MIKE KOERNER’S LATEST 500-MILER

I flew to McDermitt, Oregon on Friday. SkySight predicted that would be the best day of the weekend with the potential for a flight to Rome State. 

I launched at 9:40 am, released in lift, and floated up with the top of the thermals until reaching 13K at 11 am, 1⁄2 hour before SkySight predicted I would be able to sustain at 8.5K over Mojave. 

The 8.5K proved elusive. I tried to climb 4 sisters (the ridge NW of Cache Creek) but with cold air pouring down through Tehachapi pass I was forced to retreat. Heading for Cal City, I opened the dump valve. Shortly thereafter, I stumbled into the 8.5 thermal and closed the valve after the first circle with most of the water still aboard (though it doesn’t seal completely after in-flight activations). 

The lift was much stronger past the rockpile north of Kelso but overdevelopment drove me off the Sierra abeam Coso, and then again, off the Whites abeam Tinemaha. Dark clouds and virga limited navigation to blue areas off the mountains. Though it was only 2 pm, I was ready to throw in the towel. I would have landed at Bishop but looking back I realized the storm cell I had gone around was building in that direction and would probably get there first. 

I picked a relatively clear passage toward Gabbs where I could see sunlight on the ground. Once there, the sky had cleared to where I could see overdevelopment to the east, a blue hole toward 

the northwest, and in between, straight to the north, a wonderful cloud street. 

I came under the last dying clouds of the day over McDermit. The ragged bases were high enough to get me to Rome State. But the lift was broken and weak and the climb was frustratingly slow… so I left. But with insufficient margin to make Rome, and no more lift in the offing, I was forced to turn back, landing at 7:30. 

HI ALL

We’re moving into the longest days of the year now, with real summer yet to take effect. The coming week will remain ‘springlike’, with light westerlies and a slight warming trend topping out in the mid-nineties. Atmospheric pressure will be lowering each day, with improved thermal potential dependent of course on temperature lapse rate…

2021’s FIRST DIAMOND DISTANCE FLIGHT

Mike Koerner’s report:  314 miles to Hurricane, NV.
I flew to Hurricane on Friday. After a hard slog behind Crystal, I finally left Baden Powell at 11,000’ at 12:30. The crux of the flight was between Baker and Cima Dry Lake, with a low point of 4,000 MSL. Then boom, 15,000’ over the Spring Mountains and I was off to the races.
It was a trick. There was no lift for the next 50 miles. I slowed back down and climbed up Mormon Mesa which gave me a minimum glide to Hurricane, 63 miles away.
That was a trick too. Despite my very best efforts and wholehearted concentration, my Hurricane arrival altitude kept withering away, conjuring images non-standard patterns. Eventually it dropped below half a wingspan but still I continued on, confident in the knowledge that I could divert to St. George if necessary. And when St. George too, turned clear, and my only official waypoint still green, Mesquite, was falling away behind me, still I pressed on, relying now on Littlefield, where the fields are, fortunately, not all that little.
And when I was certain that the only remaining lift would be orographically triggered, I found in the mountains north of the Virgin Gorge.
This was my first cross-country in almost 2 years. I’m happy to be flying again. Though I had several equipment issues, including a significant error in the glide calculation settings, I think the pilot did well enough.
Peter Kovari’s report 226 miles to Kingman, AZ.
It was my turn in the barrel and I was itching to start the season off. My choices were either Saturday or Sunday since the Memorial weekend. Saturday’s forecast was weaker with a slight tailwind towards Vegas however the highs looked better for Sunday with a considerable headwind component.
I opted to go on Sunday and boy; the forecasts were spot on, with pretty good highs but a stiff headwind sometimes showing as much as 15kn on the nose.
I left relatively low from the second ridge as I could only muster just below 11k, (tried Baden Powell, Lewis, etc., with negative results). Due to the headwind I had to call Adelanto as my first alternate as the otherwise usual glide to Apple Valley from that altitude was now out of the question.
All went relatively well but painfully slow with good climbs and equally massive sink in between all the way to east of Jean where over the high ground and under some nice cu’s I made it up to 16,300’.
My first choice was going north toward Utah but over the Las Vegas Bravo was this huge blue hole with not much else through the horizon, so once again I opted to turn right toward Red Lake Arizona where far in the distance were clouds visible, and the winds were also predicted more favorable.
I arrived at the east side of the lake bed about 9,500’, and now I could see a line of cu’s mostly over the Grand Canyon with lots of virga and as I started looking for lift to get up on the top of the plateau but only to find weak sporadic stuff. The choice I had was to push forward and try getting lucky, if not lucky then having to turn around and landing at the lake bed or at the nearby Aileron Orchards private strip if losing all the margins, a much longer retrieve.
Since it was now closer to six and a long flight out of the question, I opted to turn south, and since I had the altitude, I landed at Kingman.

HI ALL!

The last midweek of May featured some of our best thermal conditions so far this season, with moderate westerlies, very strong temperature lapse rates, and the few cumulus floating way up high where they belong.  The trend seems poised to continue, despite a slight cooling trend with highs only in the nineties.  Altogether just another week of perfect Mojave soaring weather!