36 observations in 5 expeditions

Recent Observations

6 Days of Flying back to back. Testing biometric sensor vest, and two sensors for pressure mapping of the wing. Jakob and I traveled the valley with our magical backpacks. I love Colombia.

Free Flight Lab Returns!After serving on a NASA review panel I was able to get tickets ~450$ round trip to Colombia. Packing Gear! Can't bring as much instrumentation as I hoped. Some of my atmospheric sensors are not complete. Very much my fault. Have two new sensors from mbientLab for IMU and atmospheric data and will instrument myself for biometrics using Hexoskin. I really hoped to have high quality humidity sensing to show cloud base digitally. Very limited gear for a week of flying and camping

After a night of discussing forecasts, the collective group of pilots decided to attempt a Hike and Fly of Mt Tamalpais. At 7:15AM I was surprised by frost on my car and had to scrape it off!! in Mt View. I hope people covered their plants! Sail Tactics puts out a 1:00AM 2 day wind forecast and a 7:45AM day of which is ultra-high res at 200meters. The 1:00AM looked like there would be a flyable window from 9AM-2:30PM. I picked up Jon and headed to the Fire Station at Stinson Beach. As Pilots we have to sign in at Pan Toll Station first. Crossing the golden gate the observations matched the predictions with a less 5 knots to Light/Variable. Mt Tam. Offers views of the Farralon Islands, Point Reyes, Pacifica, and the Interior Bay including San Francisco, Angel Island and Mt Diablo. Basically the whole Bay! Over the last week the Area was impacted by a number of Storms, bringing rain and wind. Typically in the days following storms the air mass in unstable and flying conditions can be very good. Free Flight Lab is interested in capturing conservation data of the Lagoon. I plan to monitor and detect any possible Algae blooms and observe changes in the land due to tidal changes. Looking at the new forecast it seemed like the flyable window got shorter and the new wind came in sooner and stronger then the 2-day. The hike is beautiful. At Launch you could see some breeze start to spill over the point and fill in along Stinson beach. I believe in the forecast so I was prepared to Launch. As my friends made fun of my habit to launch early I saw birds and could feel the air. It was about to be time. I took off and was able to soar the faces near launch in the fresh breeze. The breath from the mountain changed and it was time to move on. I aimed for the next ridge, sunny faces, steep terrain, looking for shadows because on the hike we saw that the grass was still covered in frost. Thermal Gradients make for good thermal triggers. I was tricked into turning in a little bubble and the gains did not match the losses. Time to leave the ridge. At this point this line can be nerve racking, I chose to attempt to hook a thermal and now had to glide efficiently over the trees to the next ridge. I made it easily, but... without local knowledge it looks like there is no good way out if you get too low. Actually there is, but it not a great option. It would probably be fine, but not worth taking chances. Arriving at the Main Ridge I worked light bubbles along the shadow lines and tree lines.. Alternating sides as the mountain breathed. Finally at the last moment before pushing out to the beach... I hooked one, not a bubble but a nice continuous source of lift. Coring it to ~2600ft I was able to see the whole bay area. I flew over to where I launched, said Hi then proceeded to play in the sky with friends both hawks and pilots until my fingers froze! I took a flight path north to investigate the Lagoon. Floating along lifty lines I flew over coastal highway 1. For an hour I took to the skies flying on invisible elevators, and after landing on the beach I went up for seconds, this time as a Tandem Passenger to help a friend train, and look at the possibilities of flying passengers and equipment for Free Flight Lab. What a great day exploring a local Microclimate. We Flew from 11AM-2:30pm It ended up being a bit of a blend of both forecasts. The transitions and timing were spot on. Tomorrow Windy Hill.

