Episode 20- Bruce Goldsmith and Passion

Bruce Goldsmith

Bruce Goldsmith

Bruce Goldsmith has quite possibly more competition flying under his belt than anyone. One of the few pilots who’s won in both Hangliding and Paragliding Bruce began flying comps in the mid 80’s and capped off over 30 years of success by winning the world championships in 2007 in Australia. He’s started or designed for most of the major brands in paragliding (Ozone, Airwave, Advance, etc.) and now heads up Bruce Goldsmith Designs. His passion for the sport and his knowledge comes through in his books 25 ways to fly better (now in digital form and expanded to 50 ways to fly better) and belong in every serious pilot’s library. Bruce is a regular contributor to Cross Country Magazine and is truly passionate about free flight. In this information-packed episode Bruce discusses how competitions have changed, the close link between design and competition, creating and perfecting a modern glider, he relates an amazing story of tumbling in a hang glider in the Owens back in 93′, why accidents happen, three of the most important ways to progress, how to tackle the most critical aspects of becoming better and a lot more. Please enjoy this discussion with one of the very greats in our sport, Bruce Goldsmith.

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Show Notes:

  • How to play the gaggle and winning game in Competitions
  • Design and competitions
  • How to go from an “also-ran” to a winner
  • Three of the most important things to work on to improve
  • Bruce’s most memorable flight in Reunion
  • How to create a modern glider
  • How and why accident happen
  • How age affects flying ability.
  • How to tackle the most critical aspects of becoming a better pilot.
  • How to develop your mental game
  • Mentioned in this episode:  Nick Greece, Nate Scales, John Pendry, Robby Whittal, Stewart Midwinter

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Speaker 0 00:00 .
Speaker 1 00:06 Hi there everybody. Welcome to episode 20 of the cloud-base mayhem. I am leaving in just a few hours for Alaska. You're going to get this a few days after that of course, cause I got to get it all uploaded and edited. But I just got off the phone, a Skype interview with the legendary Bruce Goldsmith. Uh, can't believe the folks I'm getting access to. It has been such a treat. Um, and this one was right at the top. We could have done a three or four part series. I think we left this one kinda hanging at the end. I'm sorry about that. Uh, there was just so many good things to go over and I was getting quite late for Bruce C's out in LA. Ranya uh, doing some training with the son tier who's learning how to fly. We talk a lot about that. We talk about his world championship win in 2007.
Speaker 1 00:51 Uh, Bruce is one of the only people along John Pendry and Robbie widow who have won the world championships both in, uh, hang gliding and paragliding. Uh, we talked a lot about mentoring. Uh, this guy has just, I mean, he started competing in the mid eighties. He's been added a long time civil engineer by trade, but he's been, uh, with ozone and advance and a lot of other companies. He's, of course now the head of BGD designs, a Bruce Goldman that designs, uh, we talk about testing and how when comes to fruition and about safety and about accidents and about strategies for winning and, uh, flying with the gaggle. Uh, I can't be more excited to bring this one to you. I'm sorry for the background noise. Uh, he had his sons in the background playing a little bit bit of piano at one point and there were some mob scratching and that kind of thing, but it's still worth it. Stick with it. I think you're gonna really enjoy it. Uh, without further ado, Bruce
Speaker 0 01:45
Speaker 2 01:59 Goldsmith is awesome to have you on the mayhem. We've been trying to line this up for a bit. I really appreciate it. I understand you and your son and your family, or have just taken a little trip down to the Rania. Is that right?
Speaker 3 02:11 Yeah, that's right. It's um, a bank holiday tomorrow in France and uh, so my children have got the time off school. So I'm taking the time to train my son to do his first, uh, flights over 100 kilometers, hopefully
Speaker 2 02:26 a fantastic, you know, I've been reading your reports in a cross country about your son and I think that's a great place to start. Uh, cause if we start with your history, we'll never get to the second question. I had actually had jockey Sanderson on the show last week and I, it was the same with him. You guys have been at this a long time and I will get into some of that. It's
Speaker 3 02:46 funny, it's funny you mentioned that because last summer I was flying with jockey and uh, we ended up with a one particular day with the jockey, myself, my, and his son authored linked together, which was really nice.
Speaker 2 03:02 Uh, but that was special. How old is your son? How old is here?
Speaker 3 03:05 He's 17.
Speaker 2 03:06 Okay. And when did he start flying?
Speaker 3 03:09 Well, I mean he's been all around flying all his life, but really started seriously three years ago. Okay. And that was a sports scene.
Speaker 2 03:18 W was, was he begging it that was he chomping at the bit to get into it? Was that kind of when you allowed him to do it or is that when he just took an interest to it?
Speaker 3 03:27 Mmm, yeah, that was more one, he took an interest too because for him it is, whether this is quite a funny story, he, his, um, his school where, where he learned to read and write was in the learning field in . And, uh, I used to fly down and land in the landing field and pick him up from school. And one day he said, said to me, Hey dad, why don't you do something cool like come on a motorbike? Because for him, paragliding is just normal, completely normal. You know, riding a motorbike is that unusual for him? You know, it's a part of writing is, is in the blood so much that it's, it's nothing unusual. You know, that's, that's, that's a big difference for most people.
