Episode 2- Matt Beechinor (the Glider Podcast)

Really excited about this second episode with one of my mentors in the big XC game, Matt Beechinor, aka “Farmer”.  When he flew 193 miles in 2012 from Mt Baldy in Sun Valley I decided my choice to move to the Wood River Valley later that summer was about the best decision I ever made.  Matt has been flying for almost 20 years, is the best tandem pilot I know, is an amazing instructor, guide, and a Jedi in the air. In this episode we hear about a couple of amazing saves, what the “alien world” is, how Matt approaches risk, how to thermal better and how he has become one of the best gliders in the business.  Enjoy!

Farmer soars the Mulanje Massif, Malawi

Farmer soars the Mulanje Massif, Malawi- photo Jody MacDonald

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Show Notes:

  • Matt discusses his history of paragliding, including some pretty hairy learning experiences in the Wood River Valley
  • Matt discusses using an “ESP” maneuver to get out of a bad cravat in the Sierras
  • Matt discusses thermalling techniques and the importance of nailing wing overs
  • Matt discusses the US team, competition, and how to glide more efficiently


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Speaker 1: 00:00 Good morning, good afternoon or good evening, wherever you are in the world. This is the second episode. Are the cloud based mayhem podcast. A really excited to have this show with you today with farmer I Aka Matt Beecher. He's a been a mentor to me now for years. He is an amazing pilot and he's been at the game for a long time. Uh, he's never thrown his reserve. He's a very safe pilot but can also just send insanely deep, amazing lines. And um, I think we all have a lot to learn from him, whether you're just starting out or whether you're an expert. Uh, he really takes the long view on this game that we all participate in. And um, we talked today about a whole bunch of different things, uh, what he calls the alien world and what he feels like are some of the real, uh, huge steps you need to take to become a really good thermal pilot and a really good glider in my opinion. He's one of the best gliders in the world. Um, and so a lot of information here in a very short period of time, I think you're really gonna enjoy it. And without further ado, here is Matt. Be Sure.
Speaker 2: 01:23 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 01:27 hi farmer, I Gavin. Um, so we're going to have a little fireside chat about your, uh, history of paragliding if you wouldn't mind. And uh, what I'd like to hear about first is when you got started flying and how you got started wanting,
Speaker 3: 01:45 I started flying here in Sun Valley, Idaho, the summer of 1998. And Garth Callaghan was my teacher. He was like
Speaker 1: 01:55 local tandem guide instructor at the time
Speaker 3: 01:59 and uh, and, and he taught me how to fly.
Speaker 1: 02:03 And then was it Kinda like love at first sight? Where are you pretty addicted right away or was it, what was it like learning and um, for those that you don't know, Sun Valley's kind of a pretty intense place to fly. Um, these are pretty on here. When you first started flying then in 98, um, I guess, did you, did you know that Sun Valley was really kind of an intense place to fly or you didn't really have any reference?
Speaker 3: 02:32 No, I didn't have any reference and uh, I feel like I came into the sport in a really good time. We had good instruction and good gliders and it was a really nice time to come into the sport and I didn't really have any clue that Idaho was huge air or anything like that. Um, I at times had a little bit of intermediate syndrome and got over my head, uh, in those first couple of years of flying. Um, but I think it's those moments that make you hopefully anyway, hopefully takes, makes a pilot, take a step back and uh, learn the game a little bit more and, and helps keep you safe if you have a few of those moments. So
Speaker 4: 03:21 you had just the other day you were talking about an incident that you had here. I think it was just in the first couple of years. Is that right? Can you tell me about that?
Speaker 3: 03:29 My first couple of years of flying, I was just flying for the summers cause I was here, uh, working as a carpenter to put myself through college. And so I was pretty much just flying in the summers at that point around here in Idaho for like maybe my first two or three years. And my second year of flying I came back pretty confident and all fired up to get in the sky a bunch. And yeah, got myself in over my head pretty quickly. It was the 4th of July and a lot of just classic mistakes. Looking back on it, I didn't check the forecast. I was late getting to launch and dilly dallied once I was up there and spent a little bit too much time getting ready and waiting for friends and stuff like that. So that by the time I got off the hill, it was probably like 11 or 1130, which can be quite strong here in Idaho that time of year.
Speaker 3: 04:22 And, uh, I didn't recognize a bunch of classic signs that the day was going to overdevelop if I would've saw the day with the eyes that I have now on the knowledge that I have now, I would've recognized right off the bat that, you know, it was a day I shouldn't have been up there as an intermediate pilot, but, uh, I couldn't see it at the time and was pretty excited and launched off the hill and was just having the fly to my life cause it was so easy to climb up the, you know, over the top of Baldy and, um, and was, you know, a few thousand feet over before I recognized that it was too easy to thermal. And, uh, at that time, kind of wanted to move out towards the valley and think about heading out towards the valley to go land. Uh, but I was kind of stuck in that lift and at that point things were starting to overdevelop and I got probably up to around 14, 14,000 feet, most likely.
