213 episodes

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.

Cloudbase Mayhem Podcast Gavin McClurg

    • Leisure
    • 4.8 • 213 Ratings

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.

    #213 Pierre Carter and Into Thin Air

    #213 Pierre Carter and Into Thin Air

    Pierre flying off Everest

    South African pilot and adventurer Pierre Carter has been at this game for a very long time, and he hasn’t wasted any time chasing thin air dreams. Pierre has been knocking off the world’s seven summits for nearly 20 years (some of them several times), and has flown off all but Denali (because it’s illegal) and has only Antarcticas Mt Vinson remaining. In between his efforts to summit and fly off the worlds highest peaks (including Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea) Pierre competed in the Red Bull X-Alps three times, organized the X-Berg hike and fly race in South Africa and most recently had a bit of an epic in Pakistan. Come along for an amazing ride with a very special gentleman.


    Flying off Kilimanjaro



    * Pierre Carr has a passion for paragliding and mountaineering, which has defined his life and career.

    * Flying off the Seven Summits is a challenging and rewarding adventure that requires permission and careful planning.

    * The Red Bull X-Alps is a thrilling race that combines paragliding and hiking across the Alps.

    * Flying off mountains like Kilimanjaro and Denali requires skill, experience, and favorable weather conditions. Flying in the Dolomites can be challenging and requires knowledge of the area.

    * Food poisoning can have a significant impact on performance in the X-Alps.

    * Support teams play a crucial role in the success of athletes in the X-Alps.

    * Knowing the Alps well is essential for navigating the X-Alps effectively.

    * Knee replacement surgery can improve mobility and allow for continued adventure.

    * The Red Rocks race and the X-Berg Challenge offer unique and exciting opportunities for paragliding and adventure sports.

    * Climbing Denali and Carstensz Pyramid are challenging and rewarding mountaineering experiences. Flying in Papua New Guinea can be challenging due to difficult terrain and unpredictable weather conditions.

    * Obtaining a permit to fly off Mount Everest is a complex process, but it opens up the opportunity for a unique and iconic flight.

    * Flying off Mount Everest is a surreal and emotional experience, despite the short duration of the flight.

    * Pierre has future plans to climb and fly off Mount Vincent, as well as other 8,000-meter peaks. Methodical review helps in organizing and understanding the content of a conversation.

    * Identifying principal themes allows for a more structured and cohesive presentation.

    * Consolidating subtopics under primary themes provides a comprehensive exploration of the conversation.

    * Creating fewer, more expansive chapters enhances the listener experience.


    00:00Introduction and Appreciation

    01:48Early Years and Introduction to Paragliding

    • 1 hr 41 min
    #212 The Most Important Flight with Marcus King

    #212 The Most Important Flight with Marcus King

    Marcus King has been flying pretty much full time since 1991. He spent many years with the early Ozone team and has been on the design team with Cross Country Magazine for ages. All those gear and wing reviews you see in the magazine (and a TON of the photos!) are compliments of Marcus. In this chat Marcus shares his background in paragliding, his work in the industry, the rise of the sports class competitions, his involvement in the Red Bull X-Alps, and his passion for flying in the French Alps. And then we switch to a very unfortunate totally benign day back in September when Marcus hit the ground hard. Marcus shares his experience of the accident, the rescue operation, and the injuries he sustained and of course the 20-20 hindsights that are always a part of the forensics of making mistakes. He emphasizes the importance of wearing proper safety gear such as an EN certified flying helmet; always communicating with folks before you head out so people know where you are; having all your emergency gear even for the “easy” flights; and the need to respect the risks involved in paragliding with every single flight you take. Marcus discusses his rehabilitation and recovery process, highlighting the mental challenges and coping strategies he employed. Marcus also explores the impact of the accident on his family and the decision to fly again. Important lessons for everyone to hear. Enjoy!


    * Wearing proper safety gear, such as an EN certified flying helmet, is crucial in minimizing the risk of injuries during paragliding accidents.

    * Rehabilitation and recovery from paragliding injuries require patience, mental strength, and taking one day at a time.

    * The paragliding community provides valuable support and inspiration for pilots recovering from accidents.

    * Respecting the risks involved in paragliding and maintaining a cautious mindset is essential for safe flying.


