Bas van Duijn has been flying for 27 years, has been a paragliding instructor for 10 and has a commercial aviation background. No stranger to simulator training he decided to bring the lessons from professional FlightSim usage to our world. He also specializes in coaching recreational pilots who have developed a fear of flying. I reached out to Bas after watching one of his simulator videos because it seemed like an incredible way to learn many aspects of our tricky sport with zero risk. We had a fascinating talk about where the future may be headed, increasing pilot retention, the importance of understanding aviation theory, dealing with fear, eliminating the common mistakes, “shortcutting” learning, and a lot more. Enjoy!
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The early days on a hang glider and some very valuable lessons
Don’t skip the theory
What are you options?
Hang gliding vs paragliding
What is more dangerous? And why?
Those who have and those who will
The Simulation experience
The huge benefit of VR over doing the real thing- getting a LOT of time
The “pure” experience
What the pilot does and what the outcome is
Technique, tactics and strategy
Targeting 80% of the world’s flying population
Who does it suit?
Mentioned in this show:
Russ Ogden, Flightcoach, Red Rocks Wide Open, XRedRocks, AirTribune, Paul Guschlbauer, Patrick Von Kanel, Aaron Durogati, Tom De Dorlodot, Tanguy Renoud-Goud, Tim Rochas, UAE Hike and Fly Championships, Maxime Pinot, Nick Neynens, Bruce Marks, Mitch Riley, Stefan Bernhard
Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloudbase Mayhem. Have a really cool, very interesting show for you today with Bas van Duijn. I'm sure I'm butchering his last name and all got his first name. Right? Cause I had asked him about that, but boss has developed, has been an instructor for more than 10 years, been flying for almost 30. He is his favorite flying partners. His father who taught him how to fly. We still fly together all the time. And he's a really fun, interesting individual, but his, his passion is VR coaching.
He's got a company called Flightcoach and we find out what he's teaching people, how to learn when there's no risk through the VR and really interesting platform, something he's super passionate about and something I hadn't heard of. And he sent me a YouTube video of how it all works and I watched it and went, yeah. Okay. We need to have a talk. So we talk about his, his past his history and some of what he saw were shortcomings in teaching.
And of course in aviation shortcomings could be harsh on participants trying to learn and thought that there must be a way where we could retain more pilots and have them be able to learn a lot of these things that are pretty easy in the beginning. But like Ross Ogun says, you know, paragliders are easy to fly, but hard to fly. Well. So getting people through those early humps, but the coaching is also very relevant for pilots who have a lot more hours as well.
And it's only getting better by the day. So this was a lot of fun. And I think you're going to find it really interesting for we get to the talk just a real quick bit of housekeeping, a couple of events I'm running this fall. The first is the red rocks wide open September 10th, the 17th, the registration opens for that April 1st. And it's a race to goal seven day comp. This the U S nationals believe will soon, shortly be Canadian nationals as well. We're going to firm that up this week and a pre PWC so great way to get letters.
There are a lot of international pilots coming and it's an incredible venue in one of the most beautiful places in the world. At that time of year, you can still expect to get super tall and nice place to have oxygen. And there's a lot more information it'll be on the registration will be on Eritrean. Find it there, purchase just search for red rocks wide open or in various other places. And the second event, which I'm really excited about will be the second X red rocks, which is a three-day stage.
I can fly race. This last year was huge success, really fun. And this year we've got a bunch of the European legends coming and also giving presentations, Patrick Von Cannell, who was second last year, Aaron dura, Gotti, Italian stallion, and are both coming between the two of them. They have 11 red bull X ops races under their belt and a whole bunch of other stuff deal Domi, Superman and our Superfly and the donating man and X pier and a bunch. So they're both given a presentation Tuesday night before the race and got tangy Reno Gould who has the, the record right now for the most vertical climb in a single day and flown back down.
He crushed that last summer, 13,320 meters. I believe they also won the UAE, a hike and fly championships this year and an absolute beast. My buddy, Tim Rochas test pilot for Navy heck is coming over, has been doing really well in the last few years in the foreigners to fly in other events. So, and we've got a few other big names that we'll be announcing again shortly. So pretty exciting stuff. So check that out. X red rocks.com the application period for that closes April 20th.
So right around the corner. See a bunch of you there. Enjoy the show boss. Cheers. Boss. It's a great to have you on the show. We've been trying this for a long time. I say that to all my guests. I'm not, I must not be very good at scheduling things, but I know you're, you're working hard over there on your virtual reality coaching project. So we're going to get into that, but I thought a really cool place to start was with something you just mentioned when we were chatting there before we started recording, you've been flying with your best friend who happens to be your dad.
That's a cool relationship for 27 years. Let's start there. Yeah,
Speaker 2 (4m 44s): That's pretty cool. Yeah. Well, first of all, stoked to be here. I'm very happy with, with us doing this. Yeah. I've been flying with my dad for 27 years, man. That's a long time actually started with hang-gliding. You know, my dad he's a skydive originally, you know, making formation jumps. He always was into the, the, the, the, the, the high energy off of the jump and off the free fall. And he actually got suspended over a, a corn field and he asked this instructor why'd it took me so long to get down what the hell?
Wasn't it. And then the instructor told him that, Hey, that's a thermal they're. They're like very nasty game. Make you take longer to get down. It takes longer to get back into the airplane. So he said, no, I want more of that. What can I do to get more of that? So he got into hang-gliding and I went with him, you know, from the age of like eight, nine, I went with him, watched him fly. And I met my first flight on a hang glider at the age of 12, 11, 12. Yeah. Those were different
Speaker 1 (5m 49s): Times.
Speaker 2 (5m 51s): No, it, it was a solo flight was just a, a ground winch, a flight. And from that moment on, you know, I was hooked with flying.
Speaker 1 (6m 1s): What was it like for your dad to get you into it at such a young age? I mean, he obviously knew the risks back then. Do you have any reservations or did your mom
Speaker 2 (6m 9s): Yeah. Yeah. That's what that was that that's. We can talk very long about that. Actually. Let me get you to, let me give you the sh the short lay of the land. I, I think he w he was, he was convinced that it would be, would be fun to do this, that it would be exciting, and that I would be, you know, being the, a responsible young men that I was, that I would be able to do with this, to deal with this in a, in a relatively safe way. One of the things he did to actually keep me safe is he told me, son, you can only get your license.
Oh, we have different licensing levels, but let's say the first level is the, the intro level. And then you are able to make some turns with a hang glider under the supervision of an instructor. And with the second level, you can fly locally without the instructor being present. And he told me, I will not let you fly unsupervised and do all the practical examinations before you've done your theoretical examination. You have to do that first. And which was not like an official rule. Most people, they first got all their, all their tasks done, and then did the theoretical examination and then studying at the end as like a, a last thing to do to cross off the list.
But he said, no, I really want you to study hard to have this as a basis for everything that you learn in practice. So actually that meant doing stuff in reverse learning about a lot of things that were not being offered to me in, in, in, in the actual flying and the practicality of flying at that moment in my, in my career. And that made me, that really helped me a lot. It saved my life actually wants
Speaker 1 (7m 49s): To hear about that.
Speaker 2 (7m 50s): I wanna hear that story too. Yeah. Yeah. I was 15 years old and we were flying in the, in the mountains in France, and I was still in training to get my, to get my, to get to my second level of licensing. And I was standing there with the instructor ready, ready to go on that ramp. You know, the horrible ramps. Did he hang gliders take off from it's. It's a weird thing. When you come to think of it, you know, when a hang glider commits to take off and, and that's sort of a condition you start running, you commit to take off before you have full control over your glider, because you got to have proper air flow over the wing to really be able to steer it.
