Mitchell McAleer properly crashed a hang glider on literally his first flight in the early 70’s. But he shook it off and was in the right place at the right time and had the right mentors and right attitude and eventually became the winningest aerobatics pilot in history. Southern California was one of the true meccas of hang gliding in the 70’s and 80’s. It was the home of UP during their reign with the Comet, remains the home of Wills Wing and was where Mitch took on the sport in his teens and remains today after nearly 45 years of obsessed flying. Mitch was an early adaptor of paragliding (as a reference his go-to glider when we recorded this show is the Ozone R-12), has traveled all over the world competing in aerobatics and doing glider testing for a number of companies, and is just an absolute giant in free flight. Mitch has an encyclopedic memory and this podcast is a fascinating and at times totally unbelievable stroll down memory lane. Flying without reserves, folding gliders, incredible wrecks, “maneuvers” clinics with no reserves, clipping in incorrectly, flying the very first totally sketchy paragliders, flying in the first world cup…It is a story of joy, sadness, incredible feats and incredible carnage but throughout it is a story of love and passion for flying. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. The men and women who laid the groundwork who have taken the sport from where it was to where it is today, spilled a lot more than tears and hard work to make it happen. Their vision, commitment, excitement and durability in the face of phenomenal setbacks, all the while losing so many friends along the way…is truly remarkable. Huge thanks to Bill Belcourt for running this interview. This was special to witness and we hope you enjoy the result.
PLEASE- check out the video below of Mitch getting a “killer loop” just barely wrong in Austria at a Red Bull Vertigo Event in 2003. It’ll blow your mind (he walked away).
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Becoming a meet director and the early years of comps
All the old wings…
Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll!
The European scene compared to the US Scene
15 years to get one maneuver
The Twister- the crash in Villaneuve at the Red Bull Vertigo
The Crestline Massacre
“If you die, we split your gear”
Why do some walk away?
The mental game
Can you regulate the problem away? Risk Homeostasis
Nothing else gives you peace
Mentioned in the Show:
Eric Fair, Annie Green Springs, they and EZ Wider the rolling paper company sponsored a meet at Sylmar, < https://hghistory.org/hang-gliding-2/hang-gliding-1973/1973briefingphotokey/ >Volmer Jensen, Wills Wing, Gary Applegate, Steve Pearson, UP, Japan, Gin, Rob Kells, Oichi Onsuka, Yoichi Onitsuka, JC Brown , Larry Tudor, Yusuke Yamazaki, George Fulman, Pete Brock, Roy Haggard, Mark West, Heidi Blumhuber, Enrico Egli, Heinz Zwissig, Etsushi Matsuo, Greg Smith, Andre Bucher, Bob England, Ted Boyce, Jeff Greenbaum, Rick Masters, Edel Gliders, Dave Bridges, Robbie Whittall, Dave Frank, Mr. Suh, Ed Stein, Chuck Smith, Bouchard, Ken Baeir, Xavier Murillo, Jennifer Toms, Joe Gluzinski, Dave Prentice, Lee Kaiser, Bill Gordon, Richard Gallon, Sebastien Bourquin, Urs Haari, Othar Lawrence, Chris Santacroce, RC David Freund, Dan Racanelli, John Heiney, Chris Bolfing, Soderquist, Jeff Huey, Chris Bulger, Jon Pendry, Crazy Wayne Denny, Dusty Rhodes, Rob McKenzie, Brad Gunnuscio, Ozone Paragliders, Tammy Burcar, Mark Axen, Patrick Sugrue, Marcus Meyer, Russ Ogden, Rick Garrett, Jamie Lasser, Rich Collins, Bill Rehr, Raleigh Collins, Andy Hediger, Jan Stenstadvold, Dave Frank, Chrigel Maurer, Dilan Benedeti, Ben Abruzzo, Recaps Hats, Anneka Herndon, Joe Bostik
Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem. We are less than five weeks out from the race. Get pretty excited. This is looks like it's actually going to happen. There's they've got this special permit for us to get in to Austria and some of the cross border stuff still a little bit dicey, but things are opening up, loosening up and we might team and I are all heading over in just a couple of weeks. So that is pretty exciting. So down to the wire here, just got done with S four days of it, accurate training over the water with Dylan Benedetti and his team out there.
And California, I'd heard great things about what he was doing. And so Ben Rousseau and I want to, my scores went out there to train with him. And I think his whole group, other than us had never, there was the first time SAV for everybody. So he kinda got to see how he, how he takes them through the course. And it was really terrific high marks for that whole team and very impressed with how they run things. And actually, I was so impressed that got Dillon on this show afterwards.
He spent bunch of years out and Nepal, he's a super talented acro pilot, pilot and former competition pilot. And so you'll hear him on an upcoming show here, but thanks to that whole crew and,
Speaker 2 (1m 35s): And the recommended to us pretty hard for us to get good over the water SIV instruction here in north America. And they do a really good job, a little bit of housekeeping. We've just received a big, huge box of new recaps hats from Aanuka and they are beautiful. They're really up in their game there. They've got these seven panel trucker hats and caught in front of heads that are really beautiful. So check them out. Cloudbase man.com. You can go to our store there and get all set up for the summer. And we've also got a whole new batch of Patagonia pocket t-shirts these are on sustainably sourced and made and really nice fit.
So those are, those are nice as well and, and all new. So check it out on the store and get set up and send me your orders here shortly, because I'm going to be gone in Europe for a month. And I'm kind of a one man show when it comes to that stuff. This show, man, I just went through and listened to it again, give miles to the edit notes with Mitchell. McAleer is just unbelievable. Bill. Belcourt called me up when I was at, in California back and March training and, and said, Hey, we really have to get Mitch on the show.
And I said, well, I agree, but I can't do it. I just don't know the history. I haven't been around in the sport long enough. And you do. And so bill kindly got on an airplane and flew out to California from his home in salt lake and ran this interview. You're not going to hear me as much in this one, but we went up to Mitch's sewing cave after a day of really good at flying where I basically never saw the top of Mitch's glider. He flies the R 12 these days and just an amazing pilot. And I think he has got almost 60 years now.
He was an early adapter of paragliders flew in first world cup. And he was also unbeatable for a number of years in aerobatics and hang-gliding proper legend and his stories and history has got an encyclopedic mined when it comes to name's in history and it has a lot and has spent most of his time. He will say he's more of the, you know, in the business of flying than in the, and the in comp flying scene or just being a pilot.
He worked for years and wills wing live and out of his car and, and UPP back when they had to comment and they were kind of dominating the hang-gliding world, but there's, there's a ton of history here. And as I was listening to this kind of slack jaw, the whole way through it, and bill and I talked about this afterwards, we're all truly those of us who were in this sport now, who weren't in the beginning are truly Standing on the shoulders of giants. People like Mitch, who shared in many ways, much more than tears and hard work.
I spell it and also spilled a lot of blood and have seen a ton of their friends passed to making this sport what it is today. And I think we all need to be mindful of that. There's a lot here, of course, about risk and when things go wrong and how to really try to get it right. And, but I think we all need to be a lot more knowledgeable and mindful. I used to hide you after listening to this about where it's come from and how and how this history can help us go forward and be a better community.
Speaker 3 (4m 56s): To pull
Speaker 2 (4m 57s): You in, because this is a long show, but I think once you start listening and you're going to dig out and stick with it, but to pull you in our top has show tip this week has actually a little segment from the show. Bill was flying with Mitch on one, two years ago out and Elsinore and Mitch had the shirt on it and said, if you, if you, if you die, we split your gear and, and you want to ask them about that. That's pretty harsh. It's kinda in your face in Mitch's answer is, is pretty eloquent. And again, it's on this whole thing, risk, you know, he didn't want to see his buddies die.
And so he wanted to remind him that, Hey, this is important focus and get, get here, be here today, fly this glider and flight safely. And so here's a little, and there's a little tip that I really enjoyed from the show. And then we'll get into the actual show
Speaker 3 (5m 50s): Here we are on the margins of more than 9 million people in the 10th largest financial power. The world is right there and were on the edge of it. And me, you, you know, Linda, how many people out of that would take a hit like that and come back. It's like me, you, him Linda. And that's how many out of nine bill and people that, that brings me to tears. When I think about who we are and what we've done to get here, you know?
And it's like, I don't want to see my friends hurt. And if I have to wear a t-shirt, that's sort of not politically correct, then yeah. Then it's worth it. You know, if I, if I have to appear to be a monster to some people in and frightened them away, its worth, because I'd rather them be afraid of me and have to pick them up off the ground and sell their gear, you know, and fix their, their req and stuff. And just, how do you address that? How do I look at myself as the guy that provides the gear to someone that gets her on the fly could go back in time and avoid that I would, but you can't, there's no going back.
So what do I do going forward? I'd make no illusions that what we're doing suspending ourselves under a puffy bag of mostly air under string is extremely dangerous and you can make it safe, but you have to work hard to make it say there's a whole bunch of work and wisdom that has to go in to being safe. And you're never going to be safe, flying to Paragon or in mid day conviction. Okay. In what you say, I watched a video of coming into land to show land and where his glider dos the snake, 30 feet off the ground, you know, and I've had that happen and I've watched friends here to get hurt on mojos.
And that, that the Cardinal sin of letting the thing turn, I've watched a guy here coming in and doing S turns behind the candy cane there. And the thing takes a 50% collapse, which you know, is on a mojo. You should be able to keep it straight, but he didn't, you know, it turned 90 and pitched down and broken female. And just that aviation liked to see his incredibly unforgiving and those small mistakes and how to you, if I can wear a t-shirt that impresses people of the reality, what we're doing, that's cheap and it's free.
It doesn't cost anyone, anything hope he enjoyed that. And to help you enjoy this show with, with bill Belcourt and Mitchell McAleer match, I've heard the stories about your first handler flight, but you tell me what was your first slide? And the handler, the first flight was lying to Eric fair and telling them I knew how to set up and break down the glider. And he let me take it home.
Speaker 4 (8m 56s): Cause I allegedly was going to practice setting it up. But instead we went out to suicide hill at Corona, right after to 1591 and junction right there and faces right into on Shor's. And I hooked off of that and went straight into a thermal. It was like 1500 over. And then like typicals two o'clock in the afternoon has happened there. It started picking up and I started backing up and trying to speed up. And pretty soon I'm back down about 150 feet over the, my car, which is right on the summit of the hill.
And it didn't look like, and I was going to make the Windward side of the hill. So I turned around backwards and, and flew through the roader and got the thing and turned around just in time to be swatted out to the ground about 30 feet. And I just woke, I remember blinding flash and waken up and the Clover, everything was kind of all green and red and white and black. It was like flushed out on top of me and I'm face down and Clover. And yeah, I just basically got to turned into the, went and got swatted out to the fucking sky for about 15 to 20 feet and woke up in the Clover flight, number one, number one, number two, as after I put it down to use on a glider.
And then we went and showed Eric fare that I knew how to set it up and fly and, and salt Creek. So, and I just flew off, saw Greek and it wasn't horrible. And so just like food out and about 15 to 20 feet kind of went like this and like this and landed it, you know, on my belly. And, and he was like, yeah, whatever. And then I paid for, so it was mine. Then I left and that was it. And I had just gotten off the boat. I had 12 grand in my pocket in a brand new glider and when flying on summer.
Speaker 3 (10m 38s): So, you know, and what, you know, what attracted you to the sport? That's the,
Speaker 4 (10m 47s): I grew up in Newport and the east bay off and MacArthur was this gentle slope that hosted some of the early hanger meets. There was a meet that was sponsored by any green Springs and easy, wider rolling papers, where they threw a bunch of money and invited a bunch of guys to come out. And you had prizes for flying your Bambu and plastic and whatever. And there was everything from bamboo on plastic to Volmer Jensens, VJ 10. It was 15 to 20 to one foot launch sailplane with a hand cage and it's three Oxys stick control and kind of a rectangular, slightly tapered unswept wing when the cruciform tail.
So there's, Volmer Jensen this thing and it's like 20 to one, you know, stand up armpit hand, cage control, stick thing along with guys do and bamboo on plastic, off the east bay of Newport thing. And I saw that in me and my cousin were coming home from church with our parents. They would drive the back bay road and looked at the handler's and shit. And I remember being up on launch and find this little balsa wood glider, but
Speaker 3 (11m 54s): Like this God, they had somebody, you know, one of the soaring geeks thrown it and lost it. And to me and my cousin found it and spend that afternoon after church throw in this thing off. And, and it was trimmed perfectly. It would just go out and starts soaring these big circles and climb out to 300 feet over the blow off and disappear into the weeds with running after it. And so that was great school that we saw gliders flying on the east bay after church in 72 as well. No, I want to say I started high school and 72.
So this was the sixties late sixties. We saw that. And then in high school would have been 74, 75 when my cousin was graduating, he was a year older than me. So he got a car right away and he, he won to fly really bad. And he found a glider that was just kind of sitting in this neighbor side yard. So we just grabbed it off the fence and threw it on his car and went out to go flat one day. And it turns out it was this custom painted glider.
