Flying Stories

 Sams Glass Off Flight

    I met Sam and Vicki in 2010 at Hat Creek just before the 2010 Umpteenth in Lakeview. We met up again at the Umpteenth that year which was having a North and East light wind problem.
Sam Cox launches Soldier Creek Rim, July 2010. , by Debbie Johnson-Jackson
Most pilots were heading to Hadley to go and fly but myself Sam and Phil R all headed up to Soldier Creek Rim which is a NE facing site. We  do not often get to fly Soldier Creek Rim in the summertime but this unusual weather had us heading there 4 days in a row. We got to fly south in Surprise Valley an unusual summer direction with stunningly beautiful scenery. We ended up in Eagleville a couple of times and other various places in between. A group of about 8 pilots joined us one day and all had great flights.

    After these great flights we hang out camping  in some beautiful campground somewhere and tell lots of flying stories. One of my favorite stories is about the many times that I have flown the Sweet and Low to Lakeview glass off. I am always telling pilots about the great smooth and constant lift which allows everyone to fly together and to enjoy the spectacular scenery passing beneath us. The difference between the lift found at Sugar/Sweet and Low in the middle of the day to the evening is huge. While strong lift and high climbs are attainable midday it is difficult for a few friends to stay and fly together in that kind of air and if strong lift is present there is also strong sink lurking somewhere.

    Sam listened to stories of these 28 mile smooth air flights and asked me to let him know if  the weather looked good for a glass off that week. Unfortunately it did not happen at that time and Sam and Vicki had other places to be.   Sam and Vicki made a return to the area in 2011 and we met up and flew together again at the Umpteenth. While we did have some southerly winds this year they were quite light and did not look like promising XC glass offs.  We had some great midday flights from Sugar during the Umpteenth and after but Thursday the 7th was the day that looked possible for the glass off run so we abstained from midday flying and found some other activities for the day.

   We arrived at Sweet and Low at about 4.30 pm  and the wind was strong and gusty as expected but the wind lines on the lake and the wind at launch were about 45 degrees cross and the evening forecast was for winds to be turning WNW which made us wonder if this was what was happening earlier than predicted.
Crossing the Fandango Pass, September 2003. , by Roger Jackson
Being optimistic we set up and got ready slowly, and sure enough at about 6.00 pm the wind was looking straighter and less gusty so off to launch we went. The lift was a little light at first but got better as we got higher. We never had to go down the ridge to Sugar launch as we climbed above 8000' in the west Sugar bowl. As we headed across the gap {Fandango Pass) we felt the strong crab angle necessary, and saw that the wind lines on Goose Lake had moved around to a WNW direction.
Although this direction still works it is slow going, far better to have a nice strong SW wind to help push you the way you want to go, but as pilots we take the air we are dealt and we kept on creeping towards Lakeview. We managed to fly together most of the time and stopping to find thermals or climb in one spot was not necessary as there was plenty of lift just flying straight.

  We maintained good altitude through New Pine Creek
Flying past New Pine Creek, 7/7/2011. , by Debbie Johnson-Jackson
but now the ridge starts to head a little more west and a WNW wind did not help the lift much on this part of the ridge. As we approached the end of the lake we were getting quite low. We did try to head into the nice ridge line here that always works in a SW but did not work to well in the WNW and sent us scurrying out to the front of the ridge. I was getting low and told our our drivers Debbie and Vicki that I would be landing in the "mosquito field" I had landed in a couple of days ago and I immediately realized that anything was better than the dreaded mosquito field and told them to head up the highway a little more. We had wind streamers right there on the vehicle antennae as we came into land, proving the incredible worth of competent drivers and we both had great landings.  Sam,s landing was caught on camera and he spent the next hour telling us all what a great flight he had. Our flight was 20 miles we did not make it to Hunters, our goal, but length of flight, distance flown, none of that matters when you are having such a great time and flying with great people and chase crews and having fun .