So w the wind sock was like dangling down and then the wind was coming towards us a little bit and it was dangling down again. And then we had some wind from the back, some tailwind, which is obviously horrible. And the instructor told me, okay, boss, are you ready? Yes. I said, go, go, go. And I started running. And then I was halfway down the ramp and he told me, no, no, no stop, stop, stop, stop. Because there was a tailwind. And because I did all this studying, I knew this guy is talking complete nonsense, you know, because it's, there is one golden rule.
When you start running with a hang glider down the ramp, whatever happens, you don't stop.
Speaker 1 (9m 9s): Yeah. Commit.
Speaker 2 (9m 10s): You have to commit because you can't stop like 30 kilos on top of your head. You know, it it's, it's dragging you down, so you gotta run into it and get the, make the most out of it. So I got airborne and well, one wing was stalling. And so I was, I was tilting towards the mountain and I knew this, this is it's not going to be good. There was like a granite wall, 700 meters high. And I saw like a bunch of threes on, on the, on, on the, on the slope.
And then again, the theory came to mind and I had like such clarity that moment in time. And I thought, okay, I can do two things. Now I can go with my urge to steer away from this, this rock face. And then I don't know what's going to happen. Probably I don't have enough airspeed and I'm going to crash somewhere where I, where I cannot aim at where I'm crashing, or I can go full speed on and try to regain control and steer it into those threes at like maximum speed.
And I decided that the option B was the best option. And I'm convinced that because of that Joyce, by me at that moment in time, and my dad's joist to have me focus on the theoretical aspects of flying. I'm able to talk to you now, because I would have used
Speaker 1 (10m 36s): If you hit the trees or did you G get so much speed that you were able to turn towards the hill away from it. Again,
Speaker 2 (10m 41s): We get enough speed to get, to get control authority with the glider, but that meant really facing, facing the rocks and steering towards the tree. So th those went in tandem and this allowed me to get to crash where I wanted to crash, so to speak. So I flew into the trees, and I don't know if you've ever seen the leading edge of a hang glider. That's a pretty sturdy, there's a pretty sturdy beams. They were all broken in like six spaces. There was really nothing left of the, of the glider.
And I only had a, a mild concussion and they BIC well flesh rule on my arm,
Speaker 1 (11m 23s): Man, fast thinking, dude, that's that's. That was nice. I can, I can visualize that whole thing. Yeah. I had, I saw a very similar thing when I was getting going and I was just learning and it was also under instruction. We were, and I've talked about this on the show, but we were on a Ridge outside of Annecy on a really bad day, tons of overdevelopment, a lot of cells coming through. And so Annecy was just going to be way too windy and too exposed. And so we went down to place where you start the thought we could, we could kind of Ridge soar between these cells coming through.
And it just wasn't a flying day. You know, and one of the, one of the pilots who was pretty low hours, I think he was 50 hours or something. And he didn't really have very fast descent techniques got flu, and we were all rich soaring. And then it was really clear. The cell was coming and a couple of us just got lucky and bombed out, and we're on the ground when this thing hit. And when it hit the instructor and my buddy, Bruce, who supported me in the first couple of X ops, kind of got blown over this thing and we're able to run and land.
And in front of this Gus front and this, this other pilot, just all he had in his toolkit was big ears. And so he put in big ears when this Gus front hit, and it was just like watching a butterfly in a windstorm. It was horrifying. And we were all on the ground. And, you know, in, in, at the, at the time when I was watching it, I thought ditch it into the trees digit into the trees, ditching into the trees, you know, that was, he had this beautiful slope behind him.
That was this really nice canopy and branches almost all the way to the ground, you know? So it was one of those things where he could have just bet, you know, it would've been suicide to fly towards it. It was blown really, really hard, but if he'd just let the wind blow him into the trees and, you know, probably would have busted the wing up, you know, maybe it would have broken an arm or something, but, but for the most part, you know, again, retrospect looking at it in hindsight, you know, but as I'm watching this, I was thinking, okay, what would I do? What would I do? What would I do?
And the trees are your best option right now. And yeah, and what he tried to do is stick. It was tried to land and about 50 feet off the ground, he totally, his wing went parachute UL, and he didn't recover it and hit the ground really hard. And, you know, the rest is history. He survived, but massive injuries and had to be air flighted out and stuff. And it was really a good instructional thing at his price, obviously. I mean, obviously we've been better, not none of that had ever happened, but you know, it was interesting to watch from the ground to, to, you know, like in your incident that there's the shit's gonna hit the fan in the sport at some point.
And, you know, it's really just a matter of thinking really fast, you know, what are what's option a, B, C, D right now, and do it
Speaker 2 (14m 22s): And all your options and be prepared to let go of option a and then be prepared
Speaker 1 (14m 27s): For this golf should be, Yeah. You know, nickname and said, one of his things is, you know, Hey, if I get in a really bad place, the best option may not be to land it, to fly somewhere else, go somewhere else, deal with it for the moment, you know, stay high, if you can. And rather than exposing yourself to, for example, more, more valley winds or more of the Gus front, you know, it's often better to stay above that stuff.
Speaker 2 (14m 53s): Just
Speaker 1 (14m 54s): Go top land, go somewhere somewhere else. Yeah. Wow. And did that change things for you at all? I mean, did it, did it where you then kind of, I mean, I'm sure before then you were completely fired up about flying you're 15 years old. You don't think you can die. You know, nothing's going to happen to a 15 year old. Did that kind of, whoa, wait a minute. Did it, did it change your
Speaker 2 (15m 16s): Great question?
Speaker 1 (15m 17s): Yeah.
Speaker 2 (15m 18s): Well, in, in, in, in, in, in hindsight it was one of the, one of the elements that, that added to my decision to switch to paragliding actually. And, and you're right in your assumption that being like a 15 year old guy flying for three years, I had not seen much, but I had seen some accidents already happening also up close. So yeah. W one of the things that planted, like this little seed in my mind I've been flying for, I think it was like 10 years after this incident happened.
I kept on flying, but it, it did not change things like in a huge way, but it puts something in motion.
Speaker 1 (16m 1s): Yeah. Hm Hmm. Yeah. And then did your dad switch over to paragliding as well? Or is he still hang-gliding
Speaker 2 (16m 8s): No, we switched together.
Speaker 1 (16m 10s): You supposed to get,
Speaker 2 (16m 11s): Yeah, that's another fun, fun story because I got deeper into the interview hang-gliding and one of the things I did is I got, I became part of the support group for the, the Dutch open competition, which was usually organized together with British violence, like a competition summer in the Alps, British and Dutch pilots participating. And I was one of the star officials. This was, I think, around 2006 or something, 2006, 2007. I was also some days I was a retrieved driver.
Some days I was a starting official for the, for the competition, the hang-gliding competition. And my dad came to visit me because he was on a, like a camping trip with my mom and the conditions were not great to lounge show. We, we had like a long Holt and at the other side of the mountain was somewhere in Italy, Monta Cuco maybe there were paragliders flying, you know, bear gliders until that moment in time where like, well, we did not say it out loud, but they, they were like far inferior, naturally
Speaker 1 (17m 12s): Pulled air balloons.
Speaker 2 (17m 13s): Yeah. They were, yeah. We, we, we really, and I'm almost ashamed to say it, but maybe it's good to say it out loud. It, you know, we were looking down on them. Like they were, they were slow, it was dangerous because they could collapse. And we had all these like really witnessed payments.
Speaker 1 (17m 30s): It's pretty widely held and probably pretty legitimate.
Speaker 2 (17m 34s): Yeah. Lee, some, some pretty legitimate and most, not at all ill informed so to speak, but that was our perspective. And we thought, let's go watch these fuckers and let's see what they, what they are up to. We sat down there on the mountain and saw them like inflate their wing and do a few steps and then put it back on the ground. And then it, it happened, it happened a few times. And like our mind was like blown because suddenly we realized you only launch a paraglider when it's actually flying.
