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 139- Rico Chandra and developing Superpowers
Rico Chandra is a Swiss pilot and musician who started flying 28 years ago. He’s recently popped up at the top of XContest and this past August he completed a 1,000 km solo vol biv across the Alps from Zurich to Slovenia. Rico has developed some really fantastic ground rules for keeping it between the lines when flying in his long accident-free history. In this episode we talk about his “superpower” that we should all develop ourselves; appropriate (and inappropriate) gear for a bivvy; preventing procedural mistakes by developing good processes; managing resources; necessary preparation before departure; his “hierarchy of 5 types of bad outcomes”; how we can develop skills to remove peer pressure; and his “rules of thumb” that help define the line when it comes to making decisions. I really enjoyed this conversation and hope you do too!
Some fun links:
* Vlog of Rico’s trip:
The journal entries include links to the xcontest tracks & descriptions of each day’s the route
* Rico’s blog is hosted on paraworld’s website
Includes packing list (including the weight of each item)
* All flights are also on xcontest: https://www.xcontest.org/2020/world/en/pilots/detail:rchandra
I did some serious analyzing during and after my volbiv trip in August (1000 km to Slovenia) that might be of interest to your audience, for example:
Mistakes I made: A lot of them were procedural and can be prevented by good processes. For example, pedantically checking I didn’t leave anything behind every time I set down my pack, no exceptions. Or managing water & power resources. Or installing maps before running out of cell phone coverage.
Also learned from mistakes in equipment choice.
I also set up a hierarchy for 5 types of outcomes of bad decisions, ranging from getting hurt (avoidance has highest priority) to looking bad (committed to not giving this any weight at all).
Also, and this relates not just to vol biv but free flying in general, I work with a set of “rules of thumb” that help me assess where to draw the line in my decision making. I’ve been keeping these “rules of thumb” as hypotheses and keep vetting them with every new experience. I have a rule of thumb how far to hike up before launching on a volbiv trip. I’ve also decided to discard some earlier hypotheses in the past, like “you’ll always find some place to land somehow.”
Mentioned in the Show:
Matt Scutter, SkySight, Eric Bader, Tim Pentreath, Josh Cohn
Episode 138- Nik Hawks and Expectations
Nik Hawks returns to the Mayhem in response to the pilot survey we put out a couple months ago to take on a whole bunch of topics you, our listeners asked for. We broke this wide-ranging show into four main parts- Nik’s answers a bunch of questions about his own sometimes frustrating progression and how he’s had to adjust his own expectations in the sport in order to avoid being a “dangerous pilot”; I answer questions from Nik about a recent interesting discussion he had with a new pilot on launch; we revisit some of the takeaways from the Kiwi SAR effort in Nevada; and finally Nik interviews me about the upcoming Red Bull X-Alps, my own progression choices over the years, what makes a “dangerous” vs a “safe” pilot, gear choices for hike and fly and a lot more. We had a ton of fun with this show and hope you enjoy it!
* Survey results:
* 60% of our listeners fly less than 100 hours a year & almost 80% identify as intermediate or beginner.
* Most listeners into XC
Questions for Nik
* How many hours do you have now?
* Why hasn’t your progression been faster?
* why don’t you fly more?
* why don’t you do more SIV?
* What’s your longest XC?
* Do you consider yourself a dangerous pilot?
* What “needs to change” in the world of free flight, if anything?
* If you had 8 weeks over the spring and summer to do any flights anywhere in the world, what would they be?
* What would you tell your 50 hour self?
* What do you wish the new pilots on the hill would do more?
* How have you handled reckless pilots on your hill?
* Biggest eye opener/change of approach or attitude from when you first got into flying vs now. IE – what were the early misconceptions (“I’d like to race in the 2019 RBXA vs the reality”)
* Tips for finding a good mentor? And…what makes a good mentor?
* Top three frustrations in your progression
(local P3 new pilot w/100 hours, questions)
* self taught, started flying at beginning of lockdown
* kited solo for a month
* flybubble, GoPro everything then ask another pilot for feedback, read the Art of Paragliding and other books, researched online stuff
* launching lee side into 18 mph wind thinking it was fine, got lucky
* “I’m often the lowest pilot, and lately I’ve been sinking out without warning. If the wind shuts off, I’m f****d.”
* tips on sidehill landings, because that’s where I get hurt
* is it better to pick a safe spot and aim for that, or is it better to figure out the wind and land into the wind?
* wind direction without indicators, how do you figure it out?
* multiple intermediate syndromes
* there’s not just one time that you realize you don’t know shit. It happens over and over.
* I hurt myself on a launch after 60 launches and realized I got lucky 60 times
* I’m psyched out on landing; every landing is an event now and it used to be something I looked forward to
* I only get one shot at the “tricky” landings, which makes them even more nerve-wracking.
