you know, starting 2016, like by, I thought initially by 2017, I should be ready for the XL to

Speaker 5 (9m 21s): Slap down.

Speaker 4 (9m 23s): Yeah. And then I thought for sure, 2019, like that's a shoe-in and that turned out to be totally wrong as well. But, so I think we're breaking the show down into a couple of different parts. And as a listener, you might see it. You might think that some of these questions, especially if Gavin asked him to kind of directly as they're written are pretty aggressive, but these are questions that I had asked to be asked in order to, to kind of peel back some of the, some of the mystique that I think surrounds some of the pilots out there where you're like, Oh my God, that guy totally has it together. That girl totally has it together. And in reality, we're all very similar kind of skin bags flying these things around the sky and with a few exceptions, you know, not many of us have a really amazing idea of what's going on.

Speaker 5 (10m 2s): Yeah. And to follow up on that, what we're doing, all of you listening is we're going to kind of divide this into two sections. We've got the first half is going to be dedicated to Nik and I'm going to be asking him some questions that mostly he's provided actually. So he's been very helpful in creating all this. I'm going to give us a little bit on the, on the SAR thing with Kiwi and then we're going to follow it up with questions that we found from the survey about that people wanted to ask me. So next is going to follow up with some of the stuff he put, he gleaned out of the survey and also just his own interest.

And so this is going to be kind of a two-part deal, or we'll start with you Nik and, you know, before we get into your questions, I you just made me think of something will GAD talks about that, you know, to get good at this sport too, to be a good pilot, it often really helps to come from a background of flow sports, you know? And so when he sees climbers or triathletes or, you know, non flow sport, people get in his word he's off and kind of like you, do you think that's been some of the has that been any of the difficulty is, you know, really more of your combat training and, and being a Navy seal and that kind of thing.

And those aren't, I wouldn't define that as being a very flow activity. It's more training, training training, which certainly helps with, with, with paragliding. And I know you've taken that kind of mindset to flying, but do you think that's been one of the kind of stumbling blocks?

Speaker 4 (11m 34s): Probably. Yeah. Yeah. I think that's a good observation. And I think that you'll find plenty of, of soldiers who will argue about the flow thing, but I think if you reframe the flow, instead of, instead of just that aspect into more kind of, I think the most like earth energy sports being in a kayak and, you know, understanding unlike, unlike triathlon or any of those outside of sports, when you're interacting with nature, you're just interacting with this force that is orders of magnitude beyond anything humans can do.

And so you get this understanding for kind of a PR perspective, or maybe the scope of what can happen in that sport. In a triathlon, you can really only go as fast as you can pedal or a running. You can only go as fast as you can run or, you know, shooting. You can only shoot as fast as you can shoot, but man, and I think you said this before on the show, you get out in a small boat in a big ocean, and there is nothing that all the armies and navies and humans and the world can do to save you. Like it's all on you and, and, you know, there's that aspect of it. And then I think from the kayaking stuff, from what I've heard you say, there's just an aspect of understanding how kind of fluid dynamics work that comes from that, that I certainly didn't have before coming into the sport.

Speaker 2 (12m 45s): Okay. So let's get into your questions. And like he said, I didn't write these, so I'm not trying to be a Dick here. So Nik, Nik wrote these a bit. We're going to be, most of these are kind of focused on, on progression, but why hasn't your progression been faster?

Speaker 4 (13m 2s): It's a, it's a good question. So 2016 came into it and I think our first conversation I was asking you like, Hey, when are we going to fly up into a Thundercloud and pop out the top, you know, spine of Baja, let's cross the sea of Cortez. I had all these kind of big ideas and like, Oh, I don't think I ever said it to you, but like, I'll see you at the end of 2017, 2019 X Alps. And I think two main things gotten in the, in the way, the first was the amount of, I guess, risk and fear that were in the sport that I thought I was immune to, but that I wasn't.

And that was a pretty big wake up for me. I'd kinda gone into this sport thinking that maybe I wasn't the, the most amazing human on the planet, but that I could hang with anyone out there and that nothing was really going to scare me that bad or be beyond my ability to, to manage. And that turned out to not be true at all. With paragliding. I've had a couple incidences, I think, as we all have where you're in the sky and you're going, especially as a beginner, are you going up when you want to go down and it's that it's an unpleasant feeling. I haven't felt in any other sport. And so I think that some of those fear injuries, which we we've also talked about before kind of slowed me down far more than I thought, I know I'd had two accidents in this sounds like I'm a terrible pilot.

And I had two accidents. Last time we talked, I had one more since then. And after that third one, I got a, had a pretty bad concussion turn to go to the ground, slamming down the Hill, pretty hard, bounced up and felt good immediately. But then that concussion took a long time to heal up. That made me think about how fast I wanted to progress and what the consequences were in and the risks that I was taking. And those risks were just too big to, to progress as fast as I wanted to do. Like I just looked at that trade off and said like, Nope, that's not worth it.

So that first part was kind of risk and fear. And then the second part was 2016. I started, I think 2017 and 18. I basically abandoned the rest of my life to, to fly as much as I could. And it wasn't that much. I think 2017 is 50 hours. 2018 is probably a a hundred hours. So it wasn't, you know, like I, I went full dirt bag. I still have a business to run. I still have a wife and dogs and, you know, friends and the rest of it. But in those during those two years, especially my business, which is, I mean, how I pay the mortgage when you yell and way down at the end of kind of 2018 Lee, my wife and I had this discussion like, Hey, Nick, you really gotta get your crap together is that you can't do this paragliding thing as much as you're doing it.

You can't devote the time to reading the books and studying it and looking at the weather and writing notes and going out and flying and spending, you know, five hours a day to get a 20 minute flight end by the time you were driving and hiking and the laying out in looking and chatting in the rest of it like that, just that's not going to work for us. And that was a conversation that both of us had. So, you know, from there 2019 started to kind of come out of the addiction and get into recovery. And in 2020 with the, with the exception of, of COVID has been a super nice balance. There's kind of the six weeks there where I think not many of us in the world were flying.

And so that felt like a, a, a little bit of a setback. But after that kind of the summer of 2020 up until now, it felt it has felt like the balance has been much, much better for me. And so I think I figured out a way to fly to 50 to 75 hours a year and make it work for my business. And maybe the progression will be slower than I initially thought, but that's, yeah, that's the reality of that I've decided to take over.

Speaker 2 (16m 24s): And one of the surprising things from the survey was how many, you know, I asked the hour's question, where, where did you get your hours you getting at X sees at thermic is the middle of the day going places stuff, or is it soaring? And a lot of people are getting a lot of hours restoring. I was surprised with that. That's, you know, that that was a big chunk of their hours, which to me is not, that's not the same hours. Right.

Speaker 4 (16m 47s): Right. And I, I remember when I was first keeping a log rigorously, I would separate out my mountain, ours, and basically my story ours. And then I stopped doing that when I more or less stopped flying Tori, you know, more than a couple of hours a year, because everything's a mountain, the mountain hours now.

Speaker 2 (17m 2s): But it sounds like, you know, the, the it's, it's really just the work play balance. And that, that, that's why you can't fly more than you, you would like to fly. It sounds like a lot more of you. It sounds like you're still very passionate about the sport and learning as much as you can and stoked on it. Although with a little bit of reservation, more with the, the accidents and the fear side of things. But, you know, if, if you, someone just granted you a whole bunch of money needed and you have to worry about your business, you'd fly more. Yeah. For sure. What I sure.

What you got on here, why don't you do more SIV? We just did this show with Mallin and it was all about SAV. And I don't know if you've seen it, but Maxine Pino, a very famous French pilot. And he did really well on the last X helps put out kind of an opposing thought to that. I don't know if you've seen that going around Facebook, but a pretty fascinating, I mean, he, it wouldn't be an argument with anything we learned from Mellon, you know, of course that's the ideal, right.

Is doing a lot of SIV doing a lot of training. But the reality is I think more along the lines of your life, the reality is a very few people can just dedicate not only the time at the money the SIV requires, but also, you know, okay, you're going to get you, get your vacation every year or some time to go fly. You're going on a flying vacation. Do you want to spend it doing a bevy across the Alps? Or do you want to spend it in one spot doing some SIV? And that's another reality. So Maxine's counterpoint, you know, the other end of the spectrum here was yes, that would be great, but the reality is that's not going to happen.

So we need to learn how to keep our wings open and we need to learn how to make better decisions, because it would be great if everybody did 300 plus stalls, but it's not going to happen. Yeah,

Speaker 4 (18m 55s): No, I think the number of stalls I've done since our last combo two years ago is the same, it's, you know, three or four. Right. And so it's, you know, some of these things are kind of embarrassing to admit just like, Oh, I had all these big plans and big ideas and I, and I quote knew better, but for one reason or another, and all of them seem pretty good to me. I haven't followed up on, on those things. So the SIV, I think it's the same thing as is a lot of people is just like, Hey, that's, by the time you're done with paying for that, that's three days, a couple of grand.

And then if I'm, you know, serious about it, then its a couple of days after that, like thinking and processing and writing it all down, it's a couple of days before prepping for it and getting ready for it. And so, you know, what are kind of the small little businesses selling cookies on the internet? I can't devote seven days to, you know, prepping for an SIV as much as I think that would be

Speaker 2 (19m 45s): Radical. Awesome. So

Speaker 4 (19m 47s): It's just like this, this life balance. And a lot of this goes into this idea that that hit me. Was that what I'm thinking about flying in, in my progression is am I judging myself or am I enjoying myself? And it's not like one is right or wrong, but sometimes when I'm really kicking myself, I'm like, wait a second. Why am I doing this? Like, I'm certainly, you know, not going to win the 20, 20 world championships or the 20, 21 or probably the 2020 anything. So the judgment pieces can only be like you against yourself. And also at the end of the day, you know, I'll probably make it to 80 years old and that's what the men and my family, we usually make it to.

