Davis Straub con Cloudsuck: The Life and Death Struggle for the Hang Gliding World Record (English Edition)
I wrote Cloudsuck to appeal both to a broad audience interested in adventure writing and to those who have imagined what it would be like to take flight on their own, perhaps as they have already done in their dreams. It tells the gripping story of the decade-long effort that lead up to the shattering of the hang gliding distance record in Zapata, Texas, in July, 2000. Through this story the general reader can feel what it's like to be a cross country hang glider pilot flying over 300 miles in a ten hour flight.
Cloudsuck also appeals to members of the hang gliding community as a story of adventure and struggle in the extreme regions of cross country hang gliding.
I fly the way you fly in your dreams.
I have a pair of wings attached to my back. I can feel them there and if I look up I can see them. They are my wings. I feel the air through them and through my body. They might as well be part of my body.
Every action and movement I take is in response to what I'm feeling through my wings, the wings coming out of my back. There isn't any sensation of my controlling some other craft outside of me through intermediary devices. I'm just moving my body around and flying.
I'm a hang glider, not a hang glider pilot. I just fly. There is no craft that I steer. I'm not sitting in some cockpit. I'm out there like Superman in the air with my arms out. I'm not sitting at all, but rather stretched out just the way you imagine it in your flying dreams.
I don't look out a window, everything is all around me and I don't have any obstructions to the view. Wherever I look I see the earth laid out below me and the clouds stretched out above me. My bird's eye view is just that.
My hands grip a horizontal bar (the control bar) in front of and a little below me. Holding onto this bar I move my body around to control my wings. I need only a small part of my muscle power to fly, just my sense of where to move my body to guide my wings.
I know where to find air that is rising and that will take me up with it. I can sense and find the invisible power that is inherent in the warmer air coming from the earth below. I've taken flights over long distances using no more power than my ability to sense the power that is all around me.
For me and others who share this approach, flying is a personal and an immediate sensation. It's like walking, running, or bicycling. And like these activities, it is a completely normal skill accessible to all human kind.
In the air every second I'm doing something that keeps me flying and keeps me from falling to the ground. Every second I'm making the choice to fly and not to fall. Just as you do every time you go bicycling.
As a society we think that we know a lot about flying. We've got a huge commercial aviation industry. We design and build advanced aircraft for commercial and military, as well as recreational purposes. We have airports everywhere throughout our country. We have a thriving general aviation sector of small aircraft.
While this is a form of flying, it is not what this book is about. I'm speaking to you alone as someone who can make the choice to fly on your own. It doesn't matter what the rest of humankind does, or how our societies are structured. You have the choice to be in the air by yourself, with just your own wings coming out of your back.