* I have at least 50 landings “on the carpet”, but I missed twice and now I’m psyched out about it
* I can stick 5 out of 10 landings on the box at Torrey. I don’t want to practice those at Torrey because then people will think I’m incompetent.
* breaking hours up to ridge soaring (10 hours) & mountain hours (90 hours)
* Should we have seen him?
* What were our lessons learned?
* gear (having a tertiary location backup)- 2 min tracking
* comms, command, control (Telegram was amazing)
* community really rallied. Was Kiwi that special, or can we expect that every time? USE US FIRST!
* What was the best part of the SAR for you?
* Other than Kiwi crashing,
Episode 137- Kirsten Seeto and Making the Jump
Australian pilot Kirsten Seeto has turned her dreams into her reality. By simplifying her life, making some calculated bold decisions, and focusing on airtime over a paycheck and on lifestyle over work she’s carved out what many seek but few achieve. In this wide-ranging inspiring podcast Kirsten shares how we can make flying a lot more inclusive; how to get mentors; the power of being vulnerable; how to behave and interact on launch; finding a mentor; why the sport is so dominated by men; creating events that appeal to more pilots rather than just racing for speed; when (and how) to give advice and empowering who you’re giving it to; the importance of role models in the sport; how to find help especially when you’re new; the infamous “Bikini-gate” from 2015; how to “be brave” in our community; creating a free-flight oriented lifestyle; the tiny house movement; simplifying life; what paragliding teaches us about life; the complexities of fear; unlocking “freezing”; listening…well to your gut and a lot more. Enjoy!
* Altitude with attitude, Kirsten’s website and her fly-ins (https://www.altitudewithattitude.info/)
* Kirsten gets her aviation license when she was 16
* The Tiny House movement (https://www.lilliputliving.com/)
* The “Waypoint Challenge” in Australia- a different way (FUN!) to run comps: https://www.turnpointchallenge.com.au/
* Travel and paragliding
* How we can make paragliding more inclusive
* Why the male domination in flying?
* How to give advice to pilots on launch
* Role models
* How to get help, especially when you’re new
* Lifestyle over work
* The complexities of fear
Mentioned in the Show:
Advanced Paragliding, Cross Country Magazine, Rico Chandra, Jason Lauritzen, Brian Webb, Cedar Wright, John Brassil, Isabella Messenger, Adel Honti, Marko Hrgetic Hrga, Bruce Goldsmith, Ed Ewing, Reavis Sutphin-Gray
Episode 136- Rene Falquier and the ABC’s of Glider Design
Many of our listeners have been requesting more shows on gear and especially what goes into wing design. Here you go! Rene Falquier recently completed a year-long aeronautics and engineering thesis with BGD in France. In this episode we dive into how a wing comes to fruition. How much is science vs craft? How much is wing development driven by design philosophy? How does the design process work? And critically- does knowing anything about wing design help us become better pilots? You be the judge! Rene and I had a blast with this show, and I learned a ton. We’re trying something new out starting with this show after getting all the great podcast survey responses by dropping in a tip at the top of every show- let us know what you think and enjoy!
Here are the links to Rene’s thesis if you want to take a deep dive!:
Here is the Base 2 tech video we discuss in the show from 1:01:37 to 1:02:37:
* A review of travel and medevac (repatriation) insurance best practices with Bianca Heinrich
* The thesis, sailplanes, aeronautics
* Design tools manufacturers use
* Technology in wings
* Changing the degrees of freedom
* Paragliding design and surfboard design
* The design loop and possibly eliminating prototypes
* How do gliders improve and is something as radical as the Sharknose in our future?
* What about test pilots?
* Objective vs human criteria of a glider
* The “black art” of design
* The certification process and the cost involved in bringing a wing to market
* The roadblocks to wing progression
* The fluid structure interaction- lift and drag and aerodynamics
* Does understanding design help us pilot better? Analysis vs feel
* Confidence in design
* Risk and attitude
* Flying polars- get off the brakes! How much bar?
Mentioned in the Show:
Nik Hawks, Bruce Goldsmith, Bianca Heinrich, Eduardo Garza, InReach, Garmin, SPOT, GEOS, IMG Signature, Global Rescue, World Nomads, DogTag, JD Castile, BGD Designs, Felipe Rezende, Gin Gliders, PWC, Tom Lalise, Niviuk, Ozone, Torrey Pines, Kari Castle, Malin Lobb, FlyEO, Chrigel, Aaron Durogati
Episode 135 – Tim Pentreath and Vol Biv
Tim Pentreath has been flying paragliders for over 30 years. The new frontier for Tim’s flying the last few years has been multi-day bivvy trips in the Alps and this episode is dedicated to that art form in flying. The gear; the skills; setting appropriate objectives; how to prepare; where to go on your first bivvy; how to keep it simple; what you need to know; comfort vs going light; food tips; safety tips; what to know before you go; weather resources; where to camp; tips for flying near wind turbines, communication tips and team tracking, when to go; and a lot more. Thinking of doing some bivvy? Listen up! Happy New Year everyone!