And no one is going to care, basically. Anything about any of the bulbs I had done, it's all on me to figure out like, what am I going to extract from it? And if all I extracted was judgments on myself about how we should have been better versus enjoying the moment that I, I missed a big, yeah,

Speaker 2 (20m 36s): Sounds a lot. Like Expectations just changing. Expectations can solve a lot of this that I've been, you know, we're going to get into my section. I've been working with Thomas Thurlow and crinkles coach and, and now a supporter for this race, which is even more dangerous, but he talks a lot about that. You know, you can, you can strive and strive or you can just change your expectations.

Speaker 4 (20m 58s): Yeah. And I think as long as you are conscious of those two things, it's fine. You know, if you're unconscious, all of them, you kind of slammed back and forth. It's a harder thing. But if you can sit there and say like, okay, you know, for, for prepping for race, you're gonna have to be super judgment, judgment, judgmental on yourself in order to progress and to get better, you know, you can't like fly and be like, yeah. You know, and that was a good enough flight. Cool. I, I missed the thing of a deal that we'll get you done the work of

Speaker 2 (21m 22s): The longest. X see, to date

Speaker 4 (21m 25s): A, another embarrassing number five, about five miles right off of, I think right off Ellison or so this summer there was a couple of opportunities that came up where I kinda got a full day. Normally I just have four hours and went up there and, and flew. And that was a super cool thing. It's like, okay, if I had more days to put, put together for this, this would be a lot more fun to do. Yeah. That's, that's what it is.

Speaker 2 (21m 46s): Well, that SA I mean, you know, you and I flew that one day, you kind of cut it short at one point it was like, okay, we've had enough. We had been in a near about a couple of hours. As I remember at Marshall, I feel like I could come down and grab you and take you somewhere and we'd go fly five hours. I mean, I feel like you've got the stamina for it. And you got the skills for it. It's probably just a matter of Lincoln on to somebody who can tell you around the sky a little bit. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (22m 15s): Yeah. Yep. I think that that's an excellent observation. I don't know about five hours. I know what I've been in the air a couple of hours now. I'm just like, man, I just get in kind of itchy for the ground. And that was something that the listener experienced taught me one up. There are a couple of times, was that flying around at blossom, the local site, which I love and is awesome and is like, that's my kind of enjoyment zone where it's like, the fun meter is pegged for me there. It's awesome. But flying there for 40 minutes, a couple of days a week will not prepare you to fly a couple of hours of XC. And as silly as that sounds, that was a big surprise.

Speaker 2 (22m 43s): Yeah. Five hours was the aggressive one in five hours in a long flight, but we get what we can tell you around a little bit. Do you consider yourself a dangerous pilot?

Speaker 4 (22m 54s): I don't know. I know it's funny. Cause you kind of look at like, all right, I've turned into what I think of as, as a blossom rat where I just fly. There are a couple of days a week really enjoy it. And I'm certainly missing out on exposure to a bunch of different sites, but the dangerous part, I think I separate out progression and being a dangerous pilot. And so my progression, I would say has slowed way down, but the safety has gone basically the way up when I'd had the crashes I was after the conversation that you'd had with the Marco done in a max and I'd had this idea like I'm going to fly around with no breaks on and feel the air and kind of go with it.

And I just didn't have the expertise to understand when to apply that. And when not to, you know,

Speaker 2 (23m 37s): God, one of her shows hurt you. That's its supposed to be the other way around. That's not good.

Speaker 4 (23m 42s): No, no. I hurt myself. That was, that was all on me. But I think of, of kind of the progression and safety I've made has been kind of leaps and bounds versus the progression and the skills or at least putting numbers on the board, which has been super, super slow. And so when I look around at dangerous pilot, I think you've done that one really good Podcast with the pilot. He had said like, Oh the FAA has these, you know, markers of a dangerous pilot. And none of those usually apply to me other than being the 5k

Speaker 2 (24m 12s): Hazardous attitudes and obligation. Yeah. Yep. That was great. I was amazed, you know, that's that, that plays a pretty good piece in the book. And until Jeff told me that I had never heard that and I just can't believe that it's not part of our basic education. You know, why isn't that in the first P two exam? You know what I mean? It's something that Stephan or Jeff or any of the pilots that we've spoken to on the show that, and I'm talking about commercial pilots, JK, you know, he did that and did a whole TTM Episode yep.

It's just something that's drilled into those guys from minute one. We so that takes me to our next question. What needs to change in the world? A free flight, if anything,

Speaker 4 (24m 59s): Man. I think if I could kind of wave a magic wand on, on it, I would just say that there was more proactiveness on the part of both the students and the teachers to, to learn and to help each other. And I think when I see kind of quote, dangerous pilots at the, at the Hill or in the air, or you hear about them, a lot of the times they have those hazardous attitudes and those hazards hazardous attitudes can be solved by having stronger mentorship and also a stronger kind of learnership or studentship word you're showing up every time and you're asking people, what are you seeing?

What does it mean to you? Have you seen it before? And what happened last time? And for me I'm still applying that stuff. And I feel like that is what made it has made me a much safer pilot. Doesn't matter if the other pilots on the Hill are less experienced than me or more, it's just being a student of the game and being an aggressive student of the game, I think makes, makes all a free flight better. And then if you're on your end where you're probably seeing a lot of things that folks like me aren't seeing is going over and asking the newer pilots like, Hey, what are you seeing? You know, describe the day to day, what do you think is going to happen?

And then you can uncover, you know, the parts for them that they didn't even think to, to expose and you can make of it. We can all together, make the community a safer and better and more fun place to be.

Speaker 2 (26m 15s): Yeah. I just had this great talk with Kirsten. who's been doing these all women kind of fly ins down in Australia. And she was talking about the importance of just how we approach people that, you know, especially in our sport where it's so heavily dominated by men, I think men often have the best intentions, but it can kind of Rob people of their own, you know, people have to make mistakes. They have to be the inexpensive mistakes, but they have to make mistakes. Yeah. I think, you know, if you, if you go over, you know, let me help you with that.

That's, that's not it as opposed to, Hey, clearly you got this and I'm here to help if you want me to do, you know, and, or like you said, Oh yeah, this, this is a really interesting, what are you seeing with the sky right now in a way that's just that folds them in that it's inclusive. That is non-confrontational, that's being aware of how nervous most people are. Even after thousand 2000 hours at launch, you know, it's a time where there is a, there's a lot going on and we may or may not be in the frame of mind yet.

You know, we might be still thinking about the fight we just had with our spouse or whatever, you know? So this isn't one of your questions, but is it been hard for you to find mentors to get mentors and what makes a good mentor?

Speaker 4 (27m 40s): It has not been hard to find them, but that I think is part of my personality as a kid. I really like meeting people. I like talking to people, I like kind of digging into to them. And then there's a, there's one guy on the Hill. Who's actually the first guy I ever saw up at Blas. And this is almost before I was flying. I'd been told to go out there and just look at it and I get up there and it was a super, what I know now is a super light day. There's only one guy at the top of his name's Arthur Markowitz. He's a former champion RC, a glider pilot flew hang gliders and now flies paragliders and he's kind of this grumpy old to do it. So he's up there flying his RC.

You know, I said, hi to him, asked him a little bit and he obviously didn't want to talk to a stranger. So I was like, Oh, this guy's kind of a grumpy old dude. I get in a flying, you know, heavier and heavier and start being they're more and more in CRM or more and more. And I decided that some point that, that dude knows a lot of information that I want to know I'm going to drag it out of him. And so for me, it's, it's like a fun thing to do it that way. And you say like, how can I, you know, not disingenuously, but how can I become friends with this person? How can I build a relationship with this person that benefits both of us?

Like, what do we have in common? How do we explore that? And then how do we make it so that both of us get something out of this and that guy, Arthur has been just this incredibly kind patient generous, incredibly generous person in every aspect of our relationship. And it's been really, really cool to develop that with them because here's a guy who had been flying some kind of aviation for probably 50 years. And to be able to ask him what he sees in a day, he had been flying blossom for probably as long as it's been there.

So he seen a lot of it all. And he's, he's really funny guy, but he's, he's got this kind of crusty old exterior and he, he hates being helped out. So I'm always making a point of helping them out, like, Hey, let me fluff your way. And he's like, get away from my wing. Like you kids get off my lawn stuff. So I think when, when it comes to finding mentors to go back to the question, you just have to be a, I think a, maybe not aggressive, but in an assertive student or like, Hey, I want to learn from that person. I might, I've identified the person I wanna learn from. And I'm just going to start asking them questions and not pestering them when they're cutting out.

But just when I see I'm on the Hill, call them by their name, you know, ask them what they see, ask them, whatever questions you have. And I found that without exception, everyone is super excited to share their knowledge.

Speaker 2 (29m 58s): What's, what's the one thing that you've learned from him. That's made the most difference, you know?

Speaker 4 (30m 3s): Mmm. Probably the work-life balance. He's been really good about saying, Hey dude, why don't you go home to your wife and take care of her. You've been out on the Hill a lot lately. And so as funny as it, as it is, he's kind of seen, I don't know how old is. He must be in his late sixties. He's just going to kick me when asked him. And he's like, Oh, I'm you know, 62 or whatever. But yeah, I think him kind of seeing that flying is it as a whole life endeavour and that it's yeah. Easy to burn out. And it's important to take care of your family and your other relationships outside the Hill, in order to, when you come to the Hill to be able to bring it with everything you have.

So you don't have any kind of undone business back at home

Speaker 2 (30m 41s): This spring and summer, you've got, let's say you got eight weeks to go anywhere in the world. A COVID is long doesn't exist anymore. Where would you go? What would you do?

Speaker 4 (30m 53s): Kind of a dream dream eight weeks. I would like to think that I would devote that eight weeks to getting those 300 stalls. That seems like the single most important thing in like safety progression for me. And so wherever I would need to go to do that, if it's a Turkey or wherever it is figuring out, like, what do I need to do to take as many SIVs I need to take, to hire people to be in my ear until I'm getting them. And then to just do them over and over and over and get the rep's and understand what, what the wing is doing. That seems like that that would be a eight weeks well-spent

Speaker 2 (31m 26s): What would you like to tell your 50 ourself? Now we can, we can ask you that one now.

