The Cloudbase Mayhem podcast is where you will find fascinating and educational interviews with the best free-flight pilots in the world. If you fly a hanglider or paraglider, if you fly acro or cross country, the Cloudbase Mayhem podcast is where we glean how the great pilots of the world get there. Hosted by Red Bull X-Alps pilot, National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and current holder of the North American foot launch record, Gavin McClurg. Follow me on Instagram @gavinmcclurg or on Facebook @ facebook.com/gavinnmcclurg or Twitter on @cloudbasemayhem.
Episode 146- Maxime Pinot and turning up the Volume
Maxime Pinot is a very accomplished world cup competition pilot and French team pilot who came up through the French Juniors team. Maxime has been making big waves in the last few years in the world of serious hike and fly racing. He was second in the 2018 X-Pyr, and second in his first Red Bull X-Alps in 2019, when he gave Chrigel probably his toughest run to date. He just jousted Chrigel for 1st place in this year’s Bornes to Fly in Annecy and he’s already laid down two 300+ flights this season, including an FAI world record for speed over course. In this episode we discuss how Maxime approaches training (physical and mental), his thoughts on just making better decisions instead of doing SIV for pilots who don’t have the money or time, how to manage your emotions, how to thermal and glide better, dealing with the “mental pain” that sometimes comes with flying, finding the opportunities from mistakes, the importance of visualization, and we look back at a couple key moves that made all the difference for Chrigel in the 2019 race. Please enjoy this information-packed episode, there’s a lot here!
* Gavin recounts a low reserve and hard pound this weekend
* Maxime and Gavin discuss the difficulties of preparing for this year’s race due to the Covid situation
* The new Red Bull X-Alps route
* Maxime discusses how he’s changed his training going into this race and specifics for physical training
* To scout or not to scout?
* Dealing with irrational fear
* Thermalling, planning and gliding- get the volume
* Have a plan before you get to cloudbase- ie on the way up
* How to approach speed to fly in a race like the X-Alps
* Learning from the best
* Identifying the big days and weather forecasting
* The art of finding a thermal low
* Dealing with the “mental pain” of flying
* Dealing with the emotions of flying
* Active dreaming and the importance of visualization
* The importance of rest and recovery
* Review of a couple of important moves in the 2019 race
Mentioned in the Show:
Malin Lobb, Annecy, Dilan Benedeti, InReach, Garmin, Nate Scales, Willi Canell, Matt Beechinor, Thomas Theirillat, Chrigel Maurer, Robbie Whittall, Nick Greece, Laurent Valbert, Tom Payne, Jon Chambers, Maxime Bellemin, Ayvri
Episode 145- Standing on the shoulders of giants with Mitchell McAleer
Mitchell McAleer properly crashed a hang glider on literally his first flight in the early 70’s. But he shook it off and was in the right place at the right time and had the right mentors and right attitude and eventually became the winningest aerobatics pilot in history. Southern California was one of the true meccas of hang gliding in the 70’s and 80’s. It was the home of UP during their reign with the Comet, remains the home of Wills Wing and was where Mitch took on the sport in his teens and remains today after nearly 45 years of obsessed flying. Mitch was an early adaptor of paragliding (as a reference his go-to glider when we recorded this show is the Ozone R-12), has traveled all over the world competing in aerobatics and doing glider testing for a number of companies, and is just an absolute giant in free flight. Mitch has an encyclopedic memory and this podcast is a fascinating and at times totally unbelievable stroll down memory lane. Flying without reserves, folding gliders, incredible wrecks, “maneuvers” clinics with no reserves, clipping in incorrectly, flying the very first totally sketchy paragliders, flying in the first world cup…It is a story of joy, sadness, incredible feats and incredible carnage but throughout it is a story of love and passion for flying. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants. The men and women who laid the groundwork who have taken the sport from where it was to where it is today, spilled a lot more than tears and hard work to make it happen. Their vision, commitment, excitement and durability in the face of phenomenal setbacks, all the while losing so many friends along the way…is truly remarkable. Huge thanks to Bill Belcourt for running this interview. This was special to witness and we hope you enjoy the result.
PLEASE- check out the video below of Mitch getting a “killer loop” just barely wrong in Austria at a Red Bull Vertigo Event in 2003. It’ll blow your mind (he walked away).
* The first crash. And then some more.
* UP and the Comet
* Japan and folding gliders
* Aerobatics ‘
* Becoming a comp pilot
* Becoming a meet director and the early years of comps
* All the old wings…
* Sex, drugs and Rock and Roll!
* The European scene compared to the US Scene
* 15 years to get one maneuver
* The Twister- the crash in Villaneuve at the Red Bull Vertigo
* The Crestline Massacre
* Self Sabotage
* “If you die, we split your gear”
* Why do some walk away?
