Two Men, One Sky: A Flight to the Finish
January 13, 2013 3:46 PM   Subscribe

"THE CLOUDS stretched across the Texas sky like a highway. And soaring along those lanes, lofted nearly 8,000 feet by the hot air rising from the earth, two hang gliders raced in tight pursuit of the most prized feat in this high adrenaline niche sport: farthest ever flown." The NY Times on breaking the hang gliding long distance record.
posted by Long Way To Go (13 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What a lovely article! I had to check the byline to see it's not Langewiesche; it's A.G. Sulzberger. Great story getting inside the pilots' heads.

Here's a Google Map of the route described in the article. Note this is following roads, not exactly the flying route. But it sure hits home just how far this is. If someone told me they were going to fly a hang glider from Laredo to Lubbock I'd have checked to see if they ate the worm out the bottom of the bottle the night before.
posted by Nelson at 4:20 PM on January 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

How did they pee?
posted by Burhanistan at 4:29 PM on January 13, 2013

How did they pee?

The article mentions them freely relieving themselves onto the terrain below. I went hiking some years ago with a person who said guys would fly from an area we went by (Horsethief Canyon in San Diego County) up to Palm Springs, and they would catheterize themselves for the trip.

It's interesting that they have a tow plane for hangliders - I know that's the norm for regular gliders, but at the couple places near me that hangliders and paragliders frequent, they're basically just jumping off a cliff.
posted by LionIndex at 4:37 PM on January 13, 2013

Hang gliding is something I have always wanted to learn to do, and the distance that these guys flew is indeed pretty amazing. That said, it kind of sounds like these guys are sort of assholes.

--The archetype of the adventurous Australian, [Durand] was known to friends as someone who operated best with a few margaritas or at least a decent hangover.

--The pilots almost universally hated [Zapata], cursing the second-rate Mexican food and the motel room scorpions that kept them company during what could be weeks of waiting between flights.

--"Why people go bowling or play golf is simply beyond me." ... Dustin Martin was at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. [a town with a median family income of $97,000]"

--When the flying was over, often with them winning the top two places, they would spend the night together swilling beer and taking their chances with women.

That reporter really must have found these people insufferable.
posted by Scientist at 4:51 PM on January 13, 2013

Loved the article. Also loved how it made everything else in the print edition of today's NYT sports section seem inconsequential.
posted by valleys at 6:00 PM on January 13, 2013

Yeah, this was great. And though I've never hung out with record breakers, it wouldn't surprise me that they were assholes, it's an archetype of high achievers in a lot of fields. (Except for my own, laziness.)
posted by maxwelton at 6:46 PM on January 13, 2013

That's a great article. Reading it at breakfast this morning made my day. I appreciated how the writer and graphic designer got all of the aviation details correct.
posted by monotreme at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2013

Great story. I could use a margarita too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:04 PM on January 13, 2013

posted by Long Way To Go
um, eponysterical.
posted by progosk at 10:51 PM on January 13, 2013

How did they pee?

The article mentions them freely relieving themselves onto the terrain below.

posted by Long Way To Go
um, eponysterical.

posted by The otter lady at 12:14 AM on January 14, 2013

Great article. The pacing mirrored the feat itself: I found myself not wanting it to end, but resigned to the fact that it had to.
posted by Didymium at 3:58 AM on January 14, 2013

That's some epic stuff.
posted by ph00dz at 6:06 AM on January 14, 2013

Really good writing. Call me old-fashioned, but reading this on my porch with a cup of coffee on Sunday morning was 1,000 times more enjoyable than all the whizbang multi-media crap that rolled out with the NYT avalanche story.
posted by sixpack at 6:17 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

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