Episode 144- Jeff Longcor and (mostly) Inexpensive Mistakes


To learn we have to make mistakes. But in aviation a mistake can be painful, or a lot worse. When we’re learning how do we balance the desire with ability? How do even recognize when we’re making poor decisions when we don’t understand the risks that we’re taking? When flying starts to click and the joy rockets our skills very often aren’t up to the task. It’s called intermediate syndrome and it’s not something that just starts and ends, it’s a spectrum that catches out nearly every pilot at some point in their career, and in my opinion lasts much, much longer than most pilots think. Navigating through this period safely is tricky. We can’t improve if we don’t push, but we’ve got to make sure we push the right amount, and that amount changes every day. Jeff Longcor has been flying only a few years and has a full time job, which makes getting hours tough, but he’s completely enamored with the sport and has been chasing it hard, sometimes too hard. Jeff has made some inexpensive mistakes, and a few expensive ones. They’ve all provided volumes of learning, and his desire for the sport is as high as it has ever been. In this show we dig into all the little things that add up to help us all become better pilots, and in the end- better people. Enjoy.

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Show Notes: 

  • The joy outpaces the ability. The need to want to launch. 
  • “I felt like I could say something because I WAS that pilot”
  • Getting critical feedback can be hard. But necessary. We have to embrace the wider world of knowledge
  • Should we ever give up on a pilot who’s making too many mistakes?
  • Screwing things up
  • Flying in wind
  • Peer Pressure
  • Evaluating conditions on each flight
  • Analytical vs feeling pilots
  • Don’t make launch a foregone conclusion
  • Throwing the reserve/ SIV
  • Confidence and respect for the sport
  • The forever of learning

Mentioned in the Show:

Niviuk, Dilan Benedeti, Bill Belcourt, Andrew Byron, Tom Truax, Logan Walters, Bruce Goldsmith, 50 ways to fly better, Greg Hammerton, Jason Lombard, Othar Lawrence, Matt Beechinor


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Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there, everybody welcome to another episode of Cloudbase Mayhem. My guest today is Jeff law in court. I sat down with Jeff when I was out train in California in March, and I had a lot of requests for Jeff, especially after we put out that survey that people found it really valuable to talk to lower our pilots, those that are firmly in kind of intermediate syndrome and getting through that rather than just talking to the legends and the pros.

And so this is one of those Jeff's been chasing it really hard, and he was a search and rescue professional, and he's, you know, he's got a good head and, but he doesn't get to get out that much because of his job and his work. And he's made some mistakes, some small and some big ones as we all do. I had some injuries and gone through that whole God, do I suck at this? Should I quit? And he's in a very dynamic community out there in Santa Barbara, really supportive communities is fantastic.

And, but it's also can be, it can be a lot of pressure. They're not that people are doing it to you and intentionally, but there's just a, you know, there's a lot of people chasing it really hard and, and you want to be part of that group. He's recently put up some, some great flights also recently broke his ankle and that was it. Wasn't real recent. But in, we, we take us through, we go through all of this in some detail, you know, the, the, the urge to quit and come back to it, questioning yourself doubt and how to approach risk when you don't really understand it that well yet.

And yeah, the power of making Inexpensive and sometimes Inexpensive Mistakes, how to deal with relationships with your, with somebody who isn't a pilot. And that can obviously be tricky for many of us in our, in our lives and how to learn, how to, how the value of acro and SIV training and yeah, just being a part of a great community.

And I think you'll really enjoy this. I really liked Jeff. He's super fun to talk to. And his stoke is incredibly contagious and I think you'll enjoy it. So no further delay, please enjoy this fun conversation with Jeff Longcor Jeff. Awesome to have you on the show and a really cool that we can do this in person.

Speaker 2 (3m 0s): This is kind of fun. We had a nice flight together the other day. That was really cool. You and Neil and I were in the air a bit for us for a while. I didn't know it as you, but that was fun. There's a lot of gliders around here, but so yeah, we're in Santa Barbara. We were sitting in my trailer and I'm just about getting ready to go home. And when this comes out, it'll be a couple months from now. So sorry for the listeners at some of this might have changed by the time you, you hear this, but what I thought would be a fun place to start.

You put a post recently on the telegram group out here for the Santa Barbara flying community in the club, which I think there's a hundred and something people on the telegram group now. And so this is obviously become kind of a Mecca to fly here. And for those of you who haven't flown, it's a coastal site in a sense, but also a mountain site we're right on the ocean here, a big 3,500 foot peaks and a big Ridge line behind us. And then it steps back another thousand, 1500 feet behind that.

And then beyond that, your out in the Mojave desert. So it's a, it's a pretty dynamic, very beautiful, very cool place to fly. It's often soft and it's sometimes it's it winds up and it's pretty, pretty high pressure, pretty sharp and in a pretty full on flying. So it's a great place for me to come and train. And it's also a wonderful place for people to come out and learn literally from their first flight in one of the best training Hills in the world, and then also to Excel and get better and train, as I know you have the last few years, so this is a long-winded opener, but when I thought we'd start with is your Ew.

There's a, there was a pilot here in the community that was having some incidences as we all do when we're coming up through the game and you posted what I thought was really good, constructive feedback. That was a non-judgemental and very welcoming and kind of asking this pilot to maybe look at things in a way that he hadn't. So without reading it it's a long post, but it really got a lot of attention in, in some great responses.

And I thought you might be able to just summarize that. So what, what led you writing it? What were the things that, that this pilot did that lead to you, writing the post and take us into your own journey a little bit.

Speaker 3 (5m 36s): Awesome. Thanks so much, Gavin for having me, I I've listened to every single episode. It's a change. My progression made me a safer pilot and that's the kind of information and thought process that I tried to pass on in what I wrote. And I, I totally agree with you. Santa Barbara is a beautiful place to fly with varying conditions throughout the seasons. And one of the best things about it is there's something flyable almost every day.

And that allows us to train in ways that build skill levels incrementally in different aspects of flying, and then combine them together In mountain flights that like you said, can extend into different terrain and into new places, different Valley systems into the back country or into the desert. Many of those I'm still looking forward to myself. I, again, I, I am fairly intermediate. I've been flying for three years only in those years though.

I've, I've worked really hard to understand how to become a better pilot and to use all of the resources available to me right now while working a full time desk job. And so in that time, I've, I've logged about 700 hours and I've decided to do about seven SIVs in those things I think has been totally critical. And the reason I felt like I could reach out to this pilot is because I was that pilot. When I started, I, the way I phrased it was that my joy of flying was outpacing my abilities.

I think a lot of people at the time when I, when I started felt that I was competing with them, we're trying to get notoriety or out fly others. But really it was like this overwhelming joy, like the NEA to want to launch, all right, like that, like the knee to want to experience what other people were experiencing when they had a big flight, when they flew to a new place when they had an evening soaring session in a high wind environment, but that the watch, the sunset, you know, that, that kind of stuff really, I think can capture a new pilot.

And it's, it's, you've talked about this too. It really that special to embrace it during that time, because that's the unique period where like, everything is magical and new, but the same time, I think there's a lot of risks during that phase. You know, if you see someone in the air you want to be in the air and that that's not always appropriate, and you might not be aware of conditions changing quickly,

Speaker 2 (8m 9s): We don't know if we don't know for a long time. And I think that's a, it is something I think when you get through that, you wrestle with looking back in terms of just how to, how to approach people in it in a positive way, or how to try to understand what they're going through. It's is really tricky. It's a, I think I wrote on a post this morning that Russ audiences, we're not playing golf, it's hard to, you know, you can't just go up and help somebody with their grip or with their backswing.

