The youngest person to fly from Telluride, Colorado.  September 16, 1988.

Launch is over 12,000 ft above sea level, and we climbed to almost 17,000 ft- the landing zone is around 9,000 ft.  Check out the tandem on a double surface glider (Wills Wing Sport I think?).  Dad still nailed the landing, of course. #respect #thanksdad! #experienceofalifetime #noonebeforeorsince #rememberitalways



Deer Valley Pow Turns

A fun Throwback Thursday video:

My first year working at Deer Valley, I was a videographer (NOT! a ski instructor).

Best compliment/insult I got that year?  “You ski like a really good PATROLLER.  It’s all wrong, but you look great doing it”

After becoming an instructor and pursuing certification… that comment is all the more funny, because I see exactly what they mean!

Just goes to show- there’s plenty of fun to be had even if your technique isn’t great… that’s one of my favorite things about skiing!  As I became more and more focused on technique, a lot of the fun got lost… but now that I’m out of the biz, and only ski a couple times each year… damn I have a lot of fun again!



I got Paco’d… and it was awesome!

Yesterday I met up with our local paragliding ambassador and all-around cool dude, Paco, for a tandem flight.  He had a demo wing on loan, and was looking for some baggage to fly with… er… I mean, a willing pilot-passenger.  There’s a pretty short list of people I will fly with as the passenger… but Paco is on that list.  He’s a great pilot- but that’s not why.  He’s smart, SUPER smart… he’s calculating… and he’s conservative.  Flying “safely” is a fine art of blending self awareness, critical analysis, and brutal honesty with yourself… with managing decision making and flight choices that keep one *well* within reach of 100% reliably positive outcomes.  In other words, know your limits, stay within them- and know how much you might not know, and stay at the very least that much farther within your limits.  I’ve seen and flown with Paco long enough now to know- he “gets it”.  And he’s a good pilot, flying good (docile and reliable) gear for that just-in-case “shit happens” scenario…

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Hanging out in front of Ellenville Flight Park launch

Anyway- it was a morning of great fun and many smiles.  Lots of story sharing and general friend-finding that comes with the awesome people drawn to flying off mountains with kites.

If anyone in the NY area is looking for a tandem guy, or an instructor who really gets it, I can’t endorse Paco enough.  He’s not really teaching or tandemizing as anything but a hobby… but that makes him even better, because it’s purely about the love of flight and people…

Turning on final for a soft landing

This was actually my first paraglider tandem… and with my tourist hat on, I couldn’t help but fly with the GoPro-on-a-stick 🙂



TBT: Backcountry Pow Turns

Short video Des took of me, from the Alta parking lot if I remember correctly… skiing the ridge (backcountry) that faces West at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Circa 2008 or so?

There’s something really special about hiking (touring) up a rugged mountain line, especially doing it alone.  Yea yea, I know touring alone is dangerous and yada yada… but the special thing is where your mind goes, alone and in that setting.

There’s also something very, very memorable for this New York boy, ripping top-to-bottom first track fresh… Skiing in-bounds was never quite as sweet after this.  And with this run, came the realization I could ski all sorts of unique places around the Wasatch! (Laziness and a strong self-preservation instinct shut down most of the lines I eyed over the years in Utah)



Wills Wing T2C “Sundancer” for sale – $4800

This has been, hands down, the best glider I have ever owned or flown!  I’ve never had so many amazing, memorable experiences in such a short span of time as I have since getting this wing.  It’s been a wild ride!HGPGcover1307

But, like all good rides, they must come to an end.  In addition to flying, photography/video is a passion of mine… and I feel it’s time for a new “look”… I’ve debated just purchasing a new sail for the current frame, but this sail could get another season or two or maybe more if well cared for… so I’d hate for it to end up on a shelf in my basement.  It’s too sweet a wing for that, and it’s been too good to me for such a sad early retirement due to ego-vanity  😉

