World Open Distance Hang Gliding Record
On July 3, 2012, the hang gliding world all but stopped its earthly pursuits to tune in to perhaps the most exciting live action event in its modern history. We tried to look busy, pretending to ignore the vibrating phones in our pockets as the incoming Tweets, posts and e-mails threatened to reveal where our minds were focusing.
Jonny Durand Jr (Australia) and Dustin Martin (U.S.) are two of the world's great hang glider pilots. Friends as well as peers, Jonny and Dustin turn up very often on the winners' stand. Both pilots came to Zapata, Texas, in July '12 to seek record flights.
Stalking the 1,000 mile barrier for (sailplane) free distance in the U.S. —Photo by Gary Osoba
The World Record Encampment (WRE) began in '00 as the brainchild of organizer Gary Osoba. Gary's Pliable Moose hang glider company was among the many early pioneering efforts in hang gliding design and manufacture, and his accomplishments in soaring technology and technique are well known.
Searching for locations where terrain, airspace and weather conditions are favorable for soaring distance record flights, Gary noticed the "Bermuda high" pressure often sets up over the Gulf of Mexico in summer, and sometimes stays there for months.
Often the western side of this high produces consistent northerly flow up the west side of Texas and on up into the hot dry alluvial plains north of the Rio Grande. Moisture from the Gulf brings cumulus clouds, which may form "streets" and set up early in the day, enabling early takeoffs by pointing the way to the weak early lift.