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Whitewater-area Hang Gliders Have Heads, Hearts in the Clouds

Hang Glide Wisconsin, based at Gutzmer’s Twin Oaks Airport near Whitewater, Wis., has become a hub for hang gliding in Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and upper Iowa, with 55 people regularly flying and a community always searching for more members. The hang gliders are towed on a dolly behind an airplane, which releases them at 2,000 feet or more in the air, from which they can soar ever higher on thermals and stay in the air for hours at a time. “There are days you’re out flying and you’ll see a beautiful red tail hawk. You go over and soar with them,” says John Gamble, who flies weekly at Hang Glide Wisconsin. “They’ll be 10 feet off your wings.” John Krueger, an Illinois resident who often travels to Whitewater to hang glide, adds, “I just love the challenge of a vehicle that has no engine.” The community has drawn people from all walks of life, such as Terry Kramer, who has been hang gliding since 1994 and notes “the solace” and “the freedom” of gliding in the air. “I feel I’m safer in a hang glider than a motorcycle these days,” says longtime hang-gliding enthusiast and former motorcyclist Raymond Sulin. “It’s all about staying up in the air and how long I can stay in the air without an engine.”

June 16, 2009

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