Many of these posts have shown what happens when you get it right. From the last one I was reminded to be honest about missing a day, or two.Dec 23rd it was raining in the south bay. On the 24th. Post frontal. Wet. Cold. Muddy Hike. The last few weeks have all been muddy. I have a hole in my shoe and more excuses to follow.. Looking at the forecast it looked like a super early window, and I had already woken up late. As the normal sky crew started to fall apart. It looked like strong winds would come in and it could get blown out. (too windy). Many stayed in the comfort of their warm homes! pshhh... and we want to be explorers and adventures! anyway. we saw on the camera that the Hang Gliders were out in force. On windy days they get to play. However it's not clear that it was too windy for us. Two paraglider pilots went, but I think they launched early. Good job Hang gliders! Some of the guys and gals who hang glide are actual geniuses so... we aren't the only sky people to nail the timing. Social dynamics sorta allowed our groups flights to stall on the couch. Both Dec 24th and Dec 25th looked fun. Here is a view from the HG perspective.

Yesterday was a strange, but informative experience. With many people free for the holidays it was possible to get a couple pilots out to Mission Peak for a chilly hike and fly. It looked like the East winds would die and give a moment to take off. Well.. It was literally a moment. 3-5 minutes. What happened?Looking at the sail tactics 200m model in the morning it looked like the bay was mostly light and variable until 2-3pm. The model shows surface winds so it is used to integrate into what the day might do. To me it looked like 2:30pm was the time to launch. I also say this because it is around max solar heating. The sky was very clear so heating would be good. The bay temperature is 51 degrees F per FTPC1 NOAA station. When I got in my car to drive to mission the air temperature said 47 degrees!. The bay has the potential to be the heat source, legend has it that the glider pilots use the bay to fly to the Golden Gate and to Diablo! crazy! I arrived at 12:20pm and felt that I was on the early side as the wind sock at launch was clearly over the back (OTB). Simon had hiked about 20min earlier and was reporting that it was OTB at 2nd and 3rd bench he also mentioned the Cows were freaking out. In the parking lot, and as I started my hike I could feel warm sun, and upslope flow. With a slight southerly component. I contributed this to the sunny south slopes. Yes all the cows were screaming to each other non-stop. I have never heard or seen something like this. I worked on a dairy farm when I was a teen. Super strange. Maybe a wookie cry for Princess Leia. At 2nd bench the flow was upslope. I felt as if I was walking with the transition. Maybe I nailed the timing!! South Faces had good cycles pumping up the sunny terrain. Birds started skying out in the mixing OTB and upslope convergence. Near the peak now. I think this could be great... 3rd bench upslope. 4th bench upslope. right near the end of the hike it felt pretty neutral. I caught up with SteFrank, and as I walked to launch I could feel the tail end of the OTB. YES!! nailed it..... or did we.. Got to launch. Talked about walking to a slightly different launch area to catch the sunny south face cycle. Started talking.. The sock went limp. Took pictures to celebrate being right about the timing. Still talking.. Upslope cycles. Looks like it was all coming together. Jakob showed up. We had chatted how he was delayed but would probably be perfect timing at the top. Looked up at the sun, and there was very high cloud that started to block the sun......... and almost immediately... the pumping breathing sunny faces shut down and the wind went OTB... Dont worry it will come back.... Nope. solid OTB. No hope for the sun to come out. Options: Walk Down, Shoot the Gap in a light cycle, East Launch (the peak east launch no longer exists due to crowds), or be innovative. I took my wing to the top of launch and kited it towards the east. I played on the hill and surfed/soared the back little features. It was really fun and good kiting practice. High ground speed on one leg, to side hill landings.. Trail below and plenty of space. fun to hop around. joined by some little birds. I love multi-species friends. It seemed very reasonable to actually take off and fly the opposite side of the mountain. The East Peak Launch is closed, but we were playing at the normal launch area. Some pilots have thought and dreamed about soaring the Dark side for awhile. It seems in some ways safer than shooting the gap, as you have more terrain clearance, and an opportunity to gain altitude by flying the terrain. I bounced my way over to the ridge and learned so much about the topography. It's amazing how many times I have flown there, but never really noticed how the features work on the reverse side. A lovely little bowl sits on the back side of the main ridge. I took off and took a line farther north then I have gone to date. After turning around the ridge I pushed out as far as I could to avoid any possible rotor. I thought that the houses and their furnaces would let me find some additional lift. Turning the corner was funny, because I have never seen the terrain and water tower from that angle. I was low and north, far from the LZ. There is plenty of safe landing options over there, but would need to hike back. I found some lift that was strong and a bit broken. I scooped up some meters and was able to not only make the LZ, but get to the R/C hill to look for some last lift. Pretty incredible how fast things can change. Just a thin layer in front of the sun fundamentally changed the microclimate I was in. Imagine the impact of smog and industry emissions on our microclimates. It's pretty nuts. There is a weather station at the middle peak of Mt Tam that tells you the solar radiation. Check it out. After landing we were greeted by a curious brown calf. Looked like it wanted a nibble of the bright ripstop nylon. I joke and call all the calfs MooCowCows. ahahahah joke to self.. At the end of the day we took an innovative line, learned just how sensitive timing is, and to be ready and stop yapping!!!! I'd like to make temporary micro weather stations and deploy them all over mission for a given period of time. To model and validate our site. Time to write more grant applications! Feel free to share and tell others about Free Flight Lab!