You have a go no-go decision, which you make, if you do a proper takeoff, of course, which you make, when you have control authority over the glider, which was so fundamentally different from what we had experienced with hang-gliding, what was the cause of my accident, actually that we, we, they got a new found respect in that, in that instance. And we saw these guys like launching, making nice steak offs, making Everage takeoffs, and also aborting takeoffs.
And that opened our mind to like the beauty of paragliding. And then at that point in time, we, we told each other, you know, let's give this a try if this is something that we have not seen all these years, maybe we've been blind to other aspects of the sport as well, which was true. And we've been doing it like parallel for like three, four years. We've been flying, hang gliders and learning to fly to paraglider. And then the, the transition to paragliding came very natural.
It was mainly founded by two things, one safety, because by that point in time with flying hang gliders for, for 15 years, well, I should speak for myself, but the same thing goes for my debt. We came to the conviction that paragliding actually was safer than hang-gliding.
Speaker 1 (19m 31s): Why is that the speed?
Speaker 2 (19m 32s): Well, it's, it's it's speed. Maybe it's basic physics, you know, do you want to go 70 kph with your head forward? Or do you want to go 35 kph with your feet forward?
Speaker 1 (19m 48s): No. Wait a minute. Want versus should you, as a different thing to me flying 70 K an hour prone like a bird that sounds pretty sexy.
Speaker 2 (19m 58s): Yes. Terribly sexy. The feeling that you have a, with a hang glider when you, when there's no care in the world, so you're not launching, you're not landing and you're not in difficult conditions. It's, it's awesome. It can be a little bit better than on a, on a paraglider. I should be. Yeah. That's, that's my experience with it. The, the, the sensation of being a bird, being able to like, get it into a real nosedive without spiraling. That's, that's an awesome sensation, you know,
Speaker 1 (20m 27s): Watching, watching these guys do the whole ground effecting too, when they know when it's coming in at a hundred K an hour and just, oh,
Speaker 2 (20m 35s): I love that sensation of landing with, with, with the wing, making like a spoke landing with a hang glider. That's I, I still get excited and happy about that. And that's a stressful thing for many hang gliders, by the way, but I always loved landing with the hang lighter. So yeah, it has its beauty. It has its beautiful Barch for sure.
Speaker 1 (20m 56s): Yeah. Do you guys still, do you, do you still fly, hang gliders? Do you and your dad, or was it just the transition there for a few years in the nineties
Speaker 2 (21m 3s): Transition years? And then we, we sold our shoulder gliders have been flying solely paragliders so, but yet the safety aspect it's, it's like a kinetic thing, you know, accidents. Unfortunately they do happen. I believe he should do anything to, to prepare your shelf in, in that way that you reduce the chance of them happening and you reduce the effects of when something bad happens, but the basic physics come down to the, yeah. It hitting the ground with 70 kilometers per hour with your head first or 35 on average, of course, with your feet forward.
Yet the chances I think are just better. And I know there are many people that would love to debate me on this and they do that all the time, the hang glider pilots, but I that's, I've seen too many accidents.
Speaker 1 (21m 51s): Yeah. It's a hard it's. I think it's a hard thing now to scrub data from because the numbers are so skewed. It's really tough now. I mean, obviously paragliding on the face of it looks way more dangerous, but that's because there's way more people doing it. And so I think it is pretty tricky to delineate all that.
Speaker 2 (22m 13s): If you look at the statistics, I'm, I'm sure that on, on average paragliding is less safe because the barrier to entry to paragliding is way lower,
Speaker 1 (22m 26s): Lower. Yeah. It's so easy to fly a paraglider. It's so hard to fly at. Well, There's one that I, yeah,
Speaker 2 (22m 34s): Yeah, yeah. So I have all I've great respect for, for hang glider pilots. And this was just a personal choice, you know, after shooting a lot of accidents, mainly on takeoff with the hang glider, but as much as the safety aspect and then came the practicality aspect for us, you know, when you go fly cross country and I'm not talking about a competition, but just for fun, you go for like Russ crunchy with a hang glider. It's so much hassle,
Speaker 1 (22m 58s): There are logistical challenges for
Speaker 2 (23m 0s): Sure. It's and that's that's the, and the attitude that's, but it's, this is something that we discovered later, you know, you, you can't ground handle a hang glider and th and try to ground handling aspects. I'm, I'm a great fan of June soaring with the paraglider as well, you know, dragging your, your feet or your hand through to, through the sand. That's, that's, that's awesome to do with a paraglider and you can just land anywhere and land on a slope land somewhere on top of a mountain, go, go make a full Fox.
All those things are completely out of reach for and glider pilots do, do, do a hike and fly.
Speaker 1 (23m 38s): Yeah. Yeah. The hike and fly aspect is, is, and it's also, it's, it's been, I, I think this is the new wave of, of paragliding. I mean, this was something that was incredibly niche when I got into Bibi's, you know, and now it's, I mean, that's the number one question I get is about Bibi gear and light wings. And, you know, the X ops has really, and then all these other races that are, there's a million of them now. And it's, it's really, I kinda it's, it's exciting. It's super exciting. And you're right. That's logistically more out there, hang gliders that will say they can do it, you know, and they've, they've, they've got, they've got cool little carts that they've worked out and, you know, lighter weight stuff.
It's pretty neat. It's pretty neat. But yeah, when it comes down to it, it's, it's awful nice to just put it all in a bag. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (24m 26s): And I love, I love the mobility aspect. Just being able to take off and land virtually anywhere that adds so much to the, to the experience, which to me is, it's not just the flying, it's not just a crossing distance. It's just being, being part of nature, enjoying myself, pushing my own boundaries, having fun by myself and with others. Yeah. The entire lifestyle around it. Yeah. So that means to me,
Speaker 1 (24m 53s): I asked you about what was it like for your dad to get you into it? You know, how old your dad,
Speaker 2 (25m 0s): That's a great question. I think he just turned 64. Yeah.
Speaker 1 (25m 6s): Oh geez. He's young. Well, yeah, but I was going to say that let's reverse that what's it like from you? You've been flying 27 years. You've seen it all. You've instructed. We're, we're going to get into your project here in a bit, but you also know how dangerous this is. What's that like for, I mean, I, I used to watch my dad get into sailing when he was at basically your dad's age and you know, let's just face it, older people don't learn as fast and you know, he's been doing it a long time, so he's probably fine, but you know, we are more brittle.
We aren't, as you know, we don't learn things nearly as well as we get older. What's it like for you to watch him now? Do you worry about him or is he not at all?
Speaker 2 (25m 47s): Yeah. Sometimes, sometimes I worry about him. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. The, the main thing is that we, we are a lot alike, but we, there are also differences in how we approach stuff. You know, he has, he has really quite binary approach to everything in life. It's either horrible or it's fantastic. And, and for me to I'm work out of a gray zone guide and I'm trying to, you know, I see you laughing. Yeah. And, and this, this led us to have some fairy, so I'll try to put it very interesting conversations.
One of the rules and one of the rules that we have when we go fly together, when one of us thinks the conditions are not suitable to go fly, we both decide not to go.
Speaker 1 (26m 34s): Hmm. That's a smart one.
Speaker 2 (26m 36s): So I like like sort of buddy system. And that has saved us from a lot of stupid flying decisions. One of our most stupid flying decisions, I made a YouTube video about that as well. When we almost got sucked into a huge conversion converging cloud at that day, we both thought it would be a great idea to go fly, which it was not. But yeah, seeing him go through drew his space, you know, it, of course he's been flying for a long time as well.
He started before me. So he's been there, done that. And at the same time, not got the t-shirt, you know, it's, it's, we keep having this, we keep having this mindset that when you think you understand flying that, you know, it all, that's a great point in time to stop flying because then you're gonna become very UN unsafe to yourself and to others. So we, we know, we know enough to know what we don't know what we can't do, and we keep running into our own limits.
