Episode 186- Checking the boxes with Greg Hamerton

A common question we ask on the Mayhem is “what would you do if you could rewind the clock to your 50 hour self?” One of our listeners reached out awhile back and wanted to know what we should tell our zero hour selves. When we first begin we know absolutely nothing other than we want to fly! But getting into the sport is daunting. How do you pick the right instructor? What qualifications or qualities should we look for? Should we consider connecting with a club and mentors BEFORE signing on with an instructor? What are the RIGHT questions new pilot students should be asking so we don’t turn off potential mentors. How ALONE you are in the air but how big and friendly and helpful the PG community is (ESPECIALLY for women). What SHOULD we be spending money on initially? How flying is an addiction and how it might affect relationships. How learning is a “Long and Winding Road” and how limited you are in your abilities as a P2. (Note to self, you are not a YouTube worthy pilot as a P2!). How important it is to be social so you can connect with the right people and how social media can help with that. Why it is important to connect with local flying clubs and pay dues. That it’s going to cost a lot more in travel time, Gas and mileage than you think! I reached out to Greg Hamerton to ask these questions and a lot more and we had a blast. I found a lot here that is applicable to pilots at any level. Check out Greg’s website and incredible courses at FlyWithGreg.com.

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Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem and happy holidays. It's recorded this with Greg Hamerton right after Christmas, and we had a blast with this one. We've been kind of focused on the x excels and the pretty expert end of the spectrum for the last while. We've done quite a few of those and we have many more to come, but I get a lot of emails as the year goes by on suggestions for shows and suggestions for interviewees.

And one came in a few months ago in September from Samantha Amato who said, you know, one of the questions you ask a lot is if you could rewind the clock to your 50 hour self, what would you change? And she would've, she said she would've appreciated when she was learning what we should be asking at the zero hour self and the knowledge we could pass on to people who are literally just thinking about getting in sport or, you know, maybe taking their first flight or something. So the very, very early stages of the sport.

So this is kind of the opposite end of the X excelsis is just learning. But before you hang up, if you're an expert or intermediate, you got a ton of hours and you think about skipping this show. This was awesome. And I learned a ton. And I talked to who actually Samantha requested I speak to as Greg Hamerton, who's been on the show before. He is been instructing and in the game for more than 30 years, is competed in the Ex Pier and comps and PWCs and has his own channel fly with Greg.

And he answers these kinds of questions. And so I went to Greg and we talked it through. So we talk about finding mentors, what kind of instructors should we be seeking? Schools, clubs, dues, equipment, cameras, what we should spend money on and what we shouldn't spend money on. All kinds of things. And I think this is pretty applicable no matter where you are and certainly is applicable in case you've got friends or family or anybody thinking about getting into sport.

I really liked how much Greg has thought about all these questions and, and how he answered 'em. And we had a lot of fun putting this together. So huge thanks to Samantha for sending all these questions. And thanks for listening. Enjoy this one. Cheers, Greg, fantastic to have you back on the show. Happy holidays, man. You've been, I've been always watching what you've been up to and watched your Exer campaign with great jubilation that looked like a Gnar fest this year.

Holy cow. Yeah, for everybody, not just you, for everybody. I don't think I've ever, I, I think Kriegel even said he's never done so much ground game, so, but you've been having some fun and we're gonna talk at the end on, you know, some of the changes you've undertaken from Fly Bubble to instructing, that kind of thing. But a gal named Samantha Amato reached out several months ago and had some fantastic suggestions for, for a zero hour pilot. So, you know, I've been doing this whole series on ex Excels legends, the last bunch of shows, which has been a lot of fun.

We're kind of going to the other end of the spectrum here, but these questions are fantastic that she asked and they're things that I think all of us that have flown wish we'd thought of and asked way back in the beginning and known. But, so I think this is really relevant for no matter where we are in our progression. And of course, in the first sentence she asked that, that I asked you specifically about these questions, so we've nailed it here. But anyway, that was a very long opener. Welcome to the show and good to see your smiling face buddy.

Speaker 2 (3m 58s): Thanks Kev. And yeah, it's good to be here. It's great to be back on the show. It's very cool to see you still flourishing with the cloud-based Mayhem and it's really, it's a good service. I'm, I'm really stoked when I see other experienced pilots putting in their angle, it's really kind of builds the, you know, the resources that are available to pilots, which can massively improve your safety and learning path. So well done on what you're doing. Yeah,

Speaker 1 (4m 25s): I I I agree. Yours are, yours are terrific. You know, the video instruction is, I still tap into 'em very regularly. They're incredibly well done. You've been doing it for years. I don't know how you get the bandwidth to do all this stuff, but anyway, it's, it's terrific and I, I appreciate it and obviously so does Samantha. So Samantha, I appreciate these questions and Greg, if you're up for it, let's, let's just dive in here. Does that sound good? Go

Speaker 2 (4m 53s): Ahead. Shoot, that will.

Speaker 1 (4m 56s): Cool. Well, she, so she starts this off by, you know, pilots on the show. You know, I asked this 50 hour question all the time at the end of the show, Hey, what would you change if you could rewind your 50 hour self? And she said, what do we, we should rewind it to zero, you know, a new P two doesn't know anything. Apparently she heard you on a Discord chat and you talked about some of this stuff. And I just, like she says, there's so much she wishes she knew back then and things she would've done differently.

So in a sense, this is a shout out for all of those who are just getting into the sport. And I know there's a lot of very new pilots that listened to this podcast, but again, as I was going through these questions, I'm really excited to hear your answers cuz I, you and I were discussing before we started recording that, you know, here in the US you can basically be an instructor with almost no qualifications. You know, you can get really psyched on the sport and then decide to quit your job and this is how you're gonna make a living and a year later you've got your instructor's license.

And a lot of that's just theory, which is pretty phenomenal for me to think about it. So anyway, you can go to a school and you really have no idea what you're getting. Are you getting a 20 year veteran, you know, like yourself or are you getting somebody who's just fresh off and, you know, not a very good pilot to even begin with, but it's just really stoked and stoke goes a long way, but this is a little dangerous what we're undertaking here. So anyway, so she, she let, let's, let's start with the first one here.

How, do you pick the right instructor? And what qualifications or qualities should we be looking for in an instructor?

Speaker 2 (6m 36s): This is gonna depend hugely on where you are and what you can do. Gv, I, you know, it's, it's pointers saying that you want to go and learn with Jockey Sanderson. You know, when you, you are living in India or you are in South America or somewhere, it's just financially, it's gonna cripple you. So you know, you, you have to work with the instructors that you've got in your area. You know, if you're gonna, if you've got the time and the freedom, like you can take off a month, you can go and do an intensive course and that is a very, very good way.

If you can do that, it's a very good way to start off. Then you can pick at a, you know, a well known school, travel there and stay there for however long the intensive course is running for. And that way you get consistent instructing and obviously it's gonna be in a good flying region because the school wouldn't exist otherwise if they're doing these kind of intensive courses. So that can bypass the problem of you haven't got any good schools nearby or you dunno how good they are there.

You know, there are a couple of bigger operations that have been around for years and I'm thinking in the states like Eagle paragliding, you, you know, you've got guys that are, they've got a big reputation and you can go there, but you need the time. If you're trying to do it like in your local town on the weekends, you are limited to whoever is there. So I want to be realistic about it. Not say you have to go, you know, go to these, the gurus.

The, the important thing to remember is that you are the pilot, even from zero hours, you make the decisions about if you accept what you see, you know, you don't have to believe this instructor who you don't know blindly. You look at the situation and you can very quickly say, look, this looks a bit sketchy to me. I'm, I'm the prepared fly off this much. This guy isn't given me enough briefing. And very quickly you can guide or choose that learning environment.

