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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Transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00:00 Paragliding is Kinda like that, like that, that's super hot girlfriend. You know what I mean? You're so psyched about her, you know, and she's still, you know, she's so hot and amazing and you're just like, oh I just wanna spend so much time with her and you know what I mean? And, and like climbing's become more like, you know, like where that eventually that a hot girlfriend and she's actually an awesome person. Eventually you like fall in love with her and get married and you have this like longterm relationship and it's obviously, it's not going to be like, oh my God, we just have to bang 24 seven. You know what I mean? It's going to become like, it's going to become like, oh a couple of times a week cause enough and like, you know, but, but the love is deeper.
Speaker 2: 00:00:32 Some funny words from senior, right. He was on last week's podcast. If you missed that one, go ahead and grab it. It's a, it's really excellent. Welcome to the cloud based mayhem. Another episode of the mayhem, a where I deconstruct excellence in human flight, try to get the best pilots in the world on here, whether they be hang gliders, paragliders, what have you, and find out what makes them great. This show is fantastic. It's with my great mentor and friend Nate Scales. We sat down at the House here and did it once and realized my recorder was all screwed up and it was a real honor to do it again because he is just got the most amazing stories. Uh, we get into all kinds of fantastic stuff here is one really sketchy reserved toss in the valley. Uh, his long history of uh, comps and flying with guys like Robbie widdle and Chris Santa Croce and Arthur Lawrence. And uh, you know, a lot of legends over the years we've talked about is 2007 x hours campaign and a whole bunch of other stuff. I think you're gonna really enjoy this talk. Uh, and without further ado, Nate scales,
Speaker 3: 00:01:39 ball ball, ball
Speaker 4: 00:01:54 camp. How's it going? Great man. Are you good? Cadabby on the show and really excited about doing this for a long time. And, uh, let's, let's just jump right into it. You have a pretty interesting and long history in paragliding. Can we start at the beginning? Yeah. I started in the spring of 1991 I was working in a ski shop in Sun Valley, Idaho. Um, a guy came into the shop and asked one of the guys I was working with if you wanted to try paragliding. And the guy said, no, no, not at all. And I was listening to the conversation, I said, I really loved to learn paragon and up. And he said, okay. And He, uh, he took me down to the park in town here and he showed me what a paraglider was. At that point it was a rock climbing harness and an 11 cell glider and a, we practice in and we practice and inflation.
Speaker 4: 00:02:53 And the next day we walked up timber gulch about 400 feet. Yeah. And he launched me off the hill three times and the day after that we went up Green Horn Goltz, which was about 1200 feet. And I flew down and he said, now you know everything I know you should go to Salt Lake City where they know a little bit more. B, you tapped his, uh, he tapped his attention. I tapped his knowledge, but from, from the first moment, I was so excited that first day I went into, uh, after flying, my roommate worked at Atkinson's and we went into, I went into Atkinsons and he was a checker and across the store I just screamed,
Speaker 5: 00:03:38 hi slew. Oh Man. It was so cool.
Speaker 4: 00:03:45 Um, so I was pretty immediately hooked at the very beginning. Right. And then you were saying you moved to Salt Lake like the next day. Yeah. So the next day I went to Salt Lake, um, to see if I could get more of the spirit gliding. I bought the glider off of my instructor was the name of the Glider Condor, s p 1111 Zell Glider, cause it had 11 cells. The last good cross country flight I had in the wind river valley this summer, hitchhiking home, I started talking to the driver and it was his glider that I had bought. Vance Hanna Wald. Unbelievable. 25 years later, five years later, I meet the dude. That's amazing. So I went to Salt Lake. Um, there were people flying in at the point, it was nothing like it is now, but you know, every day somebody would come out to fly. And I thought, this is, this is awesome. I was like Santa Croce around then.
Speaker 4: 00:04:45 Totally. Really? Yeah. I use my first friend. Right. Um, he was charging as hard or harder than, than he is now. He was the man, you know, was and still is the man. It was pretty fun. Yeah. Nobody believed he would, uh, he would live, he was 18 or 19. He lived in an RV and he did exactly what he wanted and nothing but what he wanted. Right. Um, and there was another school there, uh, friend Claudia Stockwell. Yup. And I, I went to them and they were looking for an instructor and I said, well, I, I think that I would be a really good person to be an instructor because I've just learned and I understand what all these people are going through and I don't know why. Three days. They agreed to give me a job and a place to live. And I came back and I, that weekend I moved out of my house here and I moved into Utah and made paragliding my life. So I moved down there. That first summer I, I taught for them. I lived with them. I flew every day and
Speaker 6: 00:05:58 that summer instead of there being a super final, there was the World Cup final. Um, it was the last event of the year and that year it was in the Owens valley. So in the Owens I saw cross done proper. Um, and I was trying to go to college at that time. So I went back to salt lake and went to the University of Utah and flew around. Um, there was a lot more cross country going on with hang gliders at that point in the game. So I learned fly hang gliders, um, and went down to Flagstaff and driving through Flagstaff, there was a magnificent sky. And then driving in Flagstaff, I saw there was a college. So I went to school in Flagstaff for awhile, thinking that I could learn fly cross country and go to college. Did poorly at both of those for a little while. Um, and then similar during that time, I had the good fortune to meet Robbie Widell legend.
Speaker 6: 00:07:01 Yeah. And oath are was around then and I, God that must've been like 93 or 94. Robbie moved to the states. Um, I moved back to Sun Valley [inaudible] moved to Sun Valley and we had, that was really fortunate because it was just, it was right after Robbie's crest, you know, he just, he become the first person to win the hand gliding world championships and the paragliding world championships. And he was really good. He was, he was designing gliders for Gin. Um, for a while. He was, he then transferred to Firebird. I went and worked with him at Firebird for a spring. That was really fun. And it was, where was that? That was in, in the Tegel Berg in Germany. Um, you know, so you fly quite a bit in the Alps in no, no. [inaudible] we, we flew the table Berg a little bit and we have flew a site in Australia called Bach.
