A Vallecito resident who loves flying and photography put the hobbies together to spend 6½ hours Sunday in a glider over wildland fires near Mancos and Bondad.
I took 88 photos, some of them pretty nifty, Bob Thompson said Monday. I was impressed by how the air tankers laid the slurry at both fires to stop the fire advance.
Thompson, 67, taught geology for 38 years at Glendale Community College in Arizona and biology part-time for 17 years at Arizona State University in Tempe.
He started flying airplanes and hang gliders in the early 70s. In the 90s, he started flying gliders.
I have 1,900 hours in gliders, he said.
Thompson said that Sunday, he flew mostly at 17,000 feet over the Weber Fire near Mancos and the State Line Fire south of Bondad.
The Federal Aviation Administration doesnt permit us to fly over 18,000 feet unless we have a transponder, which I dont, he said.
A transponder is a device that emits an identifying signal.
Flights over the fires Sunday required pilots to fly at 13,000 feet minimum, he said. Temporary flight restrictions, as theyre called, vary according to the situation, he said.
Thompson estimated he flew 520 miles to photograph both fires.
Thompson keeps his glider disassembled in his driveway. He trailers it to the glider port north of Durango where he is towed aloft.
It take about 20 minutes to assemble, he said.