Andy Baumelt is a Swiss pilot who reached out to me because he loved the show and said that while he would probably never be one of the top ranked pilots or do something big and wild in the sport he loved to fly, was firmly in the throws of intermediate syndrome and had made some mistakes that many pilots make in their journey. Andy’s story is probably one that most pilots can relate to and we had a lot of fun just talking flying- and life. Andy was in quarantine with Covid when we spoke several months ago but is now on day 6 of his project “Transalps, flying for equality”, a bivy trip he was only dreaming of at the time to raise awareness of discrimination. Follow the project here, it looks like they are having a blast!:
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Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem. I have been furiously building away here in Haley. I know just outside in sun valley and have not been flying since Columbia. So I'm getting the itch really bad. Spring has been terrible weather here in the Northern Rockies. I've seen some good flights go down in Europe on occasion, but man, we are fighting it here. So I hope you're all having better luck than, than we are and spend my, she just got 16 inches of snow as we get here June 1st, last couple days up in the mountains.
So it's been wet and cold and hard building, but getting there and excited to have these conversations and keeps me excited about flying. I hope it does for you as well. My guest today is Andy Baumelt is a Swiss pilot who reached out and said the magic words, which were, Hey, I'm not somebody you normally talk to because I'm not that good. And I'm firmly in the grips of intermediate syndrome and just got into it in 2016, had a crash in 2017 after doing some dumb stuff.
And, and I said, Hey, you know, I've been promising my listeners that I would do more shows with with just the folks out there doing their thing. And so there's a lot of learning here and we had a lot of fun with this talk or this took place months ago. So I'm sorry. I don't exactly remember all the various things we talked about, but I do remember having some good laughs and talking to Andy about future vole, Bev adventures that he helps to do.
And some of the funny things and the mistakes he's made along the way that I think are pretty instructive. So I don't have any housekeeping. I hope you're all getting some good air time and having fun. And thanks for listening. Enjoy the show with Andy Baumelt Andy. Welcome to the mayhem. I wish it was under a little better circumstances. I, Andrew, I understand you're in a COVID quarantine.
How you feeling?
Speaker 2 (2m 25s): Yeah. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Starting getting better from my COVID infection. Yes. It's been tough, but it's, it's better.
Speaker 1 (2m 36s): Yeah. Yeah. Bummer. I've been through that myself. It wiped me out a little over a year ago and wiped me out for a few days, but it's now we've got to worry about getting it again, I guess.
Speaker 2 (2m 49s): Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. But I hope, I hope not to be honest. So three vaccines and one for one infection should be enough.
Speaker 1 (3m 0s): Yes. I know. I think we're all getting a little tired of this for sure. But, well, let's, let's talk about more, more fun things. I think the world's had enough COVID so you reached out to me and you know, we've got you on the show. You're a little different than our, our normal guests. It sounds like you're just getting started in the whole game. Do I understand correctly? You started flying in 2016.
Speaker 2 (3m 23s): Yeah, that's correct. I started fighting 2016, to be honest. I didn't find much in the beginning. And now 2019, I had my first really short exceed flight and I realized how cool this is and how much I loved it. So it, it really got me hooked and then I started flying more and more. And yeah, at one point I got to the idea to make project, which we will talk later on, I guess. And yeah, that's why I tried to reach you.
And I thought that it might be interesting for other people as well, to hear from someone who's not very experienced. Who's not a top pilot to hear about his thoughts about his progression and what he's doing. Yeah.
Speaker 1 (4m 11s): Yeah. And w where are you based? And yeah, absolutely. You know, I think that's where most of the pilots lie. So we I've got to do this from time to time. We always get a lot of great comments when I have folks on the show that are going through what you're going through and going through what we all go through at some point. So, but where are you based?
Speaker 2 (4m 29s): I'm a south of Zurich and Switzerland, and it's already in the Canton of sank gun. You, you pass my place in, in this year itself, very close to scientists to the turn point.
Speaker 1 (4m 45s): Yeah. That's a stunning part of the world. I was, I was just starting to pick up steam when I was going through, I had a really bad start to the race, but it was, we had a knee. I had a neat day with Cody there in, in Santas. And when I left, left there, you know, made some pretty good distance towards the voluntee. And man, I had a landing up at the pass up there. We, we, the Cloudbase was a little bit below the past. We both tried to squeak through and neither one of us made it, but he, he landed right on the past, which was really nice. And I had to stick it into this.