Speaker 6: 00:08:08 Okay. That I'm sure people know of, but I, I have picture of it in my mind. I bet it looks nothing like I remember. Yeah. Um, because it was just after Robbie's crest, we would do a lot of fine. We never flew cross country. Huh. We lived in Sun Valley and we never flew cross country in Sun Valley. I mean it's something that I got to hang out with Athar again the summer. And we were talking about it for awhile. We never flew across country here. Wow. We went all, it wasn't on your radar, you just didn't know. And it was big and it was scary. And we were with Robbie and he didn't want to spend the day flying cross country, so we would go fly and then we'd lay on and do something else. Um, so, you know, he, he taught us about come and he took us around and showed us how to have a good time and it just kind of progressed, you know, and I kept coming back to Sun Valley and I was aware that it was good and, but not from a cross country standpoint, it was more just, it was a cool place.
Speaker 6: 00:09:13 It was the ladders and the hang gliders were flying cross country. No Way. We said, Hey, easier, forget that. You know, Chris Kasner flew from Green Horn to Smiley creek on the day of his wedding, like 40 miles. And it was like the coolest thing anybody had ever done in his hang glider. So we were, we knew that it could happen, but we weren't doing it. Um, and then Konza started coming here to fly tandems and the usual Hahns away. He started pushing it and we, we became aware that cross country was possibly late nineties. Yeah, this must've been mid nineties, 96 97 98. And we started flying cross country and then we started seeing, and we started learning and it started getting better. And now after 20 years, it is so fascinating because now we're learning. I mean I feel like maybe just this year, I think farmer gets all the credit for it, but we can't fly roads.
Speaker 6: 00:10:24 We have to fly over the mountains because that's where all the lift is and, and the Holy Shit, if, if we're just learning this now in 20 years, imagine what we can learn in the next 10, 20 years. It's, it's magnificent. Yeah. Yeah. And so let's rewind because we're going to talk a lot about the woodland valley. Is this place that ash, but we rewind a bit to like, so you, you saw across country, you got super into it, you came back some valley. Um, when did it all start clicking for you in terms of like, when did the distance stuff started happening and how, like, I know comps had been a big part of your history and you know, is that more recently or is that, was that happening all back then? Cause you saw the World Cup like right off the bat? Yeah, I pretty quickly realized that competitions were fun super fund.
Speaker 6: 00:11:20 Um, you know, I, I didn't know then now how much I know that you learn at a contest. I've used this quote before, but they've gotta be there. These super smart people, um, you know, that can figure out how to fly cross country, but they're crazy enough that they're willing to fly cross country. It's a really good combination of people that are crazy enough to jump off the side of a hill and, and smart enough to get a paraglider safely to the ground. Two, three, four, five, six, seven hours later. And give me some names. Who was around back then? Uh, let's see. Uber. Sorry. Was there on the brand new Adele? Super Space. Okay. And a full like downhill ski suit cause we didn't have pods then. Yeah. Um, let's see. From the u s John Bouchard was good. Santo was good. Um, Bob Schick from Salt Lake City was good.
Speaker 6: 00:12:28 Robbie widow was there. Um, and Olivier, the designer from [inaudible] from Nivea was there. No Way. He was like an 18 or 19 year old kid. Awesome. I got to hang out with him. But to see people doing it proper was so awesome and so fun and they were good and they weren't scared and competitive enough that, you know, they want to push each other. You know, I think, I think in the U s we're really lucky that, uh, it used to be super competitive when I first learned to fly there was, there was to, it was fascinating. Those two camps. There was the, the Adele camp of Greg Smith and Robbie widdle and Dave bridges and [inaudible] and myself. Um, and then there was the John Gates pre-design camp of Josh Cone, Zach Hoisington. Uh, and, and it was pretty funny at that point. It, it wasn't, it wasn't friendly.
Speaker 6: 00:13:39 If you saw one of the other guys on the side of the road, really, you would drive right on by giving the bird [inaudible] um, you know, really? Yeah. That interesting. I think a paragliding is just this incredibly, you know, that everybody's really concerned about everyone and everybody's helping each other out and not even a little bit then so different. Um, you know, and so we've seen that in more up, but the competitions were always fun. You know, there's no, there's no other group of people I know that want to get together and go hard for a week, you know, charge. There's, there's no waiting, you know, everybody knows the truck goes up the hill at nine, the window opens at noon, the starts at one. There's no dicking around. And so for me that the competitions were really, really fun. Um, it was a good place to go.
Speaker 6: 00:14:42 It was nice to learn. Yeah, a great place to learn. I, because I had Robbie as a mentor, I, I learned to fly pretty well. And in those beginning contests, I, I did well, but originally before gps we had a camera. I love this and I, I took more bad pictures than anybody. I, I could have won several contests if, if I hadn't taken pictures of my thumb or my knee, pulled out the camera and watched all the batteries, just rain the ground, hold out the camera, took the picture, let go of the camera, and then watched the, not that I had tied, come untied in the camera, just fall away. It was, it was so soul crushing. But,
Speaker 4: 00:15:31 and where, where, where, where have you flown comps? You know, we used to have contests and tell you ride an aspen and chalet on, uh, the good old days. Oh Man. Always say anybody's out there. Please run contests in Colorado, please. It was so, it is such spectacular. Flying 96. I graduated college and that winter I went to World Cup. I went to the World Cup in Brazil was magnificent, was fun. It was a party. The flying was good, the food was good, the music was good, the girls were good, everything was good. And then we went to Venezuela and it was really, really bad. The fine was bad, the food was bad, the hotel was bad, and the memories, everything there was really bad. And then from there I went to Europe and worked for, and with Robbie who was the chief designer at Firebird at that time.
