Jeff Hunt probably understood the trajectory of his career path in a way most people don't. With an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Texas at Austin and experience working with Tracor Aerospace after college, he is very familiar with how things move forward. Though most aerospace engineers are focused on building spaceships and watering blooming stars, Hunt chose to focus on hang-gliders. Over the past 25 years, he has competed in cross-country hang-gliding competitions and become a USHPA-certified advanced instructor. At Fly Texas and Fly Mexico, he shares his passion with students during the half-day intro classes and they learn from his experience with advanced lessons moving forward.
A triangular form soars across blue skies and swoops over Texas's sprawling terrain. But the flying figure isn't a bird or a frustrated geometry student's homework—it's one of Thermalriders’ gliders, which let novices master the art of flying under the guidance of U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association-certified instructors. During aerotow flights, instructors and students can then break free from gravity's tight grip as Dragonfly planes tow them to heights of up to 2,500 feet. Thermalriders' instructors also have the ability to capture each flight on video.
In 2012, a hang-glider pilot set the world record for distance while hovering above Texas soil for a thrilling 473 miles. Though newcomers won't be able to hit that range, they can still enjoy some of the same breathtaking sights with a discovery flight experience at Cowboy Up Hang Gliding. Cowboy Up Hang Gliding has been in business since 2003 years with over 3,000 tandem flights. There, USHPA-certified instructors fly along and help guide guests as they glide through the air. Flights can reach up to three soaring heights, from 2,000 feet to a heady one mile above ground. Though memories of this experience are usually very strong, staff can also take HD photos of the flight so guests can explain the thrill to friends and family or one day prove to their grandkids that they really did fly uphill to school every day. Take-offs and landings are on wheels so this low-impact activity involves no running or jumping and can be exhilarating for anyone, regardless of physical condition.