So what I'd say is just go in with a very open mind, look at what you presented with and you are the pilot from day one. Like look at it, it, and you manage the risks. And if you think, look, this guy's sketchy. He's not, we haven't got helmets, we are not, you know, we are not in harnesses, we are flying these gliders in strong wind upwind of the rocks. This looks way sketchy to me. It probably is. It's, it's a very simple sport, you know, there's no, you know, hidden black art in it.

It's, it's mechanical. So if you see something that looks like a risk, it is and you can guide yourself through that. So, you know, having said that, I think the, the often pilots think then they need to learn from the guru because then there will get this amazing teaching and they will become an amazing pilot. Your training at school is only gonna last 10 days in some places, like, I don't know what it's like in the states, but many places in the world that's your license course, it's 10 days and it's done.

Yeah, it's usually seven, 10 days. What did you learn in 10 days? Gavin and then, you know, how much learning have you done since that 10 days? That has been mostly self-directed. So I wouldn't get hung up on, on the school. I would try and choose the sites and the learning environment where you are gonna put yourself. Because when you are out of that school where you're gonna be, you've learnt in a particular environment, is that a good place for your first year of flying?

And I would be looking more towards trying to find a, a school that's based in an area where you'd like to fly for the first year of your, your flying so that you get in there, you already got confidence cuz they've flown you off the sites and then you go there and you fly for a year. And to me that kind of environment is coastal. If you can, if you anywhere near the coast and you can get an hour drive down to the coast, if you spend your first year flying coastal, you can learn so much.

All the little precision proximity kind of skills that are often lacking when you learn off a big alpine site and you just fly out and you land in a grass landing field in the middle of the valley. It can be quite difficult for pilots with that background to really have a good judgment of slope, closeness, terrain, I'm thinking like top landing or anything like that. And even scratching with thermals if you haven't built up that mental awareness of your judgment of distance and speed and the change when you're going down in an upwind and that you learn in a soaring environment close to the ground.

So coastal just cruising up and down the ridge and coming in in top landing, taking off a game, you get so much flying in that way. So that's what I would be aiming towards to answer that question in a very, very long way.

Speaker 1 (11m 57s): Yeah, that's good. I had never heard that, you know, I, I've often thought back when, when she sent these questions through, I thought back on my own instruction, I learned it Superfly at the point of the mountain and it part of one of the reasons I was so I've always been so grateful for that as it's really quite windy. Not not dangerous, windy, it's just, it's a, it's a windy, it's, it's like a coastal site even though it's in the center of Utah, there's no ocean anywhere. Yeah. But, but it's, the way it works is is the, with the, with the valley flow winds and, but it, it's quite windy.

So you learn, we, we always joke that, you know, people that learn at the point are really good at ground handling versus people that learn at Tiger, which is a, you know, a mountain site up near Seattle where you're mostly just doing forwards. There's almost, there's very rarely any breeze. And, and so you don't get much of an opportunity to ground handle at the flying. Obviously you can go all over the place in ground, but you know, typically the people who learn at the point are pretty good at ground handling and people learn mountain sites are, are not around here.

Yeah. So I, I'd never heard that advice. That's, that's quite good. That's quite interesting. I, the other thing I'm hearing is that, you know, the, when you're learning it's kind of hard to learn when you're at best a weekend warrior. You know, if you, if you can really stack the days together. And this is another thing I think about when I learned, I, I got, I was so crazy into it from day one that we were really lucky we did a kind of a long one month road trip after I got the license and flew a dozen sites, you know, just flew all these sites in the mountains and on the coast and I didn't know what I was doing, but it was great because it was, you know, it gave me access to a lot of different sites and I had, but I had people with me who knew, knew what they were doing.

Yeah. So I was being well taken care of, you know, that was ideal. So I wasn't so much, you know, with an instructor, quote unquote, but I was with people who were instructing and, and, and we were going to all these places and, you know, a month in, I had, you know, for a month a lot of experience cause I was flying all these different sites and I, I often look back on that as boy, that was lucky.

Speaker 2 (14m 11s): Yeah, that's a, that's a really good progression path if you can do that. I mean, it's not available to everybody, but, you know, I think if you, if you pick your flying environment that you can re feasibly get to and start your training there because you're gonna need a lot of time at those simpler sites to build up all of those skills. In an ideal world, you know, that's the a really good progression path where you can, you have sites where you can top land, slope, land, kite up the slope, you know, and get a lot of repeat flights where you can do touch and GOs that that's a really good progression path.

Whereas, you know, just kind of going off to the mountains and flying off big mountain stuff, you, you, you give yourself a, a big gap in your skills, which you might fall into at some point. It's, it's not the safest, I'm not saying you can't do it, but it's, if you can engineer yourself towards one of those soaring sites like point of the Mountain or somewhere on the, on the coast, you can fill in all of those base skills in the pyramid that you're gonna build on that some pilots lack.

And it comes up later when you, you know, you're flying a higher performance glider and you, you just don't have the, the proximity skills of being able to slow land in a hurry because you had a collapse and you needed to put it in. So that, that's, yeah, that's my recommendation if you can do that, start thinking about a school that's based in a, a good low airtime pilot area that you can then build up your skills.

Speaker 1 (15m 53s): And tell me about the second part of her questions. What qualities in an instructor should a zero hour pilot look for? And I, I, I'm re I'm inferring that she's also probably talking about, you know, people learn differently. Yeah. And I think it really matters who you go to in terms of how, you know, I instructed at Outward Bound for years and years and you're always instructing with you. You've got two instructors and then your patrol of 10 students and you know, I worked with people who were just, I worked with people who could deliver, you know, talk about how to kayak or paddle or that kind of thing with no, just purely verbal, you know, they could just do it with their hands tied behind their back and just explain it in a way where you could visualize it and see it.

And others that just, that's all they did was show they almost wouldn't even say anything. Yeah. You know, here's, you know, follow me, which is how kids learn. Yeah. You know, just, I, I learned that teaching my, my daughter how to ski, didn't matter what I said to her, she just follows me and does it. Yeah. You know, lean forward. Yeah. Put your hands forward. Yeah. Ridiculous things. Yeah. Shut up dad. That doesn't mean anything, you know, but just go, just ski, I'll follow you. Yeah. That's how they learn. Yeah. So some of that sticks around. But anyway. What do you look for in a, you know, can a zero hour pilot, what do they even know to ask or should they interview or what should they do?

Speaker 2 (17m 19s): Well definitely if they can visit the school, if they've got a chance to visit the school and I think in person it would make a huge difference to over the phone. I think if you can in person meet the schools in your area, just go pop in and say, hi, I'm thinking of learning, you know, tell me about what you do. I would say you're trying to look for somebody that has very little ego evident you. The the level of pilot ability.

Yeah, sure. You want your instructor to have solid flying skills. You don't need your instructor to be the, the last, you know, national champion. If you start showing you his cups and his, you know, positions in the competitions, you, you actually, that's a turn off for me. I, I don't want the instructor to be talking about their ability. It's a given. They're running a school and they've got some accreditation by your USPA or B H P A, whoever's there, you know, so it's a given that they've already got the qualification to be teaching, I'm looking more to see what do I feel relaxed and comfortable with this person or does this person make me a little bit uneasy?

Because when you are in a extreme panic situation, you want that voice of calm you, you, because that will cut through the panic you want. You don't want the person that's, you know, interested in their own greatness. You want somebody that's interested in you and typically they've got the time for you. They're not hurried, you know, just kind of brush off and don't have time for you. They should be patient with you, have time for you and actually come across as a nice person for you.

Whatever that means. Because then you can have a rapport with them and that helps you absorb the learning. They're learning, they're teaching style, whether they're demonstrate or talk that depends on their particular teaching methodology. But I do agree with you that demonstration is much more powerful than talking. So somebody that's talking on and on and on, probably not as powerful a teacher.