Speaker 4: 00:16:32 Um, and so I got to learn about trimming gliders with him. Um, you know, he would test the gliders and then when all the testing was done, I was the inexperienced guy to see what would happen when they released the gliders to the masses. So that was a massive, yeah, that was really fun. I got to learn a lot. I got a learn a lot, fly all over Europe. Um, I got to hang out with Robbie. I got to be at Firebird. And that was really neat. And this was kind of in Robbie's was what year was that kind of his, is that when he was winning everything? That was 97, so that was after his heyday. Okay. Um, you know, I think in 98 was when he introduced the cereal class. He was still good. And if you know at that point anything he wanted to when he could, but he had way more important things than winning on his mind at that point.
Speaker 4: 00:17:29 Right. Okay. And then I liked the hood river valley in the summer, so I came back here and so here then, is that Honda author's that that time? Yeah, so 97 98 Oh, Thar was here. I mean a lot of people don't realize that. I think the Wood Valley is probably had more national champions than anywhere else. Both our was national champion when he lived here. Dave bridges was two times national champion when he lived here. Farmer was national champion when he lived here, but I don't know of any other flying site. Maybe with Josh, all of Josh's wins, but he doesn't have a home site. Yeah.
Speaker 6: 00:18:14 In 2007 I got to go to the x outs in Europe and that was magnificent. It's tell me about the exiles that the xls was wild. It was cool. It was because you were there at Hamza. Yeah. Is that his first note? That was both of our fertile yarders down my first time, my only time his first time yet. Um, and at that point it was a really different race. Yeah. It was an adventure more than a race. Um, you had guys like ooze loature who did it in sandals, you know, and he got to the end and he was so disappointed that it was over because all they wanted to do was fly home. Uh, Alex Hofer won that year. He won the x elps and a harness that he had won World Cup racism. Ah, so we had wasn't exactly the technology dyno that we have in a light weight gear, but it wasn't anything like today. Yeah. Um, God, it was, I mean my, my artist was, was heavy and I was like nine, you know, crazy. You're carrying nothing now. Nothing. It was such, and I went, I went in such a different way than, than you like you went this year. My supporter was my wife. We had a year and a half old baby in the car and it's somewhere along the line. I thought it would be a good idea to bring my dad to be the babysitter, but my year and a half old kid hated my dad at that point in her life.
Speaker 6: 00:19:58 My Dad smoked cigarettes. My wife hated smoking. His temper is like this long. He would scream at people. My wife was furious. I would leave in the morning and they would go to the nearest pool for the day. A little bit different than then. She would come and look for me in the afternoon or evening to see if I needed some food. She didn't have a cell phone. We didn't have radios. Quite often she would call the red bull organization and ask where I was. Okay. You get just for hilarity. Shake you gotta tell me about walking into gribble vault. So God, these are some pretty funny stories. It was, it was the middle of the race and I had hyped up the grim zol um, the night before taken off on ICDs. Important to tell everybody too that this was before we had the mandatory arrest. You guys could go as much as you want to go whenever you wanted to go.
Speaker 6: 00:21:08 Right? Yeah, all night long. So I'd had, I'd gotten some information to get up to the top of the [inaudible] the night before in the past, before the grim. So there's the grim zone, the for Africa. Yeah. So I, I'd gotten some good information that if I walked on the train tracks I wouldn't have to do the switch facts that the road goes up. Well the reason the train tracks are so flat is cause it goes to a tunnel and you're not allowed to use tunnels and the [inaudible]. So at like two in the morning I get to the tunnel and I'm like, Holy Shit, I have like 3000 feet to walk up a, uh, Huey wet, steep grassy slope to get to the camper. So I had a big night that night. I got up to the pass spell, slept for maybe an hour, got up in the morning. I did not want to walk down the FERC, uh, down the [inaudible] and then up the Grimms hill again to get in cause we had to go to the Uyghur that year.
Speaker 6: 00:22:11 Oh, okay. Um, so I walked down onto the boulder field. I was on this massive boulder field. It was, it was pretty much unlockable but it was for sure that I was going to launch. There was no question about it. And there was two old Swiss couples and I speak no Swiss German and they spoke no English, but I was able to communicate, okay, if you guys could hold my glider up, I can jump across the tops of the boulders and I jumped across the tops of the boulders and sword in the morning, didn't go down, made it across the [inaudible] and down into the valley. They're going Tor Nas, that's a nasty valley towards uh, interlocking. Yes. Yeah, there's nice town. There are lots of big power lines everywhere. Lakes and nasty. So I landed, I shouldn't have landed and I walked all day and I walked up into the fished and I was coming over.
Speaker 6: 00:23:15 This is now the next day I've been, I've been walking for a day and a half and it's hot and I'm tired. And I come into to grim the wall and it Swiss Independence Day and who the Swiss can ever claimed independence from. I don't know, but it was rad because I'm coming over the past and I'm walking down in the Grunwald and there's a full moon coming up over the Iger and there's fireworks going off everywhere. And it was, it was one of those cool XL moments. Yes. And I get in a town and it's like two 30 and the bars are getting out and I'm, I'm not unpleasant, but I'm um, yeah, smashed in this pack of like four dudes comes out and they [inaudible] see me and they come over and they can tell that I'm different and they start, they start talking to me and then they start picking on me and they start pushing me and I've got my pools and I've got my glider, but I gone and I just dropped my pools and I'm like, come on fuckers.
Speaker 6: 00:24:27 Let's go. Me and all of you right now. I have nothing to lose. You kick the shit out of me and I'm out of this fucking race. Let's fucking go get me. Like I was the craziest person they had ever seen and they walked with me for like a hundred yards and that was the end of it. And it was the lyrics. It was the only time since the seventh grade, the closest I've ever come to getting in a fight. I love it. I love it. It was my one. Yeah, the exit out of the race. He was, it was interesting, you know, when we were going through all the training and stuff and talking about the XLC, I talked about it endlessly with you to get advice and stuff. This winter, it was such a different, your experience was so much different than will gads. You know what I did the, the rocky servers with, well he this every day.
