Episode 40- Bill Belcourt Your Questions Answered!

And here it is! The long-awaited show hosted by Bill Belcourt, dedicated 100% to your questions. We asked fans of the show to send us any questions related to flying so the Yoda of the sky, Bill Belcourt could answer them in the unique way that only Bill can. We talk about how to deal with turbulence, creating better headspace, how to mitigate intermediate syndrome, how to gaggle fly, how to deal with negative people in a positive way (ie avoiding ground suck), when to leave a thermal, techniques for landing backwards, how to pick the good days, team flying, when to launch in a thermal cycle and a LOT more! Enjoy!


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Show Notes (Questions that were asked):

  • Fabian Perez:Can you talk a little about thermaling when reaching top of the thermal, some tips when to leave the thermal and go on glide? How these strategies change when you’re XC flying and when you’re in a comp? Even in a comp, when you’re in a gaggle and then how is it different when you’re leading or left behind and now flying by yourself. I always have trouble deciding when to leave, I never know if I left too early or too late?Can you share tips, techniques; BKM’s for when you’ll land backwards? First, is don’t get into those situations but if you’re in it, then do you go full speed bar until you touch the ground and then collapse the wing? Or do you prefer to have one leg out to try to turn and run to the wing while collapsing it? Any other approach?Can you talk about tips to check the lines? How often? Easy ways to do it?Gabriele Bonafini:

    In your opinion the mindset of a pilot can affect his feeling with the air and especially with turbulence? Recently I’m having some bad trouble at home and since that moment I don’t feel as comfortable as before in turbulent air.. Any recommendations for feeling more comfortable when life is not going smoothly? Should we just not fly?

    Negative people (pilots in this case) can affect our sport negatively and in every flying site there are a lot of them, they show you the negative part of our sports for example:

    “if you have a pod harness you’ll surely have a twist in case of collapse ” or they see the wing from EN C to CCC class as killing machines. They want to transfer their limits to you and this is obviously a bad thing. How to avoid this crowd and negativity?

    Derek Musashe:

    As a pilot with 60 hours under my belt and slowly progressing into XC flying, are there any tips you might have that can help me (and other pilots like me) avoid or at least mitigate the “intermediate syndrome.”

    Blayde McIntyre:

    It would be interesting to hear about picking your days and picking lines/flying styles for different conditions. How to approach learning about meteo and using XC Skies as a tool for example?


    Matt James:

    1. Talk about team flying. I am a ten hour pilot that flies with a pilot with four years experience. We want to fly cross country together in the spring. Just as often as I hear about flying with others to make good distance I also hear about pilots taking off and splitting up (maybe see other later 20k downwind). I want advice on how to fly together for the best results.


    1. I hear about these amazing places like Valle de Bravo or Roldanillo. Where are the epic places in the U.S. for Pacific Northwest pilots to thermal fly Dec.-Feb.?


    Eric Toshalis:

    For those of us who have to budget the days we can fly, maximizing the potential to bring our wing up into good air is crucial (i.e., when time = money, too much parawaiting can really drain spirits and resources). So, on those days you have set aside to fly, what’s your process for assessing the weather in the morning before you pack up and head to launch?

    What sites do you visit 1st/2nd/3rd, what do you look for, and how do you triangulate those data to make a reasonably confident decision? Basically, I just want to learn what a seasoned expert’s weather-assessment process is when making the decision to get out of the house and up in the air.

    Brian Morrison:

    When to launch in a thermal cycle?

    How to avoid / prevent a collapse on a thermic takeoff?

    I assume these two are related?

    On an alpine launch (not a dedicated site) When to forward or reverse launch, (assuming one is equally proficient at both) what are the primary factors that influence that choice?

    Assume one either sinks out or gets spooked and needs to land mid day and it’s either thermic or windy or both in the valley what is the best way to mitigate risk and not get throttled on the landing? Apart from active flying, any tips or approach techniques to prevent collapses when getting bounced around on final?

    Thermal mapping / visualization?   Is it really visualization or is it feel?

    Or a blend?

    Mikolaj Uskrzydlony:

    How should we approach scouting a new mountain start?

    Thorlak Nielsen:

    how do I approach a new flight in a very very remote area? I live in Greenland. And I would love to fly some thermic conditions, and we only have this area a long ways inland. All the city’s are located on the coast of Greenland.


    How do you repel down from a tree? What kit should you carry?


    You’ve had a long career from first starting to use a paraglider as a descent tool from an alpine climb in the 80’s to racing world cups and flying open class gliders. When you look back at the last 25 years of flying if you could change anything, what would it be?


    You mentioned this summer when asked about your opinion of flying competition gliders that “you need the performance 95% of the time, and you need the safety 5% of the time.” Clearly that is advice for a very specific pilot. Can you elaborate on wing choice- what people should consider when potentially stepping up to a hotter glider?


    I know you lamented the loss of Open Class gliders, and the loss of companies pushing that end of the spectrum. Is the CCC class a good compromise? What would you like to see happen at the manufacturing end of the sport?


    What advice did you get or wish you would have gotten back when you were a 50 hour pilot? What advice would you give for the newbie today?


  • Mentioned in this episode: Hugh Miller, Ed Ewing, Cross Country Magazine, Gillis Bengsston, Cody Mittanck, Kevin Lee, Thermal Tracker, Garmin, InReach, Russ Ogden, Kevin Brooker, Fabian Perez, Gabriele Bonafini, Thorlak Nielsen, Mikolaj Uskrzydlony, Brian Morrison, Eric Toshalis, Matt James, Derek Musashe, Blayde McIntyre


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