Glider makes unexpected stop

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

A young Dora girl got a scare Thursday when she looked up and saw what appeared to be a crashed plane in a field just off Main Street in Dora. It turned out to be a glider that had to make an unscheduled landing.

Dispatchers received a report by 911 of a possible airplane crash shortly before 5 p.m. and dispatched sheriff’s officers and the Dora Fire Department. What they found was a white glider in Barry Hayes’ field of feed grain and its 16-year-old pilot Boyd Willat of San Diego telling them everything was OK — his glider had just run out of lift because of weak air currents and he was uninjured.

Dora town clerk Becky Fraze said her daughter Angel called 911 after she saw the plane in the field but was too scared to look and see if someone was in the craft. Instead she called her mom after she hung up on 911.

“Angel and I walked out there to see if anyone was hurt,” Fraze said. “The pilot said he’d just run out of wind. Can you imagine that in New Mexico?”

Boyd said he was flying out of Hobbs in a soaring contest. Pilots were supposed to fly from Hobbs to Littlefield, Texas, and then to Kenna and back to Hobbs as part of the competition. Hobbs is home to two soaring groups, including the Soaring Society of America, and hosts frequent competitions.

“It’s normal,” Boyd said. “I just basically ran out of gas. Not literally — actually I ran out of lift and ended up here,” he said pointing to the field.

Boyd said when he left Hobbs clouds were rising and building, indicating rising air and lots of lift. As his flight continued he noticed that action had stopped, and he knew sooner or later he was going to be grounded.

He said his crew would be along shortly and the glider would be loaded on a trailer and taken back to Hobbs.

Boyd says his family owns a glider port in San Diego and he’s been soaring all his young life.