It had like this MC Escher geodesic sphere thing on it. So it was a total custom painting, you know, and it goes like on focus as the thing. And it's like, oh shit, I can't fly this thing. And I was like, folds it back up, takes it back and gives it back to the guy. And then eventually went and bought a glider. And I went with him to Tori when he was flying a sun standard when Bennett had already come out with a 60. So the 60 was a pretty high aspect, floppy, sail with fiberglass battens, but compared to a standard, you know, some standards and 90 Reno's angle as standard Rogallo and, and went down to Torrey and Washington flood on.
And he sorted around for a while. And then at, at, at the beach and we'd talked about, and it's like, wow, that Gluck to Phoenix sixty's and we want to get one of those, you know, and, and that was the first time I saw the soaring thing and I wasn't flying yet. I was riding dirt bikes. I broken my elbow skateboarding over the concrete way, and Ventura was close and I went off, pushed off and the coping with the D pool's and men and flat on my back on the flat with my arms back, like that broke the corner, my elbow.
So my cousin asked me to drive for him one day and Elsinore, after that Torrey run, and you just gotten this new lottery, just go on to tramp and all seedlings center to 10 and riding round and my BMX bike and a cast watching them fly around. And I just had this dawning on me where maybe if I get away from wheels and the ground, I'll start, stop slapping in the ground so hard and we'll get hurt. And that was kind of a decision I made was watching my cousin fly around St Al's and also knowing him on a broken arm.
I've got that bow job and got off the boat with 11 grand and bought a Hagar, bought all brand new kit from Eric fair, right across the street from Rosaleen went and worked on another flew all summer. That summer of 79 went back to work on the boat October through April 79, 80, and the boat and me were on separate ways. I was drinking and doing drugs and not, not doing well on the boat. They wanted me out and I wanted out and I sold the Raymond and I bought that five, 10 to 1300 bucks.
And, and when I went to go buy a shipping tube to send the red and to Texas, and the guy who bought it, I walked in to Will's Wayne and they didn't have a shipping tubes. They were waiting for our trucks. So they asked me if I wanted it to wait to sit at sure. And wait, a couple of years ago, I noticed that there was this Japanese guy, sketchy look, and Japanese dude was like sick and to kind of scrawny and weird looking in. And he was filled out a job application and the front office and along with some other guys, so Gary Applegate, and there's just guys, you know, I, I was, I was done with the boat.
So I asked him if I could fill out an application. And they said, yeah, sure. So we've got to talk and I've got to talk to somebody and Pierson and her cows or someone. And, and they're just, we want this guy and I want to work that day. And I helped him unload the truck and, and got stuck there for seven years. And then what got in aerobatics, that was the crucible I'm in wills waiting. And the president of the company encourages me and coached me in Kells.
And the, the other part about doing aerobatics was the, the weekend scene at Elsinore was dominated by the UPC factory. And at that time, 80, 81 was top of the world. They were the king to comment. When everything in a comment had the unfair performance advantage, it was the first really good stable bomb-proof, high-performance double surface glider. The time Wellesley was still competing with the Harrier, which is like exposed crossbar, you know, and the comment just cleaned up everything.
It had a walking speed, performance advantage over anything else out that day. I mean, they were competing against colliders. It still had deflects or leading edges, you know, the big wire struts with wires and tiny little inch and a half tubes for leading edge. And the comment was inch and three quarters spars. And, you know, it has a bigger, heavier everything with enclosed cross-bar. And, and I just remember going out to the one day with my Raven and it's light wind, and the Raymond's tail heavy and really slow. I'm like, fuck this. I can't launch. And know when at the E and O the tail heavy glider, but just sat there and remember watching a gaggle and going up a couple thousand feet and two guys peel off the side of the gaggle and just do wing overs, falling leaf, you know, 2000 feet, just wing overs all the way down the side of the Goggle to a couple of hundred over the saddle.
And then just right back up again, you know, and as I watched that for an hour and just, you know, along with everything else that was going on, and remember trippy look and gliders from Japan in some trippy guys from Japan, with wires that would code and this weird pale blue plastics are just one of those moments when you show up somewhere and everything is new and the colors are all more rich than they should be or something. And, and, and I just had that at that moment, watching that aerobatic routine.
And then one day I was out going out to hidden valley cause I was a thousand foot Southeastern Windward side to gets that California. And so I just, it was a cliff launched. So I can launch at tail Eddie glider from a cliff, just Hawk on, you know, on this rock. And that was where I spent most of my first year. And I went out there one day and saw Dave Gibson, who was kind of their lead nighttime loft guy as I'm driving up to the launch site. And I see Gibson going above launch and blow launch like that and doing these 92 and a wing over Swede hammerhead, just above the Ridge like that.
And then dive below the Ridge and come up over on the other side, like dad and hammerhead, which is back and forth that disappearing in appearing like that and do in these hammerhead and wing overs back and forth in front of launch. So that my environment, and that was what I saw all the time around me when I went flying and was guys do and hear about X and then was all the tha tha a and D team from, from UOP a and D teams were the top to teams that we're in a manufacturer's league on me, which was the end of may.
And the Memorial day big meeting at the time it was world meet Moise, Bennett UOP, Will's Wang had three man teams. So there's the 18 and the BD team. And then there was the team. The team was a bunch of guys from Elsinore that were UPC factory workers and good pilots, but they weren't good enough to have to be selected for the team, but they were good enough too, to win the day and, and fly and competitively. But since they weren't, you know, compelled by the factory, it was kind of a, More like a party team where they flew well and could win days, but didn't care enough to be serious about it and was more like kind of the, the beer drinking team that could win the, win the competition, but in care to be that serious about it.
And that's kinda where the team thing came from and now that's good. I never knew that. Yeah. And so when you start competing and aerobatics, yeah. Well, Sony nine started at Will's Wang in the law, and I was letting in Costa Mesa settle rental party house. And we had near sent in a river and got my second DUI. So I moved from that party house into my van in a parking lot at wills langue.
And then, and that was it. And I was my entire life. It was work. And Friday night I would bail to go to Elsinore and find the party Friday night, fly all day, Saturday and Sunday, and then go back to work at Wells. I started doing aerobatics and that Rayven, but once I got to five, 10, I was different. You know, Kilz actually encouraged me to go out and do a, sort of a test contest. He had a line out here at one time and I entered in the five 10, and, you know, and I was doing like 130 degree maneuvers to the right in like 90.
So the left and kills to, you know, savvy down and said, here, this is what you're doing. And that's when he started coaching me. And that's when I started refining things. And then I blew up the sensor doing my, my first reserve deployment on the ESS 25. And then I'd just started flying in employee gliders. They had a, a 180 doc that they put some prototype laminate on scrim on the trailing edge.
And that was the wills wing employee glider. So I started flying nothing all the time and gals, you know, and continue to coach me. And I was continuing to do production test flight. So production test line was kind of like aerobatic training school. And then I had to go through to production, testified on the glider and make sure it flies straight and flies, true and sales clean and everything. And then do a couple of wing over's and kills watch me and I'd land. And we'd talk about, and what I was doing on the way back up the hill. So it was just three to six flights, a day of coaching and stuff like that.
And then whenever I would go out and fly with the Wilson guys and do aerobatics Kilz would watch me in coach me and help me. And plus he gave me the tools to learn how to progress in the beginning to the four things I'm heading and, and pilot input in the dive, heading pilot input and glider attitude at Kia level at the initiation of the maneuver, heading pilot input and attitude to glider at the apex of the maneuver behind, and then every same thing at the exit, the maneuver.
So most people at the time, you know, like when you think about doing hang glider, aerobatics, just go out and weighing the glider around. And we ended up doing some kind of spiraling to settle or whatever, but the way the fair, bad scoring system that kills and, and Dan record heli, and the other guys that were involved in aerobatics prior to the, like in 79, 80, 81, early
Speaker 4 (23m 46s): Telluride years, when they started doing about competition and to Telluride, they developed a scoring system that was loosely based on freestyle skiing kind of thing, where you have difficulty points and style points and versatility points and hand gliders. There's four maneuvers loop climb over, which is Entry and apex more than 90 degrees different. So that's a climb over, and this is a rollover, so entry and apex, less than 90 degrees off heading like that.
And then a loop is just everything lined up and then a spin. So that's it for versatility or, you know, half a point for, you know, to versatility points, bank angle at the apex divided by 10. All right. So 180 degrees and verdad as 18, and that's how the scoring system works. So in order to score high, you have to have,
Speaker 3 (24m 43s): You know, 180 at that time.
Speaker 4 (24m 46s): Okay. And in all four maneuver's, and that was it. I just, he taught me how to do, to win meets by flying scoring system, by winning the score,
Speaker 3 (24m 56s): Or, you know, to do that, you have to
Speaker 4 (25m 2s): Do enough loops and line them up. And then how the other three maneuvers all in a routine that looks good from start to finish. It doesn't have discontinuity or stops or fuck-ups and sights, lips, anything like that. And so that's what I would do. I would just go out at Elsinore and practice do a 3000 foot climb over the, pull out to the thermal due a routine, backed down to launch level, climb back out, do that for like two and a half hours or so about five or six routines. And I'd be thrashed and tired and bored
Speaker 3 (25m 33s): And land, and then off to tell your ride. And then
Speaker 4 (25m 40s): When I was in 1984 with her, with a highly modified 180 dog and got second place behind Eric, Raymond.
Speaker 3 (25m 51s): Yeah. And just kept going back in and I wanted, and every year and the 85 to 88 or one, well, I didn't win 87 because I quit. I quit Will's and I kind of cautiously didn't give a fuck about winning that year, even though I was flying
Speaker 4 (26m 10s): And, and glide or Jamie Laos, or had loaned me, his, his HB to,
Speaker 3 (26m 16s): And then
Speaker 4 (26m 17s): was a major paradigm shift. The Delk had a keel pocket as the foot tall Kyo pocket. So the lever, the control bar was like a foot longer than, than the, than it is just a couple of years later in 1985. And in 1985, when he was, and he came out with the HP, the, it was so much faster and has so much better pitch to control. It went from being really difficult to do a loop in the 180 ducks, just being really easy to do loops in the winning in the, the HB one 70.
So that was when I started doing multiples. Like there was Tom Tatum film, double high that was shot at Telluride in 1982. When everybody just shut themselves. When Ron young did four loops in a row and a common way to any five at the meeting, nobody had ever seen multiple loops and a hang glider prior to that. And Ron went and did four perfect loops in this one 85 comment in front of Tom Tatum's cameras. It tell you right at 82. And I saw that and Erick ran and was doing and comments and, and rich and wings.
He was flying on a Sunday, the sun seed as this trippy rigid wing thing. And it had a dihedral Ruth and anhydrous tips, and he was practicing in 1981 out here to, to win by doing a mini, no one else had done because the, the, the sun seed would tumble. You could actually like, forget what it was. I think he would just like, slow the thing down and jam both of the rudders on which I had, like tip aileron kind of things.
The anti-drug tips had control surfaces on them. And I think what he did is he just slowed the thing down and slammed the rudders down and the thing with pitch over forward and just get a couple of them like that and then recover. So he was planning on doing that and tell your ride and by doing them and no one else can, do you want to meet you get one extra half point for that versatility that no one else can do. And when the meat, but the glider folded up, they'd like went around once or twice and then started rolling.
And after we went round once or twice and rolled that just went fucking wings clapped together, and it broke. And he went to spiraling down sandwich and the wreckage and bounced off as steep face to the canyon at Marshall somewhere and survived without a reserve. So when did you first compete internationally? ADA? That was the after the resurrection of UOP and 87, a UHG on a sukkah came out.
He was publishing a really slick, really pretty air sports magazine. And he showed up at the E with an axis that JC and Larry had built in Japan with UCL Masaki is money. You know, you ski that's a whole interesting story. You ski was a young, fairly wealthy Japanese guy that came over in the early days and flew off of the 1500 escape country and climbed out in some funky old, single surface glider and drifted up and back, and couldn't make it back into the valley at launch.
So he landed in overhead Chaparral, quarter mile, half mile behind the launch at 1500. And it's like an August day in west side of the, ah, the Cleveland range as probably a hundred degrees. And he was completely lost and disoriented and had no idea how to get out. And I was in overhead Manzanita and Sugarbush and that kind of stuff. So he basically sat himself down to die, to die, a good samurai death in the wilderness after an epic flight.
And George Fulman was this guy and was gregarious, a sociopath kind of guy who'd watched, used to go up and back and land and the bushes and Liv there and flew there all the time. And you went and got him. I used to be sitting down there, you know, saying his prayers and getting ready to die of exposure. And here comes George forma and helps them break the glider down and help it back out to take off. So you ski set full on, up with UPC sports at the Y just on the north side of Dana point million dollar piece of retail property, USI and UPP, Japan set fully on up there was stillborn and shop for 30 years from the mid seventies through the, probably the early nineties, I think before the whole thing kind of folded up and disappeared.
And it's something else now, but as we're all those years, as you were driving south along the coast highway in the north end to Dana point, there's a ups sports shop. And that's how that came about. Was George Coleman saved to your skis lie, but where you see inserted himself into the ups story was that in 78, 79 broch and UPU are in a lot of trouble financially. They weren't doing well. And you, you P in Japan was doing well.