Speaker 6: 00:25:19 He said, don't do it. Don't go do it. Don't go. He hated it. Yeah. I hated that race. And I would love to say to anybody that has any interest in the possibility of the adventure to do it. Uh, I just thought it was most the most terrific [inaudible] down. It was incredible. There's only one way to get to that place, you know. Exactly. You will get to that place. Yeah. And there's no shortcuts. Yeah. You know, and that place is magnanimitas that to do it. It wasn't magnificent. Let's rewind a little bit. I want to talk about, you know, your course, your, your big flight here and, and we'll, we'll, we'll fast forward to that. But, um, accidents. You, you had a, a massive blow out here that I want to hear about cause that's just, that's pretty terrific. And then have you ever been hurt?
Speaker 6: 00:26:09 No, I broken arrest. Okay. Um, I hurt my knee a little bit and aspen crashing once. Um, but no, knock on wood. [inaudible] yeah. And you had, tell me about your blow out here. Eras you've only done once. Yeah. Okay. One time I hears her. Uh, it was, it was only our 10, um, at the beginning of the two liner. It was that first year of the art 10, and it was in North Day here in Sun Valley, which we've learned as awful is a little bit bumpy. Um, and it was post frontal, which makes it a little bit windy and bumpy here. And I was flying north, I've left the wood river valley and I was in a Sawtooth valley and I was trying to get up to Stanley and the area had burned the year before and see where the white clouds. Yeah, I was over on the white cloud side of the valley in the area burn and I, I flew back in and it was, it was a super strong day.
Speaker 6: 00:27:13 You know, it was middle of summer, it was post frontal, um, and it was really strong and I was, I found that thermal and I was turning left and I was trying to core the thermal and I was, I just kept getting the first turn. I got bumped out of the quarter. And so I along gated my circle a little bit, you know, and adjusted it. And the second turn I got pushed out of the corner again. And so I adjusted my circle and river. It was a really strong client, super-duper strong climb, you know? Um, I mean the, the surrounding area was going up at like I had eight on my averager pool and when I did the core, you know, even for those three or four seconds on my 15 second average or it could bump it up to 12 full creamer. Yeah. It was really, really strong.
Speaker 6: 00:28:12 And the third time I adjusted and I buried the break, you know, so that hoping I could stay in the cooler and I'm sure I spun it a little bit. Yeah. And I broke back and it shot really hard because it shot the energy of the spin and coming out of the corner or out of the core and it shot or hard. You're probably spending the same way as the [inaudible]. Okay. Yeah, as you know. So I'm coming out to the left and I spun it left and it, the thermal was going behind me, right. And it shot super hard, so hard that pulled my break, not up into the polling holy shit. And just stuck. And so I fell through and swung through and it broke that behind me because I was in really strong air and it surged again. And because my, my knot was stuck in the pulley, I couldn't catch him, put I, and I didn't think to grab the BS and it collapsed out in front of me and I fell through and it shot. Now we're on the third, third shoot, you know, thing. And it went way out in front of me and it just propellers. And as a founder run out in front of ou as a propeller, the lines just started going, yeah.
Speaker 7: 00:29:49 [inaudible]
Speaker 6: 00:29:50 and I was like, Bri, oh, reiki. Yeah, holy lies. You just popping because those lines are so small. And there was so much tension as it's propelling out in front of me. And I was like, I don't have that. So I threw my rescue. And if for any of you who stone your rescue, this is going to sound dumb. But that second of deployment is for ever. Yeah. And I've always heard you need to grab your bridal but I don't know what kind of harness these people have stolen. My reaching behind my head trying to grab to the bridle and the collider is going full on bat. Shit crazy out in front of me and the forest that I'm over is burned out from the year before and I was high stakes. Yeah. You know I was probably at 12 when the episode started and you know I probably threw at above 11 you had a long time to look down.
Speaker 6: 00:31:00 But by the grace of God, I came down and I'm not even religious and his area the size of like a two car garage that had no nothing on the side of the hill. And I landed soft as could be reserves, work, reserves, work, walked out probably wrong for four hours to the road. And the first car that passed me once I got to a road drove me one wheel. And so what would, what was the aftermath of that like? Like if you, um, did that change anything for you? Did it freak you out or did, or have you been through, these are maybe two different questions. Have you've been through a time where it's been like, yeah, I'm not going to try now? Yeah, for sure. Um, so to answer that question, because I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately, um, I think that what we do and what we do in pair of gliders is pushing
Speaker 7: 00:32:04 [inaudible] and that's what we enjoy doing.
Speaker 6: 00:32:10 Super duper fun. But the risk is massive, you know? Um, I think it's Kinda fucked up because the more I think about it, the reward is as inconsequential, you know? Um, but yeah, there are times when I feel what the reward is. Inconstant you. So the reward is not enough to justify the risk that we're taking or it is, it is. But what is the,
Speaker 8: 00:32:40 you know, the reward is that smile at the end of the day. Um, you know, the reward is being a cloud-base on the Idaho Montana border and knowing that you're the only person in the sky for a a hundred miles, um, you know, what is that reward beneficial to humanity? Ah, you know, it's pretty special. Is it maybe what I live for? I'm unfortunately afraid. Um, so yeah. Did that make me step back a little bit at that point? And have there been times where I've stepped back massively. Um, and that's pretty personal thing. Yeah. And I, you know, I, I think it's really hard, I think is as beginners people, they don't have the time frame or the patience and, and the risk is really big. And then there's intermediate, they still don't have the, the timeframe or the patience. And I, I think I'm really lucky that I've played this game for a little while now. And when it, when it feels good, God, it is so good. And if it doesn't feel good, you know, I'm not smart enough to, to say that always. But I think that I am aware to stop and say, Hey, today's not my day. You know, it's, I'm not on like I need to be to do the things I want to do
Speaker 9: 00:34:14 is that work. We're getting a little bit ahead of where I wanted to be, but I, I want to hear this anyway. Is that one of the reasons you've, you know, you were, you, you've, you know, instilled in our 11, you've been flying ice peaks, you've been flying compliments for a long time and we love flying complex. They're different, they're different animal. But um, this year you, you, you back way off, you are find a mentor in the beginning of the season. Now you're flying a Triton, um, you know, I don't think you find a, B or c and probably what a decade. Yeah, more, more 15 years, two years. Um, is that part of it? Is that, is it because, um, are you just, if you just decided you want to be more safe or if you decided that it's just a,
Speaker 8: 00:35:01 would it be just that? Why? Cause they are different gliders. They get different gliders. Um, you know, when Russ Ogden came here for the last World Cup and gave his talk, we were all on, you know, comp gliders, myself included.