Somebody that's fairly calm and quiet and, and just gets you to do things, you know, you to actually be in the air. And, and that can be a, a failing that I've seen of very smart pilots that are instructors that tend to try and want to pass everything they know on before the students had their first flight. Mm. You know, and it information overall and you see the turnaround on a training hill, these pilots, the, the instructor will have five students and they only get three flights in in the day because every pilot gets to launch and they get briefed on everything that could possibly happen.

And that can really jam up the works. When you're learning, you want somebody that's just like, conditions are good, you're good. Get your glider out, get in the air, then you're learning. And the instructor's there to kind of give you safety margins and kind of herd you like a sheep dog into the landing field. You know, kind of just be on the outside because you learning so much yourself. And the instructor, I feel is more like the guardian of the environment, you know, creating the shape around you that will give you that learning about the landing setup without needing to tell you exactly when to turn and all the little details.

And I, I typically, when I instruct, I like to let students make mistakes, which puts you in a risky position as an instructor because you have to hold back on something where you can see the guys is gonna end up landing downwind and it's playing five kilometers an hour and it's a grassy field. You want to tell him to turn into wind, but it's actually a safe environment for him to learn the down wooden mistake. And so you just say nothing and let them come in and end up muddy and, you know, spitting out grass, as long as it's not an injury that's gonna happen, but it's gonna be a surprise.

Those are brilliant ways to learn because I never have to tell that person again about downwind, upwind, crosswind. And they know it, they got it. So you kind, you know, there's, and there's different methods and I think that is, that's an, a sign of a very confident experienced instructor that allows that sort of thing to happen. But as a beginner, it's very difficult to be able to tell whether that's an instructor that knows what they're doing or it's an instructor that's a complete cowboy and had no clue.

And you know, the students are doing things that are a little bit random. So as a beginner, I think it's much more important to just meet the instructor and see if you've got a rapport with them and if, if you, if you get on well and you, you can trust them, you already, you know, most of the way there and then, you know, keep that awareness of your, your own piloting of the aircraft and decide if you look at this and say, I don't feel I'm up to this, then you are in charge.

Speaker 1 (23m 1s): You said that it doesn't really matter, you know, if that instructor's former national champion or something like that, which I agree with. But how much experience does matter, you know, where, what, are there questions that someone should ask when they go to one of these theoretical schools about, you know, Joe Blow, Hey, how long have you been flying? How many hours are those rel is that relevant? What is relevant?

Speaker 2 (23m 26s): Hmm. Well obviously you want to have some kind of accreditation from an external body. I mean, there could be an instructor that's running his own system in his own school out in the middle of nowhere and he could be good, but he might be bad. It might be that he's been kicked outta the association because he's unsafe. So I think although the association system's not perfect, it's kind of all we've got and at least it's some kind of accreditation.

So, and I feel like, you know, if an instructor is really dodgy, they'd get reported, there'd be incident reports and the association would hopefully investigate such a thing and, you know, withdraw that person's license. So I think you've got your first step is to make sure that the school is, you know, certified by whatever organization runs in your country. It might be an EPI system, it might be the, you know, the USPA or the DHV or

Speaker 1 (24m 30s): Whatever. What's your favorite system?

Speaker 2 (24m 31s): Well I work under the B H P A system in the uk. I also registered or you know, qualified through the SARPA system in South Africa, which was a much more robust system, much better in terms of pilot practical skills and light on theory. I find the B H P A system way, way too keen on theory, particularly at the pilot level and very, very thin on practical skills.

The USBA system I'm not familiar with. I think

Speaker 1 (25m 9s): It's, it sounds like it would be more based like the latter, but, but probably even, but probably less theory. I mean the theories from the 1990s and, and the practical's almost nonexistent, so it's pretty weak in my opinion.

Speaker 2 (25m 23s): Yeah,

Speaker 1 (25m 24s): I can say that it's my podcast. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (25m 26s): But I think, I think Evan, the, the thing with the association standards is they're trying to make a system that works across all schooling environments and, and different schools have different sites available to them. So they've gotta be realistic about what they can insist on in their training. And I think it's gotta be looked at as a minimum standard. You know, when I train school in South Africa or here in the uk, I always go way beyond what the minimum standard is.

And that's not financially sensible, but it's sensible as a teacher being responsible with your pilots, they're things that you know they're gonna need that aren't in the syllabus that you, you should be exposing them to the,

Speaker 1 (26m 17s): The A P P I system sounds really good to me. Yeah, you know, it, it, it, I don't know a ton about it. I've had several people on who are A P P I instructors or you know, Manti who's one of the main guys who brought it to fruition. But you know, it sounds like it's pretty heavy on SIV and, and things that, you know, here in the states really actually goes away from Yeah, they're in the opposite direction.

Speaker 2 (26m 43s): Yeah, it's, it looks like a good system. I think it's got a much more modern examination theory syllabus as well cuz it's been fairly newly formed and it has the potential to be very good, but it's, it, it struggles in countries that have already got established associations because Sure, like in the uk all the sites are registered to the BH p a, the clubs or B H P A formed as a, you know, under the auspices of the BH p a.

So the members are required to be BH p a members and the the sites are effectively controlled under that whole umbrella organization. So to come in with an A P P I license doesn't work practically in places where the sites are controlled. When you've got a more free access to the, the wilderness and I mean a lot of the ALPS is much more free actually, that you can just go up and fly. There's no kind of restriction in the area that you're flying because it's just kind of hike and flying off you go.

When you've got that kind of environment, it's easier to have an A P P I license and just go and fly because there's no effectively no checkpoint. So that, I think it'll be interesting to see where it goes. I'm, I'm quite happy that it's there. I think it's, it's good that there is a structure to it and some kind of accreditation that comes for the instructors because to have have nothing is a bit too wild west.

Like you could get a good instructor, but you might just have somebody that's trying to make a quick buck.

Speaker 1 (28m 33s): Yeah. That's what makes me nervous. This, this next question is great and it, I'm not sure this is possible in all places depending on where you're, where you're from and where you're learning, but I, I was, I didn't know this was even a thing until a few years ago. I was competing in the Nordics in Macedonia and I was having dinner with the Swedes and they were talking about in their clubs. It's kind of mandatory that you, if you've come up through their club and you're now, you know, reasonable good pilot, you are kind of tasked with taking the new members of the club on a trip.

So you kind of get a free trip to say an, you know, the flying's sometimes not so good in Sweden in the winter. And so they go to Anisey in the spring with a bunch of new club pilot members and the, the mentors, if it were, you know, not so much instructors, but the mentors get a free trip and the the newbies, you know, get to spend a week in this great place where they're gonna get a lot of hours hopefully if the weather works out with, you know, with a good pilot. And so it's kind of a, it's kind of a trading game that there, you know, that was terrific.

I've never heard of that in other, in other areas. But the question is, Should we consider connecting with a club and mentors BEFORE signing on with an instructor?

Speaker 2 (29m 58s): Hmm. No, I don't think so. I don't think the clubs are at all geared for beginners. Most clubs will just push you away and say, look, you've gotta get your license first. I think the kind of, you know, the kind of questions and the, the problems that you're facing as a zero are pilots. The instructors are the specialists for that. You know, the school is a specialist for that. They, they've got all the gear they can get you flying and then you can decide what equipment you need to get, you know, the system's set up there.

And I think the club is a very useful bridge after school, particularly in the uk It's, the way it's set up here is that the training level is known to be fairly basic. But the club, that's because the clubs have a coaching structure that there are many coaches in every B H P A club and the coaches are voluntary. They, they're on the site and if you come there as a new pilot, you just ask for the coach.

Coach is there, he gives you a site briefing, he tells you what to try and work on today. And there's that kind of constant available experienced instructors on site. So because of that, you can then make the training really quick because you know, the guys are gonna go into the safety net that's unique to the B H P A. But we had a similar sort of thing in Cape Town in South Africa where we had a few club coaches who were kind of appointed senior pilots that beginners could at least have a face that they knew, ah, he's a pilot, he's a, you know, coach.

