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latest Para-Newbie News-n-Pics, Oct07, Issue #0010, monthly.
October 31, 2007

Fresh Paragliding Stuff

Selected News, Image, Site Update

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Issued on Wed, Oct 31st 2007, Issue #0010

Table of Contents

  1. News of the Month
  2. Image of the Month
  3. Website Content of the Month

News of the Month

As usual, I scoured the Web using a number of world news resources and came across a couple of paragliding news items which might interest you.

Firstly, have you heard of Will Gadd? If you are reading this, chances are you are from the U.S. and are interested in paragliding. So you must know about this guy! His extreme sports skills have been employed by a documentary team and a number of experts in various fields to make 'Fearless Planet'. This is a new Discovery Channel television series, billed as 'a thrill ride through the earth’s most awesome natural wonders'.

Secondly, something a little different. A story involving North and South Korea, export regulations, paraglider canopy construction and... read on to see.

I seem to be in the habit of including a small bonus news item these days... So, tacked onto the end of the 2 main stories, there is a small paragliding news snippet. This one tells of yet another emerging extreme sport in Europe.

Will Gadd - Extreme Athlete Exploring Extreme Locations

Source: All American Patriots (press release), Sweden

Date: 26 Oct 2007

This news story was basically an announcement and appetite-whetter for a T.V. series that starts in November in the U.S. The series, titled FEARLESS PLANET, will be shown in 6 parts and was produced for Discovery Channel by Impossible Pictures. A spectacular show featuring many spectacular locations plus a range of extreme sports including plenty of paragliding of course! This is natural history in the 21st Century.

I will now attempt to compress many hours of action and information-packed video footage into 1 or 2 pages of text on your computer monitor! Gulp. Here goes...

Firstly, let's cover a lot of ground using 2 lists.

Although Gadd is the central figure, here's a list of 'support acts' that he interacts with in order to present the information:

  • geologists
  • pro surfer
  • academics
  • paleontologist
  • marine biologists
  • extreme skier

Secondly, here's a summary of Will Gadd's extreme activities during his amazing adventures:

Now for a super-compressed guide to the episodes of the series! The only thing I took care not to leave out was any mention of paragliding. ;-)

Episode One focusses on Hawaii. For example, a study of the many different climate zones around the large mountain. To get up close, Gadd hops on his mountain bike, but there are paragliding segments too. Mountain views and coastline of this tropical paradise are filmed from the air.

Episode Two shifts our attention to Alaska, which is presented as the 'last great wilderness on earth'. Sights in the sky and the mountain ranges pose questions which the presenters attempt to explain. Filming the vast snowy wastes is an excellent excuse to paraglide from a mountain launch site down to a creeping glacier far below!

Episode Three will make you sweat just looking at it, as Gadd and crew climb rocks and explore traces of an ancient superdesert under the Sahara. Extreme heat makes for extreme thermals, and Gadd takes the opportunity to stretch the limits of thermal-powered flight and experiment with new techniques. Riveting stuff for other paraglider pilots.

Episode Four concerns a huge living thing that resides under the water, the Great Barrier Reef. This enormous coral structure lies off the Eastern coast of Australia. It's so big that it can be seen from space, however the best views are from right up close. Will Gadd scuba dives to show us the close-up detail. Thankfully for paraglider pilots he also cruises above the waves in some shots to step back a bit and take in a different perspective of the reef's beauty.

Episode Five is a thorough look at the Grand Canyon in the U.S., and the question of how it was formed. This huge gash in the Earth's surface is an excellent excuse for extreme rock-climbing on a sheer 400-foot pinnacle and finally some white-water kayaking a mile below. But paraglider pilots will be hanging out for the footage of Will Gadd's historic glide across the canyon. Huge powerful thermals and punishing turbulence that would probably be scary enough under fixed wings, let alone a flexible canopy. I remember reading somewhere that Gadd said it was the wildest ride he'd ever had under a paraglider.

Episode Six wraps up the series, putting across a particular view of how the earth's surface was created.

For any camera nuts out there. Most of the series was shot with Panasonic AJ-HDC27 VariCam® HD Cinema cameras. Why? Incredible resolution, astounding rendition at higher ISO speeds and 640 sensitivity. You're the buff, you tell me what that all means! Most action was filmed with an average of 6 cameras from the air, under water and in specially designed mounts attached to Will Gadd. Shutter speeds and slow-motion were used creatively.

This series is sure to be an impressive example of extreme sports cinematography, enhanced by incredible natural landscapes and underwater worlds. Being produced by the BBC, it's production should be 1st class too. However, if you don't believe in a 'long ages' view of earth's history, the M word is going to get rather tiring! M for 'millions of years', that is. ;-)

South Korean 'Strategic Goods' Smugglers

Source: Newsroom

Date: 11 Oct 2007

Seems like there has been a bit of fuss in Government circles, in South Korea. It's all over some naughty private company making paragliding products. That seems quite innocent at first glance doesn't it! The problem is, paragliding technology can be adapted to military use, and South Korea doesn't want to aid North Korea in this. Hence, the raw materials for paraglider canopies and lines are on the list of 'strategic goods' which are banned from export to the North.