Speaker 9: 00:35:19 By the way, I'm going to cut in here, there that talk for all the you are interested is on my website, cloud-based Ma'am dot com. It's a 45 minute video. I just got super lucky to turn a camera on that day. It is amazing. It's your must watch. So check it out if you want to. Fantastic.
Speaker 8: 00:35:38 And he's started, he talked a lot about these gliders, you know, calm gliders and, and how on your game you have to be to fly a comp glider and I are comp ladders. Paragliding is dangerous. Are comp gliders any more dangerous? Maybe a little bit, but for the level, you know, I'm a middle age middle-class white guys. I've got two kids and a wife. I would like to go paragliding every day, but it doesn't happen. Um, so I, I think to stack the odds in my favor, I am a little bit safer flying a certified glider, you know, and do I think a certified glider as opposed to a comp glider? You know, I think, I think today's comp gliders are super duper hot. Um, everybody I know who's flown in comp later this year has crashed them, you know, or thrown a rescue or are coming down hard as that bad. No, you know, it's back to the risk and reward that we were talking about earlier.
Speaker 8: 00:36:52 For those people, the, the risk is worth the reward, you know, and like our local pilot, Mitch who flies paragliders all year round, he does acro he does tandem. He every day that's flyable he's flying a paraglider. Do I think it's suitable for Mitch to fly in our 11? I really do. Um, you know, but I, I'm not that guy. When I see people, when I hear people bitching about common gliders, I, I really think that's inappropriate because I think for people like Mitch, um, and I don't definitely don't mean to put words in his mouth here. And the guys that are pushing it on the World Cup, they are looking for that highest level of performance. They are looking for the cutting edge. They don't want an e n the glider. Um, you know, they're not, that's not going to fulfill them with what they're looking for.
Speaker 8: 00:38:01 So I, I think to limit it is crazy because I think that most of the people that are doing the limiting are way more dangerous on their EMV glider because they're not as current or aware of the, the conditions, the circumstances and the glider as the people that choose to fly hot gliders. You know, those gliders have a whole different feel and becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly that it is a different beast that flying on. Um, you know, and so for me, I chose this year, well, I've watched the mentor mania, you know, in Europe for years. And I wanted to see what they were doing, you know, how are those guys flying so far on bs and now this year flying and EMC glider I my own personal conclusion, and it might be wrong, is that yeah, the flying in Europe is different. Um,
Speaker 6: 00:39:05 do I invite those people that are doing huge flights on bees to come over here and show us how to do it? Yes, please. We would love to have you here. Yeah. And I think you can do it here, but we don't yet have it figured out and the flying is different.
Speaker 8: 00:39:21 Um, do I think I would have been safer this year on an EMV than I am on an enc? No. Um, you know, I even, I think a little bit the opposite. I'm used to shorter break travel and having a little bit more feel a little bit more reached to look first on bits of air. And I, you know, I, I feel that I find the tracking instead of the mentor. I made the best decision I could this year.
Speaker 9: 00:39:49 So transitioning from your big flight three years ago, you went 199 miles deep into Montana. Lisa, we'll talk about um, what are your, or have your goals changed, you know, back then, um, that that happened on a great day and that probably didn't, wasn't your plan when you launched off the mountain. It never is for any of us, you know, we hook into the right day and things go right and it's just terrific. But um, have your, if your, if tomorrow we had the perfect day, what's, what's your, what are you dreaming about now? If things had been scaled back also because you're scanning things back with the wing or I actually you, you skilled, they use back a little bit because you're, you're not getting the hours you're feeling, you're just making a smart decision that you're not as current. This is where I need to be. I'm on a wing. Have your goals changed to no,
Speaker 6: 00:40:42 I want the Idaho record back from you. So bad. [inaudible] this spring. I, my goal, my dream day when you went to Europe and farmer was going to Texas, was that someday at the beginning of July I would get the Idaho record back. Farmer would get the world's record and you would make it to the raft and the Monaco. That'd be pretty good. So No. Yeah, I want to fly. No, I think if anything, and now that I'm 42 I'm like, Holy Shit, I'm a middle aged white guy. The next step after a middle aged white guy as old white guy and my goals are bigger and more ever before
Speaker 8: 00:41:34 I, I hope that I have a little bit of experience now so that I can choose to push those goals on the right day. Um, you know, when the conditions are appropriate. Um, no, I no,
Speaker 6: 00:41:50 my goal here is, and it seems to me like yours passionate as you've ever been, if not more. So.
Speaker 8: 00:41:55 Yeah, I'm, I'm as hungry as ever. You know, I, I do, I don't know.