He was a competent businessman and he understood the market there. And he had put together a flight park and a bar and a place for people to hang out. So there was a UPC sports bar in Tokyo. There was a UPC sports facility, a large area with a container storage area in a container, dressed out like a Malibu beach house with a bar in it. And so we had the social scene worked out in Japan really well, and they had a big market in Japan for teaching and kiteboarding and hang-gliding, and, and when Brock would got into trouble in the late seventies, he came over and gave him 15 grand and got him back in business.
And the hired Roy Haggard, Haggard design, and built the comment and buy late in 1980, mid, 1991, UPU was biggest and best manufacturer in the world. And then they mal invested in the ultralight market
Speaker 3 (32m 40s): In the early eighties and the ultra light market collapsed. And there was also a lawsuit or some guy had badly or incorrectly assembled. An older Firefly was just single surface deflecture and, and old glider. And he had put it together wrong and crashed it, and either gotten paralyzed or dead. So there was a civil suit and malinvestment in Aero, ultra light. And that was it. And a lady 83, 84 and the once biggest hangup on her manufacturer or in the world fold it up.
And it was stuffed in the storage unit and Temecula and Brock was done. And I was working at Will's mine. I'd been working at wills wing in the loft since, you know, late 79 and watch that all happen. And all the world-class pilots were ups pilots by 1985 were all wills wing pilots. And then UHG shows up with that UPI access that he and Larry and build Japan.
And what has happened sometime later in 86 were early 87, used to be had contacted JC who has been working the last years with Brock and Haggard in Temecula. So they invited Jaycee and Larry to go over there and build to design and build, and modern UPC hand GLAAD are in Japan. So they came up with the access 15, then 87 UHG showed up with that glider on launch, and also in our giant heart case, full of thousands of dollars worth of Nikon camera equipment.
And I just walked up to him and I said, wow, that's a cool glider. And I fly. And he goes, yeah, it's like, okay. And you need to know who I was. So he said, can I put a camera on your glider? He said, sure. I'll give you all the rights to the photos. If you give me a trip to Japan, I want to go fly on the and pre as the 20 $505,000 prize. Hang-gliding short course competition. And then in Japan and has been going on for a while and I'd read about it and thought it would be cool. You need to go race.
And this gammas, Gregor and priests. So I extorted a camera mountain and some loops on the axis for trip to Japan, and then went back to work at Wilson and didn't think anything about it. And as working in the loft at wills at the time, and, and three or four months later, you, which he shows back up again with a plane ticket, it's like, we're ready to go. I didn't have a passport that showed out. I panicked and got a passport and showed up at lax without a visa and had to go back and get the Japanese visa.
And then it went to Japan and I showed up at Tokyo Narita with instructions on how to get on a train and take a train to Osaka. So I was on my own for a while, which is pretty, pretty interesting, dumb ass gringo and in Japan. So I managed to get to the hotel that they, they booked for me, you know, Saka and, and they came and picked me up the next morning. It took me to launch at this place called at UAA Cooney, which was idyllic, Japanese fishing village and little island, and then little Crescent bay beach, and little beach and bits and little houses and, and Japanese fishing village and a 2000 foot Ridge with this amazing expanded steel ramp built on the front of a little cluster of towers in the top of the hill.
And this glider was sitting there and
Speaker 6 (36m 21s): Brand new access to all my on top and bottom laminate, cloth. It was
Speaker 3 (36m 26s): Pink, bright, fluorescent pink UPA, and lay on the bottom. I had my harness with me and to put my harness out and hooked into the thing and hock off the ramp. And I just voted write-ups to about 1500 over and did three or four loops into the wind, right over the launch ramp and voted right up to about almost to ground over. It was getting better. And so I push out front by and a half a mile in and started doing this back towards launch and on the third loop, right over the ramp about a hundred feet.
And the thing broke the at 20, you know, classic 25 degrees nose up like that, where the, all the highest lift loads are right. Sided leading edge broke. And that was the more to that moment who has a clunk and the gutter can go to something like that. And then look over, there's no right wing as like, oh fuck. And down, and grabbed the shoe far as the reserve out behind me like that. And brakes come on and got her swings under the reserve does like one, two pressure in the top of the trees.
And it was gentle. It was like, it was like better softer than to standup landing, you know, and just little jungles, 15, 20 foot high trees on a super steep slope. So the ground was like this as far away from me and then person in the tree. So it has to climb up in the bar on hooked my hardest climb out and a heartless to throw the harness down to where my helmet down and climbing out of the tree. And here comes this wave of Japanese people to look up and down the rescue me, and then they just whisked me away.
And it's like, I had just climbed out of a tree in this, like, know, you know, you're not going to get the gliders, we'll handle that. And they just I'm in a truck off to the factory. So that's when I got to the factory that they were, where they were building the access in Japan. And they were using this really trippy way of building the sales, where they would grow the fabric out on the floor and then take these Mylar patterns, lay them over the top of the fabric. And then the miler patterns had the, the shape of the panels cut on it, but with little holes and segments along the panels, so it would do, they would make pinholes and then take these magic rulers that were pieces of Mylar, the real gentle curve on it, and then connect the dots.
And I took one, look at that and said, this is retarded. You guys are taking twice. As long as it takes to make a sale. The way Wellesley does sales, as you put the powdered on the floor. And the pattern has this pattern tape on it, which is like masking tape, except it's like three or four 30 seconds thick. So you lay the fabric over the top of the tape, and then you use the, the edge of the tape to guide scissors and the pencil. So you draw lines with the edge of the tape, and then you cut along the edge of the tape with the scissors.
And so I told him, I think I can make a sale. And half the time you guys were making sales and, and I offer is like, you guys want to start building the ups sales again, so let's talk about it. And so I went home and I, well, I got, I got to fly to the next day and it came up with another Glossier for me as just a regular Dacher on access. And I flew around in a little pile on course and landed it and had a little barbecue in the afternoon and went back to the factory and talk to them some more and, and then went home and I was still working at wills, Wayne.
And I talked to them about what I was doing. And Maya told me that he killed them at a problem with UPG supplying me with gliders when I was working there. So we started really earnestly talking with JC about maybe making some kind of a future. So JC put together a contract proposal to go back to Japan for six months and work 24 seven and design 12 gliders, three different models in four sizes each.
And he put together a proposal to make decent money and work seven days a week to, to build all those gliders and certify them and everything. And we wrangled over that all through the fall of 1987. And when it looked like it was going to happen, I quit, I quit Wells. And all of a sudden the Japanese just stopped communicating with us. And JC later came to realize that it was all over this like 300 yen per diem thing.
And he attacked on there just so that we weren't going to be out of pocket with a bunch of food and stuff like that. And he realized later on that the Japanese style of doing business requires some sort of back and forth and bargaining concessions thing. And he hard-lined to him on the contract. So they just stopped talking to him. And then three months later, you ski shows up in Elsinore with a suitcase, $50,000 in cash, and most to start a hangar water factory, and Jaycee.
And I talked about it and I wasn't comfortable running the entire show or designing a glider from scratch. So I, I knew of Bob Shudi, who'd been designing and building gliders in New Zealand for a while. And he had designed a glider called to Kia. That was a really nice high-performance glider. So I suggested to the JC and Bob and I get together and produce the access 15 and the Kia as the access 13 and Elsinore.
And we started out and we will a thousand square foot unit and right by main street and made a few gliders and did some vehicle testing and the, the Japanese and Matsuo came back with more money and said that they want to get serious about it, and they want to start pumping out gliders. So they rented a 2,500 square foot brand new tilt up right at the 74 and 15 freeway junction. And they had just built a brand new tilt up, still had that fresh paint smell.
And they rented that thing for 2,500 bucks a month. I started hiring people. We built a mezzanine and the sail off and started pumping gliders out and they bought Marc west test vehicle. Mark West had this old Dodge truck that had his first computerized vehicle test system on it that fed to load cells and vertical and horizontal load sell down that attached to the keel, the glider.
And then it had another load cell that attached to a separate fixture to the base due to the glider and the boom that suspended the glider about 15 feet above the ground, off the front of the truck. And that was the hangout or wind tunnel, poor man's wind tunnel thing. And that was the most advanced test vehicle at the time, wheels Ling was doing the same thing, the truck with a boom, but they were using spring scales. And, you know, where you just hook a fishing scale to the bass Dube and pull it back like that and film it with a 60 millimeter camera and, and, and that kind of thing.
But market put electronic load cells in there. And that fed into a little Palm top Toshiba computer running a basic program that he had written himself. And it would do like 10 readings per second for lift lift and drag and pitch force from the bass to, but that was driving the truck at the speeds, holding on to this thing, standing on the platform on the top of the truck, driving and speed with the glider. And that was how we did the pitch test
Speaker 4 (44m 23s): Back then. And so I learned about that. So I learn to,
Speaker 3 (44m 29s): To fix the code when it, and you
Speaker 4 (44m 32s): Know, Jaycee and I were at testing all of the time and we did the actual has 15, and the ox is 13. I started on a intermediate Claude, or the comment of regurgitation of the comment without a Keogh pocket as and intermediate glider. So I was really busy and learned a lot about glider civility, running the vehicle, me and JC up there and monkeying around in the top of the truck at all kinds of adventurers. Late after we had done the axis, I was doing the lo testing on the call on at three, one 85 and figured out that as soon as the sun goes down, the conditions for testing are perfect.
As soon as the convection stops, all of a sudden the air as totally smooth in all of the readings, the airspeed reading's and everything, and just flattened out. And what we've been doing was getting up at Dawn and testing until it got convective. And then you couldn't help well in your speech. You got to hold and airspeed constant for three or four seconds with the target loads and the target speeds and everything. But when it starts getting convicted at 10 30 in the morning, and airspeeds all over the place and just to have to stop. So I was there all day with the comment doing other stuff until late at night, and I'm doing one of the load test runs.
And just notice that the airspeed is just dead smooth the whole way through. So I started testing at night. I forgot there was a stop sign down at the end of the road one time. And we were doing the negative one 30 Tufts, which is the glider Mount and backwards. And you don't have to go very fast and they have to go about 30 miles an hour. But when you get going, the tips go from up like this, they just bent straight down and it's a aggravated worst case load scenario.
So when the tips came down, I was kind of in the right-hand lane and forgot there was a stop sign there and it's dark. It's like why haven't fucking take out the floor by floor and wiped out the whole right side of the glider, leading edge, everything, little adventures like that. But yeah, low tests and was really fun in JC was really amazing to work with is really sharp. He'd been handling since he was 15 run away from home and really have to head for aerodynamics and testing.
It was just really just awesome to work with. And we did stuff that nobody had really done. We did high speed pitch to us, which was so really useful because of what I was doing and the time and doing robotics on the glider. We had a few days where we went out and drove the vehicle on like 50, 60 miles an hour. And I ran the glider and low positive and angle's and found some strange things happen and what the sail and 60 miles an hour to sale wood, try to rotate forward around the spars to the bottom surface, kind of pushes down and back.
And the top surface lifts up and trust to rotate
Speaker 3 (47m 30s): Forward around the sail. And the pitch readings would just go all over the place we'd get. So there's a bottom surface kind of pooches down, and the pitch force would go away. And, and it was really interesting dealing with what happens on king posted gliders. As the glider goes from a few degrees positive to neutral to zero angle, the that's the nut to crack as to how to get it to come back and nose up. And that was the difficult part of building gliders back then, and just having a static stability system function and low positive angles without being engaged at true because of the static stability systems are engaged at Trimm.
It's like bolting to sail originally to the frame its rigid in, and it becomes a dangerous handling issue. And we're if the, the reflex bottles which were lines they're attached from the top of the king post to the trailing edge of the sale, if those are tight, when you're at trim, it's like having no flecks and a flex wing, it makes it extremely dangerous handling characteristic. So that was re we're trying to find that line with the vehicle tests and especially at high speed and figuring out what was actually going on and stuff.
And there was, and how other, how, what other way can you ever do that? But Stan, on the top of a truck at six miles an hour, holding on to the squad or move in to the pitch, to these low angle and watching and sail everything's flapping as roaring and, and you watch the sales as well like that and through this weird mutations and you watch the pitchforks to just reduce while like 30% or so. And there's no other way to get that experience. There's, there's only a small handful of people in the world that have ever done that mean the Will's wing guys and guys at air Crow, you know, there's a small handful of people that, that have done that level of testing Birch Miller on them, the DHB guy there, you know, the truck there, but yeah, those kinds of things are invaluable.
It's, it's warped my perspective. You know, when I talk to recreational people who can't remember the names make and model and their glider or what size it is or anything like that. And that's not my plan. Yeah. And so on how was the scene difference in Europe? And so that was the scene here. You went over and did some international aerobatic competitions in Europe and you know, how has this scene different?
What were those why Europe is really amazing is the Japanese sent me their in 1988 to take over and not take over, but to introduce their UPP distribution people to the new company, to the access. So I went over there with access to demos and Heidi bloomer was running VP Europe, and they had been marketing a glider that was UPP rebranded.
And I can't remember who built it, but they had to be a nice little king poster glider or something. And back then, and oh, no, it was a yeah. JC had designed the glide Zola before people rock cup went out of business and they were marketing a European made glide Zillow over there and it wasn't going well. And they weren't selling a lot of them and they didn't carry the same reputation as the American UPC brand. So when we came up with the axes, we had a glider that was tested and extremely robust and we knew it and they wanted that reputation.
