San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
Pilot Ben Dunn glides over the San Marcos River on Sunday during a 28-mile journey from Luling to near his home at Canyon Lake. COURTESY PHOTO

Pilot Ben Dunn glides over the San Marcos River on Sunday during a 28-mile journey from Luling to near his home at Canyon Lake. COURTESY PHOTO

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by BRAD ROLLINS

Thousands of feet above San Marcos, a Canyon Lake man slipped unnoticed through the clouds on Sunday riding the earth’s thermal waves for 28 miles over Blackland prairie and Hill Country.

The pilot, Ben Dunn, competes internationally in hang-gliding competitions, notching a personal record of 154-miles in seven hours in Australia. By comparison, his 28-mile trek on Jan. 20 was a short trip but significant in its own right. The 39-year-old British native fought a headwind and dodged two airport “no-fly” areas and the Fentress skydiving drop zone en route from Luling to a location near Purgatory Road, where he landed six miles short of his goal.

“I thought it would be pretty neat to try and fly home,” said Dunn, who intended to make it back to his home on Canyon Lake. “I surprised myself. It was a January and it’s also not a flight that’s been tried before. It was kind of a leap.”

Towed to 2,000 feet by a Dragonfly Ultralight owned by Thermal Riders LLC, Dunn rose to a height of 4,000 feet as his girlfriend chased him in a vehicle down below. He said he almost landed a few times during the three-mile flight but was able to stay airborne by following in the trail of some hawks.

Dunn moved to Comal County from California about a year ago and brought his love of hang-gliding with him. He inherited his 20-year love of the sport from his father and shares it with many of his relatives.

“It’s just my destiny,” he said.

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