Robbie competing in the Isle of Man Race. Photo Keith Fothergill
Where do you start with Robbie Whittall? He’s one of only three pilots in history to have won the world championships in BOTH hang gliding and paragliding. He co-founded Ozone. He’s considered the “godfather of the Serial class.” He raced superbikes for several years in what is considered the most dangerous motor sports event in the world, the Isle of Man race. We begin this podcast with a couple of crazy stories (getting plucked in Foehn off a flat field clipped in backwards, and winning the 89′ Hang Gliding worlds after tumbling- TWICE), then dig into Robbie’s remarkable life journey, much of lived with the throttle pegged, but it’s also been one with plenty of instrospection. Robbie discusses the importance of connection; the difference and importance of flying in “Flow” vs trying; how to “let it happen”; finding your potential; why the British have been so successful in free flight; being tenacious and the value of practicing in poor conditions; how to get the best results by going against yourself rather than the competition; the learning process; the Open Class carnage that lead to the Serial Class; why we’ve lost so much of the purity of flight by removing the human element and relying on increased instrumentation; what “unleashed fun” means, and how to find peace with the inevitable. Get comfortable and tuck in, this is a masterclass from a genuine master.
Speaker 1 (28s): Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem. My guest today is the legendary Robbie Whittall. I have been dying to get Robbie on the show for years and years, and it finally came together really as a result of the Kiwi tragedy. Those two were very, very dear friends and had many, many adventures together over the years, and a lot of history together with ozone. And unfortunately I didn't get to meet Robbie on it.
I was there for the first few days of the search, and then he came in afterwards and then of course came back when they found Kiwi and I didn't get to me and then either, but we did get to share a lot of texts and some last and some tears, and finally got together to do this show. So really excited to bring you this. Robbie is of course, one of only three people to have won the world championships in hang-gliding and paragliding long and Judy 11 and his mate, John Pendry, all British pilots.
So we talk about why the Brits have been so dominant in this game. From the beginning, we talk about his crazy racing for a few years and the isle of man race, widely known as one of the most dangerous motor sports races in the world. And tell us every year it's been held almost a hundred or maybe over now, and, and just in 2016 alone, they lost five people on that race. So its crazy, you got to Google it. There's some links up and the show notes and with some of that racing, pretty wild stuff.
We talk about him starting one, being one of the founders of ozone and all kinds of stories and his dominance and why you got out of the sport really at the top of his game, what he's doing now, would it be what he plans to do in the future? And this was an emotional one for both of us talking about Kiwi of course. Talk about that a little bit and, but just great. No's just so awesome. And I'm so thankful and grateful to have Robbie on the show and share his, some of his incredible history before we get to the show.
The top of the show tips are actually two stories that I came back to. We recorded this podcast a couple of months ago and I just recently had a fun flight out in the desert with bill Belcourt and, and Ravis and dad and bill shared some of the stories, other stories that I hadn't heard in the Podcast about Robbie and I went back to him and said, Hey, can we, can we slide some of those end of the top of the show? So please enjoy these two rather wild stories about Robbie to kick things off and then we'll get into the Podcast.
Speaker 0 (3m 18s):
Speaker 2 (3m 30s): It's, it's funny that these stories get remembered and that bill has remembered that one. And obviously when it's your own life, a lot of things get forgotten and I'd totally forgotten about this, but it was quite an incredible story. It's happened once upon a time, a long time ago when I was a much younger man, but we just started ozone. And what had happened was we were going virtually every weekend to Italy. Because at that time I was kind of a bit of a bit of a hero in Italy and we needed to kick start the business quick and the easiest country, because we were living in France and developing the gliders in France was to go to Italy every weekend and do a demo weekend.
So we were literally every weekend work during the week net to Italy on the weekends, do our demos at various sites around the country and drive back again. Anyway, this particular weekend, we were having a D a demo meeting in Como with, with our distributors that at ICAN and Zola, and we, you know, we were a young company. So we, we needed to make things happen. Unfortunately it was a North wind, very strong Fern wind.
So there was no way to fly. And when I say it was very strong, it was howling, absolutely howling over the back of the Hill, you know, 5,000 kilometer winds up high. So there was not much we could do, but we had all these people who'd come to see us and you know, the drill card for that weekend with myself and John Pendry. And so everybody wanted to see the products and well, what are we going to do? And I said, well, I've got an idea. Let's go down to the landing field for sure.
It's going to be an absolute mess down there, but I can just quickly get the wings up and let at least let people see them, you know, just quick boom up, have a look, drop it down again, packing away. So with just released the tandem wing at the time, which was the cosmic rider. So I mean the tandem wing was 34 meters. I don't know what I was thinking, but I was particularly lucky on this one. So I got the, the tandem out, put it up, let everybody see it and dropped it down, packed it away.
It was just like, Oh my God, that was lucky. You know, you didn't get dragged into a fence or something. And then we had the octane and the actually happened to have the extra small octane with us. And I thought, well, that's perfect because it's actually, you know, even though it's so strong when it's the size you would want to be handling in these kinds of wins. So, you know, there's a crowd of our dealers. They're all watching and I pop the octane up and John is actually just stood in front of me at this time.
I've clipped into the wing backwards because I'm just doing a demo on a flat field, you know, in the landing field. So flipped into the wing backwards, literally just going to pop it up, show them the new ArchiTeam and drop it down. Anyway, I popped the wing up and comes up beautifully. And you know, the wind is a bet all over the place. And you can tell it's turbulent and we're in the Lee Lee's side of the Hill, you know of the Alps basically. Cause this is a Como is basically the pre Alps.
If you just got the flat lens and then the first Hills go up. So we're literally right in the rotor of the hole out and I put the wing up anyway and she comes up good looking good. John stood in front of me. I'm flipped in backwards. Remember so it's for me, it's no problem. I used to do that a lot and I was just trimming things. You just, it's easier to look at without the harness trying to untwist you if you've got cross rises.
So I pop it up. It's looking good. John happens to be stood in front of me and I just get this sort of weird gust that lifts me off a meter and mine and John's eyes may jump Henry. This is our eyes meet. And at that particular moment, we're both smiling because it's just as if I've been, you know, lifted off the ground a little bit and it's obvious I'm going to come back down any second. Anyway, I don't come back down.
I get a sort of second boost that takes me to go about three meters high, maybe four meters high. And now I'm looking at John and John's faces James, mine's still smiling, but John's has now changed sort of a face of this belief and kind of like, Ooh, this looks like it could turn into something. Anyway, then I get another boost. And before I know it, you know, I'm sort of 15 meters high with now the wing starting to collapse each side and each tip is collapsing and I'm just getting buffet to the round because obviously I'm in the rotor John's face is now horrific.
Mine has obviously changed from, Oh yeah, this is all good. I'm in control to Holy shit. What's going on here. And the whole crowd, the whole crowd is sort of dispersed slightly and he's just looking up at me and with these tips going anyway, you can imagine a very strong winds in this rotor. I literally just get puppeteered around the entire landing field, getting taken up a bit higher sometimes maybe, you know, 20 meters, 25 meters then down again to 15 meters back up to 30 meters down again the whole time this is happening, I'm clipped in backwards.
Okay. I've got tips collapsing on me and I'm trying to work out what into windows, because hopefully sooner or later I'm going to come down anyway. So I do this tour of the landing failed with the tips collapsing and you know, this is a totally, I was totally out of control of where I was going, but I was at least in control of the wing. And so I'm just trying to keep the thing in flight and I'm not looking at the ground anymore. It's just like, Whoa, Holy crap.
What the hell is going on? And just getting rocked from side to side, it's totally intense. Anyway, suddenly I sort of find myself out of that bit of turbulence air that had picked me up and it sent me around the landing failed just, Oh my God, I've got to get this thing down. So I'm com I'm flying forwards, but I'm flipped in backwards. So I've got to look over my shoulder to work out, you know, how to fly this thing back to the landing field. Anyway, it just turns out that by total coincidence, my glide path and everything leads me back to where the crowd of people are, who are all just literally males gaping and look at fear in their faces as I come down land right next to them flare perfectly.
And I'm flipped in backwards still. Well at this moment, you know, the entire place just erupted into clapping and cheers and, and mass. What would you describe that just sort of jubilation and that I wasn't smashed up or dead or, you know, broken somewhere on the other side of the field, but you know, and that was that, you know, even I was rather satisfied that I brought this on home, but it was amazing.
And it took me to another level of stardom in Italy because this story went around pretty quickly and you know of, no one could believe that you could get, you could actually take off on a flat feel that you could get slammed around and Hamot, and still come down and do this perfect land and clipped in backwards right next to everybody. So this was a, yes, it was definitely one of my lucky moments. That's for sure. Oh my God, that's crazy.
It was faulty crazy. And the good thing is, and I th this is one thing I do always like Zhou. You know, when, when I tell a story, it is 100% truthful. I'm not, I'm not trying to extrapolate that to sound bigger, better. That is exactly what happened. There was probably 50 witnesses jump and jump. Henry was right there. We've actually got it. We've got photographic evidence because there was a photographer there and he was taking photos of this whole thing happening.
