Thanks to our neighbors Bill and Pat, we were treated to an evening of breathtaking entertainment. Bill had been in touch with some local hang gliders who let him know they were planning to fly late this afternoon about 20 minutes out of Gunnison. He invited us to tag along. So, of course, we did!
No, these aren't the hang gliders! Our spectating crew from the KOA surveyed the takeoff area over beautiful Blue Mesa Reservoir, which is the largest lake in Colorado.
Four hang gliders arrived, and three of them went to work setting up their gliders.
With the "wings" extended, they started to look like hang gliders.
This pilot was quick to tie down his glider as soon as the wings were out. This thing could become a big kite in a heartbeat!
Next, it was time to install the "instruments", which helps the pilot monitor altitude, wind speed and direction.
The three gliders were set up, tied down and ready to fly.
The full windsock at the takeoff point offered good and not-so-good news. The good news is there was plenty of breeze to fly, but maybe a bit too much. Plus, it was out of the wrong direction.
"Sometimes we call this 'hang waiting'," explained one pilot as he stood patiently waiting for the wind to calm down and straighten out.
With less than hour of daylight left, one pilot decided it was time to get on the "runway".
Perched on the bluff, he was ready to catch the cool Colorado breeze.
A couple of steps and he was off!
He sure made flying this thing look easy.
Can you spot the hang glider high in the sky?
We really enjoyed this stunning sunset over Blue Mesa, but his view had to be even better.
Soon he made a quick flyover the takeoff site.
He circled around to make his approach.
Now, that was a smooth landing!
And who was this mystery pilot? John Heiney, world champion freestyle hang glider pilot and world record holder of continuous loops in one flight. That's 52! And how old is this super daredevil? 62 years young!
Good to know. We have a few years yet to take up flying, if we we want. For now, hang gliding will remain a spectator sport!