Speaker 6: 00:42:02 So the, this is, this is something that I think people ask me all the time, like, why, you know, and I've got a fraction of the experience in the years that you do and farmer does and nick does. And, um, but I, I keep, I've been asked, I was asked this morning, how are you still so fired up about this and talk about that because it's just like, I find that if we're participating in something that there is, the learning curve is still just Racquel is so steep. It's so phenomenal. I mean,
Speaker 8: 00:42:38 the more we learn in this game, I feel like the more we become aware that we can learn. Um, you know, like I was talking about earlier, we're just in 20 years now, we're just figuring out where to fly that you can't fly roads. You know, I, we have, we have Kriegel you know, who we can look at and, and he, he's doing it so much better than we are. It makes it so fun. You know what, we were just at the beginning of the learning curve, you know, I,
Speaker 6: 00:43:18 half the air is going up and half the air is going down. Why can't we just fly straight in the going up air and quit dicking around flying circles, you know, like Kriebel bus, you get totally that. He's the only one that does a pound.
Speaker 8: 00:43:34 You know, we're just learning about gliding and I feel, I feel like I'm just learning how to use the speed bar really effectively. I mean, you know, the art, the art of paragliding is now coming out. The subtleties, um, the, the beauty of it, you know, is something that keeps, I like mountains. I think I like mountains more than anything in the world. And the paraglider enables me to spend time and have interactions in, in with the mountains like nothing else on earth. So even if I did think that I had learned everything I could about paragliding, there's still the whole alpine interaction that is limitless. And I, I really believe after 20 years, I'm just learning to fly. Apparently. Glider.
Speaker 9: 00:44:34 Yeah, yeah. No, we're, we're, we're, we're, we're just starting out.
Speaker 8: 00:44:40 Damn. It's like the, it's like the beginning of something really special. The liners are getting so good, you know? And, and on the other hand, have it on the other side of that coin. Having now done it for awhile, when I do think out, you know, which happens on the day you guys flew to Montana and the contest this summer. Ah, it's still stings. It's kind of like getting kicked in the balls, but it's all right. It doesn't, it doesn't bother me. It doesn't bump me out. You know what I, maybe it's fatalistic, but it happens to everybody. Yeah. And so you have an agree on the next opposite shoe the first time ever. You just come back for more. And in like everything in life, we probably, we learn quicker from our failures than we do from our successes. Sure. Yeah. And so, you know, it's taking me a lot of failures and, and there's a lot more to come, but that's, that's where we're learning and that's all right. You know? Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 5: 00:45:47 Um,
Speaker 9: 00:45:49 been at this since 91, it's probably harder for you to remember this, but what would you have told your 50 ourself or your 91? I can't do the math. Your 20 year old self. 25 year old 17, you know, when you were starting out, what would you have told me? You know, when I first moved here, when I had very little experience there, the people that are just starting now, like where, where did you, what have you learned along the way that you've thought
Speaker 5: 00:46:20 [inaudible]
Speaker 8: 00:46:21 this is what I had to slow down. Yeah. Patients, you know, nothing, nothing good comes fast. Um, if you get hurt, this game is no fun. The consequences are really big. They're really sudden, you know, if,
Speaker 8: 00:46:47 if you can live to fly tomorrow, that is, that's really good. And you know, I, um, take it easy. I see you, were you aggressive when you started out? Super? Yeah, I'm terrible. Yeah, bad, you know, but really aggressive. You know, I, I'd been flying for dinner only about four or five months and I went to the World Cup in the Owens valley and I wanted to be like those guys. Um, and I saw somebody die there and I was like, oh my God. But now having been in this game for awhile, you know, be, be patient, if it's not good, don't go paragliding. Scary paragliding sucks. You know, there, there are a lot of good days, but you have to wait for him. You know, it's, it's now September like fourth or fifth and we had almost no good flying in August. Um, and that's okay.
Speaker 8: 00:47:45 You know. Yeah, it was a total bummer and it was a wash, but I would much rather be sitting here now looking at, look, we have no good paragliding. I heard, heard several stories of people that came through town, you know, and went up the hill and you know, there were multiple Enzo sols and sins. And fortunately, I don't believe anybody got hurt or no rescue tosses. But you know, the last month a lot of people got really scared trying to push it. And, and scare is in a lot of ways, just as bad as getting hurt. And you know, it's pretty hard to get that head back. Yeah. Um, you know, and wait, there's time to push it, you know, and I'm definitely not saying don't push it, but push it when it makes sense. You know, most importantly, push it when you feel good. You know, when you're over where and you're on it.
Speaker 8: 00:48:46 Yeah. You know, they're, they're not in, you're not all this safety talk lately how we need to make this safer. I don't know if we can make it safer. And I think that a lot of the fun of our sport is that the focus that's required, you know, everything else we do, everything else I do during the day, I'm spacing out, I started something and then I buzz off to do something else. And I'm daydreaming of something. But the reason for me, paragliding is so fun is because I'm all in, you know, it, I don't have a lot of bandwidth, but all of my bandwidth is going to flying the paraglider and, and climbing the paraglider and keeping the paraglider open and gliding the paraglider and where the next lift is and, and what my options are. And, and I'm able to do that because I know if I make bad decisions, I could get hurt or die. And that is, I don't mean to sound dumb, but that's a big part of the fun of it, you know, that is that focus, that clarity. Your quote from the Sierra Safari, people spend a long time trying to learn to meditate and to be present and widget. I just take off and shit's okay. I don't have mortgage problems and work problems and, and phone calls that I need to return. You go paragliding in this going to be good.
Speaker 8: 00:50:33 Very cool. Um,
Speaker 6: 00:50:36 okay.
Speaker 9: 00:50:37 This is one of the things I wanted to ask you. If there been like turning points, you know, when you look back at the last 20 some odd years and fourth-line Perry ladders, um, have there been moments or mentors or times where you, where things have been like, I'm at the next level, this is an IME. This is something, it wasn't a big flight to Montana. Was that,
Speaker 6: 00:51:01 uh, yeah.
Speaker 9: 00:51:02 Or were there times where he'd been kind of like, wow, I've kinda got this in it. You know, I've figured something out.
