THREE MORE DIAMONDS

Friday, Jun 23 Karl’s report: Yerington, NV 327 miles
Making plans according to Soaring Weather we, 01Q and C3, concluded that Friday is the day to try. Got our trusty 301 Libelles rigged and I got a tow after 11AM not long after we heard JK leaving Baden Powel 14k, I had no problem to get to that altitude too and left at High Noon.
Arrived at Pontius with 6k lift to 8.5, short of Mojave 11k, 3 Sisters windmills 10k. Thought not bad, lift to be found, and pushed along the hills of Kelso getting nothing. Rock pile saved the day, 7k-12.8k. Via Boomer, abeam Little Lake 16k, Olancha Pk 16k, no problem to overfly the TFR of the drone crash at Lone Pine, then crossing to the Inyos.
Manzanar 14k, abeam Tinemaha Reservoir 17.8k, White Mtn Pk still 17k, Boundary 17.7k chasing towards Lucky Boy Pass under a wide dark cloud street, no problem to get sucked into it, all mostly negative, 59 Nautical Miles out of Yerington in the sun, again a few more turns to 17.9k then final glide, arrived with 2k safety, landed 18:03 Flight time 6h45’.
Crews arrived, gliders boxed up, motel checked in and out for dinner. Lots of Sandbags, Yerington was prepared for flooding; snow melting with that hot weather. Got an early start (no flooding) driving back through Smith Valley, Bridgeport (Breakfast at the Inn) Hwy 395 June Lake Loop.
With the sun hitting the snow capped Mountains, rivers and creeks up to the rim, everything green, cows grazing, no traffic, very beautiful, what a privilege to be able to enjoy it!

Friday, Jun 23 Barry’s report: Yerington, NV 327 miles
On Friday June 23th, Karl and I made it to Yerrington Nv. I launched at 11:30 and quickly climbed up to 13,900’ over Baden Powell and headed out across the desert at 12:15. After the usual slow decent to Backus Rd, I found Karl in a thermal and we climbed back up to ~9,400’ and headed up to the mountains to the west of Mojave. There, we found scrappy thermals to 11,000’ and managed to work our way into the Kelso Valley area. Karl headed to the rock pile to the east of the airport, and I headed to some clouds to the north of the field and climbed back up to 11,500’. I thought things were looking up as I headed up to Boomer Ridge, but once on the ridge I had a heck of a time staying on top of the ridge line. Modest climbs were filled with extended areas of sustained sink that kept me scratching along in the heat (and it was hot at 7,300’!) until I finally managed a good climb to 14,000’ near Little Lake. Now connected with clouds, things were starting to look up, and I easily cruised up to Olancha where I crossed over to the Inyo Mtns. Seeing text book clouds heading north, I again thought this was going to be an easy ride up to Boundary Peak. Again significant sink was found between moderate climbs that kept me at, or near, the top of the ridge line up to Waucoba Peak. I finally managed to find a thermal that got me up to 17,500’ and connected with that nice looking cloud street that I had been looking at for the past 30 miles. Near Westgard Pass, Karl and I decided to abandon our earlier plan to head into the blue toward Tonopah and up to Austin, and follow this nice looking cloud street up to Boundary Peak and head toward Hawthorne and Yerington.
Nice climbs to 17,500’ between Boundary Peak and the nether regions northeast of Mono Lake made for a quick trip to the south of Hilton Ranch where I made one last climb to 15,000’ and got on the 50 mile glide to Yerington. I left the clouds and pushed into blue sky over the Walker river valley where I increased my ground speed to 100 knots to burn off excess altitude. I arrived over the airport with 3,000’ AGL just as Karl was pushing his glider off the runway and I landed at 6:22. As I orbited overhead and Karl cleared the runway, I saw that the Walker river had flooded the valley just to the north on the airport. Later that night, we found out that the Yerington locals are preparing for an even bigger Sierra runoff from this past winter’s record snowfall…
Rose and Sue arrived about a half hour after we landed and we got the gliders put away and headed out to one of the Casinos for dinner. The next day, headed home via Hwy 338 since we had heard 395 was flooded and the highway patrol was running a single lane along the Walker river. We decided to head home via Hwy 338 and were making great time until we ran into a Nevada road jam near the California/Nevada border.