It's, you know, we're, we're playing with gravity,

Speaker 3 (8m 46s): Right. And not only that, but work totally alone. Like I think that's something that caught me off guard. At first. I come from climbing, you know, when you have a partner, you or multiple partners, and you're relying on each other for your life and you have that trust in that bond, we can fly together. But ultimately no one knows how I'm, how I'm piloting my craft, what techniques I'm using, what thought processes is going on in my head. And you can't reach out and save somebody that, you know, that we can try to communicate on the radio or, or give signals.

But we're, we're kind of out there on our own a little. And that was, that was a bit of a shock for me at first. And so I think you're absolutely right. It's not like someone can come in and look over your shoulder. No, I highly encourage people to do a tandem. A Eagle makes that part of their training. And I learned a lot from Mitch when I took a tandem with him. But other than that, like someone can't step in and improve your technique or your decision-making in the moment. And those moments are a high, high consequence at times.

Speaker 2 (9m 46s): So what summarize it very generally, what was this pilot? What, what, what had happened in not, not each incident, but what was generally happening that you were trying to mitigate in a sense?

Speaker 3 (10m 0s): Absolutely. I, I thought a lot before I wrote that response because I want it to make sure that it was necessary. I'm not going to judge any pilot who has one incident. I've had plenty. So one incident, you know, that's, that's one thing. If it's a, if it's a string of incidences, if it's a, a series of them that become a trend, I think in any activity, in anything you're doing in life, if that's happening, you need to take a step back and do a bit of a, more of a root cause analysis and understand why is that trend happening?

Because if you don't want to do that, if you want to address it, it can only end badly. I think a lot jar is going to run it out. Right. All right. You're getting away with it each time. And again, if there's something that you don't know, you know, you're putting yourself positions that you're, you're in aware of the risks involved there, you have to take a step back and analyze it and fill in those gaps in, in environments that are less consequential. And so in this case, the pilot had had at the time that I responded, I believe to reserve throws and incident of getting lost in the clouds, a incident of landing really deep, and having to hike out with no plan or equipment for an overnight in a couple of reports of maybe not having great situational awareness and gaggle flying situations, scenarios in each one of these, I did monitor the community response and felt compelled to say something, but really also felt like it, it was being handled.

And in the last reserved throw incident, I felt the community started to get split where some of the response was great for you for throwing that's the right thing to do. And the other half being, Oh man, we should maybe give up, like, it's not really being heard. And I think it's ever worth giving up on a pilot. I was that pilot, you know, I was, I was so excited. I was so charged and it, and I remember it hurting pretty bad when I got the feedback and I, I still tried to receive it and, and listened to it and think about it a lot.

And even if it made me upset and it took time for it to work its way into my head, you know, it took time for me to make those small adjustments or have these Epiphanes or slow down and watch others in read a little bit more or listen to these podcasts and really embrace the wider world of knowledge and, and the slower States of progression. And so I thought it was definitely worthwhile to write something, but it had to marry those two perspectives of good job throwing, because I would never tell someone not to throw a reserve.

You know, that obviously the person who walked away in all of these instances, and that was clearly the right decision. If you don't have the wind control to stop, what's happening to us to recognize configurations and find an exit and safely maneuver. And then I also had to balance like that feeling of you better listen, you know, if it was coming from the other side of the community of, you know, we're ready, we're ready to kinda give up, you know, ready to, to not reach out to this person anymore and be like, look, this is just hazardous for everybody.

So how do you combine those two things together and be it do it in a non-judgemental way that says, look, I have been there too, because I certainly have been a week. We can talk about some of my Mistakes lens, but let's go ahead

Speaker 2 (13m 29s): And switch to that. And then we'll come back to the top. So what, what, what were your own, because I feel like in some ways, maybe your own incidences that were similar in a sense may have better equipped you to understand where this pilot was. I, because I agree with you. I think from the wider community's perspective, I mean, let's face it. Some people just shouldn't be pilots. Some people don't belong in this sport and that's one of the reasons I think it, it doesn't have the growth.

We, you know, we're, we're very near a, a metropolitan center of 30 million people. You know, why aren't there more pilots? They see people flying in the mountains. It, it looks incredible. I'm sure too many, but not that many people undertake it. And that's probably a good thing, but yeah, it sounds like you were really equipped to, I mean, I think I I'm sympathetic with both sides of what you're saying here, in terms of the community, half of the community, or some parts of the community, we got to keep, try and summarize the community that this, maybe this person shouldn't, you know, she'd take a different activity.


Speaker 3 (14m 35s): Right, right. And it's, I think it's hard to care for someone if they're gonna, if they're, if they're not handling themselves appropriately and it might get hurt. And, and I think we all feel that amongst our friends in this sport, sometimes it's like, if someone's taking a lot of risks, you're like, Oh, can I, can I be close to that person? Can it a friend if they're putting their lives in the line. And in some ways that it is what binds us, we know we're out there pushing, and we have to understand that we all have days when we need to push. But again, I think it comes back to recognizing that trend. If you're pushing too many times, you have to take a step back and, and, and also listen to the feedback you're getting from people who care about you.

And I'm going to love about Santa Barbara's community is we care about everyone. And a lot of it can be self-serving 'cause. If we get a new pilot who comes in, who doesn't follow the rules in the website and doesn't do some of their own forecasting and take responsibility for themselves, we can lose a lot of our access here. As you said, it is a beautiful place to fly, but it's also a busy place. And so the way we've been very diligent about putting up rules that we'd like people to follow, there is a wonderful, a van service from Eagle that they'll run when they can.

And they still will encourage people to do their own forecasting or to reach out to a mentor to get that kind of information. And so I think that the community does want to care for everyone, but it does scare them when they see these trends specifically, not just one incident, but a pilot having a series. And for me, yes, I think I was in that pilot. And you no one of the funniest. And it's only funny because it worked out right. But one of the funniest scenarios was, I think I was going up for a second run. I'm flying from Egypt, which is a fairly straightforward launch, a a at the back Ridge that we have here.

And the wind picked up quite a bit. Again, one of those situations were the conditions changing fairly quickly, too, the later stages of the day, which is typical here, a window come in and Southwest or Westwind is, is predictable on most days. And there's instructor there. And he was giving me a look sorta like, you know, do, do you have this? Do you know what you're doing? You know, he was instructing others kind of driving a van. I think that has gone up and right. It's I believe it was a pea too, at the time. I think that's a really, really critical point hear because of someone's developed in Santa Barbara, because your, on a lower performance wing and our launches are a bit set back.

There are a power lines, there are a valleys, and you need to be thoughtful about the wind. You need to be thoughtful about your flight plan.

Speaker 4 (17m 7s): One of your, one of your bailout LZs is called the snake pit. Not to tell people that it's a, something that's got a key, a key part in the story, so we can see where I'm going. Yeah. You don't want to be buried back in there. Oh yeah.