Speaker 8: 00:51:11 No, I think, like we were talking about earlier, the, the more I learned, the more I see the we can learn. Um, and no, I don't feel like we're very good yet. Yeah. You know, I don't feel like I'm very good yet. And I don't mean to include you in that because maybe you feel like you're pretty good, but I don't feel like we're no good yet. No, I don't feel like we're very good yet. I think that we can get a lot better. Yeah. Um, so has that moment of clarity come yet? No. Have there been some mentors? Yeah. Um, Robby widdle, you know, was a really good mentor. Um, my first instructor, Claudia Stockwell, she, uh, she gave me some good advice. Um, put all of your flying stuff away before you get fucked up after flying,
Speaker 10: 00:52:11 get forgotten.
Speaker 8: 00:52:16 Um, you know, [inaudible] was a really good mentor and pushing it. Hamza [inaudible] has been a really good mentor. I think having you here has really helped. You know why
Speaker 8: 00:52:39 I don't for a long time. It's always been me here, you know? And I had Hamza come and that was fun and I learned a lot from Holmes. Uh, um, and then, well, I mean, in the beginning it was, it was Robbie and he came through and then he left and [inaudible] came through and he left. And I learned a lot from him. And then farmer came and he's still here and, and now I'm really starting to learn from farmer. That's taken a long time. Um, you know, now that you're here, you have a whole different outlook on it. And I, I've learned a lot from watching you fly. MMM. Um, no. You know, a Belcourt, maybe he's all of our mentor. He's, everybody's, um, you know, he's teaching us about style. Yeah. Which is maybe in our sport where there's, there's no real rewards. That is, that's the best thing we can have his style.
Speaker 8: 00:53:43 Um, you know, I think now with Mitch being good, I'm pretty excited to learn from Mitch. Um, Josh Cohen as an endless mentor. That guy has more style than anybody. [inaudible] you know, that, that's vile is honest and inspiring and really, really cool. Um, yeah. You know, I, yeah, the [inaudible] I'm inspired by people that want to push it. Um, and those people have to be smart enough to know when to push it because dumb fucks that are pushing it all the time I think are just dumb fucks. But people that can push it on good days and do cool things are, oh man, you know, we're, we're at the, at the tip of the iceberg. Cody almost flew to Jackson the other day is so exciting. This has stuff and is really cool. When we were driving down to start fathering miles to nowhere, we were, you know,
Speaker 9: 00:54:51 as we often do talking about accidents in this has been a big year. We just got that email from spa that there's been 14 deaths or something. You were, you had quite a different take on all that. You hate that. We talk about that a lot. Um, this wasn't in the magazine. Talks about that. I wanted to brush on that cause um, I you said a line in, in 500 there was like, you know, it's it, yeah, it's dangerous and it's risky but it's fun. And what else are you going to do with yourself? Um, do we belabor this point too much
Speaker 8: 00:55:26 in our sport? Yeah, I still think that and it's terrible to see friends get hurt. Um, it's terrible to see friends get hurt unnecessarily, I guess is how I would like to say that. But yeah, we do ind in our society. We need stumped people and we need people that are willing to push it, you know, and no other sport I do. People get so worked up about other people getting hurt. Pick up a skateboarding magazine and it doesn't talk about broken legs. Pick up a mountain bike magazine. It doesn't talk about injuries, surfing, um, snowmobiling, dirt biking. You know, too. I've been, I've been learning the back country ski lately in the Avalanche Awareness Group. Those people, they're on the forefront and, and even that with a lot more people back, country skiing, then the numbers of deaths per year or less. Why did 14 people die this year? I, I don't know. Do we need to talk about it amongst ourselves? Yeah. We need to work on being smarter, but to just be labor, these points of people dying and fill our magazines with accident reports, I don't think that that is going to help grow the sport. You know, climbing.
Speaker 5: 00:57:11 Okay.
Speaker 8: 00:57:12 Climbing. I believe the American Alpine Journal does an annual accident summary and to buy that would be something if, if the magazine wanted to do that, you know, and since we did 500 miles to nowhere, there's, there's not accident reports in the magazine anymore. There's, there's an accident column that I recently read. Um, you know, and again, it's talking about safety, but we're jumping off the side of a hill on modified bedsheets and shoe strings and to what at least you and I enjoy, is super dynamic air that's not going to be safe. Um, let's not kid people that it's going to be safe. Let's not kid ourselves that it's going to be safe. Let's appreciate it and enjoy it and try and get good at it and give the respect to the people who are better than us at it. Um, let's learn from our mistakes. You know, I've been lucky. I haven't been hurt yet.
Speaker 8: 00:58:27 Is it coming? Probably, but I think I have to be honest that it's, it's out there, you know? Um, am I, do I believe that I'm better than everybody else? There's been hurt? No. You know, I've been lucky. Yeah. Is it better to be lucky than good? Yeah, sure. No, I want to put that in perspective with where we live with the wood river valley. Um, I believe the world records to go down here. Uh, I'm pretty psyched about living here in a place that, that could happen. You're about the most excited person in this valley to be in this valley. But tell me about flying here. What's so special about it?
Speaker 8: 00:59:13 I think we're pretty lucky because, you know, we've got the, the interface of the desert and the mountains. We have the hot, dry desert and we have the Alpine, um, you know, in, in the little contests that way. We're surrounded by mountain ranges every, not everywhere else, but in most other places people fly up and down one mountain range. Um, in our content, in the little contest we put on in the end of July, I think people flew on 10 different mountain ranges. There's roads in the valleys, there's places to land everywhere. This summer, this spring I went to Washington and to, to BC to go flying. And it's terrifying because everything is forest and there's nowhere to land. And around here we can land anywhere. So it makes it pretty comfortable to commit to where you need to go to. Maybe you're going to have a four hour walk, but so what, um, when you get to the road, hitchhiking works for sure.