    00:00Introduction and Background

    07:21Flying in the French Alps

    15:35Wing Testing and Gear Reviews

    20:06The Rise of Sports Class Competitions

    25:13The Red Bull X-Alps Experience

    32:38The Accident and Rescue

    37:37The Accident and Rescue

    39:05The Importance of Proper Safety Gear

    40:02Injuries and Hospitalization

    44:20Rehabilitation and Recovery

    45:02Mental Challenges and Coping Strategies

    46:24Lessons Learned and Safety Precautions

    49:12Guilt and Support from Family

    50:59The Decision to Fly Again

    52:23Prognosis and Recovery

    53:37Previous Accidents and Lessons

    54:17Mixed Emotions about Returning to Flying

    56:11Finding Hope and Inspiration from Other Pilots

    01:01:13The Importance of Respecting the Risks

    01:04:49The Desensitization to Accidents in the Paragliding Community

    01:06:24The Illusion of Safety in Familiar Environments

    01:09:07The Flow State and Risk Management

    01:12:18The Importance of Tracking Devices

    • 1 hr 18 min
    #211 – Jake Holland and the New Way Up

    #211 – Jake Holland and the New Way Up

    Jake Holland is a British filmmaker and adventure pilot based in Chamonix. In this episode we discuss his totally wild experiences this season and last in Pakistan with professional climbers Will Sim and Fabi Buhl, and pilots and adventurers Aaron Durogati, Antoine Girard, Veso Ovcharov and others, and the challenges of capturing these high altitude adventures on film. We discuss the mission of using paragliders as an access tool to explore remote mountains, the economics of filmmaking in the paragliding industry, and the risks and safety considerations involved. Jake shares his background in flying and filmmaking, as well as the logistics of traveling with heavy equipment. We touch on the impact of paragliding on the climbing community and the accessibility of paragliding adventures in Pakistan. Jake discusses various themes related to adventure flying and filmmaking. We discuss the importance of understanding the sky and weather conditions and the importance of backcountry knowledge. The conversation touches on Jake’s Tanzania trip with Tom de Dorlodot and Horacio Llorens, as well as the challenges of filmmaking and maintaining creative control, and the difficulties and rewards of flying in Alaska and Pakistan. The conversation concludes with a discussion on the value of slowing down and embracing the adventure of being out in nature. Enjoy!


    * Paragliders can be used as an efficient and lightweight tool to access remote mountains and explore new lines.

    * Filmmaking in the paragliding industry can be challenging due to the economics involved, but there are opportunities to collaborate with outdoor brands and create marketing films.

    * Paragliding adventures in Pakistan offer unique flying conditions, with high cloud bases and the potential for long-distance flights.

    * Flying with skis and landing in high-altitude environments requires careful piloting skills and consideration of the weather conditions.

    * Traveling with heavy camera gear and equipment can be a logistical challenge, but airlines like Turkish Airlines offer free ski bags for international flights. Understanding the sky and weather conditions is crucial for adventure flying.

    * Backcountry knowledge, especially about snow conditions, is essential for safe flying.

    * Drones have revolutionized aerial filming, providing filmmakers with unique perspectives.

    * Adventure flying is gaining popularity, attracting more people to explore remote and challenging locations.

    * French pilots are known for their daring and innovative approach to adventure sports.

    * Filmmaking in remote locations requires careful planning and balancing creative control with budget constraints.

    * Flying in Alaska presents unique challenges due to unpredictable weather and flying conditions.

    * Pakistan offers incredible flying opportunities, but conditions can vary, requiring adaptability and patience. Unplugging from technology and immersing oneself in nature and community can be a deeply fulfilling experience.

    * Exploring the Grand Canyon during the winter offers a unique and less crowded experience.

    * The Grand Canyon offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, camping, and whitewater rafting.

    * Dreaming and planning for future adventures can bring excitement and anticipation.

    • 1 hr 35 min
    #210- Louis Tapper and Reducing Carnage

    #210- Louis Tapper and Reducing Carnage

    Adventure often runs in the blood of Kiwis, and in Louis Tapper it runs thick. Long before Louis got hooked with flying he broke a world distance record in kitesurfing in Brazil and was (and remains) a pretty hard-core paddler. When he discovered flying he dug in hard. Louis competes regularly in World Cups around the world; is a 5-time New Zealand National Champion; and currently holds the out and back triangle records in New Zealand. In this episode we explore many aspects of managing risk, beginning with his epic in Brazil. We discuss the crossover between paddling and flying, best-practices for progression in paragliding, and the lessons Louis has learned from flying sailplanes. The conversation then shifts to the topic of the recently published New Zealand Safety and Accident Report, which Louis and several others researched and penned. We dive into what the comprehensive report uncovered, why it’s almost always a string of errors that lead to an accident, where the greatest change is needed, who is most at risk, and why too many accidents in paragliding, speed flying, and hang gliding keep happening. We explore the concept of human factors in accidents and the potential for applying lessons from commercial aviation to improve safety in free-flight. Turns out it remains pretty obvious: it’s the basics that can make a big difference- ground handling, launching, and landing. Louis emphasizes the importance of margin and observation in reducing accidents and the importance of personal approach, wing handling, and situational awareness. The conversation also highlights the significance of decision-making and why pilots don’t throw when they should, the risk assessment for different pilot levels, and the need for a community-based safety approach. The slow progress in changing the safety culture in New Zealand (and around the world) is acknowledged, along with the compromises in safety associated with lightweight gear. An important talk with a fun individual! Enjoy!

    To read the Safety Task Force Report go here.

    To see the FlyTop approach to safety that Louis discusses in the show go here.

    What is old is new, 20 year old recommendations for the Hang Gliding community that still stand true today.

    Éxcellent collection of safety ideas and concepts- Now in English


    French study on Paraglide instructor accident rates (turn on subtitles)


    * Persistence and thoughtful decision-making are important in extreme adventures.

