Finally we have more cross-country soaring flights to report! Two weeks ago Sunday Mike Koerner and Barry McGarraugh both flew diamond distance from Crystal – to airports 280 miles apart, Mike to Hurricane, UT and Barry to Gabbs, NV. Here are their stories.
I made it to Hurricane on Sunday. I launched at 10 am, climbed to 13.5 and left the mountains at 10:40… But, the desert had not yet woken. I dumped my water on the lower slopes of Calico Peak, gave an impromptu air show to the bus loads of other mine visitors and spent the next hour and a half climbing up the mountain.
More than the wasted time, dumping the ballast forecloses on the possibility of a long flight, especially on a day like this, without favorable winds. With my 17.6 meter tips, the wing loading without water is too low to go fast. I made a bunch of mistakes anyway, so I’ll just call it a practice day. Even Fran can use the practice (she booked our room in Mesquite for the wrong day using Hotels.com).
Thanks to Erik Knight at Williams, my newly refinished wings are incredibly pretty. And based on current and previous comparisons to glide computer calculations, they seem to perform better as well.
My batteries, on the other hand, do not seem to have taken advantage of the time off. Both were in sorry shape despite being fully charged. I only turned my radio to announce when my alternate changed. Without it, or the transponder, I was forced way out over Lake Mead to avoid Vegas Class Bravo. I hadn’t taken this route in years. It’s certainly the long way around.
I made it to Gabbs on Sunday and Karl landed at Lone Pine. Karl and I used Skysight for the first time to forecast the weather and it seems to work fairly well.
Overall, the weather forecast looked very good going north with Austin the goal. Karl had some trouble with his O2 and had to peel off the Sierra just south of Olancha (after we had gotten past the hard bit), and I continued up the Sierras. Conditions got really good and I ran between 16-18K all the way past Mina.
I had Austin in the bag, but decided to call it quits at Gabbs since Sue was quite a ways behind and now driving alone. I landed around 5:30 and Sue got there around 7. We set up camp, heated up some chili and drank some cold beer as the sun set.