This past weekend, something amazing happened. Against all odds, the 48th Annual Hang Gliding Spectacular Competition took place on October 25-27. The Spectacular is the longest continually running hang gliding competition in the world. We were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to uphold that tradition due to the current circumstances. But thanks to the hard work of our flight school team, this year’s Spectacular went off without a hitch!
Day 1: Hang Gliding Aerotow Competition
One of the changes we made for this year’s competition was to switch the order of the events. So on Friday, October 25th we hosted the Hang Gliding aerotow competition at the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg. This is the 30th year that an aerotow division was included in the Spectacular. What started as an overcast morning with some light rain, turned into a gorgeous day of flight.
As part of the aerotow event, we also offered new hang gliders from Wills Wing and Moyes to demo. Favorites this year were a Moyes Malibu 2 188, Moyes Gecko 170, and Wills Wing Sport 3 Race 155.
Our ultralight airplane tow pilot, Jon Thompson, made over 40 flights. Over 18 hang glider pilots competed in the spot landing aerotow competition.
The landing zone consisted of a 3-ring bullseye between a set of flags. A safe landing counted for 5 points, landing between the flags counted for 10 points, inside the first ring counted for 120 points, the second ring counted for 30 points, and the center ring counted for 50 points. All landings had to be in control and on their feet, and the only part of the glider that could touch the ground was the wing tips.
Day 2: Dune Hang Gliding Competition
Saturday, October 16th started off our dune competition. The wind came in from the southeast in the morning and was accompanied by some light rain and clouds. The south hill at Jockey’s Ridge State Park is challenging in the best conditions, but our 23 competitors made the most of the wind while they could.
We went through 2 rounds for both our novice and advanced pilots. After lunch, however, the wind switched and started coming from the west, making the course unsafe. Flight School Manager, Wolf Gaidis, ended the competition for the day at 2:15 pm.
Glenn Hockett Memorial
At 5:00 pm, we reconvened at the Kitty Hawk Kites flagship store in Nags Head for the annual Instructor Alumni Reunion. Then president and founder, John Harris led us in a memorial for Glenn Hockett.
Glenn Hockett was the second hang gliding instructor hired by Kitty Hawk Kites in 1974. Over the following years, Glenn taught thousands of people to fly, and helped build the Kitty Hawk Kites flight school into what it is today. Glenn was an excellent pilot and won the hang gliding Spectacular numerous times. He also competed at Grandfather Mountain and became a test pilot for Seagull Aircraft. Glenn was a great person and contributed so much energy to build our sport. He was an outstanding example of “teaching the world to fly.”
John Harris presented Hockett’s wife, Susan, with a plaque from the Rogallo Foundation commemorating Glenn for his contributions to the sport of hang gliding. We were honored to have her bring a slide show of pictures from Hockett’s time on the dunes as a pilot and instructor. Then several pilots came up to offer heartwarming stories about Glenn as well.
Day 3: Dune Hang Gliding Competition
Our last day of dune competition brought out some excellent flying from our pilots. The wind came out of the northwest on Sunday morning and the sun shone down on Jockeys Ridge State Park. This made put the course on our north hill and made for another challenging day of flying. But again, our competitors stepped up to the plate.
We finished another 2 rounds for our novice pilots and 3 rounds for our advanced pilots. Again the wind switched about halfway through the day. Our defending champion, Paul Mazzoni, took the last flight and found the wind too difficult to land safely. So the competition ended around 1:00 pm.
Awarding the Winners!
Of course, the most exciting part of the Hang Gliding Spectacular is acknowledging the top pilots from the weekend. Here are the winners!
Novice Dune Competition
An exciting turn of events for the novice dune competition, we had a tie for 2nd place.
Advanced Dune Competition
Just like the novice division, we had a tie for 2nd place in the advanced division as well.
Thank you to all of our competitors for coming to celebrate hang gliding and showing off their skills as pilots. Congratulations to all of our winners. Thank you also to all of our sponsors for this year’s event. The Hang Gliding Spectacular would not have happened this year without all of your help and participation. Thanks for helping us teach the world to fly!
If you want to participate in next years Hang Gliding Spectacular Competition, you can email our Flight Park Sales and Events Coordinator, Megan Turner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on social media.