= = = = =
Sunday, Jun 25 Mike’s report: Price, UT, 529 miles
I landed at Carbon County Airport in Price Utah on Sunday.
I launched at 9:47. A couple club ships were already up and reporting lift, one coming down the second ridge from the labor camp and the other circling over Mount Lewis. I worked my way from the second ridge up along the northwest buttress of Baden Powell before swooping in over the peak. Halfway around my first turn a shadow moved across the summit… in the wrong direction! I looked up and saw an ASK thermaling right across from me. It must have been the glider that had been over Lewis. I busted into his thermal without seeing him. Sorry A6.
I rode up with the top of that thermal to 12,000’ and left Baden Powell at 10:40.
There were no clouds but the desert was working well enough to keep moving.
I reached the first cu at 1 pm on the ridge west of Vegas. My trace shows I averaged 970 ft/min from 9,200’ to 16,200’. I don’t recall ever climbing that far that fast before.
Until this point everything seemed to be going perfect. But a little past Vegas the tailwind I had enjoyed switched to a headwind. Then a bit further on the nice-looking cu morphed into a nimbostratus band running east and west with virga hanging below it. I turned off toward the east at first but the Brian Head fire, with its associated smoke and TFR, made that a difficult proposition. Confusion reigned.
About that time, I got low enough to see sunlight on the ground beyond the cloud band, so I got high again on the south side and punched under the cloud toward Milford, fully expecting to land there. And though there were no clouds north of the cloud band (for the remainder of my flight) there was still lift, though not as strong or consistent as it had been. That combined with lower tops and adverse winds, slowed progress markedly.
At one point my alternate was Mount Pleasant. Several Crystal Squadron pilots landed there years ago – on a day I missed. However, a database on my cell phone indicated the airport has been X’ed out. That meant back to Manti-Ephraim or on to Price. One more thermal and a bit of patience put me over the ridge to the east.
Though I landed in Price once before (back in ’89, in the Kestrel, out of Cal City) Fran didn’t remember how to get there. But thanks to Google Maps and some phone support from my son, she got to me around 9 pm (she deserves a respite).
We stopped in at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry on Monday. 12,000 bones were pulled from a pit no larger than a wading pool. It’s the densest concentration of Jurassic fossils ever found. They have no viable explanation as to how that happened.

GOOD AS IT GETS

This week our thermal soaring potential will peak on Saturday, the way the Almighty intended.  And it will be terrific.  Some cloud development should provide shade but virtually no chance of precipitation.

We’re still a week behind on cross-country narratives from our Crystal Squadron, and probably won’t catch up until the season winds down.  Below, on our SOARING IS LEARNING page, are three stories from the last week of June.

GO NORTH OLD MEN

On Saturday, June 17, Chuck Coyne made his first ever cross-country soaring flight – with no one else up there to share information with – and did well to reach California City.  Then on Sunday Karl Sommer made diamond distance to Gabbs, NV, Barry McGarraugh got nearly as far, to Mina.  Here are their stories of that weekend.

 

Chuck’s report:
Thanks to lots of coaching and encouragement from Peter Kovari and Sean Eckstein, my first solo cross-country soaring flight was successfully conducted on Saturday, June 17, from Crystal to California City. Evidently, I was the only ‘Crystal Squad’ attemptee that day.

After launching around 12:45, I released from tow over the second ridge. After working my way up the ridge and then towards the Wrightwood ski resort, lift seemed to fall apart at 11,500’ so I decided to head out towards Rosamond dry lake. It looked to be a long way from where I was. In past flights I had edged out towards Rosamond, but always with plenty of altitude on tap for a retreat back to Crystal. This time, there would be no going back once the decision point was reached and off I went.

Having been forewarned about ‘sucker’ thermals on the route from Crystal to Rosamond, my inclination was to ignore any bumps along the way; nonetheless I couldn’t resist a few times. Luck- ily, those attempts worked out and I arrived at Rosamond at over 8,000’ and from there aimed at Backus/Silver Queen. Climbed to 2842 meters over the Silver Queen mine, then aimed towards Cache Mountain. Before getting to the mountain, I tried my luck first along the foothills south the mountain while contemplating my next leg.

After some consideration, I decided to call it a day and land at Cal City. I was a bit less familiar with the territory to the north than the route from Crystal to where I was, and making a longer flight on my first cross-country attempt didn’t seem necessary in order to feel successful. I had flown in and out of Cal City in the past, and the long, wide runway seemed like more of a sure thing than what might lie ahead if I pressed on.

So, after a 2 hour, 22 minute flight, I found myself on the ground at Cal City, feeling very happy with the flight. Les- sons learned; stay in better contact with my ground crew – seems like I forgot to tell my ground crew, Sean Eckstein, that I was leaving the mountains and heading for Rosamond. Also, plan any landing at Cal City to roll out at the cross taxiway – Joe had to push my PIK 20D a long way in the 103 degree heat to get off the runway. Thanks, again, to Sean for crewing and his advice before the flight.