Speaker 4 (31m 31s): Yeah, yeah. Now that I'm a 200 hours beyond that, I think just slow down a little bit and listen to people when they're telling you that you are, you've got a hazardous attitude and that's a really difficult thing because that's the way you progress quickly. I think we'll, we'll get into that a little bit later with the quite a quick question to go into your a three line and a two line of progression, but there's this kind of balance between you can make really fast progression, but it can be pretty hazardous. And some people have the, the reflexes to get through it. And some people have the luck to get through it.

And some, some of us don't. And for me, I think it was just wasn't having the reflexes in the locker or kind of figuring it out fast enough. And luckily I didn't get super injured, but I think I'd tell that 50 a hundred guy like, Hey dude, you're going to have 20 years to do this, slow down a little bit and just enjoy it more. So you, you were kind of all,

Speaker 2 (32m 21s): All adrenaline in all, you were in a way ahead of where you, where you are. You were a full gas all the time supposed to supposedly if it's a really funny YouTube channel, but what I'm saying, all gas, no brakes, or this is really good.

Speaker 4 (32m 36s): Yeah.

Speaker 2 (32m 37s): Nik what do you wish you a new pilots on the Hill would do

Speaker 4 (32m 40s): Ask questions and, and kind of let us know through the answers to their questions and them asking where they are. I just had a new pilot come up to me the other day. And as they started asking questions, I realized like, wow, there are some really big holes and this guy's game, and now we can fix them that we know that they're there. So a lot of the times as a new pilot, if you just asked questions and people can figure out really quickly, how to help you the most, if you kind of hang back and just want to make sure that you don't look stupid, that's this road to get injured or a much higher risk.

Speaker 2 (33m 11s): Gosh, that's an easy to say, hard to do if you're an introvert, isn't it? I mean, if it's a, it's kind of a, it's kind of an intimidating, it's kind of an intimidating place at launch, you know, you've got a lot going on and people are distracted. You know, their trying to think about just being clipping in and doing their checks and all of that. You have any advice for asking, you know, just,

Speaker 4 (33m 34s): Gosh, not any great advice. Other than that, I, I'd weigh it out. Like it's your life, you got these two legs and two arms and a body that works. And if you want to keep those things working, then you're going to have to figure out a way to get around that, that embarrassment or that introversion. And if you can't just know that your at a much higher risk for being, for being injured,

Speaker 2 (33m 53s): I guess what I would say to his, you know, trust in our community, we've all been there. Every single person you're watching and seeing has been through it and has seen some horrible shit. And we all are so stoked on new pilots, we need more, we, we don't have nearly enough new pilots. And so we're excited to see you. We're excited to have you in our community. We're excited to have you as part of the club and paying dues and all that stuff. It's it all, you know, it helps the community in, yeah, we have all been there.

So there is no question that stupid. I've never had anybody ask me a stupid question. You know, they're all just, yeah, I've been in there, man. I can help you out.

Speaker 4 (34m 34s): Yeah. And I think you can ask that that's kind of standard question. Like what are you seeing condition wise? And that is a pretty neutral question that everybody is going to have a different answer for anyway. So there's not like a, a, a wrong answer. So it doesn't really put people on the hook. It just ask them what they're thinking. You know,

Speaker 2 (34m 48s): How do you handle pilots that, you know, are maybe reckless, hopefully without their knowledge. But

Speaker 4 (34m 55s): You know, we've had one dude who, who comes to mind was a totally reckless pilot showed up, no reserve, no helmet, didn't care. How did the hazardous attitudes was just taken off? And there was not much anyone can do to stop him. And then you can't physically wrestle. I mean, you can, well, you can, but I'm not interested in that stuff anymore. Yeah. And so a lot of it is just, you have to do what you can do on your end to make sure that they know they're, they're crossing a bunch of lines. And then it's at the end of the day, when, when we take off its the pilot that takes off, don't take any one with him.

And so for him, he was like, Hey dude, you're not wearing a helmet. You're not carrying a reserve. Like, and kind of worried about that. I'm worried about you. What do you think in like, why are you making those decisions? And for him, he had that kind of reckless attitude like, Oh, I fly this way all the time. And you know, this is what I'm doing and you know, I'm on this. I don't know why he didn't say he was a bad-ass but he just had that thing. He was like, all right. It sounds like you understand that you're making super risky decisions and that you know that everyone here on the Hill is not approving of that. There's not much we can do beyond that. And it's a, that's a hard thing.

I think there's no like great. Right. Perfect answer for that. It's not like there's a magician that knows how to come along and, and change those attitudes in an instant, just being super straight forward with that person and letting them know where you think they stand. And then if you're wrong in your kind of missing something, they can explain it. But then it's all out in the open. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (36m 15s): Yeah. I mean, I think we'll get, you talked about this didn't we, and the last time we do it with he and Jeff for a long time, he just didn't really feel comfortable getting in people's faces and feel like that was culturally. Okay. And now he's like, I don't give a shit. If somebody doesn't like me, you know that it's their life and they may not know it. And you got to say something and then, then it's and it's on them to listen or not, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. Top three frustrations in your progression.

Speaker 4 (36m 47s): I think it's a lot to do with the Expectations. So I had the frustration was that I had these really high expectations in that sense. I had done one special thing kind of 20 years ago. I could do any special thing anytime I wanted and realizing that, that just for this sport and probably for a lot of other things that I haven't touched yet, that's true as well. And so just not progressing as, as fast enough as I'd like, I think that that would cover kind of the top 10 frustrations. It's just like, ah, I want you to go faster.

Speaker 2 (37m 15s): Mm Hmm. That's all I've got for you. I think you're going to transition to us to something you had a conversation you just recently had and then we'll, we'll skip down our list here.

Speaker 4 (37m 27s): Yeah. And so I thought what we do is basically recreate a conversation that I had a gosh last night in the last couple days with a new pilot. So brand new local T3 pilot, he's got a a hundred hours and he had some questions. And as we were hiking up the Hill, I hadn't thought to probe super deeply, but he started asking the questions and I think it's gonna make him a, a safer pilot. So Gavin, I guess the, where I would start is I'll ask you the questions that he asked me and I like to get your feedback on them. So you're hiking up to launch what this guy's a new pilot Supersite you can see kind of right away.

He's not an expert pilot. And he says, Hey, Gavin man. I'm, I'm usually the lowest pilot. And lately I've been sinking out without any warning, like the wind shuts off and I'm, I'm screwed. How do I get better

Speaker 2 (38m 9s): Hours? Don't be discouraged. You know, that's where we all were and watch and learn. I think the biggest thing that I see, especially new pilots and lower hour pilots do is you can tell them a million times, Hey, watch, you know, observe if there's somebody going up next to you, go to them, don't hangout where you are move, and then they don't do it. 'cause what are new pilots worried about?

They're worried about their wing disappearing out of the sky. They're worried about all kinds of stuff and they're not looking around, you know, it's like Bruce Goldsmith said, you, you, you, you should have a really tired NEC from observing so much. And you can't observe very much when you're worried about dying because your wings not going to support you. So you have to go through all this. You know, you have to learn to trust in your gear. You have to learn to be able to get your heart rate down to a reasonable place.

You have to learn that most fear as a rational, those things take time. And I don't think there's any shortcut, so don't worry about it, man. Just enjoy it. And every one of the things I got from this podcast, that's just that I still go back to all over and over again is, you know, when I was interviewing Armand harsh about flying the flatlands and I was like, Hey, how do you deal with those days where you launched to early and you bomb out after 10 minutes and you miss a good day. And he's like, what do you, that's not a bad day. That's a great day.

I had a safe landing where we all need to be thinking all the time. So yeah, man, you're good. Slow down.

Speaker 4 (39m 49s): Cool. There's a Tori as this is a cliff site, super laminar area in Southern California. There's a box that's always out in the field. And a lot of the really good pilots kind of cruise through in land on the box, this guy was saying, Hey, look, I can stick five out of 10 landings on the box at Tori, but I don't want to practice them because people think I'm incompetent. If I miss, like how should I practice sticking a landing?

Speaker 2 (40m 10s): Number one, forcing any kind of landing is a really bad idea. We don't care how much experience you have. So, you know, I think this is great training to be able to spot land, but you've always got to have an exit. You've always got to have, you know, the best of the best blow that. Right. And if you're worried about what other people are thinking, and that's the way I gather that, I understand that this is harder said than done, but you know, your focus needs to be on you and what your doing in what your trying to accomplish and all of these other people, like I said before, we've all been there.

And so you gotta get away from this, Oh God, it's embarrassing. Or it's just, that is not something you want to have in your head. So, you know, if that's in your head, go learn how to do this somewhere else and get it down. And there are other places than Tori where you can, you can soar and work on that kinda stuff and, you know, get it down, man, get your ground handling down. If you have ground handling just dialed, then you're a sensei at launch and you're a sensei at landing.

And you know, you, if you, if you can feel confident about your skills, then you don't have to worry about what everybody's thinking. Cause you look like a, and so I realized you've got to put in those hours, but I would just say, you know what, maybe your putting the hours in the wrong place,

Speaker 4 (41m 42s): Take it. And I think his race, one of his responses was I've got at least 10 hours ground. You know what I'm doing?

Speaker 2 (41m 48s): That's where you have to just, that's where you have to be brutally honest. And dude, you know, less than nothing at that level. And we've all been there.

Speaker 4 (41m 60s): Great, great stuff. So one of the things that he also said is like, Hey, I've got at least 50 landings on the spot, but I missed twice. And now I'm psyched out. Like how do I, how do I get better at that? How do I, how do I not get psyched out?

Speaker 2 (42m 10s): What did the Zen master say? You know, when a student was looking for mastery, he said, he said, what do I need to do? If I work really, really, really hard. He said, well, you need to chop wood carry water for 10 years. So after 10 years he comes back and he says, okay, I'm going to ask her, what do I need to do now? He said, you need to go away for 10 years and chop wood and carry water. And you come up and after that and he's, he feels like he's reached enlightenment and he comes back and he says, now what mastery? He says, carry water for 10 years and chop wood for 10 years. And now that you're enlightened. So it just, again, that's nothing, you know, that's, you're just scratching the very beginning surface.