This was a fun week of chasing forecasts. The day after Windy, Windy Hill Sunday. I attempted the flight again with Jakob. We quickly hiked Windy Hill on Monday to find 23mph winds at the top. While it was possible to go downhill and launch. It was as risky as the day before. We hiked down.Windy Hill is an East wind site. The winds were predicted to flip to west around Thursday. The bat symbol was put up and those that could, rearranged meetings for Thursday the day after the Solstice. Minimal Sun, but there was a moment that coordinated well with the flip from East winds to West winds. At 10am Thursday, Sail Tactics showed that in the south bay the winds would go neutral and start to fill in around 2:30-3pm I ran some errands in Berkeley and made it to the parking lot at Mission Peak at 1:20pm. I think I'm going to nail the timing, if the 200m forecast was right. . The landing zone already shows early west, but the windsock at launch was clearly over the back (OTB). During the first part of the hike I could feel cycles coming up slope, but for the last half of the hike I felt wind pouring over OTB. In the final stretch I saw birds on the Sunny West Faces of the Peak. From past experience the peak flips first due to its prominence and its blocking effect, combined with rocks that face the sun. When there was a peak launch I have taken off West while the normal launch windsock still blows OTB. There is a gap near launch which delays the flip in wind direction until everything has spilled out of the gap. When I got to launch one pilot had taken off in the OTB trying to get a thermal out front off the lower ridges. He actually failed and was a little too early. Trusting the forecast I knew it was prudent to wait. Looking out onto the Bay it was one of the clearest days I have seen in a long time. From Mission you could see all the buildings of San Francisco, Oakland, Mt Tam, and up past San Quintin. So... Clear.. On the water at the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges you could see a west flow starting to fill in the south bay, very similar to the trend and coverage Sail Tactics Predicted. I also knew that the cycles closer to the peak can work before the normal launch and ridge features. I prepared my gear and walked south past the trail and to a place that previously I have caught thermals in an OTB wind flipping time. (I know that's a bunch of words crammed together) This unique effect is part of why I started FFRL. I know that future cities and architecture will consider small geometrical and thermal effects to build balanced or advantageous microclimates. The wind sock showed no wind.. but I felt cycles. I kited my wing, then launched. Hugging the terrain I was able to soar up in light bubbles. Two pilots remained only a couple meters below me and had no wind to kite their wings into. I was not much higher then them, but was able to connect with the fresh cycle and take it up above launch. Pure Magic!!! The rest of the flight was as gentle and remarkable as this first thermal. On the hikes I like to watch the eagles and hawks. They fly with a certain style depending on the day. They were floating along and patiently thermalling. I don't have good word to describe, but I copy them. It pays off. I was able to work light, very light bubbles, and chase them as they drifted and connected with other bubbles from sunny faces. I want to share how I see this. I want to find the right words to onboard everyone. only 100,000 people on earth have this perspective. Ahhhh!!! Ok. Ill work harder to try to put it in writing. On one of the shortest days of the year. We flew from the moment the window opened to its close an hour later. I flew closer then I ever have to redtails, who when the lift wasnt good landed in a tree.... i followed.. then .. realized that I didnt want to land in the tree!!! ;) lucky birds. I went to the peak to try to fly the hot rocks, but my timing was off, so I continued to surf sunny faces. Working terrain and trees. Looking for leaves rustling. Skimming the ground, saying hi to hikers as I flew past. I was able to work my way back up to attempt to cross all the terrain back towards launch. Milking every bubble on the way. I worked my favorite spot to get low saves, but a little too late, not enough sun. I tried soooo hard.. but then continued down to the landing zone. Even though this wasn't the longest or highest flight. There is a certain magic to it and experiencing the Fluid Dynamic Playground EARTH!. Nailing the timing. Flying arms length from terrain, catching small bubbles with one bird friend. Gosh.. Im out of breath trying to find good words to type. My sensors are almost ready to capture these micro climate finger prints. I think I will be able to start Tandem Training this upcoming year. I need to raise enough money to buy equipment. Then I will be able to share and narrate at the same time.