I can go and ask him.

Speaker 1 (31m 47s): It works. That's really cool.

Speaker 2 (31m 48s): We don't have that here. It works, it works nicely. And I think any, any club that's got any kind of size to it, you know, like over sort of 50 pilots can get that structure going and can get coaches, you know, just to promote somebody as a coach and once, one thing that could make coaches more keen to do it is if you set up a sort of a culture in the club that the newbies get coaching and at the end of the day they do retrieve for the coach.

And if you, if you set it up that way, the coach now can think, Hey, I will spend the morning looking after these guys and then I'm gone. You know, you are only gonna coach them for the first two hours while it's nice and mellow. And then you say to the guys, look, you need to fly around the site and stay in this area, you know, land by the cars and hear my keys and you know, come and pick me up. Love it. You know, and then, then there's an incentive. It's a sort of a, you know, it's a nice trade. So think about that. If you, you know, if you're in a club and you've got the opportunity, maybe try that as a way to get coaches doing it.

Because normally coaches just get sick and tired of it because they get asked a thousand questions, their own flying gets compromised because they're always helping beginners and then they just, they, you know, and they just had enough of it and then they, they disappear from the scene. So I think it's important to make sure that the club is giving something back to those coaches from day one or setting it up that they are rewarded, otherwise they're not gonna do it for very long.

Speaker 1 (33m 27s): Hmm. That's that's great. Yeah. I love that. That leads really nicely to this next question. The the mentor thing is always, I get this one a lot in different ways, but this is really specific, which I love. What are the right questions new pilot students should be asking so we don't turn off potential mentors? A tough one.

Speaker 2 (33m 47s): Hmm. Well I mean the first, the first sort of batch of questions that you need to ask a, a mentor coach or anything like that is, is around the site. So that's gonna be fairly easy and that'll be natural that you, you go and find their most experienced pilot on the site and then you ask them things that are relevant to your safety, nobody's going to deny you that information and they'll be very happy to help. So you're asking things like, you know, where my landing is, what hazards to have to watch chart for?

Have there been any accidents at the site? Where did they happen? And you, you're just drawing on the information and their experience to inform where you fly. I, I wouldn't try and get a expect a coach or mentor to take a radio and start, you know, talking you into a top landing because you are then expecting a coach to be an instructor.

That's a kind of a service that you would pay for. A guy's gonna be professional and he's taking the risk of being the guy in control of your glider saying go left, go. Right. And that's a very different level. So I would say be careful of your demands or expectations of somebody that's just voluntarily there with experience because what they say, if you act on it, they could be potentially awkward about their liability.

They don't wanna say something and then you go and do it and you have an accident and they feel responsible. So I think if you approach the mentoring thing more in the way of asking like, can you suggest things about my flying that I could improve? Are there things that I'm missing out? Asking for sort of guidance and using them as a sounding board to bounce questions off somebody experienced rather than trying to get them to teach you if it's teaching, that's gonna be, for most people, they don't wanna do that on their weekend, you know, and it's now getting thermic and they're worried about collapses and stuff and are you coming there with very little experience gonna be a bit hesitant.

But if they, if you ask them like, you know, can you, what do you think of conditions for my level? Yeah, that's fine then they will give you guidance, but it's gotta be kind of that hands off approach. I wouldn't expect a mentor coach to actually be teaching me how to fly my glider.

Speaker 1 (36m 32s): Yeah, and I would reiterate too, just what you said about giving back, you know, our, our own little community here in, in Sun Valley has really kind of crumpled as of late because the, the newer pilots, and this is of course the older, more experienced pilot's fault, but, you know, it was a lot of asking and no give. And so finally that, you know, that was, you know, if you're not gonna give us retrieval once a while, we're not gonna help you out. Yeah, yeah. And it, it kind of, it kind of started falling apart a little, you know, in, in a sense.

Yeah. So I, I think that's, I think that's really important is if, you know, if, if you're asking for advice, I, I've never met a pilot ever in my life who's not willing to give it, you know, I think people in this community are incredibly open with their knowledge and help and willing to help, but it, you know, it's a, it's, it's good to just be mindful that it should be a two-way street if it, if it's if possible. Yeah. This next one isn't a question, it's a statement, but I'd like to get your thoughts on it.

She, she's, she comments just how alone you are in the air, but how big and friendly and helpful the PG community is, especially for women. I just, any thoughts on that? We, we just talked about that a little bit. I've, I've found our community incredibly willing to, I think that's just the risk involved and that, you know, anybody who's been in this sport has seen accidents and so I think a lot of it just comes from that. But any thoughts on that?

Speaker 2 (38m 4s): Yeah, I think the, the smaller the community, the, the more supportive and easy to approach they are. I think once you get to a certain kind of scale, it's a kind of tribal size. Once it gets over a hundred, you know, you, you start losing the connections with people and they form different groups that don't really aren't really interested in each other. So I think the bigger clubs have a harder time with this than the smaller clubs. I think the smaller clubs are more tight-knit.

It's easier to get help because they're fewer people and it's, that thing as you were saying is like the experienced pilots just get tired of being, you know, asked a thousand questions eventually and, and not getting anything back. When it's a smaller community, I seem to find like it's more of an adventure. You go somewhere together, you kind of plan something to do something together and link up. I don't know, that's my experience. It might be different depending on which small club you're in, but I, I think what helps as well as if you have, if you can lead or initiate away trips as, as you were saying with the Swedish club, that is fantastic for keeping the vibe in the club going because the worst thing for a club and for for pilots is to be in one little area for too long and then the politics start about, you know, this is his site and my landing and you're not allowed to fly here.

And it's sort of, it breeds discontent when, when you're in a little pool and you stay there. But when you've got the more pilots that go elsewhere and come back or the club goes on a trip and sees other places and comes back, you bring that sense of exploration and freedom and adventure into that club. I think it's very healthy. So if you can be the leader, it doesn't take much as you said, you don't have to be an instructor to run these trips.

You're just gotta say, we are running a club trip to, you know, les, we've, we've booked a chalet and who wants to come? This is how much it's gonna cost you. Quite often the experienced pilots will be only too happy that somebody else has organized it. All it needs is a accommodation and a driver, you know, some local logistical support. And then the experienced pilots, you can invite them to the trip. They don't have to do anything, you just gotta give them dates.

Brilliant. So as a very low airtime pilot in a club, you can do that kind of a thing. Just if you just do one trip a year and motivate it, it'll help massively in the club and you'll be, I'm sure then you would be helped a lot with your flying because the experienced pilots are only too happy that, you know, you're doing that for everybody and that can turn a club around from being kind of, you know, very, very limited to being a bunch of netters that go explore the world.

You know, it's a nice change. Good advice. Doesn't take much.

Speaker 1 (41m 33s): Yeah. Right. This next one's good and a pet peeve of mine. I'm, I'm excited to get your thoughts on it. What should we be spending money on? And she puts in pers I chose a a a play ground handling wing over an expensive GPS bur. So that's an example that she had. But in the, in the beginning days, this is not a cheap sport. Where should we dedicate our limited resources?

Speaker 2 (42m 1s): Well I, one thing I'd like to say to zero ourself is it's expensive to paraglide and it's expensive on a continued basis. So it's something I didn't really appreciate in the beginning cuz you think, ah, it's flying, it's flying, I love it, I love it and I'm gonna get a glider and then I'm just gonna go fly. There's no more costs. And over the years it's, it, it's proven to be very expensive and there's no way of getting around it. If you try and dirt on the cheap, you end up forcing yourself down a path of old unserviced gear that isn't safe, that isn't actually the wing that you should be on, but you got it cuz it was cheap.

You're not getting training because you don't wanna pay for it. You are not driving to get to the sites because it's too expensive. So you're flying crappy site in crappy conditions because just don't wanna spend money to go somewhere and everything compromises your safety when you do that. And if you look long term, anything that you can do to avoid an accident in paragliding is worth a lot of money. It's, you know, if you're saving a few dollars here and there and then you crash, the math is completely wrong here.