And you can see this, this, you know, a sequence of this flight with my tips closed and, you know, clipped and backwards. And the whole,
Speaker 3 (12m 19s): You have any kind of, you have any kind of protection or reserve or anything, or were you just in a little bikini heart?
Speaker 2 (12m 25s): No, I was in a bikini harness. No protection, no, no, not just,
Speaker 3 (12m 31s): Oh God, Oh my God.
Speaker 2 (12m 34s): Email seat of the pants thing, but it came good, but, you know, and then I went down,
Speaker 3 (12m 40s): That's seen, you know, the only, I can't, I don't have any, anything like that, but I think that until you really experience phone like that, it's a one time I really, really got myself in a pickle, was from Belen zone. I was doing a big triangle and it was a pretty strong North phone day, but there was a couple of other Swiss guys that felt pretty comfortable about it and you're kind of protected there. And so we, we do the outlet and we do the, the top of the triangle and that's up by the Rolo pass.
And, and it had just been 4,000 meter pace like per it was just incredible, no wind. It was amazing. And, and I'm just on the, on the Lake back is just going to be a nice big triangle. And I'm super excited and, and there hasn't been a Twitch about air and, and, and I'm just cruising along on the South side of what I call the big C it's like at the top of the log of maturity, there's that big Valley that goes from Pelon zona up around, and then there's the Rolo. And then there's the Newfoundland, you know, they go into the room and the Rolo ties into the Rhine.
And as soon as I get about halfway across and I was on the South side, so the roll, I'm looking up at the roll pass and I'm just cruised by it. And all of a sudden I'm in it, just this, like the dam broke and I was hives 4,000 meters and it was a 4,000 meter SIV to the ground. And I mean, I landed in 60 kilometer, an hour winds backwards, of course. And, and, and it was just, it went from so nice to my God. There's the bottom of my wing again?
Wait, there, it is at the top of it, you know, it's just, it was like I was doing the infidel and I don't know how to do the infinite, just all the way to the ground. It was like Jesus. And yeah. So, you know, I, I don't think people understand what furniture phone is like until you're in it like that. And it must've just been, like you said, a marionette and by the, I was just, Oh my God.
Speaker 2 (14m 38s): But on the end of the strings, just all Mike, you know, I was, I was in control of, like I say, only the wing to keep it open where we were going and what was happening was nothing to be with me.
Speaker 3 (14m 49s): Yeah. You bet you had nothing to do with that. Just a passenger
Speaker 2 (14m 52s): Along for the ride. But one thing is something that's the burn window. This is when it's, it's basically normally something to do with a high pressure and low pressure situation between the North ELPs and the South ELPs. And so you have not Italy on the South, and then you've got Germany and the North, and one of those will be in high pressure and the other will be in low pressure. And basically normally what's happening is you've got this mass that is being, trying to be equalized. And so you get these very strong North winds.
And my funniest story for the, for the firm is we were flying at the world championships in fish, 1989, hang gliders. Last day of the event I was in the lead. All I had to do was bring it home and it was happy days. We take off on the first glide it's Podcast, North wind. It's very aware in Switzerland in the Rhone Valley place go fish. And we take off on the last, last task, all climb up together. It's pretty gnarly. It's already a bit bumpy.
We go off on the first glide, all the top competitors and together, like I say, I'm in the lead. All I've got to do is bring it home and head off on this first, glide everyone together, massive squadron. And I'm just flying along and in the middle of it, for some reason, I don't know what happens, but my wing just turns upside down on a hang glider. So I just tumble the wing in front of everybody. And literally the bar goes past my face. Once I let go of the bar.
Cause I, I'm not a guy that hangs on tight so that you gotta let the thing fly you. So you don't want to be hanging on you. Just, you just controlling the fingertips. The ball gets ripped out of my hand, I do some tumbles. This is in front of the hole, you know, lead gaggle. I do a couple of tumbles. Somehow the glider doesn't break. The bar goes in front of my face. I grab it radio hanging off bits and pieces hanging off everywhere, very broken. Anyway, I'm just like, Oh my God.
And people are on the radio is going, Oh my God, Robbie just tumble, you know, blah, blah, blah. But I'm still flying. So I stick the right, you know, back and pull everything together and get everything going. I flew 160 kilometers that day. There were only three people at goal and I was the second person and gold tumbled twice. And you want, Oh my yes.
And that's happened many. I believe I might have been the luckiest person alive. And again, and again, I would just like to say that a, you know, that that is not a story that's been embellished to sound better than it is. There is, there was a mass of pilots, all this happened. And when I landed at the goal on this particular day, it was a super gnarly day. The rest of the flight was horrific for the first hour and a half. After this had happened, I was shitting myself the whole time, but I knew I had to just get a move on and then I'd lost everybody because when I'd done this tumble, I got low stuck in a gully and had to spend sort of 20, 30 minutes getting back out of this gully.
By the time I got out of there, I couldn't see anybody or, or everybody, anybody anymore. So I just, you know, got the bit between my teeth and went off on this crazy route, on my own, flew around the Holocaust, expecting to come and last and found out I was second. So awesome. Oh, tumble twice and get going. And then when I landed in the landing field, you know, most everybody was sort of totally jubilant.
And I w I was more just relieved because it was, you know, can you imagine the stress you're under anyway, on the last day and then the shift. And anyway, so that all happens. And I I'm, I'm packing the glider up. I've got the, the battens on one side are all bent the empty dive rods of broken on one side cross to bent keel band. And I flew one of the gnarliest days ever been in competition. And the glider that was like, I might go, I was, Oh yeah, that was one of a story about hanging in there.
Yeah, that was definitely when I was, you know, I'm gonna impact you us. And there was, I needed to get to, to tell you about one home that's for sure. Did you, did you see Robbie? Did you see the, the footage of Rick Brazina, who I competed with? I think in the 2017 race, I think, but Canadian pilot, who was he got, he got lifted off the crown and a dust devil in Manila. And it was immediately into, in a SAP configuration and he sat it up about a thousand feet, just, I mean, just totally out of control.
I mean, he wasn't even planning on launching yet. You know, it was just this thing, just boosted. I'm like you get used, we get it show and all the time, you know, you, you have seen that land. And, and then he went through like 180 K and he got up and he was like, well, I guess everything's okay. It wasn't a competition. It was not nearly as cool as your story, but the footage is crazy scary. I'm going to have to look for it. Rick Rick, Rick Brazina dust devil, just Google it. It's fricking terrifying. Oh my God, that's unbelievable.
I've never heard of anybody tumbling and not throwing and let alone winning. These are all the shit. These are those things that accidentally somehow sort of skyrocket you to a
Speaker 4 (20m 48s): Notoriety or have some of that. That's one of those. Could you use a story about Robbie?
Speaker 3 (20m 57s): Okay. So hope you enjoyed that little taste of things to come now, please enjoy the rest of the Podcast with Robbie Whittall Robbie. This is pretty exciting for me. I have heard all the amazing stories about your past and your, your world championship wins and hang gliding and paragliding. I don't think it's too much to sorry about it. And this is this'll make you blush a little bit, but you are truly a legend in our sport.
And it's just a real treat for me to be able to see you here on the screen and, and have a, have a talk with you. Let's just dive in with, with where you are and what you're doing. And it looks, it looks awfully nice out through that window.
Speaker 4 (21m 44s): Yeah. Yes, it is a first of all, Gavin, thanks for asking me to be on the show and I probably should of done something soon. Hey, Rian. Now. So it's obviously the right time. I'm currently in Raglan, New Zealand, West coast, small small town surf town. And I'm here fundamentally because wind and waves good for my work, which is still developing, but surfing, still doing speed winds as well.
Speaker 3 (22m 12s): Yeah, I was going to just, let's start there. You know, I don't often think of, you know, my background is a bit in kite surfing as well, but never from the designer side, I don't have that kind of mind. I know you've been designing wings, which are kites are being her wings as well for decades now, but speed wings and kite surfing seem odd and it's or do you find they really tie together
Speaker 4 (22m 37s): Tied together? I'm not sure they tied together, but it's definitely what I do when I moved out of the paragliding development and into the kite surfing development. And I was doing the speed of wings at the time. And I just carried the speed one thing on, because it's a little bit more dynamic and to tell the truth, the, the guys were busy trying to fulfill their requirements just to keep the paragliding lineup up to date.
So I just carried on doing Speedruns and as it happens, they worked very well together. You know, when it's too windy, you know, nice and strong for tightening up and have a good session down here, then net up the Hill, which is a two minute drive and go, and which is also a good testing. And you might send me, send me safe and beginning.
Speaker 3 (23m 37s): And then, I mean, that's interesting. They, you know, I mean your design background, was this something you, you studied or you just learned? I believe we, you know, was your first designing job with a Dell? Do I have that right? Is it like kind of early nineties? Was that something you studied in school or you just kind of learned the trade?