And we, we, we keep weight. We are a mirror for, for each other, in that we keep reflecting on that. And sometimes I tell him that you, you should not do this or debts because of this and that reasoning. And, and he does the same in my direction. So, yeah.
Speaker 1 (27m 57s): Wow. What a special relationship. I mean, to have it almost sounds like you've got this mentor student, that's both ways and that's really nice. It's nice to have a touching stone. Isn't it to just, Hey daddy, think,
Speaker 2 (28m 9s): Yeah, it is. It's, it's something that I wish that everyone has. Of course you don't have to have a F a dad or a mom or a sibling or whatever for that you can, if you have a proper equal relationship with another pilot, a buddy of yours, preferably you can have that. Then if you have to have transparency and you're willing to tell the other person, I think you're, you're doing this for the wrong reasons. Then you have really essential conversation going that helps you fly safer and with more fun eventually.
Speaker 1 (28m 41s): Yeah. Interesting. Tell me about your instructing. You, you got into instructing while back, is that where's home base for you?
Speaker 2 (28m 51s): Well, I live in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, so I have my business here as well, but I considered the, the Austrian Alps, my home base. Yeah,
Speaker 1 (29m 3s): Proximity
Speaker 2 (29m 4s): That's because I learned to fly over there and I, I love flying over there. The entire Alps region. I go to Italy. I go for the, for the Dolomites. I flown in Switzerland, Austria a lot of times, but also in France, went to Morocco, a lot of countries over the world. But the, the Alps, like the fast majority of the weeks I've been flying, because then of course it becomes like a flying holiday. You know, you go to the Alps for one, two weeks and multiple times per year.
Yeah. For me it feels like coming home when I'm there. And that's the way, most Dutch that learn like mountain flying with a paraglider. Well, we don't have any mountains here. I believe our highest mountain is like 60 meters high. So yeah, we, we, we get in our car and we drive to, to the Alps. It's like a one day drive. If you put pedal to the metal, you can do it in two days. But most people drive in one day and then you're in the ELPs. Great flying great people. Yeah. So that feels like my home base.
Speaker 1 (30m 7s): Okay. And in Boston, you've got pretty good dune soaring. They're right. Near Amsterdam. Does that, do I have that right? Okay.
Speaker 2 (30m 13s): Yup. Yup. Within 20 minutes, I'm on the beach. And when the winds are well facing the shore northwesterly, we can do hours of June soaring. That's of course what we can do, no amount of flying into the Nederlands, but we can do towing. So winch flying, ground-based winch flying, and we can do the, the June storm thing. So, yeah, that's, that's awesome. That's one of the things that I got into right after taking my first steps with paragliding, I learned to fly from a Dutch school in the Alps. And after a few weeks of training, I also started learning June soaring in which there was no official training program.
You just find it by look, that's a little bit worse than you in June soaring and see what you can make of it. And the,
Speaker 1 (30m 57s): Do you, do you find that the dune soaring is a good way to kind of brush off the cobwebs before you go to the Alps? Or how do you, you know, I would imagine there's pretty long periods where you're not getting, you know, thermal flights and, you know, heading to the Alps and March can be pretty spicy. How do you, how do you tackle that? Or how do you, how do I imagine it's often a group of you guys that goes down together and you know, you have a week or two weeks together. I think this is something that Spanx a lot of people, you know, you're just, you're not really, you're not really back in the saddle and going to fly in the spring.
This is a good subject for right now because it's spring where we're heading into that season.
Speaker 2 (31m 35s): This is, this is also, but we'll get into that later. That's also one of the main reasons I started doing with my company, what I'm doing now, what I'm offering to the, to the market, to the pilots. But it's something that happens worldwide. As you say, when the season ends, it takes a few months before the next season begins. And in that downtime, yeah. What can you do? You can read books, you can watch movies. You can maybe do a little bit of, in our case in Holland, you can do a little bit of towing, even though in winter, usually due to like wind conditions, the conditions are, are, are less often okay.
To go fly at the winch and you can do June soaring, you know, brushing off the rushing of the webs at the Junes as a preparation for the mountains. In my opinion, these skills are so different. You know, the thing you can practice at the Junes are mainly like technical skills, like handling your ground, or like handling your glider in strong wind making, making a takeoff. But after you've, you've done that. Yeah. What else is there?
You can practice a bit of turns, the specifics of June showing like picking the right line, how to cross behind the building, how to cross a gap in a June. How, how high can I go? How far back can I go? How, where is the lifting area? All these technical things that they are all not, there's not much overlap with mountain flying and, and June soaring in my experience,
Speaker 1 (33m 6s): I do, I do what I do like about it is the high wind aspect. And you're still, you know, like you said, knowing how far back, how far up, you know, where is it dangerous if you go back and land in the li you know, these are the things that come in awfully handy in the mountains, because you can kind of visualize the air. I think, I think a lot of people that don't spend a lot of time in high-wind scenarios, especially in a place like the dunes where it's relatively safe. I mean, I know accidents happen everywhere, but boy, you learn a lot doing that.
And it's, I use that kind of skill is I I'm, I'm properly in the mountains. I don't have places like that, but I, I always try to spend a lot of time. And especially when I'm training for the X ops in places like that, because it, it, it really does. It can transfer in, in ways where, you know, when you've suddenly got a stick it in on a top landing or something, it can be okay, these are wins that I have dealt with before. I understand what they do. I understand how the road works and it helps anytime you can visualize something that's invisible is good.
Speaker 2 (34m 14s): Yeah. You're absolutely right there. It's really the element of the, of the dealing with strong wind that, that has a strong overlap. Yeah, for sure. On the other hand, like fish utilizing the rotor and stuff, when we go June soaring, we never, ever, ever go behind could you and or into the rotor. So when they are, of course there are two clusters of neurons. We always say, yeah, people that have been blown over to June and people that still have to get blown over to June, those are the two categories
Speaker 1 (34m 42s): That we have.
Speaker 2 (34m 44s): Yeah. And, and, but once you've had that happened to you once, and of course it's happened to me, you know, where not to go and how to deal with it. So that's something that is like baked into your mind. And, and then you had the, the added value of dealing with high winds, maybe dealing with crosswind, what that does to a churn. You know, if we have very specific incidents happening with June soaring, those are very different incidents than we see happening with mountain flying people that like spin their glider on crosswind shoring.
That's one of the major causes of serious accidents.
Speaker 1 (35m 23s): Airspeed. This is a big one. I think that this is a, this is where rich Soren pilots can really get in trouble in the mountains because they're used to these low ground speeds, high airspeeds, but low ground speeds because of the wind. And so suddenly they take that to where there's very little wind and forget about wing pressure. And, and like you said, then you can spin or stall super easily.
Speaker 2 (35m 52s): And
Speaker 1 (35m 54s): Yeah, that's, that's a big one. This is, you just said, visualization, that this is a great transition to VR. Tell me about your project. And because this is something that I've been learning and trying to practice more and more. I did a podcast recently and just
Speaker 2 (36m 8s): The visualization actually.
Speaker 1 (36m 11s): Yeah. I think this is important for, for us as a community to spend more time doing it. Mitch Riley was the first one to really make me think hard about this is that, you know, we can, we can learn a ton from, and it's I think, and you can back me up on this if I'm right or not. But I think the science has proven that it's almost the same in terms of learning that visualizing is damn near as good as actually doing it in terms of our, our brains don't know the difference is that
Speaker 2 (36m 40s): That's, that's exactly true. That's, that's like the physiology behind it for our brains. It's, it's no different if you actually jump over a wall or visualize that you're jumping over a wall and there are still so many people out there that think just me jumping over a wall, okay. Now I don't have to do it in real life anymore. That's not the case of course, but it helps you build confidence. It helps you. It actually helps you give your muscles, the impulses at the right point in time when you're actually doing it in real life.