You know, and to me, you, you want to do the sport in a way that you are avoiding injury to yourself because that's just traumatic and massively expensive. So choose a path that's if you can, that steers away from that. And that is you need to come up with a sensible financial plan that's gonna support paragliding. And it's difficult. I know in the beginning, cuz you're so stoked about this and you want to go out and do this thing.

And that's, this is what I would say to myself, you know, I was in university, I had no money and I just wanted to go and fly. So I was studying to be an accountant, I had all the qualifications necessary, I just needed to agree to the job offer and I bailed and I went paragliding and, and if I had just stuck it out for five years or six years of that arc of career and get money, it would've opened up 25 years of finance flying.

Instead, what I did was I did 30 years of non-finance flying and you know, tried to work out ways to make a little side gig here and do a bit of work and go instructing. You know, you think, oh, you're at a paragliding school. Like eh, it's, it's not a route to riches. There's not a way to make money, but by doing that, you're even limited with a paragliding school you can do because you don't have money. So you, you know, you, you're limited in the training year. You can buy the sites you can buy or rent or hire and everything is limited when you dive into paragliding head first and you don't have a financial plan to support it.

So that's what I would suggest. If you can in any way delay things or work on your career plan, your opportunities for education and employment and improving that because it's a long-term game and if you've got a better financial situation for 25 years of paragliding, man, you can choose what you do and you're not, you're not stuck on that crappy glider that you wore secondhand that was too big for you, but it was only $500 and it just, it just messes up your flying, you know, whereas a little bit more money can make a huge difference.

So that's firstly what I would say about the money side of things. It's a, it's a necessary evil for this game. It, these wings are incredibly complicated to manufacture that don't come cheap and they wear out fast. So I look at it at about $10,000 a year as you are kind of running cost for paragliding $10,000 upfront that you're gonna sink into equipment that's your wing, your reserve, your harness, your helmet, your instruments, extra bits and bobs.

It's about $10,000 and you're gonna wear it out at a rate. It's only gonna last 400 hours of airtime. You're gonna need training transport, there's financing that initial 10 k, so it works out at about $10,000 a year that you're gonna be spending with a bit of travel, a bit of s v training maybe. So if that, if that's gonna break the bank, then fix that problem before you start thinking about what gear you're gonna buy.

Otherwise you are buying the gear with a very constricted finance situation, which puts you into buying the wrong stuff. That's, you know, to get back to the actual stuff that you're gonna buy, what Sammy did, buying a ground trainer, that's the sort of decision that you can make when you've got a bit of money and you can say, Hey look, I've got a main wing that I want to keep in good condition and it's always overpowering me when I'm learning my ground handling.

You can go and buy a ground trainer, there are about a thousand dollars bgd seed, ozone road runner, that kind of thing. And now you've got a tool that massively expands your range of training conditions. So you can still ground handle on your main way when it's really smooth and easy. But let's say you've got some, you know, brush scrub area at the back of your house that you can go and take the ground train in and you don't care. It's durable glider and it's small and it doesn't overpower you.

And now you can work on all of your ground control drills and you, you massively improve your skills in ground handling by just spending a thousand dollars that you're gonna get mostly back when you're finished with your ground training and you, let's say you've done it for a year, you can put that on the secondhand market and it'll be snacked up and somebody, you know, if you put it at $500 you sell, like I've been using it for a year, it's still in good condition. There's somebody else there that'll want that wing. So you've only spent $500 and you would've actually taken off more than $500 value on your wing ground handling your main wing in that time.

So to me that's a sort of, you know, it's a no-brainer when you've got some money. When you haven't got money and you're looking at it like you a the cheap way. You just can't make those sort of decisions clearly. So hopefully that's a, it's a bit of an unconventional approach I suppose, because when I started it was just like, do everything I could to just fly and just, yeah, chuck the work. It doesn't matter, but it, it really does, it really makes a big difference.

Speaker 1 (49m 14s): Let me, let me add or yeah, I guess add a few things. Just get your thoughts. I've got some thoughts on some of these things too for sure. You don't need to spend a lot of money on a fancy ver you know, we should learn in the beginning. We spend a lot of time with no instruments is is my thought. You know, you could have your phone to tell your ground speed and stuff, but you're, you're, you don't, you certainly don't need things beeping at you in the beginning. That's a really nice skill that I still work on today that I think's really important for learning how to core and thermal and which isn't so much your zero hour pilot.

Yeah, but you don't have to worry about that so much. A second one would be a camera, please don't get a camera early

Speaker 2 (49m 57s): On. Gotta have the GoPro man right up here.

Speaker 1 (49m 60s): God, I mean I, the you I'm sure like everyone saw the, the mid-air down in Columbia last year with a really low hour pilot. And I'm sorry if you're listening to this and I'm calling you out, but I mean, that kind of thing is just mind blowing and you know, this sport requires 150% of our attention every single flight we do. And to remove bandwidth because you're worried about a camera and cameras are finicky and I know cause I've done a ton of filming as you have.

Yeah. And it just adds a level of stress and possible angst and things going wrong, including, you know, I've had a friend, not a friend an an acquaintance who was killed because like the, he had a big collapse and the lines got tied around the camera and it snapped his neck. And so it's, it's real risk. Yeah, no, that's, that's one of those outliers of course, but you know, GoPro's 500 bucks, that's, that's a nice place to save money.

I almost think there should be a rule, you know, until you're an ian, until you've got a couple thousand hours, you, you don't get to use a camera. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (51m 13s): Yeah. They have a, they have a rule like that in skydiving. Like you, there's a certain number of hours before you're allowed to have a camera on your helmet. You kind, kind spell out the plane. We

Speaker 1 (51m 22s): Should have, we should definitely have that kind of rule. Yeah. And then finally, I think the last place, you know, when, when you're talking about money, and this is, I'm sorry we've hammered this for a lot of shows over the years, but you know, I think when people get into it, if they, especially if they start flying comps, which I highly recommend, I think it's a great way to get hours and, and get, you know, start feeling how you know, you, it's a direct feedback tool where you go, oh, I'm not very good. You could be the hero at your home site and you go to a comp and realize, wow, I'm actually not very good compared to all these people.

But, but the, what people tend to do when they get in that environment is I need a better wing, I need a better harness. And that should not be the takeaway. The takeaway should be that you should become a better climber and a better glider on the gear you've got. Yeah. Cuz you, you won't have the bandwidth to fly hotter gear when you're not a better pilot. That's just going the opposite way. You're taking more risk for less reward and you're putting the, you're putting the, the onus on the gear, which is expensive rather than your own skill building and foundational skills.

And so that is not where we should spend our money is, oh, I I need a better glide. Yeah, no, you need to, if you can stay in the air for 10 hours and you're bored silly, then you can start thinking about a better glider. That's my opinion.

Speaker 2 (52m 47s): Yeah. Well, I mean, let's bring that back to zero hour pilots. You know, there, the, the wing that you're gonna buy really doesn't matter at this point. You know, if you zero hours and you're gonna be learning, okay, it does matter that you don't buy an old e n c glider that is completely unsuitable for training on as long as you've got an e n a glider and maybe a low B depending on where you are and what you're looking at.

But something that's really simple and easy to fly, don't even worry about the performance specs and which ones got the best climb rate and all of that. Those skills are totally irrelevant that, that, you're not gonna tap into that when you zero hour. What you're looking at is a wing that's in good condition. You don't want it to be porous. That's a killer. That's the cheap wing that will say e n b, but is actually not even an e n d, it's just an airworthy. So you are looking to spend money on something that's got life in it, that's a low, simple, easy wing.

