During my trip to the Outer Banks, a good man passed away.
I met Richard back in 2012 at the Kitty Hawk Kites Hang Gliding Spectacular with his beautiful wife, Maggi. Richard was in town early for the event flying a proto-type hang glider at Jockey's Ridge. It was my first week at Kitty Hawk Kites. I headed out to the dune on my 2nd day at work in a maxi skirt and watched them fly our event's coordinator up on the Boone Flyer. Here's a photo from that day:
Later that week, I was walking up the dune with Richard and Maggi for the competition. Richard was telling me all about teaching Maggi how to fly and spoke of her as if she were the only woman on the face of the earth. Every time I ever spoke to Richard about Maggi whether it was to ask how she was or if she was coming with him next time, Richard always lit up. He loved Maggi. She was his girl.
When I got the news that Richard was not well but there was hope he'd come back around, I remember thinking how hard it must be for both of them. Both trying to get to a place of consciousness with each other. I remember thinking of my husband, Jordan, and what that would be like - not knowing, waiting, worrying, hoping. I can't even come close in my imagination what Maggi must have been feeling that week.
It was only a few short days later that I heard Richard had passed away. It was early in the morning.
Richard was a brilliant person. I remember many conversations with John and Richard about the early days of hang gliding, about the dynamics of the wing, the materials, many things I didn't know or understand about the sport but listening to these two talk shop was like listening in on two good friends changing the face of hang gliding from the inside out.
Richard was a reader. Every time we saw each other we swapped notes on common read books we had read or tips on a new one that we hadn't heard of. In fact, when I got off the flight this past week I shared with John that I had brought him a book. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. John simply said, Richard sent me that book a few months ago. I chuckled.
I've kept up with Richard and Maggi via Facebook since I left Kitty Hawk Kites. A funny photo here or there of Richard and the cats, a sweet photo of the two of them on the beach at dusk. They are a beautiful pair and I am heartbroken to know that half of this amazing duo has passed on.
Fly On, Richard. You are loved and missed more than you know by people all over the world. Your contributions to the sport of hang gliding are immeasurable. Fly on.