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.