Speaker 3: 05:25 Um, and at that point I was trying to say that and I was doing big ears. I was spiraling harder than I've ever spiraled my life and I was still going up. So I was freaked out pretty good. And I went on collide finally, uh, out towards the valley, which was my best move. So instead of just staying in the lift and trying to descend, I finally figured out that I needed to move away from this big cloud of my head that was hoovering me. And, uh, and so made a move out towards the valley and lost a few thousand feet and I was probably at about nine or 10,000 feet when all of a sudden my glider was below me for some reason. And, uh, then I went through a huge cascade for about 1500 feet and I had no idea what I was doing. So I was spinning, installing the glider, uh, and completely over managing it at that point, through this [inaudible] ladder. Were you on [inaudible]?
Speaker 3: 06:22 Maybe a U P Boogie? I don't specifically know. It may be. It might. I, you know, it was a loader of water at the time cause I hadn't purchased my own equipment, so I don't know what glider I was on specifically, but it was a loaner glider, uh, that I was borrowing from my instructor until I could put the good put together the money to, to buy equipment, uh, regardless of what it was. Uh, I was doing all the wrong things and I hadn't done ivy. I was pretty clueless. I was probably, you know, at that point I might've had 50 flights, you know, I was still a p too. Like I said, I was just waiting for the summers and that was my second summer of flying. So I just didn't have that much experience at all. Um, certainly had never been through any kind of, uh, incident like this before.
Speaker 3: 07:12 And Andy was over managing the glider and what really saved me, I still had a lot of terrain clearance. I still had thousands of feet of terrain clearance. Um, but really what, what corrected the situation is that the glider, uh, had so many risers with that, it, it locked me out of over controlling it and finally started flying good again and I kicked out of those riser twists and was flying again and still had probably 1500 feet or 2000 feet above the ground. So I hadn't started, I hadn't considered using my reserve yet at that point. I probably would have once I got lower. But, um, luckily I started flying again and now I was in a different situation. Now I was in the valley and I was in a tremendous amount of valley wind. Uh, that tends to happen around here cause we've got tight valleys and when it gets thermic we get really strong valley winds.
Speaker 3: 08:07 So now it was descending into another horrendous situation, which was probably 25 miles an hour, valley wind. And I was actually in a good position at that point. I was in the southern part of our valley and I was over a huge field and what I should have known at that moment is just descended and landed in that big field. But for some reason my beginner brain said, go to the landing zone. So I made a turn down wind. And, uh, as I got myself positioned upwind of our landing zone, I could see a few of the local pilots running around frantically in the, in the landing zone. Uh, and they were trying to, what they were trying to do is kick dust into a huge dust devil that was cracking off in the landing area. And luckily they did. And they showed me that there was just this monster dust devil parked in our landing area. And at that point I was pretty much out of altitude and out of options and I had to make a pretty drastic turn into the neighborhoods and catch them here and, uh, managed to stuff it into a volleyball court. Um, and not very big. No, it was all pretty frantic. I mean, there's a lot of luck that happened in this day. And, uh, and I sprained my ankle, uh, pretty severely didn't break it, but I sprained my ankle onto that to this day. That's the only injury I've ever gotten out of paragliding.
Speaker 4: 09:28 That's amazing. So let's talk about that. Cause you, you kind of rallied pretty hard on the competition scene for a while, which is tends to, that can break people. Um, what did, when did you do that and um, yeah, just talk about your competition scene and kind of where, how you came out of that I guess cause you were really rallying around the world and doing that whole thing for awhile. [inaudible]
Speaker 3: 09:54 well I think what, what happened with this incident is it, it really made me take a, a pretty big step back and, and really become a lot more of a student and learn a lot of these things that I was clearly missing and get some humility in the sport as well. So I thought I'd mentioned that because it was a, uh, perfect corrective thing to what was going on in my flying at that point. Cause it's certainly, I was a little in a little bit over my head and it was a nice thing to go through this. I think that it's always nice to have incidents in paragliding as a beginner and get out of them without too much consequence, hopefully. And hopefully they, they correct. You're flying in some way that you, you take a lesson away from that and hopefully, um, take a step back, learn something you didn't know. Um, I think that's important. Uh,
Speaker 4: 10:47 you mentioned, let me just cut into that room. You mentioned intermediate syndrome, um, through, can you explain that for the people that don't know, cause I think it's a term we hear a lot, but, um, probably means different things to different folks.
Speaker 3: 11:01 Yeah. Well, uh, I think there's trappings for a pilot at any level of progression. And in the beginning, uh, intermediate syndrome is when in your head you're probably a better pilot than what you actually are. And you, you think that you're doing really good and you've got the skills to handle situations. But the reality is you're in over your head and you're, you're basically, uh, an under-qualified overconfident pilot and those trappings existed at every level, um, right up to an expert and they call that expert halo where you feel kind of invincible cause you think you know it all and, and you're really proficient and you've proven yourself that, uh, you're a really good pilot. And so you, you continue to push into situations, uh, they're more and more dangerous cause you think you can handle them. And so there's, there's trappings for us at every level as a pilot I think,
Speaker 4: 12:00 um, back to the comp scene. So that was, what years were you doing that? Were you flying comps?