Speaker 2 04:12 And I mean, given your background and uh, you know, we'll get maybe into the darker side of it here in a little bit. I always like to bring up accidents and why they happen and that kind of thing. And you've written, uh, compulsively about, uh, you know, techniques and tactics and your books. Uh, well your book, 50 ways to be a better pilot and then now your digital versions coming out are just fantastic. And for those of you listening, if you don't have those, you're an idiot. You need to get them. Uh, but, uh, how have you approached teaching tier, uh, with, with all your history in the sport?
Speaker 3 04:45 Yeah, well, I'm not a professional instructor. I've never taught pilots in a school situation. I've been in the British team and been training the British team. So I've always taught elite pilots, but I never taught pilots from day one. So I do ask TIR to do some traditional courses in some paragliding was as well. But, um, I don't know if I feel that, uh, with him it's very much hands on and I'm learning from experience and I, because I'm so close to him, I get the feeling that I know what he's capable of, what I'm doing and what he's not capable of doing. So I make sure that the, the challenge of the situation suits his ability
Speaker 2 05:35 and you guys must have a pretty special relationship. I know that when I was tears age, if my father had anything to tell me, it was usually the burden going the other direction. How is that, um, is that, is that changed your guys' relationship or is that something where he's just got so much respect for you that he does what he says, what you say?
Speaker 3 05:56 Yeah, but
Speaker 2 05:57 you know, it's, it's a little bit of a both ways, you know, because he, he's obviously knows that I've got an incredible experience and history and flying, but, uh, he likes to be the upstart as well and try and beat his stab when every cancer, it's an ongoing competition and it, it sounds like he's getting pretty good. That might actually be a close on your horizon?
Speaker 3 06:21 Yeah, well, I mean I've stopped flying competitions about, uh, four or five years ago after 25 years of competition cause I figured 25 years is enough. It's quite a long time to be, uh, in the British team and top level competitor. And
Speaker 2 06:37 tell me about competitions then because I, I'd like to roll back the clock a little bit, uh, long before my time too. When you were flying with Pendry and widdle, uh, as far as I know the three of you are kind of the only ones that have taken the podium both in hang gliding and paragliding in those kind of mid nineties. Uh, just just killing it. Um, what, what was different, what was different about your guys' approach? What, what, can you recall some of the things that led to that success? Was it just being in that group R or was it more complicated than that?
Speaker 3 07:15 Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it came from being Russia at the time because the British scene was very, very competitive with a lot of top level pilots coming in, almost like top level sportsman. Whereas I get the feeling too today that there's, you know, people coming into the flying scene are not really regarded as top level sportsman in many countries. And that, that was quite different at that time in Britain. Now in Britain, the British scene, I feel that, um, the whole and its status of the sport has, has gone down. I know probably get my head bitten off for saying that, but, uh, it's definitely the case. You know, people don't consider being a professional competition pilot as a, as a, as a, uh, a good career path nowadays, you know, rather than, you know, a bit like someone doing a professional footballer or, or a professional engineer or professional doctor, you know, being a professional competition pilot is not really considered as a mainstream thing to do. Whereas back then it was more so.
Speaker 2 08:31 Hmm. And what do you, what do you attribute that to? Um, well what's changed in the sport, both for the good and the bad.
Speaker 3 08:40 Um, I attribute that to general politics in the country, really in Britain, you know, coming from, uh, factors in influence in politics where a national sport was looked down on compared
Speaker 4 08:56 to a business and industry and making money because sports more difficult to make money in rather than rather than business. So, you know, we're talking in deeper philosophy here and politics rather than, than flying.
Speaker 2 09:13 Okay. We'll get it, we'll get it back on track then. Um, you, you won the world championships in 2007. Was that when you decided to kind of hang up competition flying or, or, um, and, and I guess, tell me about that experience cause that's a pretty crowning achievement.
Speaker 4 09:31 Yeah, I was obviously very happy about that. Uh, but it, it comes on a, a background of, um, competition style because my own style is a very tactical flying and not, uh, particularly into full on racing. And the paragliding competition scene has got more and more into what I call fishbowl racing. So that's small tasks racing around in a couple of hours. And often it's the final audience the go, which is the critical part. Whereas my flying style was more into very big tasks, you know, six or eight hour tasks flying very far all day. And to me the best task was one with only a 10 or 20% of the pilots into go and, um, that world championships in 2007 was, um, was one with very difficult tasks. And the reason I won was very simply, that was the only pilot to get into gold and every day. And so that, that's the kind of style flying style that really suits me. So I, I felt that, uh, that fashion of flying has been going out over the last decade or so.
Speaker 2 10:50 Uh, the, uh, you're a, you're a belligerent pilot, I think you and I would get along just fine. That's, that's how I like to fly. Um, Bruce, I, I'd love to ask you a question that just occurred to me, uh, made me, made me think of a question that maybe has a very easy answer, but I don't know it. Um, day two of the X helps. I was walking down off the Hill with Michael Vichie and uh, who I didn't know very well. And uh, he told me about his engineering background. I know you have a civil engineering background and it seems to me like there are a lot of engineers in this sport. Well what is it that attracts you to paragliding or maybe initially attracted to paragliding and tie that in with, with engineering? What is it about, um, an engineering mind that works so well with flying?