Speaker 8: 01:00:23 Somebody's gonna pick you up. Um, it's strong. I do enjoy that. It's seen it. We have really no air space. Um, we have no people. It is anybody that listens to this podcast that enjoys big alpine paragliding. I would like to invite you to come to the Wood River valley counseling. That's what we want. We want people to be going check it out. I think, I think July is the best time of year. Um, and I, you know, I think, I think that's how we're going to learn and you know, like, like everything there is to me the beauty of the wood river valleys that there's nobody here. You know, there's, our club has 20 people in it, 10 of those people are active. Yeah. Um, you know, it's not uncommon to go to take off on a good cross country day and be the only person on launch that, would it be fun to have more people here? Yeah. But is it fun to be alone? Totally. You know?
Speaker 9: 01:01:42 Sure. So let's, let's end it on your big flight. Um, what was your, what was, was that on your multiple questions here? Um, you know, a few weeks before he did that, Matt flew 193 miles. When is he six? When did you six you flew one 93 or he's the one, you know. Yay. Okay. Um, so when Matt did that, I was in Europe and I was really getting my first kind of bigger flights and that, and you know, that traveled around the internet or like crazy like wildfire and it blew me away. I just had idea that that was, I knew you guys had been doing big fights over here for a long time, but that was just a whole another realm. Um, was that part of it and then, you know, in terms of just inspiring you, um, but also was it, were you, you know, did you set off, set out that spring to be like, I'm going to go 200 miles this year or I'm going to fly deep into Montana and this year? Or was that something that was always on your radar and had been for years? Or was that something that had just happened and what was required to, for the steps to get to that point, not just skill wise, but it was, you know, uh, what was your mindset that year to make that happen?
Speaker 8: 01:03:02 Uh, I think, you know, like I've touched on a little bit. Mindset's really important. Um, you know, I used to do big things. I have to be in the right head space. Um, I'm really lucky. My wife is really supportive, you know, so I try to be a good husband all year, but especially in the spring, I really try to be a good husband. And so that we have, uh, you know, I, I need to have a good home, you know, and make that a good scene and that makes it, that makes it really easy for me to be all in. Um, and every day I go to the hill, I'm going as far I want to fly as far as I possibly can. You know that I love the fact that we go do something. And somebody asked me where I'm gonna go and I say, I have no idea. There's nothing else that we do where you just go and then not somewhere. Yeah. And not only do you go on and somewhere you really get to charge on the way there. You're all in, you know, you, you get to go a little bit crazy and you're all by yourself and nobody thinks you're weird for me. They do shit.
Speaker 8: 01:04:29 I don't know. Um, so yeah, I got my home life was in a good order and, and she's super supportive and she understands completely. Um, and she really is, she really inspires me and motivates me and pushes me isn't the right word, you know, cause she's not pushy, but she helps me do what I want to do. Um, and that day on take off, I'm pretty sure that day on takeoff, there is nobody on takeoff. Now you're alone. Um, and so I was, you know, I was ready to fly cross country as far as possible. Um, you know, and the fight was magnificent. I think I had a 40 miles stretch in Montana on the side of a cloud street between 14 and 17 where if I got too low, I just would duck under the clouds. And as I got too high, I just work out to the left and just leave last century and just glide.
Speaker 8: 01:05:28 And at the end of the day I was in new country, what I now know as the tobacco roots. Um, but I was gliding into the mountain range and it was like six o'clock in the evening. And I had a pretty funny thought in my head. I was like, man, evil Knievel jumps over canyons. I'm going to jump over a fucking mountain, right? Watch this. [inaudible] and I just glided deep into the range and I got a nice climb up over the range and the [inaudible] evening light and had a super sweet glide. And I flew out and I landed in a lady's field. I landed in a field and a lady in a pickup truck drove out, you know, like 50 year old lady and she said, you're not going to camp here, are you? I said, good God ma'am, I hope not. And she said, well, what are you doing?
Speaker 8: 01:06:24 And I tried to explain that I'd flown my paraglider there from Sun Valley. And because I wasn't camping there, she was elated. And she drove me into town and the three forks. Yeah. And I called my mom like you do when you land. And I told her I was in three forks and she said, Oh hum, there's the nicest hotel there. And I said, Oh mom, I'm alright. You know, I can sleep outside tonight. And I hung up with mom and about a minute later, I didn't know, but I was standing in front of the hotel and a lady walks out of the hotel with a glass of champagne and says, son, your mom got you a room and no ne. So that was really cool. And then I went in and, and I had dinner on my mom and spent the night in this cool old railway hotel. And I called my good friend, um, and ski partner, Christian Nicom, who's got an airplane. And I said, Hey Christian, I'm, I'm in Montana. And he said, I'm on my way. And the next morning he was there at nine o'clock in the morning and we got to
Speaker 9: 01:07:34 why the whole route and [inaudible] really cool. So you just outside of Bozeman? Yeah. Wow. That's cool. That's a big flight. That's fun. Somebody will make it to Bozeman and then they'll make it a long way more. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well that next summer we got pretty close. Or on the Madison River there in that day. That was pretty exciting. Well, cool, Nate. Um, I really appreciate it. That's, that's all I've got for you and that was really good talk. I think people are gonna love that. And uh, thanks a lot. Thanks for your time. Thank you. Well, I hope you enjoyed that. I certainly did. Nate has been a constant inspiration to
Speaker 2: 01:08:16 myself and a whole bunch of other people over the years. Uh, if you enjoyed the podcast as always, uh, in, in the, uh, in following in the footsteps of one of my favorite podcasts with Dan Carlin hardcore history, all we asked for is a bucket show. It goes a long ways. You guys have all been really generous with your donations. I appreciate it very much. Appreciate it very much. Uh, that keeps me going with this. I'm going to do it anyway. I love it. I think it's just fantastic bringing this knowledge to the flying world. Hope you enjoy it. If you did, please feel free to share it with your friends and family and, um, see you next time on the podcast. Cheers.



Comments

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.

    Thanks!!

  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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