Congratulations to Chip Hildebrand for the breaking the Wyoming state cross-country paragliding distance record. Chip’s flight from Philips Ridge (Teton Pass) to Thermopolis covered over 137 miles and took 6:19. Chip was able to take advantage of a tail wind and primo thermals to steal the old record held by, I think, Josh Riggs for his flight from Jackson to Lander. Click here for other state paragliding distance records.
It's pretty wild to hear about the long distance flights some of these pilots are into. Sometimes you see them flying over the Grand Teton, but it's illegal to land in the park, so they have some logistics to deal with there on the way down to earth. But when they do these cross-country flights, it sure seems like there is another element of survival thrown into the mix. I mean, if Chip lost lift somewhere over the Gros Ventre or the Winds, he'd be hosed and stuck in the middle of nowhere, curling up in his wind to stay warm and wondering how the hell he we gonna get out of there. Pretty intense stuff if you really think about it.
Chip's record flight started on Teton Pass, flew over the Gros Vente Mountains,
then towards Continental Divide and the Wind River Mountains, before ending after
6 hours and 19 minutes in Thermopolis, WY.
Click photo for larger image.
Paragliding is pretty popular here in Jackson and as a non-paraglider/pilot, it's hard not to wonder what it's like to fly around like a bird like you see those guys do all the time near one of the many launch sites around the valley. Most pilots that I talk to say the the sport pretty much takes over your life once you really get into it. Riding the tram and gondola at JHMR make flying pretty convenient and the many weather stations in the area provide enough information for one to really geek out and find good places to fly in a variety of conditions. I always told myself I'd wait until I was 40 years old before I even thought about taking up paragliding. Well, I'm 39 now...so only one more year to go!!!