We all miss and your misses have to be cheap. They have to be inexpensive. So don't force it. Take your time. You know, she's the greatest basketball players in, in the history of the sport don't make every free throw. So they just have to keep shooting

Speaker 4 (43m 6s): A hundred percent. I think one of the things that was a takeaway for me and I remembered it in my own progression in this conversation with this fellow is that you think when you got 10 hours or 30 hours or 40 hours of ground handling, you've got a dialed and you just don't see how the perspective to say like, okay, you probably don't have it dialed until you're at, I don't know, 200 hours or something, you know? And until you can do all of the under the vendor's like ground handling challenge, like once you're nailing all of those things, then you can say like, okay, if you're still missing stuff, then there's, there's something wrong.

But until you're nailing all of those, if you're missing stuff, it's because you're not nailing all of those different exercises. You're not able to do a hell of it on the ground or a three 60, or make the wind wingtip kiss and drag around and do whatever, whatever it is that you want. So I think it's just changing that perspective from like, Hey, because you have 10 hours now and you used to have a zero you're 10 times as good. Right?

Speaker 2 (43m 55s): Yeah. And Gavin, and you're still, you're still pretty. You're still not great. You're for you. I mean, I think we all need to take inspiration from people who are at a completely different level. You know, this is not riding a bike, this isn't golf. It's not where you get to some place and you can just kind of coast, right. It's you, when you, when you look at Theo, I mean, is, is anybody better at ground handling them maybe, but he doesn't stop practicing ground handling. So clearly it's important that guy can do anything in the air.

But like you said, it's all just infinitely small progressions at that

Speaker 5 (44m 32s): Level, but he's, he's doing that. So we, we all have to get just somewhere in that range just to be safe, you know? So yeah. You know, Kriegel, didn't get that good by, by not training.

Speaker 4 (44m 46s): Dig it. Yup. Last question. And then we'll hit the, the Kiwi SAR stuff. So he asked, do you have any tips on side Hill landings? Cause that's where I get hurt. Is it better to pick a safe spot in name for that? Or is it better to figure out the wind direction and land into the wind? And then how do you see the wind director

Speaker 5 (45m 1s): Until you get really good? You know, many of you have probably been seeing the videos by Patrick and Kriegel and stuff, you know, landing downwind, uphill, speed bar, you know, landing on the, on the, you know, this is extremely advanced stuff. So, you know, you can definitely land downwind and, you know, doing sidewall and side side Hill land things and stuff, but you've got to have a lot of energy with your wing before you go into that maneuver. So you can slow it down and you've got a break authority.

This is not something that someone in the less than thousand hours even should be practicing all that much instead of an accept in a pretty controlled environment with an instructor. So, you know, you should be landing into the wind and unless you've done a lot of SIV, unless you've got, you know, your stall point, just dialed, you know, exactly where it is. I mean, I'm an ex ops pilot and I spun my glider landing in Annecy in the 2015 race. You know, I had done a lot of stalls at that point. So even again, the best, the best can screw it up.

And if you're, you know, five or more feet off the ground that can hurt real bad. So one respect it to the best thing. I think when it comes to top Hill, top landing inside Hill landing is always have a way out, you know, don't commit until, you know, you've got it. Right. And so what I mean by that is most of the time you should be able to fly away from that and go to the safe place. Right. So, you know, practice it in a laminar air in a really kind of quote-unquote safe place where you've got, you've got some cushion, you've got some room to run it out.

You know, a great friend of mine destroyed his foot in, in, in Tori doing a totally basic well within his skill level, side and landing. And just, you know, you hit a little bit of a weird hole and wasn't even really like a fault, but we are aviating. So yeah, I'm not sure I answered all of that, but you're, you're, don't get, we all learn right in the very beginning about object fixation. And that's the same thing when it comes to a side Hill landing, you know, so it should be okay.

That's plan a that's plan B that's plan C that's plan D with everything that we do in this sport that we've got some outs because you might, you know, suddenly the wind might switch a little bit and you might become in with, you know, not enough speed, remember that we need speed. And I think a lot of what we need, we need air flow through our gliders. If we don't have airflow through the gliders, you're going to stall. Right? And so I think a lot of pilots, especially that come from Ridge soaring locations or used to flying really slow because they're flying into the wind.

So they've got all of that wind. So the wing is totally inflated and it's completely safe now. So suddenly you go into a situation where you're slightly, down-wind crosswind. You don't want to have a lot of wind and you start slowing it down and slowing it down on, coming in too fast and you slow it down. He slowed down and then you have no energy to manage anything. So you need a lot of speed. So therefore if you land with a lot of speed, you're going to be in some trouble. So it's a, it's a pretty fine, it's a fine point there to get that right.

And again, it just comes back to ours. So, you know, I would say, you know, practice the really easy Torrey Pines type top landing's, and that kind of thing before you get into the more difficult side Hill landings and always give yourself an out, let me add something to that, to Nik or Nik. And he said, you know, is it better to figure out the wind and land and into the wind? Absolutely. And how you do that is don't stick it the first time, you know, do a bunch of fly flybys. I this is one of the things that I think really gets a lot of people.

Top landing is forcing. It that's exactly what happened to me in Annecy in the 2015 race, I was in a hurry. I wanted the land sign, the sign, the board, and get back in the area. It was an Epic day and I just kind of made kind of a bad mood coming into there. So I'd lost about an hour. So I was, I was in a hurry and it was blowing really hard and not blowing are dangerous, but there was just a lot of wind come up into the launch and it's all surrounded by trees and you know, my first pass didn't work. So the second one, I forced it and spun the glider and got lucky. So yeah, I mean, you don't just take your time.

You don't fly by a fly by five because every time you do that, you'll learn something about the weather and what's going on and you might decide, yeah, I don't think I have this move right now. You know, I think this will be a force. Whereas if you just do it the first time, you're not going to get all of that feedback that you maybe need.

Speaker 4 (49m 40s): I think that's the kind of wraps that section. One of the takeaways I'm hoping that you get as the listener is you can see in kind of three or four questions that both Gavin and I had had this idea of like where this guy is and where we might direct him to fly some more. And so that's just a couple of questions. That's all it takes. And now that I've talked to that guy and, and also heard Gavin's responses that makes him a way safe for pilot and it makes our community way safer. So it doesn't take a ton. You just have to start asking those questions and, and watch where the conversation goes. All right. Kiwi stuff.

So it's now, what is it December? The, the whole Kiwi expedition piece was in August. So we had a couple of months to kind of think about it, reflect on it a little bit. Let's start with actually, let's start with this. There is a really good report out there on what happened to him. So if want all the details, what we think happened, you know, buy the, kind of the best experts in the bids.

Speaker 5 (50m 33s): Yeah. Cross country just published that. And you know, the wing went back to the ozone headquarters and they did a bunch of, you know, they, they did a lot of analysis on it and the report is great and it's really worth reading through an, you know, of course, you know, nobody saw the accident. So a lot of it has to be speculative, but I would agree with everything that was in the report.

Speaker 4 (50m 57s): Yep. And in case you haven't seen that or, or haven't kind of heard of this, we'll just do it a super quick for a sentence piece is Kiwi is out flying in, Nevada hit some turbulence. The wings started to whatever spin up, lost consciousness, never got to polar to reserve the rotations, got so strong, the wing ripped away. And he augured in a massive search effort, organized and mounted. It took just under 30 days to find him and eventually we found them. So I think that's the kind of shortest synopsis possible any to add.

Speaker 5 (51m 27s): Yeah. And I think, I think too, that a, you know, just before we got out on the horn to do this, I reached out to, you know, there were kind of three main, there was a lot of people, our community rallied, I mean, in, from around the world, not just onsite, but that was the most inspiring thing for me to, to see is that I was one of the first people there and Eureka, but I mean, people did, you know, we had this massive search, the satellite search effort online from all over the world. I mean, Kiwi was a very well-known and very well loved pilot.

And so the, you know, the community really rallied, but I reached out to bill Belcourt who ran a lot of the ground game there and then Revis, who was basically our IC on the, on the whole deal. And then JK Smith, all three of these people I've had on the show actually. But I reached out to them a few days ago to just, Hey, can we do a full show? Should we do one on, on Kiwi? And the answer was yes, but not yet. So Nik and I were, were going to get into a, you know, some of the take away some of the things we learned, some of the things that you think are really valuable for the community, but at some point we will do a full, kind of a more full debrief on this.

I did a little article for a cross-country magazine about what we learned from the search, not so much at all from the Kiwi side of it, you know, the victim side, but a word from the search side. And so, yeah, you and I are just going to be talking about, you know, some of the things, some of the takeaways here, but we will do a hope, you know, a full show on that in some way,

Speaker 4 (52m 54s): Take it. And I see as incident commander, sir, you know, you gotta hit on the, on the acronyms Gavin. So incident commanders it's from, as far as I know, from kind of a firefighting stuff or incidents in general. And, and when you have this kind of emergency, that happens, one dude gets designated as basically the leader as the guy who runs the show. And in this case it was Revis stepped up to it and did a magnificent job for a magnificent, he was, he was pretty awesome. Gavin, let's start with something that I think it has certainly made me feel a little bit guilty, although I know that there's nothing I of done, but David Hunt and I flew up there in David's I think our V eight rad little plane did a bunch of, of flying.

We flew over where Kiwi was eventually found, I think directly over at least once and, and where I feel like I should have seen him twice. Should, should we have seen him? I know you had something similar.

Speaker 5 (53m 45s): Yeah. And this was in some ways, you know, one of the more discouraging things about, you know, so the, the timeline again is, you know, he, he disappeared on Saturday. The, the main, the rescue effort really ramped up on Monday and we got a big team and they're in a big team, you know, a couple of dozen over a dozen, Monday night, and, you know, boots on the ground Tuesday morning, before that the local search and rescue rescue effort out of a couple of different Sheriff's office had kind of been in their very, you know, in a limited scope obviously, cause this is, this is a massive area.

