Episode 162- Clemens Ceipek and Flying Gliders, Seeking Understanding, and playing Chess in the Air

Clemens Ceipek is an Austrian Sailplane pilot who lives in Boulder, Colorado. He’s the president of one of the premiere gliding clubs in the world and runs an absolutely terrific website dedicated to spreading knowledge and improving pilot ability called “Chess in the Air” that is filled with fantastic in-depth articles that cover the full gamut of flying. Why do some pilots improve very slowly and others get good really fast? Clemens says it’s in the approach. We cover the value of using the Condor flying simulator, studying theory, understanding forecasting as well as many of the topics Clemens tackles on his website: assessing risk, complacency, reducing attrition in new pilots, creating sufficient margin, goal setting, flying in rotor, using the correct bank angle, thermal entry, identifying triggers and convergence, flying SPECTACULAR lines, the most common mistakes that end badly, and a ton more. This was a really, really fun talk with a super passionate sailplane pilot who approaches the chase seriously. This one will make you ponder the possibilities. Enjoy!

Clemens has an EXCELLENT YouTube channel that is really worth following: https://youtube.com/c/ChessInTheAir

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Topics we discuss on the show:

  • Getting into it
  • Accidents- 90% can be eliminated
  • It’s all in the study and planning
  • The Condor simulator
  • Flying lines and not turning
  • Wave
  • Setting goals
  • Competition
  • How to see the sky
  • Flying fast
  • Flying SPECTACULAR lines
  • Perlan
  • The Sierra Nevada
  • The ultimate crossing

Mentioned in this show:

Gary Osoba, Soaring the Sky, Chuck Fulton, Chrigel Maurer, Eduardo Garza, Stewart Midwinter, Klaus Ohlman

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Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem, happy new year, and a welcome to 2022 until 2022 is a little kinder to all of us. Then in the last couple of years have been, but to kick off this new year, I've got a great show for you today. That's again, quite a bit different than stuff we've done in the past was on the soaring, the sky podcast recently. And they had me on as a guest, which is dedicated to glider pilot sailplane pilots.

And one of the guests that had been on their show reached out to me, Clemens Ceipek. He lives down in the Boulder Denver area now and flies there, but he's an Austrian sailplane pilot and fascinating individual. And he got into sailplanes a long time ago and then went away from it for also again, a long time, and then came back to it about four years ago. And he's got a blog and video series and has just really chased it hard and really figured a lot of things out.

So he's been listening to this podcast lately and, and reached out and was pretty fascinated with the, you know, the various differences and similarities between the two ways of aviation. So we talk, talk about risk tolerance and weather and finding lines and just all the differences I haven't flown in a sail plane. I'd love to, and I need to, but we just kind of dug into both of each other's worlds and really enjoyed it.

And I've needed to get a lot more sailplane pilots on the show. So here you go. Enjoy this talk with Clemens Ciepek Clemens. Welcome to the may have I'm excited to have this conversation with you. We kind of got connected through Chuck Fulton's show soaring the sky. I did a podcast with him recently and he recommended we have a chat about flying sailplanes and I think you, you heard that show and you caught a few things that may have been not exactly true, cause I don't know anything about flying, sell planes.

So, and I've always wanted to, and I've always been super fascinated with them because I've, I fly with next to and very briefly next to sail planes in the Alps all the time. It's super popular over there. We don't see them much in my part of the world, but king mountain is a big site here, you know, and they have a fly in, they used to have a fly in every year. I'm not sure if they still do, but anyway, welcome to the show and I'm excited to talk to you.

Speaker 2 (2m 51s): Yeah. Well, thanks Gavin for having me. This is it's super exciting. I also just got hooked up with the show through jock. I actually wasn't even aware, so this is how much we fly into the sky with together with paragliders and sailplanes planes all the time, but we still typically don't don't talk to each other very much. And I I'm SU I listened to a few of your episodes since super exciting. And I'm like, yeah, this is, this is really cool stuff. And so I'm going to be a fan of your show for sure.

And I'm, I'm super excited to, to, to be here. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1 (3m 27s): Yeah. I've always just, you know, I think we're going to delve into, you know, your, your progression and what you've learned flying sailplanes and you know, we we're, we've emailed back and forth a little bit about, you know, it seems like the difference about five X, you know, in terms of distance covered and speed and all that, which sounds about right. But you, you don't F let's start here. You're I believe you're sitting in Boulder, Colorado, my Alma mater. And, but you don't sound like you're from the states. What's your, what's your history.

Speaker 2 (3m 58s): Yeah. And I'm, I'm, I'm originally from Austria. So that's where I grew up. And I actually learned to fly gliders in Austria that my license, when I was 16 flew probably by, for about five years at the time. And then, you know, then Korea got in the way and the family and global and stuff. And, you know, I had to move to places where you don't really fly gliders like London and Paris. And, you know, Minnesota is not a super great place to fly glider either.

So, and then I was in Ohio for a while. So it, it just, it's just didn't work for a while, but then I'm like, you know, reached a point in my life where I'm like, ah, this is what I wanted to do all the time. And I'm going to go back to it. And this time I've got to do it really, and I'm doing it seriously. I'm putting a lot of time into it. I probably, I learned, you know, this it's like a full-time job now for me, because I'm also club president here in Boulder. So I'm, I'm super, I'm super into it, bought my own plane a few years ago and I've been doing some, some really cool flights in a, in progress pretty quickly.

I also put up a YouTube channel tasting the year.

Speaker 1 (5m 12s): I saw that and she gets really some terrific content

Speaker 2 (5m 15s): There. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's, it's very technical content. It's really for glider pilots, it's, it doesn't really meet the entertainment need as much as a, as you know, for the general public. I haven't figured that out, but I I've just, I've used all my writings and, and videos to progress myself, quite frankly. So I used it to learn and I learned so much from going back and analyzing my flights. And especially when I fly with, you know, we have bunch of national champions, well champion containers out here in Boulder.

And you know, if we fly together and I will go back and, and look at, you know, what exactly were the differences? What did they do better than I did? And where did I actually make the better decisions? And that really helped me tremendously to progress very quickly. So, I mean, I'm now flying nationals and it's, it's been, it's been a lot of learning in a very short period of time. And I think at this point, it's, it's super exciting. I'm also finding that a lot of people now look at, look at this and say, yeah, that's I really like that.

I wanna, I want to do that too.

Speaker 1 (6m 26s): It's take me through the kind of steps of progression with, with sailplanes when, when you, when you start and you start learning, is it just is again, I'm pretty.

Speaker 2 (6m 40s): Yeah. It's, it's quite interesting because what you are being taught and I don't know if that's the same paragliding, but what are you being taught in gliding is basically just to take off and land safely. Okay. That's really what you're taught. It's like, you know, it's your, your to get your license. And I mean, it usually takes, it can take, if you go to a school and you want to do it really intensely, it takes about two weeks to get it done. But for the most part, if people do it in a club environment, it's, it's several months and, and, and all they learn in that period is really taking off and landing.

They have learned nothing about soaring. So, so to get your license. Yeah. I mean, yeah, sometimes you might have flown in the Thermo with an instructor and the instructor might have told you, oh, this was a thumb, but it's, you haven't really learned anything. So you get your license and you're a pilot and you haven't really learned anything other than, you know, you can control your plane and you can, you cannot operate in an airport environment, you know, how to use your radio and your instruments.

And you know how, you know, you have your license, install prevention and, you know, pat on the altitude and operating in an airport environment, that those sort of things to operate safely. That's what you've learned, but you haven't learned soaring.

Speaker 1 (8m 2s): So it sounds like, is that, you know, is that initial instruction, we would call that our P two, you know, you're getting your, your novice license where you can fly without an instructor is when you do that in the sailplane world, is it quite similar to learning how to fly a small airplane? You know, you're you, because you're, you know, we don't, we don't get as much of the airspace training because we're not dealing with it as much. We deal with it. Of course, especially if you're in, in Germany or you're in the flatlands in Europe, you've got to, you know, aerospace is a big thing. We start flying cross country, but it sounds like it's kind of the, a lot of theory and

Speaker 2 (8m 38s): The theory. Yeah. There's a lot of theory. And the theory is very similar to the airplane theory. So in fact, you learn a lot of things that you have to do in the U S in particular, much more so than in Europe, in the us, you have to learn all the rules that affect airplanes, even though you will never come across some of those rules, like, how do you, how do you stop short other, other runway lines? How do I stop short, wait for red for takeoff? I mean, doesn't that, but he learned a lot of stupid things that actually never have any material application in your, in your real soaring, but, but the real learning, honestly, the real owning only starts once you're done with the license.

And then, and then you're basically on your own, unless you have mentors or coaches or friends who help you along the way, there is no formal, there's no formal progression from there other than, you know, there's, you're encouraged to do some badges and you get some recognition around it, but there is no, no more teaching, no formalized teaching around it. So you basically on your own. And so it, it, it, we lose a lot of people in the sport after they have done the basic license, because they don't know how to progress from there.