Speaker 4 11:36 I know, I mean I was, I started as a civil engineer and one of the reasons I want to do civil engineering is because it's mostly outdoors. You know, you're working on buildings and instructions and that's what attracted me to civil engineering in the first place. And I guess it's the thing attracts me
Speaker 3 11:54 to flying because it's a, an outdoor sport and really closely related to the elements. And so that was the common thread going, going between the two. I'm working on a design of paragliders. So being an engineer is naturally a good thing to be. If you're going to be designing part carditis designing anything is an engineering background is, is ideal.
Speaker 2 12:18 But what about more the, the flying aspect of things? I mean it seems to me like maybe an engineer and I, I can't speak from experience because I couldn't engineer anything. I can't even build a box. Uh, so, but I, I'm curious to why you think that, uh, kind of that mathematical mathematical mind works really well when you're in the sky.
Speaker 3 12:41 Wow. One thing that comes to mind is, uh, people who are dyslexic people who are dyslexic or off engineers and they often have a good special awareness and uh, three dimensional space, uh, is well sorted within their mind. And that's why they're good at engineering. And I think that's also why they're good at, uh, flying cause you're flying in 3d and you know, when your thermal and you've got this whole mass of gliders or whirling around in three dimensions around your head. And, uh, those are the same kind of minds work well with both those problems.
Speaker 2 13:21 Tell me about competitions. You said you flew in comps for, was it 25 years? What, what did you, what did you love about them and then maybe vice versa? What, what did you not like about them?
Speaker 3 13:32 Yeah. My first time in the British team was in 1986 was actually the America's cup. We flew in, uh, flew into Calgary and flew in, in Vermeer for the America America's cup in 86. So not so far from your, your way? Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. I've been obsessed by paragliding competitions and also the close link between design and competition, which was always extremely important to me because, um, most of the development of the competition of the, of the gliders came out of flying in competitions. And so competitions and development has always been one of the same really. And I think that's what's given me the fascination to care, carry on flying in competitions for some many years because it's the, the development aspect of it, which is really, you know, makes it so much more interesting.
Speaker 2 14:32 What, what level glider do you fly now? Just for recreation or with your son?
Speaker 3 14:37 Yeah, I'm flying a cure. So that's a high end sea glider three liner. And um, yeah, I th I think that, um, I really lovely, lovely level of glad to, it's
Speaker 4 14:52 got a good safety level and excellent performance as well. Um, what, what did you say?
Speaker 2 14:58 Uh, let's see. So to Alaska, I'll take the, uh, it's actually a, it's a peak for lightweight version, but it's going to be very similar to the climber that they're actually not making that in a certified glider. You know, I'm a Navy pilot. Um, so I, I use the peak three on the Rockies traverse with will GAD. He was flying the Carerra very nice, beautiful wing. Um, and then in the, in the XLS I flew the ice peak seven. It wasn't even a light version. I was planning on flying the peak three, the, the light version. But I, I wanted a little bit more performance cause it looked like the weather was going to be pretty good. Uh, it was awfully windy, so it was quite nice to have that bar performance, but a little bit sketchier of course. But then in comps I fly the ice peak eight, although I think the ice peak nine is out, so I'll probably be flying that. I, I'm not sure I'll even get to fly any comps this year. It's a pretty busy season. But, um, yeah, the, I, I, I think the peak four is pretty close to the ice peak six and it's so it's a glider that's very close to my heart. I loved that glider.
Speaker 4 16:02 Right. Yeah. Yeah, I know it well.
Speaker 2 16:04 It is. Is your company, your designs, will you be, or are you working on the competition into things or are you more mostly more in the ABC group?
Speaker 4 16:13 Yeah. Up to now, we've always been ABC group and three liners. Um, I've made a couple of two learners but only prototypes, no production gliders and uh, I'll be shortly making another two liner. But it's, you know, it's interesting to see that, uh, really looking closely whether we're going to be seeing any hybrid structures between two or three liners coming up. Cause, um, I still, I still think there's a lot of, uh, possibility and design to make some interesting variations. Not just a simple two liner or three line level.
Speaker 2 16:51 Take me through that process. Maybe obviously it didn't, not so much detail, but if, um, you know, when you, when you create a new wing, we've had a lot of questions, um, in the last few weeks when I announced that I was gonna be talking to you, people are really excited about knowing what your process is. How do you, how do you go about creating a glider?
Speaker 4 17:11 No, no. I mean normally you're not creating a glider from nothing, you know, starting from a previous glider. So, you know, you've probably got a glider and which is already existing already on the market and either know what the weak points are yourself or you've heard from customers and dealers what the weak points are in the design or perhaps what other brands have made, which is better than, than that glider. So that gives you a pointer of what, what you need to, to work on. And, uh, so you take that into consideration and then you have some, perhaps some new ideas. Um, as there's already, there's always a list of, I don't know, 10 or 15 new ideas which are up your sleeve, which you'd love to work on developing, but you just haven't got the time and the resources to develop the new concepts.