Speaker 3: 12:05 The very first contest I did was in 2004 in Brazil. I did the, uh, Brazilian nationals and the free worlds. And those were the first couple of contests that I did and they, they really caught my attention. Um, it was my buddy Nate scales that, that really directed me towards contest. I went to a few contests with him and didn't enter before all this. Uh, and he convinced me that this is how I was going to really progress as a pilot and all the good guys were there. And if I really wanted to figure out how to fly paragliders, I would go to contests. And beyond that they were just, they were really killer time. They were really fun.
Speaker 4: 12:44 And did that prove true before
Speaker 3: 12:48 from a learning perspective? Very much so. Yeah. Yeah. There's, it's one of the best places that you can learn to be a really proficient, cross-country pilot. Um, all the best pilots are there, uh, teaching you all the best techniques and if you just keep your eyes open at a contest and really approach contest flying from the perspective that you're not there to prove anything, you're not there to win, but you're there to learn. You can, you can gain so much knowledge from going to contests. Um, I think they're one of the best places we can go to, to, to learn all the, all the top information.
Speaker 4: 13:29 And Are you still interested in contest? Will you still be competing? I know this year you were the coach for the world's teams. You went down to Columbia and then you've been guiding a lot last few years down in Columbia and, and of course flying tandems here as most of that's most of your job I guess now is flying 10 and spit or will you um, will you get kind of back into the car? Do you miss the contest? You, I guess
Speaker 3: 13:53 being in Columbia this year at the world championships it was a, I did a few days. Definitely miss racing with all those guys cause it's so much fun. It's just such a hoot, uh, to be flying those courses and seeing how well it can be done. It's super inspiring. Um, for contest flying, I feel like you have to be, at least for me, I want to be very fired up about it. I want to be there with the full mindset that um, I'm there to go forward as hard as I can. Cause I think one of the things that contest flying taught me that I didn't know about myself before I started doing it is that I'm actually a pretty competitive person. And, uh, so if I am going to go to a contest, I don't want to go there half-assed. I want to, I want to be all in and I want to be there on good equipment and with the mindset that I'm going to go race with my buddies and try really hard to win cause that's part of the fun of the game to me. I guess
Speaker 4: 14:54 you, um, I, I know this, so when we can talk about it, um, you've never thrown your reserve, uh, even flying for, what did you say you started?
Speaker 3: 15:03 98,
Speaker 4: 15:03 98. So, uh, 16 years. 17 years now. Um, what do you credit that to? Because you, you know, like this year I think, you know, down at Columbia you were saying you got maybe 120 hours, you're definitely flying 150, 200 hours, typically in a year, especially if you add up the tandems, I would imagine. Yeah. Um, that's a lot of flying in. You're flying and pretty heavy places like in Sun Valley. Um, what do you accredit your, I don't want to jinx us, you know, but what do you credit your kind of safety record to? You know, you had that incident early, that clearly taught you a lot. You know, that was super valuable. And those are the greatest lessons we know when we get away with stuff and realize like, Whoa, God, you know, that's something we, that's impactful. Um, but what, what do you accredit to, you know, when I watch you with a glider's, like watching somebody that's dancing, you know, like you're, your ground handling is just magnificent. It's beautiful. Is it? Um, is it that, is it your head? Is it practice? Uh, is it the, is it the obvious stuff or is there something else? Do it gets my mom don't die. You fucker
Speaker 3: 16:12 pretty much, you know, I mean, I think when I first started getting into this, uh, you know, I had some of those kind of frank discussions with my parents about the sport and about safety and stuff like that. And I've, I'm super fortunate in that I've got parents that are incredibly supportive of any crazy thing that I've wanted to go chase in my life. Um, paragliding included, even though at the end of the day, we all know it's a little bit dangerous. Um, but my mom has always directed me towards listening to an inner voice. And I, and I believe that we all have this inner voice and it's saying things to you. Sometimes it's only whispering things to you, but you have to listen to it in our sport. You have to listen to the hair standing up on the back of your neck and an inner voice telling you not to do something.
Speaker 3: 17:09 And I really think that my mom told me to listen to that in this sport. And, uh, and I have, and I've stayed true to that my entire flying career. And I really think that that's one of the major things that's kept me safe in the game. On a certain day, you have to go land if, uh, you know, if you're just not feeling it and all your buddies are all fired up and they're going to go fly a hundred miles, but it's not your day, it's not your day and you, and you have to be really true to your head space and how your feeling physically and pay attention to that and listen to that little voice in the back of your head cause all he's doing is trying to keep you safe.
Speaker 4: 17:55 That's that, that saying that Nick Grease told me you're really early on. I still go back to it all the time. Fly the day, not your desire. You know, it seems like you're really good at that. Yeah. Flying, flying, what fits for the day?
Speaker 3: 18:08 So, so there's that. And then there's, you know, I'll, I'll, I'll go back to the fact that, you know, some of the, some of the scary moments that I had early on in my flying really made me want to master the sport and not get into situations like that again. And I really, you know, push the reset button. Um, really several times and my flying and over the years and, and made sure that I was doing things for the right reason and progressing the way I needed to progress, you know, Siv courses. And, uh, I was super fortunate here in Idaho to have, uh, Nate scales as, um, a huge influence in my flying. And he really took me under his wing as a, as a mentor and taught me a tremendous amount about cross country paragliding and how to progress. And, uh, so I've had some, some I've been really fortunate to have some really good pilots, uh, pass along knowledge and help me progress in a slow and safe manner.
