podcast #1: Return from Outer Space

What a view !!

San Luis Valley

I was like totally not prepared for what opened up in front of my eyes.
And for a second I felt tempted to open the canopy and jump into it.
After an eternity in the belly of clouds I can’t blame myself for such an impulsive desire.

What a flight it had been up until then!
So mega cool, so depressing, so terrifying and frustrating, so entrancing and exhilarating.

I wanted to share that, tell my soaring buddies about it, tell my friends; heck, tell anybody!

But right there and then there was nobody to share, soaring is very lonesome at times. And at these same times I often find it next to impossible to absorb all sensations alone, all by myself. As if one single soul was not enough to cherish certain moments in life.

So I wrote a story about it.

Not about the how or why – we soaring pilots get tangled up in technicalities, too often, find it impressive to talk about how we used superior judgement to find that monster thermal, about our tactics to achieve this outstanding cruise to climb ratio or that marvelous average speed, or how the latest in instrumentation enabled us to set up a fantastic final glide….

No, I mostly wrote about what it felt like, what I saw, what went through my mind during those moments when I was able to disengage it from the habit of optimizing a performance.

I read this story at the 2011 Colorado Performance Soaring Seminar of the Soaring Society of Boulder.
The feedback was entirely unexpected: I had obviously struck a chord with many of the attendees. To make the piece available as podcast was a common request.
So I compressed six and a half hours among clouds over Colorado into 35 minutes for your iPod:
listen and imagine the clouds talking to you…

Then I realized I could do even more (the premium content) :

* put the words into a nice pdf to read at your leisure, in your favorite chair,
* add some photos to help the imagination, to make sure you get into the mood.

Now you want to fly yourself, don’t you..
How cool is that !

Well, to make you itch for that next wondrous flight I :

* include the GPS/.igc file so you can play it in your favorite nav/planning software…
* …or in Google Earth for that matter, I provide the necessary .kml file!

Follow the track and feel the wings bend….

Ah, and now you are curious about the whole event, plane, pilot, weather….?

* find all that information, too!

Go there for the entire, beautifully packaged experience …chances are that you will approach your next flight with a new curiosity and all sensors wide open.

To listen online (streaming) use the player player-button below, to download right-click (ctrl-click for the ‘Mac-gang’) on the “Download” button.

And don’t forget to tell me in the comments below how you like the story, what else you would want to be added – or changed – in the package!


4 Responses to “podcast #1: Return From Outer Space”

  1. Rod Smythe says:

    Hi Wolf:

    Thanks for the podcast “Return from Outer Space”. Unfortunately I had to leave the Seminar at NCAR to attend a wedding, and missed your presentation, so I was very pleased to be able to listen to it now. You really gave me the feeling of being there.


  2. Wolf says:

    Thanks, Rod, that’s wonderful.

    Did you tighten the seatbelts while listening to it? 😉

    Next time I should bring a video cam to capture the full spectrum of sensations. The soundtrack of the audio alone would add another dimension to the post-flight listening and watching experience!


  3. Nick Lon says:

    What a wonderful podcast!

    So much of your story exemplifies why soaring is so special. Please post more podcasts!

  4. Wolf says:

    Thanks, Nick!

    Actually I have a couple more podcasts on my site.

    They are not always about the flying experience, some of them relate to other facets of our sport.

    Go here to listen:



    And I’m planning to record another one shortly.

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