There were no diamond distance flights from Crystal last week, but Sean Eckstein‘s tale of woe is well worth the telling:
The thermals at Crystal were not very well formed when I launched, but if you stuck with them they would top out at 9k and 10k. I finally locked into one thermal that got me to 11.2k as predicted, so I didn’t waste time and headed out on course.
I backed my airspeed down crossing the desert to Mojave, trying to conserve all the altitude I could since the thermals in the mountains were not that impressive, and by the time I reached Backus I would be low trying to scratch my way back to the high ground.
The conditions were not good, TW and I basically scratched our way north across the desert floor, occasionally getting to 8k – 9.5k in the mountains dealing with sink while trying to push north. Eventually both Richard (TW) and I would find ourselves working lift in Red Rock Canyon. I got enough altitude with a small margin to Inyokern, but as I started heading north I would encounter strong sink, and if the sink didn’t ease off I wouldn’t make it to Inyokern. I tried a few times but conditions were not going to improve so I called Cantil and landed.
Cantil field is in good shape and I landed safely and came to a stop, I immediately noticed a car on the road behind some trees next to the field stopping, blocking another car behind them. The car from behind passed but the car that had stopped pulled forward a couple of times trying to get a better view.
I flashed back to a time when me and another pilot landed in an empty industrial lot in view of the public near a freeway. I was last to land and as I opened my canopy a helicopter flew over the top of us, a police car came around the corner, followed by the paramedics, a fire truck, and another police car.
I hopped out of my glider like a 61 yr. old and waved once. The two occupants in the car were almost climbing out the drivers window, waving enthusiastically. It’s nice to know I gave someone a story to tell when they got home. And most important, no one called 911!
Once again Richard (TW) and his wife Anna, Peter (6PK) and myself headed to a cool restaurant before heading back to Crystal.