 

Karl’s report:
Barry and I where planning to fly Sunday, fitting better into our plans and also looking more promising. Our crews where all for it, hope- fully getting somewhere to camp. Rose bringing dinner and Sue breakfast.

Dr. Jack, good going N, Sierras OD, Altitudes dropping to 11k Haw- thorne area we thought Austin could work. Anyway looked good for team flying with 2 301 Libelles. About 10:45 we pushed our Libelles into the staging area. No one else going XC. Barry got a tow at 11:00. By about 12:10 I got my tow. (Lucky for me that Rose shaded us with our umbrella)

Got up quick on Mt. Lewis, connected W of Mojave 10k. One of my Batteries decided to quit. Struggled via Kelso up to Boomer, up the ridge 14k, crossing to the Inyos at Olancha Pk, finally clouds, flying straight 14k Black Mt., dark looking cloud street up to Boundary, arrived 11k White Mt found strong lift up to 15k.

Sierras blowing up, spreading cirrus E. Few clouds on the way to Mina. Barry was about 7M short of Mina not finding much when I left Boundary at 14k. The clouds not much help, the sun just about to sink into the cirrus, I arrived NW of Mina in the hills 9k searching for the saving thermal. Just felt some bump, enough to maintain the 9k, when Barry reported he has to land at Mina, darn this does not look good.

Full concentration and clean flying, my Altimeter showed improvement, thank you thank you 12k is enough (not to be greedy) to counter 6 kts from the N. Landed 18:30 Rose was at Gabbs 10min later, glider in the Box, Barry and Sue arrived at the same time.

We set up for camping with all the trimmings, thanks Ladies. No stars, only lightening in the Sierras. Monday morning after Breakfast with fresh coffee and a beautiful sunrise we all got in the Van and headed to Berlin, but could not find anybody to practice our German. Finishing up with Lunch at Whiskey Creek in Bishop. Another nice weekend.
Barry’s report:
On Sunday June 18th, I landed at Mina, NV, after 6 1⁄2 hours of flying. I launched at 11:15 and took a high tow to the middle ridge and promptly climbed up to the ridge line. I pushed away from Baden Powell at 13,800’ and was pushed across the desert with a nice tailwind that produced 100+kt ground speeds. I settled down to ~7,500’ to the west of Mojave where I found some scrappy/moderate lift that got me up into Kelso Valley. Just to the north of Kelso valley I connected with clouds and had a good climb up to ~14,000’ that got me up to Boomer ridge.

The wind was now coming out of the east and the lift along the ridgeline was pretty choppy, but I was able to fly between 10-14,000’ up to Olancha Peak. I crossed the Owens Valley just past Olancha Peak and got up on the Inyos after a quick climb to ~15,000’ on the plateau east of Lone Pine. Conditions were strong, but cloud bases were fairly low along the Inyo and White mtns and I was not able to climb much above 15,000’ all the way to Boundry Peak. I left Boundary at ~14,000’ and headed to some clouds to the north with the intent to head toward Gabbs and Austin. Conditions softened considerably and the clouds that I was counting on dissipated as I approached them, and I sank lower into Mina/Lunning valley. I headed to the sunlit hills to the east of Mina, but only found sink that dropped me well below the ridge line. All I could find in the valley was zero sink and I eventually succumbed to gravity and landed at 5:45.

Karl managed to cross over the valley and find some lift to the north on Mina that got him over the mountains and into Gabbs. Sue got to the airport about 20 minutes after I landed and we got the glider put away and we headed off to Gabbs. We had previously agreed to meet Karl and Rose at Gabbs where we had a fantastic dinner that Rose pre- pared and we camped out at the airport again. Monday morning we drove over to the Berlin–Ichthyosaur State Park and spent some time investigating the numerous mine ruins and the Ichthyosaur fossils. This place is way out of the way, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood stop by and check it out!

WE’RE MIDSTREAM NOW

Well, that brutal heat wave is over and we can expect pretty standard summer conditions through the coming week, meaning temps in the nineties with (hopefully) moderate westerly winds.  Thermal activity will be more than ample every day despite quite possibly no cumulus at all.

We’re still caught in a time warp, getting info on the previous week’s X-C activity a bit too late for publication, so on our SOARING IS LEARNING page below you’ll see write-ups of how the Squadron fared week before last – and we’ll get caught up on that when the time warp smooths out…