It was almost, it was like kind of an uphill heli pad spot. It was, I wish I would have had it on video. It was a really dynamic I had to kind of wing over and then come down into the trees and do an uphill kind of downwind landing. It was pretty exciting, but so I, yeah, I have fond memories of that place.
Speaker 2 (5m 34s): Yes. It's a really good place to live. I mean, I have three takeoffs in 15 minutes. Right. And yeah, so it's, it's perfect for me.
Speaker 1 (5m 46s): Let's talk about you. You said some funny things. I was just reviewing it before we got on the phone here that, you know, you made some mistakes early on that, you know, of course, 20, 20, they must be kind of dog. What was I thinking? But go, go through some of that yet. You had a pretty bad accident real early on. Talk about what, what happened.
Speaker 2 (6m 7s): Yeah. So I make my license in 2016 and I flew with my school lighter and for one more year, and I thought it would be good to change for a big lighter, at some point in 2017. And so I started testing gliders and because I already thought like I'm a bad ass. I know how to put in big years. I know everything about very lighting. So I, yeah, I don't know what, what I thought to be honest, but I had no fear.
So I just pulled in big ears and tried to collapse the wing. And, and with one wing that I tested, I didn't know that pulling in big years can make a deep stall in the wing. And that's what happened because I didn't go the accelerator, the speed bar. So what happened? I got in a deep stall. I've never been there before and haven't done any SIVs and what happened? I just lost control over the glider and I didn't know what to do.
And so I, I just watched the guide or reacting and it did something and suddenly it was below me next to me. And so at one point I realized, okay, I don't have much height anymore. So I pulled up the reserve, which opened really quick. And I was happy about that. And then I realized, damn, it's going really fast though. And I didn't know why it should be like this or not, because I've never experienced it before. And I went down and there was a huge forest and I thought, oh cool.
I will land in a tree that shouldn't be too bad, but I have bad luck. There was a small piece where there was no trees. And of course I landed there in a really flat area. And I broke two of my, two of my words of race in my back. And that's when I realized, okay, this was not too clever, what I did here. And yeah, there was, there was my first and so far, I have to knock on work my first and last accident, which made me realize many things.
To be honest, I, I tried to analyze that and it made me realize many things.
Speaker 1 (8m 24s): Let's, let's talk about the many things be specific. This is, it's a, I mean, one thing that I don't understand from this is why your wing went into a deep stall going into big ears. Where did you pull it incorrectly? Did you pull too much? Do you know,
Speaker 2 (8m 41s): To be honest, a few years later, they, there was a safety warning for this specific letter that it can go into deep stuff by putting it in big ears. But as I learned later in, in SIV curses, any glider can do that. And certain circumstances, if you just pull in big ears with no speed bar, then if you, it can change the angle of attack so that you can do into a deep stall. So always if you pull in big ears, just make it with the speed part.
That's what I've learned later on. And I didn't know that to be honest by then. So that's of course, one point and the lessons learned.
Speaker 1 (9m 27s): Interesting. Yeah. Cause I don't, I don't want the listener to be afraid of using big ears and that's, it's not something you really use too much as you get better and better, you know, it's definitely more of a lower hours, but very useful maneuver. And, and of course, speed bar is a really important part of that equation. But
Speaker 2 (9m 55s): I think most of the gliders, most of the gliders nowadays, they don't go into a deep start as I understand it. And as I say, I'm not a professional, but since I have this accident, I went to an SIV course and, and talked a lot to, to this SIB instructor. And he would tell me that some gliders can do that. So I think for me, it's really important to know that and to, to be aware of that. And just for future, I nowadays, I still use big ears.
I like them again, but I know that I always will use the speed bar with it. And then, then you don't have,
Speaker 1 (10m 34s): And how are you doing it? Are you, are you getting on speed and then pulling ears because I've always heard it's the other way around.
Speaker 2 (10m 41s): Exactly. Exactly. You should just pull in the big ears because of the, because of the shark nose. Apparently it's better to go into big ears without the speed bar and then, then push the speed bar once they're in there.
Speaker 1 (10m 57s): Of course. So interesting. So you, okay, so let's go back to the incident. So you, you're in deep stall you're, you know, you did the right thing. You weren't really sure what was going on. So you threw your reserve, but then you discovered another problem.