“Sundancer” T2C 144, serial # 40410
Sail manufacture date 4/8/2011

  • Sail is UVPT White (not the cool clear stuff, but excellent visibility in flight)
  • Includes all the T2C standard issue goodness: Carbon aft LE’s, carbon sprogs, carbon-kevlar LE inserts, carbon speed bar (LOVE!) and 12mm battens.
  • Additional upgrades: Carbon keel “stinger”, carbon fiber raked tip extensions, and “World Team” carbon downtubes (slightly narrower profile than even the Slipstream legs- very slightly more performance at speed, and lots more bling).
  • Sail has no more than 300 hours on it, with plenty of life left in it.  It’s always been super babied, and the UV-stabilized Mylars are lasting as long as Dacron these days- with the added benefit of 0-stretch.  It still performs outstanding- I saw no disadvantage in glide flying side-by-site with Zac, Dustin, Jonny, et al last September… and this glider put me finishing 6th overall.
  • All general maintenance is up-to-date; Side wires and tip wands were recently replaced.
  • Original and one-of-a-kind (except for my matching Falcon4) sail colors look great up close and from afar.  Photographs well and gets lots of positive attention everywhere I go 🙂

$4800.

  • Glider is located in Ellenville, NY and is available for test flight to serious buyers.
  • I am willing to pack and ship (no charge to pack, buyer pays shipping)… but would strongly prefer not to!
  • If you are interested or have questions I can be reached using the ‘Contact’ link above.

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*I will not sell this glider to a new or unqualified pilot.  If you’re not a H4 or higher rated pilot, and I don’t know you, please ask an instructor or mentor to endorse this transaction*



Why does USHPA need insurance, anyway?!

In a recent conversation with another pilot, he was stating that none of the land owners where he flies have asked or care about insurance.  This isn’t the case everywhere, obviously… but this pilot’s experience isn’t entirely unique, either.  There’s a number of sites that don’t have insurance, and are more-or-less unregulated…

I’d like to suggest a reason to insure a site, whether the land owner requires it or not.

There has been a lot of talk of supporting the RRG fundraiser, supporting USHPA, supporting free flight (hang gliding and paragliding).  I’d like to introduce a different, much more personal, perspective… Being good people, doing the right thing, and taking care of the most important things in this world- our family and friends.

(more…)



Landing Last Sunday

Here’s a short clip, thanks to John Morse, of my first hang glider landing in 2016.  It’s great to be alive! 🙂

Last Sunday was a decent flyable day at Ellenville.  Not the first of the year, but probably the most friendly air I’ve had yet this year. (more…)



Why RRG Will Succeed Where Past Insurance Failed

First, the background- extremely abbreviated- hang gliding and paragliding is an inherently risky activity.  While it is also something we can do quite safely through proper training and diligence, the risk potential is always there.  For this reason, among others, the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) has provided 3rd party liability insurance to all members.  This insurance is a necessary level of protection because most of the places we fly, we would be considered a liability to landowners and anyone nearby.

Recently, the provider of our insurance policy issued a notice of non-renewal, leaving us looking for a solution to a potentially VERY big problem.  There are a number of reasons for discontinuing our coverage, but let’s keep it simple and say that it was either too costly or at least not profitable enough to the insurance provider to insure us.  The insurance provider USHPA has been using was actually the *ONLY* provider willing to insure them… which complicates things further- when the last bar in town closes, where do you go to get a drink?

Home!  USHPA has considered self-insuring for quite a while, but the capital necessary to get that started is large… and the formation of such a thing wasn’t quite worth not just going with the insurance we had.  With the notice of non-renewal, this has changed.  It’s still a big amount of money, and a big pain in the butt honestly, BUT this will be much, much better for us if we pull it off…

For more information about the plan to self-insure by forming a Risk Retention Group (“RRG”), USHPA’s site has good info and FAQ’s HERE

A question I am hearing often, and I would like to address: Why will the new RRG insurance be successful when our past insurance failed???  This is a great question, and something we should all logically be asking before investing our money into the RRG fundraiser.  I haven’t seen a DETAILED answer to that question- and I think it’s holding a lot of people back from financially supporting this- so let’s answer it right here and now! (more…)



Freeing Scotty T

Today I released Scotty’s ashes from a couple thousand feet over where he loved to fly.  It was a beautiful day to be out and up in the air, he would have been so excited to fly today.  It was pretty surreal flying “with” him… and it was hard to let him go, too…

But I think he’d be really happy to know we did this for him… Fly forever my friend!