Speaker 1 (9m 52s): We'll be talking to a paragliding instructor right now. You just said exactly what I hear from all the instructor. I mean, we, we call that, you know, the whole nest thing, you just, you know, they get just enough information to, to get out of the nest, but you don't really teach them that much about going somewhere.

Speaker 2 (10m 10s): That's exactly right. Really

Speaker 1 (10m 12s): There's the attrition rate in our sport is massive because of that. And that's, that's our, that's the theory anyway is cause you just, you know, you're, you're kicking somebody out when they know just enough to be really dangerous.

Speaker 2 (10m 23s): Yeah. And I'm passionate enough that I don't want that to happen. Right. So I think that's part of what I'm my own personal interest is helping people not to get stuck in that, in that phase. And actually helping them jump over that over that hoop. But we've created a lot of good content and, and we really at, at Boulder, we're one of the tops or in clubs in the world, we are, we are it's, it's in the us, we're one of the top clubs, but then we compete. For example, we compete at, at a club level competition worldwide against it's an online that you basically upload your flights.

And there is a world speed league where basically the way it's handled is that your flights get, get analyzed based on a two and a half hour duration in the flight where you have where six legs will count towards your distance that you found within those two and a half hours. And the average speeds that you achieve over that, over that distance will count towards your league score. And the way it's scored at the club level is that the on, I think it's like 19 consecutive weekends during the season, flights on weekends will count towards the league score.

And the top three scores from each club from different pilots each weekend will count towards the club score. And we, we were number three this year, worldwide out of 1000, some soaring clubs. And last year we were number two. So we're, we're, we're among the top scoring clubs in the world

Speaker 1 (11m 59s): That blows me away. I had no idea it was that strong in the U S that's amazing

Speaker 2 (12m 6s): The us isn't that strong. And so it's just that, you know, we're, we're, we're very good. The maintenance or club is exceptionally good. They were the number one. So I mean the Nevada and they fly in the Owens valley. So they're amazing conditions, especially for that type of flying. Moriarty's pretty good down in New Mexico. And then there are some, some clubs on the east coast, but east coast, they have, they basically have all the rich storing conditions where they can go really big distances, where they have to fly, you know, a hundred feet or 50 feet off the, of the trees for like six, seven hours at a time at V and E basically.

So these guys are, That's a very intense way of flying. Yeah. Versus our flag is, is much more, it's much, much high above the ground. Most of the time

Speaker 1 (13m 1s): I've had this theory that, you know, that the best in our sports, this guy Kriegel Mauer and, you know, he he's, he's famous for not turning. And it was very, very often on the terrain and, and using little bit to lift coming out of the trees. And, and you know, where I fly here in sun valley is very similar to the conditions you get in polar. You know, we get really tall and we go on these monster glides and your glides would be, you know, just ridiculous.

Speaker 2 (13m 30s): I've flown glides for 200 plus miles in one direction without making a turn and not one turn

Speaker 1 (13m 37s): Get out of here.

Speaker 2 (13m 41s): Especially we have these amazing convergence conditions where we have the westerly winds is blowing over the continental divide of the Rocky mountains. And we have thermals rising on the east side of the continental divide. And this term, these thermals are pulling in air from the planes. And so I've got a ground level flow that is coming in from the planes. And you've got the wind coming over the continental divide and where those two meets, that's where our convergence line sets up. It's an amazing convergence line.

You can go from the Wyoming border, you can go past Pike's peak and you basically don't turn,

Speaker 1 (14m 19s): Wow. Is the bees knees for you guys? Big FAI triangles is, I mean, that's, that's what we, you know, that's the holy grail of paragliding.

Speaker 2 (14m 26s): Yeah. Triangles are triangles are a big part of the sport because they're more complicated, right? Because you cannot just do yo-yos around the convergence line. So for us, for us, I love flying triangles because it's, it's a real challenge, especially in our conditions because now if for us to fly a triangle out into the planes, usually doesn't work, especially, we've got this big Danbury Essbase that is sitting right next to us. So for us to fly big triangle, we have to go far west from Boulder.

So, and so that basically means we have to cross multiple mountain ranges, especially if you want to fly like a seven 50 or so triangle. I mean, basically now you're now you're in Western Colorado. So you're taking off in Boulder. You fly maybe south towards Pike's peak, and now you, then you're heading over to where it's grand junction. And so you basically crossing multiple, multiple mountain ranges, and then other way, then you have to go do another triangle lake that goes more towards the Wyoming border.

You have to cross all those mountain ranges back, but in, and they have different configurations. And, and then you have to, you know, you'll have the conditions to, at the end of the day, make it back home

Speaker 1 (15m 40s): For you guys, for you guys is that, you know, you're in serious 14 or country there. If for you guys, is that a, is that a little puckering? I mean, we can find places to land.

Speaker 2 (15m 54s): We actually have one of the biggest club. Things is what we call the 14 day challenge. And it's a career challenge. So it's, it's a career challenge for all Colorado pilots or for anyone who wants it's open to any glider pilot in the world who wants to come fly in Colorado. We have this, we call it the 14 day challenge. You basically have to fly above all your older 14 is over your soaring, Korea, and you basically have to tack them all. And there's a sort of minimum distance around the peak. You have to be physically be above each peak and there's 58 of them.

And so you, you there's, there's only five people so far who have, who have completed it. I'm I'm well, on my way, I've got a few left. This, those are the hardest ones, but I'm still gonna laugh, but it's in, in within three years, I've, I've gotten the, I've gotten pretty high up there already. So, but that's, that's one of the coolest challenges we have out here is, is fly over all the 14. It's a super, super demanding and interesting.

Speaker 1 (16m 54s): Why, why can't you do the triangle out over the Plains? Why can't you just run the, run the east side of the, of the mountains and then punch it out and come back? Is it just too much? Westwind

Speaker 2 (17m 6s): No, it's not so much the way that the conditions over the Plains, they tend not to be that good. Quite frankly. I mean, there are times. Yeah, there are times when it's, it's fine. Well, there's, and there's a practical consideration. So for us, particularly in Boulder is we have this big Denver space, right. A class B airspace, and it's, it's pretty big. I mean, there's people that there are, people have flown around it around the airspace. And that's one of the kind of interesting flights you can do from here. You can try and fly around the 10 various space conditions.

Aren't super good usually. And it's, it's more wet, right? You got the, into the, the Platte river valleys, the north Platte, south Platte river valleys thermals don't tend to be as strong. They are not as reliable though. It gets more windy called basis. Tend not to be that high. The conditions over the mountains for us are usually way better than out in the Plains.

Speaker 1 (18m 3s): Interesting. Let me get back to my question. You know, when I was talking about Kriegel and gliding, so the, the, he would say that we're flying really inefficiently here by we're were turning too much half the time. You know, when you're turning half the time you're going the runway. Right. I know you don't, but I was just thinking about, you know, when you're, when you're doing these 14, you know, when you're doing the triangles up into the fourteeners, is that, you know, for us, you know, looking at a 20 K or even a 20, we often to have a 20 mile glide between one mountain range and the next, when we're going towards Montana, we got across all these mountain ranges.

And so, you know, we'll get real tall before we go across the flats. For the same reason, you just said that the flats, they, you know, in the middle of the day, you're going to find a climb somewhere across there, but they're not going to be, it's not as obvious, and it's not as easy. And, and they're not going to be as strong as the Mount. So we'll, we'll spend some time getting super tall, you know, get up close to class one. And, and then our class a, and then we'll go, and then we'll go on glide and hope we get to the neck, you know, we hopefully make it to the range. Whereas I feel like, you know, Kriegel, hasn't flown over here, but I feel like if he was here, he would have more of an outside approach where he would, you know, only get as high as barely eat it and then kinda just work it on a really good line and get the, you know, so I'm wondering if you've been able to, are you guys constantly trying to use more of the, kind of the terrain or you've got the glide where you just get tall and you stay tall?

Speaker 2 (19m 32s): We have, we usually have the glide in the Alps it's different and the conditions and the observation different. So I've flown quite a bit in, in Austria, too, in the Alps and in the Alps it's compared to the rockets. Very interesting. What I find in the Alps, you have very, very reliable lift around, along all of the spines. So you basically, as long as you stay right on top of the spine, you can usually go straight without having to turn. And, and here, it's not that obvious because the Cloudbase is so high and the thermal that distance between the ground and the Cloudbase, it's just, there's so much space in between that there is a disconnect that develops between what's happening at ground level and what is happening at the, at the Cloudbase level.

And that's why I think it Colorado in particular, it is not as, as easy as obvious to go straight along the spines. But in part, it may also be that we're not doing it. Number one, because we don't have to, because the clouds are so high so we can, you know, be, be up there. And it feels a lot more comfortable being up there. And number two is because so much of our terrain is so forbidding, right? So, so in Colorado don't have that many places where we can actually safely land.

I mean, we're, it's, sailplane pilots, we're mostly confined to airports. I mean, sure. You can go into a farmer's field, but every landing in the farmer's field means that there's a risk that you might damage your, your glider. Those gliders are pretty expensive. And then when they're damaged, they're also down for months at a time. So, so you really don't want to damage your glider.

