I hated to see this upon returning from my morning walk. Looking back, Geoff Loyns was my favorite mentor when I was learning to fly hang-gliders. World record holder and holder of many site records and many hang-gliding flights in excess of 100 miles — he flew 193 miles out and return back in 1998 in the Owens Valley, a world record that stood for years. He also tumbled there once, sometime after, and had to ride his emergency chute down. He used to tell me that it’s not safe to fly a tailless aircraft in the Owens during summer conditions (especially on the Sierras side).
I don’t think I ever knew anyone who loved flying as much as Geoff. I remember, in particular, a day at our local training site, Ed Levin Park — a typical day where it wasn’t really soarable (sufficient lift to stay aloft or gain altitude) for most people. So, most of us went up, set up, and took a 5-10 minute sled ride for the 1,700 foot vertical, depending on how much lift you could scratch up here and there. But there was Geoff; soaring like a hawk, sometimes just mere feet above various rock outcroppings. So, soaring is relative: something can always soar when the sun is out. Guys like Geoff could soar when 99.[lots of nines] percent of humans could not.
After two hours, he landed, took off his helmet, and exclaimed to all who were standing about, "That was two hours of pure pleasure." I never heard him complain about any flight. That was his attitude about flying. He always conducted himself as though he was the most privileged soul in the Universe to be here, in this moment, doing this. There’s a lot to observe and learn from someone like that.
BBC News has picked up the story. They get some details wrong, but not worth mentioning.