Speaker 4 18:07 So you find a new concept which you think is appealing and you make it make one and see whether it works and then see how the product, you know, the, the prototype that you've made compares with improving other, the weak points in your existing design or comparing with whatever the best market and best glider on the market is or that at the time. And um, so it's just a combination of those things. But the, the test flying process is so important because then you really get to feel in the air what's working and what's not working. And then that gives you the clues of what to, to tweak or develop on, in the, in those ideas or, or what to just drop. So it's very much a, you know, a feeling of what you feel when you're flying the prototypes and what your, you know, or you know, it's really, you know, so, so closely linked to flying and then, I dunno, sleeping on it the next night and getting, getting the thoughts about, uh, about what's happening in the air and how it links in with all the things that you put in the design.
Speaker 2 19:22 Um, the, your, uh, your testing process or are you the test pilot or have you got, uh, quite a group or how big is your crew? They're now at BGD designs.
Speaker 4 19:34 Yeah, in development we are three working, um, myself and Anthony, uh, the, the main test pilots I have, um, maters is another engineer working with me as well. All together though the PGD, we now have 15 people working for the company. So we've grown up quite large in only three years since we started. Um, we have two offices, one in France, in Gordon where I work. So we're five people in that office. And then we have another office in Australia where there are three people working. And the remaining people are working from home, just spread out all around Europe and Asia as well. And they're, they're being manufactured in Asia. Yeah, we are making our gliders in Sri Lanka. So, um, I'm fact I'm off. They're off to Srilanka on Sunday to visit the production. I nobody go there about four times a year.
Speaker 2 20:34 Fantastic. when you, when you look back at the, you know, from the mid eighties when you were flying all the way through until now, have you had times where your, your passion for the sport has, has waned cause it seems you're incredibly passionate about it and, but if so, and if so, um,
Speaker 4 20:51 Y uh, yeah, that's a difficult question. I would say that. Well, I mean I've been extremely passionate about competition flying the whole time since I stopped flying competition, my emphasis has changed cause I was always onto absolutely top competition gliders, always pushing the absolute limits of performance, competition and, and safety and the gliders. And over the last six years since I stopped flying top level competition, I've been more focusing on intermediate gliders. Um, that's combined with, uh, the, the new company as well of course, because it's a very difficult to make any money at all out of competition. Gardeners nowadays cause the whole competition SI has changed so much with the certification and uh, stopping development in competition, which has been, uh, a major shock for me. I would say. So way to be, as I said, it's always been an intrinsic part of competition to, to develop riders in the competitions. So the switch to certified gliders has, uh, has been a massive change for me and you know, for the whole competition scene. So yeah, you were asking about, uh, my enthusiasm for flying now I'd say I've stayed extremely enthusiastic the whole time actually. Um, yeah, I still still dream of flying all the time and talk about it 24 hours a day much to my wife's
Speaker 2 22:33 pair of dribble. We, we kill our significant others with that, don't we? Yeah. Um, have there been any accidents along along the way?
Speaker 4 22:45 Yeah, I had, um, I've actually had in probably the first accident I had was in 93 at the world hang gliding championships in Owens Valley. When I tumbled, I tumbled the hang glider and fell down on the top of white mountain and landed in the snow and walked out from there the next overnight and the next day. So that was a big accident, but I wasn't injured cause I landed in snow and it was soft.
Speaker 2 23:21 Goodness gracious. That's a heck of a story, dude.
Speaker 4 23:28 Well, there's a story is actually even worse than that because it was during the world championships and that was obviously part of the British team. And, uh, it was, uh, uh, crushed up at, you know, right up near the peak of white mountain.
Speaker 3 23:45 Um, they had no helicopter rescue at that time. I'm not sure why. And, uh, they, I saw, uh, the rescue team fly by on assessment, but they couldn't really help. So, so I packed up my rescue shoot and uh, slept in it overnight and the next morning I walked down. I arrived at the road at the bottom at, uh, 11 in the morning, picked me up, drove me directly to take off where the British team had rigged another hangup.
Speaker 2 24:18 It's a call for an hour late. So for the next task, Oh my God, I love it. The, the Owens. Well that, that leads to a, an obvious question. What's your favorite place to fly? Well, you know, we just had us nationals out at the Owens, uh, this fall and I did a pretty neat, uh, bivy trip through this year as a few years back, uh, with Nick grease and a bunch of friends of yours. Um, that's a special but very stark, very odd place. Um, that is, is that rank up there with one of your favorites or, um, what are your favorites?
Speaker 4 24:52 Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, earns is just extraordinary, you know, because people always talk about flying in big, strong sights. Like they're completely different to anywhere else. And the only place I really know that absolutely looks up to its reputation is earnest validly because it's just completely extreme. You know, cloud-based is higher temperature differences are bigger and the winds are stronger and the thrills are stronger and everything is just double everywhere else. So it's, it's really an amazing place for me. But I think my favorite competition site is, uh, San Andrea's Alpen France because I'm, the reason I like it there so much is that you can just do a task in every single direction and then come back from any direction. Whereas in most flying sites, you're limited to a route. You know, you either follow the Ridge up or down and then, you know, it's, it's, it's normally limited to a particular direction on nearly every competition site. But tsunami, dryness help in France is really open to flying in every single direction and doing tasks in every direction, which really makes it unique.