Speaker 2 (11m 12s): Yeah, that's, you're saying it, unfortunately I didn't check my, my gear at all. I just, I just got it from, from my teacher back then. And I didn't really think about the reserve. It was just this red handle and at the, at the seat, which you can pull, but I'd never thought about what's in there. And I even, it was 2016 that I got the reserve. It was a round reserve.
And I really think nowadays there shouldn't be any around reserves anymore, but that's, that's my opinion. And it was specially it was way too small, the reserve. So it was for 105 kilos. And I wait, my start, my takeoff white was 120 kilos. So
Speaker 1 (12m 4s): You were coming down fast.
Speaker 2 (12m 5s): I was coming down by far too fast and, and that's, that's what I'm I never thought about the reserve. And later on as well, I realized, okay, you should have reserved bigger than work. Your takeoff weight is actually because the takeoff weight is given at the sea level. So if it's made for 100 kilos, the reserve it's thought for 100 kilos at the sea level, but when you're in the mountains, because the air density is much lower, you must have a bigger reserve there than for 100 kilos.
So you need 20% extra. And not just less than what I have.
Speaker 1 (12m 48s): Yeah. This is, this is something that I think is really commonly screwed up across the spectrum is especially these days with hike and fly, becoming such a big thing and lightweight gear and everybody trying to shave Graham's announces. Yeah, that's, that's an area that I really don't think. And I say this doing the same thing in the XL ops, you know, we're all flying the lightest stuff possible. Most of us are using rounds. And I totally agree with you now.
They have these lightweight squares that are, most of us have switched over to, if not all, which is great, but you know, it's one of these things where I think X ops pilots know the risks they're taking and they're pretty methodical about it. But I think it's also something that the general flying public often screws up. You know, that's not a place to shave weight. You know, if you're, you know, you definitely want a glider that's above your you're all in weight.
You know, if you're one 10, you want to be on a reserve that's at least rated for 1 25 or one 20 at least. And so I think that that's, you know, you want to be coming down slow. I would imagine you were probably coming down at six meters or maybe even more on that on a, you know, an undersized reserve. And that's definitely a speed that you can do a lot of damage.
Speaker 2 (14m 11s): Absolutely. And yeah, it was fast. I have to admit, but yeah, that's one more point that I learned. It's not, it was not even, you know, do you set south pilots? You know what you're doing? And you know, that you have a reserved is really too small. So you know, the risk that you're going in, but I didn't know anything about it, to be honest, it was not that I took the risk on purpose because I just didn't know it.
Speaker 1 (14m 42s): I don't want to throw your instructor under the bus here, but it sounds like quite an oversight. Yeah. I'm surprised that you were, so that gear, that seems like a pretty misstep,
Speaker 2 (14m 54s): They just didn't know my weight, my takeoff weight, to be honest and yeah.
Speaker 1 (14m 60s): Yeah. But they should, I don't know if you should need to give them that much forgiveness, but, huh. Well, that's good to know. I, you know, I, I, I think of those kinds of mistakes, not happening as much in Switzerland, you know, I feel like the, you know, the instructor level is really high and the schools are really good and thorough and the education there is quite a bit more strict and methodical than what we have here. Sometimes I'm surprised that you kind of slipped through the cracks there.
Speaker 2 (15m 30s): Yeah. But spread luck. But in the end I'll let to do an re a really good thing that I did my first SIV. And so this is where the things changed, I think.
Speaker 1 (15m 43s): And how was your, how was your first SIV coming out of the accident? Was there a lot of fear going into it?
Speaker 2 (15m 49s): Well, I be honest. I, I slept two or three hours the night before my first SIV. I was so nervous. I just couldn't sleep. I really thought like, okay, what am I doing here? I was so nervous. And, but I, my husband was the first person to tell me like, okay, you have to continue flying. This is such an important part in your life. I will not let you stop flying. So I w I thought now he doesn't, he doesn't.
Speaker 1 (16m 24s): And
Speaker 2 (16m 25s): I thought I will quit to be honest, but he said, I must not stop. So I thought, okay, if I continue, the only good way to continue is just to be a safer pilots of that pilot and do a lot of SIV. So if I continue flying, I have to do at least one SIV a year. That's what I wanted for me to, to be a safe pilot.
Speaker 1 (16m 49s): I'm curious. Why, why was he so motivated that you fly that that seems like maybe some extraneous pressure, he just saw that it lit you up or what?