Check out some of Tims wonderful bivvy and flying videos on his YouTube Channel.
Tim’s bivvy kit list can be viewed here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UFX_2WcF-veRY6AHSlbYLCw3tmg1b71bPrRibLDHLaQ/edit
* Your first bivvy
* Gear tips- food, equipment, kit, comfort
* Tim’s epic first day of the first trip in the Maritimes Alps from Col De Bleine
* More tips on kit- phone, external battery, charging, etc.
* Weather resources
* Wind turbine tips, route and weather planning
* How to communicate and track your team
* To league or not to league?
* A story of regret- go for it!
Mentioned in the Show:
Jocky Sanderson, Ed Ewing, XCMagazine, Will Gadd, Nigel Cooper, Greg Hammerton, Nick Neynens, XCTracer, Advance, Ferdy Van Shelven, Paul Guschlbauer, Bruce Marks, Chris Ashtown, Chrigel, Patrick Von Kanel, Reavis Sutphin-Gray, FlySkyHy, Telegram, Garmin_Outdoor, Benjamin Jordan, UK XContest League
Episode 134- Martin Henry and a lifelong pursuit
Need a good laugh? Kick back and listen to Martin Henry, a Canadian Hang glider and paraglider who has been chasing free flight for almost 50 years tell some really fun stories. Get on board as we travel around the world, learn how to thermal, fly triangles, retrieve your significant other, fly competitions, compete in the Worlds, compete in the Worlds with your wife!, figure it out, crash, tumble, bomb out, send it, learn, and drink a nice cold beer with your friends after yet another wonderful day at cloudbase. This episode is pure joy and filled with tons of great advice and great learning thrown in regardless of where you are in the sport and what you hope to achieve. This show is an educational, entertaining BLAST- enjoy!
Check out this 1975 era hang gliding footage that Martin put together (this was off a VHS folks, so give the sound a break!).
* The issues in the beginning. “This product can, may, and will fail under any and all circumstances.”
* “These gliders were VERY efficient at killing people”
* How Mansfield, WA came into the picture
* The wow factor of the Washington flats
* Open distance on a rigid wing spells “divorce”
* Flying triangles
* The golden age of hang gliding
* What got folks back in the day and “survivor bias”
* What the early pilots brought from sailplane knowledge
* Competition flying
* Flying in the Alps
* Maintaining control- don’t give up
* Is paragliding heading the same way as hang gliding?
* “Flying? You should maybe think about taking up heroin!”
* The early days of comps
* Chasing records
* Hard lessons
* Fear injuries and how to recover
* How relaxed should we be? You have to feel the wing
* How does our relationship with risk change as we age?
* “I’m a mediocre pilot who tries to fly safely”. Don’t ignore your own skills, or the reality of the day.
* Transferable skills between different aircraft
* Don’t be a passenger
* Stories of Larry Tudor (1:23:00)
* Be wary of distraction- getting away with it until you don’t
Mentioned in the Show:
Malin Lobb, Bastienne Wentzel, Nik Hawks, Miguel Gutierrez, Larry Tudor, Stewart Midwinter, Charlie Baughman, Kari Castle, Willi Mueller, Chris Mueller, Alex Raymont, Wills Wing, Moyes, Aeros, Barry Bateman, Davis Straub, Brad Gunnuscio, Nicole McLearn, Joe Bostik, Manfred Ruhmer, Chrigel Maurer, Jeff Shapiro, Russ Ogden, Jeff Farrell, Randy Campadore, Chris Santacroce
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I just finished my P2 in Santa Barbara after soaking up the podcast for the last few months. First mountain flight from Skyport to Parma was mind-blowing! Lucked out on the conditions and bumbled into plenty of lift on the way down. Joined a few hawks thermalling up from the Monastery ridge and had a spiritual moment when I started smelling the cloud vapor up at base with the birds calling back and forth on either side of me. Was totally overwhelmed at the improbability and awesomeness of it all and broke down sobbing for a few minutes up there in the wispies.
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It’s hard to estimate risk without much experience, so for now I’m trying to harness the positive power of negative thinking, and brainstorm all the ways a potential flight could go badly, and then honestly ask myself if I have the skills to handle it. If the answer is only 99% yes, then that’s not nearly good enough and I’ll stay on the ground.
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