And it took us, you know, a couple of days to really pinpoint, okay, well, this should be the search parameters and this should be our fan. And, you know, and just setting up a comms, I mean, this is a very remote for those of you who you, you haven't been out in Nevada there. There's not much out there. And, and you know, some of the brush was really dense. Some of it was pretty open where we ended up finding or other BI men. And we would actually, the search was, he had been called off and it was actually just people going into work on a mine that actually found his wing. And then subsequently the, some of the team went back in and found him less than two days later, you know, the, where, where his wing was and where he was, was not very dense.

You know, it was certainly, there was a lot of Juniper trees, which are, you know, have pretty good canopy's and stuff, but I bill and I were on the Ridge just, just around the corner from where his wing was and, and then where he was. And, you know, I was scoping with my binoculars, the area where his wing was, I thought really carefully, you know, taking my time and, and ah, you know, I had just learned, you know, what we had, we had some people in our community. This is so amazing American, you know, we've got people that are just experts in so many different fields and you, you know, we, we had some people like this guy, Kurt showed up with, you know, four pairs of really high end spotting stuff, you know, glass just really high end glass and telescopes and binoculars.

And I think I had one in his parish that day and I just it's, I can't believe I didn't see him, you know, from where, where he was. I mean, I later learned to the satellite imagery. I was right there. And so it makes me, you know, the, the number one takeaway is, man, we've got to operate slow. And, you know, especially when you start looking from the air in a helicopter, in planes, even Bush planes and stuff, which can fly pretty slow. It is really hard to spot somebody in a tricky terrain.

And so that was, that was the big one. I mean, that's where he was. We had a lot of aircraft, we had a lot of drones. Eventually we had a lot of boots on the ground and this was, this was a high probability area. He was just beyond our fan, which we could talk about a little bit later on with the reason for that. But yeah, I really do feel like we should have seen him and that's discouraging. And, but also a great lesson that, you know, part of this is you want to find your buddy and there's a lot, especially in the beginning, there's, there's a lot of hope, right?

And there's a lot of optimism. We're going to find him alive. He's out there somewhere and he needs us and we got to get to him fast. You know, this is a Nevada, he doesn't have a water or food wherever. And, but really my, you know, when I thought about it later, I don't believe there were like mistakes made. I think it was just that, you know, the, the, the big takeaways, how do you have to slow down? You got a really, really, really cross your T's dot your I's take time and really cover an area because you can go into an area.

And, Oh, I don't know. I mean, w when Nate and I went in the first day and we had teams kinda coming from the bottom of the brush up to the Ridge line, which was where we really thought it was the more high probability that actually wasn't where he was found. But, you know, as soon as we got into there, it was like, you would need a thousand people to really cover this. I mean, it was, he could be right behind that tree and you'd walk right by him. And so the scope of it is it's a little mind boggling and it's a little, like, there's no way. And, and so that rewinds us to before the accident, you know, what we really need to have and how important it is for us to have good calms and good tracking and good safety stuff, because man, you're looking for a needle in a haystack.

Speaker 4 (58m 14s): Yeah. I think the single biggest thing that came away a for me, was having some kind of tertiary geolocation device. So you got your GPS, so you got your cell phones. We all thought that the inReach was bombproof and the kind of gold standard before this, it turned out to be really good. And it turned out to be pretty darn accurate, but it's not the only thing. And I feel like one thing that has, this has ignited in me, is it a search for that tertiary location piece? It doesn't have to be perfect. Doesn't have to be as good as, or better than the, the satellite stuff, but it's just going to be there.

And so what I found and what I encourage all you guys to check out, this is actually invented or developed by a paraglider. If you go to mesh tastic, M E S H T a S T I c.org and look up, I think it's Kevin Hester's stuff. There's a way to build a, a $40 radio. You do have to be a little bit of a geek, but thank God that the sport is about 99% engineers. So if you're not a geek, make friends with an engineer and have them build one for you. But this is just an, an alternate way, a third way, a tertiary way of having geo location. There are some other fancy stuff that goes with it. You create this mesh network, you can text back and forth.

If you don't need a cell, you don't need a satellite to do it. It is geeky. It's not ready for prime time, but if you're doing these big adventure things, man, $40 and may be a night of ore to of tinkering in your garage might be the difference between you getting found a not found. That seems worth it to me.

Speaker 5 (59m 32s): Yeah. I would say, you know, I, I have learned a lot to hanging out with Revis, you know, w with those guys flying with Kiwi and those guys just the week before he disappeared. And, you know, there, there is a, you know, Revis is, is really geeks out and he's really technical on this stuff, and he's really good at weather and that kind of thing, but he is also, you know, adamant that you've got to spend the time, the night before, you know, creating your telegram group, creating your inReach group, creating, you know, is our, the comms working, you know, do it.

There's nothing more. I mean, how many times have we landed and gone, Oh, I don't have his inReach address and my phone and you know, and, Oh, I don't have CEL. And that these are the things we got two as a community start doing an advance. And this has to do just, you know, and get your system. It doesn't, and whatever telegram, WhatsApp is a bunch of different ways to do it, but get your system, make sure your radios work. You know, there were, we spent so much energy and so much time on, does he have a record or a reflector to do? Was this, was his radio working?

Was his, you know, did he have to reserves, did he do all these things that really, we could have a spreadsheet on everybody we were flying with or everybody at the club. And boy, it really, you know, in Kiwi was a responsible guy. He is a really good buy. He had been flying for 30 years. And so, you know, there, but you start making assumptions that make the search much more difficult because he's aren't, you, you can't ask him now. We can't, we can't, we don't know.

And yeah, so there was, you know, we, we set up these fantastic, a telegram groups after I thought that was incredible, you know? So you have a kind of like the main convo group, and then you have a gear group and then a lot of this, what, what came out of it that was special for me was just everybody talking about, yeah, like you said, we need, we need a device, like an inReach, but that does more, you know, that has F net and our finance and farm. And, you know, all the ads be all of these things that I don't even know that much about, but these need to be part of our vocabulary.

And part of our understanding in the future, you know, Revis by having his ham license and really understanding radio and having Airband on them, you know, when he flies at a place like Marshall, where there's a lot of air traffic, he's talking to all of those planes, it's just another level of safety that we all need to be, get up to speed on.

Speaker 4 (1h 2m 2s): Yeah. And going back to the very top of the show at the survey results, most people listening to this are into XC. And so if you're into XC kinda more than me, we were five miles a day is your longest thing. If you're doing more than that, than this is, it's worth the time to, to figure out what your tertiary geolocation piece is going to be and dig into it. And that mesh tastic place is a fantastic place to start. It's definitely not the only one. Boom, that's a great one that was kind of built for paragliding. I think Gavin, we can probably leave the rest of the Kiwi SAR for its own special show. Was there anything else that you wanted to ping before you moved on to you, but

Speaker 5 (1h 2m 34s): This is the article, but give a very serious thought if you are flying in or even semi remote places, two, two minute tracking, ah, we are working with Garman to get that in a more affordable rate. It's quite a bit more expensive than the 10 minute tracking. Most pilots are on 10 minute tracking, but it would've made a big, it would have been a massive difference. You know, this is a three kilometer search pattern as opposed to 78 square kilometers. And that that's huge. And so, you know, give that some thought this is an expensive sport.

We put a lot of money into our travel, into our gear and all of those kinds of things. But, you know, if I was going to put money somewhere, I'd put it there before that other stuff. I think that makes a big difference. And then the other one is get familiar with your stuff and all of it, you know, know how to use it. I, I was pretty surprised, you know, that a lot of people really lack the basic skills in, you know, using your phone for your maps and downloading maps in advance and using you're in reach. There's great videos.

I do talks on this kind of stuff. You can find a lot of resources on the website, but there's, you know, and it's worth spending literally a couple of hours before the season, every year, just kind of getting re reacquainted with our equipment,

Speaker 4 (1h 3m 53s): Dig it. Yeah. I'd suggest being a gadfly in your club that goes up to people and say, Hey, can you text me or next to me on Garmin in reach right now? And you'll find that 90% of people are like, well, you know, I kind of set that up for a Dublin. Let's go fly.

Speaker 5 (1h 4m 5s): You do it in advance, do the visit. And the beautiful thing about these, these things, you know, if you send a message and get a message back one time, you've got that, you know, you've got that message thread forever. You've always got that. So you only need to do it once.

Speaker 4 (1h 4m 19s): Dig it. Let's, let's move on. What kind of last, last piece. And we'll start with kind of a work balance of this piece is about a Gavin and X helps and kinda what are some of the stuff you've been learning and thinking about work-life balance. I know that when we met, you had this kite surfing business, taking a boat around the world and you were super into that, and that was your thing. Do you still have that? What's what's going on with you?

Speaker 5 (1h 4m 39s): Yeah, it's interesting. I, so when I sat down with Thomas there though for this show, I believe in late March, maybe early April, cause we wanted a chapter for the book with him, you know, he, he asked me a question, you know, where, where do you see yourself? What do you know? He does these calls at a time jump, you know, where do you see yourself in September, which just happens. And it was a couple months ago. And the biggest one for me was I see myself getting out of this business because it has been an awesome ride and I wouldn't want to change a thing, but the last two and a half, three years has been pretty stressful at some crew, some challenges with crew and challenges with finances.

And it was going in to the last X office in 2019, I had just brought in a, kind of a new partnership and that was, you know, basically incinerating right before the race. And so it's been just very stressful and I have always believed that to be successful. That's something you gotta be pretty into it and pretty excited about it. And that had just waned over the last few years with that business. And so I'm happy to say that it is just sold.

I was still be helping them out. They're going to continue on and I'll be still helping them for as long as it takes, might be a couple of years to just help keep it going. Of course, COVID, COVID shut us down. But yeah, so I sold that business and that has given me a lot more time to dedicate to this, which is something I love and then the podcasts that it is and, and training and the X out. So it's, it's really freed up, I think the most important thing, which is my head.

