#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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#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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Bonus Episode! Decoding the Invisible with Calef Letorney

The bonus episode on leaving the nest with Calef was such a big hit we decided to do another show, call it the “201” version, or the next step. At this stage pilots are a couple hundred hours in. They are chasing cross country, getting more comfortable with bumpy air, they’ve hopefully done an SIV and are actively trying to decode the invisible. We take a deep dive into finding the special sauce of flying XC.

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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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Episode 196- From World Record Skydiving to Paragliding, Reserve Testing, pro repacks with Andrey Kuznetsov

Andrey Kuznetsov has been on the national sky diving team for many years, holds several world records and the genius record (100 way canopy formation record) and has been a long-time test pilot for reserves. He made the transition quite easily from sky diving to paragliding in 2009 and skipped the C class altogether as he found it too slow! He recently flew across Vermont and landed on the beach and owns AirQuest paragliding, a professional reserve packing and line-trimming company. In this episode we talk about his history of sky diving, the transition to XC paragliding, why SO many people don’t pack their reserve correctly, trimming gliders, why it matters and a lot more.

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Episode 192- Questions answered with Myles Connolly

Our Mayhem editor Myles Connolly is about 350 hours into his flying journey and is leaving soon for an SIV course with Jocky Sanderson in Turkey. We thought it would be fun to connect and have him fire questions at me about all the things he’s currently curious about as his XC skills and training progress. Hike and fly; risk related to big events like the Red Bull X-Alps; how to approach Vol Biv (gear, locations, top landing, distance, etc.); Wing and gear developments and the new 2 liner C wings, gear choices and a lot more.

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Episode 189- Flying the Himalaya with Debu Choudhury

Debu Choudhury hails from the small village of Manali, India, a gateway to Ladakh and the infamous Karakoram pass. Pilots the world over know the region because of nearby Bir, one of the most reliable big-mountain flying sites in the world. Debu began flying there 29 years ago and chases it just as hard today as he ever has. In the world of paragliding he’s done and continues to do it all. Acro, high-level comps, tandems, guiding, instruction, vol biv and flying huge lines in the Himalaya.

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Episode 185- Eli Egger and gearing up for the Ultimate Race

Elizabeth (Eli) Egger is one of the rookies in the 23′ Red Bull X-Alps. She’s also a paragliding instructor, Niviuk team pilot, high-level competition pilot (we sat down after the Superfinal in Mexico to have this chat), has supported Simon Oberrauner (2017) and Aaron Durogati (2019 and 2021) in the X-Alps, and has a very interesting professional background in earth mapping and engineering. In this wide-ranging talk we discuss her training for the upcoming race and what she’s learned from supporting Simon and Aaron, preparing for comps, progression, instruction, and going to bat against the best in the world.

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Episode 179- 119 years of experience to pack in

During a weather day of the Red Rocks Wide Open this week, a US Nationals and Pre- PWC race to goal competition in southern Utah we held an panel discussion with some of our most veteran competition pilots- Evan Bouchier, Matt Beechinor, Josh Cohn, Bill Belcourt and Reavis Sutphin-Gray. Between the five they have 119 years of experience. The opening topic was competition strategy but the talk wandered into all kinds of fascinating areas including strategies for dealing with gust fronts, team flying, planning for going huge and a lot more.

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