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Flying Rags for Glory

Flying Rags for Glory
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  • If you want to fly faster and for longer read this book
  • Twenty years of experience distilled into one package
  • Extremely readable, understandable and entertaining
  • Tips and tricks for young-bloods and old-hands alike
  • Packed with information - over 200 pages
  • 'This should be on every pilot's bookshelf' - Adrian Thomas

    Flying Rags for Glory: an A-Z of Competition Paragliding covers everything you need to know to be not only a competitor but a top drawer one at that.

Starting with the very basic subjects like gear choice and understanding your instruments, this book moves on through task types, turnpoints, scoring systems to the techniques needed to do well in competitive paragliding.

Subjects like fear and flying style are tactfully handled with bluntly honest advice such as 'Let's face it, flying floppy aircraft like paragliders around very active skies can be pretty frightening!' and, 'Pimping: this tactic is not going to make you any friends.'

Mads even bravely tackles subjects like cheating; not advising you how to do it, but highlighting some of the ridiculous things people have done to gain unfair advantage in competitions.

If you have any interest in competitions then this is a unique gem of a book, whether you are in your first season or your fifth. Mads's wealth of experience shines through on every page leaving you informed, inspired and ready to get out there and fly some tasks.

Even if you're not that interested in competitions, there's still plenty of great information on flying fast, choosing the right lines, climbing well and generally going a long way.

The book finishes with an extensive, informative and often amusing historical section on competition paragliding. If you were there you'll love it, if you weren't, then there's still enough in this section to make you chuckle at just how far we've come since the late 80s and the joys of pink Lycra flying suits and the Firebird Ninja!

Nearly 200 pages long and 20.5 cm x 20.5 cm in dimension, Flying Rags for Glory is a worthy addition to every serious paraglider pilot's bookshelf.


'This book deserves to be on every pilot's bookshelf' Adrian Thomas

One of the amazing things about paragliding is that the top pilots will happily share all their secrets (well most of them, anyway), and that is exactly what Mads does in this beautiful book. There are few really good books on competition flying. 

This one sits alongside the dog-eared copy of Pagen's Secrets of Champions (tips from top hang glider pilots), and the no-longer securely bound pages of Reichman's Cross Country Soaring on my shelves, and is rapidly looking as thumbed as those two classics.

I have competed against Mads numerous times, and the way he flies in competitions matches very closely the tactics and strategy he advocates in the book. 

Mads concentrates on the mental side of flying, rightly pointing out the incredible processing capacity of the subconscious mind, compared to the slow and often downright dishonest constructs of conscious thought. 

In essence, Mads argues that we do best in paragliding, as in so many things, by moving beyond conscious thought, getting into that glorious mental state of automatic action most commonly known as 'the zone'.

Mads distills a whole suite of wisdom from the sports-psychologists pushing for positive mental reinforcement - previewing and visualization techniques. The scientific literature is increasingly clear in this area - mentally running through a performance really does help when you actually come to put things into practice. 

Given choices of routes, even rats pre-run the routes mentally: MRI scanning studies have shown that place-cells that activate when the rats go past particular landmarks are pre-activated when they stop at a maze-junction and think about which way to go. 

Recent studies of sleep-walkers have shown that at least some sleep-walking involves running through newly learned activities, perhaps as part of the process of hardwiring the appropriate reflexes into the nervous system.

So much for the science bit, my own experience is that mentally going through a task beforehand certainly helps, although paragliding tasks are difficult because of the large numbers of options, and chance events during the task, and the length of competition tasks. 

There is also absolutely no doubt that when you are in the zone, the flying goes really well, and decision making becomes effortless. It also comes with its own, unique buzz.

Other sections of the book deal with the required equipment, and Mads recognizes the importance of getting the right glider. He is a strong advocate of Open class gliders, but also has a very clear view of the risks involved in paragliding, and the risks accepted by pilots who chose to fly open class gliders in competition for fun. 

There is also a useful section on scoring systems, and here Mads strongly advocates pushing on and flying your own race, so that you can fly competitively without having to change the way you fly. 

Surely that has to be the key - getting your individual XC-speed up to a level where you can catch the lead gaggle if you make a bad start, or hold on to a lead if you get ahead. 

The alternative is the Reichman approach - Letting the others let you win - where you train to avoid mistakes on the assumption that others will always make them. 

Mads's approach is certainly more romantic, and the few occasions I've flown that way have been amongst the most rewarding - pushing on alone towards goal on a marginal final glide certainly gets the heart racing!

The book finishes with a detailed history of the World Championships and World Cups over the years. It is quite astonishing how much progress there has been since the first World Championships 20 years ago.

This book deserves to be on every pilot's bookshelves. 

Adrian Thomas - British Paragliding Champion 2006 and  2009

'Recommended to all comp pilots' Craig Morgan


For most up and coming comp pilots, I would suggest this is a must-have book to give clarification on the murky world of top-level paragliding competition.

In the preface Mads talks candidly about the risk factor which is largely taboo amongst all but the inner core of comrades.

'Risk' is the overriding consideration to all who aspire and Mads has an honest stab at asking the difficult questions and pricking one's own conscience.

His Pros and Cons section give us real perspective as to the other important realities and a pilot's own intrinsic rewards are thoroughly investigated and counter balanced.

The Nuts and Bolts and Workings get a complete going over too but the two chapters of Fear and The Mind Game give an insight into the real area from where winners and losers emerge. There's no substitute for experience, but here Mads offers some reasoning behind a mature pilot's decision making process. I for one will be using his theories as a reference before my major comps this season.

Deep thought is at the root of many successful pilots strategy once airborne and my close flying companion Mark Hayman will testify it is as much a hindrance as it is the key. I generally fly on intuition and Mads gives insightful arguments discussing both approaches.

Personally I love being told how I do the things I do - it reveals how my reasoning falls into place. Some may see these sections as a can of worms, however, my advice to them would be to pop the lid back on until your own experiences give it a different perspective, then read it again!

Mads once told me that he speaks many languages through an autodidactic trance like state where he simply lets it flow from his 'open mind'. This analogy is also considered when racing a competition task. All very Feng Shui I'm sure but I prefer the cut and thrust approach to piloting my way thru an XC competition task as opposed to Star Trek's magical teleport!

Part Two on the history of comp paragliding is only very slightly self indulgent, reliving as it does the who's who of the good old days. But surely a man with as much experience as Mads and who is willing to divulge such secrets is allowed to reminisce through his own text.

In summary this is a very useful reference book with some great pictures too. I'd give it four out of five stars. Recommended to all comp pilots.

Craig Morgan, British Paragliding Champion 2008 & 2010

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