So we just replaced the UPA Europe Godzilla with the access. And I went over there and competed in that rock rune that had the links, was ADA over the bay, their in rock Bruin and St place where they'd lend the X offs right there. And you're Monaco. There was a MI called InLinks and they invited me over there in ADA and I one that on access. And then I think it was the next year, like 1990, I went to another meet that was in the alpaca value and Switzerland, it was a real small meet.
And I was kind of in Ricoh Agley and Heinz wizzywig or Swiss pilots at the time. And they kind of made it happen. So we towed up out of this little airfield behind big old Atlas handler on a track thing and did as the robotic me over the alpaca valley, just beautiful place in Switzerland. I got like second place, I think behind Heinz on that one amazing thing about Europe was how friendly everybody was.
I ate at French farmhouses, 500 year-old French farmhouse on a family dinner. And with pilots, I got to listen to them. You know, one of the guy's was cool enough to have to translate for me and where they were, they were making fun and one of their friend's how to Southern brunch accident. So it was cool to listen to and talk and explain to me how they're making fun of their Southern French friends, Southern French, and draw and stuff like that. And sitting in a farmhouse with, in these massive hands, you and timbers as what, another one in those moments where the color is richer and the place has just like magic when you've never been there before.
Yeah, that was all part of the European experience with UPA went to St. Hilaire and got a flight off the ramp. The top has Singulair and it was a crappy day and like sort around like below launch and stuffed it in where they have the big venue, the big party thing. I was flying around kind of level with that and got up just high enough to where I kind of came inside Hillman to their. And another thing to just green grass is so alien to out here is everything brown Rox and cactus.
Another one of those moments where the sky was blue, her and the grass was greener. And then you won hang-gliding world aerobatic championships, like six times, something like that. That's what they called Telluride because there really wasn't anything else consistent. But yeah, I won 85, 86, I got 30 and 87 because I'd quit and wills swing and purposely just didn't get shit.
I was not hitting my loupes on heading Phil and Jamie's Collider. And then, and one 89 99 and one three in a row after that. And now I don't have it here, but there was a, a little trophy that we've been passing around. I think it was 85. One of the Telluride locals that was involved in organizing the meat, just jumped up on the bar and the black diamond one day and pull this thing off the shelf that was some Brazilian guy had brought and donated to the flying in.
And it was a piece of thick teak and about a foot square with this really nicely, like three really nice natural terminated quartz crystals with a silver wire and a handmade silver comment and a hang glider attached to it as wire, just, just the beautiful trophy of course, terminated quartz crystals with his silver glider, you know, over the top of it. And you're like, it's spawn on the wire. So he'd put it upside down here.
And then, so its like a handler do in a loop thing. And, and this guy, Nick, after I had one in 1985 and just jumped up on the bar and pull that thing off the shelf and gave it to me and said, you want, and you have, you should have this. So I took it home and you know, and brought it back. And 86 took home in 86, brought it back in 87 and gave it to Erin or John, whoever won and that year. Yeah. And then came back and ADA and got it back and 88 and then I won it 90 and one at, in like 91 and then I had a kid and I just pushed it off and I just, I want to three times and her and keeping the trouble.
So to like the prison, like the Schneider trophy, he went to three times on the road. Good to keep it. So I kept it. I
Speaker 4 (56m 24s): Still have it, but I went back and the last airmen's rendezvous and 99 one that went to, that was the last term and you want to do it. And then once you get in to Paraguay yeah. And that was part of that UPT scene. We were building glider's and Elsinore and send it to Japan and Matsuo Matsuo and sushi let's go as the Japanese principal, that was kind of our CFO and our liaison with the, with the, the owners of the company in Japan, he was sort of like marketing and development guy in Tokyo.
And he got the word from on high that UPG wanted to get into paragliding in like 89, probably 90, around in there. So they scrounged up whatever paragliders were available to look at rebranding, whatever was popular and good back then. So we had a Jenn-Air, which was a well put Matsu in the hospital, broke his back, broke the fuck out of is back and put him in the hospital for six months. And that was a trippy, super ancient glider.
It had five open cells and the middle and three clothes cell's on the tip and was super low and low aspect glider. There's really not much evolved from a Scot and, and square. And then I had a random news, 13 cell and then some weird nine cell and some weird speed, seven cell glider. And we started Mateo as office folded up when he was in the hospital for six months. So entire contents of his office landed in my office at Elsinore. And I sat at, and I knew the story and I stat looked at those things like poisonous snakes in my office for awhile, until finally we got up the nuts to go and start flying them off the little training Hill's and Elsinore.
And then we survived our training he'll fly. So we started flying them off Edward's and they weren't good enough to make landing zone and Edwards. So I land into bushes. I tattooed my forehead. Like I came up just short of a burned Manzanita that had run, you know, overgrown again and was realizing, and, and I land to just short of it and kind of crashed into it like that. And you got to burn stick and right in my forehead, a little black dot right there for a couple of years and had some ridiculous sketchy launches because we had no instruction, no reserves, nothing real simple board and strap strawberry arrangement.
One of the first times, I think the first or second flight that I flew off Edwards, I actually hooked into the adjusters fucking things and had the pass-through buckles. Right. And there was like the big wedding thing with three bar tax in a big loop for adjusting the shoulders. I'm looking at this thing. I don't know what it is and here's a little bit in the Caribbean or fits in there. So I hope the caravan or into their, and flew off Edward's and didn't figure it out until later that it was the adjuster buccal on their shoulder shrug as adjustment thing and the pull tab on the, on the to slot buckle.
Yeah, shit like that. There was a, there was a cliff launch just to the right of the E and we did a couple of launches where, and this looks good and there's just enough to lay the glider out and get a couple of steps and to go off about a 20 foot drop off. And then the E you know, 1500 feet of nearly one-to-one. And I remember the gliders up and then step off that edge and bounce off couple of years for the thing starts flying away from the Ridge.
Yeah. We put Bostic on that at random news, 13, sell off Edwards one time and, and the way those things were trimmed, you had to pull like quarter brake on to get the best glide. So, and I to Boston, because like, yeah, you got to pull a little bit of brake on and you're not going to make the landing zone and he takes off and he's fully hands up. So I go break and he pulls a little break on and go more break. And he stalls.
Speaker 7 (1h 0m 38s): Yeah.
Speaker 4 (1h 0m 41s): Yeah. And in recovery, you know, and this is all 20 feet away from Edwards. Just nasty. Yeah. That was, we had no idea. And there was no, no beta, no instruction, no, nothing back then. Yeah. It's amazing. And they survived two years later, Greg Smith. Yeah. And your two years later to Greg Smith, and then you're at the PWC first PWC in the Owens in 92. Well, before that, the, when Greg Smith came on the scene, we hired Scott grass and aggressive dude and, and VECO van to her and handed out the airmen vector, which is gins design that was made it at, at, at Diageo Adel.
And that went okay. But at the end of, after that season, Greg had been doing really well with Conder and has won the nationals up and the north side that year, and the powers that be at UOP heard about him. I had never heard about, I didn't know anything about when you Scott, but somebody had suggested that Greg could do a lot better job. So they hired Greg and I hooked up with Greg. We got along really well. And he came up with a comment CX, which was a pretty well to evolve.
Glider Booker had won the worlds on it. And in Europe that year, Andre to occur. Yeah. And it was a, it was a semi elliptical pretty well involved past the other crap and ran the news. The generic was way evolved past that. And, and Greg takes me up to Soboba to, to do my maneuvers clinic and on the way up there. And he's like, you had glider, pilot assholes as you just throw your reserves every time and you know, anything goes wrong with your main.
So you're not going to get a reserve. You're going to, you're going to learn how to fix the main. So he throws me off at like nine o'clock in the morning. And then I go out and do a frontal and a full stall and what, you know, no reserve and, and full solid thing. And it goes behind me, I freak out. I go, hands up, thing goes past and 90. And I fall SLAC line pass at it like that and opens up symmetrical. We put down and land and, and yeah, do that again.
One more time, you know, that full stall was a little bit, you want to hold the full stall a little bit if we let it up. And so we'd go up again the second time. And now it's 10 30 on a regular day. And then next thing I know on a grand over, and, and I start taking hits and I'm not moving forward. The thing has trimmers on it, but to retarded, to speed that trims up and gets in front of a launch. So in my second flight that day and my maneuver's clinic, I get blown out to the back at well. So I go to a thousand feet off and start going over the back in and started taking hits.
So I stopped trying to go that way and tried to start to get out the canyon to the left. And I didn't get very far as like a half a mile now I'm definitely way and the road or, and so it took a bunch more hits, you know, when I'm right behind the Ridge in the board as part of the road, or, and then I got down below the Roeder and, and started getting to smooth again. And I remember there was kind of clear ground underneath me, about 15 feet and legs. And he looked like a place wasn't a giant pile of rocks and was just like, this looks good enough. I just buried the breaks and installed a thing and, and went in at about 10 feet LAN on my ass and jumped up, survive my maneuvers clean, and then reserve, how did it go from there to be in, in the PWC in 92?
Yeah. Greg went to Korea and worked with Jen and made the Caetano and came back with the Katana and handed me and one of those things. And we went off to the Owen's. So I was in the start of that to your Bowen's valley nationals, the first PWC, then 91. And I was in good shape, 92. I, I, I got injured and I was still in a cat or, and I had to have S Aircast splint on my ankle and 92, but 91, I just went there.
Couldn't launch was that total Haq and competent lead launch. And then Bob in England had been training, you know, so he was really good, competent ground handling. And he was also Bob Ted boys. And me, we're the only three hand glider pilots in the me. And we're the only three guys at out of 25 or so that year that had any experience, time over distance racing, everybody else were climber's and skydivers.
Speaker 8 (1h 5m 28s): And we
Speaker 4 (1h 5m 29s): Were the only ones that knew how to basically work the call and work through your climbing quickly. And I don't top anything out, just do the quick climb, so you can get to the next point. And I remember following Bob, like I, Bob was really good at, and he was, he was way better pilot than me, but I had a walking speed, performance advantage. And if I could see him, I could catch him. So I would try to launch with Bob and Bob and just totally graceful off and goes off towards, towards pirate.
And I'm like three or four attempts later. I'm getting really pissed, crashing, like water and bushes below Gunnar and fun. And I get off in flops, like the far side of PI, but I caught him. I caught him before he got to bet and won. And just every day, if I could S I just followed him and I just kept catching up to him every time, as long as I could keep the glider open. And
Speaker 8 (1h 6m 28s): Yep.
Speaker 4 (1h 6m 29s): And Greg, Greg, Greg brought the seaboard over and over that one day, yeah, I was up at 11 behind you and Greg was coming right over pirate. And, and we started out about at like nine or 10 or so, and I was in a week kind of choppy, clawed and not really doing good. And we were on radio and we're supposed to be team flying. And I look over and I see Greg like doing the F 16 mop to see, you know, like this just climbing in a 30 grand.
Speaker 8 (1h 6m 59s): And
Speaker 4 (1h 7m 1s): I called him on the radio and, and going, Hey, you're S you're supposed to tell me
Speaker 8 (1h 7m 4s): When you're in Lyft, you know, and then I'm flying
Speaker 4 (1h 7m 6s): In that way. And Greg's like, fuck, fuck. And like that. And again, in a thermal and, you know, and we climb out and we finished the course and I started talking to him later in the day about what had happened. And I'm working choppy lift at about 11 grand and, you know, a couple of thousand feet above Paiute. And has he comes in on Paiute? The glider just went, whoo. Just went underneath them. It was no warning at all. And he said, he looked down and he saw dirty bits and clean bits. And as he's falling, passed the glider and wham, and then came back straight and he's like, well, okay.
And then one 20 seconds later and does the same thing again, those underneath them again, when it goes to false paths, slackline, false pass at, and the second time she fell passed, and it broke the sea board, and then he had this really cool area, like some brand new prototype fly master thing. So immediately fell back underneath the thing like that, the glider rocks back, and he recorded something like, well, over 2020 200 foot per minute lift, and, you know, and then he's climbing out and I'm calling him on the radio, chastising him, and then
Speaker 8 (1h 8m 12s): Telling me where the thermal.
Speaker 3 (1h 8m 16s): Yeah. And then since you were one of the early adopters of paragliding or made the transition, or at least flew both hang gliders, and paragliders, there was a dynamic, especially in California about paragliders showing up out to hang glider sites. And I would say we had few supporters in the hand community. You were one of them.
And I remember Smitty Greg Smith sending you to various places to sort of break the ice, if you will, between the hang-gliding community and the paragliding community by flying your paraglider at, to hang sites, that it was, it was forbidden, but the hand community wasn't gonna ask you not to yell first was really bad.
And there were a few years, were the, the hanging as tolerated paragliders at the four, and then, then Kelly died. And that was it, that it was all the men and they need, Kelly was one of the big guys. It was training there. And I was working with Greenbaum and the shop and, and he fell over and hit his head on a rock that's in front of the staples, which is right next door to the left of the Ford. And that was it.
