2018 wrap-up


Another year has flown by and I can’t believe that it’s already time to wrap up 2018

Watching a storm system develop, explode, and break apart

It looks like I was able to get an hour long out and return flight in Jan. But that is pretty common for Cowboy Up Hang Gliding. There is usually pretty consistent hang gliding going on all year long.

These numbers do not show any of the tandems that I did…only solo.

2018 was tough, to say the least, but I learned a lot about myself as a pilot. Without a doubt my biggest learning experience was my crash in Refugio. What an eye opener! Since the accident I have been giving myself plenty of margin and it has taken a lot of the stress out of my flying.

Lets, see what are some of the highlights. I won the 2018 xcontest.com USA competition for the Sports class. The United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association sent me an awesome medal and a super cool jacket! I really love the jacket! I had a big flight that I was unable to upload the data and it held back my score but I still won!

Getting the sail back on and the fit was perfect!!

That brings me to another highlight of 2018, REFUGIO!!! I had some amazing flights and made some great memories! What I am most proud about was my rebound after the crash. I was able to get back on the saddle and make some EPIC flights! The crown jewel would be my first “Test” flight on the all new Moyes Gecko 170 and flying 140 miles for 8 hours! What a trip! Hanging out with Jonny Durand, getting the pep talks and learning all about Jonnys’ past was friggen awesome! I learned a lot!

Soaring Skies

The other main highlight of 2018 was getting my Tandem Instructors rating! Wow, it really is awesome to take someone up and see their eyes fill with Hang Gliding stoke! Yewww!!! The training to become a Tandem Instructor for Aerotow was rigorous. I really felt a LOT of weight being added to my shoulders every time I flew. It changes the way I fly and it is in a good way. Here is to many more tandems in 2019!!!

Probably the COOLEST flight of 2018 was my Mothers Day Flight where I flew 120+ miles on the exact same day (Mothers Day) one year before. I took a slightly different path but I was familiar with most of the area! So much fun!!! I managed to fly even further than 2017! For mothers day 2019, you bet your bottom dollar, I’m going for a three-peat!

Anyways, I have been running this site for a few years now. I rarely get any comments, email, or feedback. So, I think that I am going to close this chapter of my life, writing about hang gliding. More than likely I will not renew the website thermalcowboy.com and save the $200 dollars.

3rd Annual XC Bohl Fly-In and XC Clinic

It seemed like the XC Bohl was never going to get here, then just like a flash it had started and ended!  Saturday morning I got to Cowboy Up at 8am to do any last minute prep for the XC Bohl.  I jumped on the lawn mower and spent the next hour cutting around the hangar.  This year there was a major improvement, we had a LOT LESS mosquitoes.  Last year the mosquitoes were relentless, this year it wasn’t even that bad.  Anyways, we had the XCB slated to begin at 9am with the XC clinic but in typical fashion we didn’t get the clinic started until 10am…needless to say, Robins’ clinic was awesome and he had a ton of great stories from his recent trip to the Santa Cruz Flats Race where he took 1st place overall.

The wind was mild coming SE at 10mph and I managed to swap my busted VG rope out with a new one.  Robin set the first task for Columbus, Texas at the old HGT airport.  Not too long ago all hanggliding operations happened at the old Columbus airport.  By the time that I launched it was 1 o’clock and to the SW all the way to the NW there was rain.  Not storms, but light rain.  Nekked Rich and I were basically able to launch at the same time because both Tiki and Gregg Ludwig were towing.  We topped out and soon Rich and I had to figure out what we were going to do.

The wind aloft was 15mph and the cloudbase was at 3700′.  Our courseline was littered with rain.  To the ENE there were blue skies and good looking cumulus clouds.  We had to make our move soon so I said on the radio…”Looks like it’s raining on courseline, I’m going to head East NorthEast.”  By this time though, Rich was already committed to flying through a gap in the rain and busting out on the other side where he allegedly saw sunny fields.  Me on the other hand I decided to fly away from the rain and head out to the good looking skies.

It was tough going East.  I got low and had to run back to the Cowboy Up airport with my tail between my legs.  Luckily, I was able to climb up right over Juniors gas station at 1200′ and get back up in the game with the help of Rich2 way up above me marking the thermals.  Once I got back up I heard Rich come up on the radio, “I’m NE of the plantations (Glen Flora)”  When I heard this I realized that Rich was long gone and I wasn’t going to catch him.

After about an hour of flying and drifting in some challenging thermals I heard Rich come on the radio saying he was landing.  That didn’t make sense at all because he seemed like he was doing good.  Anyways, I had the rain to the west and it was drifting along with me and cutting me off from flying to the goal.  So I decided to just stay up and see what I could do.  Everytime I got a climb I cut crosswind to the East to get away from the rain and more toward friendlier skies.   Then I would go on glide and repeat the crosswind track.

It was fun but I wasn’t having too good of luck as the skies to my East began to dry up and the clouds to the West began to cover up my sun light.  I had a great landing and was happy that I got the entire flight on video.  Ben drove up and got me and we had a great evening at the Cowboy Up Hangars. There were 17 pilots who flew that Saturday.


Anyways, this year I was awarded with the Jeff Bohl honoree trophy.  I prepared a speech and I had to cut it short because I felt like I was rambling on….anyways I was humbled as several of my good friends shared stories about me.  We enjoyed pizzas and drinks and we had a great time camping out under the stars.