Speaker 2 26:07 So your, your first accident was tumbling your hang glider and landing on top of white mountain. Can I are there, are there others? Cause that is, that is a great story. Well,
Speaker 4 26:18 the funny thing is that after that, um, at that time I was actually competing professional hang gliding and paragliding at the same time. And, uh, after that accident I stopped the hang gliding competitions and just switched to paragliding because I felt it was safer, which at the time was not something that was, that could be said, well, even now people will, if people don't really like, say things like that. But uh, at that time hang lighting wards quite a lot more dangerous because there was a lot of tumbling going on, hang loaders, you know, just tumbling and uh, destroying themselves in the air. I think in the British team, that trip, we were six in the team, uh, two tumbled and crashed to the ground and one tumbled and kept on flying. So out of the team of six, uh, three tumble, so that was a Christmas. Uh, after that they increased the safety margins on pitch stability on hang gliders in the certification and the glide has got more safe. But, uh, initially that was one of, one of the reasons that I went full time on paragliding was yeah, I just, just because you can't tumble on a paraglider
Speaker 2 27:35 yeah, sure. Uh, unless you tumble with a lot of energy and then they'll just tumble forever. Um,
Speaker 4 27:45 I, I did have a, another accident, which was in 2009 I hit a lamppost, our landing approach. I was doing a spot landing and, uh, you had to get very low over the edge of the field and there was some lampposts along the edge of the field and I hit a lamppost and, uh, fell into the road and a fractured vertebrae. So I think that's, that's actually the worst accident I've had in flying. So I was out for a few weeks with approachability forever. That nothing too serious. Luckily
Speaker 2 28:18 anything to offer the listeners from your kind of vast experience. Certainly you've seen lots of accidents. Um, I asked will Gadd this and his answer was, was brilliant. I thought, but you know, what, what's the most common reason that people do get into bad situations?
Speaker 4 28:38 Uh, I think it's, it's people not appreciating their own level and what they're capable of doing and pushing. I mean everybody needs to push, push the limits sometimes, but to push beyond your limit is, is what, um, what gives you causes the accident in the end. So, um, you know, if, if you're in doubt, just take the easy option and do the safe thing and don't, don't push the limits so far that you might have an accident. Um, cause I think people, people get overconfident or cocky and uh, uh, push the limits probably on conditions or um, wind speed or on the level of their glider. And um, I think people have a good understanding of what their own level is and if in doubt, just around the safe side rather than other on the risky side. And if you do that, then it just switches the odds into your favor and, uh, makes a massive difference. I think the thing that causes accidents where, especially with, with regard to safety on gliders is when the glider does something which surprises you when you don't appreciate what your limit is. And something happens, which takes you by surprise. And that's probably what causes the most, most accidents, that people don't appreciate, appreciate what their limit is or make an error in the assessment of, of their own judgment or the combination of the pilot and the, and the glider and the conditions.
Speaker 2 30:20 How much do you fly these days, Bruce? Say gap. What, what kind of hours? You probably don't log your flights and your four, but what kind of hours do you think you're fine these days?
Speaker 4 30:30 I think my hours is down a lot. I mean, I always used to fly 300 hours a year for many, many years, but it's big. But nowadays I'm flying a once or twice a week. But because I don't do long, uh, Eggsy flights, the hours is probably down a lot. I mean, I used to fly, sometimes they fly 40 hours in a week in a big competition and you only do that five hours a year and you've got 200 200 hours, you know, so I'm only probably flying in a couple of hours a week. So in a hundred, 150 hours a year, I would say nowadays compared to 300 hours a year before.
Speaker 2 31:12 And do you notice that, do you know that notice the difference in your kind of intuition because of the cutback?
Speaker 4 31:20 Um, I wouldn't say that the cutback in hours changes my time in the air, but one thing which people don't talk about is, um, is the effect of age on your flying ability and your flying skill. I'm now 56 and I definitely feel that I'm not able to do the same things that I could do, uh, 10 or 15 years ago. So I definitely feel I have to increase my safety margins because of my age.
Speaker 2 31:51 When you say you can't do the things that you used to be able to do, are you talking about reaction time or more like seeing birds or hearing things or are you talking to general aging or, um, something else?
Speaker 4 32:04 Well, I mean, I mean, for instance, if, if you had to land in the area with the rocks, you know, like 15 years ago, I would just pile in there a jump from rock to rock and get away with it, you know? Uh, but I didn't, but now if I went into the same rocks, I would hurt myself more for sure. So I'm talking about being a bit less agile, uh, more fragile and I'm probably a bit slower in reaction time as well to be able to cope with, uh, things when, you know, you're able to get away to things when things don't go the way you want them.
Speaker 2 32:44 Yeah. I think, I think everybody can probably relate to that as we get a little bit older. No, I certainly do. Absolutely. Um, Le
Speaker 4 32:54 so I, I, so I just increased my safety margins, uh,
Speaker 2 32:58 sure, sure. Um, let's transition here a little bit to progression your, your book 50 ways to, to become a better pilot. Um, fantastic. And obviously we can't go through all of those now. And again, I encourage our listeners to grab that, uh, is, it's just an amazing amount of knowledge there. Um, but give me three. What are, what are, what are three things that really top that list
Speaker 4 33:24 list of how to progress in flying? I think, well, one rule which, which I really love is, is, is if it's not working, doing what you're doing, do something else. This is a very simple idea because quite often people try to do something, it doesn't work and then they just persistently keep hammering at that thing, whatever it is, even if it doesn't work and, and you know, they just get defeated in the end because it still doesn't work. Whereas just the very simple idea is if it doesn't work, then what you're doing just do something else. Is, is something which works so well all the time in, especially in flying. Uh, could give you a couple of examples. Like, you know, if you go, if you slide in and go to one side of the bridge and it doesn't work, you know, just try the other side even if it goes against what you were expecting.