It's even colder this morning! Sunday morning we attempt to fly at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. Well.... It was Windy!!! One pilot from our group flew. It is his local playground, however it was very strong, and presented some inherent risk that I was not willing to take. This could be a much longer conversation. The pilot landed safely. It was possible to drive up to Channing near Vallejo and fly today. I didnt confirm that those pilots flew, but it was a wonderful crisp day for a hike in the woods. I hiked down. (photo credit: Bob Posey)

Plants are happy with the atmospheric river bringing so much rain to the area! it comes high winds, and moist soil. Pre and post front there is possibility of flying, but the days are short, the sun is low, the ground is wet. Today the clouds look great, but they are screaming past my window. Sky people become ground people when this happens. This means it's time to work on instrumentation. FFRL is working on three different sensor packages for the atmospheric research platform and Microclimate investigations. I'm currently writing an Instructable on the sensor. The sensor I'm working on today is a weather tracker. Based on an open source drone weather tracker I'm iterating on the layout and packaging. I plan to improve on the form factor and overall footprint.


Here are the track logs from each day. The goal was to make progress north on day 3 and 4. Day 1 - Adventure with Day 2 - Flight South With Day 3 - Jakob and Mike Adventure North Day 1 , Cloud Flight Day 4 - Jakob and Mike Adventure North Day 2 , I ran out of map that I had looked at Anser - ? ;)

Flying everyday. Carrying everything from launch to landing. Simple. The kindest people I have ever met. It's September 1st. this adventure resonates with me. Being reborn from the cloud has set me on a new path. Thank you cloud. Prototype wrist mount has evolved and has nice stitching. I'm so happy I learned to sew as a kid. I finally have permission to cut the scrap spinnaker I recycled on the laser cutters at Pier 9. Time to make gear for exploration and research. Excited to begin the SF Bay Area Free Flight Conservation Project Using Free Flight to Protect Bay Area Natural Spaces

What an adventure. Processing more video. So much data to go through! Free Flight Research Lab is now a real life tax exempt non-profit!! Free Flight Research Lab (FFRL) is a Non-Profit Research Institute developed to create positive global impact through applications of technology for advancing climate science & weather forecasting; conservation & resource preservation; and aerospace science, human factors & free flight safety. FFRL has a goal to help the public become good stewards of this planet, future planets and planetary bodies that we as a species may inhabit. FFRL seeks to build partnerships between pilots and public parks for conservation and land management. FFRL has a goal to enable Free Flight Platforms to be utilized for science payloads and human factors research. The FFRL is dedicated to inspiring exploration, science and maker education for current and future generations. FFRL will seek to capture Virtual Reality Experiences of Free Flight for those who are interested in the Free Flight Experience but are unable, or unwilling to conduct a flight. FFRL conducts Research Projects in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Humanities and Mathematics. FFRL embraces a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on mixing ART, SCIENCE and HUMANITY

Im posting this as a placeholder for the gear list i made while i was prepping lots of things happened really quickly including running past the civic center and huge group of PHISH fans in order to pick up 6 gopro cameras from Matt. !!! exciting!!! lots more later... anyway.. about to move to next stage... so.. later!