That was all the ammunition they need. And they banned paragliders to the dumps. But yeah, there was, there was a lot of contention and hatred. I was just talking about that about Rick masters. I, yeah, as Jesse and I had gone with Rick masters, he had, he had taken us with axes of, to mazurka and throwing us off. And we had a cool, you know, bonding moment. That was a fun day. It wasn't a good flight. I don't think you got to barely get and level with launch and really getting level with the in house, but right.
And we got there and just sat there, looking at the scenes, just beautiful, huge meadow, little tiny cluster of towers, right on the west side of the rim. And we're standing there just, just kind of got out of the truck and just unloading the gliders. And an F four came from the west below the Ridge just popped up over the Ridge, descended down over the meadow, like that, put the thing in a bank like that, and then descended into a canyon, disappeared off the east side of the Indians. That's always, and how that just blows me away. You know, anytime you see fighter aircraft like that.
And now in the Owens to cabinet, a couple of times at horseshoe F F sixteens come through the canyon and go out across the valley and stuff loves him that stuff. So that was my introduction to Rick masters and he was all cool. And he had done the film on the 1980 Owens valley classic that AOI comic clothes and pod people it's, you can find it on YouTube now, but it just shows the classic during when it was a world-class me and gone to her was just carpeted and gliders.
Most of them comments and a dosa would roll through it and just take a comet out of the pile and throw it up in the air and spin it around, throw it back down on the pile. And another one over here a little bit and say rolled up the hill at another common would like pick up on the porch, spin around, crash back. And then the pilot gliders, that's all in that movie and, and his emotional movie and what happened. And 90, 91, when we introduced paragliders into the U S market, people started crashing and Rick masters was there and saw some of it happening and saw some of his friends get hurt and just went on a war path is hated on paragliders.
So they were dangerous. And without a rigid structure, you should never fly them at all. And just went on the hate path against paragliding. And it's still there as website is still up today. So, yeah, I, you know, I couldn't deny they're dangerous. I, I piled in early 92, early 92, Greg had left UPP and has gone back to work with the Dell because when you P and moved off to Utah, they were trying to pigeonhole them off into only doing R and D or whatever, and then kinda taken them out and sales and run in the whole show sued.
He went and talked to Mr. SU and Mr. SU hooked him back up with the us distribution rights for Adel and got me a glider and got me a thousand bucks a month from Adele USA, because I'd won the nationals on that UPC, Catalano, and w was interested in, I O in my loyalty to grey. So I told Greg, and, you know, if you're not happy with UPP, and you're going to go with a Dell and go with you. And he got me a thousand bucks a month for a year and a half, just for flying at Dell, gliders my at it in for kid really wasn't marketing and wasn't Turing, and wasn't selling anything.
It was sewing repairs, flying meetings, and just being an Adel guy. And that was an amazing, nobody has ever given me the money to fly. And I'd worked at wheels Wang per 10 years at the time and would give me nothing and never had a glider. It was always a shop glider. I got paid for my work, but they never paid me a fly and to pay my own expenses to comm's. And that's how it was when yes, they don't, they don't pay components.
They don't give away clutters to compounds as their business plan always has been going on as well. And so I, you know, I owed a huge debt of loyalty to Greg in stuck with him through the Adele years. That worked really well for him. He turned Adele into the biggest brand and the U S years more than 300 and 300, 500 gliders a year. Yeah. We were on a team. Yeah.
And Chris, Dave, Robbie, Robbie bridges, all those guys got their start with Greg. So I went up there when Greg was going insane and wanting to work with Dave Frank and 98 and met Mr. SU, Mr. Sue handed, me and energy. We all went flying. Mr. Soo flew up, Baldy had a crappy flight, landed up half kinda in the trees down to ski run and didn't even make a landing zone.
So we had this huge panic to, to go find Mr. Soo. Yeah, he was. And that was amazing times. And it wasn't long after that, I just looked, took a look hard, look at what I was doing. And I wasn't, I wasn't marketing. I didn't feel like I was providing value to Adele. So I voluntarily terminated my contract with him after a year and half. And she said, look, you, and I really appreciate the money, but I feel like I'm earning.
So I just stopped and stopped taking their money and just went back to make and glider bags and custom gear on my garage and Nelson. And then what guy in to being meet director. And it was all part of that whole time to, we went up to flight green hoard. Was it ed Stein who ran at me the first meet off in green horn or in 91, there was the core group of guys they're me and Greg Chuck Smith brothers.
And there was Bouchard Bouchard, Ken buyer. There was a hand Molly it's another one. There was, there was a core group of guys that sat down at the end of that meet and said, here's what we want. And we want something like the PWC Xavier Murillo had done a good start in the PWC at the time. And the, the nationals that Greg had one year before, like in 1990 was a duration spotlight and contest, you know, and it's like a BBQ weekend, barbecue thing.
And they weren't thousand point competitions there weren't oriented towards time and distance. And any of that, and JB, Mario had adopted the thousand point soaring racing system into the PWC scoring system. So we just sat down and at the end of the sun valley me and said, look, if we want this to happen, it's going
Speaker 4 (1h 17m 10s): To be somebody here. Right. So there's that unpleasant silence. And I put my hand up there and volunteered to run that me. So I went home and drew up this cool cartoon. It was a, what the hell was it? I can't remember the first year. I think it was some skull and crossbones thing, you know, with that way and, and everything on a, on a cover page or on the header. And then just the meat announcement, 50 bucks, t-shirt dinner, film, and processing filled it up.
And I limited it to 30, but we did 35 the first year. And then the next year I limited it, 35 and got 40. And
Speaker 8 (1h 18m 1s): No,
Speaker 4 (1h 18m 2s): I used to it every Marilla system to Jennifer Tom's put that system into an Excel spreadsheet. And off we went and I ran the meet in the first year. Gus in ski had been flying this Excalibur. And I remember that has had a, had gone across the leg. And then it was on his way back when it was blown down, really hard in came in and to Lee and some trees and snapped his ankle. So I got him to run the me the first year in 91.
And so I got to fly. I think it was fun in Qatar. And at that time I was in Flint of Gitano and of course everybody's watching me. So I'm off first and I climb out and I go north and get perfect cloud over the middle of the north end of the lake. I left the lake at the right time. I got to hide, you know, north to the lake, connected with the cloud in the middle of the north end of the lake there, which usually there's nothing.
And you're just to have to get all the way across to the way to the Hills are on the east and Northeast corner of the legs. And it was an epic spring day. Bass bass at Ellison was about 6,500. But by the time I got out to Paris airport over the drop zone base was up around eight. So it was way over the top of the March. RSO is 6,500 top of March to 6,500. And I sailed over the top and I was going to be lights and come out. And the clouds at eight grand sailing over the top of the Paris, Dez and, and the March.
Arosa little did I know it that blued out behind me and everybody's following me. So that cloud that I got that connected me, you know, to the cloud street that went all the way to suburba dissipated. So everybody was 45 minutes, at least behind me, he got stuck in that blue hole. And when I got to the landing zone, after getting retrieved from goal, there were to air traffic control officers there waiting for me because I was made an organizer of record and I'd gone to March and Elsinor and all the DC's and told them where we were and where we're going and everything.
So they were waiting for me. And when the story that there was enough time for the air force Colonel to getting his one 70 and take off an orbit, a cluster of gliders that was from a hundred feet at ground level, right? Lined up with the March runway from a hundred feet up to 5,000 feet, there was a gag of lined up with the runway. You guys fall on me. I told them to be, we stood on launch and, and it said here there's March air force, base years where the RC is, you know, no, your airspace things.
And they just flew right into arson, big call on from ground level. And with 5,000 feet lined up with a runway with enough time for this air force Colonel to look at him with binoculars, walked down the taxi way and getting to this one 70 go airport, go fly and circles around the joke and fascinating as approach pattern, and then fly back and get my information and send a couple of lieutenants to the Wilson Rammellzee that afternoon. Yeah, that was, I had to trust a little weasels as I had to run all the term points south and the Rams to earn points how to do on your Bundy Canyon's so they could get to the March ours and yeah.
Speaker 9 (1h 21m 40s): Yeah.
Speaker 4 (1h 21m 40s): Same year. A couple of days later, I was flying in to meet again. And I was in a Goggle with a couple other guys and Lee Kaiser. I remember I was with Lee and were over Bundy canyon east to the freeway. And I look over and here comes a KC 10 and was looking straight at it like this it's climate it's way underneath us in a way far away. But it's like this, as I pointed straight at me as like every circle is like steel pointed straight out and to come around again, leap peels off.
Right. And it'd be one more circle. And then I peel off and then it goes right by me like this and write. And we were in we're in the lead gag on, and he goes right through the next guy. And then the next guy who was just down Bundy canyon road, a little ways, you know, you just pointed right at me and went right by me about a hundred feet away. And then just went right through the middle of the gaggle like that. Just showing us who's boss.
Speaker 9 (1h 22m 38s): Yeah.
Speaker 4 (1h 22m 39s): Never had any more incidents until much later when Prentice flew right over the Elsinore DZ. And when there was a jump plane in the air jump plane was full of SAS guys and they send SOS guys out here to do jump training and the winner and stuff. So Prentice was high or the south tower's and didn't want to detour around the water. Like we're, we're okay if we go over to the south end to the water, but doesn't want us anywhere over the dirt in the south end of the lake.
So Prentiss, you know, thought he was winning and he decided to go straight from the towers across the lake, right over the runway because he saw the Otter on the ground. Right. Well, there's to auditors. One of them's on 12 five and the SAS guys, they came looking for you.
Speaker 10 (1h 23m 28s): Okay.
Speaker 4 (1h 23m 29s): Yeah. Yeah. There were those issues. And that's what compelled the United States handle on association to establish the meat steward rule, because I play a little fast and loose with a rules and didn't disqualify the day because I couldn't identify the guys who were in their approach pattern. And I didn't want to spam Prentice for the fly to the meat. So I was, I let stuff like that. Slide and Kaiser, or in a few of the other guys now, and that's not good and you can't do that. So they establish in these Stewart thing and started refining and, and making the rules a little more hard and fast and consistent because that was the early years.
And now I have no regrets about playing fast and loose and making those meats happen because no one else was doing it. Not until way later, not until 95 with Gudinski and bill Gordon, when they ran the National's as Chalan, that was wen paragliding competition to the United States really came up on the plateaued it's on now. And they ran a good meat. You know, they had EMT XY as it was there and meet steward.
Robbie was there
Speaker 10 (1h 24m 43s): Or meet director and not put Chalan on the map. That was the first show and company
Speaker 4 (1h 24m 49s): To show. And it put America on the map to, as a, as a place where there was a venue that's at least as good as Europe. I, you know, it's arguably Chalan is yeah. We're shard go on. Was there, that's what those stories were. We were telling them stories and the other day, and bridges going around the outside of some Thermo and already ridiculous. I climb light and wash as Robbie flying in to the dirt in a prototype proton and, or, and we'll use that was a prototype Adele glider
Speaker 10 (1h 25m 22s): And have to be like a sector okay.
Speaker 4 (1h 25m 26s): To energy. I think it was 95 to sector was 96. So I got to be either a prosector and energy. I think it was an energy. No, it was an energy because obviously in rainbow and Jennifer Toms was flying and rainbow. Right. And I didn't get my energy.
Speaker 10 (1h 25m 44s): Yeah. The energy was earlier. I mean the,
Speaker 4 (1h 25m 46s): To rainbows earlier. Yeah. So that was rainbow years, I think. And yeah. Robbie, Robbie, like Richard Golan and it's about, just blew me away. They were on a whole different level for me, for most people in the U S like 92, Sebastian came in, fun, flying, practicing with the last couple of days of the nationals when we had, we went up past white mountain ranch and then came back and landed at white mountain ranch.
So it was like Gunter to Lyon street, somewhere, north Benton, and then back and white mountain ranch and Mia and the Smith brothers, and a couple of other guys are all in. We're all thinking we're bad ass and make them go on. And, and here comes to a bunch of skydiving guys, you know, and we were laughing at them. They top out they'd come right. And 90 degrees. And to go on the Ridge top out at 15,000 and then fly out over the valley and the guy's like five grand over the ground or goal.
And we're just laughing at him, you know, and we have left three miles and, you know, we've a long diagonal on, you know, and we're getting to goal and under a thousand and, and so we're, we're just laughing and all these guys, and then here comes to Sebastian and just coming out to the land with us and go, and he didn't run in a course or anything, but he does a deep spiral to a tip drag to stand up landing. And I was just blown away. I said that I'd never seen anything like that.
Huge. I just, I was blown away on these guys were so good. And I had heard to earn Ari or one of the other really hot ship pilots that was there from Europe had just landed on the talus below white mountain peak. Cause he kinda gotten in a week cycle and he didn't want to fly out into the valley. So just lands on the talus. But when white mountain hangs off for half an hour or so until we get to another good cycle, Hawke's back off, it's back up and flies the rest of the Taos or whatever, flew back too, to live in St you know, to, to the car park and everything.
I saw what these guys were doing and it just blew me away. We thought we were good pilots. And we're just to look like amateurs. Yeah, it was, that was wild first interface with them in 92. So I mean, they, they blew me away and I, I permanently changed Sebastian's life for sure. Retard, Ron Sebastian will never, never, never forgot that because we had really good pot and a couple of bad weather days.
