Last Saturday, Sean Eckstein logged the first cross-country soaring flight from Crystal this season. Good on ya, Papa Vic! Somebody had to do it.
This story is one that many pilots could tell, but Sean’s sense of gastronomical irony shows through at the very end.
I made it to Olancha. Flying cross country on a marginal day might not earn you a Diamond, but it does challenge you.
The conditions north had the best chance for getting any distance, but cloud coverage would probably shut down sections of the route, so maintaining altitude would be important.
Because it’s still early in the season I launched a little after noon. The climb out in the mountains was not difficult and I climbed to 11.2 K. I wasted a little time trying to get more altitude before leaving the mountains, which cost me. Gliding to my first alternate, Rosamond, I found that there was some strong sink to deal with and arrived low. I had my next alternate Backus (Pontious airport) on glide but wanted a little more altitude because of the sink I had encountered.
I arrived at Backus and found lift that took me to 9 K, that allowed me to get into the mountains where lift was easier to locate and worked my way north to Boomer Ridge near Inyokern. From that point north the mountain range was all in shadow, but I was able to stay above the mountains until my next alternate Coso Dry Lake. That’s where I worked my last thermal before gliding to Olancha, to find only more sink.
I had a good landing at Olancha, treated my driver (6PK) to a fine dinner at one of the many fine desert restaurants, and headed back to Crystal.