by Roma Vivas
BIG SPRING- It's a hang gliders' paradise in Big Spring. West Texas high clouds and dry climate make it the perfect spot for their annual hang gliding competition. About 35 pilots are competing for one week to be part of the team that will represent the U.S. in the World Championship of Hang Gliding in France.
"We have an eight day contest from Saturday to Saturday, the flying mainly is done around one o'clock in the afternoon when pilots take off," David Glover, Competition Organizer, said.
Pilots first line up at the runway where they will be lifted up into air. They will be in the Big Spring Skies for a while, then they will start heading to their goal.
"They basically do a 3 dimensional race in the sky where the clouds act like the gas stations. If they stop at too many gas stations it takes a long time to get around the course, if they don't stop in enough gas stations, some times they end up in the ground," Glove said.
Pilots from all over the country gather in Big Spring for the daily race. Hang gliders can go any where from 18 to 80 miles an hour and while it may be a contest, some pilots say they fly just for fun.
"Big Spring is a place I have been hearing about for a couple of years, it's famous, has some outstanding flying completions in the past, and I wanted to come and be part of it," Hang Glider Pilot Zac Majors, said.
"Winning is nice but these pilots are some of the best in the world so I don't anticipate winning, I get lucky sometimes I might win a day, but I am not going to win the meet," Hang Glider Pilot Greg Shastain, said.
This year the competition is smaller, last year Big Spring hosted the World Championship, but that doesn't mean the contest will be taken lightly.
"We had over one hundred and twenty pilots from thirty different nations coming and compete in the World Championships. This year, we scaled back the competition a little bit it's the Internationals this year, we have pilots from all over the nation and a few international competitors, but we wanted to give Big Spring a little break," Glover said.