* The mental game
* Can you regulate the problem away? Risk Homeostasis
* Nothing else gives you peace
Mentioned in the Show:
Eric Fair, Annie Green Springs, they and EZ Wider the rolling paper company sponsored a meet at Sylmar, Volmer Jensen, Wills Wing, Gary Applegate, Steve Pearson, UP, Japan, Gin, Rob Kells, Oichi Onsuka, Yoichi Onitsuka, JC Brown , Larry Tudor, Yusuke Yamazaki, George Fulman, Pete Brock, Roy Haggard, Mark West, Heidi Blumhuber, Enrico Egli, Heinz Zwissig, Etsushi Matsuo, Greg Smith, Andre Bucher, Bob England, Ted Boyce, Jeff Greenbaum, Rick Masters, Edel Gliders, Dave Bridges, Robbie Whittall, Dave Frank, Mr. Suh, Ed Stein, Chuck Smith, Bouchard, Ken Baeir, Xavier Murillo, Jennifer Toms, Joe Gluzinski, Dave Prentice, Lee Kaiser, Bill Gordon, Richard Gallon, Sebastien Bourquin, Urs Haari, Othar Lawrence, Chris Santacroce, RC David Freund, Dan Racanelli, John Heiney, Chris Bolfing, Soderquist, Jeff Huey, Chris Bulger, Jon Pendry, Crazy Wayne Denny, Dusty Rhodes, Rob McKenzie, Brad Gunnuscio, Ozone Paragliders, Tammy Burcar, Mark Axen, Patrick Sugrue, Marcus Meyer, Russ Ogden, Rick Garrett, Jamie Lasser, Rich Collins, Bill Rehr, Raleigh Collins, Andy Hediger,
Episode 144- Jeff Longcor and (mostly) Inexpensive Mistakes
To learn we have to make mistakes. But in aviation a mistake can be painful, or a lot worse. When we’re learning how do we balance the desire with ability? How do even recognize when we’re making poor decisions when we don’t understand the risks that we’re taking? When flying starts to click and the joy rockets our skills very often aren’t up to the task. It’s called intermediate syndrome and it’s not something that just starts and ends, it’s a spectrum that catches out nearly every pilot at some point in their career, and in my opinion lasts much, much longer than most pilots think. Navigating through this period safely is tricky. We can’t improve if we don’t push, but we’ve got to make sure we push the right amount, and that amount changes every day. Jeff Longcor has been flying only a few years and has a full time job, which makes getting hours tough, but he’s completely enamored with the sport and has been chasing it hard, sometimes too hard. Jeff has made some inexpensive mistakes, and a few expensive ones. They’ve all provided volumes of learning, and his desire for the sport is as high as it has ever been. In this show we dig into all the little things that add up to help us all become better pilots, and in the end- better people. Enjoy.
* The joy outpaces the ability. The need to want to launch.
* “I felt like I could say something because I WAS that pilot”
* Getting critical feedback can be hard. But necessary. We have to embrace the wider world of knowledge
* Should we ever give up on a pilot who’s making too many mistakes?
* Screwing things up
* Flying in wind
* Peer Pressure
* Evaluating conditions on each flight
* Analytical vs feeling pilots
* Don’t make launch a foregone conclusion
* Throwing the reserve/ SIV
* Confidence and respect for the sport
* The forever of learning
Mentioned in the Show:
Niviuk, Dilan Benedeti, Bill Belcourt, Andrew Byron, Tom Truax, Logan Walters, Bruce Goldsmith, 50 ways to fly better, Greg Hammerton, Jason Lombard, Othar Lawrence, Matt Beechinor
Episode 143- Matt Scutter and SkySight Soaring 101
Matt Scutter is an Australian competition sailplane pilot and software engineer who leads a team that runs the popular global soaring forecast platform SkySight. Unlike other platforms that use existing weather models to produce interactive forecasts for free flight enthusiasts like Meteoparapente and XCSkies, SkySight uses their own supercomputing systems to gather a wide range of weather data to create their own daily models. Initially designed for sailplane forecasting SkySight is now a go-to platform for paragliding and hang gliding forecasting as well. In this podcast Matt gives us a quick audio history of SkySight and how their system differs from other resources and then we switch over to a video screen recording of Matt taking us through a tutorial of how SkySight can help you achieve bigger distance with greater confidence and how to use their powerful convergence forecasting, route planning and other tools. Enjoy!
All Cloudbase Mayhem listeners! Use the promo code “CLOUDBASEMAYHEM” to receive 14 days extra for free when you sign up for their free trial.
After the audio section please watch the video tutorial here:
Episode 142- Urs Haari and the Sweet Spot
Urs Haari has been at this game since the game began. He got several world records early in his career in South Africa in the early 90’s, stood on the podium multiple times at World Championships, PWC’s and at the European Championships and brought home champion titles at the Swiss, AND US Nationals. This past season he won the sport class in the Swiss Cup Championship for the remarkable 5th time, and is now the permanent holder of this coveted award. Given he only gets to go XC 4 to 6 times a year because of his work- a hell of an achievement! Urs is the owner and creator of High Adventures AG, a company that makes and tests reserves. He invented the Beamer steerable rescue that many pilots have adopted and use today. In this podcast Urs discusses his early success; a couple of very scary incidents; leaving the sport and going through a very difficult period and then rediscovering flight; creating High Adventures and the art of the reserve toss and what we all need to know about reserves and their correct use; and how he’s developed some very interesting mental exercises and techniques to stay safe in flight. This episode is packed with laugh-out loud moments and incredible take-aways. Enjoy!
