#214, Galen Kirkpatrick and Creating New Lore

Galen Kirkpatrick rose from a beginner to the 2023 US National Paragliding Champion in seven years, becoming the first female champion. Her journey from fear of flying to the pinnacle of the sport involved intensive training, overcoming a significant fear, and a shift in mindset to prioritize fun and creativity. Her success has been a mix of personal bests and learning to apply flying lessons to life, marking a seminal moment for women in the sport and inspiring camaraderie and emotional safety among pilots.

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#212 The Most Important Flight with Marcus King

Marcus King has been flying pretty much full time since 1991. He spent many years with the early Ozone team and has been on the design team with Cross Country Magazine for ages. All those gear and wing reviews you see in the magazine (and a TON of the photos!) are compliments of Marcus. In this chat Marcus shares his background in paragliding, his work in the industry, the rise of the sports class competitions, his involvement in the Red Bull X-Alps, and his passion for flying in the French Alps. And then we switch to a very unfortunate totally benign day back in September when Marcus hit the ground hard. Marcus shares his experience of the accident, the rescue operation, and the injuries he sustained and of course the 20-20 hindsights that are always a part of the forensics of making mistakes.

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#209 Thad Spencer- the Comeback

Thad Spencer, a paraglider, narrates his experience of a severe accident in western Minnesota, reflecting on the selfish nature of extreme sports and their impact on relationships. He talks about using his recovery period to redefine self-identity, overcome fears, and embrace challenges. The discussion highlights the importance of confidence and a balance between caution and risks. It also delves into navigating retirement and the importance of finding new purposes during this phase of life.

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#208 A Love Affair with Flying- Phil Hystek

“Flat out Phil” Hystek has been instructing free flight in Australia longer than anyone. It began with a fascination of hang gliding in the 70’s, becoming a hang gliding instructor in the late 80’s in California, being “forced” into paragliding in the early 90’s and his energizer batteries are going stronger than ever today. Phil has racked up 171,000 meters of vertical ascent in his back yard to date this year (at age 65!), just returned from a 4 weeks of vol-biv flying in Bir, India and is a story teller for the ages. We travel the world, meet the legends, pull off the absurd in Telluride, pack it hard in Bali, and find out who thrives in this sport and who should maybe take up a different activity.

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#207- Behind the Scenes of the Red Bull X-Alps with Tarquin Cooper

Tarquin Cooper has been the voice of the Red Bull X-Alps the last few editions and this year was joined by your host and four-time X-Alps competitor Gavin McClurg to add some commentating and live footage from the air. In this episode the two of us sit down to share our own unique perspective of the race as we chased the athletes and teams around the Alps and had our own adventures (and misadventures!) in our mostly frantic attempts to keep up.

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#206- A Walk (and Fly) down Memory Lane with Paul Guschlbauer

Paul Guschlbauer has been on the podium more than anyone in the Red Bull X-Alps other than of course Chrigel. He began his X-Alps journey back in 2011 when by his own account, he was a pretty beginner pilot. But that year the weather was horrific and he is a beast on the ground and he managed to nab 3rd place. This result lead to becoming a Red Bull athlete, a spot in that year’s Dolomitimann, and the rest is…well at least history in the making as Paul is far from done! This year’s Red Bull X-Alps was Paul’s 8th edition of the incredible race and a lot has happened over the more than a decade of racing.

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#205- Chasing the Monster with Gordon Boettger

On June 19th this year in the blackness of night Gordon Boettger and his copilot Bruce Campbell donned expedition clothing mountaineers use to climb the highest peaks in the world, stepped into a specialized high performance sailplane, put on their night vision goggles and took to the skies of the Sierra mountain chain at 0230. They didn’t know it yet, but they would be in the air flying “wave” (aka the “monster”) for over 17 hours and go farther than anyone ever has in a glider, ultimately ticking up 3055 kilometers, or 1898 miles.

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#204 – Flying High with Martin Jovanoski

Martin Jovanoski has been flying his entire life. Sailplanes, Hang gliders, Paragliders- in any and all forms. He got started in accuracy, moved into cross country competitions and pretty much does it all when it comes to free-flight. He’s one of the big reasons Krushevo, Macedonia has become such a mecca for competitions, and he instructs, guides, flies tandems, designs wings, consults and more. I’ve been lucky enough to compete with Martin many times in World Cups and hands down Martin is the cream of the crop when it comes to unabashed love for our sport. He’s always got the biggest smile on launch. He’s the pilot who seems to have retained that first flight wonder of flying we all have throughout his long and very storied career.

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#201- Calef Letorney and Community, Confidence, and Cloudwhispering

Calef Letorney was a professional paddler back in the early 2000’s who made the switch to flying and has never looked back. When you think of places to fly in the world you don’t often put the North East US on the list. There’s a lot of trees, cloudbase is low, weather if fickle. But that’s where Calef found himself after learning to fly in the Colorado Rockies and his desire to send meant the first thing that had to happen was to get good at flying, and it’s hard to get good without other good pilots to fly with, so he had to get others up to snuff as well. So Calef became an instructor, then an SIV instructor, then a guide…and the rest fell into place.

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#200- Going pear shaped in Pakistan

Pilots and friends Pierre Carter, Jeremy Holdcroft, Scott Baker, Richard “Barbs” Barber and legendary mountaineer Andy De Klerk set off this June to attempt to break the altitude record by flying up the Baltoro Glacier to K2 in Pakistan. Everything was going well…until it wasn’t. Andy suffers a heart attack (in the air!), and Scott breaks the rule of not making a tricky situation worse by blowing a landing on the wrong side of the river and suffers a broken ankle and leg, which turns into an epic on its own. A wild story from a wild part of the world and we break it down into everything that went right, everything that went wrong, and lessons we can all take on board to make our community safer and more prepared in the mountains.

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