Speaker 4 (23m 57s): No, I learned the trade basically since I started my hang-gliding career very quickly. I was picked up by accompany and back in the day you call that way. And I just became a sort of test pilots and a little bit of a problem solver because, well, yeah, and honestly, I, I have, or not, I think I still have quite a good feeling and a very analytical mind when it comes to feeling the rest of my whole development of my design and Korea has just come about through certainly not through education in the normal terms.
It's just been sitting on designers, shoulders and watching how they use programs. And then slowly, I just worked my way into a position where we got rid of the link in between, which is normally the designer. So to me, it would appear to be a good thing, to have a design as protest rider, who is actually feeling the sensations and able to self-evaluate these, the nuances of what makes a good way, not a good title.
So I literally just of grown into the job and found myself in a great position. I totally enjoy it, but I do not consider myself anything other than not a, I'm not a math and math and mathematical mind and feeling and sensation and visual conduct person.
Speaker 3 (25m 39s): So Robbie, take us back. What was the catalyst, how old were you, when did you take your first flight and how did it all happen?
Speaker 4 (25m 48s): Well, I was very lucky. My father was into hang-gliding from the very beginning. And so I grew up on the Hills watching occasionally getting a piggyback ride. And this was from the age of sort of four on piggyback tandems back in 1975, Where just sling on us, on my dad's back. And, you know, back in those days, he would just winds up the bottoms. But yeah, it, it got me back then. And then we watched for lots of years because every weekend my dad would be going out flying and we'd jump in the car and me and my brother and mess around on the Hill with tights and some radio models.
And basically we just, we grew up around fly, but my father was also a motorcyclist and I can safely say that I was more interested in motorcycles than I really was the flying parts. And, you know, I used to sit on my dad's bike in a garage and pretend like lots of kids do. And when it came to being at 16, that was when I could have a motorcycle. And, you know, I was banging on the door of one of the motorcycle crazy.
And my father said, look, if you don't get them out of cycle and you get into, you know, basically I'll buy you lessons and hang-gliding so that you can get into this Avenue because you knew that I was a little bit reckless when I was young and I was very involved in DNX writing. And he knew from the way I could crash at BMX, that I could probably crush. And so he got me into flying and I had my first lesson with a friend of ours and, you know, it was just beaming for me it's area.
And I knew straight away all my job, you know, found, found my thing. This is, this is what I want. And so from then on, it was just step-by-step progress. My father's a firm believer and you steady progress while you learn each stage rough and just jumping into where you would like to be. It's too much, you know, through the, through the learning process and gets each level absolutely Celtic before you move onto the next slide with all of this kind of works out fantastic.
And, you know, as my sewing capabilities increased, my desire increased, then you can keep me out of the air. Yeah. It was a full mainline eviction.
Speaker 3 (28m 29s): Did you, did you see it then as a potential way of life or as a way to get paid and make a living or is it just, it's just such a blast. You had to do it. I mean, was there a, was there a progression in terms of where are you seeing it as a progression and I can make a job out of this?
Speaker 4 (28m 47s): No, absolutely not at all. This was, and my life is like this anyway, purely passion left. And I have a very hard time at school and sort of left feeling very unsuccessful because obviously it's a success based system that we have, and I wasn't very successful. And then, you know, I started hang-gliding and that just all evaporated, joy and passion that was put into my handwriting was life.
You know, that's that, that's what made me wake up every day. And that's what drove me. It was just, God, this is so fantastic. And you know, when I was at school, I can remember sitting in classrooms, watching seagulls, soaring, the building, and there's a four-story building and I've just watched the seagull song and the building. And I would dream to be one because here I am trapped in the school room, not to understand and not even understanding what they're trying to teach me.
And I'm just looking at the window, at least in life, they have their, they're not answering to anybody. They're not responsible for anything they're just flying. And when they've had enough with flying in one place, they just fly off to the other place. And that, that's pretty much how my life has been really, you know, that's what has, has Nike, you know,
Speaker 3 (30m 21s): Is there any kind of a, you know, back then that, I mean, and certainly when I was, you know, we're not too different in age, I don't think of it, but back then, you know, I never heard of add or ADHD. Nobody talked about that, but do you, do you looking back there, was there any kind of dyslexia or add, or any kind of thing like that you felt was maybe because I I've I've often we come across that a lot with pilots there's there seems to be, you know, there's a lot of engineers that do it, but there's a lot of folks that get into flight that seem to watch the goals and can't keep their eye on the board.
Speaker 4 (31m 1s): Yes. I I'm very averse to the labeling of anything that, that would give us the understanding that there's some form of normality. There is no form of normality. There's a form of being pushed through square holes when you are around, but it doesn't make you normal. And so yes, I did have sort of, I would call it acute dyslexia. I couldn't really read very well and I still don't read and write very well.
And also, I guess, having I've been diagnosed with this it, which is again, something that's probably not a good thing to be diagnosed with. Cause it you're smarter excuse, but I, I do know this is a reality. I have an incredibly bad short-term memory and an even worse long-term memory. But the beauty of that is it makes me live in that because I'm not, I'm not interested in the past. I can't. And then the, most of the things that have really happened because I can only do now and I do look forward with it.
But my fall with planning is probably a couple of days and people ask me, Oh, when are you going there when you are doing this and that? Oh, I dunno, March, sometime I never put a date on things until I need to put the dates on it just before, because wa is only here on now, so it's better to be present. And that, I think that's also what happened, why I was particularly good at flying. And just because it is a form of meditation and the more connected are to that moment
Speaker 5 (32m 41s): Because you know, you're flying in a fluid, a natural fluid, the best way to be connected to it is to be present. And, you know, one of the things that happened in paragliding and the office, the offense and all the electronics, because it took away from my skills, which were to been able to understand and connect and read the sky in the conditions and the wind naturally. And so one of the GPS is K.
And then instead of there being five guys in the Lake group who were all acception and feeling natural pilots, suddenly there was 15 people in the Lake group and 10 of them were reading computers. And five of us were flying by the seat of our pants. And unfortunately the guides with the computers started to beat us because they were getting information, gathering information, as you could say, was rolling and reaching.
And I was so, you know, we we'd be trying to finesse from where we, Where when you do it, but now you've got some instrument telling you, you can do it.
Speaker 3 (33m 50s): Yeah. So there's an alarm that goes off.
Speaker 5 (33m 53s): Yeah. And, and that for me was the end of my flying career because I'm not interested in that I'm interested in the fuel top felt connection to the environment that that's, that's what I was. Oh, that's what I was living. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (34m 11s): You just answered a question that was way down my list. That's why you got out of flying. No, no, no. It's fascinating. I mean, in some ways your brain is, is like a, is a, is kind of a lottery ticket. I mean, to, to, to live in the now and to be present is, you know, I mean, people have to go into caves, meditate for 20 years to do that. And it sounds like that's just a natural inclination inclination. Was that something you worked on or is that just how you've been?
Speaker 5 (34m 43s): No, it's definitely just something how I've been, but I didn't recognize what it was for a long time. Hmm. How do you say, I believe, and again, this is, this is only my points of view and nobody has to agree with it, but I believe one of our biggest problems is that we've separated ourselves from true connection to the natural powers of the universe. And this is why we're in the, you know, don't get me wrong.
The world is beautiful. What happens is just part of the human development process, regardless of whether we go fully electronic or whether we go fully, naturally, it doesn't matter in the end, but I think we would have a much more harmonious world that they would teach and I'll use the word spirituality, but I don't really like it. I'd prefer
Speaker 4 (35m 38s): To call it connectivity because as soon as you put the word spirituality out there and people are like, Oh yeah, but it's not this connectivity to the natural world is something that you take for granted it. And when you take things for granted, honestly, you forget to respect them. And that is the respect that is required for us to be able to nurture ourselves properly and to them. And I am also guilty that sports and some of my living and for the companies that I work for, of course, the, the natural environment.
So, you know, I do have my own mental and to be able to balance these two things, but I'm also fully aware that we're not nurturing enough connectivity.
Speaker 3 (36m 26s): Yeah. Amen. Let's get back to your learning. You know, that, you know, as I understand it, you know, you're, you're two hang-gliding world championships and then pretty quickly after that paragliding world championships, I know we'd all love to understand better how, you know, there, there are exceptional athletes, you know, Kelly Slater and, and others. And you know, it's always some component of that's really hard work, but I, it sounds like you really truly had a talent and a gift.
What, what can you identify that? What, where did the, where did it come from? How did it, did it start with your dad and his approach? And it's quite funny that your, that your father tried to save your life by getting you into Free.
Speaker 4 (37m 18s): Yes, it is very ironic. And the people that, you know, raise their eyebrows at that one, but, you know, first thing is my father is a very good role model in terms of many of the things that he's taught us. And, and fundamentally, it's always been around respect, you know, respect what you're doing. And especially with flying, you know, serenity health type snappers. And so you need to be on the top of that game.