Speaker 4 34:28 I know because maybe they were, maybe there's something going on that, that you are not understanding. So, and another example could be perhaps you're trying to land in a landing field and you've got a headway in the can't get there. And instead of just hammering on trying to get to the same place, just switch your mentality and do something else. You know, just go with the wind, go somewhere else. Don't just keep hammering on with the same idea. So it's the idea of being flexible in your mind and not always thinking that, you know, your perception of something is absolutely right. You know, just be able to think that you're wrong and that something completely the opposite can be, can be a better solution. So it's just to, to keep your mind open enough to be able to, to change, to doing something different. I think that's, that's, that's really a great lesson.
Speaker 2 35:25 Okay. Number two, you're not getting off that easy.
Speaker 4 35:33 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh, number two, let's, uh, talk about, uh, perhaps flying in, uh, competitions flying with other pilots. I think that, uh, observation is, uh, probably the most important, uh, pilot skill because, uh, observation is, you know, enables you to make the right decisions to go to the right places. And uh, so by observation, I mean especially looking at what uh, other pilots are doing in the air because the absolutely sure way of knowing what's going on and what works and what doesn't work is to look at what the other pilots are doing. So first observation is observation of other pilots. Second observation is a natural feature, you know, birds or wind or some, and uh, maybe the effect of the wind on the trees and things like that. Uh, that's a secondary observation. Um, I sometimes, uh, uh, talk about, uh, how important it is to know exactly what all the other pilots are doing on the Hill.
Speaker 4 36:58 When you're flying may very often pilots fly and they don't look around them. What about all the other pilots are doing and they just missing the biggest clue to, to what they should be doing. When I fly, I would say that I know, well quite often I get just a sore neck, just the chafe neck from looking around the whole time or all the other pilots around you, especially if you're in a competition where there's, you know, maybe a hundred other parts around you. But even when you're just reached silvering on there on the Hill, you've gotta be looking at everybody. You see them all doing the same thing. And then maybe one pilot does something strange flies in an area where nowhere else is going. So if he does that, you absolutely need to know what happens to that guy. Does he do well?
Speaker 4 37:48 Does he do better than you? Does he do worse than you? Does he go up? Does he go down? You know, how does it go on? And when you're flying on a rich for a couple of hours, you know there's probably going to be 20 different people that try different things and you need to be aware of all those 20 things. Those 20 people did, which ones worked, which ones didn't work. And then, you know, if it didn't work, I better not do that. Or if it did work well, why not give it a go? And, um, so that's why observation is just incredibly important in flying. So that's my, that's my number two thing. Number three,
Speaker 2 38:27 how about I, I can ask you, um, I, I can come back to this if this doesn't align up, but w, um, maybe is a number three, but it is, uh, how, what's the hardest thing to learn to do well in paragliding and kind of the most critical,
Speaker 4 38:44 um, uh, I would sort of turn that on its head. One of the first thing you need to do in flying is to be able to fly completely automatically. Because first of all, you have to get the basic flying completely off to a T. you know, you have to be able to fly, take off land, land anywhere, cope with collapses, spins, stalls using a speed system, all the basic flying things you need to be able to completely master before you can start getting onto the interesting stuff. You know, and the interesting stuff is, you know, the decisions about where you're gonna fly decisions about how you can fly in competitions and B, people take different routes. And to me that's the most interesting part. So it's, it sort of turns your question the other way around that the first thing you need to do is just completely master the sport of, uh, of, of, you know, the physical part of flying so that you can get onto the more mental parts, which is optimizing of flying or I mean, I guess the, this thing goes in, in every sport, you know, be it motor racing or playing football or whatever.
Speaker 4 40:00 People have to completely be able to master driving their car very fast and not have to worry about that and think more about the strategy of the game rather than just the physical, the physical activity, which goes on about, uh, about flying. When I used to fly hang gliders and paragliders out very often. And if I thought back about a flight, I wouldn't remember whether I was flying hand glider or a paddled because the actual flying part is just automatic. Just happens. So when it, when I fly, I'm looking at mountains, clouds wins, looking for thermals, making decisions and what tool I'm using to fly is really irrelevant and interest, you know, an interesting observation, which I think is really important in coordinating fly.
Speaker 2 40:49 Okay. So before I cut into you there and, and offered that question, do you have a number of, would that, would that be a good number three or do you have a better number three
Speaker 4 40:59 I think that's a good number three yeah. To, to be, to master the, the physical capability, the physical activity of flying before you can elevate yourself to the strategic.
Speaker 2 41:13 I like thinking about that in terms of kind of like getting into a zone or kind of an a mental state, uh, where you're just where you're kind of on autopilot. Um, when you went into, uh, your, when in 2007, um, can you take me through some of the kind of the mental or maybe physical preparations you did, uh, before then, was that more, um, obviously you're really shooting to win all the time, but what, what were the kind of the, what were the pieces of the puzzle that came together there for you?
