Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Paragliding pilot breaks record from Baldy to Montana

Gavin McClurg travels 240 Miles

    Paragliding pilot Gavin McClurg took off from Bald Mountain at 11:07 a.m. and flew 34 miles farther than any previous attempt in North America.  
    The flight lasted just over 7½ hours to eclipse the previous record, set by Nick Greece from Jackson Hole, Wyo. just last year at 204 miles.  
    McClurg’s route crossed several of the largest mountain ranges in the American West, with peaks over 13,000 feet, including the Boulders, Pioneers, Big Lost, Lemhi’s and the Continental Divide.  
    The pilot landed just after 6 p.m. at the edge of Canyon Ferry Lake, just outside of Helena, Mont.  The average speed of the flight was over 52 kilometers per hour and gained altitudes of 18,000 feet.  
    “I had no intention of flying that day,” McClurg said.  “A friend of mine, Nate Scales and I had a huge flight to near Bozeman the day before. I landed just 5 km short of the Idaho distance record (319 km) on the Madison River. We didn’t get home until 0330 in the morning.  I was pretty tired out!”
    But when McClurg woke up the next day the conditions looked even better.
    “I raced to the store, bought some food, borrowed a canister of oxygen from a friend and headed up the hill,” McClurg said.  
    As pilots who fly in this area often reach altitudes where you can easily become hypoxic, they recommend flying with supplemental oxygen.  
    McClurg, 41, started flying in 2006. He started competing last year, flying in his first World Cup event in Sun Valley last August.  He was the captain of a kitesurfing expedition sailboat from 1999 through 2011.  
    “As soon as we were done sailing, my every thought is about flying.  I’ve flown in India, all across the Alps, in the Atlas mountains of Morocco, in South and Central America, and in many places in Africa,” McClurg added. “I moved to Sun Valley last year because in my opinion it’s the best mountain site on Earth.  It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s often pretty intense, but there’s nowhere better for huge distance.”  
    “I left three hours on the table on this flight.  I landed when the thermals were still working really well.  But I had some pretty serious weather to my south and too much westerly wind to head north.  I basically ran out of places to go.  But on the right day, someone will fly over 500 kilometers from here, easy.”

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