Speaker 3 (17m 20s): It's a tight, a tight LZ, especially if you're ended up there because it was windy, you know, and if it is windy, it's probably up slope. And that means that you're going to be doing a fast downwind uphill landing. If you do it properly. Now, in this scenario, I arrived at one of our forward triggers. It was working okay. And I'd seen a couple of 10 and pilots bench back, and I thought, this is my time. I'm wanted a bench back. You know, the wind is going to help me too. It's a South wind. And, you know, I'm benching back to the North and I make the move.

And of course don't quite a hook into anything and start flushing off. And I flush off to that side with the snake pit, which has fewer exits In, is blocked by a power lines to, to get to a safe LZ other than the snake pit. And so pretty quickly realize I'm going there and going in. And, and I thought, you know, other, other, other pilots to pull this off, I'm going to pull this off. And I angled my approach to come and really low over the trees, which I think that's definitely the right move there.

You know, you got to hit that spot landing. And ah, at the last minute, decide to get a little tricky with my landing. And I, I think I had recently had a hard landing a few days prior. And so in my head I was thinking I really don't want to do an up Hill down downwind landing. I'm going to turn in the last second. And in late in the, you know, the upper part of that LZ and get a nice asymmetric flare, something like that. And I came in and I swear my feet touched the ground. And I was like, I thought I was there.

And then I get boosted into the air. And suddenly I'm flying like tree height down a Canyon with no, you whatsoever, you overflow it down. Yeah. I essentially made a turn and pointed myself down the Canyon. And it's a, it's a pretty, you can't really tell from the air, it's a pretty steep, a downhill at that point. So I went from facing North and doing that uphill landing to facing South now in flying downhill. And there's a, you know, I think if I do that now, I may have the wind control skills to kill the wing appropriately and put that landing in a, at the time.

I certainly didn't. And I thought about some of the advice I'd gotten and I thought, well, I'm going to land in a tree and I'm going to aim for a soft one. So I dodged a hard looking tree and I made a, a turn and, and did a full flair into a kind of a glorified Bush did. And the next thing, you know, I think I was hanging by one leg upside down in the tray, but four feet to the ground. And I was able to get the whole thing down.

And I, and it was, this is really funny, even though I had a reversible harness, I still carry the huge black backpack. Yeah. And it helped me a few times in my early progression because I could pack the whole wing into it. So just stuff the whole way into it and just like walk the beautiful trail down with my tail between my legs. And there, there was a tandem pilot who is also my SIV instructor, Dylan bed, daddy. And he called me on the phone and I think he was still in the air. It was just, you know, are you okay? And I said, yeah, I'm already picked up. And I remember him being pretty surprised like, Oh, you're getting backed up.

You know? And it was clear. I was trying to get it out of there pretty fast. I was super embarrassed and I thought I was totally in the clear Lake and no injuries whatsoever, but then I get home. I I'm from new England and, and we don't have a lot of poison Oak up there. I had no idea before. I know it, everyone in, in my, myself and, and my girlfriend were just covered with poison Oak. It was like, we did it. You know, the clothes got everywhere. Yeah. It's just a unbelievable, and I thought it would go away. And before I know it, I'm getting like a, you know, shots in the, in the book to get rid of the stuff.

So there's some things in California, like there's not a lot of, you know, mosquitoes or bugs, but man, some of the things here that can get you the bushwhacking, it can be brutal. And the, a, the heat, sometimes it can be brutal and the poison Oak, it can be insane.

Speaker 2 (21m 29s): And a landing out here, you know, the front range is, is one thing. And, but when you, when you talk it over to the back end, getting the Chaparral country and stuff, you know, you're when I look at that stuff, I always think, okay, I could put it in and I'm not going to die, but then I slit my wrists. Cause I'm not going to be able to walk out of this crap either. You know? I mean, you'd have to abandon your gears no way. You're getting outta one of those trees. And then, you know, it's thick. I mean, the, the thick stuff on the backside here is it would be torture.

Speaker 3 (22m 2s): Oh my God, I, I had a situation where I landed. I got, again, I, I think one of the things that really challenges in your pilots, and one of the things that I advise this pilot to be more thoughtful about was flying in wind. And I remember falling out in the back of a Thermo a, this is a bit later in my progression in getting kind of pinned against the terrain. And I realized I'm going to land here. You know, it was up near where you top line of the other day of a VOR, but it just, it gets shallow to the West. Okay. And I landed there and I swear I can throw a stone too, the road and two and a half hours later, I crawled under the bushes and got out of it.

It's amazing. It was like a football field away, you know, but I couldn't get there. I had to walk for hours and then crawl underneath a, this is what a brush. So, so it is, it is pretty real. And, and, you know, I can reflect on a few of those situations. And the biggest one probably for a new pilot in the mountains is to be aware of those changing conditions and the wind, especially. Right. Cause all the sudden things happen so much faster, whether it's falling out of a thermal or getting stuck behind terrain or other traps that prevent you from getting to a safe LZ with a lower performance glider.

Yeah. And so like in that situation, that was a great takeaway, not listening to that instructor, you know, who I greatly respected and, and, you know, just because I thought I've practiced high wind launches before, and I've ridged sword in high wind before that's not the same in the mountains. Right. And that's the way.

Speaker 2 (23m 31s): Yeah. So you had the snake pit one, you had some others.

Speaker 3 (23m 34s): Oh yeah. Yeah. Like I said, it's, it's always a series and to the community's credit, I, you know, they informed me, you know, after these and, and, and, or they were, you know, very respectfully honest, you know, and I, again, it was, it's hard things to hear, but if your, if your mind and yours aren't open to it, you could risk life-changing injury, I think, in this sport. And so I've tried to challenge my, you go to the accepting more accepting of hearing everything I can, or even being, you know, learning from others.

Sure. Pick out a couple. Yeah, definitely. What are the, what were the ones that had the greatest learning? Yeah, I would say of all of them. And we'll just go with this one, but I can, I can do more. I can go up there. And unfortunately, I think one of the, the, the absolute biggest one was a morning when I was really excited to do a hike and fly a, that's been a, something really special to me because I have this history of mountaineering. And that has kind of what led to me flying, you know, climbing and mountaineering in the legacy of that sport, transitioning into some people who fly like the bill bell courts, you know, and the legends of, of how the climbers became paragliders.

And then the magic of flying off a mountain and not having to hike down the Hill and to store your knees, you know, that kind of thing. And so I did this hike and fly mission. I'm going to start throwing out names. So, so it was with Andrew Byron, who is just an amazing, a thoughtful pilot and friend he's, he's got incredible wind control and, and like the foundational skills. And so we hiked up together and someone had told me that there'd been a North wind warning, which is our mountains face, South and relaunching to the South. So that would become an over in the back on us.

And that's typical here in Santa Barbara. And I had expected that to change in the morning. And when we got there, it felt like it was blowing In, but, but only very lightly and inconsistently. And I knew I was nervous about the launch, but I didn't say anything like I didn't bring it up to Andrew. And in fact, we were rushing or at least in my head, I was rushing to launch land and then catch the Eagle fan for a second in the round. You know, maybe I could do two or three. And that kinda thing is typical in this summer where conditions are stable.

So you're looking as a new pilot for multiple sledders. And again, I think that we are because of the conditions are sort of soft and stable. You don't think they're going to change that much or that the morning we'll be that different. I know that impacted a pilot recently here who launched in the afternoon, and it was totally different from his morning flight. And you got to, you know, you said this before, but you've got a treat. Every flight is its own a life-changing adventure, right? It's a, it's own a unique experience in evaluating the conditions every time.