And then don't worry about the performance at all because all of the stuff you're gonna be working on is gonna make so much more difference to your performance, your ability to control the pitch on the glider, the actor flying, the feeling your harness weight shifting. And when you put the break in, you know, if you put that break in one second later in thermal flying, you're coring the sink. You're gonna be, you're gonna be down there, you know, in, in seconds below the other pilot that's just done that at the right time.

So until you've, until you know that and you've developed that moment of it, turn now the, the wing is gonna make absolutely no difference whether it's slightly older, three years generation back or you know, a high performer because you're not gonna fly to the right place. So don't worry about the gear, don't stress about the perfect wing in the beginning. Get something simple that's available, that's affordable and just go and fly and work on your skills.

That's what I would say. So it doesn't, you don't have to spend a lot, but you definitely need to have a plan to finance this game because it carries on costing you money.

Speaker 1 (55m 14s): Sounds like you've got from, from experience as I think we all do, and this, this, this one, this is, again, this is a statement and it reminds me of Mark Watts on the show and asked him, you know, if you could rewind to your 50 hour self, you know, this is for those of you listening who don't know who Mark Watts, he, one of the most famous kinda legendary comp pilots in the UK has flown for 30 years, has won a ton of comps and very, very competent comp pilot asked this question, he said, I wouldn't fly. And I thought he was joking and he said, no, I wouldn't fly.

I ruined my relationships and it's taken way too much time, way too much money. I would, if I could rewind my 50 hour self, I'd quit this shit. And, and so I thought that was hysterical and he was very, I think he was being very honest. Yeah. But anyway, this next one is how flying is an addiction and how it might, or that should maybe say will, how it will affect relationships.

Speaker 2 (56m 7s): Yeah.

Speaker 1 (56m 8s): What are your thoughts on that?

Speaker 2 (56m 10s): Yeah, I mean it is, you know, people, people that don't fly don't get it. They, they won't and they won't ever like no amount of explaining. They don't get what you're doing and why are you risking your life or, you know, being able to develop the skill to, to not die and to, to be able to fly around the sky. You know, it, it's, it's such a cool thing to do and it, it just, you know, it either gets you it and it grips you in your guts or it doesn't, there's no in between.

And I think, you know, when you start getting in between in paragliding, it's probably time to give up. You know, when you, when you're kind of ambivalent about it or you, you're starting to look at accident statistics and try and work out the, you know, what your risk is and should I really be doing this? It's probably time to give up. You're not really enjoying it enough. You know, it's not something that you kind of, you just en you enjoy doing occasionally and you do other stuff.

I, I don't think those pilots are safe. And I think it's, you've gotta be a hundred percent into it or don't do it. And it doesn't mean that you've gotta give up forever. But if you acknowledge you in that position where it's kind of a cool thing to do, but you know, you, you also would rather go surfing or you know, go kiteboarding or go horse riding or whatever. And particularly when you've got family, you find that time with the kids is very valuable and very important.

And it might be cooler to be dad for a bit, you know, if you are not completely into paragliding, it doesn't really make sense. It needs to be that, that level of passion because that's what it's giving you. It's that, that feeding the soul passion, you know, you feel epic. If you're not feeling epic when you're paragliding, well then what you're doing it for, it doesn't make sense.

There's so many other cool things you could do without the risk. But, you know, that's, that's kind of, that's my approach. And you know, I, I kind of feel like all the work that I do is to prepare pilots that are completely into it. They can't do anything else. They're flying. Well, hell, if you're going to be there, let's reduce your risk. All I can do is reduce your risk. I cannot get rid of it. It's, you know, but I can certainly taper it down from, you know, you're 95% safe to you, 99% safe.

They're technical things you can learn there, approaches and procedures you can follow that will trim it down so that it's sensible, but there's still a risk there that you're never gonna get rid of. So, you know, it's never gonna be a hundred percent safe, but it can be awesome. And you can, you can minimize and, you know, manage that risk as best you can while you, you're doing this thing you love.

Speaker 1 (59m 24s): Yeah, I think, I'm not sure this, this is gonna be a very clear answer to that, but I think at some point in, in most paragliders progression or journey or you know, it's not gonna have that whole, my God, this is epic. Like it did in the very beginning. And we risk, you know, like you said, if you give up everything to go paragliding, we risk that, that becomes the definition of who we are.

And when suddenly things start fading for various reasons, either it's not feeling epic or kids or family or age or an accident or whatever it is, all these things that life throws at us, especially if we're pilots, you know, you, you risk losing your identity. As in a sense, I've talked to a lot of folks about this. That's, you know, your, your 50th comp may not be as exciting as your first Hmm. And I don't know to, so I guess my advice if it were to the zero hour pilot is, you know, the, this is something that you don't have to worry about yet, but it will be at some point, most likely it's, you know, it's coming and we, we need to learn.

Part of life is learning how to talk ourselves off the cliff and you know, that, that we, we can find a different way to enjoy things than risking our lives. Yeah,

Speaker 2 (1h 0m 53s): Yeah, yeah. Perfect. It doesn't need to be risking your life. And I think, you know, there's, there's a, there's a lot of adrenaline when you start. So when you had a zero hour self, let's be honest, it's adrenaline. That's, you know, it, it's just amazing. But you kind of feel like, you know, you're kind of hanging on the string and it, it's, it's ridiculous when you start paragliding like what you just did that you just, you just ran off a mountain and you flew down and landed in a few and it's ridiculous what, what you did.

So, yes. And it becomes the norm, you know, very quickly. So very quickly out of that zero ourself, you, it becomes a normal thing to do. The, the danger, I think is when it becomes normal. And when you fall into kind of, as you said the, the 15th camp is not so much of a challenge anymore and you kind of blase about it, I think that's when your risk peaks because you are not on it, you are not treating it like something that could kill you.

Mm. So I don't think it's, although it's pretty exciting when you start, I don't think you're actually at that much risk. I think, you know, given that you've got an instructor, any instructor is gonna be training at a fairly easy site and he's only gonna send your orphan conditions that look reasonable. Your risk level's pretty low. Your perceived risk is very high. So you've, you've completely focused and on it, and that's quite safe.

And the sport can get more dangerous, particular at about a hundred hours as you become familiar with it and you start feeling like this is a normal environment for you and your perceived risk goes down, it's still there. It's still like you can fall out of the sky anywhere and break yourself. So it's stays there. But I think it's important to keep an awareness that this is a risky thing and keep the dialogue going, which I try to do with my guides as well.

That, you know, we, we do accident analysis, like sort of some parts don't like to talk about them at all or just don't bring them up. But, you know, we'll, we'll go through accidents and what happened and what, what pilots could have done in that situation. More ready just to prepare you mentally and keep that dialogue going that there's a risk and you must be your alert while you're flying because I have, I think that it really helps reduce the risk. It makes you more alert and it makes you plan for risk rather than you become completely comfortable with this environment and ah, let's us go flying.

You know, I do this all the time. And that's, that's a, a kind of a way to fly that I think leads to an accident that you, you become this guy that flies all the time and it's no problem. I've got lots of experience and you kind of gotta approach it like you do it zero hours all the time that, you know, this thing can kill you. Let's let's manage this risk and have fun while we're doing it.

Speaker 1 (1h 4m 17s): Yeah. I think, I think having that approach that Jeff Shapiro talked about in one of the very early shows, like a bass jumper does or a wing suit pilot does that, you know, this one flight right now is the most important flight of your life. Yeah. I think they have that constantly in mind is a good approach to the sport, which takes us to very nicely into the long and winding. So she, this is again another statement, but how learning is a long and winding road and how limited you are in your abilities as a P two.

And then she puts it brands not note to self, you are not a YouTube worthy pilot as a P two. So we've talked about the camera thing, but this one's, this one's interesting, isn't it Greg cuz it, you know, we don't know what we don't know and it's, it's hard in the beginning to not know what we don't know or the reverse it, it's tricky cuz we're, we're just, we're new and I would say like you, like you said, maybe not so risky under a hundred hours. And then from there, you know, we get into all the things we've talked about so much on the show, you know, intermediate syndrome, you know, even the expert end of things, you know, just becoming complacent.

