photo courtesy of World Gliding Championship
Competitors from around the world have gathered to go for the gold.
No, it's not the Olympics in London, it's the World Gliding Championship, now underway at Garner Field in Uvalde.
Hosted by the Soaring Society of America and sanctioned by the Federation Aeronautic Internationale, the annual competition is underway all week, with the gold medals in glider flying being awarded on Sunday.
A glider is defined for the competition as a motorless craft which uses only the power of the sun, terrain, and the weather to stay aloft.
Competition spokesman Andrew McKittrick says it is amazing what engineless planes can do. He says the winners are judged on speed, and will fly a 360 mile course up and down west Texas, at speeds of up to 130 miles an hour.
"They're using only energy that is being generated by the sun and by the terrain," McKittrick says. "People can fly long long distances, in fact, people have flown over 2,000 miles in gliders."
McKittrick says the fact that thermal power propels gliders and holds them aloft is the reason why the competition is held on Texas in August.
"There is a lot of thermal power this time of year," he said. "However, we would like it if there is a little more moisture in the air, so we can see the thermals as defined by clouds."
He says the competition, which has brought more than 120 gliders to Uvalde, is something to see, as pilots use a commanding knowledge of not only flying, but also of science to keep their planes in the air.
He says there is nothing 'scary' about flying a silent glider at 130 miles an hour, the scary part is when you run into trouble in the sky and have to find a place to land.
The defending world champion in the open class is Michael Sommer of Germany, who is in Uvalde defending his title.