Catching Up with Bruce Daniels in Oludeniz

Catching Up with Bruce Daniels in Oludeniz

Daniel Kaye |

On this month's episode of Stories from the Sky, we are joined by SkySchool's very own Bruce Daniels. Bruce has spent the last few years cutting his teeth in the world of aviation, proving his skills as a glider pilot, a paramotoring instructor with SkySchool, and most recently a competition pilot and an acrobatic (acro) paraglider!

I spent the last few days in Oludeniz with Bruce and was lucky enough to sit down with him for a quick chat on his last day. Here is what he had to say!

"Bruce! Here we are in Oludeniz! Funnily enough this is the first time we are here at the same time! How long have you been out here now?"

"Hello Dan! This time only 16 days. Hopefully next time will be longer. Unfortunately we have had an unusually high number of bad weather days on this trip."

"I know, I only managed my first flights on the 4th day of the trip, but it is all part of the sport! So Bruce, take us back to the beginning! Where did your love of aviation start?"

"I have always been interested in aviation. I started gliding at aged 14, simply because it was so much more affordable than powered flying."

"And from gliders you went to paramotors? What was the pull to make this move?"

"Gliding was great fun, but it took up a lot of time with the potential to only fly for 5 minutes. Paramotoring is so much more accessible, allowing take-off and landing from almost anywhere without having to rely on others to assist. Recently I picked up gliding again in Bath and re-soloed. I would recommend it to anyone!"

"You took to the sport of paramotoring like a duck to water, I'm sure it has been the same for anything aviation related! At what point did you think you wanted to take it further and become a paramotor instructor?"

"Well, I enjoyed flying a lot and wanted to help others do the same. Instructing was the logical way to do this. I came back to SkySchool in 2021 for the summer season, to help out and start focusing on instructing, and have done as much as possible, fitting it around University, since then."

"From there it seems it was a fairly natural progression to begin competing. What events have you done so far and what have you got on the horizon?"

"After a trip to Saquarema for SkyWeek Brazil, the site of the 2022 World Championships, I was inspired to compete by the pilots at Rio Paramotor. I then competed in the 2023 British Open, flying an Ozone Freeride 2 and Liberty Paramotors frame with a Vittorazi Moster 185 Factory R. This year I will compete again in the British Open and hopefully the World Championships, depending on my performance."

"Earlier this year, I passed my Display Evaluation which allows me to fly in air shows. During this first season we have already displayed jet-powered paramotors in Qatar at the 6th FAI World Paramotor Slalom Championships, and will soon be doing night shows with pyrotechnics as the Jet Para Hawks."

"We can't wait to see how you do Bruce! So now onto paragliding... Where did this start?"

"I started flying local Norfolk coastal sites about a year after starting paramotoring. I then flew some other inland sites in the UK, before doing an SIV course with Rise in October 2022. By the end of this course I was feeling comfortable to start progressing independently, and stayed out in Oludeniz for nearly a month training the basics of acro."

"Do you find the two sports compliment each other?"

"The skills from paramotoring and paragliding definitely cross-over, however I think it is really important to do a conversion course if you want to go from one to the other. In terms of the kit, you can in some cases use the same wing for both paragliding and paramotoring, which can help keep the cost down, but in many cases you will be making some compromises, so this is worth considering."

"Very true. So, what goals did you set yourself before this trip to Oludeniz?"

"I wanted to improve my connections between tricks, as well as getting confident enough with my manoeuvres to be able to train them over ground. Above all, I just wanted to have fun in warm weather with good people, in one of the best acro paragliding sites in the world."

"Well said Bruce, it really is an awesome place to fly. How has it gone!?"

"Overall, it has been nice to come and push my limits. I also managed to get direct entry into Infinity Tumbling, and started trying stall exits. These are all tricks that are not suitable to learn on a paramotor. It is always useful to refresh my SIV skills before the upcoming season, as collapses, stalls, cravats, and autorotation are inevitable while flying acro."

"What was your scariest moment!?"

"When trained properly, acro paragliding can be quite safe and the risk minimised. This is what makes Oludeniz so amazing. We have such a huge amount of altitude, calm water below, and rescue boats. Even under a reserve parachute, it is reassuring to see the boat already on it's way to pick you up. It’s a daily occurrence here. However, the feeling of unintended free falling is not so fun! I ended up throwing my reserve while working on rhythmic SAT, building up to Infinity Tumbling. Things went a little crazy and the reserve was my only option!"

"And that was your second reserve ride! What was the first?"

"The first was a couple of years ago while flying some basic acro on my paramotor. The problem was that I had a higher wing loading, shorter brakes than I was used to, and a different position in the paramotor harness than my paragliding harness. I spun the glider while trying asymmetric SAT, with higher energy than normal and ended up getting very twisted! Again, the reserve was my only option!"

"Carnage! Well, it all adds to your experience Bruce. We are all thoroughly enjoying watching your progression and can't wait to see how the next few years go for you! Safe flights and happy landings!"

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