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Yumion Welcomes Hang-Glider representative Jamie Sheldon.

May 13--  Variety is the spice of life at the Vidalia Regional Airport.  In early April it hosted U.S. Marine jets practicing arrestor landings, the end of April saw the Onion Festival Air Show and a country music concert, and Thursday it was a layover destination for more than 50 hang-glide pilots involved in a cross-country  race.

Friday morning the pilots were getting ready for another leg of the race, but before leaving they donated $1,000 each to young cancer victim Jozalyn Eason of Vidalia and Brandy Williams of Toombs County who lost her leg in an auto accident.

The group sponsors "The Cloud Base Foundation" and organizer Rick Er, a former marketing consultant from near New Orleans, says it's something they do around the world, "It's a way we can give back and do something for children and give back to a community which has welcomed us with open arms," he said.


The pilots say launch and landings are the most dangerous times.

The hang-gliders started this journey near Orlando and initially were planning their final destination in Tennessee until weather patterns changed their itinerary and forced them further east.


Light planes specifically designed to launch the gliders get a pilot airborne.


"Cross-country is the extreme of the sport.  We are going from point to point with no motor.  It's the difference between being in a school bus that you can't roll the windows down and being on a motorcycle that you take off across country.

"It is extremely surreal.  You get this feeling of floaty escape and you get to see things that no one else gets to see.  You just surf the skies and the whole thing is extremely natural.  You're flying like a bird and we are totally unencumbered.  It's freedom," he says.