Hang gliding returns to Big Spring

Drew Williams
Sports Editor

For the 15th straight year, Big Spring’s sky will be filled with hang gliders starting on August 6. The 2016 Big Spring Hang Gliding Nationals will be held August 7-13, with practices open to the public starting the day before. The event is one of four national championship events in the hang gliding community.
“This is going to be the 15th year for this event, and it’s part of a series of national championships, but it’s been called the Big Spring Nationals forever,” organizer and meet director Belinda Boulter said. “Big Spring is famous for the consistency of the weather conditions above all else. People just love coming to fly there. You’ve got the wide open spaces and day after day of sunny weather with good lift. So really it’s one of the top places in the world. And the community always supports us.”
Boulter said Big Spring is renowned for its hang gliding conditions because of its “thermals”, which are essentially bubbles of rising air.
“The sun heats up the ground and you get these, what kind of look like dust devils. They’re bigger and they’re not as violent. But the hang gliders use those and they fly from thermal to thermal,” she said. “Just like a hawk. Just like the way hawks circle, you’ll see hang gliders circling to climb.”
Big Spring’s geographic location helps ensure the thermals are consistent in August.
“For whatever reason, a lot of places in August are really stable and there’s an inversion and there’s no lift. But in Big Spring, you don’t get those inversions so much. The air is lifting. And it’s also the same for long distances, like you’re not running into a mountain range or a big lake or something so day after day it’s dry and it’s consistent,” Boulter said.

For more on this story, pick up Sunday's edition of the Herald.