Martin Orlik, 30 years old and born in Prostejov in the Czech Republic, studied PE and Biology in Olomouc,
Czech Republic, and was also the state karate champion.
He’s been paragliding since autumn 2000 and taught himself to fly.
Martin’s strong Czech accent and dreadlocks make him hard to miss.
How long have you been in the US and how did you end up here’
When communism ended, I was 15. My girlfriend Martina and I left the Czech Republic and went travelling.
We were in England, all over Europe, Canada and then here. We ended up in Sun Valley, ID, and that is where I learned to fly.
You taught yourself’ How did that go’
A friend gave me a glider called an EZ Fly and I took my first flight at Sky Ridge.
It was 700 feet high and I flew straight away from the hill in zero wind. I really liked it.
Did you ever think that you would win the US Nationals two years later’
Never. I just flew by myself and used my style. I don’t like flying with people who aren’t ’on top of their glider’,
so I just keep going out in front. On one task, I saw a guy way out in front of me. I flew as fast as I could and finally overtook him.
Later I found out that he was a ’wind dummy’ who had launched much earlier.
How do you rationalise using that much speed system’
I do fly fast, when I am high. I use the speed bar on every transition.
I fly a Boomerang and it pitches around too much if you glide at trim.
I go full speed sometimes, but I mostly just use the speed bar like the brakes. But I never go fast when I am low.
I heard that you fly with music. Were you listening to music during those tasks at the Nationals’
I always fly with music and the Owens was no exception.
Music gives me company up there and makes my flying world more 3D.
What is your favourite part of flying’ Do you have a favourite flight’
Cross country, and my favourite place to fly is King Mountain, ID.
My favourite flight was from Baldy at Sun Valley, ID, in 2001. It was cold and my first time over 13’000 feet.
I was up over an hour and did a 20 mile triangle around the valley.
I had only done my first turns in a thermal a week before so it was very exciting. I didn’t even have a vario for my first year.
What is your least favourite part of flying’
Almost getting killed. It was late spring and the conditions at King Mountain were light.
I took off and went up to the top of the mountain where a 30mph wind came out of nowhere.
I couldn’t go forward, so I turned downwind and went over the top of the mountain at 500 feet.
There wasn’t much rotor, but I landed in sage brush going backwards 20mph.
You said that you sought out some training.
The guys from Jackson Hole Paragliding helped me a lot.
I went over there and paid them to teach me manoeuvres over the water. I spent a year working on wing-overs.
I do 95% of my acro over the ground, so I have to be completely sure that I have mastered one manoeuvre before going on to the next.
What kind of advice do you have for the average pilot’
To realise that weather is 70% of the flight. You need all of the info that you can get.
On acro, that there are too many people skipping the basics. They don’t understand the basic dynamics of the wing.
Be ready to listen to more experienced pilots.
I like Todd Bibler’s advice: don’t climb in bad thermals, don’t climb in sink, only get as high as you need to get to the next thermal.
If you are climbing, turn. If you are going to glide, then glide. This works perfectly.
From Cross Country magazine