Speaker 1 (21m 10s): What about back country airports are they, they find for you guys, dirt grass.

Speaker 2 (21m 15s): Most of them are not because most of them are tuned in the arrow near the narrow. And this is the biggest issue, right? We've got these long wings and they're pretty close to the ground. And everyone is, you know, most of the people who have these big back country airstrips, they built them for, you know, this, this big, big tire kind of back country airplanes that all have higher wings. He'll drag is with high wings. And so he landed glider there. The chances are, you're going to catch a tree or a Bush or something, right on final approach, or just as you, as you, as you touch down and you're touching down at 60 knots or 50 knots, you know, maybe 45 knots, but that's still a lot of speed and a lot of energy that has to get this burst.

So if you touch down and catch your wing, then this whole thing will, you know, I will turn around and chances are your tail. Boom is broken. So you don't want to, most of the back country strips. Aren't good. So I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at land bowl, places in Colorado, driven around to have a drone that I fly over fields to take them out and, you know, do measurements and Google earth. How wide is the, how wide is the runway, the Delt database of, of all the land of bull sites across Colorado, that I personally am feeling comfortable.

I can use, you know, making it available to other people, but obviously, always that they own at their own risk. I mean, things, things change so quickly too. So, but yeah, most cup must bear country airports. Aren't aren't very good. Okay.

Speaker 1 (22m 51s): Take me back. Th the people that you were talking about that get into it first, how much does it cost? If somebody is listening to this going, man, I really want to get into flying sale place.

Speaker 2 (22m 60s): It totally depends on whether they have evolution background or not. So if you're a paraglider, a hang glider pilot, or you're a, a, an airplane pilot, actually I think hand glider and paraglider pilots will probably make the fastest transition quite frankly, because for them, you know, if you're good at it already, you already understand how this thing works, you know where to find lift. So then it's more about the mechanics of controlling a sailplane. And I mean, you know what it is that you're controlling, essentially, it's not going to take you a long time to figure it out.

So typically it takes a, you know, somewhere between, you know, 20, it could be 20, 30, 40 flights with an instructor. These are usually short pattern flights where you just learn to control this thing. Then you fly your solo flights until your instructor is comfortable with you getting the license. It varies, greatly, usually gets, usually gets more expensive for the older you get, because it takes people more time. Kids learn it quicker. It's a, it's a few thousand dollars usually until you get the license.

And then if you are in a, in a, in a club environment, you don't have to have your own plane. I mean, it depends on the club, right? I mean, we're one of the, you know, the that's also one of the distinguishing features of Boulder is, is we're just an amazing club. We have, you know, two, we have two very strong, you know, top state of the art Tuesday does, and we have two state of the art, high performance, single seaters as club aircraft. So all of our members can fly those cup gliders and, and that's really cheap to do, but if, if, even if you want to own your own, the costs vary dramatically, right?

So you can get a good sail plane, you know, a decent sale plant. It used to be world-class level for 20, $30,000. But if you could buy, you could also buy a new state of the art competition glider that you would buy right now to be top of the line that gets up to 250, 300,000 for a thousand dollars. So that the range is pretty wide, but you can have, you, can you have just as much fun in the $20,000 then you have in a $300,000.

Speaker 1 (25m 17s): And is that technology changing pretty rapidly or is it just microscopic, you know, improvements

Speaker 2 (25m 25s): It's it's in stages. I think at this point it's more fine tuning. The latest generation of gliders that came out over the last five years is maybe as a 2% impor three to three, 4% performance improvement over the prior generation. If you want to win in the world, when, when internationals two, three, 4% is not that much, right.

Speaker 1 (25m 54s): For us, it'd be quite a bit

Speaker 2 (25m 56s): In percentage terms. It's not glide points. Yeah. I mean, my, my glad is, for example, Michael had is 17 years old. It's the prior generation, I've got a glide ratio of 48 to one. I could get a new one at the top line. They would be at maybe 56 to one, something like that in 18 meter class. But the, I, I, you know, I've done some math on it in comparison flights. I don't believe that those differences are as great as that difference. So I would say it's, it's a few percentage points.

Speaker 1 (26m 26s): You can beat the guys on there. Just make a couple better decisions. And you're fine

Speaker 2 (26m 30s): If you're, if you're making the better decisions you are, the glider is, the glide is secondary. It's the pilot that counts.

Speaker 1 (26m 37s): Cool. All right. So when you come through with the club provides the planes, you play pay your club dues and you have access to these.

Speaker 2 (26m 47s): Yep. Cool.

Speaker 1 (26m 50s): And is it growing

Speaker 2 (26m 51s): Worldwide? It's, we're, we're, it's a, the sport worldwide is not growing. We actually have a pretty good demand out here. Last year. We had some bottlenecks with instruction because of COVID. So we actually had a long wait list of people wanting to join the club and getting trained stuff. And we have, you know, this, some capacity constraints at the airport, but by and large, I think we, we don't have a lot of issues attracting people.

And there's, there's a lot. We also have a lot of former, particularly hand glider pilots. Who've got a lot of hang glider pilots that wanting to join the sport of soaring. Once they reach an age where they're no longer comfortable that they are, that their lakes are legs are on the appropriate landing gear and substitutes. So that's, you know, our chief flight instructor is a former hand glider teacher and the school think school is also very strong, sailplane racing contender.

So, yeah, it's a, it's, there's a lot of interests and we don't have that problem. There's, there's a lot of clubs actually in the country that struggled, but we're not one of them. Okay.

Speaker 1 (28m 10s): Ah, great. Back to learning the, you know, you said you learned when you were younger, when you were 16, you got your license, flew some, and then you left it for 25 years and you've come back to it with this just dedication and passion. When you went from that newbie, you know, you're coming back to it and you're just getting tossed out of the nest. What would be some advice to people in that same position to get to where you are now?

What, what's a, what's a rapid way to, we always talk about in paragliding, there are no shortcuts. It's just, it's just time and currency and, you know, studying everything you possibly can if you're not getting the hours, but you know, there's obviously training and you can do, you know, you, you can, you can get there fast, but you've got to do all the work. There's no short, you know, there's, there's no, you know, there's, there's not a, I don't know how

Speaker 2 (29m 8s): Yeah, there is, there is no, there is no, there's no substitute for flying experience. That is, that is definitely true. But I think there is, there's a lot of pilots who have been pilots for 20 years and have not made a lot of progress. Versus there are pilots that can make a huge amount of progress in a few years. And I think there is a personal attitude that you have towards, it makes a huge difference. And whether you actually really invest the time and the energy to understand what is going on in the atmosphere, how exactly is it working?

There's a lot of studying that you can do. That's actually, the theory really actually makes a big difference, right. But it's not the theory that you learned from the glider flying handbook on it. You know, it's like, like government publications, you have to go well beyond that and, and really try to understand what is it that, that makes this thing work. Right. And really try to understand the atmosphere. There is what we're lucky we have desert gliding. You probably have heard about this, the conduits to wearing simulator.

It's a, it's a, it's basically a computer simulator for glider flight that is developed for competition, glider flying. And it's also an e-sport platform. And it's, it's actually a pretty serious e-sport platform. So I would recommend to anyone who wants to fly gliders, that is a great tool for progression simply because there are certain things like, for example, thermal entry and keeping the right bank ankle, keeping the speed, keeping the, you know, staying centered or making centering corrections, you can do this perfectly in the simulator.

And there is there isn't that isn't that different quite frankly from the real life. So if you can do this well in the simulator, you can probably do it well in real life. So if that's a, that's a big difference because in, in that, because it's, it's, cost-free, you can do it every day. So worrying whether on the simulator is good every single day, or, I mean, you can just basically put in the weather that you want in the simulator, right? So you put in the parameters that you want to use.

It's not perfect, right by nose, by any stretch of the imagination, it's not perfect. It doesn't have it in the current generation. Doesn't have convergence. It doesn't have thunderstorms. It doesn't have, the wave is still not very good, but thermals are pretty good. You know, Ridge, if is exceptionally well done, maybe a little bit too strong than it is than in real life. But, but, but there's a lot of things that are very, very similar and that is something you can practice with. And I find, I found that super useful.

So I actually did a SIM before I came back, I did some simulator flying and I got into the plane. And after 25 years of not sitting in a glider, they basically said, oh, you can still do this. I'm amazed. So I was basically back into it on day one, just because I had done maybe two, 300 hours on the simulator.

Speaker 1 (32m 21s): These can you get in the condor and flight to do a flight simulation anywhere in the world?

Speaker 2 (32m 28s): I mean, there's, there's, there's people, there's volunteers that are creating sceneries and those are photorealistic sceneries. It's a lot of work to volunteer work people. That's a hugely committed community towards doing this stuff. And then there's, multi-player racing every single day. So if somebody wants to be committed and doing multi-player racing, you can, you can fly, you know, at the super high level. I mean, this, these guys are just as good as the top. World-class swearing glider pilots in the world to understand the simulator.

And I think if you're, if you're, if you're a top on the simulator, there's, there's no doubt in my mind that you can get into a glider and with, you know, after the basic instruction and learning how to operate in airport to count it, doesn't teach you that stuff very well. Right. It's, it's really more about the flight itself and dealing with decisions. You know, how far can I glide? How do a final glide calculations? How do I do, how, how do I do the, the family?