Speaker 2 (17m 1s): Yeah, absolutely. He, he knew how much this meant to me, or it still means to me. And he's like, he wants me to be happy, being a good person and, and flying makes me have be a good person. And he sees that. And, and that's why he wants me to continue fighting.
Speaker 1 (17m 20s): Well. How did you, what was the impetus to get into flying? What was the how'd you how'd, you start
Speaker 2 (17m 27s): Actually, I've always wanted to fly. I think most of the people say that, but I never, I never got there to make the course. And we went to the pride festival in Zurich, and there was a stamp where they were making like advertisements for a flying school. So I went there and asked them for information and instructions and did my first training day with them.
And that's how I started.
Speaker 1 (17m 59s): Wow. Cool. And was it, was it love at first sight or you just
Speaker 2 (18m 4s): First takeoff? I was addicted. Yeah, absolutely. Just getting stuff anymore. He was just,
Speaker 1 (18m 13s): I got away from our, what we were talking about there, in terms of when you, when you went back to the mistake, the things you learned, there's, there's more than the reserve and the, and the wing choice. I believe that it's kinda nice to forensically go back through these accidents. I've learned that from, from airplane pilots, you know, when they have an accident, which is thankfully much, much more rare than in Free flight, you know, they really go back to, they call it threatened air management, you know, but they go back to the series of, it's usually a series of things that kind of went wrong, but I'd love to just hear more of the takeaways and how it changed.
Sounds kind of the epitome of inner intermediate syndrome. You were way over confident in way under ours.
Speaker 2 (19m 2s): Yeah. This is probably the first, the first let's call it threats the, the confidence. And just as I said, I, I really thought I have it. And I know, I know how, how I fly into how wings fly and I know everything about it. And this gave me so much confidence. I never thought about accidents. To be honest. I just thought like Arco on this things fly and, and why should I be scared? And, and people were, they looked at me when I pulled, like collapsed us and drinks it.
I don't know. They were like, you're like really courageous. And this wouldn't make me stop. You know, I was like, oh, it's okay. I'm cool with this. They, they fly these wings. No worries. That was a bit stupid, but I think back at it, but it's, yeah, I think this was the first real big threat then of course, flying a wing that you don't know it was a new wing. So nobody really had any experiences with it.
I wouldn't ask any experienced pilots about the wing. I think this is one of the takeoffs for me as well, because after that, I went to the SIB course and, and asked after some SIV courses, I asked my instructor, okay, what wing do you think could fit me? Work? Look, shall I choose as next wing? And I think this will be much more clever than just go and pick any wing and think, okay, this wing will be okay.
So I think this is a takeaway as well. For me ask more experienced pilots. If they have a wing suggestion for your flying, how people that know how you fly, experienced pilots, that can tell you, okay, I think this should be the next one for you. This is a good choice. So this is one of the takeaways as well.
Speaker 1 (21m 8s): Yeah. And, and you said your email, I don't know if they were serious about this or not, but you chose the wind because the colors
Speaker 2 (21m 18s): It's so stupid. Right? It sounds stupid, but this is, this was one of the criteria, right? It's so sick. This is just because I'm honest and retrospective. I have to say it's probably the most stupid thing that I could have done, but the win look really nice. I love the colors. So why should I try any other wigs?
Speaker 1 (21m 46s): That's I think, I think the manufacturers that are listening to this will, their ears will be perking up and we need to be making things that are really beautiful and colorful. We'll make more sales. That's pretty funny. I've never actually even thought about that.
Speaker 2 (22m 4s): It's healthier not to think about
Speaker 1 (22m 7s): Yeah. Maybe that, so that sounds like it. So coming out of this accident and sounds like a little bit of a wake up and looking in the mirror type thing, which we all need from time to time, we've all got egos. How has your approach changed? Since?
Speaker 2 (22m 26s): So, as I said, I did my first SIV and I met Daniel Lawrence. I don't know, some might know him. He creates reserves and he's a really famous SIV instructor in Switzerland and probably one of the most experienced pilots in Switzerland as well. And, and I became friends with him through this SIV courses and learn a lot about flying about the technical parts of flying.
And, and I think this was a huge step for me because I started to realize that I know nothing about flooring lighting and that have really a beginner. And then it, that it will take me years to, to become better and not just overnight and not with one SIV a year of, I thought I will. And yeah, it takes many SIVs. It takes a lot of time above the water and to, to become a safer and better pilot.