I flew this evening in Honor of James Pfrunder. There is a gofundme page for his wife and daughter. I will update this blog with information, please donate. The sky cried today.

Making good choices. The last two days of flying have been cut short by overdeveloping clouds. On the hike to the upper launch yesterday we saw clouds quickly developing. It looked like the hour+ up to the top launch would be too much time. We choose to go to the lookout launch and fly. I took off in the first couple gliders. Coring light lift and enjoying the sky. The world around me was changing. Rapidly. Dark, menacing clouds grew in the distance. It was a beautifully intimidating scene to watch. I didn't waste any time heading to the landing field. Weather dominates our world. In paragliding we are up close and personal with the weather. On the ground we experience only a small portion of the planetary boundary layer. We have so much more to learn about this layer. Fortunately computation, networks, and sensor systems are becoming cheaper and more powerful. Over the next 5 years we will see major advancements in weather, and its cascading impact on agriculture, transportation, climate science, and renewable

I got great footage of the whole Mount 7 yesterday, after the first round of storms. I waited on launch until the sun peeked out, took off and went up. I left lift around 9300ft, I got scared that I wouldnt be able to run away from the cloud. I went down range. Today is looking like the best flyable day we have left. !!! ;) More later, Pilot meeting is beginning !

From the Willi: The Willi has started a GoFundMe campaign to collect donations for Zara and Odessa. To donate, go to The family has also set up an Odessa Trust Fund at the Bank of Montreal. If you have access to one of their branches, you can donate there. For those on Facebook, Zara has a memorial page for James at We understand a memorial service for James is being planned for this coming Monday at Lake Windermere Alliance Church. Details will be shared with you when we get them. Please be generous with your donations and fly safely! Yesterday was shut down due to over-development. I launched 2nd and flew by myself in the early morning bubbles. I hung on to every scrap of lift I could. It was really fun to do without crowds. There was a visible inversion in the valley, and the lift making it through was about half a wing in size. I worked it super hard. After landing I took the opportunity to work on the multi-spectral modified gopro. Cutting new filters, and testing outside the pavilion. I spoke briefly about the terrain reconstruction I plan to do, and there is a lot of interest. I think it will be very valuable to do at each flying site I go to. It will be a great contribution from the Free Flight Research Lab to the local flying community to increase safety and allow for a digital conversation to happen around lees, and dangerous features. It's pretty funny. I normally enjoy being unconnected from technology on these adventures, but in order to release content during this expedition I find myself in strange places at strange times in order to charge my devices and connect to the internet. One of my favorite locations is the front porch of the general store. A couch that you can feel ever spring. In the morning when I reopen my laptop there are dead mosquitos all over the key board. The charging stations look like crazy octopus monsters of wires. I have 4 hero 4 blacks with me and a modified hero 3+. Turns out that is a lot of cameras to manage, charge and juggle sd cards. Im excited to return and design a VR mount for the 6 hero4s. There is 20min to the pilot meeting. Hopefully today delivers and I can capture data to create a reconstruction of mount 7!