At least that was one of my takeaways, but I set up on launch and a half before. I think I'd even have a chance to turn around from laying out my wing at Skyport, which is where we were. Andrew had been able to forward off and, and too much

Speaker 5 (26m 44s): To add to this day. It blows my mind having someone forward off Skyport, it is like three steps. And then you're off. We recently, there was some bushes cleared there. And so now it's way better. The things that are I'm about to tell you probably aren't as likely to happen to the next pilot. And I'm really grateful for a, the improvements that have had that have occurred, but Andrew, Andrew got off and it was, you know, he did it in a beautiful way, just really demonstrating his, his skill and ability there. And again, the cycles were really light in consistent and switching.

And at that time, as, as a pilot, I'm more of like a feeling pilot. Like I think you've talked about this there's analytical minds that look at all the data, and then there's more of the emotional and feeling pilots. And there's a positive and benefits to both. What are the negatives? I think too, my approach at the time being an one of those types of pilots, does that feel like a, what felt like a good cycle ago?

Speaker 4 (27m 42s): This is good and let's do it. Let's pull up, what's make it happen. Like I'm ready.

Speaker 5 (27m 46s): And I've, you know, since then, it's, I've tried to incorporate that observation and that data component to launching. I think it's the most critical aspect of a flight in most cases, right? You got to get away from terrain safely. And so not just feeling the cycle's, but really looking a, the bushes and how they move. And, you know, one person I talked to a length after this is Logan because he, you know, he, Logan, Andrew and I in a, in a bunch of others have really come started in the same couple of years, ballpark.

And his progression has been really impressive to watch. And a lot of that is because he analyzes these things and he thinks about them and his free time and he visualizes them. And so you're talking to him, he was like, if I know of that, Busch is moving in and that pushes moving in, this one is moving like that. That's what that means, you know, and piecing those things together. And none of that was there for me in that day. Like I didn't do those things. I was curious,

Speaker 4 (28m 43s): Did you, have you said though, when you first got there, you had a sensation of, you know, something's not right or you are a little bit nervous.

Speaker 5 (28m 52s): Yeah. I knew that I didn't have great light when launching skills I was on and we can talk about wings a little bit too, but I, I had recently stepped up to a higher a B, and I was counting a lot, but with my lower B, you know, so I hadn't, I think that's really important early in your progression is to match your, or just, or just embrace one way, you know, at least early on the wing, you're kiting all day at the Hill and practicing landings with, and things is also that wing that you can trust in a mountain launch of any type.

And so I I've recently changed wings a little bit, so I was probably nervous there. And then not just was it light, but I think once in a while it would blow down a little bit. So I think that North was still there and I didn't have, at the time, the sense

Speaker 3 (29m 42s): To check wind talkers, better, check the forecast, better, understand it. I remember learning in ground school about how it could roll it over to the top and feel like it was coming in, you know, but at the time I was like, you know, I, I, it just figured I was nervous about the launch, but I was going to do it anyway. I think, I think a lot of early pilots do the same thing where launch is a foregone conclusion, like came all the way up here. I hiked up here. I wanted to make the ban, but I'm nervous about it. And, and you don't really listen to why, but when you look back on the root cause if you do that root cause analysis, you're like, wow, there's a lot of things like a newer wing early in the morning.

So not as settled, the North may be hadn't blocked. And it was a, there was a possible in the North wind warning, didn't check any wind talkers to do with the forecasting. You know, another really good pilot had to Ford launch off and I'm not prepared to do that. You know? So those are all of those things and not talking to someone about them, we're all Mistakes. Absolutely. And so I thought I felt a pretty good cycle. I didn't check all the visual indicators that it would be a consistent one. I pulled up the wing was probably slow to come up and I didn't really set up as high as I could have.

I only had a couple of steps by the time I turn around. And in fact, I basically just slid off the lip and it's a steep drop off, but there are a lot of bushes and rocks and I caught my foot on the first Bush and then the next Bush, and then the next book. And I kind of visualize it now, like one of those cartoons where like the paraglider is flying straight and level above me, but I'm getting dragged through every bus and it's slowing down. And then finally I hit a rock and with my left foot and I hit it so hard that my shoe disappeared forever. I never found it again.

I came up in it, I went back and looked for a couple of hours. It was like a point of personal pride. I'm like, I need to like own this. Where did that shoe go? You know, it was expensive like Solomon shoe and I never, never found it again. That was gone. You up here is not an Island. It's in pieces. I've never been to that point, despite all my climbing injuries, which I've racked up like one surgery per limb. And then is this left actually this left a ankle, which broke in the, in this accident was like my completed the circle of limb injuries.

Well, in all of my injuries, I'd never broken something. I, I think I have a pretty strong bones and I hit that rock really hard.

Speaker 2 (32m 5s): Wow. That must have really hurt. This place can bite. I remember I came here two years ago. I was training for the, I guess that would have been there for me. It was three years ago, his training for one of the XL apps. And I went in the trees off that launch. You guys have off the road, you know, the one where you kind of, you're kind of like running uphill a little bit. And, and I just, you know, I just, didn't the wing. Wasn't quite pressurized. And Logan, a few people got off that morning. And then for me backwards, nobody got off that the conditions had switched and it just wasn't really coming up.

And so I just to do a really, really fast running forward and just went right in the trees. And then I think a day later, I got low back into your mountains where it gets pretty flat back here by Casita's pass. And you know, like you said to you, you're not going to make the glide if you're low. And I landed in another tree and I thought, wow, this is really interesting. I'm an XLP pilot. And I've landed in trees. I think it was two days in a row.

Speaker 3 (33m 7s): I mean,

Speaker 2 (33m 8s): The kind where you're hanging out of it, it was just, you know, this is the second one of the book. Both of them were the kind of thing where I was on the ground and my wing was in the tree, but it's, you know, the extraction was an hour.

Speaker 3 (33m 17s): Yeah. Yeah. And you're like, Oh, this is going to be a while. Yeah. They're tingling, they're tingly bushes and trees. And it goes back to the whole bushwhacking theory back here that, wow, she broke her ankle. Yeah. Yeah. Broke it in. And in a lot of ways it was a blessing. And that's why I say that. Not only did I learn from all, you know, if I had gotten away with it, I wouldn't learn a thing probably. Right. Sure. But then you get to have that happen. And not only did I learn from all the factors of the accident, but I also was forced to have downtime and that's something I still struggle to make myself do.

Right. I, you know, if I look back on my progression, it's like, Oh, actually, if I had flown in a little bit less like the airtime, you get to that event, you know, as you go. But if I'd done a little more of the reading and the research in the homework, and that caused me to sit down and do some of that, at least I think I read 50 ways to fly better. And I started to listen to every one of these episodes of Cloudbase may have to start. And then I watched a YouTube videos of Greg Hammerton and a failed videos of people crashing and a, a lot of the community less,

Speaker 2 (34m 26s): More, more, more knowledge, less excitement, more breaks, less gaps.

Speaker 3 (34m 32s): Exactly. Yeah. Coast for awhile. But I think in this, in this letter that I, the open letter that I wrote on telegram to this other pilot, I, I phrased it to come to the effect of this, this reading, help me fill in the gaps of what I was feeling. We don't know what we don't know. And by reading and incorporating other people's experiences, we start to fill in those gaps. And then the next time you do get air time, it starts to

Speaker 2 (35m 2s): Piece it together. Better you throw on the reserve.