You went on to the Buttermilks and did some boulderings and stuff and smoke and, you know, solid pot, California since then. And they're, they're Europeans mixed in with tobacco. So they, they had never smoked pot like that before in there and how they were all having religious experiences at the buttermilk
Speaker 9 (1h 28m 51s): S
Speaker 4 (1h 28m 54s): And then I'm jumping around here, but bridges told me that you, you looked for his high school
Speaker 10 (1h 29m 2s): Or was it the college graduation when I was in college, college graduation. So you'd done loops over the, you know, over the ceremony for his college graduation. And then when him and oath are Lawrence for run in those sort of red bull nationals in Aspen and sort of the mid to late nineties, then they invited you out to do aerobatics had goal at the end of the day to entertain the crowd. And there was one particular session that I was at, where you basically gave us all a haircut at about 80 drop their burgers, right.
The camera guy dropped his camera and we all hit the deck. I know my, you know, I know what it was like for me to watch, you know, that last low loop where you buzz the crowd from your perspective, because you've always had a different eye for what as possible in terms of aerobatics. Describe that for me, from, from what it was like for you to set that off now. Cause it was, he had so much energy.
He just, he, he just gives us all the haircut behind the Snowfence cause they had the little orange, snow fence, you know, to keep the crowd back. And so he comes right at the fence when he bottoms this loop out at about 10 feet off the ground and he's doing 80 miles an hour. And he just like rockets out and, and climbing, you know, like mad. But from our perspective, he was just going to decapitate. I saw and must've been off and, and then just comes from, so we all just instinctively like hit the deck, even the guy with the big shoulder, mountain camera, everybody hits the deck and then he just comes like, you know, it sounded like an S 16 coming right over your head.
It comes over over our head, freaking to us is, does his baseline just lands in the field? You know? Cause he conned out like, you know, 50 feet, you know, with all the energy. And it was like, oh, just like, no. And so we were all, we were all going. That was the most awesome thing I've ever seen him. And then, oh, and bridges were like, well probably shouldn't have to do that and not do much margin left their to play with no, no.
It's like, you know, I would say the town isn't quite ready and you know, cause its not just competitive, there's out there and said town isn't quite ready for that to 2000 develop new. That was, I think the last aerobatic meet you've gone to isn't it. Yeah. And then I'll tell you right in it in a three or 99, that was the last they were about at me and Dave and I, and I had started training judges here
Speaker 3 (1h 32m 0s): And I've done practice runs here and then we have the crystalline massacre and so requests blew up a sidebar on his light speed. It was flying in with Ray skinny race wire's and he knew one was damaged. And then there was that guy and I can't remember his name now, but the guy came down from Santa Barbra and RRC Dave and I have vetted it. And we talked to Jon green, olden, some of the guys who had known him for a while and Scott had been flying centers for 20 years and just bought a T2.
I didn't know him, didn't know him. So we'd talk to your guys. We need to, and we talked to green and green and said, yeah, he's been doing crappy wingers for 20 years. He should be okay. So we had me and heinie and Chris BofI and you know, all, all of the, the top competitors in our own Southern California or in reverse scoring order up on Crestline. And we were sending guys off. We had eight guys I think was smoke.
So we were running it like a competition, but it was a judges training thing. And it was just fun. So when the guy in the window pops as smoke, the next guy is off launch. Right. And first couple of guys are like, Dusty's flying in Falcon, you know? And, and then more advanced pilots started, you know, coming up and the queue and this guy, cause he had a brand new talent was about like number five and then, and Dino was behind him and Eric Clark boy was behind him.
And then it was Chris and John and me and I couldn't see what happened. It was hazy enough to where I couldn't see what happened, but my girlfriend Doriana, who was in the landings on the sky from Santa Barbara, goes up and does couple three crappy wing overs. And he got about 130 degrees over the top, but he just sat there with the bar out. So the glider would go to a 130 degrees and not pitch room and just kind of sights lift and get a couple of these really horrible, 130 degree maneuvers that ended up in nearly 90 degree side slip like that.
And until one of them stayed 90 degrees like that and went from 130 re bank to 90 degrees and knife edge like that for about five seconds. And then it tucked on and just slap the waves together like that. And we're not sure exactly what happened if he fell into the bar and hit a wire or bar and that's what caused the failure. But he ended up sin, which between the wings and then the thing kind of tumbled like that and went like this with him on the outside. And all I saw and was his right arm out him
Speaker 4 (1h 34m 58s): At the end of the clap together, wings like that during the maple seed spin all the way to the ground with no team to get a reserve. And the, the next pilot was Soderquist. So this has the damage wire. He does a couple of loops, spin and then access to spin from the stall with a really big died. And the thing broke barely nose up had almost no load on it. It's like 10 degrees nose up and sidewalk Fales on one side perhaps and leads together like that.
It does some sort of weird little permutation like this and rips the Keele out to the glider. And now he's skydiving with a control bar and throws as reserved and goes near free-fall deployment. No, sorry has survived. The other guy died and at the scene, but then it went. Yeah. And then we went to Villanova, I guess the to events are somewhat unrelated, but I took one 54 talent with the shorter wire Seville knew and did the twister thing.
And they all freaked out about, they love seeing that the announcer in the gamut, real S video things like, oh, blah, blah, blah. And now they're just freaking on, you know, typical probably drunk announcer, but nobody ever seen anything like that. And like I was getting that glider to roll 180 just effortlessly. And I love those things. I mean, they're doing a buck 20 straight down and I can push the nose up and climb 150 200 feet and, and, and still have air speed and control and nail roll and the thing who would roll and just, yeah, just do these amazing roll-overs and give 180 roll over right in front of them.
And the thing just snaps around and it looks really cool. So they, they love that and I'd never competed over water before. So on Saturday I experimented with setting up over the water and landing on the raft and then on the raft Saturday and then crafts Sunday, but I'd done some other flights with the camera similar. I got 35 millimeter film of pointed straight up like this over the lake Geneva looking to the east on that glider. And yeah, I had to land in this, like there's the, the raft and the little Harbor.
And then there was this pile of rip rap with about a hundred yards by 60 feet wide to flat ground right next to it, with a marsh on the lake and eucalyptus trees. And I stuck the thing in there a couple of times, Mt. And my camera looped as low as I could squeak over the mass of the marina and, and stuff. And the thing in that little field and right there and did that like Thursday and Friday, and then Saturday I land missed the raft and did that one move to where I started doing loops, you know, over the raft and came down and kind of finished up about three or 400 feet up and then moved
Speaker 3 (1h 37m 57s): Where I pointed straight at the crowd. And I did one more and I was still really high. So I did one more and it was still really high. So I did one more in on this, on the second one and pulled up about six feet off the water like that, and still had enough energy to do a 180 and overshoot the raft by like a hundred feet. And, and, and that was Saturday and Sunday. And I thought, well, I'm in a lineup a little farther away and I'm not going to stop. And just going to keep doing the maneuvers.
So last maneuver as like at Aspen to complete the one whatever and I, and decide, okay, this one is the last one. And when I come over to the top, as soon as I pick up the ground, so it was a glider gets about 20 or 30 degrees and goes down like that in Verdin and can pick up the ground and start judging, extending that die. And I extended the dive kind of thinking that maybe I put my hand down and drag my hand in the water at a buck 20 years. And I was, I remember starting to pitch up and I remember looking up at the trees like that and the reserve container hit the water as I was pulling GS like that.
And you can see I've looked at the video really close, so you can see it, the reserve, my chest, it's the water first and then the base Dube. And then as soon as the reserves continuous to the wall.
Speaker 9 (1h 39m 19s): Yeah.
Speaker 3 (1h 39m 19s): And James has to stop just instantly. And yeah. And I just, I remember vaguely remember floating up in front of the leading edge going, oh fuck what happened? And you know, and then they fuck. And then the boats right there. And then the worst injury that I got at the whole event was when they dragged me up over the rail of the boat. It's like, it's one inch aluminum gone on the boat and got on my side, get all fucking gouged up. And it dragged me and I was in it rung my bell pretty good.
But I had broken up with a girlfriend, had been seeing Stephanie for four years and now to just kind of exploded and, and a serious and come over. And so I've been wearing a dark glasses on and on the way out, I took them off and put them in the harness. So it was a bunch of like, fuck in the head and perception, things that I had done to sabotage myself. That's what it was. I literally had thought that I'll drag my hand in the water
Speaker 9 (1h 40m 20s): And most an hour
Speaker 3 (1h 40m 25s): Missed by that much force. It's called at my Maxwell. Smart. So Mitch, let me ask you a couple of just rapid fire questions. You don't have to have to answer and fast take your time, but just a few things. You've heard the show bunch, you know, these are common, but if you look back at your incredibly long career, what would you change if you could? That's a tough one. I don't know everything, nothing. It's hard to say.
The career is such a big picture now and the career, doesn't it. Isn't just me in a career, was my wife, my child, you know, all the people around me. I mean, there's a few things that I would change, but it would be bigger picture stuff. It's actually not like career things. I would have bought a house cash a lot sooner on chain myself from a mortgage a lot sooner and had more time because one of the things that I really like about being up here is at a high have time to help other people and not expect anything in return.
You know, I would love to do, I wish they were dirt, mag pilots. Like I was back then, but there aren't, you know, and it seems like a more fluid community. And you know, what I, what I really love about the sport and what I love being a part of now is my Andy header story at the peak of my power's. And they sent me, Adele sent me to Verbier and the pre-rolls and 93, and I wasn't ranked, but you, I have one in the U S National's and that was the only one that wanted to go with me and Yon and the only ones that wanted to and could go, and I'm not ranked.
So I'm way back in the line. And it's huge means like in 170 and almost 200 people and it's windy and it's late on launch. So I'm behind some guy who screws up is launch and it was careening off to the side and slams into me, hooked into Mai racer in a Rosa at, and I grab 'em and stabilize them. And then he gets his glider sort it out and then proceeds to get plucked from the top launch at verbiage, you know, at that slide, Steve has Wendy and she sees he's just gets ripped off the ground with the leading edge of my racer, hooked over his variant.
Speaker 4 (1h 42m 46s): And kind of belaying him out like this. And so he gets near the end of the lines and you're telling me to kind of tighten up and stuck on the line.
Speaker 3 (1h 42m 52s): And as I hear tearing sound until there's like no more
Speaker 4 (1h 42m 55s): Lines left and, and just belay and around the glider destroyed and blow the leaves.
Speaker 3 (1h 43m 2s): And often my glider down in the mouth, get on the chair, lift and ride down and the parking lot. And ah, and he had a years, got a little motorhome there and the tabletop, so machine and somebody directed me as I pointed over there. And I walked from the bottom of the lift to, to Andy's little motor home. And he's like, yeah, I can fix that. And then go get 'em at six pack alone and brown and 30 bucks. And I got to fly to the rest of the meat. So he didn't have to do that. I'm in a Dell pilot he's Paratek and he had absolutely zero reasons to help me.
And so I like to doing that, you know, and people come up here and the snowbirds fuck up their wings. I give top priority to stuff that I can turn around. And one day drop everything in a pile basket out there that
Speaker 4 (1h 43m 52s): Got 10 30 hours on, you know, and not done with. But somebody comes up here with something that I can fix. And a few hours are in a day. I loved doing that, buy me a sandwich and I'll tell you straight across for a good meal from down the hill. You know, I haven't run across somebody to broke yet, but I would love to, you know, and help people if there were dirt bags and a sport, like I was on and help those people in a minute, because I know, you know, from desperations comes the most sincere desire most often times.
And, and that's where I was in and I had nothing to DUIs and I just folded myself into my van in the parking lot at wellspring and just gave Will's going and my flying, everything I had because there was nothing else, literally nothing else. And that was, those were some tough years. Would I change any of that? I would probably not be trying to steal, use tires drunk, which is how I think the cops found me and got my second DUI followed me from, to use tire store and things like that, you know?
Yeah. I would go back and change things like that, but sure. Seven years living in a parking lot at wills swing work and every day, I don't know if I would change that or not. I mean, there was some desperate dirt bag times, but I was living in my van when I won the aerobatic competition and tell your ride in 1985, you know, I had to be somewhat a strange relationship in my parents in 1984, but my dad gave me a bunch of money to put the logo of the unify boat company that he was repping on the bottom.
My glider took out to tell you ride in 1994 and godly second and third place. And, and I didn't actually move into an apartment until 1987. What I changed, anything like that? No, no, especially not now. And the people that I know, the people that I admire that have come back around to, to be my good friends. Now, Larry tutor, for one, we all live in our cars for some period of time.
And we all poured our lives that deep into the, in, into the sport where it became all consuming to the expense of almost everything else, including family and relationships and everything like that. And I don't think there's any other way to do it and do really exceptional things. And maybe there is no, and there might be people and I'm sure there are people like, like more critical more, and you know, these guys that are somehow capable of doing everything right and surviving long-term and they've, they've put in the work to, and I understand he teachers and, and all that kind of stuff.
So, you know, my hat's off to those people and I'm not one of them. I, I fucked up, I crash, I survive and it kept coming back. And that to me, I'm still like that and they still fuck it up. And then I forgot to look up at my speed system last week. You know, if you could only have one more flight, where would it be? Some are green. That's so many amazing flights. I just, if I were to pick one out to repeat, I can't, there's no, there's no way.