Speaker 4 (1h 6m 15s): It's a pretty cool, pretty cool. So speaking of, kind of how little, you know, and how much we think, you know, you're going into the XL for the third run, right? Fourth, fourth one, Jesus, how is this one going to be different?

Speaker 5 (1h 6m 27s): Well, in some ways there'll be some big differences in, in other ways. I hope there won't be a very many at all. You know, the ultimate goal is to have a lot of fun and to not lb and, you know, and do it safely. It is the F you know, consistently been the last three had been the funnest things. I've I know how to do with my time. And certainly when you're there, if you, if you train really hard and, and plan meticulously, you can just go for it and have a good time. And we've got the exact same team and I had in 2019.

And I just, you know, the bond you create, I think, you know, I'm sure you can understand this, somebody in the military, because Ben is military. And my, my trainer and has been my sport. One of my supporters since the beginning, this is a unique place. You go in your mind. And with this group of people, it's, it's very intense. And so you are sharing this very intense life experience for 12 days together. And in some ways, for months together before it all, before it all kicks off.

So yeah, I mean, it, like, I've been working with Thomas, like I said about it and, you know, talking to him about it, it basically you're in flow for 12 days and a, and that's, that's a pretty rad, that's a pretty special. And so, yeah, but to your question, what is going to be different? I mean, what's been really obvious to me is I have to put too much emphasis on where a, you know, like thinking too far ahead of, in terms of here's where I'd like to end up, which is, you know, a podium goal or a top 10 goal, or those kinds of things in, like Thomas says, those kinds of goals just are stupid.

They don't mean anything. So, you know, the goals that really matter are performance goals. And in some ways, you know, you put 32 of us on the starting line in Salzburg. We were all pretty darn close when it comes to performance in terms of, you know, our, our ability to move on the ground and our ability as pilots in the air. So there's not a huge separation in their, in terms of the technical side. So, so that leaves the process goals. And so that's what I'm really working on now.

And so I'm, I'm doing kind of the time jump thing in my mind, I'm trying to spend a lot of time visualizing what it will look like in Monaco and, you know, to have that, but mostly my goals are, you know, what do I need to do right now in this minute to crush everybody else? What do I, you know, how can I turn this moment into an opportunity? And a lot of that has been, you know, I've, I've had this goal of reading kind of a sport psychology books every month.

And I'm trying to spend a lot of time up here because I, you know, I realized after three of them that, you know, I, I'm not the best pilot, but I'm pretty good. And I'm real fast on the ground, even though I'm not built like most of the guys in the XL. So, you know, I'm kinda short and squat and looks like a wombat and I don't have these big, long legs. I don't look like a marathon guy, like a lot, you know, like a Paul Gaucher bar does, but I can move over, hiking up marshal with her. And he just walked away from, I was like, how is he going so fast? I can, I can maintain a nice, good pace, especially uphills, ah, for a very long time.

And so, so that's, that's never, so what does that leave? That leaves the air and strategy. And, and I think a lot of it is overcoming this worry about what if, you know, I'm trying to eliminate that from my vocabulary or turning what ifs into what's the best possible outcome that I could have right now, you know, because when we fly well and we do big X C flights and I, and I had a, I had a really interesting, really cool season, some, some big F a I S a, I got kind of into the hole, U S S X contest thing.

I spend some time in Nevada and then I just went out and had some really cool flight's a lot of them alone. And, you know, when I do those, I am very much flow, but also, you know, I'm snapping kind of in and out of it. And, but I'm allowing myself to make moves that I know how to do. I'm trusting in my abilities. And when it comes to the X apps, you can tell yourself you're going to do that over and over again, but then you get into it and suddenly day four, day five, you know, you're feeling it, you're a bit tired.

And, you know, the sky is if I was just not in the X ops, I would know what to do, but the, you know, the sky is telling me what to do. And, but God, that's 20 K off course line. How do I, what if I blow that? And you know, so I, I shared this with Thomas and he said, no, you have to remain in a game. This has to be a game in your head. And you have to do, you have to create you're training to be a game and you have to, you know, there's, there is no downside.

We have to turn risks into opportunities. We have to, we have to say, you know, that's going to work. And if it doesn't work, who cares. And so I I've had, I've had quite a bit of fun with, with Ben, you know, that we, we, we had this attitude in the last race, but when it came to execution, you just have to it's, it's just a flip of a switch. It literally is. I have learned that it's that easy. This is going to work. This is going to work because I know what I'm doing. And, you know, what's, what's the best outcome that I could have right now in go for that rather than, Ooh, I don't know if that's going to work, I'll take the safe route over here.

And that never works. You know, Kriegel talks about taking sport of risk all the time and, you know, so you've got to, you've got to do that, but so anyway, the long story is I'm playing around a lot with mindset and, you know, just trusting in my abilities and, you know, setting up all kinds of, you know, I got a reminder in my phone that goes off twice a day right now that just says champion. And I know that sounds kind of weird, but our geeky, but its awesome. You know, it's just, it's just reminding myself that I can do it.

And then I've got those moves and not being crippled by doubt. What's the, what's the Bodie Miller. Yeah. Bodie Miller. So do you, do you, do you follow the ski racing at all? Is that a name that enough to know that he's a famous name and he was a man. He was, he was a couple of years younger than me and my, my ski career was, you know, because of injuries were, was pretty much done as he was starting to become a, a, a big name. And you know, Bodie was very much like some of our best U S skiers in history, you know, bill Johnson and the mayors where they just did it their own way.

You know, they weren't very coachable, I guess, in a sense. And you know, they would say flagrant shit on me in the media. And, but Bodie Miller was, yeah, he was so fun to watch because he was, you are going to win or totally wipe out. And do you mean he had no, like you said, all gas, no brakes. He just, you know, he was a very talented skier. Unbelievable. But I mean, he was like balls to the walls and everything partying and the whole deal.

And it was just a, no one was going to tell him to change and no one, no one could, I mean, he was going to do it his way. But, but, and, and I'm not trying to emulate a lot of that about his life, but what I'm trying to emulate is, you know, so I'm going to have a Bodie Miller sticker up on my wing and it's just a reminder, what would he do? He would go for it. And because I don't have anything to prove in this one, you know, it's like Kriegel said, I asked him, you know, is it more stressful for you now after you've won this? This was like, after the first one, he said, no, I don't have anything to prove.

You know, I, it doesn't, you know, I want to win and of course I'm going to do everything I can to win, but I've already won six times and, and I had one, but I don't have anything to prove I don't have to. But what I'm trying to say is, you know, I don't really want to come in the middle of the pack. I don't want to be 10th again. We've had done that. Ah, you know, I want to, if I could do it in the style that I want to do it and only get halfway there, that's totally fine. That's all right. I mean, that's why we want to do it in the style that we're going to do it in and cause why not?

You know, otherwise it's just the fourth X outs. Well, I hope that you look up

Speaker 4 (1h 14m 51s): And see that sticker at the moment that you really need to look up and see. Yeah,

Speaker 5 (1h 14m 55s): Exactly. Yeah. And you know, of course this is like in a, in skiing, even in downhill racing, which, you know, he was a downhiller of course there's, there's a pretty high penalty points for wiping out, but it's not the same kind of penalty points that we have. So yes you are in this sport, of course, you know, there are times where you can go for it. And that's also, that's a, maybe not a huge change, but something that I am thinking a lot more about than I did in 2015, I really thought, you know, training for the 2015 race, I basically had to go out and flying all the nasty stuff for months beforehand.

And that's not the way I'm doing it now. You know, I've got a daughter, I've got a lot more respect for the sport than I did back then. I've got a much different association and attitude about risk. And so a, and I've talked about this quite a few shows lately, but you know what? I also believe that we can, our minds can only really handle so much trauma when it comes to fear and just flying in that kinda stuff. And I know that we will have to fly in that kind of stuff on the race we got over 2019. It was a really weird one.

We didn't have much of that. And we had a ton of bad weather. We didn't have much wind and we had no furn. And so you can pretty much a gamble that that's gonna be back in, in for this race. And so I know that that's coming in and you know, I, but I don't necessarily, I need to ground handle for that kind of thing. And I need to, but I don't need to go get scared for the next seven months over and over again, you know? So I'm taking it a lot more careful, I guess, in terms, in terms of the risk side of it, but putting in, I think I believe much better, more exacting hours.

I know, you know,

Speaker 4 (1h 16m 37s): Had you, you've made that pretty clear, but I know a lot of people want to know what I'm, what are you flying and either daily and or for, for the XLT.

Speaker 5 (1h 16m 44s): Yeah. So for right now, when I'm training with this, the Cortel Collibra pro, which they don't sell, it's the, it's the pro version or the X ops version of the kolibri. So this is an airbag instead of having a pad, you know, the, the kolibri has, has a pad and it's just a trim down, you know, everything's a little tiny straps and, but wow, it's wicked, it's 1.3 kgs and ridiculous just packs down to nothing. And I really like flying it. I thought it was going to be one of these, you know, super lightweight, just doesn't have much command authority over the wing.

And you know, a lot of these hammock harnesses are kind of tricky when it comes to that, but hands down the best light harness I've flown it's, it's fantastic. Just like I just got it at the first time and it felt right. So it's just, so I'm really enjoying that. I've been flying to climber for training, which is Navy X a two liner D and sorry, three liner D that, and they're replacing that with the climber too, which is going to be a two liner D a lightweight, that'll be three kgs.

And this just in its final testing right now. So I don't have my hands on one. I haven't flown it, but the, you know, the climber that I'm flying is 3.4, so it's pretty close to the weight side of it. And so I'm, I'm really excited about that. You know, there was a big switch in 2019 and 2015. I think that was the only one on the fly to liner. And it wasn't even a lightweight, it was just the normal, I speak seven and, and then a few more in 2017 and then a bunch switched over with the advance and the zeolite to liners in the last race.

A lot of people, you know, so these are, these are not nearly as high aspect is, you know, a CCC wing. So they're much more tame. They're very gentle, very lovely to fly. So, you know, so they're, they're kind of notches to, down to winger, to liners, but gorgeous. And so what are, I'm hoping maybe it comes in with the, with the climber, his is a little bit hotter, a a, like a little bit hotter wings, but a little bit hotter to liner than those, and just slightly more performance. But yeah, so excited about that. And then Cortel has just finished.