RV



Films Promoting Free Flight

Let’s face it- aviation in general is not for everyone.  And only a subset of those interested in flight, are looking to do so without a motor.  And of that segment, only some are looking to fly easily portable, foot-launch and landable wings.

But, while being a realist for a moment, I think we also need to recognize that there are plenty of people that WOULD be interested in hang gliding and paragliding… if not for their fictitious pre-conceived notion of these activities.

This means, we shouldn’t just be trying to reach those likely to be interested in hang gliding and paragliding… we need to show that larger group what hang gliding and paragliding has to offer THEM.  And to show what we’re all about, and what flying has to offer the individual willing to take on the responsibility of flight… we need FILM!

If a picture is worth a thousand words… and a video is 24 or 30 pictures every second… then how many words is an entire film about hang gliding worth.  Forget words, words are cheap.  WHAT IS AN ENTIRE FILM DEDICATED TO THE FUN AND THE BEAUTY OF HANG GLIDING WORTH?!

To a sport with limited participants, limited industry, and limited resources… it is my opinion that a film like that is worth more than money could ever represent.

Luckily for us, there is not one, but TWO film projects just like this on the horizon!  And they need our help if they are going to happen.  What can you afford to give?  Better question- if you love flying like I do, can we afford to have these films NOT happen (or happen in a half-budgeted way where they don’t achieve their potential)?

The first film is called The Rhythm of Flight and it features two highly skilled, young, and energetic pilots (Wolfi Seiss and Jonas Lobitz).  Production is being led by the highly experienced and capable Tony Ritter.
More info is available here: http://www.rhythmofflight.com/
They were funding on indigogo.com, but only reached 35% of their goal before they had to start production.  They are currently on the road, flying and filming on location.  I’m sure they could still use your financial support to improve their product!

The second film is actually a resurrection of a project that started a few years ago- Dreaming Awake– led by David Aldrich.  Dave’s a hang glider pilot with an aerospace engineering degree, and his “day job” is making high-end professional cinema tools for filmmakers.  All of these skills result in what is most likely the most beautiful, cinematic images ever captured of our sport.  The initial push for Dreaming Awake ran into some snags, and never came to be for a multitude of reasons.  This is particularly shameful, because Dave had made massive personal investments into Dreaming Awake, chartering helicopters and cineflex cameras to shoot breathtaking aerials.  His out-of-pocket expenses were easily 5-digits, possibly closer to 6?  Well, good news, the Dreaming Awake project is alive again, with lessons learned from the last round, he’s recollected and more focused than ever.  At this stage the project NEEDS our funding, or it won’t happen.
We, as a community, can not afford for this film to not happen!
For more info, and to support Dreaming Awake: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1262624297/dreaming-awake-web-series

When I learned of The Rhythm of Flight project from Wolfi, and that they might make their way up to my neighborhood in Ellenville, NY… and might need help shooting while here… that pushed me over the edge on upgrading a lot of my gear.  I’ve put in over $3,000 of my own money into making sure I’m properly outfitted to help.  Sure, I have some projects of my own to shoot, too… but they weren’t enough to justify the upgrade.  Rhythm of Flight is.

Then I learned about the resurrection of Dreaming Awake.  I contributed the day the kickstarter was posted… and frankly I’m considering giving more.  I’m in the hang gliding business… my “income” is laughable.  Interns probably take home more than me.  The point is- I’m not suggesting anyone do anything I haven’t already done, and plan to do again- SUPPORT THESE FILMS.

I respect that every dollar you have is hard-earned… and everyone involved in these projects understands that… but I also know that hang gliding gives us all something greater than words can say, and greater than money can buy.  To fund these projects is to open people’s eyes to the life experiences they could be having, in free flight.  And damnit, isn’t that more important than your Starbucks or a steak dinner?  To me, it sure is…