Walter Rogers

Walt Rogers WX Writings

Feb 16, 2014

Boettger Downwind Record Flight Minden to South Dakota 02-17-2014

Updated 1935 PST February 18, 2014

At sunrise on 17 February, Gordon Boettger and Hugh Bennett are planning on launching in the Duo Discus glider from Minden aiming for Rapid City, SD as our goal, a distance of over 933 miles. Below is a link to the map with our position updates every 5 minutes. If you’d like to see the details of our position, you can click on the blue dots on the map to see our speed, altitude, time, and position. Please do not send text messages to the InReach as I will be extremely busy. Walt Rogers will be assisting in weather and communications with us throughout the flight. We just have to hope that the weather lines up properly for this to happen. It should be fun to watch as a lot can happen flying without a motor.

Gordon Boettger is sharing their location at the MapShare web site:

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NOTE: Due to the large (70+) cc: address on Gordon's past flights, we must significantly cut back entries on that list. Please, monitor the flight either on my twitter feed @wrogerswx or my blog. Last time, Google shut down my email account late in the afternoon.

2200 PST Sunday

Looking at model data, Gordo has an excellent chance of successfully making way to South Dakota.

First, the wave should be working fine in the Carson Valley at sunrise. Take a look at this HRRR model graphic valid 14Z 6am PST

HRRR model vertical velocity 14Z 6am PST

showing a well formed mountain wave (MW) and trains of them downwind across the NV ID border and eastward.

Here is the KTVL (Tahoe Valley airport) forecast sounding valid 15Z 7am PST


which shows strong SW winds 42kts at ridge top level (add 6000ft to vertical height) shifting to WNW at around 25,000msl

Second, the jetstream axis (see 500mb - 18,000msl maps) remains somewhat to the north along the OR WA border across Northern ID.

RAP 500MB 15Z 7am PSTRAP 500MB 20z noon PST

This tends to keep the moisture north of the Snake River Valley as can be seen in the 700mb charts (10,000msl) humidity 50pct light green 70pct dark green. RAP 700MB 15Z 7am PSTRAP 700MB 20Z noon PST

Low level winds over mountain tops average W-WSW 40-60kts from Logan, UT eastward into Wyoming ... and this will generate very strong mountain wave action Monday afternoon. Good lenticular markers can be expected. Moisture and precipitation should stay north of the track in NW Wyoming.

Overall... it looks excellent for a great long record downwind wave flight!

0550 Monday

Infared Satellite photo shows a high cirrus standing lenticular from Reno area S and SSE trailing downwind

GOES IR 20140217 1330Z

Minden surface temperature 23-28F at 5am. Slide Mountain 9600ft showing WSW winds 44 gust 54mph... but most wind along lower ridge tops west of Carson Valley SW 7-15mph. The wave is undoubtedly there. Gordo say it will probably take a tow 10-15 miles north into Washoe Valley to connect.

0614 PST

Here's the vertical velocity m/s forecast from the HRRR model 11Z (3am run) valid at 13Z 6am

HRRR 20140217 11Z Valid 13Z


Photos of takeoff and initial climb. Mouse over photo for caption. Click through for large version. All times PST

N55LK Duo Discus Pre Take Off 0626am PST Ready to go! 0635am PST

0648 Aero Tow out of Minden 0713 Looking north cruising by Carson City NV 0744 Lake Tahoe 23800msl almost top of climb

Instrument Panel

0834 PST

Takeoff took place estimated 0643PST. Gordo cruised north and settled on a "sweet spot" near the NW corner of Washo Lake reaching top of climb at around 0806PST near FL280. He turned downwind at 0808 and rapidly settled on 125-135mph ground speed toward ENE.

I received several dropped Iridium satellite phone calls... could hear the pressure breathing. My text messaging is pointing him toward a mountain wave spot just downwind of Mt Augusta 39 34N 117 47W about 110 statue miles. HRRR model vertical velocity indicates the wave at that spot.