Speaker 3 (35m 8s): Yeah. This is good. I feel like getting a lot off my chest here. Yeah. Well, one thing after these accidents that I so greatly appreciate is the community again. Right? So when, what I found is if it's, if it's a small incident, they let to be real that you know about it and it can be kind of, you know, sometimes I walked away a like, well, that was intense and maybe a little negative. Like I had someone scream at me once. Then I was turned the wrong way in a thermal, as new pilot, I got like boosted into the Thermo and we're like, best friends now, shout out to Jason Lombard, thanks for the correction on that one.

And, and I think that that stemmed from a learning experience where he went from, you know, a registrar and you got boosted up into a thermal, right? So that's a really difficult thing. I think for new pilots is to change the, the rules are the pattern, right. And adjust appropriately and be aware of this situation. And so there were moments like that that were minor errors and people were able to catch me on them. And I was like, well, that was intense. But when it was a serious accident, I got a series of phone calls of people who really cared. And one of those people is, again, that SIV instructor, Dylan Benedetti, who called after my, I broke my ankle.

Speaker 6 (36m 22s): And

Speaker 3 (36m 24s): The, the funny part of that again about that accident was I had exploded the airbag on my harness and I'd give him to Eagle to maybe fix, and they, they put a tag on it. This is airbag quote, it doesn't hold air. And it just the entire thing, it was like exploded, but that got, you know, it did get fixed eventually. But I, he had seen that picture. Don't have to see in the picture of the airbag and thought I had been seriously injured. And he gave me this meaningful phone call and others did as well. You know, any of the, the crew here in, in the community when something really serious does happen.

Like there's no judgment, you know, and I've, I've learned that lesson to it. There's no judgment in and what the community does look for then in either of the smaller were the big incidences I think is step's for correction. And I wanna be the person who, and I think any pilot should also be the person who steps up and puts the work in. So if you've had an issue or a series of events, you should put the work in and should tell others that you're putting the work in and ask for their help. And so at that time, I decided that doing more Sid was going to be really important.

And so in SIV, and this is a long way to answer your reserve question, but in SIV, I had the reserve come out, accidentally doing a deep stall where I popped it out. You know, I grabbed it with my hand by accident, trying to hold a bad stall configuration. And it's funny cause I wanted to blame like the, the zipper on the harness. But when Logan and Gavin pulled me out of the water and they're like, Oh yeah, it's toy zipper. And then later through that with you, it doesn't do that.

Right. But you definitely plucked your pins out there. And we had a good laugh about it. But when it gave me in a unique experience was that's what a reserve feels like. Or that's what it feels like when it comes out. This is how we disable my win quickly. And I think having it, that's another example of being able to practice those things in a low consequence environment. And then when you're in the mountains, those pieces can come together and, and really help you in the critical situations that would otherwise be a extremely damaging.

So a real in the wild reserve toss was a pretty full on, I went on my first desert mission ever, and admittedly was exhausted on the drive in the morning. I think I had been working really late. I had an ankle injury that was bothering me for the same broken ankle. I think it was still lingering. I recently moved from the kolibri, which I was really enjoying as, as a nice sensitive, lightweight harness that can do a hike and fly with me to a bigger harness that while it had more protection, I think was more dampened.

So all of these little factors are a huge in the story, but I think they all add

Speaker 2 (39m 12s): Up.

Speaker 3 (39m 15s): So we get there and there is a lot of debate about, do we fly it or do we fly a black Hawk? I, again, I'm tired and I'm a little stressed and this is stretching me out more. And eventually, you know, people are, may try and make a decision than wandering away to sort their gear and then coming back and we see the clouds popping and what's go, you know, and before I know it, I volunteered to go to the other site and we're at Ord. So I volunteer to go to Blackhawk and again, without really doing a good headcount, we all just jump into one car and go, there was a lot, I don't think we all have the wherewithal to really plan logistics 12.

And so I ended up in the trunk literally on top of oath, are you, I didn't know who it was at the time. Right. But we are on top of each other. The car has a lot of trouble getting up there. I think it, I think credit to the driver had to run on the flats. It's got to hang gliders on it. And like six paragliding bags. It sounds like a BMW SUV. It was like, no place being there. We have to walk a lot. My ankle's is killing me. So at the time I get there and probably compromise. Yeah. And, but still have maybe this inflated confidence, you know, and the same thing that maybe got me on that launch before where I broke my ankle kind of crept in here, which is like, I got this.

And I think it's important to have the self assurance when you launch to do, to do it confidently. But I feel like in paragliding, anytime, you're like, Oh, I got this. It's going to slap you down. Like that extra bit of arrogance perhaps. Right. You know,

Speaker 2 (40m 43s): The competence versus arrogance then. Yeah. That's important. It's hard to be able to differentiate that in the ad in the moment though. I mean there, cause there's a lot of, there've been a lot of times in my flying life where, you know, we'll have the heebie-jeebies for some reason, you know, driving up, hiking up to something doesn't feel right. And you have to decide, okay, is this GBG this time? Is this a real one? You know, is it the, is it the one that's really trying to help me out or has this just my mind with the weird stuff going on between the years?

And this is a, you know, that this doesn't mean anything. It's just a matter of setting that aside and being confident. No, no, I got this, you know, that's hard to Sarge some time to differentiate between those two.

Speaker 3 (41m 27s): Yeah. I think it's, that's the sport in a nutshell. Okay.

Speaker 5 (41m 34s): Podcast done. I think for me, it's, it's trying to find the balance between those two types of thinking, like how do I feel and what, what am I observing and what data points do I have? No. And in, in climbing, I was always trying to minimize risk by looking at the factors in limiting exposure. So if, if risk is the probability of something happening times the consequence of it happening, if you can do that math in as much detail as you can, at least you're doing something, which you're trying to break it down and do a pieces that you're brain and body can understand.

You know,

Speaker 2 (42m 12s): He said this before, but it was something that's been really, really helpful for me that I learned in the back country with skiing is a there's, there's a guy in our, in our local community that gives really great talks on decision-making. This is Rebecca and her scan. Not for, not for repairing lighting. Although I had in common talked to our club too, because that thought it was so good, but he talks about, well, you know, fast forward you're, you're thinking about ski in this, this line. And you know that what the hazards are or could potentially be if it goes, if you screw this up and it avalanches and you wrapped around a tree, imagine what the, the accident report would read.

Same as in climbing. You know, it, it, just to think about that because that, and that's a good way to highlight and expose your, your on the way to a black Hawk. You're tired, you've got a bad ankle. You're a little more of a confident, you got all these things. So in an accident report, all of that stuff comes out. Cause a good accident report is like, you know what we've learned from TM with airlines, they go all the way back. What were the threats? What were the errors made along the way?

And they start looking like an idiot. When you think that when you think that when you start thinking about the accident report, you go, wow. I would not want to be that expert. I would not wanna be the victim. And that accident report, you know, you've already made all these bad decisions before you're even thinking about dropping in, you know? So anyway, keep going. I I've, I've just, I've brought that into flying a lot more because I think it's a helpful way to just think about it. 'cause we often are tired and dehydrated, all those kind of things.

And we really do have decided, okay, is this the day to step off of the Hill?

