Red Bull X-Alps

10 tips to get back in the air this spring

Red Bull X-Alps athletes Steve Nash and Nelson de Freyman tell us how to take flight the right way this spring.

© Vitek Ludvik/
 © Kelvin Trautman/

Repack your reserve

The first and most important thing to do is repack your reserve, say Nash and de Freyman. “Either learn how to repack it yourself or get a licensed repacker to do it for you (ideally every six months),” Nash says. “It’s also worth checking that all of the connections and velcros are in good condition.”

Check your kit

“It’s a good time to check the general condition of your wing and harness,” Nash says. “Lay it out on a flat surface and give all of the seams and connection points a once over. Checking the line lengths is the best way to ensure you wing flies as it should, both from a performance and safety point of view.”

Test your instruments

“This is often overlooked, as most of the winter flying only uses the very basic information provided by a combined vario/GPS device,” Nash says. “That’s assuming you have even been flying with one at all!” 

Check your harness settings

“Making sure you are really comfortable is best done on the ground rather than just after you have launched into a potentially long-distance flight,” Nash says.

Do some ground handling 

“No single activity prepares you better for a new flying season than a good dose of ground handling.” Nash says. “It gets you dialled in to how your wing behaves and even if you only practice once or twice, it will guarantee your take-offs will be flawless.” 

Fly with a friend

“Flying with other people can help you to learn to make the right decisions at the right time, especially after having a few months off, ” de Freyman says. “All of us, even the best pilots in the world, are a bit rusty after winter.” 

Get Acro

It’s important to reset your flying level by doing some challenging manoeuvres, de Freyman says. Acro moves, like helicopters and full stalls, are good to practice, especially above water. Doing an SIV course (Simulated Incident in Flight) is also a good idea, he says. 

Plan possible routes

“Having an idea of what you’d like to achieve in the spring and summer flying months will only be the first step,” Nash says. “This needs to be followed up with checking maps and XC planners, Google Earth and other pilot tracklogs from similar flights. Don’t be in a hurry to push yourself and always put safety first!”

Refresh your airlaw and airspace knowledge

“Being clear about where you can and cannot fly is one less thing to stress about in the air,” Nash says. “It can easily end a good flight if you are unsure whether or not you are allowed to pass through the airspace that appears ahead of you.”

Don’t forget to prepare yourself

“Both physically and mentally, you will fly further if you are feeling good and thinking clearly,” Nash says. “By being in good shape, you can be on the launch site without the need for a 30 minute recovery. You will shrug away any thoughts of a huge walk-out if a flight over a remote area ends sooner than you hoped. It’s good to give yourself a little time before you launch, mentally going through your plans; less thinking about where you are going, will allow more thinking on staying up.”