Hang Gliding: Thermal Letdown

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, October 1995

Hang Gliding: Thermal Letdown
By Todd Balf (with John Alderman)

For drama, it wasn't bad: on the final day of the World Hang Gliding Championships last July near Ager, Spain, Thomas Suchanek of Czechoslovakia and Manfred Ruhmer of Austria, the sport's two top pilots, were tied for first place and soaring in the same thermal, less than 100 feet apart. Though he held the advantageous higher position, Ruhmer made the first move and exited the updraft, thinking he had enough altitude to get him to the goal and enough of a lead that he wouldn't be outglided by the world champion behind him. Alas, he misjudged and landed 150 feet short of the goal, while his rival, who waited longer in the thermal, made it easily. The U.S. squad placed third in the team standings, after Austria and France.

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