Want to listen to some crazy stories? Eduardo Garza (Team Mex 1) competed in his second Red Bull X-Alps this year. Eduardo has also competed in two X-Pyr’s, and he’s done all of it while working full time in a very intense and demanding engineering job. Most X-Alps pilots are full time, sponsored professional athletes. Their work is flying paragliders. And most of those who do well in the race also live in and regularly compete in the Alps. How does Eduardo go about finding an edge against the best in the world given limited time and resources? Eduardo takes us well beyond the live tracking so we can see, feel, and hear about some of the madness of the 2021 race.
Matt Scutter is an Australian competition sailplane pilot and software engineer who leads a team that runs the popular global soaring forecast platform Skysight. Unlike other platforms that use existing weather models to produce interactive forecasts for free flight enthusiasts like Meteoparapente and XCSkies, SkySight uses their own supercomputing systems to gather a wide range of weather data to create their own daily models. Initially designed for sailplane forecasting SkySight is now a go-to platform for paragliding and hang gliding forecasting as well.
Lisa Verzella flew hang gliders for over 20 years (many of those competitively), has been flying paragliders also for over 20 years and is a professional meteorologist based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She competed on the US World’s team in 1998 and 2008 in hang gliding. This show is in two parts. The first is our typical audio podcast that goes into Lisa’s vast and fascinating history of chasing airtime, and the second is a video tutorial of a deep dive into XCSkies and Lisa’s full weather flow (ie all the stuff she uses before she gets to XCSkies to identify good days to go flying).
Nik Hawks sits down with Australian meteorologist, channel 9 weatherman and paragliding pilot Gavin Morris to talk all things weather, forecasting and identifying good days in this 3rd and final bonus episode in our weather series. Gavin started his weather studies as a surfer in the 80’s then moved into reporting for snow and surf forecasts and is now who many Australians see on TV every day to get their daily weather. Gavin says we can think of ourselves as weather balloons as we soar up through the atmosphere.
This is the first of three shows in a bonus series for our subscribers dedicated to building an understanding of the weather and forecasting. Emi Carvalho studied physics in school, but it wasn’t until he began paragliding that applied physics interested him. He talks about the basics of weather, focusing on island weather and the possibilities inherent in an island with mountains over 2,000m. Emi talks about where he turns to first for weather (Windy and any local knowledge), and what he usually looks for (wind intensity, direction, and temps at different altitudes.).
Honza Rejmanek competed in the Red Bull X-Alps five times. He finished in 3rd place in 2009 and made goal in Monaco in his last campaign in 2015. Many of our listeners will also know Honza from his regular meteo column in Cross Country Magazine. Honza makes a living as a meteorologist and in this episode we tap into his vast knowledge of the invisible world we operate in and how to understand how it works and how to use this knowledge to fly farther and safer. Honza’s passion for flying and for weather are obvious from the first word- consider this a masters class in understanding the sky!
The Red Bull live tracking is great, but it misses out on all the behind-the-scenes and in this talk we dive into what the fans don’t get to see. We talk training, supplements, our decision on using the nightpass the first night, mistakes made, good moves, dicey launches, crazy weather and how the 2017 race was the most brutal yet. In 12 days I did 16 1/2 marathons, climbed the height of Everest 4 times (34,000 meters of vertical ascent), flew over 1,000 km- and I was still 308 km from goal! Only two athletes made it, Chrigel Maurer won for his 5th straight time, and rookie Benoit Outers made it in just before the time expired. 5 athletes were eliminated and 7 withdrew due to injury or exhaustion.
Reavis learned to fly a decade ago and had a pretty unusual experience with being in the air- he doesn’t experience fear. But he had a very firm understanding of the risks and wanted to be a safe pilot and took his progression and learning seriously and conservatively. This approach has given Reavis, who is now one of the pilots who regularly sends huge lines in North America a unique flying toolbox to help decipher the weather and more. Reavis is a software engineer and lives on the road chasing flying hours year-round (and BTW he answers the most common question I get from our listeners- how do you change your life so you can fly more?). His analytical mind and passion for flight will help you develop a totally different set of skills that will increase your potential as an XC pilot.
In this episode I sit down with former British team pilot and 15 year instructor and Alps guide Kelly Farina to discuss his new comprehensive book on paragliding, “Mastering Paragliding.” This fantastic read is and A to Z encyclopedia of flying. Many concepts were completely new to me- the 4/90 rule, the Golden Rule of thermalling and gliding, lee side warnings, becoming a “natural”, the air mass spectrum and a lot more.
From Zurich I flew back across the pond to try my hand at my first Rat Race, an annual comp and fiesta held in Ruch, Oregon off Woodrat mountain by Mike and Gail Haley. This was the 11th year of the event and nearly all the best pilots in the US as well as global superstar Michael (Mickey) Sigel were in attendance. I flew to Portland, rented a car and drove to Redmond, Oregon where I found Nate Scales sitting on a bench outside the airport. He’d just driven in from Sun Valley with his motor home and had arrived about 3 minutes before I did.