08-12-11 Silver Distance

Over the Summer of 2011, there was just rain, rain, and rain. The ground was soaked and the thermals were as a result very poor. However, on August 12th the weather seemed good enough for a Silver Distance attempt and I made arrangements to get out to the airport with Steve Lenter, who would also act as my crew. At the airport, I looked up at the sky which showed clouds to the NE and blue, bleak looking sky to the SE. The winds were about 10 mph NW aloft and as a result, an interesting decision had to be made: go NE and fight the crosswind or go SE and go into the uncertain blue. I have always wanted to fly to Middletown, NY on my Silver Distance since the flight would earn Club Trophy: the Boomerang. As a result, I accepted the difficult flight ahead and towed up to 2400ft into a thermal at the Lower Reservoir. I slowly climbed up to 5500ft, which I defined as my minimum altitude to go cross country. This would give me 5000ft AGL over most of the flight and this was expecting the clouds to progressively lift higher as the day wore on.

Little did I know that I would never get as high as my start ever again during the flight. As a I started going Northeast, I did not hit anything workable for a while. I descended to around 3400ft and just turned around to head back to the airport, but then I hit a thermal. I worked the thermal to around 5200ft, and to my horror I noticed the constant flow of Business Jets in the airway near me. I quickly left that area and finally committed to cross country. I set my sights on a good patch of fields ahead and connected with a decent thermal over the Newton hospital. Afterwards, I flew to another patch of fields and again got down to around 2000ft AGL. I climbed out and flew along with a Standard Cirrus that came out of nowhere. After connecting with two more thermals, also fairly low, the day started to wind-down and I initiated my final glide. I went 10 miles and made it to the Middletown airport at 1500ft AGL. I proceeded to land uneventfully and flew for 2.7 hours. I never averaged more than 200 fpm and got down to 2000ft AGL three times over good fields. It was a tough flight for sure!

Over the Summer of 2011, there was just rain, rain, and rain. The ground was soaked and the thermals were as a result very poor. However, on August 12th the weather seemed good enough for a Silver Distance attempt and I made arrangements to get out to the airport with Steve Lenter, who would also act as my crew. At the airport, I looked up at the sky which showed clouds to the NE and blue, bleak looking sky to the SE. The winds were about 10 mph NW aloft and as a result, an interesting decision had to be made: go NE and fight the crosswind or go SE and go into the uncertain blue. I have always wanted to fly to Middletown, NY on my Silver Distance since the flight would earn Club Trophy: the Boomerang. As a result, I accepted the difficult flight ahead and towed up to 2400ft into a thermal at the Lower Reservoir. I slowly climbed up to 5500ft, which I defined as my minimum altitude to go cross country. This would give me 5000ft AGL over most of the flight and this was expecting the clouds to progressively lift higher as the day wore on.

Little did I know that I would never get as high as my start ever again during the flight. As a I started going Northeast, I did not hit anything workable for a while. I descended to around 3400ft and just turned around to head back to the airport, but then I hit a thermal. I worked the thermal to around 5200ft, and to my horror I noticed the constant flow of Business Jets in the airway near me. I quickly left that area and finally committed to cross country. I set my sights on a good patch of fields ahead and connected with a decent thermal over the Newton hospital. Afterwards, I flew to another patch of fields and again got down to around 2000ft AGL. I climbed out and flew along with a Standard Cirrus that came out of nowhere. After connecting with two more thermals, also fairly low, the day started to wind-down and I initiated my final glide. I went 10 miles and made it to the Middletown airport at 1500ft AGL. I proceeded to land uneventfully and flew for 2.7 hours. I never averaged more than 200 fpm and got down to 2000ft AGL three times over good fields. It was a tough flight for sure!

But what was much more interesting and amusing than the flight was the retrieve! After waiting for four hours on the ground, my crew finally showed up along with another crew for a glass glider that also landed out at the airport. It was very dark at this point and none of us had a lot of experience taking apart a 1-26. By 10:30, we got the glider on the trailer, but could not find the bolt to secure a wing to the trailer! We left the glider at the field with the intention to come back the next day and went back to Blairstown to consult with Bobby Templin who was going to join us the next day. Steve and I made it to his place at around 1:30AM the next day.

We slept until 6:30AM since we had to get up early since Steve had important things to do on Saturday and we picked up Bobby Templin at Sussex. Once we got to Middletown, Bobby quickly secured the glider and we drove back to Blairstown. We put the glider together by 12pm and at this point Steve dropped me off at a train station to go home to NYC. However, it turned out that this town did not have service on the weekends! I went to a pharmacy and asked for a car service which drove me to another town which had weekend train service. I finally made it home at 5:30pm. The whole Silver Distance experience was 36 hours! But hey, it was worth it: I brought the Boomerang Trophy back to Blairstown!

Find the flight track here.