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Hang Gliding: Holier Than Thou

Outside magazine, September 1994

Hang Gliding: Holier Than Thou
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard and John Alderman)

Over the years, top-ranked American pilot Tony Barton has collided with mountains, tangled in trees, and splatted on hardpan, but until the second day of last June's Sandia Classic, near Albuquerque, New Mexico, he'd never landed in a gopher hole. The encounter in the mountains near 10,678-foot Sandia Peak wasn't pleasant. Attempting to land after a 51-mile leg, the former Sandia champion tripped up in the hole and blew out his one good knee. "I trained in Australia all last winter and was planning on winning this meet," said the obviously disappointed Barton, who had been leading the U.S. team qualifying meet at the time. Mark Bennett, a 34-year-old up-and-comer from Salt Lake City, placed in five of the six races to edge out several pilots, including Kendrick Brown, his boss at Pacific Airways. Last year's winner, Kari Castle, of Bishop,California, finished 14th overall but at press time was still within reach of a spot on the roster for the World Championships, scheduled for June in Ager, Spain.

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