Speaker 3: 19:09 And I think that that's really important in our sport. You know, we get, we get excited, um, and want to achieve all these things as young pilots. Uh, but there's a couple of things that made me realize that this game is much longer. Uh, and, and we've got plenty of time to achieve all of our dreams. So I've met a couple of people. One of them was this, uh, can't even remember his name, but he was in his mid seventies and I met him hiking up to launch in Switzerland. And here's this guy, he's in his mid seventies. He's walking along and he's heading out for a day of flying, which was really inspiring to me. And then another person in the flying world that's really inspiring to me is Luca Dinny. And he is, if he shows up at any contest in the world, people are looking at him to potentially win the thing.
Speaker 3: 19:59 And he's not old by any means, but he, I think he's probably in his, I would assume he's probably in his mid fifties, early to mid fifties. Um, and that's also very inspiring to me because, uh, we don't age out of this sport. It's not football or soccer. You're not done when you're in your late twenties or early thirties. We don't age out. I think we just get better and better. Um, so when I finally realized that I realized that I was on an extremely long and gradual learning curve and I should be okay with where I'm at in my journey and just enjoy the ride. Well, yeah, there's probably, there might be a summit, but if the summit is a long ways off in the distance and I'm okay with the long journey to get there, you know, um, I'm hoping to, I'm hoping to be a good pilot in 20 years, you know? Yeah. I want to keep progressing. I want to, and I, I, my goal, my goals have changed. I want to be, I want to be that guy in his mid seventies walking up to launch. I want to be flying in my seventies and my eighties that's my new goal in life, you know, and to do that, do you, you know, you take the good days and, and go hard when it's good days and you go land on the bad days and you have to be okay with that.
Speaker 1: 21:27 Ew. Yeah. I liked that. And I think that's a really good point that I think a lot of people need to be thinking about in this sport because it just takes one bad accident. Then the, um, in 2012, uh, I was over in Europe and I was really just discovering kind of a cross country and a in a bigger way. I'd just done an Siv with jockey and I was roaming around the Alps and super fired up and I got online and you had just gone 193 miles, um, which was just a distance. That was completely absurd to me. Like it just blew me away. I told everybody I went to the store and I told people that didn't even know anything about paragliding. I was like, this dude at home is, and I hadn't, you know, I was, I was moving here that summer. Um, it was one of the most inspiring things, uh, that had ever happened to me in paragliding.
Speaker 1: 22:18 And I've heard you tell the story about that flight, but, um, what, what did you do to prepare for that, if anything? And how did that happen? That was an amazing summer. You went one 93, Nate went one 99, you know, within a couple of weeks I guess. And then, and then nick went 204 from Jackson, you know, that same summer. And it was, I know bill in the last podcast we talked about it, he was talking about this two for 200. You know, wouldn't it be cool if we went to a hundred miles on a two liner? So I know a lot of that was gear and you guys were talking about it. But um, for you personally, you know, I know when you're, when you're balancing 10 edge in the summer, it's pretty hard to, you know, fly the tantrums in the morning and get your oxygen and get all your stuff together and then go send it. That's a big day. Um, how did you prepare for all of that? Or did it just happen?
Speaker 3: 23:14 Uh, I think that I have been preparing my entire flying career for that flight. Um, and at the end of the day it did just happen. But all the skill sets required to do a flight like that have been, I've been acquiring them for many years. So, uh, your quote that we attribute to nick grease fly the day and not your desires, you know, holds true, uh, for every good flight that I've ever done. And there happen to be good conditions that day. And I was fired up to go crock fly across country and, and so I did. And that was, that was a day that I spent, I guess there was four or five people on the hill that were fired up to go fly across country as well. Um, but even five miles into my flight, I was, I was on my own and, and heading back towards, yeah, well no, they just kind of decided to go different directions, you know, I think that Charlie, and if you're the others might've crossed over to sun peak with me and you know, and, and the crossing, this is the first crossing after bald mountain that we do.
Speaker 3: 24:25 And it was pretty light back in there. And I was really having to just Kinda, uh, stuff it back in there to get the day going and, and it didn't really seem like anything was going to come together. Uh, but I just kept dribbling along. Um, and I didn't really have any big plans to go anywhere huge that day. Uh, it really wasn't until I got to the last river range that I committed to actually trying to go far and start hopping those other ranges, uh, for the rest of the day. Um, I was trying to decide if there was too much wind. I was trying to decide if there was enough lift. I wasn't super confident in the Quadro was flying at that point, cause I think it was my second or third flight on the ice peak six. Um, so I got really low right before Dickie peak, uh, which is over near the last arrange in the Pacific Royce and was considering landing at that point.