I haven't, I don't have my hands on it yet, but the PAC is 280 grams. I mean, it's just, and that's 80 grams lighter than the skywalk and the ozone that we use last time, which, you know, nothing, you know, so yeah. I just actually did a little video yesterday. I'll put it out here shortly. That is not out yet, but on my whole gear, all the priority stuff. So that's the reserve, the Wang, the harness, the helmet, the flare, or the fly master, your all the, all the gear that you have to have all the time. It's 6.5 kgs.

So, you know, so that's a no food water in clothes and other random stuff, gloves and that kind of thing, but that's the inReach mini that's the phone. That's, that's, that's the ECC tracer many, you know, my very own it's on my everything. It's just, it's insane. So 6.5. And then when you add the extra battery and some clothes and a little bit of food, a little bit of water, you know, another couple of kgs over that. So, you know, just

Speaker 6 (1h 19m 50s): Awesome. That's pretty rad. So if I asked you for a gear list and I see shoes, socks is the poles, gloves, goggles, speed sleeves. Like you are so not a gear guy. It's awesome. But you know what? He's like the gear heads, like all the shoes I used to, like the old rate of 7.0, and they came out of 2015 and I really like the 2016 version of it, the soul. Well,

Speaker 5 (1h 20m 8s): This is a reminder to me what I would qualify that as you know, when I go to the race, I'll have 10 pairs. I think, you know, in the past I've always had 12. I've got that trim down a little bit, but you know, you have to, you have to anticipate some of the trauma. And so the, the shoes will start it nine. And at the end of the race, I'll be intense. You know, your feet, your feet do get a little bit bigger. I've, I've dialed a lot of that back with, with changing my diet and stuff. I don't have nearly the problems I did in 2015, but yeah, so you do, I do put a lot of miles on shoes and I rotate them a lot.

And, you know, in the, in the race, you know, I'll change, you know, four or five pairs a day kind of thing. I just keep rotating them around also just to stay dry and all that important stuff and socks I, I'm supporting the sock industry. It's, it's unbelievable. Yeah. Keeping some of these companies alive on campus,

Speaker 4 (1h 20m 58s): Let's rewind back to the first part of the conversation and talk about your progression is that you jumped into two liners pretty quickly. It seems like, but you tell most people not to. What, what do you think has made you different I'm to go so fast?

Speaker 5 (1h 21m 12s): Yeah, I smiled when I saw your question. I, I think most people would say that I didn't, you know, it sounds like I did from the stories, but, you know, we have to remember that I started flying, you know, 2004 sort of, but really seriously in 2006. So by the time I had jumped, it was the way it was, you know, a couple of days before the world cup here in sun Valley, I made a huge jump. And that was because I got invited the fly in the world cup. And I had only been in one comp before that, but, you know, so I went from the Arctic, which was a C minute kind of a mid-level C to the ice six, which, you know, by today's standards is a pretty tame to liner.

But at that time it was in the end zone, one of the iceberg, six that's, wherever he was flying, then the gin. And, but I had, I don't know, I can't, I mean, way more than 10 SIVs at that point, I'd done a bunch of acro training. I've never been an acro pilot, but I had done, so I had done the sheer, a trip I, you know, some sort of, some big, Bibi's a lot of top landing. So I certainly think by today's standards, you know, you see people jump on two liners in their second year, these days, and that's makes me awful nervous, but, you know, I think by today's standards, I had, you know, I had a lot of hours and a lot of time under my belt before going to that to life.

And that still felt like a big jump and, and it was terribly exciting, but I'd like to think that, you know, looking back I was ready for it, especially that summer, I was in Europe, all summer flying with Bruce. We were flying every possible day, you know, so I had a lot of currency and, and I really was, you know, I, I didn't notice that I was missing out on something until I got invited. So it wasn't like I was planning to jump up to a two liner, but certainly when I got on and it was like, Oh yes, this feels very comfortable.

And, and this feels like the right wing to get

Speaker 4 (1h 23m 7s): To get. What, what piece a piece of kit would you love to see that doesn't exist yet?

Speaker 5 (1h 23m 14s): Yeah. And put some thought into this, you know, two things, one would be that piece of equipment we were talking about in the Kiwi SAR, you know, one piece of gear that works that, you know, the, that kind of does it all. So that combination, you know, like if the, if the inReach could have that, those other capabilities then you'd have everything. So I think that's a missing part of our kit and, you know, and there was a lot of adaption adaptation that must happen there. You know? So like F alarms pretty neat in Europe, but it's not in use here.

So, you know, I'm not sure, I'm not sure what that looks like, but that would be neat. Now I'd like to have that. The other one was something I had just came across recently, and this was also a product of the Kiwi SAR thing, you know, we were talking about, well, what, it'd be awesome if you had some kind of a auto deployment system when you're in trouble. So when that comes to say the inReach, if, you know, if it's suddenly, if you could just set up an inReach to be okay, I'm a paraglider pilot, and I shouldn't be doing more than 10 meters a second down at any one time.

So if I am that just triggers an automatic SOS. What if we had something like that for XC flying you? So say like, you know what, the actual pilots, they've got a, a pretty sweet cutaway system. So, you know, if you, if you just want to go to your reserve, you just cut away your main wing and boom. And so we haven't adapted to that because it's too heavy and it doesn't really work for hike and fly. And, you know, it's just, it's not there yet. But if, if we had some kind of an auto protection system, it could be like, what if we had an auto air bag, you know, that would just deploy in certain situations.

Yeah. So that's a few different things, but I, I think that one of the things that that really called out for me is that we all have different personal limits and we all, and there's gear limits that we really need to respect and gear is gear, but personal limits change by the day. And when's it going to be? When's it going to bite us?

Speaker 4 (1h 25m 28s): Yeah. You know, way back in 2015, we first had our conversation. I asked if, if there were a thermal goggles where you could see all the thermals, would you want them? And at the time you said, no, I hope those never come to the market. Has, have you changed at all in it

Speaker 5 (1h 25m 43s): Or more firmly? No, that's yeah. That's ridiculous. I, I, I've had quite a few other people and they're always very low our pilots, so I'm not trying to shovel you into them. And I, I, you know, I was almost got in an argument with the guy about this. No, I think, okay. Two main reasons. One, it would be terrifying. I think it would scare all of us out of the air to actually see what was going on. And they could be really, and then two, it would just remove the magic and, you know, it's just, that's, we'd all be so much similar in skill if we can see, you know, so I, I think that's the magic of learning it.

So now I really hope Google doesn't invent that. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (1h 26m 20s): Yeah. It's funny because I remember asking that question at first, it's like, man, I wish they'd like, I don't care what he says. I wish they come in and now I can see like, look, they're going to come in sooner or later if we can, you know, figure out flying cars and the rest of it, those are going to come around. But I'm enjoying the time of, of the era of paragliding where those don't exist. Boy, that would be the same.

Speaker 5 (1h 26m 40s): Oh, for sure. That, that would, that would radically Jean as a sport. I hope that doesn't happen. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (1h 26m 45s): It's a safety and danger. So the three words to describe the safest or three phrases to describe the safest pilots, you know?

Speaker 5 (1h 26m 53s): Yeah. It's easy for me to think about this because I think a farmer, my neighbor confident you only fly to the good days. That's not a word, but that's important. And then there Jedi is on the ground. And again, that's not one word, but I think those three things coming together make a pretty, pretty good pilot. Maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe autonomous would be a better one word, answer it to one of those, but you know, a confident autonomous pilot.

Speaker 4 (1h 27m 29s): Yeah. That's a nice way to kind of look at yourself and think like, Oh, am I super confident? Am I flying in a good day in my jet? I on the ground. And if I'm not like, okay, then like I could be a safer pilot. Maybe there's something to work on there on the flip side, three words or phrases to describe the most dangerous pilots. You know,

Speaker 5 (1h 27m 47s): Let me give you more than three overconfident. So on the one hand it's confidence, but it's got to be the right kind of confidence. So overconfidence and that ties into, you know, ignoring in some way, the five hazardous attitudes of aviation. And if you don't know what those are, just Google them real quick. So I don't have to repeat them right now, but that comes into overconfidence. That's one of them. So maybe those are combined people who don't pilots, you don't fly with enough margin for their ability.

This is removed some of our greatest personalities in the sport. Especially this last year, this is grabbed a couple of kinds of, you know, high intermediate pilots that were really chasing it super hard and kind of leaving, just not leaving enough margin. You know, it's like what Malin said in the Podcast there are levels of flight where there's not much you can do, you know, there there's Heights, a flight where there's, there's not a lot of outs.

And so, you know, kick and the tree top sustained focus. And so, yeah, not, not giving yourself enough margin that matches your ability, flying Wayne beyond our

Speaker 2 (1h 29m 2s): Capability. We went into that above. That's a big one. I'm seeing that a ton and maybe that's always been around. I dunno, and this is another one that's been getting me lately. I get a lot of people reach out to me and say things like, yeah, you know, I'm working on my P three, you know what, I'm going to be getting my P four or whatever that is in different parts of the world. You know, we've got our P2P four ratings here at, with Uber, but we don't really want to knock.

Who's put it to hard Red right now, but our rating system sucks. And I don't think it means really anything. I mean, I was a P three pilot when I got the foot launch record that held for eight years until this last summer, when Sebastian went farther in Texas and it was a rock and roll day, that was a, you know, we've done a podcast on that. So, you know, I wasn't a P three pilot by a long shot back then. I was way beyond that. But I just hadn't put any, I didn't put anything into the ratings and I don't think anybody really should.

I mean, I guess it's something that matters too. I don't think it matters. I just don't. It just doesn't matter that much. I mean, it's just, what, what does that number provide a except irrational overconfidence, I guess. Yeah. Using a rating to rationalize anything. I just, I don't think that that makes much sense. They're not, you know, they're, they're multiple choice exams. They don't really reflect on what kind of pilot you are. And again, you know, our isn't a mountain flying. You're getting it as a ground handling.

