Episode 157- Jonny Durand: riding Tsunamis, chasing records, comps and learning

Jonny Durand is a long-time Red Bull sponsored hang gliding pilot who’s been ranked #1 in the world multiple times. We’ve all seen the incredible footage of Jonny flying the “tsunami” morning glory phenomenon that sets up in Northern Australia, but Jonny has been chasing the sky crack in many different ways since his early days more than 20 years ago. He’s chased the world distance record in Texas and Brazil and came up just shy of the record from Zapata on that fateful day back in 2012 flying with his friend Dustin Martin, who still has the record at 761 km; he competes in race to goal comps regularly around the world, and has recently taken up paragliding.

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Episode 155- Back to the beginning with Bill Belcourt

I’ve had my friend and mentor Bill Belcourt on my mind a lot lately. He managed to handily win the US XContest this season with a series of impressive, committing, deep flights in the Intermountain west while juggling two professional jobs and being a father and husband; and he won a task at the XRedRocks hike and fly race last month and nearly took 1st place overall, proving there is no need for a masters category even when races are extremely physical. For this show we went back to the archives to bring you the very first show that kicked off the Cloudbase Mayhem way back in 2014.

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Episode 154- Going Big against the Odds with Thad Spencer

Thad hails from Minnesota, just sold a successful musical production company and is addicted to flying. The holy grail in the US has been the 200 mile mark, a distance very few pilots have pulled off and Thad has chased it hard for years. His chase has taken him through the full arc of what you have to learn to send, an arc that of course never ends. This spring he pulled it off in the flats of the MidWest with a 228 mile (very cold) beauty. A little while after he pulled it off he sent me an email that I’ve posted here nearly in full because…well because we all need a good laugh now and then and it’s what lead to this show. Thad tells the “and there I was…” story better than anyone. Grab a whiskey and tuck in, you’re in for a treat.

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Episode 153- Burkhard Martens and Thermal Flying

Burkhard Martens is one of the most-recognized names in the sport. His seminal work, “Thermal Flying”, first published in 2005 is the world’s best-selling guide to the art of thermalling and XC flying. Cross Country’s team has been hard at work thoroughly revising and updating the text, line by line, and the design and photography has been refreshed to bring it bang up to date. I sat down with Burki a few weeks ago to talk about his new edition, what’s changed since 2005, and the meat of the book- how to climb!

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Episode 148: Red Bull X-Alps 2021, Gavin answers your questions!

This year’s Red Bull X-Alps, if you could put it in a word- scary. We didn’t have a single “standard” day of flying with light wind, nice cumulus, and good base, unless you count the Prologue! We had incredible heat the first three days, low base, wind and stable conditions, then the thunderstorms started, strong Fohn from the South and North, window-breaking hail, severe lightning and really, really strong wind for the remainder of the race. Every athlete I spoke with at the awards at the end had a look of just going to battle. For the first time in my four races, the bad weather got everyone, regardless of where you were on the course, and it didn’t let up. There were times when all 12 pairs of my shoes were soaked. After a good showing in the Prologue and going into the race pretty beat up from a crash at the end of May, and carrying the remainder of a flu into the race, which later turned into some kind of pneumonia (we’re not sure, but it was ugly!) and having a terrifically bad start, Team USA 1 started clawing back.

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Episode 142- Urs Haari and the Sweet Spot

Urs Haari has been at this game since the game began. He got several world records early in his career in South Africa in the early 90’s, stood on the podium multiple times at World Championships, PWC’s and at the European Championships and brought home champion titles at the Swiss, AND US Nationals. This past season he won the sport class in the Swiss Cup Championship for the remarkable 5th time, and is now the permanent holder of this coveted award. Given he only gets to go XC 4 to 6 times a year because of his work- a hell of an achievement!

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Niviuk Klimber 2P First Impressions

In all my years of flying I’ve never been so excited for a new wing to arrive. With the 2021 Red Bull X-Alps getting close I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve heard from Niviuk’s test pilots and their lead designer Olivier Nef; and the photos I’ve seen on social media have displayed an extraordinarily profile, but you never know until you have it in your hands and take her for a spin.

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Episode 139- Rico Chandra and developing Superpowers

Rico Chandra is a Swiss pilot and musician who started flying 28 years ago. He’s recently popped up at the top of XContest and this past August he completed a 1,000 km solo vol biv across the Alps from Zurich to Slovenia. Rico has developed some really fantastic ground rules for keeping it between the lines when flying in his long accident-free history. In this episode we talk about his “superpower” that we should all develop ourselves; appropriate (and inappropriate) gear for a bivvy; preventing procedural mistakes by developing good processes; managing resources; necessary preparation before departure; his “hierarchy of 5 types of bad outcomes”; how we can develop skills to remove peer pressure; and his “rules of thumb” that help define the line when it comes to making decisions.

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Episode 135 – Tim Pentreath and Vol Biv

Tim Pentreath has been flying paragliders for over 30 years. The new frontier for Tim’s flying the last few years has been multi-day bivvy trips in the Alps and this episode is dedicated to that art form in flying. The gear; the skills; setting appropriate objectives; how to prepare; where to go on your first bivvy; how to keep it simple; what you need to know; comfort vs going light; food tips;  safety tips; what to know before you go; weather resources; where to camp; tips for flying near wind turbines, communication tips and team tracking, when to go; and a lot more.

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Episode 118- Charles Cazaux and Focus

Charles Cazeaux began flying when he was 15 years old. Shortly after that he became the first person to enter the French juniors program that was created to build exceptional pilots who would represent the country on the world stage. Needless to say the program worked very well indeed for Charles! He’s been on the French team every year since 1998, he won the Superfinal in 2009, won the world championships in 2011, holds multiple world records and instructs SIV and cross country with Seiko Fukuoka for the Airlinks Academy.

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