But honestly, the Gavin, if I look at these things now, retrospectively I think what it was more than anything was that I was led purely by throughs, passion, and somebody who is led by passion is virtually unstoppable, which is when that passion is absolutely the burning desire within your heart. And, and the knowledge stops you are connected.
Literally, you know, I can remember competitions where I could, I could be flying with 10 other guys, and I would just have the feeling that I need to be able to that. And then other guys would say a lot that way, and I'd go off at life's angles. And they'd all be thinking now, you know, you go and he's going to, she's going to blow us low and behold, they they'll sink out. I fly them out and do it all. It was just allowing the free flow and being in those moments and lit by passion, as I say, direct you to the right place to be.
And I never entered a competition. In fact, one of the reasons my career was a little bit up and down is while you are lit through passion, everything comes to you very easily, but the minute you stop trying everything disappears and the problem with winning anything so that you try and maintain that. And then you take away the passion. And now it's a maintenance thing instead of a passionate thing. And it becomes very hard to be as successful because you know, that's connected because now you're worried about the results.
Speaker 3 (39m 41s): It sounds like, it sounds like when you were allowing yourself to kind of go into flow state and fly intuitively, you would do really well. And then when you would try to do really well, you would screw it up. Is that basically it you'd cut. You would let your conscious brain take over and when, so try to win. And then you, then, you know,
Speaker 4 (40m 3s): Yeah, I'm afraid that's about it. And I, I see it today, you know, in virtually every sport. It's really interesting. Once you are at least my section of these things, you see absolute, fantastic talent coming. And they go all the way to the top and then they disappear again. And they disappear because they started trying, they stopped flowing. They started wanting instead of excepting. And when you want something, the chances are you're going to have to work together.
And if you just let these things happen, then the foods come, come to you naturally. And you know, I want you to motorcycle race and you see such great talent coming up and you're like, Oh, fantastic. And then make it to the top. And then they start taking it too seriously. The fun is taken out of it with joy is taken out of it. And then, you know, passion is automatically dwindled because of that, because now it's not about you expressing yourself. Now it's about the result of your expression and low and behold, many people, you know, first, by the way, stop,
Speaker 3 (41m 10s): I've been working with Thomas. Thurlow a bit this time around before this , you know, he was critical's coach and supporter for the first four. And then they're doing it again together this year, which is, which is really exciting and scary. And, but he talks about that, that, you know, you can't, you can't think about placing, that's a stupid goal. It's you have to think about process. You can think a little bit about performance, but everybody's going to be within one or 2%, you know, both on the ground and in the air. But so process goals are important, you know, packing your bag fast and that kind of thing.
But he said that there's, there's very often in the race where he has to not, you know, I don't know if he asked you, I think Regal's gotten pretty good at this himself, but you know, Hey man, do some wing overs, don't be so serious. You know, relax. What would you normally do right now if you weren't in the race and let's just take out of the race for a little while and, you know, just have fun, you know, in other words, remind reminds you that, you know, this should be a game.
Speaker 4 (42m 11s): Exactly. You know, with human beings, we're taught to take, we are indoctrinated to take everything too seriously. If you need an answer for everything, like, you know, it's just not out there and it all back login to the flow state, let it happen. I guarantee you success, but why don't you try to do it? I can guarantee you probably more failure than success.
Speaker 3 (42m 35s): Robbie. I was talking to bill, Belcourt your good friend yesterday to get some ideas, sort of talk to you. And he, he had some really funny stories about, he said, well, when Robbie would come to a comp, you know, usually you'd go to a complex it and say, it's in the Rocky mountains. You're, you're, you're pretty, you're thinking pretty hard about conditions. Is it gonna overdevelop? Is it gonna get too windy? Am I going to get my ass kicked today? You know, cause it's, it's always big. Right. And he said, but when Robbie would show up, you were actually more stressed out about the days where you weren't flying, because you had to go hang with Robbie.
Like you said, you know, your, to, one of the things you used to say was, you know, half of the comps, one on the ground. And I was like, well, what does that mean? And he said, well, yeah, because you would have to go for by or race motorcycles or do something and party like we're crazy. And then show up the next day, you know? And it was just kind of expected. So it was that, was that really part of your game plan? Is that how you, how you also kind of want, or was that just who you were and you, you just, you just, it sounds like you kind of lived full throttle or live full throttle.
We were going to get into the Island.
Speaker 4 (43m 42s): Well, yes. I, I like it. It's very nice that Phil remembers me like that. And yes, it probably was the case. And I definitely do you maintain that competitions can be one on the ground just by your presence and your, ultimately I know this is at first what I said earlier, but ultimately your lack of respect for virtually everything, because also when you're in flow state, you don't need to worry too much about anything else, just go with the flow.
But also at the same time, I was a test pilot and that spent so many years falling out of the sky for a living. And I'm talking about, especially, you know, when
Speaker 5 (44m 32s): I was working in Germany with five, but you know, I was just falling out of the sky everyday, everyday, everyday different way and different tests, different conditions. And it gives you a certain ability to count with the rough stuff. And for sure, you know, the rougher of knowledge of what you used to get on you, that I was the best equate. And so whatever everyone else is slightly nervous and take out, that was just Yahoo because Holy shit, yeah, no matter how bad it is up there and got the best equipment I've got me underneath that.
So if I'm shitting myself, they are absolutely crapping it, you know? So here we go, Robbie, where did, where did that confidence come from? I mean, is that question you can even answer. I mean, cause that's, it's exceptional and, and there are, I think people can get to that level through a lot of training or they're just incredibly competent people, you know, probably a combination of both. But was that something you just had that something you had in your back pocket or is that something you developed?
Well, it's, it's something that's also been developed. It's something that I had, I believe it was also one of the positive results about being a failure. You realize that the world is judged by other people's standards, but inside you know, that you are a fully functioning human being that has potential, you just haven't necessarily found it. But obviously I, I, I found some of my essential with flying, but I don't like my life to be restricted by ideas and methods, methods, methodology, because other people have drawn those limits and those lines and those other people, I truly don't believe I was talented at drawing those lines and those limits desire.
I'll draw my own. Thanks. And I'll find out what, what my potential is rather than someone else defining the limits of that potential and saying that's as far as you can go. So the confidence comes from the fact that it's a self-belief that know every human being only has a body, two arms, two legs, and a head what's inside their head of course is also relevant to what happens. But if another human can do something and the chances that I can do it because there are only just a quick desire and that's within my, my, my, my, my fields.
I could probably be a brain surgeon if I had to, but I've struggled to be that. And it would take a lot more work, whereas in the things that are in this fault and things that require the skills that I have, then I just find it easy to, to challenge myself. And then that brings you confidence because when you challenge yourself, you proved yourself, right? Guess what? Next time you do the same thing, next time you do the same thing, they'll be limited by other people's fears and lack of dissemination just because they couldn't do something.
Speaker 3 (48m 5s): I want to get back into kind of the precision of some of the sports that, well, the precision that was required by some of the sports you undertake, like the, of man and base jumping, that kind of thing. But before we do the Brits, the Brits come from an Island that doesn't have awesome flying and not a lot of mountains. And yet year after year after year, there have been people like you, Pendry and Goldsmith, then Ogden.
Why, what is it about the British program, the British mindset, the what is it? I mean, cause you guys on a, on a world scale can often step in with the Swiss and the French. You have the juniors programs and the outs and you can get paid doing it. And you know, obviously there's a lot of history here, but,
Speaker 5 (49m 2s): And it is quite fascinating. And it's something that, you know, for sure I was self proud of the time. It's past the lamp that we had such a good run in our day, fundamentally that that seem to be, and one of us would normally take home the individual title. And it was a normal for us to take the two types and home by that was, yeah, all the hang-gliding events where you were just on top.
But I believe that comes from a certain British tenacity is a culture based thing. And you know, you can say to history of us and ask and see whether the lights are wrong by our crusading and land grabbing around the world. And then when it comes into the context of paragliding and hang-gliding let let's face it, good conditions are easy to fly.
It's just go out there and do it because it's everywhere. And there's mountains showing you, you know, literally telling you where to go. And in England, the conditions of terrible and every flight is not, not terrible. They're very consistent. So every flight is and struggling. And if you get good at struggling, then when it's turned on for you, it's just kind of a walk in the pockets.
And now, you know, you're struggling out of a low flatlands with a low Cloudbase and weak left. And then you get thrown into the outs where it's high Cloudbase, massive mountains and strong lift. Let's go, you know, this is a piece of it's everywhere I look up. I'm just going to glide to that bridge. Boom, another massive strong Thermo. I'm just going to glide to that Ridge is yeah. So I, I truly believe, you know, there's nothing better. And then to, to practice it in difficult conditions because that's what makes it easy.
And when the good stuff comes along,
Speaker 3 (51m 16s): What do you credit your so many wins too? You know, you had the, you had the, I believe the two hang-gliding world championships, the two paragliding world championships. You're one of, I believe. No, no.
