Thirty years ago: Larry Tudor sets height record

Larry Tudor with landing witnesses. Photo: FAI archive

Larry Tudor with landing witnesses. Photo: FAI archive

Thirty years ago on 4 August 1985 US hang glider pilot Larry Tudor set a world record for gain of height, climbing 4,343m in one flight.

Tudor, described as “part bird, part sky god”, was a pioneer hang glider pilot in the 1970s and 1980s, pushing hang gliding as far as it could go. He set a total of 10 FAI World Records in his long career, and was the first pilot to break the 200-mile mark on a flight in 1983. Famously in hang gliding circles, he also ‘flew Everest’ – carrying a hang glider part way up the West Ridge of the world’s highest mountain.

Map of Owens Valley and Larry Tudor's 1985 flight

Map of Owens Valley and Larry Tudor’s 1985 flight

The world record flight 30 years ago started in the famous Owen’s Valley, known for its strong thermals and extreme conditions. Launching his Flexwing Ultralite GZ155 at 10.15am from Horseshoe Meadows in Owens, his flight lasted 8h15m, during which he climbed a total of 4,343m. Airspace restrictions in the USA meant he couldn’t go higher.

The record still stands today.

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