Speaker 3: 25:24 And then I caught an ice climb and got above the peaks again. And that's when I really committed to just flying as hard as I could for the rest of the day. Uh, it was, there was some wind, it wasn't, um, it wasn't uncomfortable from the perspective that I was pinned in the ranges by any means. I had the ability to fly out in front of all these arranges that I was hopping over and escape them if I wanted to. So it wasn't, it wasn't bad from a wind perspective, but there was some wind and there was a lot of thermal strength and it was quite rough at times. And I think what kept my head in the game a lot that day was just because I was unfamiliar with this glider and I wasn't completely confident on it. I just kept saying to myself, while I'm, I'm not gonna land until I have at least one collapse, you know?
Speaker 3: 26:16 Um, and so that went on all day long and I didn't have a collapse all day long, so I just kept, I just kept, oh, it's a beautiful glider. Yeah, one of my favorites for sure, but I just kept going, um, and kept pushing myself that day because I don't think that I was, I had to convince myself that I wasn't being unsafe. You know, a good portion of the day, um, cause it was very strong and, and on. But, uh, I guess I felt in control because I didn't have any collapses and I was still able to make up when moves, uh, and not put myself in a Lee and stuff like that. So I kept feeling good about it and kept going. Another thing that played into it was the fact that, uh, how is running a, an oxygen system with batteries, uh, that day and it happened to fail on launch. Um, and so I was running without oxygen all day long as well, which is something I'm, uh, pretty leery of from past experiences and, uh, but I wasn't getting that high and most of the day was spent probably 15, 16,000 feet. And it wasn't until the very end of the day that it actually caught a climb up to 18. Um, but that kind of played into my nervousness up there as well that day. I guess it's just
Speaker 4: 27:33 knowing that you could've been bought out and not really known about it. Yeah. When you get hypoxic it gets weird.
Speaker 3: 27:37 Yeah. So, uh, yeah, there's a, there's a lot, there's a lot that goes through your head when you're flying distance by yourself.
Speaker 4: 27:46 When you came to pick me up the next summer after, after my big flight, um, I was experiencing something that you call the alien world. Tell me about the alien world, which is an awesome world that we all try to go to but that I, I like how you kind of described it.
Speaker 3: 28:05 I've been trying to describe the headspace that cross country paragliding puts me into for a long time. And at that point, I think when we were talking about it, I described it as the alien world because I feel so alien when I land. The longer I fly, the more I get into this head space. And typically if I land after a six or eight hour flight, it just takes me a while to come back down to earth and want to like talk with people again. You know, I usually need some, like I kind of want to stay in that head space. So I want another 15 minutes or half an hour to myself after I land. And just kind of enjoy that headspace that flying puts me in. Um, you know, I think it's, I think it's kind of like meditation and the reason is because it is such a heightened state of focus that you've got to stay in for these extended periods of time.
Speaker 3: 29:04 Um, that it, it gets me into a headspace that I can't get into when I'm not flying. And I'm sure that people who meditate can do stuff like this, um, and really practice those types of lifestyles. They can probably get themselves into the type of head space that I'm talking about, but the only way I can achieve it is through flying. And the longer I fly, the deeper I get into this head space. And it's something that's really enjoyable to me because I'm the type of person that has an extremely busy mind and I can't really control my thoughts to a large extent. I've got a really busy head. And so flying is flying is one of the few places where I have, um, where I have a calm mindset where I can truly focus on only one thing. Cool. I like that. Um,
Speaker 4: 29:59 W W we'll wrap it up here pretty soon, but your, your story, uh, of your save in the Sierra is, is I think, really instructive. I'd love you to tell that story. It's like farmer's greatest hits here. Yeah, totally. That's the greatest hit for sure. And I, I've heard it a few times, but I think, I think the audience here will, it'll blow their minds. Tell us about that.
Speaker 3: 30:24 Uh, this is probably like 2006 or 2007, somewhere around there. I'm flying the Sierras. We launched from Walt's point, uh, and I was flying with Nate scales and Nick Grease and Todd Babbler and waltz is a beautiful launch from the perspective that you're perched high up in the Sierras and, and right there, uh, for, for a great cross country flight, right? Deepen the mountains, but it's a, it's a flat slope. Um, you're launching from a road cut parking lot and it's tough to get off the ground. And so I kind of stuck around and helped everyone else get off the ground. Uh, mainly Todd Bibbler, who is one of the best pilots I've ever seen fly a paraglider once is he in the air, but he's worse than a complete beginner on the ground. So, uh, he's, he's gotten no launching or coding skills, but he is an absolute Jed eye in the sky.
Speaker 3: 31:25 I've never seen anything like it. So anyway, we, we took some time getting him off the ground and uh, and I kinda stuck around, uh, the longest. I was the last one off the ground and the forecast said it was going to be windy that day. Um, quite strong wind from the west coming over the Sierras. And so we were expecting that, but we were fired up and thought it was worth flying some cross country. So, um, I'm alone, uh, in the beginning of the flight on probably about 10 miles down range and I'm trying to catch up with the crew who's probably another five miles out in front of me. And I was already noticing that once you hit a certain altitude, I want to say it was probably around 13,000 feet, maybe, maybe between 12 and 13,000 feet. Uh, there was a pretty wicked sheer layer associated with that west wind that was coming over the top of this years.
