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Two Men, One Sky: A Flight to the Finish

Two 32-year-old men attempt to break the record for the farthest anyone has ever flown in a hang glider:

"Strong thermals, which are sought and feared, are capable of lifting a hang glider thousands of feet in minutes. Lighter thermals, the ones Martin was hunting, require precise flying to find and then ascend. In most other places, pilots would simply wait until the day had warmed sufficiently before starting their flights. But for this record chase, every extra minute of daylight mattered.

"So Martin traveled cautiously, watching for soaring birds and developing clouds to detect areas with lift, while eyeing the ground to make sure he had a backup plan if he kept descending.

"Pilots hated this early stretch of the trip. Air conditions often force them to fly so low that they have to be ready to land at any time. But there was nowhere to land, except the clearings around the occasional oil pump, that did not risk shredding them and tearing up their gliders with thorns up to three inches long."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7400 words)