Today was interesting, more later as events are too recent to fully post. I had a wonderful hike, and a great flight. Today's experiment was in biometric instrumentation. The heart rate monitor said I was about 150 prelaunch.. I was able to focus and bring it down to the high 130's before I took off. Working hard to find that first climb I was between 140-150bpm. I focused on getting into the 120 range, and I was able to do it. It is amazing that with a little bit of feedback your able to make small adjustments in focus that pay dividends in your flight in terms of comfort and stress. After I made it to about 9300ft I transitioned to the next mountain. I turned the corner, and now I'm slightly in the lee. This is not the best place to be, so I pushed out from the terrain, I was tracking another pilot that was much deeper in the terrain, and in a spot I refuse to go.. Of course they found some climb and got out. I want more margin then that. By the end of my flight I had my heart rate below 120.. and I think I saw 110bpm. I need to check the data. I got to cloud base!!! in a tiny thermal.. it was a great climb... gosh we are lucky, but this sport is not without risk. In fact There was some real moments today as I spoke to two recovering partially paralyzed pilots. Both incredible humans. The reality of human free flight is that this is really, really serious and it is important to be ultra conservative. How does one manage complacency? its a challenge and a question we must ask ourselves always. For 1000's of years humans have looked to the sky, because of material science, it is our generations that get to fly like a bird; however, we do not have wings, and the ground does not move. Stay safe pilots.

Had a wonderful flight today. Taking loads of videos and pictures with the gopros, running experiments, prepping gear for Free Flight Research Lab test flights. Getting used to the altitude. Its possible to get to 12,000 ft tomorrow. My plan is to make it to 10,000ft, and then head down the range. Today's flight was after a long hike in the rain to the upper launch without my wing. Followed by hiking back down to the lower launch and getting my wing to fly. I launched off the lower launch in a smooth, gentle cycle. I scooped the first bits of lift, as I wanted to make sure I maintained good clearance from the terrain. Once I was above launch I made a couple 360s. I was scared of the clouds. It had rained on us twice today, hiking up, and down. You could see rain in the distance to the north and the sky was mostly full. This meant that playing near cloud base carried additional risk that was just not worth it. More hiking, more flying, and I plan to run the more experiments if the air is kind.

I grew up wanting to be an astronaut and test pilot. The paragliding flight platform is an untapped resource that provides a unique opportunity for science, research and conservation. There is a human in the loop that can operate instruments even in prototypes phases. There is no fuel or engine when paragliding this means that there is minimal disturbance to the environment and its inhabitants. There are a number of tracks of research I am interested in. Physiology and Human Factors I am currently studying motion sickness using myself as a subject. Weather My goals are to make a mobile sounding platform to support warm start forecasts and eventually go to unresolved locations on demand. Run WRF for experimental forecasting at high resolution and various altitude regimes. To make an optical weather station that uses machine vision to determine conditions. Land and Resource Conservation Currently making a hyperspectral camera. Flight Dynamics My goal is to instrument the wing and lines in a non intrusive way to understand collapse and reinflation dynamics of wings in real conditions and to measure the line pressures in time to be able to compare inputs and reactions of both the pilot and the wing. Photogrammetry Currently Flying Missions. Capturing Terrain like mountains and glaciers. Comparing datasets for land mass change tracking. See More at

This place is amazing. Flew north from roldanillo to just short of ansermaneuvo, got a ride to town to meet up with my flying partner, no water in town. Found a little motel, and explored the town by night. Our plans of camping were continually met with "no one does that". So we transitioned from vol biv to vol peso. Colombia is amazing, cost effective and the warmest, friendliest people, always wanting to say hi and offer a ride or help. It's incredible what can happen when you go to a place and really feel how great it is.. vs. Stereotypes and warnings from state department. A couple pieces of Fried chicken and some amazing people watching kept us entertained for hours. Teaching little kids tricks on their BMX bikes was a highlight. The next day we took off at an awesome launch at ansermaneuvo. I had a little knot in my top cascade so I had to top land and fix it. First time needing to do that, and my adrenaline was pumping.. afterwards I took off and flew the best flight of my life and landed some 40km (or more. I need to see the log when I get to a conputer) and landed in a cleared sugarcane field next to a beautiful river. We are carrying all clothes and gear so where we fly we can stay... really liberating. It was my flying partner Jakob's idea and it is incredibly rewarding. Made some design sketches for the tent concept.

Viva colombia!!!! It's late More later!!

