Day 4 at Minden

Q: What’s better than one amazing soaring flight over the Sierras?

A: Two of them.

There is a spectacular video for those who read on.

Gliding once over the Sierras in June is unexpected. After we did it a few days ago, a few of the Minden regulars remarked on how we were so lucky to have had this rare opportunity.

Doing it twice in a week is evidently unheard of. In my case, it was a lucky break, since I had failed to get a recording last time. This was a second chance that I didn’t deserve. We flew over Yosemite twice¬†today. Below: Tuolumne Meadows and points southwest.

Tuluomne Meadows and points southwest, from the fifth day of the 2012 US Open Class Nationals

Contest weather engineers Doug Armstrong and Stewart Tattersall arranged a strong day, so the contest director selected a lengthy task with distant turnpoints: south again to Bishop, and then further still to Manzanar (yes, that Manzanar). Below, the task sheet handed to all pilots shortly before the race begins (click to enlarge):

On a Google Map:

As the crow flies, that’s 182 miles, not counting the return trip. Here’s what we actually flew:

In other words: all over the Sierras. This means we got some amazing pictures and video. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean we made good time. At one point south of Mono Lake, we had the option of breaking east for the White Mountains or continuing southeast on the Sierras. Both options looked about as good to our non-local eyes. Unfortunately, the Whites were the way to go, and we picked the Sierras. This ultimately led to us receiving a 7th (of 9) place finish for the day, dropping us back to a close third place overall.

We had to settle for slower flight over amazing scenery like this::

And then, finally, there’s the video. The GoPro felt like working today, and it got all but the last 40 minutes or so of the task. Below, you’ll be able to watch a summary video like the one from Day 2: a series of three second clips pulled once every two minutes from the original footage.

Before you check out this video, there’s something you should know:

Me in the rear seat of JOY

That’s me in the rear seat of JOY. And yes, I am wearing a Rollens under my eyeglasses. The kind you get from the optometrist. Yes, I did get these from the optometrist. Nothing less than “the ultimate in post-mydriatic and dental procedure protective eyewear” for me. You see, I did get a pair of prescription sunglasses just before the trip—two pair, in fact—but they gave me headaches.

I had a backup plan.

Removing the Rollens (get it? “roll lens?”) is on my pre-landing checklist, since they look pretty dumb. Nobody wants to look dumb after flying a contest task. But since they wound up in the video, I guess I have to fess up. Anyway, here’s the video:

NOTE: When I created this post, the video was still updating. If there is no working video below, please try back again in a few hours!

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