Peter Kovari’s report:
The forecast for Saturday looked outstanding most of last week, then of course the morning of turned a little less than great, but still very good despite the forecast hot temperatures and possibly poor visibility due to smoke. We did contemplate flying Sunday instead of Saturday as both days looked good but as it turned out Saturday was the right choice. Sunday had near IFR conditions due to the wild fires and smoke. I planned to launch by 11 am both for an early start as well as trying to escape the forecasted heat.
Brian Neff (A1) and I were the only ones going and thanks to Chris for getting us off right away.
I usually take a high tow, but this time I released just about 7k in what I thought was good lift. It turned out to be a sucker thermal and got skunked. Scratched around what seemed a long time before I was able to get above Mt. Lewis and there under some clouds quickly climbed to 12.5, and time to leave. Good tailwind and kind air got me clear across the valley to Three Sisters where I met up with Brian on the ridge.
Soon a good climb at Cache Peak, back to 12.5k and on the way to Boomer in great air. Owens Peak, climbing to 16k and once again the same altitudes to Olancha Peak where the smoke started to thicken, large columns of smoke clearly visible just west of the Olancha TFR .
Just south of Mt. Whitney the smoke started to form a kind of overcast, likely killing the lift, so I decided to cross the valley to the Inyo’s. A blue run, but still very good conditions all the way to the White’s where cu’s marked the crest of the mountain and good lift to 17.8k. Decided on the Mina/Gabbs/Austin route as conditions and winds favored this direction.
Both Brian and I arrived at Austin around 5:30 and called it a day. We fueled up at Austin both with gas as well as awful gas station sandwiches and snacks for dinner, and after a long late drive we got to Hawthorne to spend the night. Sunday we were treated to near IFR conditions on the ground (it looked like brown fog) nearly all the way driving back as mentioned earlier. Great weekend flying through!
Brian Neff’s report:
First a big thanks to Gus McCarthy for crewing and Peter and Sean for connecting me to Gus. The day started quickly with a tow to Morning Mt. Good lift and a fast climb to 15k between 2nd ridge and Morning Mt. Then headed direct towards Rosamond dry lake but found the best route was east of that so I called Joshua and got a clearance to cut the corner and fly directly toward Cache Pk. Got to Cache about 9500 and figured a quick climb and north. The area around Cache Peak turned into a big sinkhole, so bad I had to run back to the foothills between Mojave and Cache, and was wondering if it would end at Mojave or Cal City after screaming across the valley. Had to scratch long enough that Peter was able to catch up and he started climbing right about the time I finally figured out where the lift was. It kept getting better, higher and farther towards the west side of Kelso and it was then a quick run to Boomer. Sierra was getting everyone to 15k or 16k. I decided to stay as long as possible on the Sierra and finally crossed just at the north end of the Inyos. Strong on the Whites, and 17.4k at Boundary Pk. Not much working until near Mina, and found some 3 to 4 k lift that got me enough for Gabbs. Near the VOR between Mina and Gabbs, Peter and I were seeing a dust devil that looked like a small tornado. I went to it and it took me to around 14k. At Gabbs we found real good lift and Peter suggested we go for Austin. I asked him what the landout between Gabbs and Austin was. I then said I had Fritz and was going that way. Not much of anything until hills east of Fritz, then strong enough to cruise to Austin at 95 indicated and hardly coming down. Landed after 6 hrs 15 min. Parked on the ramp and a few min later Peter landed.