“There is an art to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
SANDIA SOARING HISTORY
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New Mexico's history of Free Flight is like many other areas. New comers hear the stories.It started with a small crew of folks crazy enough to work with the equipment of the day and jump off the local mountains. As technology progressed so did the feats of courage. Many of these flights will go unnoticed. Hopefully these stories, besides taking New Mexico free flight out of the darkness, will give new folks a sense of the tenacity of those that came before them. There are some great pilots in New Mexico.
Shown below: Ben Abruzzo celebrates breaking the long-standing NM state record. And, he did so from a foot launch on Sandia.
NEW MEXICO RECORDS
Many long flights have been done off Sandia Peak, and there are a bunch of unsung heros. Some flights will go unshared. But there have been flights towards Cuba, Las Vegas, Mountain Air, Clines Corners, Tucumcari, and other far off locations, some of which have not been repeated.
And then there are the longest flights. Here is a short list of known flight record holders, and some significant distance flights:
New Mexico State Record: Ben Abruzzo, 197.5 miles(317.9kms) in 7hrs 24mins, Sandia Peak Launch to near Bootleg Texas. --June, 4, 2020. Ben wrote,"Yesterday I set the New Mexico paragliding state record..197 miles! After 7 and a half hours of flying I landed just a mile or so over the border in Texas. The record has stood for over 20 years. I am very humbled considering the record had been held by the legendary Will Gadd. It was an amazing day, big winds, big sky and a bit luck. Couldn’t have done it without Allie and Max Montgomery."
Previous State Record: Will Gadd, tow launch from near the Texas border and flying into Texas.
Previous Footlaunch Record: Patrick Harvey-Collard in Spring 2018 flew 187 miles (301kms) to near Logan, NM (east of Tucumcari) on a Class C paraglider
Patrick was accompanied by Max Montgomery for half that distance before Max grounded out.
PG Record: Patrick Harvey-Colard in Spring 2018 flew 128.6 miles (207km) on a Class C paraglider
Other PG flights: Wyatt _______: 122 miles to Vaughn, NM. May 24, 2020
Hangglider Record: Rich Reinauer, 195 miles to Conchas, NM, May 24, 2020
State Hanggliding Flights:
There are 4 flights over 200 miles off Sandia Peak, all done with hanggliders.
Jim Lee in 1989 flew 202 miles to Bovina, TX
Heiner Biesels in 2006 flew 242 miles to just shy of Amarillo, TX.
XCONTEST 2018 TOP TEN RESULTS
Patrick and Max flew off Sandia Peak and into the top 10 c class glider pilots in the US. This is no small feat considering the competition, and the milage, showing us what is possible for long distance XC paragliding off Sandia.
PLEASE ADD TO OUR STORY
Much of what has been accomplished in our region has been done by folks that are not current active members of our association. There are many stories to be told, and the hope is to expand this section. Appreciation goes out to the pilots that have been active in the community for decades. Mel Glanz (still only HGs), Chuck Wood, Bill Lemon, Bo Frazier, Jim Stelzer, Jim Borders, and many others. If you have notes, pictures, or would like to share a story, please contact us.
Above is Bill Lemon in the golden years of Hanggliding.