What is the tactic? When do I fly fast? When do I fly slow? How do I switch gears? Which side of the, you know, on which side of the ridges will I find lift, where will the lift come up? This is really well marked. And I would, I would seriously suggest anyone who wants to make, make this well, this is definitely a great boost in speed. Maybe not a shortcut, but a great boost in speed.

Speaker 1 (33m 58s): Wow. That's

Speaker 2 (33m 59s): Fascinating. And I know there's, there's people who are pressuring the condor people to, to, you know, create some modules to like to open it up for paragliding. And for,

Speaker 1 (34m 9s): I know paragliders use it a lot to see terrain beforehand. One of my friends that were in the ex ops with me a talked about that, that he kept going through the course over and over again. And of course the speed's not correct.

Speaker 2 (34m 21s): Fantastic to learn. Yeah. So when I flew, for example, I flew last year in the 18 million nationals in Neefa in Utah. And this was condo is a perfect way to learn to scenery. So when I, when I showed up there, I, I knew what a mountain ranges, where I knew, you know, I knew the terrain and you have how wide the gaps were and you were, the terrain transitions would become a problem because you had to go, you have to go. For example, if you go across the vast, such plateau from the, from the, the east side to the west side, you fly into rising terrain and you have a sense of how wide that is and you how high you have to be on the east side.

So you can make the safe transition over the west side without getting stuck on top of the plateau, which would be not a good, not a good place to be. No.

Speaker 1 (35m 10s): Yeah. We don't want to land in the UNCs, either this, a friend of mine, Stuart Midwinter back in the day, flew all of it, flew, hang gliders paragliders or, you know, early, early paragliders and sail planes. And he reached out after that, the show I did with Chuck on the story in the sky podcast and said that he, he saw back in the day, I'm curious for you what you're seeing now, that foot launch pilots. So, you know, paragliders and hang gliders will, are way more comfortable, banking it up and sail planes than pilots that just get into sale plans.

They don't have any of that experience. There. They're more comfortable in the cockpit using the air. Does that make sense? They're they, they get it faster now, obviously I, that makes sense that they get it faster because they know what, how it all works. And the principles are all exactly the same. But if you also seen that, that they, that they thermal differently. In other words, he was, he was postulating that they definitely core tighter that they're willing to.

Speaker 2 (36m 16s): Yeah. Interesting. Yeah, that is true. So paragliders and tank gliders coming into sailplane flying. They have a better sense. They have a, definitely a much better appreciation where the thermal originates off the ground. So, and that is because when you start off with sailplanes, your instinct is never to be close to the ground because we just, we just can't be and be safe, right. Because we have to keep a glider, a lendable spot in glide. And even though, yes, our glide is way farther than, than, than in hand gliders, a pair of Gladys, the it's, it's still hard to find, you know, keeping the airport in glide keeps you usually further off the ground.

And also because our highest speed requires a much greater turn radius to begin with. We, this there's usually not. It's, it's very difficult to get that sense where exactly the thermal generator is, is coming off the ground. Usually you're finding it somewhere out under the clouds. Most of the time you're actually orienting yourself by the clouds, if not by the ground. It's, it's rare that especially in the early years, when people start to glide that they, that they focus on the ground, they focus more on the clouds, especially out here in the, in the, in the Western us where the cloud-based is, are as high as they are.

But if the hand glass, all those foot lounges, right. That you described, well, you start on the ground. Right? So, so of course, you've got to look for thermals based on the terrain and not on the clouds. It's not like you go up on the, on the hog, back here in Boulder, you look up into the sky and say, oh, that's a nice Cumulus up there at 18,000 or 20 2020 2000 feet. I'm going to launch right now because it's up there that he can't, he can't do that. So, you know exactly, you know, this, no, can this cranny and this, these rocks, that's where the lift is probably going to come from.

And most glider pilots don't think that way. Most, especially not at the beginning, it's a, it's a progression and you have to deliberately get there. And then even if, you know, that's where it is. So I, that happens to me all the time when I'm flying is I'm like, there is probably a thermal coming off these rocks, and then I fly. Then I noticed there is a thermal coming off these rocks, but I, with my minimum speed, especially when I'm flying balanced it. So I put water in the wings and make the glider extra heavy. And now I have to turn at least 60 knots to, to be safely turning.

So if you turn at 60 knots and you crank it, even if you crank it at 50 degree bank angle, you're still making a pretty, pretty wide circle. And chances are that this little thermal that is coming up, these rocks is not usable, usable versus you in a paraglider, you can just park yourself right on the rock and you make your way up,

Speaker 1 (39m 6s): How, how much your decision-making is, is made. And I'll ask you to answer this without thinking that we have an audience for a second, because I would imagine as you get better and better, it started getting bigger and bigger distances. You start worrying less, less about places to land, but is that, is that the case in, in sailplane flying? Because we, you know, we were always taught what the, I'm sure the same thing. You are never fly over an unlovable place and always have something on glide, but as you get better and better, you start, you don't worry about that.

You, you know, there's going to be a climb. You know, you can fly over this huge section of trees where there's no place to land. And you know, if you've got the skills and you can read the sky and you under, you know, the crossing, I did have the Canadian Rockies, we flew hours sometimes without a place to land. And it's, that's a whole nother level of flying. I'm not suggesting people do that, but you know, we, we're not really so confined by an airport. Obviously we can put it down in a tiny little scratch pad. And so I'm just wondering, but to me, when I think about, sailplanes not knowing anything about it, that would be an overriding concern.

If you're flying a really, you know, expensive aircraft that needs you, can't just put it down a little postage stamp. Is that a big deal or is it become less and less?

Speaker 2 (40m 22s): It becomes less and less, but it is a big deal. And I mean, that's, I think individual risk tolerance comes hugely into play in that area. So if somebody is like, you know, I just love this so much. If I have, if I, if I wrecked my $300,000 glider ultra buy a new one, if, and I'm confident that I can survive, you know, they might, they might take the approach.

They might take the approaches. Yeah. Doesn't matter. I'll find lift straight ahead. Others may be less so, right. I mean, where I'm at is, is I'm at the point where I am I'm if I'm absolutely confident and sometimes I am totally confident, right. That, that there is going to be lift. It just, it's just totally confident then I don't, I don't worry about it because, but I, I I've reached this point in my, in my progression where I'm, that, that is often the case that I can really, if it's like a hundred percent, I know it's a hundred percent, but if, if it's only a 90% will hesitate, then I will not do it.

And risk, I will not go into online double terrain if I'm only 90% confident that I can fly out of it, that just does not work because I can't take a 10 to one. I can't take a nine to one gamble that I'm gonna wreck my glider. You know, even if nine, nine is nine, is that I won't, but a 10% risk has pretty high. It's pretty high. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (42m 1s): That'd be way more constrained by places to land. And,

Speaker 2 (42m 4s): And you are, but what is the, what is offset thing though, is that you have way better glide at sure. Right. And I mean, for the most part, I mean, I, if I'm at, you know, we're in Boulder, you know, where the Wyoming border is, is like, what is it? 60 miles to the north, if I'm at the Wyoming border at 17,000 feet, I'm, I'm in glide of Boulder, right? So, I mean, for us more, oftentimes I can fly up from Boulder. You can fly.

You can, you can, there's this badge progression that we have. So you go from, you know, silver does a silver badge and a gold patch and the diamond patch, the diamond badge requires you to do a 500 kilometer flight and a 300 kilometer declared gold flight. You can fly, you can get almost all the badges in Boulder by flying within glide rates. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. We don't have to get out of, even out of Boulder. You don't even have to go to other airports.

You don't even have to think of other airports to have to be in glide. So oftentimes you can just, it's not hard to keep you up. What's in glide. And even if they're far away,

Speaker 1 (43m 16s): How do you think about when you said, you know, if it's a 90% chance. So when you're, you know, you're somewhere pretty deep and you're your glide, computer's showing that you've got so-and-so airport on. You said you're, you're you're, you know, all things considered, no, your glide on your, on your wing is say 48 to one or 45 to one or something. Okay. So are you, are you calculating, okay, this is safe. I've got this on glide per current conditions, or are you going okay?

It's saying that I can get there on a 61, 60 to one glide and you know, I've got this Grazie tailwind, I'm getting 80, 90 to one right now, but that could change to 35 to one. So I'm going to go to $35.

Speaker 2 (44m 1s): No, you, you, you basically do it on current conditions. So you, you watch the I'm probably, I'm assuming you have the same thing where you can put on your glide computer. You can put a current Glaive L over the, and the required glide over and over the total, you can look at those side by side and you say, well, my, my required glenoid level is, is, is 40. But my current is 60. I'm like, you know, I'm, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get there. Right? Yeah.