Speaker 5 (43m 57s): Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and what I ended up writing in that letter to come full circle a little, a little bit is to imagine that what if, you know, to, to play that game have what's the worst case scenario, what's the backup plan? What is the safe exit? And LZs do I have margin and think about those things that don't just go for it. And that's, that was kind of the, and in climbing, like you said, in the skiing, there were a good accident reports and I read those and I get you get to a voice in your head. The next time you're out.

It's like, you know, Gavin, you know, this, this age, this, you know, this experience level

Speaker 3 (44m 32s): Put himself in this position. And I do think that is super helpful because it causes visuals that visualization and, and it, it forces you to imagine yourself in the worst case scenario. And I found the same with climbing. If you're going to place protection on a trad lead, you have to visualize what it would look like if you fell and how it swing, you're going to take what direction of a force is going to be applied to your, your piece, your anchor. And so all of that gets you comfortable with the idea of visualizing these scenarios and then mitigating the risks where you can and accepting someone you can't.

And so like when you talk about flying to the past low, I think you're D you're doing that. Like I'm going to land for half of the land. I'm going to pick like the software where my feet are still in the ground. But I think in the beginning stages for a pilot, they don't think that far ahead, you know, they're, they're, you know, they might land in a much worse scenario there and they know to let you know how to like, say familiar, we don't know. Okay. So you're a black Hawk Kind of working against deal in a sense, you know, probably no that at the time, but as well.

So I, and this situation that I think there were a visual indicator, well, there was the physical ones, the exhaustion and fatigue, and some pain and against some new equipment and a little bit of overconfidence perhaps, or, or building myself up. So I could pull this off. It was very strong. And I think, again, switchy on launch, it was, I visualize a wind, was wrapping around the Ridge a little bit and coming back at launch. And I think it was, it was some pretty strong thermal is just off launch.

And my first attempt, I think I caught some Woody brush-up there. And so I packed it up for a second and watched the other pilots with our was amazing. He got off and out of there.

Speaker 7 (46m 28s): He was out there with you guys and no he's still doing it

Speaker 3 (46m 32s): Maybe a year and a half to two or three ago to two years ago, maybe. Yeah. Oh yeah. You know, just an amazing person to watch fly. And my friend, Peter, who has more experience than me took off and he flew this flight path that kind of took him, I don't know, liquors or, or, or launchers left, if you will. And, and I watched his wing oscillate and that way, you know, we're at pitches way back and then forward again, the way back and forward again, which I would now correlate with some rotor, whether it's mechanical or third or thermic.

And, and I remember seeing it and thinking, well, I can handle that. You know, like I, you know, he handled it, I can handle it. I've had training and, and it led him to the thermal, you know, and he flew, flew out and sure enough, I flew basically the same course from launch and the first 10 seconds go by and I get a little lift to, I'm trying

Speaker 5 (47m 30s): To visualize now, but I think the East side of launch, and then I come back two more of the West side of launch and get into that area where he noticed those pitches and that pitch activity. And I start to feel it, you know, like a roller coaster feeling, none of us really, I go back in four and I check it and then back and forth to check it out and then back. And the next thing I feel it was new to me. And it was sort of like the wing crumpled or deflated, or is it just going down?

You know? And I think that I had just, and I had a maybe just experience a bit of a shear or a downward force from the back side of a, both a being and the leave of the thermal and Andersen terrain. And it sounded like maybe a little break from checking. It is perhaps a cause what happened next? Was it, it essentially did frontal and my hands fell way back. Like you said, doing a ton of a break to compensate for that falling backwards.

Right? Like riding the rollercoaster, feeling the wind kind of starts to deflate, lost the brake pressure and then buried the Hans to find it both because I was losing my balance falling backwards. And because I a w we were always taught to follow the brake pressure, but there's always exceptions to the rule. And in this case, right. Like I, I went from a frontal to a stall and knew enough to, from there to put in the back flap, but my brain was slow to catch as catch up.

I just, I was holding him back, fly, looking at the wing, being like, why aren't you flying? You know, knowing he didn't have a lot of train Clarence, this is 20 seconds into the flight, but this happened right off launch. Yeah. And I'm, and I'm like, okay, well then fly. And I let my hands up. And the right tip was a curve added or just didn't didn't fly properly. And I went right into and out a rotation, like got thrown right into it. And at least from the SIV experience that can recognize that. And it was like, Oh, I'm going to, I'm going to not have a rotation.

You don't want to start to sort of slow it down a little bit. That tip banged open. And it was like, Oh, I'm in a spiral now. And I knew I could solve that configuration that I could pull out of it. But I also knew I had drifted back over lunch. And if I was wrong about what I was singing out of the corner of my eye, like I thought I had the train Clarence, but if I was wrong or if I didn't perfectly pull it to the spiral, like I knew I was dead, like straight up. So something else in my head took over and I found that handle and, and, and through it, and that opened like a gunshot immediately.

Cause I think there is a lot of energy on the spiral and ah, went to D power to the wing and then looked down and realized I was about to land. That's where it landed. I landed probably within like five seconds of, of throwing. Yeah. So that was a nun. I landed, I fly, I probably all up on a, a 110 kg, but I fly with a one 40 kg reserve. I know everyone can have their choices and we could talk at length about that. I think for my primary reserve, knowing I have one of that size for a softer landing is nice,

Speaker 2 (50m 47s): Especially in this terrain, you'll see in Blackhawk, those of you listening don't know, this is just a desert mountain site and with a lot of rocks, those BlackRock, and it's pretty pretty helter-skelter out there and it's pretty, pretty raw. You know, it's, it's big air and you know, it's not a grassy Alps.

Speaker 5 (51m 10s): No, no. Yeah. I, I landed on my feet and that was wonderful. And I soft landing, but my reserve and wing went into these bushes that did it. They didn't do any damage, but it took forever to get out of those like this. Like if you think, you know, if you let your lines dangle while you're collecting them, or if he dragged them on the ground for a second, you're looking at another 30 minutes. Yeah. And I was really fortunate. It was right near the, the road up. If you want to call it a road, it was a very off-road and fast Eddie, who is our retrieved driver whose kind of a legend around here, came up and, and he likes sorted to braid all the lines into the like Daisy chains so that they wouldn't keep catching.

And he helped me get out of there. And we even got the reserve container because it has landed right next to it. That's how close it was. So a lot of lessons learned leading up to it. And then again, I can't say enough about putting the work in. I knew there might be a, from your Podcast, some mental recovery required and then some physical practice and in my instincts needed. And so I did, I think I did to SIVs after that, to, to work specifically out what had happened in, in the first one of them was the most critical one.

And Dylan worked with me on completely reproducing what had happened in that specific scenario. So we went up and I pulled huge frontals on bar and would even stall it at will from there, from the final, and then recover the stall, you know, and, or go into extra, you know, find ways to do extra energized, a summit asymmetric collapses into auto rotations. And we sort of invented together a few maneuvers that allow me to restore my confidence and rebuild those instincts.

Speaker 2 (53m 4s): I think that configuration, and it sounds like, well, it sounded like a, you had had enough training, which a lot of people don't want to recognize what was going on. And that's a big deal. I mean, we don't most people when they're learning or haven't done a ton of SIV when you ask them what just happened there, they have no idea. Well, the wing just collapsed or whatever you is. But the whole process of it is very fast and they don't notice all the little things.

