Episode 145- Standing on the shoulders of giants with Mitchell McAleer

Mitchell McAleer properly crashed a hang glider on literally his first flight in the early 70’s. But he shook it off and was in the right place at the right time and had the right mentors and right attitude and eventually became the winningest aerobatics pilot in history. Southern California was one of the true meccas of hang gliding in the 70’s and 80’s. It was the home of UP during their reign with the Comet, remains the home of Wills Wing and was where Mitch took on the sport in his teens and remains today after nearly 45 years of obsessed flying. Mitch has an encyclopedic memory and this podcast is a fascinating and at times totally unbelievable stroll down memory lane.

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Bonus Episode- Bastienne Wentzel interviews your host!

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.

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Episode 140- Michael Witschi and Experiencing the Amazing through Competition

Michael Witschi has an extremely impressive flying resumé. He’s won pretty much everything you can in competition paragliding. He’s a 3-time world champion; has won maybe more world cup tasks than anyone; competed in the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps; is a current coach of the X-Alps Academy; and is the mastermind, founder and organizer of the incredible EigerTour, a 4-day hike and fly race in the Bernese Oberalps. Michael is the father of two adorable children and is a very successful businessman and eloquently shares his vast competition experience with us in this engaging, very fun talk.

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Episode 108- Deniz Burnham and flying EVERYTHING

Deniz Burnham is an Alaskan resident who just happens to RUN an oil rig. Not work on an oil rig, she runs the show. She’s the only female on the rig and has worked in some of the most remote places on Earth, which would be more than enough to fill an entire podcast on its own, but this is a free-flight podcast so we reached out to Deniz to talk about her rather adventurous relationship with free flight and her passion for flying just about everything that flies. Deniz pilots seaplanes, helicopters, paramotors, hang gliders, paragliders, sailplanes and from time to time- jumps out of them (or walks on them!)!

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Episode 98- Learning it all from an XC Master, Alex Robe

There is the most information-dense podcast than possibly any previous show we’ve done. Alex Robé and one of his main flying partners Primoz Susa are nearly always the two guys right at the top of XContest on the big days. Alex won the XContest in 2015 and 2017 and is currently in 3rd this season (his lowest value flight is over a 260KM FAI, and the two pilots ahead of him both went to Brazil last fall!). But Alex is extremely limited with his time and how much he can fly. In a typical year he’ll only fly 10-15 times! So for those of you who are restricted with time, prepare to be inspired!

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Episode 96- Christian Ciech and a life of Hang Gliding

Christian Ciech has been flying Hang Gliders for over 30 years. He remembers watching his Dad fly when he was just four years old. He has an arsenal of trophies that showcase his legendary competition skills, including 3 World Championship wins. Christian became a test pilot and designer for Icaro in 1991, a position he still holds. In this episode we discuss competition strategies and the art of winning, how to read the sky and flying the conditions you find…[more]

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Episode 94- Patrick Von Kanel and the greatest Game on Earth

Patrick Von Kanel is only 25 years old but in a few days he’ll be one of the athletes to really watch in the Red Bull X-Alps. His mentors include Michael and Chrigel Maurer, he’s a test pilot for Advance, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s of course Swiss (no non-Swiss pilot has ever won the X-Alps), he’s solid in acro and he came in second in his last two hike and fly races- to the Eagle himself, Chrigel Maurer.

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Episode 73- Mitch Riley and X-Alps madness, Developing Mental toughness, Thinking Fast VS Slow, Growth Mindset, Discipline and More

Mitch Riley has been chasing the sky crack as hard as anyone the last few years. He’s averaging 500-600 hours a year, instructs full-time for Eagle Paragliding, competes regularly, does commercial tandems, competed in the 2017 X-Alps and guides around the world. Mitch’s approach to training and improvement isn’t simply airtime- this is a mental game we play more than anything and Mitch has been a student of sports psychology and mental training and gives us a ton of tips on improving performance through concepts like thinking fast vs slow, flow state, mental toughness, fear control, using language to deal with fear, using words to avoid negative thinking, and much more.

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Episode 72- Greg Hamerton and FlyBubble, gear choice, bivvy, and the road to Mastery

Greg is a former PWC pilot and is the man responsible for all those awesome FlyBubble videos, participated in the X-Pyr in 2016, is passionate about vol biv and has a lot of great thoughts and advice for pilots at every level. We discuss gear and choices and how to not get sucked into what others are saying vs what’s right for you, how to get into vol biv and best practices, the difference and advantages and disadvantages of 2 vs 3 liners, why “flying slow” is a worthy chase, learning to develop intuition that’s not “intuitive”, comps and chasing the aesthetics rather than the result, quality vs numbers and distances, what makes a “champion” and mastery, how to find the winning line and so, so SO much more. THIS ONE IS AWESOME. ENJOY!

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Episode 67- Fabien Blanco and SIV, Single Surface Wings, Bivvy and Safety

Fabien Blanco is the founder and head instructor at Flyeo in Annecy, a premiere paragliding school focused on teaching SIV, Cross Country and adventure flying. Fabien was a professional acro pilot and is a passionate ski-mountaineer and brings a wealth of knowledge from various “extreme” disciplines to our sport. He discovered when they first started teaching SIV that rather than focusing on ticking off the maneuvers and calling it good they needed to focus more on pilots’ mental fundamentals.

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