Speaker 1 (44m 30s): Balancing those things. I

Speaker 2 (44m 32s): Look at those two things all the time. And then you also look at, you know, you, you can use the McCready settings for, what do you think the next client is going to be and dial those up. And they will actually, you know, they make you fly faster. And when you fly faster, obviously you are seeing your, your sink rate is higher and into your client goes down. So that actually gives you in your flight to here. If you look at what is, what is necessary to reach a safe airport, and you have a McQueen setting afford, it gives you an inbuilt safety cushion into this thing, because it assumes that you're flying faster than you actually have to fly.

So you could get a better glide. If you have to dial it back down, if you find that conditions deteriorate, you can download speed up a little bit back, and then, and then you can still get there for you guys. Wind is way more, I mean, wind is important for us. Obviously. It's very important for us headwind tailwind. It doesn't have nearly as much as

Speaker 1 (45m 33s): When can just totally kill

Speaker 2 (45m 34s): Us. We can kill it. You, I mean, you have a 30, 30 not headway.

Speaker 1 (45m 39s): Yeah. You can't fly in that. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, you're, you're, you're, you're either, you're terrified if you're going downwind and you're in, you're terrified even more. If you're trying to go up when you're not, you find backwards, you let's talk about risk for a second. You, you mentioned something in our email exchanges before we, we sat down today that surprised me that sail planes are statistically, not that dissimilar.

And there's a big, there's a big difference there. You'll talk about that. But that surprised me. I,

Speaker 2 (46m 17s): When I, when I came back to the sport, I really wanted to understand how dangerous it really is. And so the way I thought about this was I tried to look at all kinds of activities that people do in the, in the, you know, in the spare time that are somewhat risky. And I tried to say, you know, I tried to figure out how risky help. What's the chance that you die doing it within a certain by activity hour. So per hour that you're doing it.

Right. So how long can you safely do it before you were basically expected to get killed? Doesn't sound right.

Speaker 1 (46m 55s): Good.

Speaker 2 (46m 58s): Yeah. And so, so I did that study and I tried, it was really hard to come by good data, really, really difficult. So I tried, and it took me a few months to do this over the winter. Like it wasn't any flying and I didn't have any mud, anything else really to do. So I worked, I worked on this stuff. Yeah. It's not hugely dissimilar. So fine. Gladys, the risk of dying in Gladys per hour is, is not a lot lower than it is for pericarditis. It is lower.

It's about, I it's about 1.5 is the, is the difference factor. So it's, it's 1.5 times more risky to your life in, in paragliders and Gladys than it is for gliders. But that risk difference. Isn't, isn't, you know, it's not very high. I mean, it's like if you compare it to commercial aviation, we're now talking 200 times less risky, not, not 1.5 times less risk, totally different orders of magnitude versus we're in the same word of magnitude. We're not far off. Quite frankly, we have a lesser degree, a lesser risk of getting severely injured on top of that dying risk.

I'm assuming every takeoff, every landing in, in, in paragliders has some inherent risks. Definitely. You're going to have some injury of, of, to your legs. So to your back or to,

Speaker 1 (48m 20s): Yeah, no, that's definitely where, you know, statistically it's launching and landing and it's very, you know, that, that, that certainly we have a lot of the catastrophic stuff that happens low to the ground in the sky. You know, typically if you're high people can deal with it and reserves work really well, but, you know, it's the, it's the stuff that you would think, you know, it's the launching and landing and it's trying to scratch out and you're low, you know, you're trying to get up from a low position.

Speaker 2 (48m 46s): And I also look deeply at the, in detail into what, what is it that actually makes it so dangerous? What are the really root causes? So I read a ton, a ton of accident reports and, and in many countries that are doing a lot of work on accident reports Germany's in particular, Germany has about a third accounts for a third of all glider flying worldwide. And they do an exceptionally great job at documenting every incident. And I speak German. So that helps understanding these reports.

So I went into and try to find out what are the really root causes. When do people get into situations where they kill themselves? And is it, is it, is it pilot's fault or is it, is somebody else to blame? And I found out about 90% of accidents can be avoided. So I think that's an important thing. So you can actually think about it like in 90%, you'd say, yep. You could definitely have made a different decision as the pilot. So that's really then on hand understanding why is it that what went wrong? Why did it go wrong? And then I found that the most important, the single most important root cause is when a pilot delays the decision to land for gliders.

I can't say that for anything else, but if you, if you're getting too low and a lot of them happen right next to the airport, people come back and they find the runways occupied. And they're like, I don't want to push my glider bike so far. I don't want to lie in far at the, at the far end and then push the glider back. I'm going to wait until this runway is clear. And then they keep circling and circling and circling, and then they find themselves, okay, finally, the runway is clear. Now they are so loud. They try to find flight a final approach.

Then they make the turn to final and there's trees in the way. And they are trying to get over the trees. And now they're getting below stall speed and suddenly the suddenly the Gladys spins in because they're below stall speed and they're on a shallow, but they did try to, you know, then they tried to fly on coordinated and keep, keep, keep that the, the, the lower wing up by flying the turn with the rod on. Now they're skidding through the turn and they spin in. And that's the recipe for death, basically, because once you're spinning in a glider close to the ground, that's when you die.

'cause now you, you rotating into the ground and the wing is going to hit the ground first. And it just drives the nose into the ground. And, and then you die. So that's a classic case, very simple to avoid incident. Just make your decision to land early enough.

Speaker 1 (51m 18s): I never thought about that with the, with, with you guys that, you know, we were talking about, I was imagining, okay, you're at 16,000 feet and you've got, you know, you've got grand junction on glide and you decide, okay, you know, it's the end of the day. I'm going to go there and you give yourself 200 feet of a, you know, wiggle room. No, you know, maybe not nearly enough. And, and then you get there and the runway is occupied. So are you, are you talking to the tower way, way, way in advance to make sure you guys can't just go on, you know, around a few more times.

Speaker 2 (51m 51s): Yeah. I mean, usually the way you do it differently. So at first of all, most of our airport, landings are not tower, just uncontrolled airports, but, but the, the way you approach it is, is you, you're supposed to approach an airport that you are arriving at a 1000 feet above ground. So whenever my flight computer is actually, my flight computer is set to 1500 feet, especially for airports that I don't say to 1500 feet, four airports that I am not familiar with, or where there may be more air traffic.

And especially in most cases, when you arrive at the airport that doesn't have glide operations, chances are there's absolute. Nobody has a freaking clue about Gladys. The I've talked to many airplane pilots and they tell like a glider. What is that? So there's a lot of light up, a lot of airplane pilots who don't even know that we exist. So now you turn up at an airport and you're in the pat on the, you say, I'm, I'm a glide. I'm about to lie to him like a glider. And then somebody will tell you, you know, your number three, number three July and hold, Hold your altitude.

I'm like, ah, I can't help it. I have a lady right now.

Speaker 1 (53m 11s): That's common. Really?

Speaker 2 (53m 15s): It would be common. So basically what you do is, is when you land at another airport, you are, you arrive high enough. You announce yourself, you say I'm a glider and about to land. And, and then, you know, if somebody pushes back, you just tell them you're unable to do whatever they wish to do. And are you allowed to do it? You have priority by the rules. It's just, most people don't know about it. Right?

Speaker 1 (53m 39s): Right. So you can just be a little, little verbally forceful.

Speaker 2 (53m 43s): It's not a situation where I'm going on a final glide and I'm like, I'm barely

Speaker 1 (53m 48s): In a squeaking in,

Speaker 2 (53m 49s): Yeah. Barely squeaking. I mean, some people do that, but it's not a safe practice. I would definitely not, but it doesn't, it doesn't have to happen. It really usually does not have to happen. The only times when these things tend to happen is in, in, in sewing competitions, as they used to have them, when they had the, the arrival at the deck, basically just at ground level at the airport, those rules are gone. So all our competitions. So for example, when I flew the nationals last year, the, the arrival was 1500 AGL.

So 1500 feet

Speaker 1 (54m 27s): And the speed cylinder, you know, you've got an end to speed. So the race stops. And then you got plenty of time

Speaker 2 (54m 32s): Finished sale. And that you're getting into the finished ceiling that you have to be over 1500 feet to not get penalties. You're getting penalized. If you fly, if you come in lower than that. And so you basically, and the penalties are so high, it's not worth it. So you definitely want to rive at 1500 or above. And if you arrive at 1500 route, there's plenty of time. Now you've got a few minutes. If you need to sort out the landing. And especially in the context, I think it's hugely important because now you've got countless, you've got 20 gliders arriving at the same time.

So now you've got a runway that you got to see, you've got a sequence you're landing somehow. Right?

Speaker 1 (55m 11s): Can we dig into that? 90% could be avoided a little bit more. What are the other things that were really, that really popped out? So you talked about, you know, that you, for the most part, it was people not landing early enough, you know, not making it too late.

Speaker 2 (55m 25s): And the decision to land is a huge factor. Another huge factor is, is flying into the find too close to the ground, especially on, on rich flying in rich flying conditions where people will just, you know, get hit, hit the ground or the in re so one, one risk for example, is, is that thermals and you must have the same thing. So you're flying along the Ridge and you get a stumble that is starting right off where your, where, where you are.