Speaker 3: 32:21 And on one of my climbs out, I was pretty, I wasn't that low, but I was down in a canyon climbing off of this route. Yup. The, the vistas that the Sierra has had to offer in this place is just radical. It's just rock walls and, and, uh, huge boulders. And so I'm looking below me thinking about what a gnarly place this would be to land or throw your reserve. Um, you know, there's these, there's this canyon below me that has boulders that range in size from the size of a car to the size of a bus and it's cliffed out above and it's cliffed out below. And I was thinking to myself, man, if you had the land here, it'd be, it's a guaranteed rescue. There's no way you're getting out of here by yourself. If you were lucky enough to survive a landing in there.
Speaker 3: 33:12 And that's kind of what's in my head cause I'm in this ratty climb, uh, off this ridge line. And um, so I gained a few thousand feet and I was probably 2,500 feet over this ridge line and, and Mike Glider simultaneously shot directly out in front of me and had a 50% collapse that instantly curve added. So I go from being in a a very wound out, a super strong climb, really coring super tightly to my glider being straight out in front of me, curve added. And because it shot so far out in front of me and curve added so quickly out in front of me, I instantly went into a super g doubt curve added spiral. So I'm going, I go from a really strong climb to being g doubt, uh, in this spiral situation with a corvette. And I'd never had a cravat before. Um, at least not this severe where I was actually wound up by the thing.
Speaker 3: 34:24 And so now I'm diving at that canyon that I was just admiring how gnarly it was. So I'm spiraling towards the ground at a really high rate of speed. Um, I'm super disoriented by this corvette, uh, and the spiral because there's so much g going on. I'm in the backseat, I'm having trouble reaching up towards my risers and stuff because of the centrifical force. And I tried a number of things to get out of this spiral weight shift, break input, um, to try to steer out of it. But as hard as I could pull, uh, nothing was effecting the glider whatsoever. I just stayed in this g out spiral. So I remember to move that I'd watched in an acro video. I've watched this video a lot of times and for some reason this move stuck in my head and these guys had a move for getting out of a curve added spirals where you spin the curve added side and it's called an ESP.
Speaker 3: 35:30 And so I dropped both my breaks and I reached above the Poli on the curve added side and I had to pull three arm lengths worth a break on that side in order to spin it. That side was all slack cause it's caravan. It, was it w yeah, it, was it all slack or was it, no, it wasn't all slack. You're in a spiral. So it was, yeah, but there was some slack there. Yeah. But there was tension on the line. It just took three arm loads, you know, three arms length plan and kind of letting it go. No hand over hand over hand. Okay. Yeah. Hand over hand pulling in brake line on that side. And I want to say it broke on like the third, the third a reach for the brake line and that spun it. And the reason that works is because it reverses the airflow on the carotid side and it, and it spins the glider and it billows out the corvette as it does that. So, um, it spun the glider and I hadn't associated like huge climb out, uh, as the glider reinflates and, and gets energy and, and I checked the surgeon and then I flew out towards the desert landed cause I was terrified.
Speaker 1: 36:35 That is unbelievable. Can't imagine using that and in the Sierras to save your assets. It's a good trick.
Speaker 3: 36:42 No, it's a probably one of two situations that I can think of that, that I probably should have thrown my reserve that I managed to get myself out of. Right. Yeah. But a reserve could have been really nasty where you were ever reserved just wasn't an option. Yeah. It wasn't an option. It was an option. I probably would have survived the situation, but I definitely, it, I would've had to have gotten rescued out of that situation. I wouldn't have been able to hike out of the terrain that I was in. Right. You know, and I most likely would have been injured landing in that boulder field. So it was kind of like the best option I had to fight and to, to, to just battle the glider. What kind of glad, where are you on? Do you remember? Yeah, that was a Trango to train. Let's see. Okay. Yeah. U P try and go too. That was my first two. Three.
Speaker 1: 37:28 Okay, cool. Um, just last one. I, um, embarrass you a little better. Making red I guess. But I in my experience, uh, and I don't have a ton of comp experience, but flying with you at the super final in Colombia, uh, when were we down there? Maybe 2014, maybe something like that. 2013. Um, I would watch you like pick off dozens of people on glide. Uh, and we're all on like similar gliders. Uh, you were on the sixth. It's time. Um, it, I kind of regard you as one of the best gliders out there. Um, and I think, uh, for a lot of our eyes it was, it was a big wake up for me. Hearing you guys talk at the, at the PWC here in Sun Valley, um, you know, I think when we're learning how to fly paragliders we're all concerned about thermal ing. And as you get better and better and better, that becomes the time to eat and drink and fart around and take pictures is just, it's, it's important that we get very good at it.
Speaker 1: 38:30 Um, and it's not nearly as important as the lighting. Uh, and you have a technique that you share with me down at the super final for picking off other pilots that, um, I thought was, was, was really interesting and also work, but just to see it in play. Um, but also just, I wanna I wanna I want you to talk about gliding and just how you approach it and is it, I think people have asked Kriegel and he's Kinda like, what are you talking about? You just do it, you know, like I, I think it's one of these things where people just have an instinct, but it's something that you've been able to really develop and as it is that some of you can put in words, or is it something you just have to do?