Speaker 5 (51m 29s): And he was the only one hang-gliding one paragliding.
Speaker 3 (51m 32s): Okay. The, the, but you're one of, I believe three that have done that one and both what what's, what was your approach? What was your, how, Where do you credit that to,
Speaker 5 (51m 47s): There was never an approach back in those days. Again, that was when I was in the flow, not trying to achieve anything other than my best. That's another thing. I think it's very impulsive. When you turn your competition against competitors, you are guaranteed to lose when you turn the competition and once you have your best potential, it might not be to win because people often have more potential than you, but you all going to get your best results by trying to be, you know, that's, that's where the results were coming from.
Really. I was just trying to fly my best and be my best. I was worried about who you are. Lots of, all of that reposition that was just go out there and do my best. But in answer to the question, I was surrounded by great people, fantastic. You know, jump Henry was a nice and friendly mental that they Lopez the Americans.
I was so lucky that a lot of the good pilots, so of my ability, and one thing that's often happens is that the not so good pilots always have a knee-jerk reaction to immediately sort of try and Abilify the young guy who's coming up with those reckless and dangerous and dangerous by your standards. But by my own, and I was not even retro so dangerous. I was just doing what I needed to do and the good, they recognize the, you know, what they were dealing with it.
And they just wrote me in and enjoyed, enjoyed my progress and success. And you know, this, you can learn so much from these people because they're that open and they want and offer. And yeah, so basically it was a loving off even from flat level, you know, some great people. So Amanda, that waiting and just, you know, before I could drive, I had a guy by the name of Colin rider who was with his wife, picked me up, stick my hand glider on their roof.
I was stuck because you know, my doctor's wife and my son picked me up every weekend, taking you out and looked after me. It was just, and again, I think that was also because a lot of these people just saw this fuel passion and I that's facilitate the next level.
Speaker 3 (54m 30s): Tell me about the, the kind of early years with Dell. Just anything that kind of pops up. That was kind of funny, you know, I know you started at Adele, I believe in the, in the paragliding. Well actually let's start there. What was it like to transition from hang-gliding to paragliding?
Speaker 5 (54m 48s): Well, for me, it was amazing because I was super downtown and still in my element, it was a new, a new craft, but I was still in my element. And so it's just learning to fly this, you know, this new wing and yes, it was slow and it was rubbish, but like everything I absolutely loved to learn, you know, I, for me, everyone's trying to accelerate the learning process and I want to do this and I want to do this and I would slow it down because the learning process is the most satisfying.
You join the enjoyable parts of anything. Once you become moderately, okay. At something the big bus has gone. And everyone's trying to get to this next level where it's not just accept where you are, because it's the best way to learn anyway, is to draw yourself back when you tell it yourself critical and enjoy the process. Because if you know, it's like a flower blossoming, you don't want the flower to go from a, to a flower instantly.
We want that thing to slowly grow in front of you and each have to slowly unravel itself. And that's like each step of a ladder or whatever. And that's the process to getting jellied. And yes, I just got on the paraglider and enjoyed it tremendously. And it's often a step that's what I should be doing next. And I'm a very
Speaker 4 (56m 24s): Next thing on one side of guilt to the level of ability that satisfies me, nobody else, just me, then I'm looking for the next day.
Speaker 3 (56m 40s): He, you know, sitting here talking to you that I would have expected, maybe not more recklessness, but more in, I mean, the stories are that you were so aggressive with life experiences, but also just, you know, you're clearly, we'll let you have that mind frame of test pilot, which is, you know, a lot of confidence and also, you know, just willing to blow it up over and over and over again.
But I just gather, I, you know, I haven't talked to you very much, but I just gather you're very calculated. Is that right?
Speaker 4 (57m 19s): No, I am more calculated now because the filters of life have been slowly growing across because that's one of the things that happens when you get into business, you have to make it living and those associated responsibilities. I was definitely, and, and also immature, you know, like I was young immature.
I definitely was the reckless crazy pushing the limits, instigator of all kinds of stupidity, because, and I'm not saying that a mature and is either a good thing or a bad thing. It's just something that naturally happens. You know, like, like a good wine as it ages. Hopefully it becomes better, you know, the sharp edge is that you could say, you said earlier, yeah. You know, you can deal with them, but long-term probably not the best way to live your entire life.
So I just feel that I'm maturing into, you know, well, hopefully that continue with half of it and maturing whereby I can still, and I am still totally wrapped less and learns it regularly, but it was reflected a lot more in my personality then, whereas now I just turn it off, but when I need it and why people up and genuinely be unlimited all the time,
Speaker 3 (58m 59s): 'cause the, the nineties, you know, I kind of understand it, those, you know, open class was the big thing and it wasn't just Firebird and Adele, it was, you know, that was, everybody's showing up on prototypes, everybody's race and open class, you know, as you say, many of them are rubbish and sounds like, you know, the carnage was, was pretty high and they, they called you at some point, you know, the father of the serial class was that about when you and Kavanaugh started ozone, give me the timing of that.
And what was, you know, it's kind of funny that the kind of the godfather risk and sense it was also like the godfather, like, you know, Hey, we gotta, we gotta trim this back a little bit.
Speaker 4 (59m 38s): Yes. Well, it can. Yeah. Okay. So this is the late nineties and we've gone into a situation where by the competition saying yes, at the well soundly health and class and the wings were performing better, but they were getting, or they weren't particularly site. And the ability that you needed to be able to fly one safely was literally their ability and the test pilots and what we could and a factory pilots.
So what we could see was the testing factory pilots. Basically I had an unfair advantage over most of the failures because these wings, what a handful and people were unfortunately hitting the ground thoughts, irregular. I recognized that my advantage was, and my test pilots thing, and, you know, the frequency with which I was flying and flying those fault lines. And I just didn't think it was fast.
And I also didn't really enjoy seeing people that I shared a camaraderie with being splashed on the ground. 'cause, you know, for what, you know, the men's famous for fun and enjoyment. And I still was a fun and enjoyment. I still am. And yeah. So when you, when you see your friends being injured and in some cases, dead, fetal seats and the whole thing, so this is pointless of what for what do we, what are we measuring here?
And it's not something that is measured on parity with the rest of the field. I fly almost every day and you fly every weekend. I should be better than you. So why are you spending all this money to counter competition? So then ended up in an ambulance, going to the hospital in Spain, being dealt with really well, and that's absolute madness. So I tried to rally the troops to the idea of basically certifying the competitions that everyone could fly for another reason as well.
And I truly believe in a level playing field. I don't like, I don't think it brings out the best in anything or anybody, including the manufacturers in a way, because it's, it, it turns the business into a fashion business and not a fashion better rapidly successive improve
Speaker 5 (1h 2m 20s): Performance improvement business instead of making better pilots. And at the end of the day, we're trying to measure the pilot really. I felt rather than of length. So the idea of Sera plus was to level the playing field. And let's say you do the best pilot is because we still don't know who the best part of it is nowadays. It is one song and whatever, and it's not the requirements for certification. So open that it's not really certification.
So it's still a performance service between the manufacturers. I'd prefer that race between the pilots. You know, it's not basketball, isn't it,
Speaker 3 (1h 3m 3s): I've, I've always had a hard time with these sports that are either judged or that, or, you know, I grew up ski racing and a lot of it was your wax guy. You know, I was, I was a speed guy as downhiller and, and that's just, you know, why can't we all ski the same gear? Yeah,
Speaker 5 (1h 3m 19s): Exactly. And this is the thing I find it so interesting that the competition truly is the human element in there. And now removing the human elements and putting the technical and the technological elements in, as you know, literally the prime factor. If you look at MotoGP or formula one, they're mapping the top of the bikes for every corner. So, you know, the, the, the track map is put into the body.
And if you are coming around this corner and you can smash the throttle to full the traction control knows it's caught a number four and only delivers this much power going up to 100% as you come out once upon once upon a time that's crap. Well, it's the same as a GPS, it's doing the same thing it's giving you, it's giving you the, or it's taking away that sensitivity on the thoughtful way. You have to wind it on cell Catholic because you know, you got back here and if you want it on too quick, boom, you're off.
Whereas nowadays, and that's why a lot of the crashing and stuff. And then how do you see any outsides? Because as the, as the hit the apex, they know that at this point, flats out the engine, if the mapping only gives you a certain amount of power until you've got the bike up rights, and then you get it all back again. But
Speaker 3 (1h 4m 45s): No idea, these things were being driven so much by computers. Yeah.
Speaker 5 (1h 4m 48s): Oh God. It's like I say, paragliding is not different, but look at everybody's flight decks. Now they're enormous. I used to have one little signing daft around their area, but I also used to switch off as well, because I like signing sign and flying and just go with him. And that was it. And now it's massive, like X and you got your spare battery pack and this, that, and the other. And, you know, it's like loggers to screen and we're still actually trying to masquerading under all that.