It creates a lot of terrible ends around it. So what can happen in the glider is if let's say you're flying on the region, there's an outcropping below the reach and the is breaking off below the Ridge, not at reach top, but spiking off below the Ridge. That Dumble can be so strong as you fly through it. It can, it can lift up. You are the wing that is on the, there is a way from the rage turn. It turned the glider right into the Ridge. And I don't know if you've run into that situation.

Speaker 1 (56m 32s): Totally. I mean, the worst thing with the, I guess, the, what would happen to us is you could take a collapse on the wind on the, on the Ridge side, which is worst case scenario, because then you're spinning in towards the hill rather than taking a collapse on the other. So yeah, it happens a lot.

Speaker 2 (56m 49s): Yeah. So, so rich flying a close proximity to terrain. It's just, that's a tough, that's a judgment call that's in that case. It's, it's not, you know, I count those as avoidable. Some people, I mean, it's depends on your depends on your viewpoint, right? I mean, every accident is a label by not flags. So I mean that's, but that's not how we can look at it, right? So it's, it's, it comes to a judgment call, whether you come, but what hardly ever happens to us, and this is, I think is a big difference.

It's equipment issues are hardly ever an issue. And if it's the equipment, then it's usually the pilot's fault for putting it together the wrong way. So that used to be a big issue for old Gladys. And if somebody goes into gliding and they buy an old glider that doesn't have automatic hookups. So it basically means you, as you put the glider together, you have to hook up each of the control surfaces separately from the, from actually assembling it, that there have been numerous accidents over the years where people forget to hook up, let's say the elevator control.

If you hook up and they forget that, and you take your on takeoff roll, you take off behind the top lane and do you have no elevator control? You're you're already crashed. There's really nothing you can do about it.

Speaker 1 (58m 11s): It's just making dumb mistakes,

Speaker 2 (58m 13s): Right? That's a dumb mistake. And, but those don't happen with modern gliders because they all have automatic hookups. So when you put it together, the controls are already hooked up to still have to take it. But equipment failure is hardly ever the reason. So these gliders are way more sturdy than the airplanes. So terrible ends will not do anything. You know, you,

Speaker 1 (58m 35s): You're not going to get a ring ripped off of it's Berman

Speaker 2 (58m 37s): Aids. I mean, it is happens, but it's so exceptionally, so exceptionally rare, it's exceptionally right. I mean, it would be like, if you're flying, let's say you're flying above VNE in wave. And you're, you're just hitting the mother of all Rodas that stays with you, what would have to happen. So if you, if you like slow down to a hundred knots and not do it at at 150 knots, when you hit the Rhoda, it's not going to be a problem.

You might hit your head on the cannabis pretty hard, but the glider will, you know, those gliders are super sturdy and

Speaker 1 (59m 18s): It is waived the most dangerous flying you deal.

Speaker 2 (59m 22s): No, I don't think so. No. I mean, wave wave can be dangerous. Wave can be dangerous. Wave could be very dangerous depending on how you fly in wave. That's really comes back to the pilot again. I mean the risks in wave or, you know, obviously your oxygen has to work. So you have hypoxia risk. There's a risk that you get dragged into clouds. That would be, that could be a couple of traffic risk. If you're at high altitude, now you get dragged into, into a particular cloud at that the builds right on your side might not even see it if you don't watch out for it.

But those happen rarely festival, not many people fly in wave conditions at these altitudes. So the frequency of those is pretty low. I would say for, you know, in practical terms, a risk I'm I'm concerned about is that I, that my glide path to the airport gets blocked by thunderstorms, especially, you know, with big scale. So we do have that here. So each time I come back from the west towards Boulder, for example, I fly, fly across the continental divide and this, sometimes you have to make a decision.

Do I, do I commit to flying towards Boulder? Or do I stay on the west side depending on what the sky looks like without knowing for absolutely certain that there's a clear path towards, towards landing. So that, that is, I think weather risks are a risk. You could avoid that, obviously that would in my book count as an avoidable accident as a pilot mistake because I purchased, I could just say, yeah, okay. I'll land in Granby on the other side and just have to call my buddies and they have to get the trailer and then they have to drive for five hours and pick me up.

Speaker 1 (1h 1m 4s): Good, good, good segue. How important, how much weight do you as a community? Not just you, but is it to get home is it's not as easy to retrieve as we are. You don't get to go out on the road and stick your thumb out. Is that, does that weigh heavily on you or on a big day, you don't care. You're going to go big.

Speaker 2 (1h 1m 22s): We got big. And, and we have, you know, it's, it's in our community. We have basically, we have a volunteer retrieve list. So everyone, and then in our club, we've got probably 40 members that are on that list, who basically say, well, and it's a, it's a mutual commitment, which is basically say if somebody lands somewhere else, we're going to retrieve them. And in exchange, you have the promise that you will be retrieved by your buddies. It's a, it's a mutual thing, but it doesn't happen very often. So in practical terms, it's not a big deal because we don't often land somewhere else.

I mean, I have, there's very few times in, in my it's close to a thousand hours now, I've very few times that I actually had to land somewhere that, that I didn't intend to land that

Speaker 1 (1h 2m 15s): We'll take the day, take the day and imagine, you know, a perfect day is a hundred percent, how much, what percentage? So we've got, you know, mindframe preparation, currency, all the things that, that go into making, you know, you're going to go out and do a 1500 K FAI tribal, you know, the biggest you've ever done. I don't know. I just threw that out there, but that

Speaker 2 (1h 2m 37s): Would be a big one.

Speaker 1 (1h 2m 38s): That'd be a big one. How much of that is weather and not, not buy it that day? I'm talking forecasting. How much of that is, is you spending time in front of a computer looking at, tell me, is it sky site, ECC skies, Noah. So tell me the resources you use and carve that up.

Speaker 2 (1h 2m 57s): Yep. It is for me it's sky side, most of the time, and I do use XSEDE skies it I'm, I'm struggling a little bit with picking which model, which model to pick there's so many models. And it depends on the site that you had, which model tends to be giving you the better results than the other model. So I find most of the time I'm just too lazy to, to try and study eight different models.

So I tend to personally, I try to use, attempt to use SkySat. There is some, some other resources to talk. The jacks is for us. I don't know if that rings a bell.

Speaker 1 (1h 3m 44s): So you use the balloon soundings we

Speaker 2 (1h 3m 46s): Use that. We lose soundings. Yeah, but for the most part, sky side is, is actually Skype has become my go-to tool. I use top media or for awhile. How much do I spend on it? Usually watch the weather a few days in advance for looking for good days. When then when I know the evening before, it's usually when I do my task planning. So the forecast is good enough that I will spend maybe an hour at night looking at the weather and that's when I plan the task.

So w where, where should I go? What, what, what term points should I declare that would be best aligned with the way that when will it get me on final glide early enough? And you do the timing calculations of when do you have to take off and where do you have to be at each of the term points to make it back home? And, and then on the day off in the I'll, I'll check in the morning before I drive to the airport, I'll check if something has changed.

And that, that might cause me to change some of the term points, or I might dial the whole thing back, or it might make me expanded a little more, but that's about, that's about the extent

Speaker 1 (1h 5m 5s): We have this saying that, you know, fly the day, not your desire. And I've often found, you know, if I put a lot of effort the night before and to, you know, I've seen it usually a few days out GFS and okay, it's looking like a good day and you start rally and your crew and Thursday looks good and, you know, start thinking about, okay, what can we do with this? If I, you know, on the way up to launch, I've got, I've got my task in. And if I've often found that it's hard for me to break from that.

If I've, if I've set that up as a goal, man, I want to fly that goal. Whereas, you know, it's obvious that that's not setting up now, you know, models are just models. Right. And do you find that also?

Speaker 2 (1h 5m 52s): Yeah. I mean, there's, maybe I would say I would probably complete maybe one out of two tasks or maybe one out of three tasks. So if I set myself ambitious tasks, I'm, I'm, maybe I'm completing one in three tasks and it's just as you fly and you find, you know, what I did the task and I said, for myself is just not, it's just not going to work, but I'm going to still enjoy the day and I'm going to change my plan. But I think that is very up to the individual.

So in the house stop where you are and how flexible you are. And I mean, there are people who don't like to do task planning at all. We have, we have people in the club that have like, I, I like this task. It's usually the weather is good and that's the task that I want to accomplish this year. And they, it, each time they take off, they try that task and they haven't spent any time really understanding if that task is supported, by the way that on that particular day, they just try to do that task.

And chances are, it will take them a long time to complete, unless the task is really simple tasks. You can set yourself a task. You can complete almost any day. But, but, but yeah, I think that's totally individual.

Speaker 1 (1h 7m 11s): I'm going to ask you a question. I'm not sure. I'm not sure you can even answer, but, you know, we talked about that. Hang gliders, paragliders foot-long launch pilots might have this advantage coming to sail planes because of their background and their understanding of thermals and, you know, being be more comfortable with banking it up is we're just more comfortable doing that in the, our aircraft maybe. But what do you think would be the reverse? Is there, are there some things that sail plane pilots that we don't know that we're not clued into that, that, you know, if you came, if we reversed roles there, what would be the, whoa, I, you know, what could you teach me that I probably don't know.

