Hanging high in Refugio

A hang glider pilot is air lifted by a motorized trike glider at Refugio County Airport on Friday, June 29. Numerous hang glider pilots returned to Refugio for the third year in a row to enjoy the unique thermals that keep hang gliders in the air.

Numerous non-motorized hang-glider pilots gathered at the Refugio County Airport this past week for fun and some to meet goals of breaking records for duration of flight.

Among them was Australian Jon Durand, sponsored by Red Bull, who said he intended to break the world distance record that he once had but lost to American Dustin Martin in 2012,  when Martin set the record at 475 miles. And he did it flying around 11 hours straight.

However, Durand did not make his goal this time; he said on Facebook that he had a lot of fun despite falling short.

Durand started out around 9 a.m. Friday from the Refugio County Airport with good thermals.  But as he approached Central Texas, dry air let him down, literally.

But fun was always there to be had.

Glen Volk, 61, of San Diego, California, also set out to break a record on Friday morning.

“If we have the conditions ... maybe,” he said.

“If we don’t, we will have some fun,” Volk said.

Volk added he has been hang gliding for 40 years, starting in 1979.

A four-year veteran, Tyson Taylor, 35, said he loves hang gliding.

“The peacefulness. The being in the air near the clouds. The serenity that can’t be matched, and it is the overwhelming sense of freedom,” Taylor said.

He added that hang gliding offers “pure freedom.”

Robin Hamilton, 57, from Scotland and now living in Houston the past couple of years, said he was after the World Distance Declared Gold record.

And Nathan Wreyford, 43, from Austin, Texas, said he wanted to beat his personal best.

“I was here last year and flew 170 miles,” he said.

He noted that earlier in the week he flew up to San Marcos.

Each hang glider pilot has a driver who follows along on the ground, picks up the pilot and carries them back to Refugio.