Whereas someone who's out a ton of training can tell you exactly. This is what happens. This is how I leaned. This is where I put my hands. And most kind of bad cascades that I've seen are when you have the initial collapse and people instinctively, when you fall, you put your hands down. That's what we do as humans. And then they have no concept that their hands are too low. And so what do we do?

We're heavier than a wing. We fall underneath the wing, the wings, over our head. Then we get really confused. What the hell? Why isn't it flying? What's not flying. Cause your hands are blow your ass. And w but when you ask somebody, they will say, the first thing I did was what I was trained is to put my hands up and not know it wasn't because you were falling. And it's, it's, it's a very non instinctual. I think it really takes a lot of training. We've talked about that quite a bit on the show, but sounds like, you know, your hands were lower than you thought they were, and you're looking at your wing or why aren't you flying?

And there've been several times, even for me, relatively recently, you know, I was on a, I was in a really rowdy flight with Matt last spring in our spring. And then the sun Valley can be a really, really, really on very, very sharp, very strong, very cold. So you're, you're battling the elements in a sense. And I S three times on the flight, I spun the glider and it was just incredibly confusing, you know, and I was having to just do this really dramatic to me, let the glider fly, you know, cause I just, you know, I was in that, I was in this kind of, okay, my hands are, I'm looking at them going, my hands are definitely high enough for this glider to fly, but I trade, I use a lot of different gliders.

I move around on gear constantly. And you know, this is what I hadn't flown in a while. The brakes were a little late. They were, I actually extended them after that, because to me that, you know, I'm up in the pulleys and this thing wasn't going and you know, it, it was, it was a very, I think if I hadn't had all the SIV training in ACRA training that I've done, it would have been pretty confusing. Why is this thing going? You know?

Speaker 5 (55m 56s): Oh, absolutely. And I think myself included when you get to a higher aspect, wings like that spin point, you know, on certain wings can be quite soft or quite high. And you're trying to also turn tight right. To, to stay in cars. And if you're turning side falls, this, this almost got me the other day, but the turning side falls out of a tight bubble. Like we have here in Santa Barbara, you better be ready to release her or you're going into a spin. And we've had a few with, with issues with that.

So that sensitivity comes with the training and I think comes a time. And it's great to hear you talk about it because I think you've put so much thought into all this different scenarios, different conditions and different pieces of equipment

Speaker 2 (56m 39s): Have you in. And I know there've been other incidents, but I think we've tapped several that are great. And they're not, you know, they're is, is, is that happened to you? A lot of pilots people, but there is there ever been in the last three years, four years, he started flying in year 700 hours or is there ever been a sitting at home moment where maybe this is right for me, this isn't maybe? Or is it always just been yeah. Yeah. Has there ever been, is there ever been any real doubt?

Cause like you said, the, you do have a big community here and there is a lot of feedback and some of that hasn't been easy to digest, you know, where I fly, you're lucky to get any feedback is usually you're totally alone. So a lot of times you can just run and hide from this stuff. It just, it's an incident that's happened to you. You don't have to post it. Nobody has to know about it. You can walk, run, run away with your tail between your legs and process it or not.

Speaker 5 (57m 37s): Right. Right. I think to answer that, absolutely not. I never doubted that I would continue flying, which I never would want to put other members of the community at risk or their access at risk. Sure. That that's a real, you know, a real concern in this area. I would say like we need pilots to be making smart decisions. We have a lot of pilots trying to launch together or fly together just because of the triggers are, you know, the, the thermals are tight and there's a very key triggers.

And so everyone needs to learn together in progress and improve every day. And I don't think you can afford to hide your Mistakes in a tight knit community and nor should you, like, I think it should be open and accepting and positive though, if there's a series of events, right. And then it gets too hard to handle for me, these, we can list out these things now, but when they do constitute maybe a series of events where I could pick out some extra items that I need to work on, like some key themes, if you will, that you know, that may run true for each of these instances.

Those are the things that I should tackle first. And that's what I tried to do. A but all of it stemmed from really the joy of wanting to be in the air and how these adventures and experiences, hopefully with friends, hopefully for a long time. So there was never even a doubt because of how much I love doing it, that I would ever quit or stop doing it. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (59m 16s): What's your perception now of your skill level, after going through all the SIVs had some pretty fun successful flights this year, a cross-country you know, of some personal bests, some in extremely high flight talk about 17, nine, nine, nine something. And, but what what's, what's your, how do you perceive where you are now?

Speaker 5 (59m 49s): Yeah, I guess I would, I think I have the confidence to, to stay with some of the better pilots out there, or at least to the knowledge and skills are available to me to attempt distance on big days in, in big conditions. But in terms of on a spectrum of progression, I think I'm at the very beginning. And so that's an interesting, I guess mental state to be in is that I know the skills are there. I know that I either have the knowledge or is readily available to me, but I still have this sneaking suspicion.

I'm, I'm not doing nearly enough homework. You know, I'm not doing a nearly enough reading, not learning enough about weather conditions, forecasting, and various sites that I want to fly at. And I, I also know that I have a full time job, so I'm not going to pick necessarily my day's as much or, or Trane as much as I would like to. And finally, I just know that I, I only have an ounce of the experience of pilots in the community and pilots in the wider scope of flying. So I both feel like I have the potential to, to do well in a big day, but also know that I have a long way to go before I can understand the more complex the KA the complex factors at work on a day that involves multiple types of terrain, a different and changing winds at different levels of, of the atmosphere and being able to make the right course decisions to, to open up a challenging day.

Speaker 2 (1h 1m 23s): Can we talk about the spectrum a little bit more about it? I think you're a black Hawk flight is a good one to use. This is an example on the one hand you got, you gotta be confident. You just have to, you can't do this sport without having confidence. On the other hand, you've got to have a lot of respect for it. And fear is a good thing. How can you talk about the balance there between the two, you know, on the one hand, you know, wi to fly?

Well, we got to charge, we got to make mistakes. That's how we learn. And yet we're doing it with a sport or there's no rope. Yeah.

Speaker 5 (1h 2m 4s): Yeah. You can't just stick your neck out all the time. It's a pretty nasty lead fall. That's a good comparison.

Speaker 2 (1h 2m 15s): You talked about that a bit with your post with the pilot. We'd kind of

Speaker 5 (1h 2m 21s): Talking about here. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I try to break it down a little bit. And I guess when it comes to how to gain skills and experience without learning the hard way, a and in my past, I actually, I created a ice climbing club to do that in mountaineering. Like I ran ice climbing events for about 10 years where we would instruct and teach and, and within the club itself, we self-educated, as much as we could to prevent that learning the hard way.

Can you practice these things in a safer environment and then build them back together when you need them in the scenarios that require all skills at once. Like, I don't think it's necessarily easy to learn on a big mountain day because there's so much going on. If you're not, especially if you're not at that level, if you're not, if you're a little over your head, you're going to go way beyond the mental capacity to take it all in process it, especially in the moment. But even afterwards, sometimes like you were saying about someone's wind control incident, they might have be like a car wreck and they don't, they can't piece together what's happening or even afterward have a memory of it.

And I think mountain flying can be the same, especially the higher wind environments in, in the mountains. Like I think things can happen just so fast to someone that they're not visualizing processing the way the air can be moving and responding to it. So my advice to that pilot was to build a non mountain ours. And that's something that's special about Santa Barbara. We can go fly the coast and you can just get air time under your wing, watch how it moves, what it needs a do pitch control, watch other pilots. And those powers of observation are really gonna keep helping you again and again.

