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400 Mile Barrier Broken!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Yesterday, Austrian pilot Manfred Ruhmer set the World Hang Gliding and Flex Wing distance record by flying 430 miles from Zapata, Texas. Davis Straub of Seattle set the Rigid Wing record at 405 miles.

Manfred released from tow at approximately 10 AM and with a bit of daylight still remaining and 450 miles very possible "got tired and landed".

Amazing. I have yet to produce my first century flight and these folks are going over 400 miles.

post #2 of 9

Is this a straight line distance, or is it "air miles", where they could do a 1 mile circle 100 times to go 100 miles?

How long was he in the air?

400 miles is like flying from DC to Vermont!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited July 18, 2001).]</FONT>
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Straight line from Zapata. I don't have all of the specifics yet so I can't tell you where they landed. The report this morning was provided by Davis who was obviously really beat. I was watching these results come in last night as another pilot on the ground, but in radio contact provided updates every 30 minutes or so. I believe that they flew about 10 hours.

According to Davis "The day was a regular Zapata day. Nothing special......"
"Winds were out of the southeast - 120 degrees at 15 to 20 mph."

Imagine how far they would have gone with a tailwind component of 25 - 35 mph. That's another 50 - 150 miles.

post #4 of 9
'nother question. At what altitude did he release from the tow?

I guess you need a 120 degree day to have a constant flow of rising air to keep you up there, since there are no mountains in Texas to work for thermals. Or did I read that wrong and 120 degrees was the wind direction?
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

It's interesting that you would ask that release height question. It has been a controversial topic lately. The International governing body specifies that record attempts from tow cannot commence above 2000M agl. That is well above the convective layer in south Texas at 10 AM. There have been a group of pilots in Zapata this summer with the expressed goal of setting new world records. They have been using the international rules to their benefit, netting some miles before ever having to work a single thermal. Many pilots feel that these are free miles and therefore cheapen any record.

I believe that Manfred released from 4000ft agl. Davis, who arranged the Zapata “World Record Encampment” broke a weak link on his first tow at 570-some feet and would have returned to the airstrip for another tow but encountered weak lift and figured, “What the hell”, so he just worked pukers below the top of convection and drifted downwind. Eventually the day turned on and I assume the going got easier. Like I said, I still don’t have a full report. At any rate, he got it the hard way.

I personally don’t have any problem with someone using the rules to their benefit but some folks will have an issue with Manfred’s flight. I think they are whiners. Manfred is recognized as possibly the best hang glider pilot in the world through his results in world XC racing competition. For those who wondered if he was a single dimensional pilot who could only go fast I hope this answers their question..

BTW, a couple of weeks ago Mark Postachion (spelling) from Arkansas set the record from Zapata at 369-ish miles. I can’t recall the exact distance but it was something like that. He remained in Zapata but didn’t attempt to break his own record. He was waiting until it was broken before he tried it again. He made it clear that the stress of the flight was something that he was not looking forward to doing again. I think that Manfred and Davis have forced his hand.

120 degrees was the wind direction. While a high surface temperature can certainly contribute to the formation of thermals the key thing is change of temperature with altitude. This is an overly simplified explanation but as long as the temperature drops by say approximately 4 degrees per thousand feet a parcel of air can continue to rise as it cools. Humidity also comes into play here. I have flown on many Winter days in excellent thermals when the surface temp was cold but sufficiently higher than the air aloft.

As soon as Davis updates his website with details I’ll post the address

post #6 of 9
Back in the day - 84 ish - when I was interested in flying, the distance records were being set in Owens Valley. They were taking off from (I think) 10000 ft above the valley floor - so the 6600 agl limit doesn't seem out of line.

What are the glide ratios of the new gliders?
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Manfred released at 3000' msl yesterday,
which was cloudbase. He is such a stud. Hope that shuts up the whiners.


Walt's Point, where many of the long Owens flight originate is around 9k msl. The valley floor is around 4k msl. It rises as it goes north up towards Mono Lake at 6200'. I have no idea what the rationale is with the Europeans on the 2k’ meter rule. Must have something to do with the Alps.

I can say this about Owens flights, it is a long way out to the highway any good landable terrain from the crest of the Sierras. That first 60 miles along the range headed north has to be accomplished in good time because when the sun moves from lighting the east face Sierras to the west face of the Whites and Inyos you want to be on your way across the valley to towards Black Mountain, at the south end of the Whites. Otherwise the onshore flow will start whistling down from the west, chasing birds out of the air and pounding gliders down towards the earth. Scratch your way up Black Mtn., head north towards White, get stinking high, hypoxic and your butt kicked above 14k and maybe you will slip off the end of the range into Nevada.

I still feel that Owens pilots have the big “ones”. No records there anymore just plenty big air. Double Black Diamond air!

L/D these days is so dependent upon cleanliness of pilot/harness/helmet/basetube/sidewires combos that it's kinda tough to say for sure. Some of the rigids are talking about 19:1. Maybe. It's safe to say 15:1 with a reasonably clean setup for state of the art stuff.

One of the big things that has made a difference is the decent glides at higher speeds that are now possible. In '84 your glide really went downhill at much above 30-40 mph. You could do 60 but so could a toolbox. Now, you can do 50-60 mph between thermals or transiting sink and still cop a respectable glide. If you need to go 70 mph you can do it.


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[This message has been edited by jd (edited July 19, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by jd (edited July 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #8 of 9
You know. I've only been hang gliding 3 times, never flying more than 200 yards or getting more than about 30 feet in the air (haven't done a tow yet), but I find this to be really interesting. The line on that map says it all. I'm in awe of how far that guy flew a friggin hang glider!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
This just in. http://www.davisstraub.com/OZ/Ozv5n130.htm
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[This message has been edited by jd (edited July 19, 2001).]</FONT>
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