This is something I'm a firm believer in science. It's always nice to claim science says something, but there's a lot of science that says it works this way. So I'm completely with you on that. And I've seen the examples of that many times in practice. And of course, it's also not for nothing that all the professional athletes in any kind of sports, they do a lot of visualization because it works.
Speaker 1 (37m 47s): Yeah. This was something that came up again. And again, and again, I read a ton of books going into this year's race about, you know, sports, psychology and training and, and, you know, not nothing specific to paragliding, but it doesn't matter. It's this, you know, basketball, football, baseball, no matter what you're doing, it's all. And they, you know, the best of the best. They all talk about how much they practice in the mind. So I know literally nothing about virtual reality. I've never put the goggles on. I challenge you to, you know, articulate what it is you're doing to try to fill this visualization gap.
And it's, it's pretty exciting.
Speaker 2 (38m 27s): Well, the interesting thing is Gavin, actually, that there are many people that have had a virtual reality experience. And because of that, think that they know what virtual reality is and what it can do for them. They are actually a harder group to talk to. Then the more difficult audience than you are. So I'll try to I'll of course, keep this in mind. We were talking about the hang-gliding and at that point in time, I was still in a, what you'd call high school.
And I thought I'm nearing the end of high school. I love flying my hang lighter. So I should become a pilot at that point in time. That seemed very logic to me like flying, hang gliders fun. So flying jumbo jets is fun. So I applied for the training program, the Kaylin flight academy. And I, I got admitted into that training program, did my theoretical, the ground school stuff for over for around a year. And then I moved to Fort beers in Florida for the, the practical training.
During that training program, I got involved with simulators a lot, which is, has been normal for decades in commercial aviation, in military aviation, they use simulators to train you for basic maneuvers. They use simulators to make sure you get to the level of, of, of like what we call type rating, learning a specific new aircraft. When you do your, your projects every half year a year, you do that in a simulator. Why? Because visualizing or actually recreating a situation and then dealing with it.
It's just as good as the real thing. Now, when I started teaching paragliding 10 years ago, I thought, why, why is there no way we can learn as paragliding pilots to fly as they do it in, in that commercial aviation? Why are there no simulators for this? And I started asking around and I got different answers, but they were all along the line of, do you have any idea how expensive such as simulator would be and no flying is something that you can fly in your paragraphs or something you could only learn actual only when you're out here in the, in, in the air.
And I D I didn't believe any of that. I think that there's just not been anyone that has put all the pieces together and make something that is, that is usable. And it is that has the potential to be embraced by a worldwide audience. So that's what I, I started envisioning, but I'm not like a super technician around eight years ago. I like, I started writing a syllabus training plans for if I would have that simulator, how, what would it, what you would be able to do?
How should it work and how will I teach with that? And from that, I like distilled a couple of hardware requirements. And I started looking for someone that could help me make that dream become a reality. But what I could not do was like, make the aerodynamic models of a paraglider. I could do part of the hardware design, but, but for the other parts, I just was looking for someone. So at every event I went through even completely paragliding, unrelated. I started telling people my dream, I started telling them, I am looking for someone that has specific knowledge in simulator design that can help me build a paragliding simulator.
A guy told me, yeah, my brother is a professional simulator designer, and he's also getting into paragliding. Maybe you should meet him. And for the past two years, he has been my business associate. It's the it's his name is . I also mentioned them in a, in one of my videos, in which I introduced a simulator. And he is like the, the, the technical brains behind, how, how does simulator works and why it responds as, as realistically to the pilots inputs and to the conditions that we showed me, like with it as it does now.
So what's what the simulator is. Actually. It, it is a computer generated environment.
Speaker 1 (42m 29s): So vision visually it's the same as being in your cockpit, I guess,
Speaker 2 (42m 34s): Actually. Yeah. It's ex it's exactly the same. Of course. The difference is that it is a computer generated image. So it does not have the exact same detail as the real world. It's not like indistinguishable from the real world, but it doesn't have to be
Speaker 1 (42m 50s): Right. Gotcha.
Speaker 2 (42m 51s): It doesn't have to be,
Speaker 1 (42m 52s): Do you have break handles and the whole family or your life?
Speaker 2 (42m 56s): Yeah. That's what w w what we recreated. So we have like a set up, that's an H shaped frame with risers hanging from that and break toggles. And these breaks are both, they're connected to sensors just as the entire frame. So you can steer the paraglider in the simulator, the same as you would steer a real paraglider, namely using weight shifts and using your brake input. Then of course we have to speed systems.
Speaker 1 (43m 21s): So do people sit there and move around?
Speaker 2 (43m 23s): Yeah,
Speaker 1 (43m 24s): Yeah,
Speaker 2 (43m 25s): Yeah, yeah. You should check out my video on the YouTube channel. There there's some footage of people flying in there and it's, it's insane. It's, it's truly insane. We've been working with this for two years now. And when we did the first, like, close off a testing with a, with a group of pilots, all under NDA, they were amazed. They were amazed at they within a few minutes, they felt like they were actually flying a paraglider. And of course there was still a lot of fine tuning to be done. It's, it's come such a such a long way.
And what we can do with technology, one of the main defining things that makes paragliding different from like other air sports or general aviation, is that you're completely out in the open facing the elements and that like, things are estimating height and distance and speed for when you're trying to like stick a proper landing. Those are very important that they are actually way more important than they are for someone flying a general aviation airplane. So we really try to tailor the simulator to net like simulating different kinds of trees and houses, too.
We recreated a couple of landing fields from the ELPs. She just gifts give ourselves a challenge. Can we make a one-on-one replica in the simulator of say gray from Bora, which is a known landing field near to the license, a known flying area in Austria, the field where I actually learned to fly with the Dutch school airtime. And I thought, let's, let's recreate this to the finest detail possible. And she, what happens when we train people to land in the simulator.
And one of the first pilots that I had fly this, this landing field was my dad actually. And I knew he was notoriously bad in lending there when the wind was a bit cross and strong and gusty, because he'd always end up in the cornfield next to the landing field. So I thought let's recreate these conditions in the simulator, not tell him anything, except that these weather conditions put him in a spot where he could fly as, and try to use shaped the traffic pattern. And let's just see what happens.
And I kid you not. He landed in the corn field next to the landing. And he yelled at me. This is always what happens to me in real life. When I'm flying here in these conditions, I said, yes, then now we have an accurate simulator. The essence of this is how do people learn? And in general, you can see this in its most pure form. When, when watching your four year olds, you know, I have little kids, two, four, and six.
When you see little kids learn something, they try something. And then there is a certain outcome. And then they try something else. And then there is usually a very different outcome. And then like mentally speaking, they build this relation between cause and effect action and results. And that's a, that's a great way to learn. And we've built all kinds of interesting concepts about around this, getting older with experience and stuff, but in the basics, it still comes down to what do you do?
And what is the effect on what is the end result now in paragliding? That's something that is notoriously difficult because when some one is learning how to fly a paraglider, for instance, you are learning how to make a proper U shape landing pattern and make a split landing. You get some instructions over the radio, you're underground. Your instructor takes you apart, gives you some more tips. Maybe say, Gavin, you should make an extra turn and make an extra circle next time, because you were way high. Now, when I'm looking at the situation that goes for most of the flying areas, worldwide, if everything goes super smooth and super fast, it will take you at least one and a half hours until you are ready to make your next landing that day.
If you even make two flights that day, because you have to pack your glider. After getting this feedback from the instructor, you may have to wait for the van and the other, the other students, you have to drive up the mountain or go with a cable car or whatever. You have to unpack your glider. You have to wait in line to lounge. Maybe you have to wait for weather. And then let's say it's one and a half hour later, you're ready to land again. The conditions will never be the same as they were one and a half hours ago, But your instructor told you, well, you should make the extra turn.