Flight aware is now tracking the DUO on their site Flight Aware N55LK

1020 PST

Gordo reached a mountain wave "sweet spot" just NE of Mt Augusta and began climbing 1-2kts at around 0901PST. After reaching top of climb at 0935PST FL219, he turned downwind NE toward Elko, NV (EKO). From a 0925PST satellite phone call... " I've got EKO made by 4000ft and will parallel ranges working lift on the way"

Here's the HRRR model mountain wave forecast valid 18Z or 10am PST. You can see the strong lift at the Ruby Mtns... but he doesn't have enough to reach it. HRRR 4HR Forecast 18Z

Satellite photos from GOES 1km Visible are not very helpful. Lots of high cirrus layers obscuring lower mid level clouds.GOES 1KM VIS VALID 18Z

1040 PST

Photos crossing Central Nevada. Mouse over photo for caption. Click through for large version. All times PST

0902 North Central Nevada Mt Augusta Looking south 18960msl 1122 Ruby Mountains  Looking South 20099msl 1510 Ruby Mountains  Looking South 20099msl

1210 PST

After reaching top of climb of FL242 in the " lift since Minden 4kts..." at 1107 PST Gordo headed ENE at 150mph ground speed. They crossed Snow Lake Peak at around 17,800msl, then flew NE paralleling range downwind... but hit very strong sink descending to 14,500 before finding lift 12nm SSW of Wells, NV. As of 1153 PST they were climbing strong 6-8kts going through 16,500msl.

1327 PST

Gordo is just crossing the north end of the Great Salt Lake FL190 heading toward Logan, UT with glide margin of 8000ft. Plans are to connect to wave from the range west of Logan (7nm WSW), climb and then transition NE onto the River Range to a point near the NW edge of Bear Lake. A good climb will be needed there to near FL280 before making a 145 statue mile glide to the BIG ONE...Wind River Range. It's still difficult to make out any wave clouds due to the mix if cirrus layers. We are relying on the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) 3km model to locate the wave spots. Here's one:

HRRR 20140217 18Z Valid 22Z 2pm PST

1428 PST

Gordo got a short climb 7nm SW Logan, UT topping out around 17600msl when lift weakened to 1kt. He turned NE and at 1424 PST was over the center of Bear Lake still searching at 12800msl. Bear Lake County airport is a good alternate. I've already talked to the airport manager, Hank Medford. Runway lights, unicom, manager lives on airport; rental car available and town of Montpellier 5mi away. Sure hope that he connect soon... and goes to FL280 !

1530 PST

Photos vicinity Logan UT and Bear Lake. Mouse over photo for caption. Click through for large version. All times PST

1357 Logan UT Looking NNW 17300msl 1358 Looking SE Near Logan UT 1531 Looking North toward Afton 26450msl

1550 PST

BREAKING NEWS! After dithering around over the center of Bear Lake, Gordo connected to the wave! Topped out at 1518 PST FL280. By 1525 PST he called to say "...I've got Riverton, WY made by 8000ft margin; Winds 283/75kts. UPDATE: Gordo called at 1540 PST. ATC requires that he land at Riverton because both Mode C transponders are not reporting altitude (only location). Still has an 8300ft margin above glide. "... sure is cold up here... and I'm over no mans land". Sunset Riverton 1648PST. Here's a satellite photo 2330Z or 1530PST GOES 1KM VIS 2330Z

HRRR Model Vert Velocity valid 00Z 1600 PST

1605 PST

Photos just before crossing Wind River Range. Mouse over photo for caption. Click through for large version. All times PST

1558 Looking North Wind River Range 18200msl 1601 Looking North Wind River Range 18200msl

1617 PST

GOODNEWS! Going up 10kts thru FL190; Transponder warmed up and working. Just downwind Wind River Range; Next alternate Casper, WY. After crossing the Wind River Range and encountering "bodacious" sink, suddenly 5NW Lander, WY... 10kts (1000fpm) up. He topped out at FL265. After turning downwind toward Casper, WY, it was a 235mph race to get on the ground before end of civil twilight (Gordo does have navigation lights).

1708 PST

Gordo is about to land at Casper, WY in a few minutes. Final glide ground speed 235mph. I've coordinated with Atlantic Aviation field manager to assist in pushing glider into a huge hangar. He can land on RWY 21 taxiway ... turn left onto ramp and roll to within a couple hundred feet of a hangar. Thanks to "Jen"

Here's what the surface winds look like in the area

Mesowest Winds 01Z 20140218

1823 PST

Landing confirmed at around 1707 PST. Talked with Gordo at 1750 PST on his cell. The ship and crew are safe and warm in the big hangar at Casper Natrona International airport, WY

Gordon Boettger Hugh Bennett - Victory Pose - Casper Wyoming

This flight will be a new National Open Multi Place free distance record of around 743 statue miles... perhaps 5sm more if he released SW of the airport). The previous record of 701.45sm was also set by Gordon and Hugh, last year on Apr 15, 2013.

Good night and evening to all... It's been a 14 hour day acting as your glider dispatcher, correspondent, meteorologist and concierge... much like last years effort.

Walt Rogers WX

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