Is it, or, sorry, is it, is it a, you know, a laminar air Ridge soaring on the coast or is it, you know, rock and roll in Nevada what kind of area you getting and how many SIVs are you doing? We don't put any emphasis on our rating system on SAV, you know, if anything kind of discourages it. So, yeah, I don't, I don't, I don't like that.

Speaker 4 (1h 30m 53s): I think I've had two conversations where the pilot came up to me and the first words were like, I am a before and, and I was like, Oh, like, you're going to screw something up.

Speaker 2 (1h 31m 1s): Exactly. I mean, we, we have this, we have this, you know, to fly Baldy, you have to be a P three pilot, just a man that just reflects such a massive spectrum of ability. What that doesn't tell me anything. If somebody comes up and says, yeah, I'm a P three. Well, okay, well, I guess legally you can fly our site, but you know where you are flying, you know what you're getting into. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (1h 31m 23s): Yeah. That's a good, a good thing to keep it in the back of your mind, is that the number numbers and that important next one is a little bit of an experiment is I think of, if you can describe to me what it feels like when you hook into a thermal and when you're doing your description, just be as descriptive as possible. Don't even worry if the words make sense. I know they don't for me what I'm trying to describe it, but I would, I'd love to here in the mind of Gavin, what's it like as you hook in

Speaker 2 (1h 31m 52s): Patients, mapping excitement, nervousness by nervousness, what I mean is

Speaker 5 (1h 32m 0s): Not nervousness

Speaker 4 (1h 32m 3s): Unsatisfaction.

Speaker 5 (1h 32m 5s): And what I mean by unsatisfaction is I know that there's a better piece of this. I got to go find it. I, you know, that I'm never satisfied in a thermal ever when I'm, whenever I'm climbing, I'm always adjusting and moving. And, but the, the first thing I'm trying to do is map it. And what I mean by that is, is it a little bit stronger on my left is a little strong on my right? Where is this thing? Where, where is it relative to my wing? So I'm listening really, you know, Ken Jorgensen who Don Jorgensen calls it, , you know, I'm listening to what my wing is trying to say.

And I'm trying to map it. Is it, is it 70 degrees at 90? Is it two 70? Is it right behind me? Is where am I come in to this? Where is it going? What's the wind doing? So I'm trying to map all of that. And that sounds like there's a lot, but at the same time, I'm also trying to kind of empty my mind and just for you.

Speaker 4 (1h 33m 5s): So with the knife,

Speaker 5 (1h 33m 7s): Empty mind, you can observe. Right? And so in the reality is none of those things I just said is very front Lobel or is not very much in the front of my mind. You know, this is just something that as that starts to happen with more and more and more hours, but the, the, the, you know, there's, there's the initial thank goodness. It's a thermal, you know, so there's the initial excitement. And then there's the, how can I get to the top faster than anybody else?

Or if I'm by myself, it's still the same thing I'm trying to milk every little bit of wonder out of it.

Speaker 4 (1h 33m 45s): Oh, this thing is, are there any, that's super cool to see kind of how you're thinking about it. Are there any kind of body feelings or body sensations, even if they don't make sense that you feel, or you, you kind of stay to yourself as you're going up in, in a thermal? I don't know.

Speaker 5 (1h 34m 4s): So many of them don't make sense. Yeah, sure. They do. I guess There are many times where, you know, what it feels like your making the right moves and your very own beef and a little bit strong or stronger, and then the, and you kind of lose, and that's always a very confusing and that's always kind of, okay, do I need to round it out a little bit wider? Very rarely. Do you want to turn the other way? This has been a real stumbling block for me.

I, I very often turn the other way, but most of the time it's a lot more efficient to keep going on with the way you are, but just explore more, but the best climbers explore the most air. And so if something is confusing, what I try to do is remind myself to slow down, to be patient and breathe because the is,

Speaker 2 (1h 34m 58s): Oh, I've lost this one. And to move on, if you're not in the, if you're not in the right place to move on yet, or if there are people above you that are clearly in the same thermal that are still climbing, that are climbing better than you are, you've just, you're missing. You're missing the good bets and you need to just slow down. And, you know, that's usually how we bomb out is we leave to early and, you know, we, before we, we should, now that cannot be confused with leaving to, there are times when need to leave to early.

And that is when you're, you know, you're in our heater and it's going really well. And you know, it goes from a four to a two, and you've been flying in a bunch of fours that day. Yeah. Okay. Go. That's that's different, but

Speaker 4 (1h 35m 46s): How much worried about kind of when to leave or when to go? I think it's really more of the field is the feeling that I think it's much more like a campfire kind of conversation. Cause it can take so long to describe it and to, to enter into that state where you're saying like, wow, I kind of feel like for me, I feel like this, these big shark hooks on my hips and these hooks hook into this Thermo. And then I write around these like rising hula-hoops and sometimes I fall out and come back in and you know, for each of us, it's a really different thing. It's not like, Oh, that's the way to do it. Or that's definitely not the way. That's just what we feel.

And it's a, it's a pretty cool to hear you describe

Speaker 2 (1h 36m 19s): Well it's yeah. It's, it's like the sky describing gliding. I've never met anybody that can really describe it that, well, it's just a really tough you're feeling it. And what I would say is that you should be feeling things that the micro-level and, you know, you should be so in touch with your wing, that, you know, you can feel the difference in you're a three and a two and before, and you know, you can feel these little, how much is it more out on the, out on the wing tip versus riding underneath me and you can kind of move.

And that's the same thing in gliding is the same deal. And you know, where's the best current of air here. Where's the lift highest line and its the same thing with a thermal that, you know, even when there's no, when they're tracking around and they're there, they are doing different things as they go up to the atmosphere. So listen, I guess I know what that's radical. All of them, all of that little stuff, all that little stuff that's happening. Like you say in your hips, here's what here, here's something that's concrete get loose. You know, if you're any of you that I think that's why kayakers are one of the reasons that they do well at this sport is they get, they have a really loose hips.

You just can't be stiff. And that's, that's very much the case in flying. If you're, if you're nice and loose and relaxed your wings telling you a lot more to take it,

Speaker 4 (1h 37m 42s): Take it. I think there's, there's plenty of in there to, for someone to explore on their own and, and see if the matches up matches up with them. So cool. A couple more let's let's imagine kind of going back to this new intermediate pilot thing we talked about, lets imagine you hike up to launch and you meet someone who is a Cloudbase man supporter or they're Supersite to meet you. And they're like, Hey, I've just gotten what I've just got my MP3, I'm a 50 hour pilot. I'm super psyched. You can see that maybe on this day you guys had both gotten there a way too early. No one else is there. It's just you two on the top and, and they're stoked to the chat and they asked you, what are you seeing out there?

Can you walk me through how you'd respond to

Speaker 2 (1h 38m 21s): Yeah. I this is a great one. I the first thing I would want to know is what did they expect to see? What was the, what, what homework have they done the night before and what homework did they do that morning? Because if you're just thinking about it, then you're kind of way too late. I've already thought a lot about that day. By the time I'm actually standing in a launch. So whether I've driven the launch, whether I've written a chairlift, whether I've driven in the ER or sorry, if I've walked, you know, hiked, you know, there should be quite a bit of input already.

Have you seen any bursts normal yet? Have you seen any Valley flow? Is there any clouds popping like here at Baldy? You know, we often see early clouds, eight 30, nine o'clock in the morning on the range right next to us, which has slightly bigger mountains, you know? So if those are just starting to pop and I'm a little behind already, you know, I should probably be in the air being, working on, getting up. So yeah, I think what we're always trying to square is what we expect versus what we're getting the model's really very often don't align at the micro level.

And so how, how is this different than what we expected?

Speaker 4 (1h 39m 52s): Cool. Super, super useful. Last thing I got is I'm I'm pushing for this on the Hill segment at the end of the show. You can discard if you want, but I think it'd be super cool. If you have a suggestion for pilots, like what's one thing that they can practice the very next time they fly. I'm going to head out and probably fly blossom today. If it, if it looks good to us right now looking out the window, it may not be, but what what's one thing that I can work on, that'll make me a better pilot.

Speaker 2 (1h 40m 16s): Can I give you more than one? Go talk to somebody at launch and say, what are five things that you've noticed in my flying that I could improve and then pick one of them? I think we have to be more honest with ourselves about self-assessment and we can get a lot of help with that with other people. And finally, I would say that every flight needs to be an opportunity you need to make and an opportunity to learn something. So don't just do it, you know, have something in mind, whether that's, I've never gone over there, I've never landed.

I've never

Speaker 5 (1h 40m 55s): Turn it into something that's different than what you normally do. Have you flown around on full bar, the whole flight, have you, you know, if you done, you have you done some of the real basic stuff, like, you know, full bar to our brakes and just, you know, the dolphin flying through the sky when Ben was going to go do the X pier, we, we, we reversed roles. So he was obviously you can do all his physical training, but I was, I became his coach for air stuff.

And so I actually created a spreadsheet for him that was, you know, obviously some days weren't flyable. So it was, you know, on the next flyable day, you know, I want you to do a 10 K up wind triangle. I want you to do and then spot land somewhere. You've never been somewhere. You've never landed. And so just constantly a little bit outside of the comfort zone, something a little bit, you know, some, some way to make it a little bit more challenging.

I think you get good pretty fast on that.

Speaker 4 (1h 42m 4s): Well, I think it kind of wraps the wraps to convo for now. We've been going for two hours. I think that will probably get cut down to an hour and a half or less, but it's been super good talking to you this super good just here and what you have to say and exploring some new stuff. I really liked what you had said about how you feel about Thermo King and just being not satisfied. I had never thought of it that way. So now that's something like, Oh, I need to add that in my quiver. Like just keep searching. So thanks. Gavin

Speaker 5 (1h 42m 24s): Thank you. Nik it's always a pleasure. Keep training buddy and keep enjoying it and doing it safely. And thanks man. And that was a lot. That was a blast.

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Speaker 0 (1h 44m 52s): .