Well, is that a good decision at this point in time, maybe you should not make an extra turn. Maybe you made an extra turn like five minutes ago because you did some other exercises. So what I'm trying to say with this as the, the relationship between what a pilot does or does not do, and the outcome, and this example of the landing, it's very fake. There are a lot of things that have influence on the outcome of the flight, other than what the pilot does. Even if the pilot would be able to follow all the instructions to the letter, the thing that makes it very difficult to learn such a skill and the same goes for thermally or June showing or whatever, is that there might, there may be a different wind.
You know, they're like
Speaker 1 (48m 36s): Completely different.
Speaker 2 (48m 38s): Yeah. Every flight is completely different. And of course that's the, that's the charm and the, and the beauty of, of flying as well. That's something that I embrace as well, but from a purely, from a didactics perspective, from trying to learn and trying to get new skills or keep skills current, that's actually a very bad thing. So what, what simulators do in general and, and ours in specific is that we are able to bring you as a student into the exact same conditions, time and time again.
And when you noticed that you started high on, on your downwind, then I can ask the student, well, why would you do again next time? Yeah, maybe, maybe I should make another circle in my, in my, in my positioning area. Okay. Well, let's just rewind. No, we rind put the student back at the beginning of the traffic pattern. Okay. Make an extra circle. See what happens. Oh, no, no, no, no. I'm way too low because I lost like 30, 40 meters extra.
Okay. So making an extra circle was not the decision. How else can you fix this? Yeah, maybe, maybe I should then not make it the extra circle and just extend my downwind a little bit. Well, okay. Give it a try. See what happens. Hey, now I made a spot landing. Okay.
Speaker 1 (50m 1s): Wow. So you can just totally short circuit. The time it takes to, you know, you don't have to pack it up, get in the van, go to the top. You know, you can just rewind a little bit. Let's do it again.
Speaker 2 (50m 13s): That's, that's, that's, that's the beauty and that's not something I invented by the way. This is something that is, that is, that is typical instructions. Yeah. We just built one specifically for paragliding and pair motoring in which we do this. And we tailor our teaching methods to this. Of course, that's the beauty of paragliding as well, being in nature, being involved in this process. And I don't want to take anything away from this, but just from a learning perspective, the huge limiting factor in paragliding is the weather and all the hassle around it.
And then there's the, the third point of focus. W w I I've seen this happen with hundreds of students. They're about to get licensed there. They're at the level that they can get a license to fly without an instructor, but usually for them, the problem is still making a, a proper landing approach better and sticking it in indifferent conditions. And if you can just zoom in, not just on the landing, but on what that specific pilot needs to work on, because these can be different things.
I noticed I've been teaching with the simulator now for a little over half a year. And what I've noticed is that like looking, the looking technique is actually very important. Now you're moving forwards with roughly, if there's, if there's no wind, you're moving forward with roughly 36 kilometers per hour relative to the ground, that means if you have not looked in a few seconds, you're like dozens of meters further down the track. So when you're flying downwind, you have to look at the area that you want to land at, where maybe the spot is that you want to want to aim for.
And that's something that we can train to the, in a lot of detail in the simulator for some people it's, it's this looking technique there, they just keep watching where they're going. They don't turn their head a lot. She'd had a lot to happening, but also the combination between leaning into the turn and using the proper amount of brake input for some people, it's just that throttle. It's the decision-making even when we crank up the conditions, make the wind more gusty, make it variable in, in direction, make it from a sup optimal angle, have some obstacles.
You see people get, make really from a perspective of an experienced pilot, make really stupid decisions, but that's just because their brains are not able to process it all just normal and learning. And then when you do this, when flying actual and flying outside, there's just this one instance in which you get to try in these specific conditions and that never comes back. So when you talk about it with your instructor, what I've seen happening as being an instructor myself, is that I asked my students, well, I don't ask it this way, but I I'm thinking, why did you almost end up in that tree?
You know, if it's someone that's, that's been making five flights, that's my responsibility. It's always my responsibility by the way. But when it's someone that's close to the level of being a self-supporting pilot, you give them way more margin as an instructor to make mistakes. And you only intervene when safety is at risk to make them learn those lessons. And what I see happening all the time. And I do it in voluntarily, maybe subconscious is that they make excuses. I asked him why, why did, why did you almost skim that tree?
Or why, why did, why did this spot landing not workout for you? Why did you have an overshoot of a hundred meters and to come up with all kinds of reasons? Yeah. The wind shifted a little bit. There was this pilot that, that, that crossed me that I had not anticipated. I got sync on my, on my base lag where a lot of sinking air, or there was rising air. I've had that happen in the simulator as well. So I asked him, why did you not stick this landing? And I came up with these reasons and I, and I tell them, come, come look at the instructor station.
And I showed him my monitor. And I say, look at your exec track law, because, because we can like rewind it second-by-second, you can see the exact wind conditions. You can see what was where, and when there is no gusty wind. Now the wind is lemonade. There w there is no sink. There are no thermals. This was all a you. So I also, I also call it like the ego destructor it's,
Speaker 1 (54m 30s): And you're really teaching people to take ownership of, of where they are and how capable they are.
Speaker 2 (54m 37s): Yeah. But not because, because I think they're assholes, but no,
Speaker 1 (54m 42s): But you can say, no, this actually was poor piloting. This wasn't yet,
Speaker 2 (54m 46s): This was poor piloting. And this is something that instructors worldwide run into because there is always this, this unknown as an, as an instructor, you know, that there was no sinking air or rising air or whatever. But when the student is convinced that there was, it's like the end of discussion.
Speaker 1 (55m 8s): Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, well, that's why it wasn't that it was that day.
Speaker 2 (55m 12s): And that was why. And yeah, maybe I should have turned a little earlier, or maybe I should've done this, but the, the inf there's N there's not enough ownership. And that's that limits the learning potential of the students. And in the simulator, we turned this around. So we literally try to fry your brain with decision-making in rapid succession and help you see the effects of what you do on the outcome of your flight. And I've been talking about, about landing now for a while, but the same goes for thermally.
And I, when I, when I practice, when I teach people thermally in the simulator, a lot of pilots, they, when we crank up the wind, they get blown out of the thermal by, by, by the wind. And the first response as is in real life, she had a thermal it's suddenly finished, Just got blown off the Thermo. And this, these are like, if you can't in re in actual flying, it's very difficult to really connect to the brain of the student, because they're always like these, these, these inner convictions that keep telling them, no, this is also what happened.
And it, it was not all me and even the students that are very eager to learn and to develop, to get the most out of it. They also have their own convictions of what was going on. And we can just take that all all the way and, and, and make it a very pure experience in which there's a one-on-one relationship between what the pilot does and what the outcome is.
Speaker 1 (56m 46s): Yeah. That's fascinating. So you can, so, so take me through that. I'm in, I'm in the simulator, I'm coming in for land and you can just dial up the crosswind. Boom. Yeah,
Speaker 2 (56m 55s): I
Speaker 1 (56m 56s): Do. I sense that, how do I, I just, I can, I can tell by the motion of the glider, I've got a cockpit with some instruments or because I don't feel it, you know, like you would normally kind of
Speaker 2 (57m 6s): No, no, you're, you're you're right. The similarity that we are currently operational with it's, it's, it's an input device. So it transfers what the pilot does to the simulator. And then the wing in the simulator responds to that. Of course it all goes instantaneously, but that's sequentially what happens. So when, when you lean to the right, the glider starch going to the rights and when you break it, it also has effects on the, on the wing and the, the feedback that we have on the brake lines, normally when, when the wind is going over your wing, you can feel that in your brake lines, you can feel that in the harness, of course we don't have that yet.