Speaker 1 (23m 29s): You talked about, I kind of skipped over this, but you talked about being really scared and not getting any sleep before that first one. How, how was it then you, you show up that first day and you get a little bit of theory and then get out over the water. How did it pretty quickly did you pretty quickly settle into it and feel reasonable about what you're doing or was it just scary all week?
Speaker 2 (23m 52s): Yeah, I think I read the, they have, he makes this manuscript with all the maneuvers and I think I've read this manuscript 10 times before I even went there. And then this week was, it was a difficult week for me because I was not relaxed at all until the end. I did my first full stall, even in this one week. And I was just scared to be honest. And, but it was really important for me to do that because I knew I stalled the designer.
And so I just wanted to stall the glider again, just to have the feeling again. And this was really important and I was very scared of it. But once I did that, I realized, okay, I think it's something that you can work with. It's something that you can work on it to, to lose the fear. And then you have just to become better, but repeated more often.
And then, then you will lose the fear eventually. And that's something I realized there. And so it was a scary week for me, but it was a very good week for me as well, because I realized, okay, I can work on it. It's scary, but I can work on it. I still have a lot of respect, but I'm not shaking anymore. And I'm not scared of these maneuvers anymore. So I think this is where we get.
Speaker 1 (25m 20s): And what has that done for your Headspace when it just comes to ECC and flying? I know you've got some bivy aspirations. And
Speaker 2 (25m 27s): So I think I'm less scared for the, for the technical parts. Let's put it this way when I go flying, I don't think like, okay, I got this always, but most of the time, I feel like very confident in my wing because I've, I've, I've just tried doing above the water and I know what situations I can capture, what, what I can save and whatnot.
And, and, and this makes me like more confident when I go flying, but I don't think it's overconfident. I don't think that I have to fly into Rudy bad Lee situations or, or stupidly into everything, because I know it's still a dangerous sports, but I feel much safer with the wing because I know what I can resolve and whatnot.
Speaker 1 (26m 22s): I'm curious. Maybe tell me what your instructors, sorry. Tell me his name again. I know I've
Speaker 2 (26m 31s): Downloaded
Speaker 1 (26m 33s): Or it's. Yeah, of course. Quite a few SIV instructors that I've had on the show have said that, you know, there's, for some people it's not a good thing, you know, if you're, if you're going in really scared, it could just make you more scared. And that's not, that's not very good for someone's mind and Headspace and ability. You know, you're not, you're not necessarily educating. You're just freaking people out.
Whereas, you know, what they want to see is there's always going to be fear, but what they want to see is that you're really excited, you know, that you really want to do it, and you really want to push through the fear. It sounds like maybe that first one, you really scared you, do you feel like that would be, would you advise someone in their same situation to go do their first SAV regardless, or maybe not
Speaker 2 (27m 29s): Really difficult? I think it's a very individual. So I, I know myself and I'm, I'm easily scared of things. To be honest, even though the first part didn't sound like that, but I'm, I'm usually have easily scared of something. And I know I've done many things before, like climbing. I was scared of height. I was really scared of Heights. So I went to a climbing course. I thought, okay, how can I change this, this fear of Heights?
So let's go climbing. And that was really scared of finding in the beginning, but I knew that if I overcome this fear, I will feel comfortable and I will feel more comfortable in my daily situations as well. I can walk over bridges. I can go to tall buildings. And, and so it's worth to overcome this fear. I knew that. So even in paragliding, I knew that overcoming this fear will lead to something better. So, so I knew the worth of it.
So for me, it was good how I did it, but I don't think it's good for everyone. I think you have to have a little bit of a rational view as well. It's not just the fear. If I had only the fear with not the rational expectation behind it, then I think it might be it's stupid to do that, but I always knew why I'm doing this. So it was the emotional part, the fear, but the rational part as well, telling me, okay, you have to overcome this fear and then you will become a better pilot and you will be less afraid in everyday fight.
Speaker 1 (29m 14s): Tell me about where you're at now with you. You mentioned that you did a kind of a cool Bibby effort. It sounds like this last summer, and you had some cool things to say about expectations, just in terms of, you know, a lot of people do it and they're kind of setting themselves up for disappointment. And because they're there, they set the expectation too high. I liked that. Can you talk about that a little?
