Updated 1437 PDT Saturday ..On the ground
On Saturday March 29 I [Gordon Boettger] will be making another distance record attempt along with Hugh Bennett in the Duo Discus sailplane. Our intention is to be towed up by a towplane shortly before sunrise from the Minden Tahoe airport NV (KMEV), release and head in the direction of Rapid City, SD (KRAP), landing near sunset after flying over 850 miles. If we can go beyond that, we obviously will. As most know, we will be making this attempt in an unmotorized sailplane utilizing mountain wave updrafts to stay aloft. The weather is favorable for this intended direction, however excessive moisture is a concern and things can change rapidly. If the flight is aborted, Walt Rogers will post on his twitter account (below). We intend to climb up to 28,000 feet before proceeding east. As most know, there’s no way to tell how far we end up going. It will depend on what the weather allows. It will be cold as the cockpit is unheated and unpressurized. There are too many factors involved to tell how far we end up, which also makes it quite fun to watch from the sidelines on the ground. Our call sign for the flight will be N55LK.
We will also be posting live pictures and video feed (workload permitting) and be in satellite communication with Walt Rogers, our meteorologist and dispatcher. You can follow his excellent twitter feeds with weather updates and our progress and inflight pictures by going to:
You can join us during the flight by following our track which gives position, altitude, speed, and heading. Updates occur every 5 minutes. Click on the blue dots to see our position, speed, altitude, and heading. Click on the following link to access the site on Saturday, 3/29:
Also, we can be tracked on:
www.flightaware.com (not as precise)
One can also follow our live communications with Air Traffic Control by going to:
http://www.liveatc.net (I believe our first frequency will be Norcal Approach on 119.2 and then for OAK center 127.95 or 134.45)
My goal is to share this wonderful adventure and beauty of unpowered flight with the rest of the world. Without being in the cockpit, this is the best way we know how to share it. Feel free to share this with your friends. Enjoy the ride,
Gordon Boettger N55LK
2030 PDT Friday
Here's some numerical model forecasts at 13Z around 6am PDT from the NOAA RAP and HRRR.
Notice the moist plume coming into the Sierras. We're hoping that this won't kill lower atmosphere stability such as to significantly dampen mountain wave action. Low level winds across Lake Tahoe and into the Carson Valley should be quite strong, however. The HRRR model does show wave over the Carson Valley
2245 PDT Friday
0545 PDT Saturday
Mountain wave is working well in Carson Valley with surface wind gusts to 45mph west side of valley. Notice this mesonet map showing surface wind gusts in red.
Below is the Radar mosaic
The HRRR model is showing strong wave action in the lee of the Sierras here
Takeoff at 0614 PST. Here's a photo of our daring adventurers!
Gordo has reached "top of climb" in wave lift to approximately FL250 about 28sm SW of Winnemucca, NV. Now headed downwind to the north end of the Ruby Mountains.
Here's a 1km GOES satellite photo
HRRR model Mean Layer Vertical Velocity showing two wave areas for last and next climb
During the last hour since 0931 PDT, Gordo has been scavenging for a good climb, but mostly find 2kts or so in the lee of the Rubys. As of 1031 PDT he was climbing thru 20872msl 4sm SSW of Wells NV. At around 1000 PDT, he descended through a cloud deck near 16000msl and had to maintain IMC for 2-3 minutes. Thanks god for that new solid state attitude horizon instrument. The plan is to get as high as possible, hopefully near FL280 and make a run to the Logan Valley where there is a nice wave cloud SW of the town.
Just reached a "top of climb" near Montecello (NV/UT border) and is beginning a downwind run towards Logan UT with a ground speed of 150mph. Between noon and 1220 PDT N55LK will be crossing the Great Salt Lake and approaching the Logan Valley. Satellite photos show a near solid cloud layer probably 15000 to 16500msl. Still seeing a beautiful wave cloud on the west side of Logan Valley.
Cloud coverage 10000 to 18000msl is increasing in arial coverage evrything NE Nevada, Northern UT and into extreme SW Wyoming. There appears to be based on GOES IR and visible imagery a wide spread thickening and coverage increase probably due to synoptic scale lifting and moistening ahead of the front or 500mb trough. I called Gordo at 1245 PDT and we discussed this. At that time, 1245 PDT he was over KLGU climbing through 13500msl. I noted that there is a bigger gap (foehnn gap) on the west edge of Bear Lk with a nice wave cloud. However, for safety reason, we agreed that a decision will have to be made soon on whether to proceed NE toward Bear Lk or downwind.
Gordo called me at 1305 PDT and we had a long discussion. He attempted to proceed NE toward south end of Bear Lake, but encountered lowering cloud bases and snow showers, thus turned back toward LGU. The Butterfly is giving erroneous ground speed readings indicating static icing. It's looking unsafe to continue the flight, but no final decision has been made. The key factor from my perspective is the widespread increasing cloud cover over Eastern NV, all of UT and moving into extreme SW Wyoming. All signs point to an aborted attempt.
Here are the GOES IR satellite photos for four hours from 1630Z to 1930Z (930 PDT TO 1230 PDT). Note the expanding coverage of cloud cover.
Here's a photo at 1354 PDT 10sm E-NE Logan showing snow showers to mountain tops and near cloud base at 11500msl
Gordo is still loitering around hoping for best.... unwilling to quit...unwilling to dive toward south end of Bear Lake. His crew, Rick Walters, is already heading towards Logan with an ETA around 6pm PDT.
On the ground at Logan UT airport
Whoops! Forgot to smile for the camera. Jeesh... we're really having a great time here!