Yeah. You know, complacency is really an, an evil one in this sport. But talk about that a little bit that, you know, it really is, I I personally, I think that's what's so special about it, that it is a long and winding road. I mean, it takes forever to be decent and we're never gonna be that great, you know, I mean even Kriegel still learning. Yeah. You know, he's great compared to everybody else, but I mean, he is the best compared to everybody else. But you know, I I'm certain he would still say he's still learning an awful lot, you know.

Yeah. His, you know, 2022 kriegel self compared to 2012 kriegel self is a lot different.

Speaker 2 (1h 6m 9s): Yeah. I think it's part of the joy of paragliding that it is a long winding path. It certainly kept me in the sport for 30 years that, you know, if it wasn't this long and winding path, it's an epic, it's a, it's a journey that doesn't really, I don't think we ever get to the end of it and master it completely, but you get higher and higher and the view gets better. You know, you know, that's true.

It's constantly, you know, there there's more to learn and there's more to adventure and develop. So yeah, I mean there is no, there is no perfect progression. Everybody is different. Everybody has different flight journeys and trips that they go to and sites their fly and you develop different skills and you, you come to the sport with different skills. So you're building on, you know, your sailing background or your, you know, micro lighting or radio control planes or you know, gaming or whatever it is.

And you bring those skills in. So it's, it's completely unique, which gives it its magic. So I think as long as you are matching your level of development with the environment you're flying in, then you've got a very long career ahead of you. It's when you, when you kind of have the gungho, I'll do it anyway kind of approach.

I don't think it lasts very long because you, you push yourself into an environment that you're not ready for. You know, you are always gonna come up against things that surprise you. But my approach is to try and find, try and guide your own development path consciously rather than just whatever's turns up at your local sites when you fly and where you fly and who you fly with can make a massive difference on the quality of your learning.

So if you can, even if it's just one or two trips a a year or it's a week long weekend to go down to the coast, maybe it's drive over to Santa Barbara and go and fly there with the guys, you know, go to one of the other sites where you can get a different experience. But, you know, don't put yourself into like fi in springtime when you're a, you know, 20 hours pilot, you're not looking for environments that don't match your level. You're trying to find the next step in your progression.

And if you guide that logically, I think you find a very good path. So, you know, when you're starting out, as I'm saying, try and find that, go to the coast for a week, you know, have a, have a holiday break, the family will love you, you know, rent a shell out on the coast or wherever, you know, whatever you do campsite or whatever. But go to the beach area where there's a flying site and go and work on your skills on just dragging your feet along the dunes and you know, low level stall point appreciation and all of those skills if you haven't done it.

And then progress to the, the sort of inland hill like, you know, pointing the mountain, that kind of a thing. And then take yourself to sort of an Alps environment before you go and do the vo B in the, you know, Chinese, you know, mountains, you know, and you know, it's a sensible progression. You, you're not trying to go out and, you know, scare yourself to get that buzz. You, you're trying to build skills, push yourself a little and then take their skills and go and do something more awesome.

But you've now got the skills that you've built up. So that's kind of my, my approach on a, on a learning path. Everybody's gonna be different, but you can guide it, you can intentionally go and seek out the next step in the, in the paragliding progression.

Speaker 1 (1h 10m 16s): This is, that was great Craig. That and something that I forgot to mention that I think we probably should, you and I both have experience with this is when it comes to the money side of things and how much, you know, you mentioned 10,000 a year, what I would definitely recommend anybody listening at the zero hours is don't even remotely think you can do it from sponsorship. That is not a very viable tendril in the future for, for in this sport.

You know, I was talking to Aaron Dur Gotti at the super final and you know, it's maybe Less than five people in the world. Yeah. Maybe, maybe it's a few more. Somewhere in the very, very, very low numbers of people are, are making a living from the sponsorship side. There are no prize winnings except at the, you know, at the xop level. And that doesn't even pay for the race if you win it. So the, that that's not a, you know, I, I wouldn't get into this thinking, yeah, yeah, I'm gonna just become sponsor and that's how I'm gonna get all this stuff that that's a tiny minute percentage, you know, be thinking, you know, that that'd be like playing in the N B A.


Speaker 2 (1h 11m 36s): Yeah, no, you,

Speaker 1 (1h 11m 38s): I mean, but without any money. You

Speaker 2 (1h 11m 39s): Could, you could do it,

Speaker 1 (1h 11m 41s): You can do,

Speaker 2 (1h 11m 42s): Yes. But I wouldn't be looking at it from a point of view of professional paragliding sponsorship. I would be looking at it from a point of view of if you've got a massive social following, if you've, you know, if you're a storyteller and you can, you can bring people along with you with your flying, you can do that from a fairly early stage. You don't have to be a dei, you know, to build the YouTube channel. Yes. And I'm not, I'm not suggesting everybody goes out. Well they GoPros now and sticks 'em on the helmet.

It's, it's the GoPro that's not on the helmet. That it, that's interesting. That's, that's where you start telling the story, put it on the ground. Now you've gotta build the story around what you're doing. You know, you're learning to fly, but it's not about the technical. This is how you fly a paraglider that's not gonna interest the U YouTube audience. But certainly, you know, the journey that you're taking, the adventures that you're going on, the people you're meeting, the places you're going to, it's a different kind of skill. I'm not talking about flying now, but there is an opportunity storytelling to, to story tell about what you're doing that you find so awesome and build an audience and do the YouTube thing and then look at sponsorship kind of product placement or whatever, however you do that.

That could be a sideway to finance the paragliding. And that's where I was kind of trying to hint it towards coming up with a business plan that, you know, you can build around this thing that you love doing. There are other ways, the other way that is possible yes, is if you near a flying school and you can, you can go and help the flying schools always need help. You could be a trainee instructor from fairly low hours where you are helping. You could just be the guy that drives the van up with the tandem pilots that are flying off the hill and you know, then they fly you off at the end of the day and give you a flight where you fly the glider and you can learn thermally.

There are ways to trade if, if you time rich and, and money poor, you can trade your time for something around paragliding, you know, maybe the flying lodge that runs flying trips, guiding pilots. And you can be the driver, you'll learn tons and you can also offer to retrieve cross-country pilots. And you, you know, you know, you can ask them a thousand questions on the way back, they'll only be too happy to share their, their wall stories and their successes.

So, so they're ways to, you know, there's ways to reduce this cost and the, the thing with the flying schools, and that's the route that I chose, you do then have access to much cheaper gear because you are now part of the staff so you can get staff prices and things. It's another way to reduce the price. But all of these things you've, it's always a business transaction. You've gotta be giving value to get something in return. Nobody's gonna give you stuff for free.

So you've gotta think of ways like how can you provide value to somebody, either this paragliding school or people entertain value, whatever, but it's creating value so that you then get the reward and then you can spend it on flying because flying is pretty much a spend thing. I don't really see, yeah, as you said, a very five pilots in the world that maybe earn money from flying, but they do a hell of a lot of work and a lot of time to make those sponsorship dollars actually come in.

You know, the company's not gonna pay unless they are selling much more of their thing by you promoting it, then they're paying you in sponsorship dollars. So I it's not, yeah, it doesn't really work as a, as a way to, to finance this expensive game, find another way.

Speaker 1 (1h 15m 35s): Totally. Greg last question. Why is it important to connect with local flying clubs and pay dues and you know, kind of be a part of that community?

Speaker 2 (1h 15m 47s): Oh wow, you've talked about that community quite a bit. Yeah, that's huge. Look, we are all independent. Everybody that wants to fly. If you are the kind of person that gets drawn to flying, you're fiercely independent, you're probably pretty self-confident and you are the kind of person that can do things on your own. You can sort yourself out. You can go into the wilderness and be on your own and come back and be cool about it. Mostly, you know, it's the kind of stereotype but it's the kind of personality it attracts.