Speaker 2 (29m 42s): I, my first vole beef I did was two or three years ago and I only have three days. So I went from the Nissan, you know, it's in Bernice, Overland, and, and the day was really good and people flew like far distances and I just bumped out. And, and so the next two days I was just hiking and flying and doing sled rides. And, and this was my first world Biff. And it was like, it was not a good experience because I thought like, oh, damn, I should have flown much farther.
And this is so stupid. I mean, this was my first little bit, and I should've enjoyed it from the beginning to the end because it was such a beautiful experience. I mean, I went with my glider and the tent and just camped in out of nowhere. And I could hike up these mountains that I've never flown before. It was such a good experience. It was beautiful. I had the most beautiful pictures laid and most beautiful experience, but meanwhile, I was like a little bit, let's say embarrassed because I just didn't see this sense that I should have done.
And this, I realized that in this first of all, beef has to, but this is come on. I'm not, I'm not like you, I don't, I don't have to earn my money with that. I don't have to show anyone what I'm capable of. And I'm just a tourist, to be honest in paragliding, I'm a paramedic tourists. And, and my goal is just to enjoy the moments and enjoy the flying. And this doesn't matter if I fly 100 K or if I fly just one cake, it doesn't change anything about it.
And, and I should be aware of that if ever ID this again. And so this year with a friend of mine, we went to Italy and did a four day will beef. And we flew, of course we flew much farther, but we had no intentions. We just thought, okay, come on, let's fight a day. And let's see how far we get. And it was probably the four most beautiful days in my life. It was just an epic trip that we did. It was so beautiful.
And we had no pressure. We had no goals, which just wanted to fly and enjoy our four days. And this was amazing.
Speaker 1 (32m 6s): That's a pretty nice, you went, you learn that lesson really quick, you know, from the, from the first one to the second one, was, was, were you thinking along those lines during the first one or was it afterwards and you got back to Zurich and sat down on your couch and went, what the hell? Why, why did I have that approach?
Speaker 2 (32m 25s): Yeah, it was afterwards. It was afterwards.
Speaker 1 (32m 28s): Afterwards.
Speaker 2 (32m 28s): Yeah, absolutely. I didn't realize it. Then. I really thought like during this first, well brief, I really thought our, come on, what are you doing? Come on. This can't be true. You, you must be better. And, and, and, but after the three days I did for myself, like a short recapture of this, of this world beef, and I realized, come on, how stupid are you? This, this is just stupid. What are you doing here? And, and that's when I realized, okay, if I wrote you do this again, then just enjoy it and go from day to day and make yourself any pressure.
Speaker 1 (33m 6s): Interesting. And it's you, you figured it out faster than many. I think the, the beautiful thing to me about Volvo, you know, in many ways, Alaska physically was harder than, than the X Alps and the ex house was pretty tough, but the beautiful thing is you're not in a race, you know, you're, I didn't have any desire to ever. I mean, I wanted to get there. That's a big driver is, is to finish it, but I didn't care how fast we did it.
You know, it was, it was, I think that's really important to take your time. We don't have much time these days in our lives. And so, you know, you've set aside these, whatever days you've got for this adventure. And I don't know, I think it's better to you. You've got the right approach there for sure. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (33m 54s): Yeah, definitely. It makes just more fun. Right. And what if I want to be in a competition, I go to a competition and if I want to enjoy my time with wellbeing, then I want to enjoy my time and not compete.
Speaker 1 (34m 8s): Okay. Maybe, maybe tougher subject, but not one. I want to skimp on you. You live in quite a conservative country and it is as I do in many ways, especially religiously. You're a gay man obviously. And you I'd love to hear if you've experienced much, if any discrimination in this sport and how that is. That is that been tough to negotiate or to navigate, I guess is a better word.
Speaker 2 (34m 40s): No, to be honest, I've never experienced any, any difficult situations with being gay, either in, in paragliding or in my private life. I think I'm really lucky guy and I've, I've never experienced any problems with that, but of course, many of my friends they have, and, and some of them have really big problems and either with their families or with, with people attacking them.
And so, yeah, I, I know that there is problems and there is problems even in let's call it civilized countries like U S R a R a Switzerland. And yeah, it's, that's one of the reasons that made me make this project I want to do next year. Oh, we'll do two weeks. Well beef and with no goals with no, no performance goals.
