Episode 5 Nate Scales and Staying in the Game

A big day in the Grand Tetons while shooting 500 Miles to Nowhere

A big day in the Grand Tetons while shooting 500 Miles to Nowhere, Photo @Jody MacDonald

Nate “Papa” Scales got his first flight in 1991 on a glider that had 11 cells in Sun Valley, Idaho.  The next day he moved to Utah to learn how to fly and hasn’t looked back since. I’ve never met anyone as passionate as Nate is about flying nylon and string and he’s even more psyched today to go big than ever. We cover a LOT of ground in this hysterical episode. Nate discusses the value of competitions; his only (and very wild) reserve toss; risk and safety; his recent decision to step down to an ENC glider after flying comp gliders for more than 15 years; his “dream” line; learning from failure; and we go way back in time and talk about the days of taking pictures of waypoints before there was GPS; his 2007 X-Alps campaign; all the mentors he’s had along the way, including Robbie Whittall, Honza Rejmanik, Bill Belcourt, Josh Cohn and many others. But we call Nate “Papa” because he’s been a mentor to all of us here in the Wood River Valley and way beyond. There’s a ton to digest in this podcast and Nate’s unique style and delivery will keep you giggling.  Enjoy!

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Show Notes:

  • Nate takes us back to the beginning.  How he learned, flying in his first comps in Telluride, Aspen and around the world
  • Can paragliding be safer?  We dive into the incoherent risk and the rewards. Is it worth it?
  • Nate talks about his recent decision to step down to an ENC glider, but that he’s still hungrier than ever to go BIG
  • Nate’s 2007 X-Alps campaign and nearly getting in a fistfight in the Swiss Alps
  • Advice for a 50 hour pilots
  • Learning from mistakes and failure
  • Comp gliders vs certified gliders. Making the right choice.

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11 thoughts on “Episode 5 Nate Scales and Staying in the Game

  1. I love this podcast! I have an unfortunate habit of listening to it on the way to/from flying, which means I’m usually driving down the highway while I’m listening to someone describe being caught in a storm or getting out multiple riser twists… I haven’t crashed my car yet, though, and it passes the time quick! Thanks much and please keep up what you’re doing. 🙂

    Also, in the interest of making sure your guests get good beer and not cheap beer for their time, I’ve donated a little extra and will continue to do so. Maybe you could have a suggested donation of 1 PBR, 1 craft brew, etc? haha.


  2. Best podcast yet! I can tell you guys also enjoyed it by how many caps hit the floor! Cheers!

    Nate mentions we can’t fly roads and that Matt gets all the credit. Can you elaborate? I assume cars disturb the air before the thermals get a chance to build?

    Also RockyTraverse is excellent! I really enjoy the flying only aspect. I live in that area and I will be adding emergency tree landing tools to my kit! I can see that line being redbull’s “X-rockies” line…

    Can’t wait for the next one.

  3. These podcasts are so great! I laugh my ass off.. and learn so much! I got to fly with Nate back in 2011? on Maui at a grueling hard “hike” and fly spot called the L in lahaina town. I didn’t know he was on Island until I got to launch and he was taking off… (on his icepeak i think) and everybody was like…DUDE THATS NATE SCALES!!! Holy shit No WAY!! I ended up getting a little flight down range with him, he was sky’d out way above me the whole way but it was still super kool! I flew that little XC flight with no shirt and no vario on a borrowed tiny freestyle glider cuz mine was out of service… it was a kool experience to have somebody like that in the sport stop by. Thanks again for making these conversations possible. I threw in a few bucks so maybe you can buy a few Torpedos! Much aloha, Garrett

    • Thanks so much Garrett! I’ve passed on your comments to Nate (was just out touring with him 4 days in the Sawtooths this weekend and will be sending it in the Big Lost off King on Sunday). That one was indeed hysterical!

      • The Sawtooths are amazing! I lived in Sun Valley for a couple very memorable years and have a lot of love for that place. Definitely going to make a trip there again someday for sure! Hope the flying is good for King! Hope you guys score!!!

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