John Borton

Rising Star

Aug 1, 2000
Outside Magazine


Years speed gliding, which involves strapping into a hang glider and sailing, just ten feet off the ground, down a mountainside at about 75 mph through a pylon-studded course:

National ranking among speed gliders:
First out of about 23.

Why he grew bored with cross-country hang gliding:
"It's like juggling eggs. Drop one egg and the fun is over. Speed gliding is like juggling chainsaws. You don't have to do it for long for it to be fun." 

Number of hang gliding rigs in his Los Gatos, California, garage:

What keeps him aloft:
"There's a certain amount of rush you can get from flying 80 or 90 miles an hour a couple of feet off the ground."

Competitions lost:
Zero out of six.

Goal for August:
To lead the eight-man U.S. team to first place at the Speed Gliding World Championships at Greece's Mount Olympus.

How teammate Reto Schaerli describes him:
"John is a type A-cubed personality. Intense wouldn't be the word."

Secret weapon:
The Sony Vaio 505 laptop that he uses to build a 3-D model and map of each race course. It helps him determine how fast he can fly each section.

Day job:
Field technical support for Silicon Valley–based Sportvision, which developed the NFL's "virtual" yellow first-down line.

Why speed gliding is safe:
"No one's been permanently injured. One guy did break his face into about 27 pieces last year, but that's the worst, and I think he's fine now.


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