We're trying to find the best pilots. What, what are you doing exactly? You know, now you've now almost eradicated the pilots. You know, you could fly one by drone with, you know, and probably win a competition nowadays. Oh, you not when, but certainly likes very well because we don't need the pilots in that. So, yeah. But Hey, that's only my personal be again, it comes down to this Where, Where, Where masquerading the human element and it's the human element that needs to be prominent because until the human element becomes more connected, again, all this detraction from human elements is basically moving us further away.
And the further we go from our natural wildlife in Australia, it's interesting to hear you were talking about your own risk profile and getting older and learning as we all hope we do. And then why didn't you just get pretty busted up and tell people about the Island man race, and maybe I have this wrong, but isn't it the most dangerous race in the world in terms of just numbers?
Is that right? I don't know if it's the most dangerous race in the world. I wouldn't like to categorize it like that. And what I can tell you is it's ultimately a sentence. You get a response. You know what, whenever I think about his thing for me personally, everybody's defense, it was the ultimate challenge. I was a little bit older than most people, but I'd always loved motorcycles, as I told you.
And eventually I got into motorcycles and then I got into a bit of track day writing, and then I got into some racing and then I did some streetlights in here and you see it. And then I realized, Oh my God, I'd love it on the street. You know, license proper on the roads. And the next level was to go to the isle of man, which is 60 kilometers across 30, 70 miles around a small Island off the coast of England.
And, you know, there's brick walls trees. It's just a regular road that's closed off and it's insanely fast and very dangerous. There are a number of deaths each year, but that has to be expected. And you know,
Speaker 4 (1h 8m 16s): There's not a person that doesn't line up knowing full well of the risks that they're taking them. They are the risks that you're prepared to take because the, the enjoyment level stroke addiction is so compelling and fulfilling, but yeah, it's no problem. That's what we're doing. And now it's just keep your eyes down and head forward. And then our eyes forward and head down and try, try and keep it let as much as you do there.
And, you know, I was never very good by any stretch of the imagination, but, and in my last two years, and I started this at 45, which is, I started racing at 45, was definitely going to fail this guys there by a long way. But it brought me back into the focus and the flow state that I've been missing for a lot of years because I couldn't concentrate too much.
And so it was just a beautiful thing for me. And ultimately just, I can't think of anything. It's very hard to describe how it's helped you to consume. And this is because, well, for the first week, you're having practices in the evening and you're getting about two laps, maybe four laps. If you're lucky, you're practicing for the first week, then the race week starts.
You've only got two races or I only have two races and each one is four laps. So you've got to 37 miles to the fall times takes about an hour and 20 minutes total. And it's an hour and 20 minutes of absolutely in the moment meditation, motorcycle Whiting, you know, you are, you're trying to nail everything as good as you can nail it as fast as you possibly can.
There's no, there's no warmup on a race day at 10 o'clock, the race starts, everybody's let off 10 seconds apart. So it's a time drop. And basically you're sat on the start line at zero miles and hour having no warm up in the morning now, nothing. And within a mile, you're doing 160 miles an hour down a Hill with a big thing at the bottom of it. And you know, absolutely thin flat out maybe. And maybe if you're good, you were making 180 miles an hour down and you hit the bottom of this thing impresses and literally less than a mile lookout, you have sat on the start line and Cole, now you are thrown 100% neck into this, and that's only the beginning and it just gets, it almost gets crazy.
And as you will up and get into the flow of this, so you have to gather, can you imagine what that start line is? Like, you have to gather yourself from getting up, having breakfast and having no walnuts, no nothing. You know, I've done a few exercises to get my body warmed up zero miles and hour. The next minute you're doing one 61 80 and trying to hit, trying to pin this machine and ring it's fricking neck and all of your lines that you've learnt, you know, 100 seconds and that's it.
And I loved, and I found it so empowering. There was something in this world that dangerous, but also totally within your control because it's up to you how fast that means you have to, again, it's one of those moments where if you misjudge your ability, you're going to be dead. And I love that. It's Where you have to be honest with yourself.
I would love to go as fast as the fast guys, but I can tell you right now, I don't have those skills. No problem. Right? So what you don't love, let's go out there and do your best, but you never turning it down to Mac to not set you up to giving it a hundred percent, but a hundred percent of what I got. Isn't a hundred percent of what you guys have got it. So you still get you the absolute best, but you know, to not try harder, because if you try harder, it's not going to end up with a whole mess.
So yes, that was carry on. So Jeff Shapiro talks about, you know, if the Teeter totter where, you know, and family it's really wide, the fulcrum is, you know, and then it just keeps getting narrower, like wingsuit base jumping. The fulcrum is, is a microscopic dot where, you know, if you're, if you're proximity flying, you can't screw up a little band and then that that's dead. And that, that line is just so tiny.
And it sounds like maybe it's even tinier. This is why I can sort of, and I'm not trying to big it up because I don't make the big it up. You know, what it meant to me and nobody else even asked to really understand it. It's just what it meant to me. But if you think of proximity fine for one or two seconds, you might be close to the ground. And when I say close to the ground might be a meter, a meter and a half off.
Well, that'd be, I'm a man. You are a meter off the ground because that's maybe how high the sensors are less than a meter, 800 centimeter itself, the grant. And, you know, doing phenomenal speeds, way faster than you're doing phenomenal speeds for an hour and 20 and proximity, proximity flying lasts for what two seconds. This is, this is what I'm talking about. So you have an hour and 20, if you not messing up.
And if there's anything
Speaker 3 (1h 14m 36s): Mentally, how do you mentally train for that? That, I mean, you see, it's quite, it doesn't work to go on a race track to do that. I mean, how can you just go out and drive, you know, and, and race and 180 miles an hour on a windy road and train for that for an hour and 20 minutes. That's insane focus, I guess it's just flow. It's not even,
Speaker 4 (1h 14m 57s): Yeah. Yeah. Well, it it's focusing flow altogether. How do you train for that? Well, I did do a lot of circuit racing obviously to train for that, but also I was riding the roads around here, like the learning that I can be concise time. And so there's a lot of very good roads here and New Zealand, there's a small population and there's only sort of bout five and a half million, which means that the roads are not particularly busy, although they are a little bit dangerous that they're not the best kept roads in the world, but that's good too, because they are very, very dumpy and an undulating and very rocket on the bike.
So I just go out here and Sarah realize their local farms, I guess. And they very retro sort of crossed into the vendor rod like an idiot.
Speaker 3 (1h 15m 57s): W can you describe what it's like you said, you know, you, you imagined showing up at the starting line, you have it, you know, you've had some breakfast. Can you describe what that's like, you know, mentally to fly your stuff over to the aisle, man, and go through this. I imagine it's pretty wild and there must be some pretty heavy
Speaker 4 (1h 16m 20s): Emotion. Well, remarkably for me, I don't know why it's another scale I've managed to pick up on way. I can just drop everything apart from what I need to be doing. And I normally understand that being nervous. So being on the back foot is the worst place to be. You know, you gotta be on the front foot and ready to go. So I was always very calm on the start line and never, it was just literally, you have to also understand that there's not many people that can qualify for it, can afford it.
And all of these things, I just saw every time that I rolled up that it's just been a privilege I'm about to race a motorcycle wreck, put this one
Speaker 5 (1h 17m 12s): That I don't know of any unleashed, fun like that anywhere else in the world that exists. And if there, if I did, I would be doing, but there is the me that was the ultimate. And it's, it's brought me a certain amounts of clarity and calm now because I was always searching for the ultimate bus and ultimate bus. And on and off, next thing that you need more unique model. And the counselor has added that I am to the adrenaline, it's it?
It was just such a privilege to be racing that because who else is getting this intensity? Nobody, you know, the census of population who have done this or who have gone to do it, I'll get through it is so microscopic and I'm privileged enough in my life to now manifest myself on this start line with a beautiful machine. And I'm going to be the only thing that's between me and the finish line is myself.
You know, it was each time. It's amazing. And I, in actual fact, finishing the races was super emotional without, because I fucking made it. That was, that was well, it's not even survive. You know, I think, you know, you're going to survive, but the accomplishments was just incredibly incredible. Something very difficult to describe
Speaker 3 (1h 18m 48s): Is it, was it, is it hard for you to end these, like when it's over, is there, you know, you're, you're in that flow state, you're driving 160, 180 miles an hour. Life doesn't get any better than that. When you're done. Is there a dip? Is there a fuck? I gotta go home. I got to go back to work. Is it, how do you deal with that side of it?
Speaker 5 (1h 19m 12s): I'm just very lucky. I know a lot of people do you have set of withdrawal symptoms as such and the show, the nostalgic side of me does have with full sentence because I really do love to keep doing it. But the first thing is it costs a fortune. You know, you just pay some money to the ring. It's not particularly environmentally friendly. Although most of my life is isn't anyway, you know, I basically produce large items for landfill and in between some humans get some enjoyment out of them, but still it's not exactly very wholesome.
So yes, I would. I, I could leave that, leave those places very easily actually. And just back up and be on to the next thing, because also I'm a guy that is living in the, now that's finished now, what am I doing out? And now with backing up and now I'm flying back to new city right now.