Speaker 4 41:48 Well, yeah, I already spoke about the kind of conditions that were present in Australia with very difficult technical tasks. Um, tasks where only a small number of the field would get into goal every day. And, uh, so exactly the time tasks, which a student suit me said, well, one thing that was, um, very interesting that happened was that during that competition, the, the guy who was winning the competition was changing the first task, the second task that the guy from who was in the previously with bomb out. And then when we got to the, uh, last day of the competition and I was in the lead, I remember a lot of people say, well, what are you, what are you going to do now in your, you know, you're going to Mark the guys in second position and make sure you arrive very close to him so that he can't beat you or what you, what you're going to do.
Speaker 4 42:43 And, um, my philosophy at that stage was, um, uh, going back a bit to what I was talking about earlier, I think it's the opposite to what I said before, before I said, if it doesn't work, doing what you're doing and can do something else. I did the opposite. I said, if it does work, do what you're doing. Continue to do it. So I was winning the world championships and what did I do on the last day? I didn't change anything. I just carried on flying in exactly the same way I've been fly before. So I didn't fly conservative, I didn't Mark the guy in second position. I didn't change my flying start at all. And, uh, so that, that flip side of the coin really worked for me during the, during that world championships. And, uh, yeah, I carried on flying on, on my own and taking my own risks and, uh, and it worked. But it was, it was very difficult, the last task that will championships because I ended up like a a hundred feet from the ground on my own, far out in the middle of nowhere. But, uh, I got up and made it in.
Speaker 2 43:55 Um, Bruce, one of the questions that I've gotten a few times are from people who are getting into competitions and, and finding them frustrating because they, you know, they can stay with the Goggle for, uh, you know, for a bit of the comp and then inevitably they fall off. Um, and so that, I think the framing of this question was, you know, how do you be, how do you go from becoming an, also ran, uh, to somebody charging out in front. And I think that that, that also applies to not just complying, but you know, like you're talking about, uh, taking TIR beyond his first, you know, a hundred K flights. Um, how do you step that up? Is that, is that kind of an aha moment or is that just as simple as ours?
Speaker 4 44:42 Yeah, I think flying a lot of competitions is important. You know, I think he to do at least two years for example, and probably why I'm here. Almost full time competition before you even stand a chance at a, at the top level. So that's a lot of flying hours and a lot of commitment. So that's huge. But I th I think that, uh, staying with the agro in top level competitions is, is quite easy. But what's difficult is to win. You know, what's difficult is to do something a bit different that puts you out in front and, and enables you to be the others. And one thing that I used to, uh, quite often think during competition was that what you need to do is follow the main gaggle through the whole task. And just imagine that you only need to make one decision in the whole competition, which is different from the others, which makes you win.
Speaker 4 45:46 So you have to try to assess all the decisions that are going on by the lead gaggle the whole time and find the one decision which isn't right. And then you make the right one and then you win. But it's a very hard thing to do because you're spending 90% of your time just following along with the lead girl and just one decision has to be different from all the others. And just to try to have that in mind each flying day, just to have, just to try to spot one decision that you can improve on the league gaggle and try to make that the decision that makes a difference. So I think people often, they're often thinking too much, you know, every decision at every stage at the day, every stage of the flight. They're trying to make their own unique decisions all the time. But I think you only need to make your own unique decision, you know, once or twice during, during the whole day. And then then you made that you need decision really count and then you've got a good chance of, uh, of doing really well in the competition.
Speaker 2 46:50 Fantastic. Um, Bruce, I want to be mindful of your time. I promised you we wouldn't go over an hour too much here. So, uh, I thought, uh, you gave me that incredible answer for the two in, in the Owens where you tumbled and spent the night and walked out and flew the next day on a, on a borrowed glider. I imagine that probably wasn't your worst flight because those kinds of, those kinds of adventures are always fantastic, especially when we survived to tell the tale. But what is your best flight when you look back at your career? Do you have one that stands out in particular?
Speaker 4 47:23 Yeah, well it's, that's fine. Probably the best flies. Not the light, which was the longest course. Now I think it's probably in LA reunion Island. We just, um, I flew this competition in reunion and the prize at the end was, um, myself and Richard kennel and rebase Mayer. We were the top three. We got helicoptered out and dropped in this remote take off in reunion Island and we had this helicopter followers through the middle of the Island because most of the reunion is unlovable and has no road access and very difficult place to fly. And we just got this helicopter following us, taking physio and stills the whole way through. And we were just given the Liberty to fly wherever we want and get a pickup from an app, whatever we want. And uh, I remember we took off at six in the morning because it's a very unusual place like that, that you can know it so early and um, yeah, flying in incredible scenery through extremely inhospitable places and then just to get out of it all in the end with a nice helicopter ride out of there was one of the most memorable flight of it.