Speaker 5: 39:12 Okay.
Speaker 3: 39:13 It's, it's probably one of the easier things for me to do and one of the hardest things for me to describe. So I guess I'll try, you know, um, something that I think is inspiring. I think it was Stefan smoker that said it. If you're thermally ing, you're going backwards half the time while you're flying. So I believe gliding is going to be one of the major ways that we're going to figure out how to fly, fly further and fly faster. Um, and so it's something I've kind of tried to study a little bit and I've, I've, I've read all, uh, quite a few books on, uh, the old hang glider pilots. Um, and more recent hang glider pilots that, that have a lot of good things to say about gliding, uh, books on sail planes. I think that as our gliders become more efficient, we can use more of their techniques and apply them to flying a paraglider.
Speaker 3: 40:11 So how does one Glidewell uh, one thing that I noticed in competition flying, uh, you know, the, in if you're in kind of the middle of the pack in a gaggle, you've got all these people spread out in front of you. Um, and they are completely describing the air mass to you. Uh, once a gaggle of 30 or 40 pilots leaves a thermal and goes on glide at the end of that glide, it doesn't really matter how long it is. Typically some of those gliders are going to be higher than the others because they all spread out looking for, looking for lift and, and so one of the tricks that I use in competition flying is to just scoot around behind them. And any bump that any pilot gets in front of me, I'm gonna Kinda like Pac man back there behind them. I'm just kind of gobbling up all those good bits of air and trying to put myself in the most positive air possible and scooting around as much as possible.
Speaker 3: 41:14 Moving laterally, I guess I should say, um, in order to fly through the best air possible. So that's probably the best trick I can offer for catching people and competitions while colliding is just, they're describing the rms to you. So use it. And oftentimes if we're on a big long glide and the whole group is getting a bad line, I'll go off to the side and you know, I've learned that there's often good air or just really close to us. You just have to scoot over there and get it. Um, and so I'm not afraid to move quite far outside of the pack in order to look for a better gliding line. And oftentimes if you do that, you can catch people in front of you because they'll be lower than you at the next climb and marking that next line for you. And you can come in on top of them and top out their thermal. And I've applied this to my cross country flying and the respect that if I'm in bad air, I'm going to scoot around and look for better air. That's, that's one of the main things I'm doing a, uh, that you
Speaker 1: 42:26 pressed upon me, it, that at the super final that that's, that's an immediate move. It's not, Ooh, I'm in bad air. Women better, I'm in better God. Maybe I'll try left or I'll try right. Or I'll try 45 or I'll just like on a bad air. Had to find something different. Now you move.
Speaker 3: 42:43 Yeah. I'm, I'm immediately going to make a uh, uh, a course correction. Maybe go 45 degrees off course line and try to find better air. Half the time I'm, I'm still in bad air, but, um, half the time I end up in better air and it's worth making that move. You know, sometimes you're just flying into these huge areas of sink and there's nothing we can do about it, but oftentimes there's better air right beside us. And if we just scoot over there, we can find it. Um, so that's part of it. And, uh, I think another part of it is I've, I've trained a lot. Um, for years I, I really focused on, uh, having a number on my instrument l over d over ground and paying attention to that and getting a sense of when I was getting a good glide and when I was getting a bad glide.
Speaker 3: 43:30 And so, you know, your average gliders probably got it nine to one glide ratio. And so if I was getting at five or six to one, I'm going to look for better air or try to do something about it. If I'm getting a 12 or 14 to one, I'm going, I might try to stay in that air and, and uh, even ride the brakes a little bit to get an advantage out of that lifting air. Cause I know I'm in, in on a lifting line. Um, so it's just a lot of practice. Uh, you have to train on the speed bar a bunch. I think it's hugely important that we train on our speed bar. Uh, it's one of those tools that a beginner or intermediate pilot, um, should start working towards and, and master, it's very much a part of our glider and very much an important part of gliding efficiently.
Speaker 3: 44:19 Um, I don't think that we should be afraid of our speed bars these days. In fact, uh, and when I'm guiding in Columbia, I actually tell people to, to call it the collide bar, which is actually something Nate scales came up with a speed bar. Sounds scary, but the glide spars sounds like a good time. So, um, we should be training on our glide bar quite a bit. And, uh, our gliders are in my opinion, no more susceptible to a collapse on a quarter or third bar than they are at trim. And this is certainly more true. The more, uh, the higher you go up and the categories of gliders. So for my, the gliders I fly, uh, indies, they actually become more collapsed resistant when you're on a quarter or a third bar. And I think that this also applies to modern day intermediate gliders that, you know, this, this, uh, idea that our gliders are just going to collapse if we're on any kind of speed bar is something that was true for gliders back in the 90s, early nineties maybe. But Modern Day paragliders fly really, really well on speed bar and I don't think it's something we should be afraid of and it's something that we really need to train on a lot in order to get more proficient at.