Speaker 4 (1h 20m 10s): Yeah, it was all relatively easy. But if there was one thing I would like to have been able to continue, but again, I understand that you have to be powerful. I'm going to bring up something that we may not we'll have to see how this goes.
I don't know if this belongs in the, in the show, but our mutual friend, Kiwi, you know, you and I both went through that in some ways together. We didn't see each other. There you came just after I left. And then we missed on the, you know, after we, they found him, but a lot of people reached out to me, you know, with very serious, real condolences and, you know, and, and, you know, I hope people have sympathy, of course. Right. And I, I miss Kiwi of course.
And I loved that dude. And, but of all the people I have known, he certainly seemed to have the best relationship with death of anybody I have met. And it seemed to me like that guy lived so many lives as you have. And I never felt this like poor Kiwi. I always felt like, man, what an awesome way to go. And, and I, so my question is, what is your relationship with death?
I mean, it seems like you must be pretty comfortable with it. Yes. Yeah. Once upon a time. And you know, in my younger years I had a very much more altruistic view and I was obviously save the paragliding competition and themselves, and to be alive and kicking such, you know, not necessarily easy things still fell, but I lost a couple of friends and I was a young guy that affects the way you relate to that.
And for a long time, I didn't want that to happen, especially to friends, but now I just, yeah, it's part of life. And it's just something that you got to get on with them. I have absolutely no fear of death again, because of our, how would you describe this? Our mutual enjoyments of the psychedelic realm.
Then I believe I visited the place that could be a passing point towards SoCo and bodily death. I'm not gonna imagine. I don't have to imagine that each to their own, but spiritually, I think there is our connectivity continues. And so I, the theater of losing my physical body, there isn't any, I just, I don't even care.
And I can happen today tomorrow with such an incredible life. I've had so many beautiful experiences that I don't need to train on to the physical realm anymore. And again, for you, that psychedelic venture and I can be comforted in the fact that, you know, if nothing else I will go on and be a part of the universal false, that is all around us.
So yeah, there's nothing to figure this, that ends that time almost looking forward to it and in a very positive way, not in a Malbec and a very positive, yeah.
Speaker 3 (1h 24m 55s): The reason I, I brought it up was that I, I want that to be a comfort actually, to, to people that, that Ms. Kiwi, because, you know, I sat in a Hotsprings with him in the middle of Nevada six days before he disappeared. And we talked about this very thing, you know, we talked about other stuff too, but, you know, he was a fascinating individual. And that's what I miss is talking to somebody who is so fascinating, so smart. And so world traveled and so amazing, but he wasn't scared of death.
I mean, he had, he, he was, he was ready and, and, and he, in some ways, you know, he would say he'd seen it and experienced it and, and not by a near death experience, but also through psychedelics. And I think that, you know, I mean, to me, it was, he, he brought us on this beautiful last adventure and what a way to say goodbye. I don't know. I mean, you know, I'd rather do it that way. And then being hung up in a cancer ward or something, I just thought it was, I thought it was really, I thought it was really beautiful and
Speaker 4 (1h 26m 3s): It fitting well. Yes. And it turns out to be fitting for the man that he was obviously, it's very, it's still difficult. Yeah. It's yeah. It's maybe a bit too difficult, but the reality is, is it's only my ego that's is Milan in his loss.
Our loss that's very well said. That's very well said.
Speaker 6 (1h 26m 58s): Right?
Speaker 4 (1h 26m 58s): Yeah. And he was just very special, But you know, it is a totally all good. I am totally you good with it? And I know that I'm just catching up later. It's not a bubble. We're still lucky you are.
And just by having somebody with that potential, to be able to see into things in a different way of my mind season for them. And I think that's why we harmonize so well, because, you know, basically he was a genius. Like I say, he was too big for this world. Yeah. His, his thoughts. And I do also know, and I, regardless of what I do know his books and his writings in the future will become a milestone in understanding and perception of a potential service.
And I are human existence because, you know, I, I believe that He was one of the first Westerners to study and self experiments into the Mt and the effects of DMT to the level that he did and combine that with his intellects. And that is something incredibly powerful happening that I kept professor understanding of all.
I've been with him on some of these journeys, into the DMT realm, and obviously other psychedelics mushrooms as a state, Mescalin pretty much all of them. And I know what they bought him. And I could see that this transformation with his intellect and his perception that the human being as such something not ready yet to be accepted by, you know, very restricted spiritual society.
And so, but I'm sure in the future, people hailing him as some kind of revolutionary, I hope because that's pretty much what it was and inspiration. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (1h 29m 47s): And it's, and there's, there's, there's real movement in that realm recently that I think he's, he was such a big part of, and like you, like you said, I, I don't know how to articulate this or tackle it whatsoever, but his energy, I mean, from the first time I met him, he had this energy
Speaker 4 (1h 30m 9s): That was so
Speaker 3 (1h 30m 11s): Compelling and he made so much sense in He, you know, everything, He, the way he looked at the world was bold and truthful and exciting. He's the most fascinating person I've ever met. And, and I didn't explore any of these sides. Like you're talking about, that's just, that's something I don't know, hardly anything about other than, you know, college,
Speaker 4 (1h 30m 40s): He, sorry, I didn't know much about them until I met Greg and we got on like a house fire and he was already, you know, an experience psychedelic practitioner would, you know, LSD and mushrooms and Mescalin and such, and you know, my mind to that side of things. And then DMT came along with that as well.
And I just feel in a way, so privileged my psychedelic guru as such was the greatest of all time. I don't know anybody else. And I've met lots of those friends and went to burning man, a number of years together. And you would live together and got a house in the Dominican Republic together, you know, so, you know, I was running my lunatic the quite a number of years and I'd just, you know, work privilege.
Speaker 3 (1h 32m 0s): Exactly. You want to privilege his, his book I got from him, he had just finished it and, you know, self published under the influence 20 tales of psychedelic Alara, which is just such an awesome title. And he, he was so proud of this thing and he, he gave it to him and we were down in Texas. We were trying to fly in some distance down there and it is fricking brilliant. It's
Speaker 4 (1h 32m 21s): So fun. And it's,
Speaker 3 (1h 32m 24s): And, and again, because I knew from flying, you know, that wasn't, I went out to see him one time and it Halloween, and, you know, for me, it was a big night, but for him, his product and, you know, so I got to see a little bit of it, but that just wasn't, you know, I, I kind of like you, and I'd heard a lot of stories, but I didn't know that side of him. And that book really gives a window and I encourage our listeners to get this thing. It's just,
Speaker 4 (1h 32m 51s): Well, the funniest thing, and it's not loud. It's fantastic. The funniest thing would that Gavin is sweating. We used to live in the Dominican Republic together. I'd go down there. And so we have this, we've got this crazy property down there called it's hour. And it's three stories, octagonal buildings, talk to you and make it classic. Correct. You know, just, it's not like anywhere else anyway. So we had this place and he'd be writing and stories, and he'd be fascinating to me, a very, so I don't know how long I've been pushing him.
Come on, Greg, get the book finished, finished the, finished the show, finish yourself. And so I've read all these stories through numerous iterations sort of affect you. And yeah, the final touches to them and happy to come off, you go and get this thing out there. And then things aren't going to be anything on your day. It needs to come out of your head and it always laugh. It, yeah, you're never a famous author in Sydney, you're dead. And finally he gets the book out, which was very satisfying for me.
I know how much it meant to him. And, you know, I went back down with the mannequin after the new Orleans and I was sat in the house up on the third story, balcony, canopy level, Palm trees, and beautiful green fallen on floor. And I was reading through these stories again and, Oh my God, you know, just emotional,
Speaker 3 (1h 34m 41s): I bet. I'm sure. And, and again, you know, when you, when you, it helped me, it helped me with his death because reading of us and I was like, Jesus,
Speaker 4 (1h 34m 52s): This guy has so much,
Speaker 3 (1h 34m 55s): I mean, he's just the stuff he did because of course it's, you know, quote unquote fiction. And he, and I had some great, you know, Walter and, you know, I was like, dude, you're in there for story, you know, you're real easy to pick out your, the big bloke. You're the big Kiwi who's constantly, you know, like maybe getting in a fight, but you don't know how to fight, but you're real big, you know? I mean, I know who's you in every one of these stories, you know, and, but yeah, it's, it's, it's a lot of fun. Well, we should, we should get back to flying and the other stuff, it's, it's great to, to talk about him with you.
Cause I know you mean you guys have a lot of history together, you know, living together and, and Driggs and some Valley. I mean, you, you, you know, you guys have combed the world together and I'm sure had a lot of pretty incredible adventures. One of the adventures that is kind of reached legendary status is that you're, you're a for, in, with oath, R and D and those guys in Slovenia. I wonder if you could tell that one bill said that would be, and this, his quote from you is give it more gas.
You guys are going on with it. So what what's this one?