And so it was that need to continue to put the work in, in practice and do it in a VR environment that isn't gonna punish you. And we are to that point, we also have a training Hill here, and I think a lot of communities have that. And so going there frequently, I think I, I think I wrote,

Speaker 8 (1h 4m 29s): If I don't go there once a week, I don't deserve to fly the mountains and that that's maybe a little

Speaker 5 (1h 4m 35s): Strong. I sometimes I don't make it to the training hell, but I think going there, especially if it's a training held where you can watch how you perform, you know, the terrain and watch others and then practice things like side Hill and top Hill, top landings, you know, I know I need to go back there cause I was trying to land with you and Willie two days ago, yesterday, two days ago. And, and I wasn't feeling great. I just had that COVID shot. And I was on the heavy kit and I have a lot of excuses, but I didn't really fully commit to it.

And generally I think that stems from not practicing enough, like always like you gotta be honest with yourself. Like there are a lot of, I don't ever want to commit to a top-line that isn't right. I mean, that's something heard on this podcast many times, but I do want to be proficient at it. I don't want to be able to do it. Like I think that's the dream. And that's one of those frontiers that I think like if I'm on a spectrum, right? Like maybe that spectrum applies to each skill set. And when it comes to top Hill and side Hill and tight landings, like that's one that you're always going to have to work on that and it's going to be forever before.

I'm like, yeah, no problem. You know, I got, again, no problem. I got that. No, in fact, I don't ever want to probably feel that way as something with a consequence like that, like I always want to take them seriously, always consider myself a beginner and someone who's learning. And, and again, like I said, anytime, you just are complacent. It's going to slap you down. So having, having a training all of the practice and do all those things again and again, it was going to give you the confidence to execute it in a calm and collected way. And then it's gonna allow you to know when it's right or wrong.

And a, and all of that is going to say to you from having a serious injury, when you do it for real,

Speaker 2 (1h 6m 17s): What, what little things do you love and appreciate about flying? What kind of keeps you fired up? Cause if we go through, we go through ruts and valleys, peaks and valleys, ruts and value, and the same with it. And for, you know, for, for a lot of people, it becomes kind of a lifetime of flight hopefully. And you know, it never gets dull, but it's different at different stages.

Have you had any lulls or if you had any yeah. What keeps you fired up about it now?

Speaker 5 (1h 6m 55s): I just don't know if that's ever been a problem. I'm always fired up. You seem pretty, but I just said, I think that again, the people I get to fly with always impressed me and I learned so much from them. And then, because I work a full time job, the only thing that is difficult is when I get, when I, this is how much self-awareness I have to have after a long week for a long day, you know, that there might be a great opportunity to fly, but I might have to make sure that I'm mentally and physically prepared for it now in a way that I didn't really have to, when I first started flying, actually I was working part-time and that was hugely helpful to have the consistency and the progression.

I did find that flying all of the time kind of did cause that like little burnout where you're in that burnout isn't necessarily, Oh, I don't want to fly today, but it's sort of like maybe a loss of experimental thought while you're out there, you're like, Oh, that's that trigger? And I know what it's going to do. Oh, that's that thing I know it's going to do or Oh, the day is pretty much over. I'm going to go land. But when you only have a couple of days, a week in the day is good, but you're not like don't tell me to land. You know what to say? And like, I wanna like, see what is going to happen. I'm going to have that adventure.

I want to take it as far as I think it can go and I'm open, I'm more open

Speaker 3 (1h 8m 16s): To what's right around the corner, you know, not calling it early, not assuming that a trigger is not going to work, you know, that kinda stuff. So it's helped motivate me even more. But I have to have the self-awareness to know that I'm ready for the day and borrowing from, from others. Some of those strategies, it's like making sure I'm pack the night before. That's not, the reason is something I used to do, but doing that and giving back to the community by writing letters like I did on telegram or working on the board or trying to protect our access to the sites, it was all stuff that I try to do in the time I'm at a desk.

So that later, if I hopefully someone help me out with a ride or I over pay for gas, for example, because God, I'm so happy as someone will drive me up, you know, or help me with logistics. If I can get out at a little bit earlier, we can go store the back country. You know, that, that stuff's such a relief. And some important to me that, you know, I try to put that into the same boat as all of my other preparation. What can I do to kind of smooth logistics, sadder, get a little extra support from someone on the team, you know? And so, so all of those factors have helped me kind of get out more and stay more site.

Speaker 2 (1h 9m 27s): Final question because of my girls just showed up here. So this is a little bit, this will be a good wrap. You've got a significant other Kate, I believe. Yep. What is she think about all this madness?

Speaker 3 (1h 9m 41s): Well, actually we just signed up for my tandem. We'll see. And she's has been working on her if you want to be too for a while. Oh wow. I think we both know that there's a lot of risks involved. I, you mentioned a flight where I took off a somewhat underdressed. I think it was maybe one of my first flights on big flights on a two liner as well. And I ended up soaring the edge of a cloud at a 17,000 feet or so. And then, which is super rare. I think in the back country here, it was during a heat wave and it ended up gaining a lot more altitude than that as I tried to exit.

So it was flying towards the edge of the cloud being like, Oh, these clouds there've been benign all day for the most part. Great street ahead of me. I'm going to go out to the sunny side and get some clearance and, and got caught in what my various said was like a 13 plus meter, second bubble. Jeez. It had me in the cloud for a few seconds. And I think in those moments, I focused on three things, which was breathing, keeping the wing open and maintaining the heading toward that open the line of the cloud line.

And it was aiming for yeah. And I felt the wing kind of go out in front of me and that's at least what I thought I felt in the white clouds. It's hard to tell. And you're like, what's going on in a, it stayed totally open inflated almost like I was slipping off of a bubble. Yeah. And then I kind of came back under it and came out of the cloud. Oh my God. It was, it was super beautiful and everything, but I think, and then it was up there at, am I supposed to say, Altitude's probably a good idea. It a really high, higher than you should have been.

Yeah. I didn't, I didn't actually share that track log publicly either. Yeah. And I, you know, I, I was pretty cold up there and it was a good point of reflection, you know, about being prepared for this, but also being prepared with the people that you care about. You have the whole thing. Isn't something we talk about a lot, but she has always been really supportive. And I imagine eventually they'll come a time when a dial it back for sure.

But I do also encourage everyone to kind of fly the pilot. You know, you are, you know, fly, fly that way. You know, when we talked about feedback from the community, one thing that bothered me in the past was a generalized responses, like sort of like, Oh, dial back a bit. Right. And I don't think that's hugely helpful because In pilots might fly with hesitation. They might have, they might fly with someone else's voice in their head where they might doubt their decisions, which I think is just as hazardous. And so in my letter that, that I wrote on telegram, I tried to give very specific ways than a pallet can put the work in and very specific ways to improve.

And those are things we want to work on and not necessarily just dial it back a bit, but just how every little piece of the process can be more proficient. And always, like you said, visualizing the worst case scenario and leaving the margin. Jeff driven In, thank you so much for that,

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 43s): Sharing all of this with, with all of us. And I wish you great success with all this madness that we're embarked on. And thanks man, for your time. This has been awesome. Thanks. If you find the cloud-based may have valuable, you can support it in a lot of different ways. You can give us a rating on iTunes or Stitcher or however you get your podcasts that goes a long ways and help spread the word.

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