This was the first
hang-gliding meet ever staged in Utah, and despite unfavorable weather and few
spectators, it seemed to show that the sport, long thought to be the activity
of a few suicidal maniacs, was at last coming into its own. The tournament
lasted 10 exhausting days—five days of flying were canceled because of wind
conditions. Any wind over 15 mph would throw the pilots into the air and dash
them back onto the rocks.
Most of the
competitors were in their 20s and had been flying since they were teen-agers.
Besides Reggie Jones, who is 31 years old and comes from Reno, Nev., they
included Tom Peghiny, 23, of Carpinteria, Calif., who started gliding at 13
with a homemade bamboo and plastic rig, and who now holds 29 tournament
victories, and his partner. Malcolm Jones (no kin to Reggie), 22, who started
at 15, while towed behind boats over Florida lakes.
Malcolm Jones won
with the lowest number of penalty points. In the last event, the time accuracy,
he landed in five minutes, 18.72 seconds, only half a second nearer the
five-minute mark than second-place finisher Gordon Pollock of Golden, Colo. The
two were so close that Jones offered to split the first-and second-place
prizes, a total of $3,000, down the middle. Pollock accepted. One felt the
flyers had come to the meet less to compete than to gather, like birds before
winter, among their own kind. And like aviators of an earlier day, they are
addicted to the air.
Reggie Jones won
nothing, but he didn't seem to mind. "I bought a house about the same time
I bought my glider," he said. "And that was the last time I saw my
house. The glider always comes first. You get up there and it cures headaches
and it cures worries, and if you're thinking about your life, maybe a lady or
something, or a job, you get up there and all that goes away. I've been scared
up there, so scared I've cried out for my momma. But if I don't get air for a
long time, I get crazy. And another thing. I used to be a duck hunter. But ever
since I started gliding, I haven't been able to kill a bird."