Speaker 1: 45:47 Matt, you spend a lot of your time guiding and instructing a both here and you've done a couple of big gears lately down in Columbia litter. Um, what are your big objectives? Like, what are you, what are the things that, uh, in pilots that you're instructing? So these are typically lower hour pilots or people that are getting into cross country. Not all, some of them are probably further along, but what are they kind of the big um, themes these days?
Speaker 3: 46:17 Well, we've got all levels of pilots on our tours. Um, but it seems like one major thing that everyone seems to be working on is thermal ing and whether it's your first thermals or you're really trying to learn to thermal very efficiently, uh, thermal ing is probably one of the major things we work on. Um, thermal [inaudible] speed is one of the major ways that you're going to achieve better cross country speeds and achieve greater distances. So we need to be very efficient in thermals and always be climbing in the strongest thermals, um, throughout the day in order to go as far as we can on a given day. One of the major things that I thinks that I think helps, uh, pilots become better at thermal ling is by learning to do wing overs. Uh, so I talk about this quite a bit and I believe that wing overs teach pilots to control their gliders and a lot of different situations that we're in while on thermally, um, when we get pitched out of the thermal, uh, when our glider gets into odd positions, it teaches us when we can and can't turn our glider and how to get it back to where we want it to be relative to relative to a thermal.
Speaker 3: 47:42 Um, so wing overs are one of the only moves that we do in flying that combine the three movements of our glider. The pitch, the role and the yaw of the glider into one fluid movement and to do them properly is really challenging. So wing overs should always be learned in the right environment, uh, at first in an Siv course under instruction over water because wing overs are incredibly dangerous. There's no better way to get,
Speaker 6: 48:17 uh, uh,
Speaker 3: 48:18 big collapse to curve that and then to do sloppy wing overs where you stack a tip and run out of energy at the top of your swing. Um, so certainly you learn them in the right environment. And then moving forward, practice them in smart places as well. You should only do wing overs high and hopefully and relatively calm air.
Speaker 6: 48:42 Uh,
Speaker 3: 48:43 we shouldn't do them while we're red soaring low to the terrain. Um, you shouldn't be learning wing overs under reserve height and also the things that I'm trying to teach people from doing wing overs. You don't have to do huge over the top of wing ovaries to learn the things that I'm trying to teach people. It's, it's really 90 degree wing overs and less, uh, we'll teach you everything that I'm trying to teach people. You're trying to learn to build and dissipate energy in the glider. So we learned that through break input and weight shift timed properly, you can either kill energy or build energy in the glider and through that you can put your glider wherever you want to above your head while thermal ing and get in that core. [inaudible].
Speaker 4: 49:35 Cool. Yeah, I like that you're, um, telling people, be careful that wing overs and like they're highly underrated in the beginning when you, you know, once you get through it and you learn how to do them well, then you realize how hard they are. You know, there's, uh, you know, I've heard a lot of really good pilots say it's kind of the hardest acro move it, it really should be considered acro really. Cause it's, it's a lot of things going on and you gotta get a lot of things writery end up in the wing
Speaker 3: 50:01 for sure. Take it slow on the wing overs, um, learn them in the right environment, but I believe that they're crucial to mastering how you fly a pair.
Speaker 4: 50:12 Cool. Well let's end it on that. That was a great lesson and a good thing for all of us to be thinking about. I see you doing some monster wing over still, so it's the one of those playful, fun moves there is for sure. I love wing over. So, um, thanks. That was a real
Speaker 1: 50:28 treat and uh, appreciate it. No Problem Gavin.
Speaker 5: 50:31 Thanks Traci.
Speaker 1: 50:46 Well, I hope you enjoyed that. That was the second episode of the cloud based man podcast. Uh, this is Gavin McClurg. I'm going to try to keep this going. I'm leaving for Europe, but like I said at the top of the show tomorrow to, uh, participate in the red bull ex Alps, which is happening July 5th, and going over there earlier to learn the course and fly as much as I can and keep my training going. Um, but I'll try to keep doing these. I'm going to bring my audio gear and try to sit down with people, uh, that I meet along the way and uh, and keep putting out this information. Um, it's, it is time consuming and it does cost a little bit of money. I'm happy to do it. But, uh, following in the footsteps of a, another podcast that I really, really love called hardcore history of Dan Carlin, uh, they asked for a buck a show. So, uh, if you would like to contribute to the podcast, keep us on the air, uh, I feel contributed at buck. That's all we ask. Uh, that'll keep things moving along. Haven't figured out quite how I do that, but that'll be on the website and we'll probably just do it through paypal. Um, and until then, we'll see you next time. Thanks very much for listening. Cheers.


8 thoughts on “Episode 2- Matt Beechinor (the Glider Podcast)

  1. Thank you forThe high-quality podcast interview with such good advice and stories. I am a new P2 in Santa Barbara and am enjoying all of the information and stoke in the beginning stages of my learning curve.having the advice and experience of you guys who have gone before has really given me confidence and carefulness to have a long flying career.

  2. Pingback: Cloudbase Mayhem's Gavin McClurg talks with Bill Belcourt - News about paragliding

  3. Thanks guys so much! This is such a useful podcast/info. Keep’em coming. Thats exactly what a lot of us are missing in paragliding (Mentors like you) And good luck at the X-alps boys!

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