    * Observation and risk management are crucial skills in paragliding, hang gliding and speed flying.

    * There is a need for better accident reporting systems and a focus on human factors in paragliding.

    * Lessons from other sports, such as backcountry skiing, can be applied to improve safety in paragliding.


    00:00 Introduction and Background

    02:32 Kitesurfing and Distance Record

    • 1 hr 25 min
    #209 Thad Spencer- the Comeback

    #209 Thad Spencer- the Comeback

    Thad Spencer returns to the Mayhem to discuss a very different topic than we did in our previous chat. A little over 18 months ago Thad went out with his friend Alex Peterson for what looked like a pretty good day to go big in western Minnesota. Alex towed up first without incident, then Thad hooked in and began to tow up and things went pretty quickly from good day to lights out. Thad discusses the selfish nature of paragliding and its impact on relationships. He also talks about his experience with the Zeno 2 glider and launching in challenging conditions. He shares his experience with emergency response and the hospital, as well as his injuries and recovery process. In this conversation we discuss various aspects of overcoming fear, taking risks, and embracing challenges as we age. We also delve into the topic of retirement and the process of redefining self-identity and finding purpose in this new phase of life. Thad shares his personal experiences and insights, highlighting the importance of confidence and the journey of releasing and rediscovering one’s identity. The conversation concludes with a humorous story about Bill Belcourt’s halo and a reflection on their shared love for flying. This is a humble and at times very funny story about bad luck, good luck, fear injury, family, pain, laughter, and returning to flying. Enjoy!



    * Overcoming fear and taking risks can lead to personal growth and new experiences.

    * Injuries can have long-lasting consequences and make individuals more cautious in certain activities.

    * Confidence is crucial in extreme sports, but it’s important to find a balance between confidence and caution.

    * Retirement can be a challenging transition, but it also offers an opportunity to redefine self-identity and find new passions and purpose.

    * Creating and making things can bring fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment in retirement.

    * Releasing and rediscovering one’s identity is a journey that takes time and self-reflection.


    00:00 Introduction and Background

    03:00 The Importance of Communication and Emergency Contacts

    06:00 The Selfish Nature of Paragliding and Its Impact on Relationships

    09:00 The Zeno 2 and Launching in Challenging Conditions

    18:00 The Accident: A Big Frontal on Tow

    26:00 Emergency Response and Hospital Experience

    32:00 Injuries and Recovery

    01:08:30 Overcoming Fear and Taking Risks

    01:09:22 The Consequences of Injury

    01:10:18 The Importance of Confidence

    01:11:07 Embracing Challenges as You Age

    01:11:37 Retirement and Self-Identity

    01:12:31 Finding Purpose in Retirement

    01:13:55 The Transition to Retirement

    01:14:49 Accepting Aging and Redefining Self-Worth

    01:16:14 The Process of Retirement

    01:17:43 Creating and Making Things

    01:19:01 Releasing and Rediscovering Identity

    01:20:33 The Journey of Retirement

    01:21:17 Walking and Reflecting

    • 1 hr 29 min
    #208 A Love Affair with Flying- Phil Hystek

    #208 A Love Affair with Flying- Phil Hystek

    Phil Hystek

    “Flat out Phil” Hystek has been instructing free flight in Australia longer than anyone. It began with a fascination of hang gliding in the 70’s, becoming a hang gliding instructor in the late 80’s in California, being “forced” into paragliding in the early 90’s and his energizer batteries are going stronger than ever today. Phil has racked up 171,000 meters of vertical ascent in his back yard to date this year (at age 65!), just returned from a 4 weeks of vol-biv flying in Bir, India and is a story teller for the ages. We travel the world, meet the legends, pull off the absurd in Telluride, pack it hard in Bali, and find out who thrives in this sport and who should maybe take up a different activity. Sit back, crack a cold XXXX and enjoy, this one will have you in stitches!

    Phil’s bivvy site in India

    • 2 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
213 Ratings

213 Ratings

TheKindG ,

Remarkable variety, incredible depth

As a new student of Paragliding, I find these podcasts to provide an amazing variety of topics covered and Gavin & his guests delve in with sophistication & detail. I’ve learned much beyond what I could have previously ever imagined. And excellent production, editing & audio quality. Worth ‘the buck a show’ I’m donating.
Thx, Gavin for this labor of love. Will Johnson, Port Angeles, WA

TheCuddy ,

Awesome show,must listen

It’s an awesome show and great to hear so much info from so many different pilots

ATCJimbob ,

The preeminent podcast for paragliding enthusiasts

I became interested in paragliding 4 years ago and naturally sought out as much information as possible to whet my appetite for the sport.
What I found in the Cloudbase Mayhem podcasts has far exceeded my expectations.
Insightful, compelling and fun interview with pilots, trainers, authors and filmmakers from all aspects of the sport. Gavin McClurg's interview style is remarkably easy to listen to and enjoyable and I find myself referring to past episodes as I grow in experience.
Give it a listen, you won't be disappointed!

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