The South Korean company in question is located in the Gaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea. Without permission, they started bringing the raw materials for paraglider wings and lines over the border in order to manufacture paragliders for export out into North Korea. Tsk Tsk Tsk! The Unification Ministry, which detected the activity, has ordered the company to return all the relevant products and materials to South Korea.

Getting back to that term 'strategic goods', it refers to goods and materials which could possibly be used for development and/or production of weapons of mass destruction. WMD?? Stretches the imagination a bit doesn't it.

As happens all over the world, government department wheels turned slowly as memos went back and forth. The National Intelligence Service, Commerce Ministry and the Unification Ministry were all involved, but nothing much has happened since June 5. Some senior officials believe that no sensitive technology has been leaked to the North, and therefore there is no problem. Others are concerned about the international reputation of the Gaesong Industrial Complex. What damage will be done if they are seen as being slack in the area of 'strategic goods' slipping into North Korea? Might it be something more serious next time?

Hope I didn't bore you with that, there's not a whole lot of choice. When it comes to paragliding, the media mainly seem interested in people hitting power lines and cliff faces... I refuse to pass on those stories. Paragliding might not be totally safe, but at least it's safer than riding a motorbike!

Source: Ski Rebel Magazine, Canada

Date: 27 Oct 2007

Here's the extra little news snippet.

Now I've heard a bit about this mix of skiing and paragliding before. However, it seems that Speed Riding is now being introduced to the public. Rather than just being an experiment by a few dare-devils. There's even an element of ski kiting in it as well.

This winter, Speed Riding will be introduced as a supervised activity in the Chamonix Valley. The idea is to ski down a slope wearing a small flexible wing which allows the skier much more 'air' in jumps. Also, there is a feeling of much reduced gravity when lifting out of turns or jumping off bumps in the slope.

The wing is only 6 to 10 square meters in area, compared to the 25 to 30 square meters of a full-size wing. So it's really enhanced skiing, not paragliding with skis!

The paragliding school Les Ailes du Mont-Blanc will also offer supervised Speed Riding on the snow park of the Grands Montets.

A Good Book For Free-Flight Paragliding

Paragliding - A Pilot's Training Manual. Do you have at least a few hours of soaring experience under your belt? Keen to learn much more? This book will fill out your knowledge nicely. Just remember it doesn't take the place of your instructor!

Complete Reference For Powered Paragliding

Powered Paragliding Bible. This is one of a couple of good books that people are using before and during taking up power paragliding. It's great if you want a really complete reference book about the sport. Authored by Jeff Goin and Dennis Pagen and published in April 2006. That Pagen name pops up a lot in light aviation literature!

Image of the Month

There's plenty of paragliding imagery on the Web these days, much of it so-so. Thanks to some paraglider manufacturer friends of mine, I can bring you some great pics that you might not find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy this month's featured picture, below.

Just click on it to enlarge.

This is the first time I've featured a SOL paraglider in this spot. In fact, as you can see, it's two SOL Sonics side by side snapped in mid-maneuver as they do some aerobatics in a clear sky. It's an uncertified 2006 design as far as I know. The wings are made specifically for doing aerobatics, with a tiny flat wing area of less than 20 square meters. If they had this at the Olympics, it would draw a much bigger crowd than Synchronized Swimming, don't you think?

Some Interesting Paragliding DVDs

There's a few decent powered paragliding DVD titles all grouped together in the one spot on my site. See what you think. Most are for region 1 only, although one does play in all regions.

Another group of paragliding DVDs might be interesting if free flight is more your thing. This page is put together much like the PPG one, and all the DVDs are Region 1 format only.

Website Content of the Month

Pages are always being added to the site, and I usually highlight just one page here. A popular section of this website is devoted to RC paragliders, and this month I added a couple of pages on companies that sell these miniature aircraft. Although many people use these model aircraft purely for recreation, more serious work can also be done. For example, Search and Rescue or surveying crop damage on farms.

If you think you might get into it purely for fun, my page on Really Cool Toys is worth a look. Right at the bottom, it includes a link to an order page on the company's website which is full of even more detailed info.

A Couple Of T-Shirts

Looking for a paragliding t-shirt? Are you visually oriented? If so, you might be interested in a shirt displaying a reproduction of a great photo. The title text, if any, doesn't matter so much.

There's No Place on Earth... is the title of one such t-shirt. Check out the giant growing cumulus in the background! It draws you in, saying 'stop for a moment and imagine approaching cloud base under this thing, at 3000 meters.'

Maybe you're the type who likes the pithy slogan that says it all in just a few words! Here, the graphic design doesn't matter so much, except to make clear that the subject is paragliding.

Gravity Sucks don't you agree? It cuts short so many flights in weak conditions, and it really sucks when you have a collapse in strong conditions!

As for actually buying a shirt from CafePress, I bought one just before Christmas 2006. I can't say I had any complaints. It arrived a few days late, but that was understandable considering the workload CafePress has around that time of year.

Bearing in mind that this paragliding newsletter and in fact most of the website is really for 'newbies', any constructive feedback is welcome! In particular, what would you really like to see in this newsletter? Just reply to this email and tell me your thoughts.

Finally, why not tell a friend about this newsletter.

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