AT LAST

The weather gods finally came through last week, as four happy members of the Crystal Squadron will attest in their wonderful accounts below. Among them, special congratulations to Karl Sommer for his 200th diamond distance flight! (In a fifty year old sailplane!) To those who’ve made just a few long soaring flights, these numbers might sound unrealistic — because for most people they are.
Here’s what the Squadron had to say about Saturday, June 15, 2019:

Peter Kovari’s report:
We almost had a crowd; Karl (C3), Mike (CF), Bradley (ES) and yours truly (6PK) trying our hands on straight out aviating this last Saturday.
The forecast favored the north/east direction and other than going-to-the-Owens-or-bust Bradley, Karl, Mike and I opted for Vegas. I must say this was a most unusual day at least for me where the known house thermals didn’t always work but others than the usual worked very well. All in all it turned out good, the only negative….I missed Karl’s 200th diamond.
We all launched between 11-12 once again thank you Chris for the considerations. I released at the labor camp as I did not find anything worth releasing in on tow, scratched up to Baden Powell and Lewis – not much there, finally spotted some clouds popping near Baldy but out of reach. I headed that way anyway and did finally connect with good lift over Wrightwood and then Baldy to 14.5k and on my way to Barstow.

Good lift east of Barstow, again to 14.5 and a good run with only a few tank ups and to the clouds near Clark mountain. Lots of lift and sink all the way to the Las Vegas class Bravo where I did get to 15k below cloud-base. Called Echo Bay with plenty of margin but suddenly got to a blue hole with not much lift. Not wanting to bust airspace I turned east and also heard C3 slightly ahead of me scratching around in the lack of lift. Since east was looking good with plenty of cloud markers I decided to go for it and head toward Arizona. Turned out to be a good choice with a good tailwind all the way to Williams.
I was now trying for Flagstaff-well insight but unfortunately it was clobbered up in dark OD and plenty of virga. I opted to call it a day at Williams and wait for Sean to show in the dark, my fault since I made him go all the way around in the change of mind, sorry for the loong drive Sean!

Mike Koerner’s report:
I made Hurricane again Saturday, on a very different day with a late start and slow initial climb. But eventually I got up to 14,500 southeast Wrightwood and again south of Daggett. My Low point was 4,200 northwest of Baker. I was under Cu between 9 and 14,000 the rest of the day.
I was particularly pleased to be present for Karl’s 200th straight-out diamond distance flight!!! (and Rose’s umpteenth crew trip!). I suspect there’s only one other pilot ever to achieve that (Henry)… and maybe only one other that’s anywhere close.
I have some work to do before I fly again. Shortly after Nellis cleared me into their Class Bravo, my transponder failed. And upon returning to Crystal we noticed an occasional squeaking sound from the trailer… and a wheel hub that was too hot to touch.
Finally, I need to apologize to my fellow squadron members. My hearing was never good, but it’s worse now. I can’t always make out what other pilots are saying on the radio. That makes the team flying we do a bit more challenging.

Karl Sommer’s report:
Finally some good weather. Not much to add to Mike’s and Peter’s reports. Mike as usual took off 1st, I got the option to be next even so I thought it might be early per Dr. Jack.
Thermaled with CF a few times scratching around on the 2nd ridge looking for something better, PK and ES towed higher and connected easier. I finally got up on Baden Powell moved east to the ski slopes found Peter’s thermal there, on to Baldy to join PK and ES where I met CF again at 14K. Relatively easy flight to Baker, found lift up to 12K S of the airport in the hills, connected SW of Clark Mt. 14.9K under a big cloud from there it looked good going to Echo Bay 15.3 SE of Jean 14.5 E of Boulder City, large area of cloud shadow and hardly any lift. Up ahead towards Overton blue hole some weak lift, my low 7K E of Overton, found lift over the boat ramp up to 9k got a wild one going up to Virgin Peak still blue but 13.5K top, looks like I can get to Hurricane. Past the Gorge a lot of sink luckily it stopped at St George met up
with CF sightseeing over Hurricane we at one time ended up high enough to go for Cedar City but decided to go easy on the crews that ran into some lengthy Las Vegas construction delays.
I landed 18:45 CF a few minutes later after his customary hi speed pass, while I was laboring pushing my glider via the new lengthy taxi way to the transient parking. We got the Libelle boxed and headed to Virgin River Casino, feeling kind of bad leaving Mike behind alone waiting for his crew. Anyway after dinner walking to our room around 11PM I checked with Mike he said they are driving getting close to Mesquite all O.K.

Bradley Baum’s report:
Dr. Jack predicted good cross-country soaring to the North and Northeast directions. The best indicator of the day’s potential was Mike(CF) rigged and ready to go early. North required getting to the Sierra’s with low thermal heights while Las Vegas and beyond had significant OD potential.
It was finally time to go and Mike(CF) launched first, Karl(C3) and Peter(PK) second and third and I followed. As I arrived at the second ridge both Peter and Karl were low and struggling, Mike was already on his way. None of the house thermals seemed to be working. I marveled at the tenacity of Karl(C3) and Peter(PK) to stay in the game. So much to learn from flying with these two accomplished pilots.
The last two Saturday’s I had gone towards Vegas this Saturday I decided to not follow the flock and go North. I was curious to see how much snow remained in the Sierra’s after our wet winter.
After an hour of mistakes I was back at the Second Ridge at 12k. I sent my crew ahead calling Avenue M and then Rosamond Dry Lake. I didn’t encounter so much as a bump until Backus. Gained there and headed to Cache Peak for my first good thermal under a forming cloud.
I continued North, with good lift and cloud markers, crossing from the Sierra’s to the Inyo’s North of Owens Dry Lake. North of Bishop the sky was all shadows with Virga.
I put down at Independence and rolled to a stop just as the skies opened and it poured rain. It lasted just long enough to wash the bugs off ES. My crew arrived 20 after landing. We were back at Crystal by 9:00 PM as the last glow of twilight faded in the Western sky.