One of the most amazing flights I had was at . And when I was in Europe with UPA hooked off silver, tall on access and did in 96 K and made that gap, and then God, it was a Northwest day. So it was just like effort, at least to me bouncing down to the north face and that Ridge all the way to some little town. And there was a little lake and a little grass strip with a couple of sailplanes parked next to the grass strip and this little two to three story building. So I landed there and walked in and it was a school building.
It's like a great school building and I've walked in and just as school was getting out. So it was this wild scene, like something out of a movie where the kids just screaming, kids come down the steps out the fucking door to pass me like that, you know? And then there's like one or two little kids stand in there. And I'm a retarded gringo that doesn't speak much French or German. And this one little kid is going to stand around wondering to what the hell I'm doing.
So I go, Hey, can you help me? I need to make a phone call to call my retrieved driver. And the kid's like, yeah, no problem. And he goes over to the phone and what's the number. And I gave him the number of, to retrieve driver and he dials it up and it has been the full order and told the retrieved driver where I am and, and get the ride, come in and hang the phone up and thank the kid for helping me out. And then I called him at, and Alan is English. And he puffs himself up because yes, English has the language of the world. Know it was from this little grade school kid, you know, little things like that.
I would repeat that, you know, or any number of things. I don't know, the crappy flight that I had to sing Hilaire land on that bench and then drove down with the guy. And it was one of the Heidi bloom, Hoovers, little workers doing ups hang-gliding business back then and Europe, and just practicing French on him, you know, using the words like the sky and the sun and the cloud's and the things that we, you know, that we deal with every day and flying.
I mean, those are the amazing moments talking to people like that, you know, trying to break the language barrier five minutes and just, yeah. And the combination of the people and being high up and in the rare error with, with a few guys like you, I don't care, you know, yesterday and be fine to repeat yesterday. And my last flight, I had repeat a sled Ryde on a smooth day in close my eyes or, and, you know, or kind of in one of the day's I was test flying at Elsinore.
And when I was running the Will's wing thing and a couple of days where I'd take three or four Gladys out there and we'll swing has a policy of test flying every production glider. So I was required to at least kite every paraglider that I sold and I would take four or five blotters out to the HEA. And just to top landing's tests while I'm all bag and back up to come back to the shot and ship 'em out to dealers. And usually by the last test flight it's Booman, you know, and it can't get down.
So in a couple of times a day and just get up and see how long I could close my eyes without freaking out. And like in a sport, you know, it'd be saw a glider and it's not going to bite me. I trained myself how to do SATs on an Xcel sport, like a big glider. It was a really easy to do and, you know, and like an XL. And there were a few times up and it was hard to get down. So I'd stopped trying, and we're going to, I took my shoes and my shirt off at one time, it's got to enjoy the flight there and get you to get a tan point in to the point in to the west and close my eyes to take my clothes off, sit there for a while and put my clothes back on and I'm going on and land.
Speaker 2 (1h 51m 45s): Yeah,
Speaker 4 (1h 51m 48s): Let's put on hold like five or six of those together. Now it'd be a good last,
Speaker 2 (1h 51m 53s): If you had anything recently in, by recent saved in last 10 years, something has happened in flight or something that you've learned about flight. That's just completely blown away.
Speaker 4 (1h 52m 4s): My first flight off ordered with the Enzo to extra small, I'd done an extensive repair on it and Zayn and put the thing in the trees and it was really badly damaged. So I put a lot of time into it. It was one of the more extensive repairs that I'd done, just because that glider so difficult to work on sales only like nine inches wide. So to work on the thing, I got to pull out a huge amount and ribs and Roz. So I spent a good part of a week, you know, on and off fixing that thing. And then I think I flew it once or twice here or just to kinda got to sort it out.
And then it went with Gavin rubbish Ord. And the first time I flew it there, the stab on the right side broke. So I, there was, there was mellow enough to top lens at once and I tried to do a fisherman's not and relaunched it again from that gap where the hanger waters launched down below, you're launching on peak above the hand glider gap, old launch. And I landed at once there and everything.
The landing went right where I launched again and it broke again right away. And typically I'm launching really early, right when it's starting to crack off. And usually the first one off. And the second time I came in to land, and that was just like, Nope, you're not going to land here. And just like slow and let me know, 30 miles an hour to go in to that broken shell stuff. I was like, no, I'm not, not going to land to us up here and fix it again. So we're not to the landing zone and got their pretty high. This is good and cracked off.
And I just get to the landing zone and just kinda relax. And there's a big thermal. So I climb and, and, and, and I look over and I'm level with the top of the gaggle over launch. So it's like, all right, fuck. It, there's a road that heads dead north. And it goes to a liquor store. So I went there and still at eight, nine Grande. And every time I'd push on the Balrog to tips just like wants to make this big flopping sound and the whole stabs lines trailing and the breeze. And, and so we get to the north end of, of the hysteria area and stupid high.
And, and I stop over this liquor store cause Lynda knew where that was. She had driven force before and, and, and I climbed out they're before. And so I climbed up there and then it went to that big mined where the windmills are, are north of the Victerville airport. And I got to kind of lo there, but, and circled out. And when to back up 10 grand there, and it was looking at slash Axe was thinking maybe it'll land and slash Alex. And I got there and, and now its like, boom. And I wouldn't even think about going down to anywhere near slash shucks.
So I just continued onto the north side of Barstowe and north end to Barstow right there where the town is hear, and then the Daggett and Marine base as their, and the road goes off to Calico and there's 30 miles of nothing on the 15th. So I auger down there and I'm just like, no, and I ain't going farther than this. So I just spiraled down there and landed. And it was dead. It was like swirling. There's nothing, there's no end. There's a 10 foot by 50 foot. American flag was like glued to the pole. When I came in and lands 100 degrees is hot, high density, altitude, you know, come in and land to Enzo to pack it up and go get ice cream sandwich, ATT Arco station.
And the guy was a really kind to me and letting me use their phone. And I called the to retrieve driver and we got Linda on your way and sat down and the shape of this abandoned restaurant to eat my ice cream sandwich. It was
Speaker 3 (1h 55m 44s): 20 minutes later that that flag moved. So I got there 20 minutes ahead of the westerlies and that glider without ever used in the bar and more than about third. And then, and with the westerlies came in and you're in a couple other guys I'm sitting there and here they come and go in the flag cycles once and then just kinda stays slightly rough one out to the west 20 minutes after I hit the ground in that glider.
So that to me is astounding. You know, I'm at the top on that thing. And 20 minutes ahead are the westerlies trim. This is crazy. I want to fly on one of these gliders against I absolutely eighties high-performance and gliders. So I'd like to get somebody like get you guys and go out and do you want to make my, my old key post and hang gliders as go do some racing that would be to see without and be like, I want to take the GSX to have the GSX here.
I want to take that and glide that against a mojo, because I think a mojo was smoked at GSX. And not only that, the mojo will basically the worst possible malfunction. You can basically go to sleep and the thing will reopen to her and less than 90 degrees. So that to me, it's really astounding, you know, and you can have to gliders to look pretty close to the same. I mean, the, the GSX has big wide open holes, kind of low aspect, chunky looking thing. The next to a mojo where the mojo will save your ass, where the GSX is just wants to kill it.
So I remember first flying with you cause we at all known of you, but I don't think I really got to fly with you until I started hanging out with you. And then at Elsner back in the day and she had to his t-shirt this black t-shirt I remember. And it, it just was a black t-shirt with these white ladders in it's said, if you die and we split your gear and you just be setting up your shed on watch while we're in that shirt.
And now it's like, whoa, that's really just saying what no one wants to admit. And because there was a mentality that went with that because it was a totally true statement, but there was no, I felt with you, there was a, there was a seriousness to go and fly and, and, and acknowledgement of what could happen whenever you do go flying in.
And you know, that shirt was, was basically putting it out there and to open. If you're going to pull the shit out of the bag it's on and so on. If you don't mind
Speaker 4 (1h 58m 45s): Talking about your mental approach
Speaker 3 (1h 58m 48s): To flying well, my middle approach is my attitude.
Speaker 4 (1h 58m 60s): That's evolved from my history and the business. And I say business because I never really wasn't a sport.
Speaker 3 (1h 59m 9s): You know, I've always
Speaker 4 (1h 59m 11s): Been in the business and went right from my first year on the Raven to work in at Wellesley for seven years. And I went through a burnout phase and I got to experience witnessing death firsthand 1985 at Cheryl-Ann on the way up to grouse. And I was riding with Kels and we went off to the Shalani airport after a flying day on, on a non-flying day in and started playing around with the Duncan brothers had come out with the, the first prototype airborne trikes, and they were nice, big, heavy, powerful trikes.
And we all tried irritating. I tried Eero tell him we had no idea what we were doing. We had four loops of Bible, five leach line, 500 pound leach lines in four loop's as a weak link. And it was like MI in Canberra on handful of other guys, we were just going on. That looks about right and awful. I go, and I, I was like third and fourth, you know, he was there and they're a bunch of the top pilots were there. So I got to tow. And then Chris Bolger got to tow and Pendry was flying in the truck and they were out near the edge of, from the airport between the edge of the river.
There's like groves and then the edge and the river. And they were out over that edge and hits something lay the day is like way late in a day. And I just remember watching Kendrick on a lockout like this, and then right, just instantly, it just went like that. And then he popped off and the trike wanted to come up and go home and be like that. And I'm sitting there with me and Chrissy, Wayne or Stan in there about halfway through a 16 ounce can of Budweiser. And I watched this happen and I looked over at way and there were just boom, gone from a landing zone.
And I need to try, came in and hit the ground yet. And we're standing there when our phones in our house has a beer on her hand and everybody's gone going after the wreck. So I just thought I'll stay here. And, and what had happened is as soon as the truck tumble, Chris got spit out a 1500 ago and told to his death.
Speaker 3 (2h 1m 31s): So that's,
Speaker 4 (2h 1m 33s): That's one of those little things that goes in to the bank, you know, and then
Speaker 3 (2h 1m 39s): Paragliding, paragliding starts with, you know, Matsu and the hospital for six months. And that shit shows up in my desk in Elsinore. So right away, we know these things are dangerous. We know these things and put you on the hospital. And then the early years in Paragon was like the early years in handle and, and kill him three 40 people a year. And, you know, and in gliders were dangerous back then, you know, I crashed the racer and at Flagstaff broke my ankle and broke my back back and early 92.
So yeah, I know I was lucky walked away or I didn't walk away. I'm, I'm lucky I was able to walk after that because people we know Huey better pilots than me have it. And so, yeah, there's the discussion I had just recently with what Linda and dusty, dusty Rhodes as a guy here where I, I was doing and, and demo day is in 2001 when I went to work and Will's wanting to run the paraglide and department so on and swinging airway does to get a demo to sport their way of sports, a high B earlier in the day, but he wanted to fly to magic.
And Robert Kenzie said something to him that kind of warned them about it. Well, that'd be okay. I'll just flight late. And I'll five 30 in August day is exactly late. And he got a couple hundred over and took a big, hit, went around twice in slat and hurt himself really bad, you know, and then, you know, Linda's hurt herself really bad, had some bad crashes and hang-gliding, and I just thought about, you know, I think about all the time here we are on the margins of more than 9 million people in the 10th largest financial power in the world is right there and were on the edge.
And me, you, Linda, how many people out of that would take a hit like that and come back. It's like me, you, him, Linda. That's how many out of 9 billion people that, that brings me to tears. When I think about who we are and what we'd done to get here, you know? And it's like, I don't want to see my friends heard. Yeah. Yeah. And if I had to wear a t-shirt, if that's sort of not political, correct.
And yeah. And then it's worth it. You know, if I, I have to appear to be a monster to some people and frighten them away, it's worth it because I'd rather them be afraid of me than have to pick them up off the ground and sell their gear, you know, fix their, their req and stuff. And I just, you know, how do you address that? How do I look at myself as the guy that provides the gear to someone that gets her? You know, if I could go back in and avoid that I would, but you can't, there's no going back.
So what do I do going forward? I'd make no illusions that what we're doing suspending ourselves under a puffy bag of mostly air under string is extremely dangerous and you can make it safe, but you have to work hard to make it say there's a whole bunch of work and wisdom that has to go in and to being saved. And you're never gonna be safe flying to Paris daughter and midday convection. Okay. And what you say, I watched a video of coming into land and Chalan, you know, where his glider does the snake, 30 feet off the ground, you know, and I've had that happen.
Watch friends here, get heard on Mojo's. And that, that the, the Cardinal sin of letting the thing turn, I've watched a guy here coming in and doing S turns behind the candy cane there. And the thing takes a 50% collapse, which, you know, is on a mojo. You should be able to keep it straight, but he didn't, you know, it turned 90 and pitched down and broken female. And just that aviation likes to seize incredibly unforgiving on those small mistakes.
And yeah, how you, if I can wear a t-shirt that impresses people of the reality, what we're doing, that's cheap and it's free. It doesn't cost anyone, anything. So amazing group of people. It's a rare group of people that do this. And it's really amazing to see what you guys have been doing. No, as I never thought paragliding would go that far, you know, the fr that I had was buck Rogers, science fiction world compared to the generic and the random news 13 cell is just astounding.