So they're the opposite of club people. You tend, tend to not want to get involved in a club, not have a license or association people telling you you need to pay insurance at all this. So it's difficult for zero hour self to accept this like tried and tested way, join the club, follow the rules and all of that. But what you do when you take that solo path is you cut yourself off from a massive group of friends who will have adventures with you and are only too happy to share what they've learnt and also demonstrate what you shouldn't do by flying badly in front of you.

You know, there's all sorts of pilots in the club and you learn so much by being in that environment where there are other pilots. You learn very little on your own, especially if you are beginning because you're kind of making it up and you are learning bad habits and which you have to then untrain yourself. So I would suggest even if you are that independent kind of person, just go with the flow for the first year, get your license, join the club, pay your dues, get in there and then you can always decide to go solo once you've seen it and you're there and you've got your license, whatever.

Now it's an option. It's not something you've forced to do because I see pilots that go rogue early usually give up because whenever they're coming, at some point they come to the club site, the place where everybody is, they wanna do a competition. No, you have to have a license now you, where's your license from? And they end up having to avoid and going to site and trying to get off quickly before everybody else has arrived.

You know, and you're just putting yourself at risk and it's totally unnecessary for a, for a couple of hundred dollars for a pet, you know, that's all it is. And you get back from that money. That's the point. It's like when you pay that you, you get back much more just from the, the facilities, the like the WhatsApp groups where pilots connect and tell you, hey, it's flyable or you know, the local hill, great you go there. That saved your membership key in one WhatsApp message cuz you didn't waste the day driving your time, you know, when you didn't know if it was flyable.

So yeah, totally just join the clubs even if you don't like the politics, just ride with it for a year and then you can make a decision and you'll probably find doing that, you'll just get a little group of pilots that you like hanging with and then you've got your crew, you go fly with them, you don't need the club. That's fine. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 19m 10s): Yeah. And I think, I think too is you, as you progress, at least for, for me, you know, we can, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and you know, as, as Thomas Darlow Krieger's coach would say, you know, you really want to play more to your strengths. But you know, for example, I I'm never going to be great at weather. It's just not my thing. I'm not, I'm not a data person and so, but I fly with people who really are, you know, my xop supporter the last couple times is Rev and he's amazing at weather.

So I mean I think it's, it's just a lot more fun flying with friends and you know, when you have multiple people you can go, you, when you have a crew, you can, you know, some people are gonna be really good at watching that weather way out in advance and pick the site and you know, they'll, they'll be, you know, they'll you'll get in the air more. Yeah. Yeah. If you're, if you're social, if you're paying attention to the, the group chats and the social media and again, that's also another place where you can contribute. You know, some people are really good at knowing about insurance or gear or fixing stuff and yeah.

Anyway, that, and that leads me that, let's end on, you know, give us the, the one minute, since the last time we've talked, you've changed some things. You're not with fly bubble and you're, you're ubiquitous on, on the YouTubes in terms of instructing. So what's, what's happened in your world since last we talked Greg and then I I appreciate it, man. This has been a blast.

Speaker 2 (1h 20m 41s): Yeah, cool. Yeah, I'm always happy to talk about this. I mean this is, this is what I'm doing full-time now and I'm, I'm really blessed that enough pilots have got it. They've realized the, the value in having a guiding voice that's experienced and giving them clear information and helping them with their flying. So there are enough guys that are now supporting my flying academy that I can do this full-time, which is kind of a game changer.

I've been trying to get this right for 30 years since I started paragliding. I ran paragliding schools, ran trips, all sorts of things and it, it just never really worked. The, the time spent and the the reward back financially just didn't work. So I was always having to do other things, which meant it limited my time that I could do video production instructing and answering questions. Cause I think people have now got into the idea of online training and I think Covid helped a lot with that, that's, people realize, look, my time is valuable.

I wanna learn something. I don't wanna waste my time on YouTube going through 101 videos to get a nugget. So my model now is I've got a website where I just do instructional videos. I'm not so much focused on storytelling there, I'm just teaching technique skills and building of progression. So pilots can come in from zero hours, go through the steps in my system and they will top out being a cross-country pilot beyond that, good luck.

You know, I, I I acknowledge I can only take pilots so far. I've been in, you know, hike and fly races and competitions PWCs before, but I'm certainly no kriegel champion level. If you are looking for that kind of training, I'm gonna have to say cheers, you know, send me a picture when you're crossing the goal line. But there's certainly, there's a lot of learning up to that point. And there are a lot of gaps in pilot's knowledge where they've developed one area or they're trained a certain way and they haven't been exposed to other environments.

So that's the value they can get from the Flight academy that I run. And if you look at the, the cost that you're looking at when we discussed the sort of $10,000 a year, even if it's $5,000 a year that you're spending for $20 a month, you can be a member on my Flight academy and you get access to me in the chat room, you can ask me a question, Hey Greg, my Gladys spinning what's going on here? Here's a video clip and I'll analyze it.

We dive into all sorts of topics and there's a big catalog of videos that you can go, you know, brush up your skills on whether it's S R V or Generes country or you know, ground control, whatever. So that's where I'm at now. Pilots can find me on fly with Greg dot com. Have a look there. You can try it out. You can see if you like it, try it for a month. Join me if it works for you. Fantastic. My idea is to be that mentor coach that many pilots lack because they're isolated once

Speaker 1 (1h 24m 3s): They're out of the nest. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (1h 24m 3s): Or just, you know, they haven't got

Speaker 1 (1h 24m 5s): Club yet, has

Speaker 2 (1h 24m 5s): To get the nearby

Speaker 1 (1h 24m 6s): Some Yeah, you get the p2 and that's it.

Speaker 2 (1h 24m 8s): Exactly. So I take pilots from that level. I don't really teach pilots beginning license stuff, but I do have a couple of courses that will boost and bolster their training. But I would send them to a paragliding school and say, look, go and do the training. That 10 days is invaluable, but add on. I've got a course in fundamentals, a course in ground handling, I'm doing the launch skills one now and I will build that up over time so I'm sure absolutely sure that you get value for your money for the $20 a month.

I've priced it that way because I want pilots to feel this is a continuous professional development, like listing, you can become a member of the academy and then you just keep it there and you've constantly got this new ideas videos coming out. It's just constantly keeping you in that learning space and keep because of that, keeping you in a safe place because you, you're constantly thinking about flying, developing your skills and it puts you on that awareness of the risk and the techniques you're thinking about it that keeps you safe.

I think when you, when you drop off that learning curve and you just kind of recreational fly occasionally, not such a good thing to do. So that's where I'm at. Pilots can find me if they want me. I'm there every day and sometimes I go fly and I film it and then I'll bring it back into the academy.

Speaker 1 (1h 25m 43s): Greg, it's, it's fly with Greg and it Greg it's always a pleasure. And congratulations again for surviving the ex beer that I, I watched every second. It was fantastic. And looked like some amount of fun.

Speaker 2 (1h 25m 58s): Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (1h 26m 1s): As they are, they're, they're wicked fun. When you're done isn't, I mean, two weeks later you look back and you go, that was the most fun I've ever had. But yeah, fantastic. And thanks for making these awesome videos and you're, you're, you're really good at them and they're incredibly valuable and appreciate it man. Thanks a lot. Thanks for making the

Speaker 2 (1h 26m 19s): Time. Well thank you Gavin and keep doing what you're doing. It's a huge service to the community. So big up to you and I'm glad to see that you're getting your flying in. Maybe I should be doing podcasts instead of videos.

Speaker 1 (1h 26m 32s): I'm mostly building a house, man. That's it. Looks can be deceiving. Thanks bud. Talk soon. My

Speaker 2 (1h 26m 40s): Pleasure. Cheers.

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Speaker 0 (1h 29m 0s): You.