Speaker 2 (1h 7m 60s): I think that's a difficult one. I mean, we have, we have, I really don't know what you don't know. That's, that's my problem, right? I mean, where would we be really good that a paraglider foot launch pilot,

Speaker 1 (1h 8m 22s): For example, I, you know, check asked me a question in the show that I was really surprised the, he, he said that his buddies that fly out at Marshall and the, in the San Bernardino mountains, you know, they'll often be up there on a blue day and, you know, having a good day and they don't see paragliders. And, and I, I was that really caught me off guard because I thought, well, they're either not seeing them, or I don't know that crew as well as I thought, because I thought that, you know, I, I know I have a lot of friends that fly out there, religiously, a bunch of them live there.

And, you know, if it's a flyable day there they're flying, they don't care if it's blue, you know? I mean, we obviously just like you, I'm sure we love it when there's clouds, but, you know, blue days are, you got to train for those two. And, you know, so my, my thought was is probably more windy than he, than those guys. You know, we can't handle a lot of wind. And I would imagine it's just more windy on those days where sailplanes pilot is. It's fine. But

Speaker 2 (1h 9m 22s): That's what I suspect. I don't, I don't see that blue day thing as a, as I was surprised, quite frankly, about that, about that observation when I listened to that, to the podcast. Yeah. And I mean, I listened to your, your answer. I think there was some discussion about you. You thought there was, there were way more apparent paraglider pilots out there than think glider pilots, and as glider pilots, we think there are more glider pilots out there than they are paraglider. So I thought that might be a good, good point of discussion.

If I fly out of Boulder, I often see, you know, it's a pretty big paraglider community. It's a reasonable path. I mean, you, you would tell me how many, you know, I don't know, but yeah,

Speaker 1 (1h 10m 3s): I think it's very big. I don't know the numbers, but I know that that's, I think it's the fastest growing region in the states for paragliding, you know, their clubs

Speaker 2 (1h 10m 13s): When I go fly, most of the time, I see glider pilots and I don't see paraglider pilots during flight. So, so the, the, the time when I see paraglider pilots is right after launch, right? Especially on days when you can actually get off from the airport as a glider pilot, reasonably, reasonably early, we oftentimes have to tow far deep into the mountains. But most of the time we don't, but sometimes we don't. And the paragliders, they always, most of the paraglider traffic here tends to be pretty close to the foot of the Hills.

And it doesn't go deep in versus we fly always deep in. And when I talk to paraglider pilots, they tell me, well, we, they, they just, they look at our flight traces online and they say, how on earth are you going to fly it that far back? I wish I could fly that far back. And they, they, they listened to my stories about the convergence line and where the convergence land sets up and how it sets up and how to use it for flying straight. And I'm like, I wish I could get back there. And I'm like, well, me too, because if I don't get back there, I can't fly at all.

I, it, so, so we tend to fly in different spaces most of the time. And it's rare. So it's, I mean, I do see occasionally a CPO glider pilots high up in the sky, far away from anywhere. So happened in Utah last year, happened a few times where I'm like over the Wasatch and at 17,000 feet, I'm like, Ooh, shit as a paraglider. And I say, holy shit, because, because we have, and I think that's maybe if the, if the sport grows and keeps growing, I there's, there's a potential for a safety risk because, because the glider pilots with our technology, we're increasingly, you know, obviously you have to look out the window and you do all the time because you're looking for the clouds and you're looking for what to find lift.

But in terms of orientating yourself where other traffic is, we're very, th the, the, the technology is so advanced that we see everybody where they are. And increasingly all the gliders have idiots, you know, have transponders, they have farms. So we have anti-collision systems increasingly even ASB out. And the more technology there is in gliders, the more you expect that any object that is flying around in the sky shows up on your instruments. And if you don't see anything on your instrument, your brain might assume nothing is there.

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 43s): Yeah. And I mean, let's face it, you know, when, if we're at the same elevation and we're, you know, we're ships in the night, you know, coming right at one another, we are really hard to see for you guys and vice versa.

Speaker 2 (1h 12m 54s): I see you guys, you guys are actually a lot easier to see than gliders. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 12m 58s): I was going to say, I'm here the ways

Speaker 2 (1h 13m 1s): Colorful, canopies. Right.

Speaker 1 (1h 13m 3s): But if it's right at the same level, you know, it's one thing if we're banked up, you know, but if we're right at the same level, it's, you know, same thing, it's hard for us to seat one another. And so

Speaker 2 (1h 13m 13s): We're freaked out. I mean, gliders against gliders, that is the biggest concern. Right? So, because we tend to fly the same lift line. So, and most of our flying is straight, as I said, right. I mean, my, I think my average for last year was I think below 20% circling percentage. So I'm at it's 80, 80% of my time that I fly. It's straight more than 80% of the time. But so, but, but now it's at a hundred knots. And so now you've got two gliders coming at each other at a hundred knots.

Closing speed is 200 knots and we're flying exactly the same lift line. So we're, we're flying the same height ban, usually between 14,000 and fifteen thousand seventeen thousand five hundred, some who are between 15 and 17 five. That is for the most part, what I spend my time, almost all of my cross-country flights are almost all in that hype

Speaker 1 (1h 14m 7s): Man must happen,

Speaker 2 (1h 14m 9s): Or they do happen. That don't happen that often we're more concerned about them. Then, then is statistically appropriate. If you will, in Europe, in Europe, it's a bigger concern because there's more glider, traffic, much more global traffic, especially Germany and India Alps. Yeah. That's where you have a lot more glad to traffic. But, but, but if for us, it's a big concern. That's why we have all that technology and Gladys. And so now I'm saying, you know, I'm, I'm always monitoring. I'm glad I know where my body is flying the entire flight.

I know where people are. And we also will make radio calls to each other and say, and I'm, I'm here over Mount Evans and I'm northbound 17,000 feet northbound. And so everyone knows northbound means that he's going to fly along the emergency. Exactly know where. Right. So, and so we bought it to each other and we, so we communicate with one another. And so we're trying to have this situational awareness and mental picture of where everybody is.


Speaker 1 (1h 15m 15s): And our, our new Varios are often, they often have fr now. And it's, you know, it's, it's slowly transitioning. It's slowly transitioning, not many people here because, because it's just, it's not nearly as REL, you know, most other pies don't have it yet that, and you know, when you're in the Alps is it's, you know, it's highly recommended cause everybody's got, you know, all the sail planes album. And, and, but here we just, like you said, there's not that much traffic.

And so I think it's been a much slower uptake. It's, it's definitely, you know, people are talking about on the forums and stuff. And I think, you know, hopefully it'll, it'll get there. You know, the big, the big change for us has been, you know, pretty much every pilot has an inReach these days. And that's

Speaker 2 (1h 16m 3s): Yeah. I mean, the, the, it must be complicated because you've got a lot less room to carry stuff To carry it up the mountain. I mean, you, you busy.

Speaker 1 (1h 16m 16s): Yeah. I mean, we're trying, we try to trim wherever we possibly can, but, you know, but our, our Varios are, you know, they're, they're in the low grams, they're tiny and it's just a, it's just an audible Verio and it connects to your phone, you know? So the phone has really eliminated a lot of the stuff that we used to have to carry and then, and the FRM is built in there, you know? So it's, it's tiny. It's just no big deal. What we don't have is, you know, a very easy way, you know, you'd have to have another device, they have it on the phone now too, to show you, you know, to, so we see you too, mostly it's set up so you can see us and we rely on you because you've got a nice cockpit and, you know, you've got better instruments to avoid us.

It's not so much the other way around.

Speaker 2 (1h 17m 2s): Let's maneuverable you just as much slower,

Speaker 1 (1h 17m 4s): That's it? I mean, if you came right at us, your

Speaker 2 (1h 17m 7s): It's hard to avoid. Right. I mean, I, I'm super careful when I fly with parallels. I mean, I enjoy it. I really enjoy that. They use, you know, it's just, it's kind of fun to, to people circling in the middle and you're just flattering around them. And it's a, it's a nice competition and see if I can, if I can keep up.

Speaker 1 (1h 17m 24s): Yeah. And I, I, you know, we, I've never talked to anybody that minds flying with sailplanes, it's always a wave and we're psyched, you know, and it's just, it's always thrilling for us to see, you know, how fast you go, you know? So Chuck asked me, is it annoying to fly with sail plans? And I've never, you know, I've heard of a couple mid airs with sale plans and, and paragliders in, in the Alps and they've the ones I've heard about have been catastrophic for both parties. You know? So it's something obviously we're careful about.

And, but we know you are too, and you, you, same thing, you don't turn nearly as tight as we do. So when we're in a thermal together, it's pretty easy to share.

Speaker 2 (1h 18m 5s): Yeah. Yeah. It's usually, it's not, it's usually, it's not a problem. I mean, there's only so many people I can watch out for it. So if there's more than three or four in the gaggle, I, I tend to stay away from it. I don't, I don't like to fly. When do you have a gaggle of with 20 paragliders? This is not, it's not, I'm not going to, I'm not going to mess with that Clemens.

