This week we dive into spring with the current World Champion and long-time Ozone test pilot Russ Ogden and multiple US National Champion Nick Greece. Year after year we see accidents in free flight spike in spring. Spicy conditions, rusty skills, new unfamiliar gear, heightened stoke, another year behind us, lack of confidence… we explore the many things that might have an impact on why we see the spike and what you can do to make sure you’re not in the data set.
There are times in a pilots career when things do not go according to plan. This is one of those times. Nikolay Lipko had a rather unusual (but not unheard-of) event flying in Chamonix, France that thankfully ended quite well thanks to a successful reserve deployment. As with all incidents, there is hindsight and modifications to how to take to the skies. And if anything else, this story is a case study for why SIV training is so important. In this instance your host and our guest don’t see eye-to-eye on the cause and effect but the take-aways are valuable.
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.
Gaspard Petiot is a mountain guide and very accomplished pilot who competed successfully in the Red Bull X-Alps in 2015 (5th, Monaco), 2017 (broken wrist, withdrawn after leading day 6) and 2019 (7th, Monaco) despite having very bad knees. In this episode we rewind the clock as we have done with the others in this X-Alps series and hear the behind-the-scenes stories that the fans didn’t see on live tracking.
Manuel Nubel has competed in four Red Bull X-Alps, starting in 2015. On Team USA 1 we call him the comeback kid. He often starts in the middle or back of the pack but gets stronger and more crafty as the race goes on. We rewind the clock to 2015, his first race and find out the back story of landing in a tree on his way to Monaco and the hilarity that ensues, the ups and downs of his campaigns, (for example having to quit due to exhaustion in 2017, and making a series of magical moves in 2021 which saw him climb from 16th to 6th in the final days of the race) and his decision to not compete in 2023, but why we may see him again in 2025.
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.
ve got a head cold and hoarse throat this week which makes interviewing pretty hard, so we’re diving back into the archives to bring you a show that was great then, and better now and an excellent tune-up before spring. “Mastering Autonomy” with Manu Bonte. And a couple important topics in the show opener that I’ve been meaning to hit for weeks. Enjoy!
A common question we ask on the Mayhem is “what would you do if you could rewind the clock to your 50 hour self?” One of our listeners reached out awhile back and wanted to know what we should tell our zero hour selves. When we first begin we know absolutely nothing other than we want to fly! But getting into the sport is daunting. How do you pick the right instructor? What qualifications or qualities should we look for? Should we consider connecting with a club and mentors BEFORE signing on with an instructor? What are the RIGHT questions new pilot students should be asking so we don’t turn off potential mentors.
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.
We keep the absolutely nutty going this week with 5-time Red Bull X-Alps competitor, 2 X Superfinal champion, and winner of just about everything in our sport, Aaron Durogati. Aaron and I sat down in person on the final day of the Superfinal in Valle De Bravo in Mexico and he had me in stitches from the get-go. Aaron is a fantastic story-teller and his triumphs and beat-downs in the X-Alps are jaw dropping. Enjoy these incredible amazing tales from the edge!