Speaker 5 (1h 36m 5s): It was a, yes, it was a PWC and sort of in it, and this is just started. And basically you have is because I wasn't saving my joy of my career as a competition pilot. Cause you had, there wasn't any to say, I was just, I was just doing it. And then we started out as yeah. John and everything I had into that box. But I think we had the first flight is out.
And so maybe let's go and like, you better have a showing and we went to Pennsylvania and shown up, you landed in necessarily rented. It happened to be an Abbey April. And he was the second night from Canada was that and a few others. Anyway, it was back in the day when some people still sort of held me on some kind of week out and put me on some kind of pedestal.
And this is one of the pilots, his father just opened a new restaurant and he wanted us to go and sort of Christmas and new restaurants. And each year they were allowed to shoot a certain number of bears in the region. And he had shot put that for us that night. So, and it was mainly admittedly for me that I said, Oh yes, but I'm with this crew because you can't leave, you can't leave your crew behind.
So we took the whole crew public crew up to the restaurants and going out there, it's this beautiful windy road and switchbacks. And I'm already wishing all this driving because it's out of Pascal. So we're driving up there and do all of this deserves to be Tom. And I used to love to drive like a maniac anyway. So we're driving up there and we get to the, to the restaurants. It's a beautiful side of the mountain side ski. You launched your restaurant and the owner, as soon as you walked in and just took a shine to me in terms of right.
We are having a good time tonight and the civilians have to have a good time. So he was plying me with alcohol from the beginning, you know, just, and I I'm a lightweight. So I was telling you, it's how it's already. Then we have this incredible male, which I haven't seen. Some you haven't had before. Whittall sense. And it really was divine. The mates was incredible. And we have this big night, everyone's pretty lit by the end of it because you know, there was not bill to pay, you know, and it was just lines.
And Bernie was the only guy left. He wasn't drunk, which was lucky. So Bernie just jumps in the car and take us home end of it. And nothing was fighting us and the gas. So there's three in the back and I was in the back and forth. And then when you stopped driving down, come on, Bernie, you can drive and fucking pussy, give it some gas. And then I stopped. I start coaching him through the gears down into second, set it up, live Laura.
Anyway, these are really steep switchbacks. It varies.
Speaker 0 (1h 39m 32s): I've driven those roads. I know exactly what you're talking about,
Speaker 5 (1h 39m 35s): But Slovenia as well as quite far. So there were no fresh berries. Are there any of these scanners, anything like as nice? This is probably 19, 1998 or something like that could have been 2000. So we're going down this road and then come on, come on. You know, anyway, he's doing well until one of my buddies thought switch backs. He loses his bottle.
And instead of following the instructions and he kind of freezes, and we literally just say along the edge of the road and we're passing through the canopy through the trees, is this leads going fast and I'm still so late. And I'm in the backyard. The story gets more and more ridiculous where we fly through the trees. We manage not to say semi trees and end up crashing into this big rock callus sort of on its roof on the side.
It's a bit of a shock. Is everyone okay? Everyone's okay. Everyone's okay. Oh, okay. Let's get out. So we get out and back up to the road and that was a upline back up from the road, which covered some serious distance. Anyway, then we mobile phone someone and then they come and pick us up in the morning. So we go back up the next day. You can't even see the car it's so far gone, you know, it's down and Oh my God, what are we going to do here?
I was, well, I rented this thing and it's a lady. And they said, you cannot drive it in Sylvania because it won't say both of you and show it. No. Okay. I've got this great idea. Let's take the license plate. So take the stereo out and, you know, make a few things and let's pretend it was still let's pretend it was stolen. Well, this is, this is what silly minds do you know, like mine.
And so then you might make the police reports and did all of that shit back and said, yes, if it's stolen, but nothing, nothing. So then here, and of course there's an audio file and that's the way it could have been stolen because those things, those kinds of things happen. Anyway, of course, what you forget is that the seasons change. And so it was all covered in foliage and gotten those walks because it was down in the ravine and there was trees and the like, but in the middle of winter, it probably stood out so far. So about a year, like I would forget Cisco from some exactly and investigation Bureau saying, yes, we have reasons to believe some kind of fraud going on here.
So you basically have two choices. One is to stand up against the fraud charge all the other ones. So the bail for the car was very, yes, but I have the fact that it was not a cheap car. It was 15 K actually at the time. And it was obviously rental rights. So it was actually that I have to think of a juncture in time because I didn't have any money.
So I think that was A loss. I'm sorry, but I have, I have spot loads of my money on everybody else. You know, I was the first of all, how far, and I was, you know, get in, lets go. Cause, you know, I was being paid more a night with it. So, you know, I never went Shyam federal and food and all of that. So you know, it all evens up in the end, but I'll my goodness, stupidity talking craziness, but everybody okay.
You know, that was the main thing. Great, great. Robbie, if you could rewind the clock
Speaker 3 (1h 43m 45s): All the way back to the beginning, would you change anything?
Speaker 5 (1h 43m 52s): Yes.
Speaker 4 (1h 43m 53s): I wouldn't change much. They would only be my personality in those situations I would have liked to, well, I wouldn't, I could of done it with multicolor.
Speaker 3 (1h 44m 11s): Can you put some more on that? What, what do you mean you could have just been more of a gentleman or what do you mean?
Speaker 4 (1h 44m 17s): I could of been more of a gentle man. I was young, aggressive impetuous. You know, the fact that I was totally loaded with energy. Wasn't the problem, the problem with the delivery sometimes. And that definitely ruffled some feathers and cause some shit, nothing that I regret to the fights, it stays with me. But when you ask me to rewind them, yes, I could of been more of a gentle man. I could have been slightly more accommodates into other things and I was very me and us orientated in may and micro didn't involve anybody else.
So I could of been slightly more open up.
Speaker 3 (1h 45m 5s): What's the craziest thing you ever saw either you or something that you saw in, in flying, something that you think back is, and isn't there a story about you going backwards and like 90 K an hour or something and jumping out or I don't know if that was you, but there's, there's gotta be some in your pants.
Speaker 4 (1h 45m 23s): I actually, this is a, this is a good story for people as well to listen to. And maybe you remember because it's, it's not particularly a nice story, but it it's very poignant in terms of the Yarra and longevity. And we were at, we've gone to a competition in Telluride and they're just the usual crew plus some new people who didn't have enough. And we went up to launch on the first day and it was pretty windy and there was a guy pulling out up his on launch and they were, they wanted to get those right now.
You know, Sandy rod launches a high launch. I said, is it a 9,000? But it is not. My memory is actually worked something. Those aren't really the kind of attitudes that you want to be messing around with and stuff. And, you know, especially, and talk with conditions that Sandy and it's actually terrible, but I'll tell you the Raptor outgrow and I'm like, it's going to be fricking dead.
If he carries on doing that, boom, you hit the ground and just that, Oh fuck. It was just, Oh my God, literally. And first off he didn't really have the scale. Secondly, it was in the, are you doing it? And I thought, you know, unfortunately, now I look back at that and I just recognize how important it is to always repress you recognize your own levels, recognize where you are, have some respect.
It's like my God, that there is the quintessential example of when you don't have those two things. Yes. That's actually stayed with me at the sense, because there it is, you know, it's all bad. You just got to like it, like by the book instead of, you know, wants you to show off or needing that feeling so that you prepared to risk and looking for it.
You always got to recognize the balance. That I'm sorry if that wasn't quite what you're after.
Speaker 3 (1h 47m 49s): No, no, no. That's, that's great. And that's a great lesson. How has flying those years that you flew a lot and you're still guiding the flight. How are you? Okay. Are you, how, how has flying when you kind of look back, how has it changed your life?
Speaker 4 (1h 48m 11s): Oh my goodness. Well, without a shadow of a doubt with the ultimate gut, how's it changed my life and this has been my life and now it's exceptional. It's not happening all over the world. Experiences use views that other people will never say one that can never understand
Speaker 3 (1h 48m 44s): Robbie well, well, well said, and I feel like you and I could probably sit here all day and it's amazing how fast the time has gone. What a treasure man and a pleasure. And again, I'm, I'm sorry we couldn't confined Kiwi, but it was, this has been a real joy and it's, it's nice to have these because you know, like with key we recording the summer, it was off. So glad I had that just as a little, you know, something. So it's, it's great to it's.
It's great to share this time with you and thanks for sharing a little bit of your life with all of us.
Speaker 4 (1h 49m 21s): Thank you very much, Gavin. It's awesome. And I hope that you have inspires people or it's it, it makes people think, you know, I'm an idiot and do it a different way. I don't care so long as there's some inspiration that we found from it. And that's fantastic. And thanks for having the time to, to talk to you.
Speaker 3 (1h 49m 44s): Thanks Robbie. Well, good luck with everything there, with those own and building kites
Speaker 1 (1h 49m 48s): And race bikes and, and having fun. And one of these days, I hope I'm impact.
Speaker 0 (1h 49m 55s): I'm sure they will. I really hope that in fact, I'm going to make the point of it. Awesome.
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