Aircraft. Camping gear. Clothes. 8 days. Airport t-2 hours.

A lightweight adventure with paraglider and minimal camping gear. One goal is to use recycled spinnaker fabric to design a bivy tent. This adventure is more than just a flying trip. It kicks off a huge transition in my life that I will touch on later. Stay tuned for an exciting time. When I return I will be starting a design exploration as a Pier 9 AiR at Autodesk in San Francisco.

In High School a very special teacher "forced" us to memorize a number of things. One of them was a poem, I am sure your familiar with, The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost. This poem has chased me around and is ever lingering on the brain, I'm now sure this was Mr. Taylor's intent. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Mike Horn, in my opinion probably the Shackleton of our time. Has a very similar outlook for exploration. Don't Follow the Crowd There is more to come on this exciting place that the team explored but it began with a choice.. we could go the path that was clearly the way, or go into the unknown. We chose to explore. Photo Credit: Monica Ebert, Gopro Hero4 Black

Hooray for Hawaii. What an awesome trip.. Camping in Sherwood forest, right by the beach. Flying for 3 hours along beautiful cliffs over exotic blue water. Lots of hot sweaty hiking. I landed because I was hungry and tired.. it was possible to fly till sunset. Great locals! invited us along chasing the conditions around the island. Found a cave, saw Whales!! and albatross!! photo credits: Amy, Jakob, Evan, Me.

Chapter 1 is concluded.. with an amazing adventure weekend with friends around the Bay Area. Flew with a local hero at a special location, taught a good friend to fly at the best training hill around, explored canyons via FPV planes. Hiked and explored new areas with a big PermaGRIN. sunset flying at Channing, The Darkside. Its a good time to be alive. Go outside and explore!

Enjoy this short edit, I am about to get on a plane to go to Hawaii which was originally a training trip for Valle, but it was moved due to a Storm, and being really busy on some end of the year tasks at work. Time to Fly. Go outside Explore!

One Word. Magical! More to come.. but what a fantastic adventure. I am sore from laughing. Pictures and butterfly pictures to come.

Researching flight routes to the Monarch Sanctuary.. from old Paragliding World Cup Videos. (not me flying.. yet.. .) These storms that have rolled in have brought great flying.. and beautiful clouds Pre Frontal, and Post Frontal.. perfectly sunny days have fallen on the weekend. Saturday was beautiful, but just too wet.. Sunday the wind was perfect for flying at Ed levin. I was the first to launch from the 600 and got up right away.. Amazing day so late in the year.. with not many hours of sun we flew with big smiles!!

Just had an amazing flight. Timed the weather and the day really well. Gosh I sure love flying this wing. Track log coming soon.

Finally got this video together after extensive frustrating technical issues with my movie editor/computer.. lots of crashing.. so the final result.. well exists.. and im happy about that.. I need to find a better solution for editing.. or bite the bullet and buy an actual video editor.. no matter what I will keep capturing the experience.. Enjoy. Flying with birds is really the best..

What a trip!! Totally unexpectedly we scored an amazing flight. It looked like it might not be flyable in the morning with cloud cover and strong breeze. As we collected ourselves and got some breakfast in us.. the conditions began to change. We parked the cars at the Landing zone (LZ), and hiked up. On the way we decided to hike only an hour or so to the first ridge that faces southwest. This saves 2 hours! and ~2000ft.. The day before we mused what might happen in southwest winds, since none of us had flown here with those conditions.. The air was unstable due to the front that was on its way... I launched first.. scraped and scratched to maintain.. I thought I lost it.. but time and time again I would see everyone at launch... I was flying... and not going down.. this is sweet.. its what we fly for.. but it was unique and special because I was able to maintain until everyone launched. The conditions got better and we were riding and playing in thermals and clouds with incredible surroundings of Big Sur. We attracted some attentions from the locals.. first an owl that and then while I was on glide to land I heard a gasp over the radio.. our flock had been joined by a flock of California Condor! a magical appearance from a species thats total count was below 30.. now slowly recovering we witnessed a total of 13 birds flying with us. Two of my friends were guided on flights by the birds long after I landed.. What a special place we live in. Training on the new wing is proving to be amazing.. conditions are light and challenging. Studying maps of Valle and determining where to find the butterflies in the sky. Go out, Explore! Enjoy! Mike