So the brake pressure that you feel it's now simply being caused by elastic bands that you're pulling against. So more pressure down here is not because of some aerodynamic principle, but it's just because there's more tension on the rubber bands. Okay. But the next version of the simulator, which we already have in a prototype fruition, operational, it there's no rubber bands, but there are like servo motors that translate Mo movement of the wing to the pilots brakes. So I've been practicing and ed we've been flying spirals, but it, we can go up to like seven GS and you really feel these engines like putting your hands up, or you want to keep them down.
You really feel this ink. It's crazy. It's awesome. And it's, it's, it adds another level of immersion, but it is not strictly necessary for most exercises. So he asked me, how, how does it go? You have an, a simulated instrument, you have a simulated or used as a CyWrite instrument for that. And we have assimilated. CyWrite SIS enough. We have a little cooperation with, with these guys, you have a S CyWrite system, which you can see your ground speed. You can see your magnetic heading.
You can see your vertical speed and your altitude. And of course you see the landscape moving. So you have the perspective change. There's a fan blowing air against you to have the, the sensation of a flight and an orientation in our next version. That's what we call an active fans. Or the fan is also controlled by the airspeed with your fleet, which you're flying with. So if you're like making dolphin moves, you feel
Speaker 1 (59m 21s): Wow. So if, you know, you take, you take an X ops pilot, you know, and put them in your system that somebody who's been flying 20 years and done a ton of comps versus a P two, you know, 25 hour, is it just, is the exiles pilot going to get into your system and just crush it? In other words, do they, can you given someone's history? Okay. They've, they're just going to be totally way more natural. You can just tell
Speaker 2 (59m 52s): They're
Speaker 1 (59m 53s): Actually relative to the real world.
Speaker 2 (59m 55s): Absolutely. Yeah. Oh, wow. We've had hundreds of pilots in it now. And the, the general consensus is that it is extremely realistic, both in how it looks and especially in, in how it feels and how it responds. And I've had pilots of that, that, that, that first group you spoke about really extremely experienced people flying it and just yelling. I I'm flying and flying what's happening. It's it's, it's like real fight.
Speaker 1 (1h 0m 24s): Wow.
Speaker 2 (1h 0m 24s): Yeah, there is not just a lot of potential, but the things that people learn, they can, one-on-one put that into practice when they go fly. So I adjusted our business model to dads, and we're actually now the first enforce far as I know, only paragliding training installation in the world that offers a result guarantee. So I tell my students, when you want to learn how to thermal better, you buy our thermal link package. It's usually three sessions of an hour because we can just very specifically target what that pilots needs to learn to thermal better for you.
It will be something else. Then the next guy. And on average people take three sessions to get up to the level that they can core a thermal in different conditions, different kinds of winds, different altitudes, that they know how to deal with close to the mountain. You make figure eights. And then all of a sudden, you transition to making circles all of these skills. You're guaranteed to possess them at the end of this training program. And if you don't, you get extra sessions for free. So you don't buy the experience, you buy the results.
Speaker 1 (1h 1m 33s): It's not. So it's more, it sounds like it's right now, at least it's more technique, not so much strategy, is that right?
Speaker 2 (1h 1m 42s): Yeah. Well, we take it to three levels, like a technique tactics and strategy. It's at the tactics and technique level. I've had a fairly experienced cross country pilots flying in it. And he said, well, I'm, I'm really missing the feedback of my glider. You know, he started steering by moving his brake inward, breaking the outer, most part of his wing to turn more flat. That's something that we cannot do in assuming islet yet. So if you move your hand vertically up or down or inward, doesn't make a difference for the amount of wing that you deflect shut shuttle differences.
Then of course, these are important for people at, at the top and spectrum that the top 1% of pilots. So at this point in time for the top 1% of pilots, which you're one of them, obviously the simulator is not that interesting because the things that you want to train, we can't simulate that yet. I'm targeting 80% of the world's pilot population, maybe something in the, in 15% above that, but I'm not aiming the simulator at the top 5% because when you are that good, I think you'll benefit most from actual flying
Speaker 1 (1h 2m 54s): Boss. Tell me about your, your company. Flightcoach cause we haven't, we haven't talked about that.
Speaker 2 (1h 2m 59s): I'm very glad that you're asking me this, because this is the main question that school owners keep asking me about the, the applicability to usefulness of the simulator training in practice. We've been operational since beginning of August last year. So no, there, there's not like a heap of data of Excel sheets that I can show you. What I can share with you is the great stories and feedback that I get from all the students that have flown in the simulator and went flying outside again. When flying actual, as we call it to put what they learned in the simulator into practice.
And the story that everyone tells me is identical. It helps hugely a practical example of that is a student that came to me with a question. He said, boss, when I'm trying to June, or I can fly longer than maximum 30 seconds or a minute because I keep bumping out. When I'm trying to make a turn, I leave the lifting area. And I'm also very afraid of being blown over. So how do I fix this? Because I've been practicing for days at the beach, even under supervision of an instructor, but it's not, it's not clicking in my brain. So we did a training package of a few hours with the result guarantee.
And even after the, the second session, he was showing huge progression, we kept practicing the stuff, rewinding, changing the wind, changing the conditions, improving his turn coordination and finding the ideal line. And then a few days later at the beginning of the evening, I got a phone call by a, a number that I didn't recognize. And as soon as I picked up, someone started yelling, started screaming and a very happy frantic voice Jimmy saying, yes, I finally did it. I just landed. I flown for over two hours.
And then I asked him, you also, is that you? And he said, yes, yes. Oh, sorry. I was, I was so into the, into the moment, but yeah, the training helped me to actually fly and I've just done my first real soaring flight. Well, I was happy for him, but I'm also really happy about this as one of the many examples of what the simulator can add to practical flying. That's the whole idea to help people sort out what the thing is that they need to learn that point in time to really focus and work on that and plant it as a, as a nuggets in the brain that you can work with from there for next time you go flying you, your brain recognizes the situation and thinks, oh, I've learned how to deal with this.
So it's, it's really a huge boost or a huge accelerator for flying. That's the whole idea. That's the added value. And I've many more stories just like this one about thermal fleeing and landing and making outlandish making maneuvers. The, the feedback is huge. The feedback is real. Pilots are very happy with it.
Speaker 1 (1h 5m 44s): You talk about future additions. Is this something boss that you could, are we going to see these in other parts of the world? Is this something kind of exportable? You know, it's the VR glasses, it's the, it's the simulator, you know, that you're sitting in with the, it is A software update. I mean, you know, like if I'm a school, which I'm not, but if I'm a school and this just sounds to me, this sounds amazing. I mean, what an incredible way to teach. So, or to add to the teaching that you need, you need the real experience to, like you said, to get more than six minutes a day of, of landing.
If I, if I buy this, can I just get the update for the, you know, the, eventually the thermals actually come off real, real triggers, whatever. I'm just making that up.
Speaker 2 (1h 6m 29s): Absolutely. Yeah, that, that the, the, the, the thing I envisioned when I started with the simulator training pilots, because we have a simulator room now in Amsterdam, what I wanted to do is actually set up other schools, flight barks for success. And I knew when I make a simulator, that is great. I was already convinced it was great because we've been testing for one and a half years with all levels of fighters. I knew that it did what it had to do. We were convinced that this simulator would do great things for students and for people that trying to keep current, because we've been talking about strict students now the whole time, but the big problem with the majority of pilots again, is that they fly a few weeks per year, and then they don't fly for a few months and their, their, their currency.
It, it tanks.