There are 12 as like, oh my God, if you had pulled an R 12 hours in 1994, and what would people thought I've thought about that? It's just like, what would it have been like to pull one of these out of the bag conscious back then would have been unable to deal with the handling to start with. Yeah, probably, but still, you know, as you're zooming around on these things now, you're just like, yeah. These things go pretty darn good. And they don't collapse when they're relatively predictable.
But as a conversation that I had with Robbie after I bought the , we just thought, well, this is a fascinating circular paradigm shift. We've just experienced, you're aware in 1992, they gave me the, the GSX who has known and recoverable from more than about 60 to 70% collapse to put five CRI and test pilots in the drink before they thought let's give it to Mitch, he'll race it in a 92 nationals.
And, and so I called Rob and, and I emailed
Speaker 10 (2h 7m 36s): It back and forth with Rob a little bit after he got to our art and to, and, and so this has, this is a fascinating moment in history where we're now flying gliders that, or known and recoverable from big events, like 90 to GSX was known and to recoverable and big collapse events. And in his response was I loved my . I loved it. And just as long as I'm high, it's great to squat or whatever.
Speaker 7 (2h 8m 3s): Yeah.
Speaker 10 (2h 8m 6s): So it's like, he's not disagreeing with me, you know, and then, you know, your story too, we talked about how I got the where Vaya and what was it in 2014, it was 14 reserve deployments. And that was it. And as to men, we've got to have a CCC glass, no more open class glider. So, and next year, 2015 to 2016 with CCC gliders, there are 16 reserve deployments.
Speaker 7 (2h 8m 37s): Yeah. Yeah. I think the trends
Speaker 10 (2h 8m 40s): And was like 2010, 2011. And then, and to me, the glider smart to problem, you know, so you're not going to regulate the problem away, you know, cause of risk homeostasis. And I think the famous example of that was it was, it was like Romanian taxi drivers. So there was a certain accident rate that they had.
And so they gave them all antilock brakes. And for a short time, the accident rate went down and then it just started to go faster. And so then the accident rate.
Speaker 7 (2h 9m 24s): Yeah.
Speaker 10 (2h 9m 26s): So, so there's just a certain amount of risk that people are willing to accept. And so you can give them something safer, but if that's where the line that this particular group wants to go to, and they'll just start, you know, they'll start taking more risk. And so whatever safety you gave them will be negated by additional risk taking. And so you're not going to, you know, you're not going to regulate it away as much as you might try, but at the same time, I'm really impressed with the advances in gliders on that have happened even with the additional requirements.
But at the same time, you know, for the last couple of days we'd been flying with Mitch on, you know, the AR 12, I gave him and I have not seen the top of that glider
Speaker 7 (2h 10m 24s): Once I get completely taken to school yesterday as well.
Speaker 10 (2h 10m 30s): And so, you know, so, you know, that's the, of the open class
Speaker 4 (2h 10m 34s): Gliders or the last and the VA it's holla Madmax that I like to call it. It's still a magnificent glider. And I haven't seen you take one hit, and I know that glider solid, but that's a good glider. And, and what we're flying now, isn't any better than that is. And Nat glider is S like 2011, 2012. Yeah. And to hear it is 2021.
Speaker 2 (2h 11m 4s): Yeah. Mitch, can I ask you a question about the, going back to the t-shirt? That was totally the opposite answer I was expecting. And what I mean is, in, in my eyes, you guys were a different caliber of taking on risk. You know, the early generation like you guys did was just cowboy. And, you know, we're always talking about safety and risk and fear and on the show.
And it sucks. Sometimes I just feel like, God, are we just be in totally. We need to take, we probably need to take on more because of what these guys showed us that they had to do as your, is your generation just more willing to take on that kind of risk or was, was, was fear just as a big deal as it is for us now,
Speaker 4 (2h 12m 1s): I think it's as an individual thing. I don't know. I mean, I don't know how to answer that question really. I mean, I was 10 years late into hang-gliding development, right when I started and when I bought my radio and that glider was stability and load tested, right. And before that, all the principals at wills wing had gone through those ugly years, gliders that would love dive, you know, had structural problems. I mean, there were, you know, the 30 to 50 deaths per year in the United States was a Testament to how little people knew about hang-gliding and the early years.
And, and I've had this conversation too, and interesting in conversation with the few different people that the most analogous conversation. And I think too, to answer your question and be a conversation and I had with Tammie Berkhart and she was a female hand glider pilot that actually won and aerobatic contest, I'll tell you, right. And when I wasn't there, and one of the years that I was there, I think it was 99 that last year or somewhere in there. But I remember we were up on gold hill and late in the day for that evening run and it was light and, or like starting to count it back down the front.
So we decided to launch off the back and to bear Creek. And she had a pod harness with a side Mount reserve and went running down the backside of where the flag is and to kind the lower part of the gold hill launched area. And you got to about 75 feet or that super steep one, two, one, and then there's a road cuts. So there's a notch, right. And to know when and a handler to come up on that really fast. So she runs off their, and on the way down, the reserve catches on one of the rear wires.
So she has to kind of let go with one hand at foreign, with a hang glider, approaching that road cut and kind of mushy as the glider over the road, cut, and then unhooks the wire from the reserve container and flies away. And Percy's to like show herself for like, for years, like it really bothered him. And, and then another few years later, when I was trying to find accent, mark ACS, to, to do an interview with you, I, I talked to her because she she'd been, she meant going out or, or living with Alex.
And when to oxygen in Santa Barbara, before you went to go and take care of is mom and Albuquerque. And when I contacted her to find mark, she just goes, Hey, Mitch. She tells me the story about that and how it really fucked with her head for a long time. And I thought about that for a few seconds. And I realized that that kind of shit happens to me all the time. I just deal with it, you know, like I've hopped off test production, test flights with wills, winging, and had stuff like that happen. Like the front pin comes out in my reserve.
I got to push to reserve back in and, and fly down with one hand on the reserves or, and, and it's just all through my career. There has been a million different things where those little life and death things have happened and you just deal with it. Yeah. There, there maybe like a core group of fringe lunatics who are willing to jump into that level of unknown and just deal with it, you know, and that's one of the things that I think is really different now about what's happened with paragliding is that there's, this really, there's a bigger separation between getting the glider and going flying in hang-gliding and there isn't paragliding, and he can just get the glider and go flying.
And so you don't get like 20 years of Laura and history and the, the extended training period and stuff. You're just like your in the air, you bought your gear and it's, it's still smells new and your flying and, you know, a couple of hours at ground handling you to do on a sled ride off the hill, late in a day. And so, you know, how can someone mentally prepare themselves for the really big chaos that happens in mid day convective lift? There's, there's such a huge gap between the early years of any kind of flying and convective air.
And the reality of have mid day in August and the dangerous, so orders of magnitude different. You can train for it by flying all the time, but you can never train for the chaos when it happens like that flight with, with JC off of mazurka with Rick Nasser's and I was flying the axis, I'd been production test line for several years. I come into land and I'm slowing down and trying to hit this little salt pans about this big like that.
And I'm just about to flare like that. And the glider goes up 10 or 15 feet and turns 90 degrees, and it spits me out and then going that way, and like with Paragon, like the video of Kanisha land and it at, at the show in Lakeside park, it's like, you can't train for that. You can train for it by doing maneuvers and everything like that, but you can't train for a wad and 25 and 30 feet AGL it's, it's like, no, I do have to have confidence and the ability and the training to deal with that stuff.
And if you're not, if you don't have that and if you do, and then I think you're operating insides, a delusional world where sooner or later, the illusion of safety is going to be shattered, either that, or you'll go your whole career and be lucky, you know, I've been unlucky, I I've slammed in and 90 to, you know, launch and the racer off and Miriam crater and, and managed to do, to meet in the island and never had an accident.
You know, both of those meats in 91, 92 on Thursday, it was on driving up three and 95. And there's a helicopter pulling a body off a gunner launch both times, you know, and I'm not good at launching. And that was Patrick's grew, took a from right off a launch in 91. And you forget somebody else to take a big wad write-off to launch in 92 and both years, there were really bad accidents there, but somehow I survived, you know, I did 3,500 for nearly 3000 foot plunge, right next to Gunter and 92 on, on the GSX.
And it was 11 five just crossing over the middle of the canyon, south of Gunnar way behind the lead gaggle and a, the thing wanted to, and I looked up just in time to see about five cells and the tip twists over my head. And then the thing goes back and I fall, and then in pitches forward, and, and I was doing this back spinning fall with the Rogers twisted thing for 2,500 feet going right down the middle of the canyon to the south of Gunnar. And I got on twisted and got the thing out level with launch, and then flew out the canyon, you know, crap, myself, and cleaned my shorts out.
Marcus Meyer, the Smith brothers were landing on the spine right next to the south of Gunnar to affect, to fetch a badly injured Marcus Meyer when the top German pilots. Yeah.
Speaker 3 (2h 19m 29s): I got exposed to so much death and injury and mayhem in the early years. There's no way I can escape it or remove it from my collective consciousness and the paragliding and, and our, see what's going on here now with the recreational crew or the van load of 13 people, it goes up at three o'clock in the afternoon with Mojo's and they all survive year after year after year. It's, it's amazing, but it's a Testament to, you know, Russ in and the guys that and ozone and all the guys that were involved in designing gliders, that they've designed something to fit that market that saves people's lives.
And that the crew here, you know, Marcello and know, and, and all the guys that are training here have a good enough understanding of, of what low time pilots can do on a glider like to mojo are on high, a low B you know, a level of gliders to where they're pulling out off. And that's that, wasn't my history. And the early gliders that I grew up with, like were not safe to fly mid day, not even close.
And now this is a whole different world. You can fly a glider like the mojo in mid day to be relatively low, skilled, and survive way better than 99% of the time. And that's enough to keep a small handful of instructors going here. And so, you know, given all that, what he's still doing, because it's flying and flying.
When I was a kid, I had a recurring dream of running off in Newport bay, Clif and waking up in, in mid-air at the edge everyday I fly. And every day I get a good client and it makes static GIDE and laughing. And I'm like, when I was circling around with you, no, it wasn't you. It was, I was circling around with that and Gavin over the arrow head. And that's just, to me, that's just spectacular when I'm with people like that.
And we in lift and we struggle from below the terrain to way above the terrain. And you get that, that last 500 to a thousand feet where the lift tends to coalesce right before his, to the top of the inversion. You know, it's just like that last little kick in the past. It's like, fuck yeah, you got it. And you're in it. And you know, are top and out. And I just love that. I love getting up to the top of the inversion, looking over the top of the Oreo cookie is like, yeah, this is as high as it goes. And I can see, I can see over the top.
And it has a clear air above the inversion. Just all those things are just, I think what the human species should be living for because paying a mortgage and working in a, as an insurance broker is not what you're supposed to live for. Then I could come up with a whole list of things that everybody out there does. That is not what you're supposed to live for. It's like they're living for the weekend so they can go ride a dirt bike or relax and watch TV all weekend or something.
But it's like, I'm jumping off a mountain and going to miles up in the air with nothing but the energy of the sun and a bag of nylon. I'm not going to trade that for anything not ever. So Sumo was here and he's like 78 and he's still doing it. And he's doing this air hug thing. And it's like, every time he comes out and fly, he's like one of the last ones to land and stuff like that. And that's what I want to be doing on a Xeno. And about 10 years, something like that, because what else am I going to do?
Sit here and watch TV, play video games. That's not living. And it's like, no, you have to get to a lot to hang gliding history for. We could get to know to the philosophy of the man. And so, you know, cause not everybody can put it like match and put it when it comes to, I would say mental toughness and sort of the attitude to bring, to flying considering what's at stake.
And there's a lot at stake, obviously when you're in the, when you're in the learning phase and there was a host of bond knowns, you know, you don't know what you don't know. So to the outside, it can appear to be way more reckless or cavalier than it is just because hindsight's always 2020. And what I learned from Mitch in the early days is that, you know, every time that thing comes out of the bag, it can kill you.
And if you're not approaching the sport, just like that, you're not approaching the sport the right way. And being at the burn hand teaches best. You often have to learn that lesson the hard way and, and Mitchell to already learned it the hard way before, before I, but I would say hanging out with him was sort of, you know, it was, it was a wake-up call. So in reality check and I had already had a lot of the experience as a climber butt flying was knew.
And it turns out, you know, at least back in the day with flying, it was even more important to come with the right attitude. Then the state climbing's in at the time, which was far more mature. And I totally agree that maybe that attitude is a bit lost now that the sport has matured in the glider. Seven proved quite a bit, but you know, the risk is still there on just because we're doing more than we ever have before.
Which means that as the gear became more capable, you know, we pushed the fucking boat out a little further. So the attitude and the approach has to be the same. And then we've all gotten, I would say our tests to fire, I've only broke in my neck, wants to do to paragliding, but nothing else gives you peace. And so this, you know, it, you can do in life. You may never find peace.
You may never find something that gives you peace. And when you find something that gives you peace, it's the whole point of living. And if there's risk associated with it. So be it because it's to special to let go, and you're not going to find peace again, if you let it go. And then if, if that is what you lose, and what's the point of living miss out a special Phil, thank you want to treat .
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