PLEASE watch Urs’ reserve testing videos on any of these pages, you’ll learn a ton!
From Urs Haari:
In March I will be 56 years old and live in Switzerland. I spent my childhood and adolescence in Matten, a small mountain village of 700 souls in the Bernese Oberland. I had the privilege of growing up in the great outdoors. In winter we made the ski slopes unsafe and in summer we were otherwise incredibly creative. You can take my word for that 😉
My father was a model airplane pilot and co-founder of the local gliding group. We spent countless weekends somewhere on a soaring slope or at the airfield.
At the age of 17 I had enough savings to afford the training to become a glider pilot. In the first year I was not allowed to leave the airfield within a radius of 50 km. Shortly thereafter, I was retrained to fly my first composite glider, and I found out quickly how to loop it quite nicely. The high alpine terrain offered enough side valleys to avoid being caught by the club’s umpires. The glider fleet was limited and four years later I had had enough of having to share the gliders with my club mates part time.
At 20 I was drafted into the military, completed a career in the army due to lack of career prospects and inbetween I hitchhiked through South America for several months.
In 1988 I grabbed my older brother’s paraglider and did a few jumps with it. It felt like proximity flying but in slow motion. In the following spring, I made my license and trimmed the newly acquired Condor HP9 (9 cells) right away. At a competition in Verbier I met the manufacturer, two months later he offered me a job. In addition to working in the atelier and sales department, I was also a test pilot.
In 1990, the pre-World Cup took place in St. André les Alps. I wanted to go there at all costs. I didn’t have enough results to qualify for the Swiss team. At that time, we were producing in Israel and a good friend of mine was the president of the paragliding association there. So, I started under the Israeli flag and finished the pre-World Cup as the best Swiss. That was the time of the flashy full-body preservatives, the hot gliders, and the all-night parties ;-). We were rock stars!
Episode 141- Robbie Whittall- Creating Connections and Changing Perceptions
Where do you start with Robbie Whittall? He’s one of only three pilots in history to have won the world championships in BOTH hang gliding and paragliding. He co-founded Ozone. He’s considered the “godfather of the Serial class.” He raced superbikes for several years in what is considered the most dangerous motor sports event in the world, the Isle of Man race. We begin this podcast with a couple of crazy stories (getting plucked in Foehn off a flat field clipped in backwards, and winning the 89′ Hang Gliding worlds after tumbling- TWICE), then dig into Robbie’s remarkable life journey, much of lived with the throttle pegged, but it’s also been one with plenty of instrospection. Robbie discusses the importance of connection; the difference and importance of flying in “Flow” vs trying; how to “let it happen”; finding your potential; why the British have been so successful in free flight; being tenacious and the value of practicing in poor conditions; how to get the best results by going against yourself rather than the competition; the learning process; the Open Class carnage that lead to the Serial Class; why we’ve lost so much of the purity of flight by removing the human element and relying on increased instrumentation; what “unleashed fun” means, and how to find peace with the inevitable. Get comfortable and tuck in, this is a masterclass from a genuine master.
Watch the 2019 trailer for the Isle of Man race. CRAZY!
* The marionette!
* Winning the World Championships in 89- AFTER tumbling twice
* The addiction begins out a frustration with school
* The importance of connection- to people, to nature
* Flow vs Try
* Finding your potential
* The Brits- why so good?
* Poor conditions? Good!
* Compete against yourself, not others and you’ll learn to win
* The learning process
* The Open Class Carnage
* Leaving the comp scene
* Unleashed fun
* Coming to terms with death
Mentioned in the Show:
Jon Pendry, Thomas Theurillat, Bill Belcourt, Bruce goldsmith, Russ Ogden, Pepe López, Colin Rider
Jeff Shapiro and the dark arts
This podcast was so inspirational , it touched so many key points in my life that I have been through. Very thought provoking, it brought out in me feelings and thoughts I have had hidden deep inside for a while now. I have lost good friends through out my career in hang gliding , skydiving, motorcycle racing, paramotoring, paragliding, speed flying and since I was a boy all I dreamed off was flight. I’ve been flying now for 45 years and just lately been struggling with all the deaths in my sport. Listening to you guys talk in-depth about so much personal experience and feeling around these incredible beautiful sports and how it makes you feel about how incredible life is has really got me thinking of where my life has taken me and where I am taking it . Thank you so much for sharing. Blue sky’s and fluffy white clouds await, so I will catch another podcast some other time . Magic stuff guys . Cheers Rob
Great paragliding podcast
This is a great podcast for anyone with even a passing interest in paragliding or the psychology of those who are at the top of their game in this sport.
Gavin McClurg has assembled a varied line-up featuring some of the top names in the sport to explain what motivates them and to impart tips on how to fly better.
It's a great listen for everyone from fledgling pilots to those who are more experienced and wanting to improve the technical aspects of their flying.
I always look forward to each new episode!