And it just two weeks, well, beef, then I want the people can, can watch it. I made a webpage for this as well. And I especially want to make aware on any kinds of discrimination, let it be for sexuality, like being gay or for your gender. Like, especially what I still don't understand it. Switzerland women still earn less than men do and yeah.
Or racism as well. So I want to make aware of any kinds of discrimination. And that's why I started this project. Yes. It should have been an NGO. And what kind of NGO is against all kinds of discrimination and that's amnesty international. So I wrote amnesty an email if they would want to support me and do this project with me and they were into it and they want to support me.
And so, yeah, this will be with amnesty international.
Speaker 1 (36m 58s): That's great. I mean, it sounds like a great project and a good, good excuse to go have some fun too.
Speaker 2 (37m 4s): That's how it was born. To be honest, I always thought that I want to go fighting and have fun, of course. But meanwhile, I always thought I should, I should change a little bit in this world. I'm not, I'm usually not the guy who goes out and, and, and who shows the world what he has or he can do. I'm more like a shy guy. And that's why I'm still a little bit nervous for this interview to be honest.
But, but I thought every one of us has the possibility to change a little bit in this world. And if anyone of us starts to realize, oh, what discrimination is and, and, and yeah, that we should stop discriminating people for things that they cannot change, like their color or their sex. So then, then everyone can change a little bit in this world and it will be, become a better place.
I think it is. It is.
Speaker 1 (38m 10s): But I mean, in a sense, you know, just hearing your own experience is, makes me really optimistic. You know, that that's terrific, you know, you're a openly gay and you're, you know, participating in life and you haven't experienced it in your own situation. At least not to an extent that's been some of the stuff we see in the media and you hear about, that's just terrible, you know, so that's, we're making progress.
Speaker 2 (38m 37s): Absolutely. And I really do believe that we are making progress and, but I still think there is still a lot to do. For example, my husband, he was, yeah, he was, how should I say he was attacked many times for, for being gay from strangers, his father wouldn't talk to him for 14 years and stuff like that. So there's still a lot of work to do, but as we see it can become something really good and beautiful as it is in my case.
So, so I see both worlds and I know two words, which I want to direct it.
Speaker 1 (39m 21s): How will you train for this two week trip coming up? And then you said you had, you know, there's no goals. You're just going to go out and have a good time. But, you know, I, I I've often said and believe that Bibi's kind of the higher end of our, of our sport requires different skills in, and, you know, there are different approaches and the approaches is what makes good calls from bad calls.
You know, you can do it very safely within a lot of different skill levels. You don't have to be an ex ops pilot to have a really good bivy is, you know, you've already learned obviously, but I'm just wondering, let's talk about that just a little bit, your approach and how you prepare.
Speaker 2 (40m 7s): Yeah, of course. I, I thought a lot about top landing and, and strong wind landings and, and stuff like that. But to be honest, if it's a really easy top to land, okay, why not? But if it's not really easy, come on, I just go down and land somewhere where it's really easy to hand, and then I hike up. I have no stress, so why should I risk my, my, my health for just a few meters of hiking?
And, and this is part of the fun, right? Hiking is part of it. So why should I spare it just app? So I think this will be very important to keep in mind during the whole two weeks, just not to risk anything and just go land somewhere where it's safe and, and don't, don't, don't mess with your health, just for a few meters of hiking. Actually, I started off alone, but then two of my best flying buddies, they said, okay, they would like to join me.
So one will join me for the whole two weeks. And the other one, he has no well-built gear, but he wants to join us. So you probably would just hike with us and fly with us and sleep in hotels or somewhere in the camping car. And yeah, so it would be, it would be a big improvisation.
Speaker 1 (41m 35s): This is the beautiful thing about the Alps, isn't it? I mean, you really don't need anything. You could, you could have a really good Bibi and just stay and stay in Hudson hotels. And, you know, you don't have to carry too much and still be really comfortable. So that's a great place to go have fun.
Speaker 2 (41m 55s): The last well beef we did in the Italian Alps, we had not even a cooker. We had just like, just for one day food with us and that's it. And wherever you land, you just hike one hour and you you're in the next hub and you can get supplies there. You can get food there, you can get to cool beer there, but else you need,
Speaker 1 (42m 20s): Tell me about the hut system. And I know it's different in different countries, but you know, one of the things that I have not found personally difficult, I haven't done it, but the, but I've heard that it, you know, it can be quite tricky for example, in the Dolomites, because in August, cause it's busy, you know, to are the, are hot, typically the kind of thing where you've got to book in advance, or can you just top land and show up and get a room.