Speaker 1 (1h 18m 26s): What's the, in your sport. You know, I, I hung out with Gary, a soba quite a bit beak, a legend, and, you know, hang-gliding, he was the one that founds the Pata or, or a group of those guys found a pot. I'm not sure if it was actually him, but, you know, I've, I've talked to him quite a bit. He's down in Moriarty and he talks about flying speed. You know, his, his big thing now is flying really, really fast and, and not so much, you know, the 10 hour, 11 hour trying to break distance records, but trying to get around the course or the task as fast as possible, you know, more nose down kind of flying.

Like you talked about, it sounds like with X contest now, or however you do, you use X contest.

Speaker 2 (1h 19m 7s): No, it's, it's a difference. It's different. Okay.

Speaker 1 (1h 19m 11s): So, but is it, is it, you know, are you building towards per land? You know, is that just the ultimate in sail planes or what is it?

Speaker 2 (1h 19m 20s): No, I think prevalent is very specific. That's one glide. It's one glide of the specific account, specifically built to fly in ultra high weave. It has to have a pressurized cockpit. I mean, this is, it's not our world. I mean, we watch problem out of great interest, right? We fascinated by it, but it's more as a, as a spectator, I had a chance to, they had a, they had a simulator for at the last soaring convention and you could fly the simulator and Atlanta problem.

Thika I almost can't see out of this glider because the windows are on the side and they're like brown holes. And you can't even look straight. I mean, it's really, I wouldn't be for me now. No, th th the gladdest, I would say there's a few different, like in all sports, right. People have different intentions, but the sport of soaring, I would say there is there's cops, obviously there's racing. So people who just enjoy that, and that is more, is as much of a social thing than anything else you just like to compete.

And you'd like to fly with your friends. That's where you go to and contests, you don't usually use the full day. You don't fly as far as you could. Right? So for example, at this 18 meter nationals that I mentioned, we had like the most amazing weather. We had, one of the fastest soaring flights that were ever flown out. Pretty amazing. We had almost everybody finished with more than a hundred miles, power, average speed. So that the winning speech, anti-porn a local champion here. And he, when he finished that day, first, he flew 188 kph.

So 118 miles power, I believe 118 miles power. This was over a, a 568 kilometer task, but we only flew a 568 kilometer task that day. It would have supported easily 1500, because that was just an absolutely amazing they, right. But that's what you do at contest. You fly with friends, you fly fast, you compete, you're having fun, right? So that's one, that's one that there is, there's a guy, a few guys, and I, I really admire them that do these absolutely amazing spectacular flights.

The, a lot of them are in Europe. I don't, there's not a lot in the U S but I'm super fascinated by them. I find it super inspiring. There's a guy called clouds or monkeys.

Speaker 1 (1h 21m 48s): I think he's been trying to get him on the show

Speaker 2 (1h 21m 51s): Around 80 or something. I'm not sure, but he's his idea. Amazing. A legend, absolutely a legend. And he would find these unbelievable flights where he takes off in France in the, in the, in the Alps. And then he crosses the sea to Corsica. And then he climbs in wave over Corsica, and then he will fly over to Italy. And then he flew from Italy. He flew down in Italy, flew down to the SU Sicily to the client in way he crossed over to Greece.

And then he crossed, he crossed Greece and landed close to the Turkish border. I mean, it's not unbelievable in a sail plane.

Speaker 1 (1h 22m 33s): So I've heard all these triangle stories that blow my mind, but you're basically following the Alps. This is what are you serious? That,

Speaker 2 (1h 22m 42s): That was last year or two years before three years ago, something like that a year ago. Unbelievable. Another guy did the same Corsica thing to Italy, but he then flew a triangle back. He flew north in Italy. So you had to go in wave across to Corsica and then in wave to go climbing wave in Corsica high enough to get to Italy. And then he had to reach you rich soar of portion. And then he thermals who are through the pole valley, which was almost impossible, but they need to get back over through thermals over the Alps to make it back to the starting point.

And that was a triangle flight. So there's some unbelievable, inspiring flights that people, that people

Speaker 1 (1h 23m 23s): Where, where in north America are they doing stuff like that, that you're, you're looking at going? Is it the Owens? Is it the stuff they're doing out in Nevada? Stan? Is it just,

Speaker 2 (1h 23m 34s): Well, the Owens valley isn't, I mean, the Owens valley is amazing conditions, but it tends to be like this north, south route that is just extremely fast flights because you're, and that's usually most of them are in wave. So you do in the, in the Sierra Nevada wave, it is north south yo-yo runs at exceptionally high speed. They, they don't interest me that much personally because it's, it's kind of flying in waves. It's once you figured out how to do it, it's kind of boring and cold.

So I always freeze my feet off. And, and you just, just, you know, you know where to point it and you choose, you just go straight. Then they go straight all day long. They, they never circle not once

Speaker 1 (1h 24m 19s): You fly in sleeping bags and stuff. How, how high can you get in? And literally not turn into an ice cube in your plane when they're not pressurized. You know, when, when does it start to just get beyond?

Speaker 2 (1h 24m 30s): It depends on the season. I mean, in the summer when we fly, we tend to, we have to fly, be a blow class a most of the time, right? So there's very few places where you get to have some places where you can get localized wave windows, where you can climb higher, but most of the time be flagged in the 18,000

Speaker 1 (1h 24m 44s): and

Speaker 2 (1h 24m 47s): Stuff. I mean, there are the Colorado state record is 45,000 feet. So that freeze everything off, but not many people do those high out high altitude flying is, is a, is a very niche thing. And, and it's sort of, you know, it's because it's kind of capped by, by the weather. You have a pressurized cockpit or not either no new Daniel new records to break. Really. The only way you break new records is with a purlin glider.

So it's, and if you don't break records, it's whether you can click, whether you climb to 30 to 30,000 feet or two 30, 4,000 feet, it's just to me, it doesn't, it doesn't do anything. It doesn't do anything. What, what sort of, you know, inspire me would be like a flight from, you know, across all the Rockies. Like if you could fly from a desert Kimpton, Mizuno is the guy who proposed that, that flight that would go from, from Boulder to the Pacific ocean.

That would be, that would be pretty amazing. If you could fly in one day from Boulder, takeoff in Boulder and land at, in California at the coast and do it in one day, that would be,

Speaker 1 (1h 26m 7s): Whoa, what would that look like?

Speaker 2 (1h 26m 11s): He would go, well, it would first, it crosses the, it would cross the front range. I would probably do it at the sort of Northwest of and then fly along the rabbit ears range. And then from there there's, there's ridges north of the Milwaukee area. If you go north of Milwaukee, where the, where the, the Mesa plateaus are basically along these mesas into the higher winters, and then along the winters, and then you cross into the Western desert west of, we are south a little bit north of , south of salt lake city.

Get out of that, you know, don't get into the US-based there towards Ely, Nevada, and then from, from there, yeah. If you can make it from there to the Owens valley, and then you're, you're, you're up and over, you know,

Speaker 1 (1h 27m 13s): That's the kind of stuff, you know, even, even a short version of that is, would be exceptionally rare for us because it's always west, you know, and we just can't go against the wind. I mean, you get these, you know, spring and fall, you get these rare days where it is.

Speaker 2 (1h 27m 30s): I don't know if that flight is doable, but it's a, it's an inspiring idea.

Speaker 1 (1h 27m 34s): Oh God, that'd be incredible. What a party when you get there. Wow, that's a man. I mean, I got to look at it. Klaus's flights. I had no idea he was doing that. I knew he was, you know, I'd heard about these monster 1500 K FAI triangles, you know, seven countries in a day type stuff that, that, or that would just be amazing, you know, flying the Maritimes and the high ops and the, just all just seeing it all in one day, it would be incredible. But I just, I didn't know, they were crossing the med and wow.

Speaker 2 (1h 28m 8s): I mean, unbelievably, it's amazing, right? That's absolutely, There's no guys with connected the Alps and the Pyrenees, and there's an amazing thing, right? Where you fly the Alps and then you basically make the jump over that appearances and you fly to appear in these.

Speaker 1 (1h 28m 27s): See, this is the thing about, you know, ah, the sail planes are so cool. It's just the, you know, it's, that's, I hope people listening to this go. Yeah. Okay. Now I really gotta do this because it's one of these things I've thought about for me, I've always just thought, yeah. You know, someday, you know, like you said, when my landing gear is not as good, then I'll get into sail planes, but you know, that's just gotta be incredible.

Speaker 2 (1h 28m 51s): Alma mater will go

Speaker 1 (1h 28m 53s): Flying. Let's do it. Let's do it. I'll take you up on that. Let's do it Clemens. Thank you very much. What a joy and a was, this was a lot of fun and I really appreciate your time. Thanks for sharing this with me and good luck with your good luck with racing and your, your speedy education there. And congratulations on the success you've already had.

Speaker 2 (1h 29m 16s): Well, thank you. I mean, thanks for having me. This was a, it was a ton of fun. I'm going to, you know, this is I'm going to go back and listen to your path, AP sales, because it's, I go trail running. I need something to listen to it. This is, this is perfect. Great.

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