Get the GEAR.. adventurers are always looking for better, lighter, faster... optimization.. but in this case to Progress forward.. i am taking a step back.. I am sure already that it is the right thing to do. For this trip to Valle de Bravo I want to explore the area and feel confident doing it. So I started to reflect on the wing I am flying. for non pilots.. Wings are rated from A to D (there is an open class) ,A being the safest for students etc. and D being something you fly only if you fly daily... that is a gross over simplification of the system.. but it will work. The vision I have for my adventures in the sky is grande. I want to enter the world of sky camping. Vol Biv. an elegant mixture of hiking and flying in a true explores form.. not knowing where one might land and what the hike out will bring.. I have flown my current wing happily for 2.5 years. It was a hott wing for a beginner (High B).. I had it because I showed talent and early skill.. that did not mean that I had the skills or experience yet to really fly the wing.. after a couple of intense experiences both in SIV (simulated incident in vol (flight) course) and in real life I became very cautious and kind of sore a couple times.. despite this I flew as much as I could, but I wasnt able to stay up as long as the others.. mainly because I would be exhausted.. a couple times I have hit the sweet spot in conditions and my Psyche and had epic flights... my relationship with the wing is in a good place after going through the ranks of beginner to advanced pilot, but I have a lot of respect for what the wing can do and I make choices that are in that context. I need to stay in the sky.. stay happy.. stay unstressed.. and I will go far. Glider technology is advancing at a rate where the newer safer "low" end wings have the same performance as the cross country machines of 2012.. so... I wanted to get a new wing. that increased the fun factor. reduced stress, and allowed me to fly like a bird and look for lift. I still love my rush.. and i will fly it. but a new page has turned. After a lot of research, and emailing different test pilots and instructors I arranged a demo of the Skywalk Tequila4. Flew it three times: Mt Tam, Mission, and Ed Levin.. The last one was just for fun when i was giving it back because i liked it so much.. Video of demo flight Hike and Fly coming in the next post. I present to you the ARRIBA3 light weight version of the wing I demoed. First flight from Mt Tam. absolutely beautiful. A lot of adventures lie in front of me and my blue and orange flying machine.. the magical back pack.. Gosh I wish I could share it with all of you.. Arriba Arriba!! Thanksgiving is coming.. A training trip to Big Sur is happening.. cant wait. Sky camping.

Training for flight blogs. If the air is more active i wont be able to go hands off.. Headed back to big sur this weekend to train some more. If anyone has a poem they would like me to read this weekend.. exploration themed... let me know ;) happy exploring. Mike

I work as an aerospace engineer building robotics to explore the Moon and other planetary bodies. Growing up the goal was to explore strange planets.. well so it turns out.. I was born on the most awesome strange planet, and i'm built to explore it. A fine balance of water, sun and terrain have allowed for sports like Sailing, and Paragliding. These do not try to beat the earth, but work with it in a harmony. Using fluid dynamics as my playground I plan to have a series of chapters that follow my journey. via the Air - Paragliding, on top of the water - Sailing, and below the water - SCUBA. This way I get to utilize both main fluids of the earth. Once and a while at the same time. I have been racing sailboats in intercoastal rivers, san francisco bay and in the ocean for 6 years. The longest ocean race I have completed was 408nm I have been paragliding 2.5 years. Flying altitudes close to 10,000ft. 30km distances. Some highlights were flying near Mt Blanc, and the Eiger. I have a lot to learn. I just started diving 3 months ago.. Exciting! All of these sports require mastery skills over performance achievements.. Your whole life you will be learning something new each time you go out, it never gets old. This way I plan to grow Old and still kick butt! like my mentors who are 80+ and racing hard.