In this episode we discuss Philipp’s zen for going big, being a professional pilot, the importance of having an acro background and acro training, vol biv, and just some good old fashioned storytelling in the highest mountains on Earth. Tuck in for some inspiration!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bas van Duijn has been flying for 27 years, has been a paragliding instructor for 10 years 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 coaches 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 our tricky sport with zero risk. We had a fascinating talk about where the future may be headed, increasing pilot retention, dealing with fear, eliminating the common mistakes, “shortcutting” learning, and a lot more.
I’m doing a 5 part YouTube series of deep dives on certain chapters of my new book “Advanced Paragliding” with Ari Delashmutt (“Ari in the Air”). This third one is on Safety and Progression. Hope you enjoy!
This week we’re doing something a little different. It has been proven that our minds don’t know the difference between a real experience and visualizing an experience. Olympic athletes, race car drivers, elite ski racers, golfers- you name it, the best of the best across the sport gamut visualize themselves doing their thing. It takes practice, but the results are proven. Going out and flying to improve is still the best way to get currency, but if you’re hurt, or the weather is bad, or you just don’t have the time to go flying, doing a little visualization is nearly as good as the real thing. In this episode I take you through a very simple 20 minute visualization practice that I hope helps you achieve safer and better flights. Come back to it often and see how training your mind helps you achieve your goals.
My training took place during one of his SIV clinics with a bunch of very new students so I got to watch his team and his methods in action and came away super, duper impressed. In this episode Dilan shares why we don’t have any kind of standardized training in the US and much of the world and why that needs to change; why so many pilots quit the sport too soon; why so many pilots choose the wrong wing during their progression; the dangers of “risk homeostasis”, especially in free flight; why having a school AND selling gear creates so much conflict of interest (and why this isn’t allowed in many countries); why the US instructor system is so flawed; and why having a basic understanding of psychology is so critical when you leave the ground.
A few months ago I interviewed Bastienne Wentzel about her book “Paragliding, The Beginner’s Guide” and at the end of the interview Bastienne turned things around and interviewed me for her magazine about the upcoming X-Alps, my history in flying, preparing for this campaign vs previous campaigns, why learning is so addicting, flying and family, making a living through flying (sort of!), the book (Advanced Paragliding), why the X-Alps and flying itself is so addicting (and could it be without the risk?), comparing the Alaska Traverse and the X-Alps, what the spectators miss in the race, the most memorable days, how to eat for the race, dealing with the physical trauma, the wonderful impact of the fans and a lot more.