Speaker 2 (42m 50s): It and Switzerland really depends on what kind of huts you want to visit. The famous ones they're usually booked in advance. Yeah. But normally they would serve you some food and water and yeah, absolutely. So we will have our baby equipment with us. So we're not dependent on the hats, but, but you will find some food and water there
Speaker 1 (43m 14s): And the food Paul, it's incredible at some of these huts. I'm always just so blown away, just showing up and you know, you've got this menu with, it's just mouthwatering, especially if you're, you know, bivy and you're done some hiking and you're hungry, it's just all so
Speaker 2 (43m 30s): Good. It's too good. Isn't it.
Speaker 1 (43m 32s): It's too good. You just don't want to leave
Speaker 2 (43m 36s): And you don't have to. So
Speaker 1 (43m 38s): Yes, exactly. And they've got the saunas, you know, bottomless really cold beer. Why would you leave?
Speaker 2 (43m 47s): Absolutely. And you don't have anything like that in the states, right?
Speaker 1 (43m 51s): We don't have much of a hut system. There's there's, you know, there's yurts in Colorado and we in various places, we've got a few years here, but they're not really accessible flying wise. As you know, we don't have the infrastructure. We really don't. It's really tricky that the Bibi's that we do are pretty self-supported, you know, you can do a pretty easy way to, to take out a lot of the logistics, you know, cause carrying a lot of weight can be tough and a pretty easy way out of that is to have a chase vehicle.
You know? So if you have a vehicle that can follow along and have a bunch of jugs of water and a bunch of food, then, then ha then you can get away with carrying less stuff. But it's, you know, we definitely don't have the hot infrastructure that you do. And the other thing we have is, especially in the west is typically a lot of wind. And so in the high mountain regions of the Rockies and that kind of thing, it's unusual to get a string of days like you have in the Alps.
You know, one of the things that's constantly blown me away and the race is, you know, the weather, especially this year, the weather, it could be atrocious, but you can still fly. Most days, you can still get some. And this is often not recreational flying. I don't think this is, these are days that, you know, you would be out and fly. You just stay in the hut and have a nice hike, you know, but you can still fly a lot. And you know, there are, we just have a lot of days where flying would be suicidal. You just wouldn't do it at all.
It's just too much wind and you can get that can sustain for days on end. And so being can be harder.
Speaker 2 (45m 33s): Yeah. Sounds like it's no, this is really nice about the Alps. You can just go there and take your camping gear with you and go out and, and do you have a good time and yeah, it's really easy and it's accessible, especially in Switzerland. I mean, you have public transports everywhere. You can land anywhere you want. You will have at least a bus picking up there and you'll be back home in an hour or two.
Speaker 1 (45m 59s): Yeah. It's it, it really is remarkable. I also have, I love that each country is so different. I find that I always find that fascinating, you know, that, you know, the food, sorry, the, you know, compared to Italy, eh, you know, but everything, you know, the transport in Switzerland is just, you know, you can land at a bus station or a train station and you see it from the air. I, you know, I'm going to go there. I don't know how many times I've done that. And you know, whereas in Italy it's a little bit more challenging, you know, it's, it's just fascinating that there's, there's still these huge cultural differences between the countries, because it's so easy to, you know, tag three of them in a day, big triangle you're going to be, which is, which is, I love it.
I mean, culturally, it's still very interesting. It's not very homogenous.
Speaker 2 (46m 49s): That's true. And that's one, one of the beauties about it, right? You can just, within two weeks you can see so many different cultures and eat so much different foods. This is part of the beauty of it.
Speaker 1 (47m 2s): It really is. Yeah. It really is. It really is. Andy. Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun. I think it is good for us to tap into, you know, where you're at more often, because that is where, you know, the majority of pilots are, and I wish you the best of luck with your project next summer. And
Speaker 2 (47m 25s): We'll talk
Speaker 1 (47m 25s): With quarantine and, but thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it.
Speaker 2 (47m 33s): Thank you so much for having me. It's a real honor and yeah, I really hope that people can take some messages out of this and to fly more careful, become better pilots. Yeah.
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