JULY 4, 2020
Sean Eckstein, to Cima dry lake, 142 miles:
The July 4th weather looked good for a repeat of the Las Vegas to Arizona direction. If you could get past Clark mountain there would be good lift with cloud markers toward Arizona. The challenge would be getting to Las Vegas.
Lift in the mountains was a bit broken but allowed pilots to climb above 12k. The glide to Apple Valley was kind, and I caught a good thermal over the mine. Leaving Barstow around 9.7k toward Harvard, the air changed. It was the beginning of long stretches of sink, but there were a few good thermals that kept both Richard (TW) and myself pushing forward.
I climbed to 9.7k in the mountains south of Baker and headed toward the towers to the NE, where I found lots of sink, and when I doubled back to Baker there was even stronger sink. I ended up directly over Baker airport around 5.5k just in time for a thermal to break off and take me to 10k. As I was climbing I could hear Richard (TW) commenting on the sink heading toward the towers, and amazingly, commenting on the sink as he headed back to Baker.
With good altitude again, I chose to take a different direction, keeping to the SE of the mountains with the towers and Hwy 15, where there is gently climbing terrain with a few foot hills. There I found less sink. For the glide to Cima at the base of Clark mountain I had enough margin, but strong sink had me watching my sink rate and altitude closely.
Gliding towards Cima, I didn’t encounter the strong sink, or any thermals. By now the clouds past Clark mountain were gone, and it had taken me 4 hr. 45 min. just to reach Cima. After basking in the blazing heat of Baker (108°) and with the clouds gone I was ready to land.
I circled Cima field looking it over and chose my aim and touch down point, and set up a pattern. When I touched down I had to back off breaking because the soil was really soft, and I came to the shortest roll out I think I’ve ever had.
Richard Smolinski, to Baker, CA — 15 miles:
Not much to add to the report from Sean.
I tried to reach Cima 3 times and was shut down with sink on both. One time it was 18kt down. Impressive.
The day was getting late and I tried the east side, but thermals were like bubbles appearing and disappearing with no consistency.
Finally I decided to land in Baker (now I know why they name that place this way) in 120F temp.
Planned to have burger and cold drink with Sean and Peter, but here was another booo. All restaurants closed there, so we headed home.
Good thing: I learned new ways, and put another new landing place on my list..