Speaker 2 48:36 I can, I can relate to that in some sense because I had, I sailed to reunion in 2010 and had it kind of a similarly special special day. I, it was a very, uh, very new pilot at the time. Uh, so I just, I took off from that standard launch where you guys fly your comps from and I landed down in front of that. I the, the famous left, uh, uh, I should remember it. It's a very famous wave and it's like the left in French. Um, but it's, uh, so I landed and then went out and had one of the best surfs of my life that isn't a magical Island. Very, uh, very land of the lost type place, isn't it? That must have been incredible. Did you fly in
Speaker 4 49:20 the center of the Island in the, because when I first went there to do competitions, I think it was 93, we used to do competitions in the middle of the Island. Now all competitions have been stopped in the middle of the Island because there's no, well, it's a very radical place to take off. It's a vertical cliff 2000 meters high and there's no landing fields and no roads and very strong conditioning. All competitions have stopped in that area. But I remember we used to be picked up at four in the morning by the bus taken up, up the mountain to launch at, uh, after seven up in the circs very high up in the mountains.
Speaker 2 50:01 And that was really, this was definitely not that launch. This was kinda Tahiti ask, uh, you know, over on the lured side of the Island and you just drove up from a, I think it was all go. She was that break I was trying to remember. And, and uh, you just drive up and there's, there's, there's, you know, ha, you know, there's houses and people living. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. But I never got back into the . Exactly. I never got back into the circs except by foot and it is spectacular back there. He seemed like you could base jump off everything. It is so steep. Yeah.
Speaker 4 50:35 No, it's fantastic place to fly as well. But the, a, you have to launch super early in the morning and the cloud-based drops down very, very fast. It starts two and a half thousand meters and drops down to a thousand meters.
Speaker 2 50:48 Wow. It goes the opposite. That that must be very interesting. Uh, fantastic. Um, Bruce, before we sign up, that's a great place to end. Uh, thank you again so much for your time. I really honored to sit in and talk with you even though we're on opposite sides of the planet. Um, what can we expect just before we sign off, what can we expect, uh, from, from your company here in the next couple of years and, uh, what, what are you kind of excited about? Yeah, what I'm working on, right.
Speaker 4 51:15 Competition glider again, because I haven't done a competition glider with the BGD yet, so that would be a two liner competition either. That's quite, quite exciting and uh, well one thing you haven't, we haven't talked at all about is a SIV a safety and a glider stability and certification.
Speaker 2 51:39 Yes. I think we're going to have to do enough, so yeah, we'll, we'll do a follow up on that for sure. I definitely hit the SIV on the head with, with jockey last week. That was, that was really great getting his perspective. I started, you know, I did a acro course actually with a member of the SIV a few years back and that was, that was pretty exciting. But yeah, absolutely. We'll, we'll have to, uh, with you, I think we could do three rounds. We could do, we could go on and on and on. I absolutely, I just know that it's getting late in your part of the world and, and you've got some flying to do with tear. Yeah. Cool. Exactly. Yeah. Time for bed. Well, Bruce, thank you very much. I really appreciate it. It's been fantastic speaking with you and I hope I get to actually fly with you and meet you one of these days. Okay. It's a pleasure to speak to you too, Gavin. I appreciate it. Cheers.
Speaker 0 52:26 I hope
Speaker 1 52:37 you enjoyed that. I certainly did. What a treat to be able to talk to Bruce. I've never actually met him. Uh, I hope to get to fly with him someday. That was pretty special. Hope you learned a lot. Uh, like I said at the top of the show, I am leaving for Alaska here in just a few hours. Uh, Dave Turner and I are going to try to send it across the Alaskan range from West to East on the North side of the range. Uh, don't believe anybody's ever been out there. Uh, there's a lot of glaciers and a lot of bears and a lot of rivers and a lot of really pretty burly terrain. Um, um, uh, I wouldn't lie to say it wouldn't be lying to say I'm pretty nervous about this one, but I think we're going to have a great adventure. Thank you all for following along.
Speaker 1 53:16 We're going to both have a, our map share pages up on Facebook and blogs and all that kind of thing so you should be able to track our progress. Uh, thanks to Stuart Midwinter for providing a weather and thank you to all of you for your generous donations. They just keep coming in. I really appreciate it makes this all just super fun and viable and I will continue to do so. Although I apologize I won't be doing any of these for the next bit of time. We don't know how long it's gonna take us. Probably four, six, eight weeks. Something like that. Uh, but as soon as I get back, we'll get somebody else on the horn and get more shows out to you. Thanks for listening. Cheers.


6 thoughts on “Episode 20- Bruce Goldsmith and Passion

  1. Thanks Gavin for having BG on the podcast. I always enjoy all of the insights and experiences of your guests. And of course learn a lot. My first glider I purchased was a BG designed Airways Sport 4. I still fly it today and , for me, I consider it to be one of my safest, best handling gliders I’ve owned. I am so excited that BG has carried on in the business of designing and selling gliders… I fly “B” gliders as a weekend warrior and will most likely only fly B’s for this old guy!

  2. Hi Gavin, I’ve been devouring your fantastic interviews, they have made my commute feel a lot shorter! I was trying to donate a few beers using the link above, but I get redirected to a generic PayPal site, without any payment instructions. Am I missing something? I’m not sure how to get the money to you from that site…

    Oh, while I’m at it: is it ok with you if I make a single donation (for now, anyway…), instead of lots of small ones for each podcast?

    Cheers, and keep ’em coming!

  3. Hi Gavin, just to confirm that the problem is indeed solved, no problems making a donation just now. And always glad to make a grown man blush! 🙂

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