Episode 39- Antoine Laurens and a Lifetime of Life Lessons

Antoine Laurens on the Sierra Vol Biv in 2012- see the full video here.

Antoine Laurens began flying in 1992 when he was just seventeen years old. He’s lived a life of adventure and flying has been a way of life for the last two and half decades. One of the world’s great vol-biv pilots Antoine crossed over a 1,400 km route of the Himalayas (the film trailer of the “Himalayan Odyssey” can be seen here) and was part of the small team I joined in 2012 when we flew from the south end of the Sierra range to the Oregon border. He guides vol-biv trips in the Alps and in the Himalayas with the Himalayan Sky Safaris team (Eddie Colfax, Jim Mallinson, and John Sylvester); is one of the best Waga pilots I’ve ever seen; has flown thousands of tandems; and thousands and thousands of hours without a single accident. Antoine’s experience around the world, passion for adventure and his incredible passion for free flight is infectious and his thoughts on improvement, training, safety, vol-biv, top-landing strategies, landing in strong wind, planning and a LOT more are lessons we can all learn from regardless of our level. A special interview with a special friend and mentor, please enjoy this episode with Antoine!


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Show Notes:

  • Antoine recounts how he learned in 1992 and having his first “incident” which made him realize the importance of ground handling
  • Becoming an instructor and getting into guiding and tandems
  • Travels in India and discovering vol-biv and the flying possibilities of the Himalayas
  • Antoine recounts his 44 day vol-biv of the Himalayas – nearly 1400 kilometers
  • Where to do your first vol-biv, and skills you should have before your first trip. Gear, attitude and skill level are discussed.
  • We recount the accident with Brad Sander and lessons learned from the Sierra bivvy
  • How to maintain the passion
  • The most common times for accidents in most pilots level and how they can be avoided
  • Going with a guide- why you should really consider doing flights with experts
  • Tandems- are there downfalls?
  • The problem with flying- you cannot stop, so you are committed!
  • Toplanding strategies and strong wind strategies- identifying the right time to land and the importance of patience
  • Landing in strong wing (landing downwind strategies)
  • Mentioned in this episode: John Sylvester, Eddie Colfax, Jim Mallinson, Nick Greece, Eric Reed, Brad Sander, Oriol Fernandez, Toby Colombe.


Surfing the Sierras from Offshore Odysseys on Vimeo.

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