Speaker 1 (1h 7m 16s): Yeah. Yeah,
Speaker 2 (1h 7m 18s): Yeah. And we need to get that back up. And that's what the simulator can do as well. But I thought, I don't need to convince myself that this works. I need to convince school owners, flight park owners, whatever that this is a, a teaching a that they can use successfully to train their students, but also commercially, which is also commercially viable. It also needs to make money. So I thought the best way to do this is to just start a simulator training facility, which I did here downtown in Amsterdam.
And I just started experimenting with different kinds of business models, looking how, what is a, what is an average price that someone here from, well, people from Germany and Belgium and Holland in the simulator, some from the UK as well, what are they willing to pay? What is this training worth? Because at being an entrepreneur, you always think that your own product is going to be freaking awesome, but the best, the best test is at see what customers pay for it. How many refund questions you get, that sort of stuff.
So, and then I started building a, a case and I have a lot, I have a lot of data. I know now what people are willing to pay these DC fix price result, guarantee, training packages. They cost 649 euros. On average people take three hours. Sometimes they need four. I've had no one that needed five hours, by the way. So on average that makes me 220 euros per hour. And people throw the money at me laughing so happy that they could improve their skills this way.
And I kept sending out this message into my network, and I've now found the first like business customer, a large flight school that also trains in the Alps. And we installed another simulator at their facility a month ago. And I'm currently training their instructors on how to teach with it. And my, and our vision, I should say is that within a few years in every country, there will be a one or more simulators.
Speaker 1 (1h 9m 28s): Yeah. I mean, it's a very, it's a riskless way to learn a really risky sport. I mean, that's why they have simulators. I've been thinking about this a lot lately that, you know, when I talk to people like you who have a commercial aviation background, they're a bit baffled, you know, Stephan Bernard and really high level. He was just with me down at the, at the world cup. And, you know, he, he flew fighter jets, you know, and, and for Germany, and now he's flying for a net net jet, you know, the private thing. And, you know, he, he was baffled when he got into this sport, as you were that they don't have more of this kind of check box type learning, and it that you do this, and it it's, it's a S it's a step, it's a process.
You can't just skip this stuff in general aviation you're, you've got passengers that you can't kill. And, you know, so he sounds like this is a really good way to bridge the gap. You know, that you're, you're this, you know, you're talking about that this is maybe more applicable to the lower hour pilots, you know, the AB and C pilots and the ones that are, you know, weekend warriors that don't get the hours, you know, but we, but every pilot has to go through that period.
Speaker 2 (1h 10m 39s): Well, let, let, let me interrupt you there for a second. Not just the low airtime hour, not just a low airtime by let's, but the pilots that really need to work on building their skills to get up to the level of flight, but also learning how to thermal better, how to gore thermal better so that you gain more altitude in the same amount of time. People that want to practice, like things like maybe top landings we're working on that as well, or hang landings or slope landings. So I think that I'm really aiming at 80% of the, of, of the population.
Also people that have been with a license worldwide for many years still have this currency problem that they fly a few weeks, and then it, our experience starts to degrade. And if you're not careful, when you then at the end of the season, you're here, let's visualize it as an eight. And at the beginning of the season, that degraded back to a four. And then during the season, you're learning a lot of things. And at the end of the season, you're in the nights. And at the beginning of next year at a four, again, effectively, you're not progressing as a pilot.
You've had a lot of fun. You've had a good time. You've been working on your hobby, but you're actually not learning everything you learn. You just used to stay at this flat line.
Speaker 1 (1h 11m 57s): Yeah, this is, this is an email. I get a lot. I almost need an auto response for this one. You know, why does it take me longer to get good than the people that I see around me? And well, how many hours are you getting?
Speaker 2 (1h 12m 11s): It's pretty
Speaker 1 (1h 12m 12s): Easy equation. You know, the people around you are getting more hours. I mean, there, there is such thing as talent, of course, in this sport and background and what you've done, but you know, for them there, this is a big one. There's. And I say this all the time, I'm sorry. Listener. Have to hear me say this again, but there's not really any shortcuts. And there's not really anything that replaces currency, except this kind of sounds like it might. It certainly helps.
Speaker 2 (1h 12m 38s): Well, I, I dare to say that this, this is as close to a shortcut as we can get. You still have to put in the time, you still have to, you still have to undergo the, the sounds horrible when I put it like this, but you still have to do the training in a simulator. It's hard work. It's I always compare it to like drinking the drinking lemonade versus drinking. The syrup that lemonade is actually made from flying a simulator is drinking pure syrup.
I can teach people for longer than an hour because their brains are just fried. I can see that they're, they're not processing anymore, but I think it's huge that, that we can put the, we can put the bottleneck in the teaching process, in the brain of the pilot, instead of the, the conditions you asked me earlier, Gavin, you asked me earlier, how does it work? Can I, can I buy one? We're actually not, we're not selling them because it is something that also just requires a lot of support. And I'm not talking about tech support, but I'm talking about really integrating a simulator into, let's say you're a school owner into your training program.
That just requires a lot of experience with, with didactics. And what part of your actual training program can we take out and doing the simulator, but it also allows you to like, add something on top of this. Like the, the influx of new pilots. When we, when we are at parties were always the talk of the party, right? Oh, you're, you're, you're flying. I always wanted to do that. And most people that say that they actually always wanted to do that. But the entry barrier, even with paragliding is just too high.
This also works as lowering that entry barrier. Because when you want to have an experience with paragliding, now you have to like book attend and fly. Well, then you have to show up at a certain point in time by a lot of money. Hopefully the conditions are okay with a simulator. We can get you like do 90% of the experience of making a real paragliding flight. Maybe even more
Speaker 1 (1h 14m 39s): That's showing us, see that that's huge. That's fascinating. I've often wondered this about my peers and people here in sun valley are the people who live here or live here because of nature and the outside outdoors. And what's possible, you know, the ski touring and the mountain biking and all the things to go do. And I ski and mountain bike and do really fun things with a lot of people who are really capable. They know that I launch off a mountain and fly into Montana. You know, they've heard all the stories and stuff and that they have no interest in doing it.
I mean, they have interest. Everybody wants to fly. Everybody wants to be a bird, but they're scared. And the, and the barrier of entry is too high in whether that'd be cost or, you know, just the, the, the weather, the place, the gear, fear, all these things. So that's the fear. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Wow. That's really cool. I hadn't thought about that.
Speaker 2 (1h 15m 36s): And because it has, because it has that many, because there are that many things that you can do with it, that you can use it to actually, as a school owner, like change your business model. The, the model that we have chosen is that it is, it's a subscription, it's a license and rental subscription model. So you can rent a simulator starting from a few months up to longer periods of time, of course. But since we expect people to start using it and then keep using it, it's just a, it's a monthly subscription for which you get the complete hardware to use the simulator.
But also our proprietary models that we built for dish that are these paragliders that respond as close to real paragliders it gets you get the landscapes, the training areas, you get a syllabus on how to actually train pilots with the simulator. Of course, you get an operating manual. And some of these things are also also need like specific advice on every school has a, has a different way of training their pilots. So it's, it's also like, like coaching or consulting that I do with the prospective business clients.
Let's have a look at your syllabus. How do you use to teach? How can we integrate the simulator? How could we make sure that you get more new customers? How can we help your existing students progress faster? So that's the model that we, we chose and yeah, it's, it's available worldwide. And anyone that's interested to please let me know,
Speaker 1 (1h 17m 13s): Well, bossy, fascinating stuff. You must be a very busy person and it's, but this is, this is terrific. I mean, what an, what an amazing adjunct to, to this sport. And I can't, I'm excited to see where the future takes you as well with this. It's fantastic. So we will have all the links, those of you listening in the show notes for everything boss's talking about. Thanks for sharing this journey with us and best luck to you, buddy.
This was great.
Speaker 2 (1h 17m 44s): Thanks a lot. It was really great talking to you. Thanks for your, for your interest and your enthusiasm.
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