Today’s contest gave me what was probably the most amazing flight I have ever experienced in any airplane. We flew right over the Sierras. Unfortunately, I did the equivalent of leaving the lens cap on—I forgot to erase all of the files on my video camera. So, amazing footage of this somewhat rare flight will not be forthcoming. Furthermore, since all technology is failing on me at once right now, I haven’t got the time for an elaborate post. So, here is the day in pictures. Always little modifications to do. Here, Mike adds foam tape to help seal the front of the canopy on JOY. The task is introduced. It’s a turn area task, just like the one on the second practice day. Silver Springs airport, then Mammoth Yosemite Airport, then Mina Airport, then back home. Mike receives some advice on the task from fellow competitor Rick Walters, a local pilot and the contest sponsor. The safety gods give no handicaps for out-of-towners. Rick wasn’t keeping any secrets, either—everyone wants a good competition. Gliders are staged before proceeding out to the starting area. JOY is second in line, and her wings are among the longest in the contest.
Prior to starting the task: circling in the Carson Valley. We are treated each day to the sight of Lake Tahoe floating above the Carson Valley. The race begins! Shortly after we head south from the Silver Spring turn area, Rick Walters (see above) passes us in his brand new Arcus. Heading south, we make way toward the Mammoth Yosemite turn area. The row of clouds along the peaks marks a highway of lift—in fact, glider pilots call it a “cloud street”. In this case, the highway is a scenic highway: I can’t pick it out myself, but I’m told Yosemite is in at least one of the photos above. Anyway, we went deep into the Mammoth Yosemite turn area and then headed toward Mina, which for some reason didn’t motivate me to take pictures like the Sierras did. The day had a late start, and most lift was dying as we headed back to Minden. We caught one good thermal over sixty miles out that ensured our trip back home. Along the way, the wrecks of dying rainclouds: We were third for the day and are ranked third overall. Not bad! Here was what we wound up flying: