TEXAS PARAGLDING: IN SEARCH OF WORLD RECORD DUST DEVILS AND DISTANCE
Updated: New US Tandem Record, June 13: 115 miles, we're outta here until July.
May 20th: arrival in Hobbs, flapping photos
May 21: The Owl Incident, some flying.
May 22: Thunderstorms, the owl report continued.
May 23rd: Bigger thunderstorms...
May 24th: Really big thunderstorms
May 26th: Cool photos, a tornado.
May 28th: Conditions suck, so bad we're actualy working out.
May 30th: Distance is achieved thanks to butterflies.
June 1: Conditions improving!
June 4: We were fooled, it's blowing a hoolie, people are tweaking.
June 5: More wind, but conditions for skateboard kiting were stellar.
June 6th and 7th: 100 miles is achieved, a tow pounding, conditions improving.
New US Tandem Record, Josh flies 102 miles again, thunderstorms.
June 9: Changing airline tickets again, conditions good despite rains.
June 13: Bigger flights, but we're outta here.
Hobbs, NM, is home to some of the best conditions for gliding records of all kinds; sail planes, hang gliders and lately paragliders have all set records flying over the plains. Hobbs is located in Southeast New Mexico, just on the border with Texas. Most flights start in Hobbs and end somewhere out on the Texas "Llanyo." Last year, Scott Johnson, Josh Cohn and I spent three weeks flying in Texas, and by the time we were done we had flown more flights over 100 miles than had been cumulatively flown in the US up to that point. I set a new World Record of 179 miles, Josh Cohn flew 173 miles, and Scott went 141 miles on a DHV II Firebird Flame! The Texas plains are also home to some of the most intense weather in the world, so it's a balancing act between flying in excellent conditions and getting turned into a hailstone.
But World Records are fleeting; last winter, Godfrey Wennes from Australia went huge and manged to go about 20 miles farther than I went, which is cool becaue it was a great flight and also because it motivated me to get back to Hobbs. This year Scott, Josh, Eric Endicott, Pete Foster and asorted other people are going back for another round of battle with the West Texas tornadoes and dust devils... I'll try to keep this site updated as regularly as I can, but the house I'm staying in lacks phone lines so doing so will be a trick. Anybody want to give me a satellite phone?.
For those unfamilar with flat-land flying, it works like this: We tow up to about 1,000 feet above the ground behind a truck, then hopefully find a thermal and take it higher. Once we're high, we head out across the New Mexico/Texas plains in search of more thermals. If there's wind we can go farther because it blows us along even when we're turning circles in a thermal like a hawk, and makes the downwind glides much faster. We hope to fly 200+ miles this year, perhaps 250 if we get the perfect day. This means spending seven to eight hours in the air; bring drink and food.
We're towing with Crossroads Windsports, an excellent crew. The owner, Curt Graham, does more tows in a week than most people do all year. Experience can help make towing safer, so I'd rather pay to tow with him than do so myself on one of the innerumable dusty roads around here. Plus, Curt tows out of the old B17 bomber training runways, mainly abandoned except for sailplanes and Curt's operation. These runways are perfect, offering tows in line with almost any wind direction. Curt also has a hanger, a good place to store hang gliders, paragliders and all the other stuff you seem to need to store.
Looking at the Hobbs towing runways from above the clouds base..
The 98 World Record Story
Current World Records
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