Category: Video

This is How We Float

I’m as guilty as anyone; We get caught up in trying to get higher, go farther, and faster.  We’re scrutinizing over reducing drag, and increasing glide performance.  Perpetually studying where to find and how to maximize lifting air.

And all of that is fun.  Damn fun!  But it’s not all there is to flying, and that path can take us farther and deeper down the rabbit hole, distancing us ever more from hang gliding’s roots.

This special day, flying the South Side of Point of the Mountain in Utah, was without doubt some of the MOST FUN I HAVE EVER HAD in a hang glider.  And, if you don’t know me, let me just say… I have had a lot of fun in hang gliders!  😉

I hope you enjoy the video: This is How We Float!

Pilot: Ryan Voight
Glider: Wills Wing Falcon 4, 195 sq. ft.
Harness: Wills Wing Flylite 3
Site: Point of the Mountain South Side Flight Park (Lehi, Utah)



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)



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…)



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…



The Ultimate TBT: “Destiny”

I made this video back in 2005… It’s hard to believe TEN years have passed since then!

This is actual home video of me as a little… with a childhood like this, how could I grow up to be anything BUT a hang glider pilot?!  It’s all I’ve ever known or wanted…

When I made this video ten years ago- I heard the song first, and instantly knew the video I had to make.  I was away at school, and had to wait for a trip home to grab all the home video.  Then I needed some more current stuff, so my girlfriend at the time spent a day filming during a “wonder wind” at Ellenville (I married that girl, by the way!).

If you’ve been hang gliding a while you’ve maybe seen this already… but being that it’s ten years old now, maybe some of you haven’t.  I hope you enjoy…

As I re-watch it myself, it inspires me to keep chasing my dreams and passions- that the reward is always worth the work.  I hope it can have an equally meaningful input for you all as well 🙂



Contest Entry and HG Publicity

If you follow me here on my blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or stalk me from the bushes (must be cold this time of year) you already know I do a bit of aerial photography and videography using a small quadcopter.

Well the company that makes the quad and gimbal I use, DJI, is running a contest where users of their products tell the story of how we’re applying the technology in our personal or business lives.  I suspect it’s a strategic and very smart move that they’ll covertly use in lobbying law-makers to make “drones” as loosely regulated as possible, but maybe that’s just the conspiracy-theorist in me…

Anyway, I shared my story- how a “flying camera” has let me capture some pretty inspirational images and videos of hang gliding, which I think really convey what it’s like to get up there and fly.
You can read my entry here: http://event.dji.com/dji-stories/content/what-it-feels-fly

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Throwback Thursday: Scott Jewell

If you knew him… this is sure to make you smile… and maybe cry :-/

I made this video for the late Scott Jewell as a Christmas present, circa 2006 give or take a year. It’s a mix of some footage we we went out and shot to make a cool hang gliding movie, and some of his favorite video-captured exploits like the skydiver drop (captured on VHS).

All of this was pre-HD video, pre-GoPros… it’s either VHS, VHS-mini, or the nicer stuff was my semi-pro mini-DV camera. It was a lot more work to mount these bigger and heavier cameras on gliders back then!

Scott was a fun, full of life character… and it didn’t matter what you were doing- if he was there, it was going to be a hysterical adventure.

He was truly a man who didn’t JUST live a life worth living, but he made everyone’s lives around him worth living, too!  In respect to this spirit we named our kid after him, starting with the knickname Scottie and working backwards until we finally arrived at the full name Scarlett (which suits her perfect, like it was all meant-to-be)!

Cheers to you buddy, wherever you are now… I miss you every day.



TBT: First Loops

My first loop was on the day of Scott “Loop It” Jewell’s service.  He was loved by so many, and as such his service was very well attended by pilots from near and far.  It was also forecasted to be a classic flying day in Ellenville.

It was a perfect impromptu memorial fly in!  And it felt so right to do my first loop on this day.

(more…)



The Man on the Silver Mountain

EDIT:  A few people have expressed concern regarding the Eagle footage in this video.  I would like to share a public response to better explain the manor in which this footage was captured:

I appreciate your concern, and I think your heart is absolutely in the right place.  All birds, Eagles most of all, need to be protected, cared for, and looked after.

The thought that I, as such an avid flight enthusiast myself, would do ANYTHING to disturb or harm such a creature is just not true.  Again, I certainly appreciate your sentiment, but I feel it a bit misplaced in this case.

I was filming with my quadcopter, just above tree-top height, along that river (our LZ) well before the Eagle passed by.  He/she was flying along the river, and passed very near to my quadcopter.  Not so near that I was worried about collision, but near enough that I am very confident the Eagle was not concerned with sharing the air with it.  I followed him a short ways, staying well behind at first, and slowly approaching.  The Eagle did not seem concerned in the least.  I swung wide and tried to get a side-view, at which point the Eagle actually came closer to my quadcopter, resulting in the shot used in this video.  Again, I am very confident he was not scared, was not threatened,Š wasn’t even curious!

Also I should mention that I was not nearly as close as the video appears.  It was taken with a GoPro, but the field of view was set to narrow.  I was also shooting 2.7k HD (bigger than full-HD 1080), which allowed me to crop (zoom) in on the footage.

I did not set out to capture or “chase” this Eagle… he/she basically flew into my shot and I just flew along with them to briefly keep them in-frame.  It was very serendipitous, with circumstances likely never to occur again.  I was very lucky to be in the right place, right time, camera rolling…

Once again I would like to say that I understand and appreciate your concerns, and I think we share the same ideals regarding the treatment of birds.  I have also shared this footage with some very experienced and respected Falconers, and they were confident the Eagle was not threatened, concerned, or distressed in any manor- he was just going about his business as usual.

Some have compared this case of a 500mm electric quadcopter flying a straight path to a full size paraglider, with a human (“Super Dell”), wearing a 2-stoke gas engine and tirelessly chasing in all directions what is very clearly a bird trying to escape- never mind KICKING the animal- I am sorry, but these cases are nothing alike.

Lastly, I would like to apologize if my footage upset you.  Maybe with more information you can see it’s not what you thought it was?  But regardless, I aim to inspire people to appreciate flight, not upset anyoneŠ and so if my video has brought stress to you I do apologize.

And finally, I respectfully request that, if anyone else attempts to capture similar images- that they too do so very respectfully and are mindful that WE are the visitors in THEIR homes, and should behave as such.  That Eagle is “The Man on the Silver Mountain”.

Thanks and cheers all,
Ryan Voight



TBT: South Side Skyout

I recently came across this footage, filmed with the original GoPro Hero (the first one, before they were HD).  I’m flying my aluminum Wills Wing T2, which makes this sometime in the spring or summer of 2009.

A great day at the South Side, thermalling up above the “Blue Balls” radio antennas, and drifting way back almost to the North Side bench!  Looks like I wasn’t flying with a vario… and I only vaguely remember the day… no idea how high I was actually getting, but it looks pretty stinkin’ high from a little 300′ gravel pile!

I have mixed feelings watching this video… Having moved back to NY, I miss the hot summer days of hanging at the South Side and soaring the “training hill” playground all day.  Looking at the video I see how the mountain looked then, and knowing what it looks like now- how much of it has been destroyed- makes me very sad.  I also see some great cu’s popping over the mountains, and can’t help but wonder… on a day where we were thermalling this high at the South Side… did I miss a 17,999 ft day in the mountains?  Or could this have been a State-record beating XC day (220 miles)?  Whatever it could have been doesn’t really matter… watching this video brings back warm memories of a fun day with great people at one of the best sites in the world.