Soaring Stories

Published Writing

You Gotta Believe Soaring Magazine | April 2018

A seven hour adventure that took me to the limits of my soaring ability. The forecast looked perfect; a monster wave off of the Catskills. My plan was to connect with wave near Blairstown and soar my way up to Wurtsboro. But my plan fell apart and a chasm of weak ridge conditions stood between me and the Catskills. Soaring 70 miles through some of the most challenging ridge and thermals I had flown and at one point on downwind for a landout, I made it across the transition. Later, I connected with the elusive wave and clawed my way up to the Class A. At 18,000ft, I made a 70 mile final glide back to Blairstown Airport, having completed the first Diamond Climb from New Jersey.

1000km in a 1-26 Soaring Magazine | July 2016

My most spectacular flight in Sweet Red. The 1000km was the dream. From Wally Scott saying that it is doable, followed by Ron Schwartz’s nearly making it several times, this was the frontier of 1-26 soaring. Through clever flight planning and a favorable ridge day, the dream came true on May 2016. This was the first 1000km Diploma awarded in a 1-26.

Three Diamonds in a Club 1-26– 1-26 Association Newsletter | Fall 2015

This article describes my badge journey in Sweet Red, Aero Club Albatross’ 1-26E. From struggling to stay up, through Silver Badge and the ridge running for the Distance legs. And finally the elusive altitude Diamond at Mt.Washington.

A Day Win at the Club Class Nationals– 1-26 Association Newsletter | Spring 2014

It was my second competition, the 2013 Club Class Nationals. Day One brought a strong NW ridge day. No one expected much of the red 1-26 on the grid. The pilot hooking me up was somewhat bewildered when the 19 year old kid said, “If all goes well, I’ll win this day.” The rest of the contestants were even more surprised when the kid won the day with a 120 margin on second place.

Kolstad Scholarship Application EssaySoaring Magazine | March 2013

The most prestigious award offered to young soaring pilots is the Kolstad Scholarship. The application consists of letters of recommendation, a list of accomplishments and an application essay. The essay detailed my soaring history to date and my goals for the future

2013 1-26 Championships – The Champion’s View– 1-26 Assocation Newsletter | Fall 2013

The 1-26 Championship’s were over and these were my concluding thoughts on this spectacular competition. I won this competition, performing well by flying consistently. Several day wins, several trickier days, but no landouts. Moriarty is a magical place!

Selected Short Stories

The Race– My Last Flight in Sweet Red | A Coda

I didn’t expect to fly Sweet Red on this day. Nor did I know it at the time that this would be my last flight in this wonderful ship. On this flight, Ron Schwartz (428) and I spontaneously decided to do a 60 mile drag race back from Hawk Mountain to Millbrook. We flew to perfection, at times only yards apart, several times changing leads. When we finished, we landed back at Blairstown in formation. This flight was the coda to all my amazing experiences in this sailplane.

El Bondo is Born– A 1200km Ridge Flight

It was the 2016 Club Class Nationals at Wurtsboro NY. A riproaring cold front tore through the northeast and the day was cancelled due to excessive winds. I took an early tow and flew the farthest flight in an ACA club ship. Little did I know what Ron had in store for me when I got back home..

A Remarkably Unremarkable Ridge Day

Every once in a while, you realize what an amazing thing you’ve got going. How special it is to go soaring on the first of December, with an oddball gang of pilots called ACAers.

1000km Triangle in the Duckhawk

This flight is my farthest and fastest flight to date. The day looked spectacular and I set out in a watered up Duckhawk to get the prize: a 1000km triangle from Blairstown. I took off a bit later than I expected and attacked the ridge with the rawest aggression I had ever expressed in a sailplane. Every transition was done to perfection, not a second wasted. The result was the task completed at 80 mph, in less than 8 hours. I subsequently flew laps on the Blairstown ridge to complete a 1300km OLC flight, the farthest distance ever flown from Blairstown.

Down the Rabbit Hole– A Landout in Amish Country

After the conditions deteriorated on a light ridge day in August, I landed in a beautiful hay field far away from home. I quickly realized that I also landed back in time.

Conquering the Hill A Trip up to Elmira and Back

A reasonable soaring day brewed up in July and I decided to fly up to Harris Hill to say hello to my buddies Noah and Phil. I flew back to Blairstown on the same day. The flights were exciting, flown in challenging conditions and terrain.

Class-A Wave

The forecast looked promising for wave. Sure enough, a group of us climbed up to 12,000ft right over Blairstown airport. Looking ahead, I saw an extraordinary sight; a primary wave set up from the Pocono plateau. Connecting with this wave took me to the highest altitude anyone had soared from Blairstown Airport.

Ridge Soaring Expedition– An Out and Return to Mountain Grove, VA

It was winter and quite cold. Operations were shut down at Blairstown and I was getting cabin fever. The solution was to haul the club LS4 out to Tom Knauff’s gliderport near State College PA. The subsequent day a group of us had great ridge flights and I had the joy of flying down to Mountain Grove in challenging soaring conditions.

Soaring the SE Ridge to the Susquehanna River

Making it around the pinnacle on the SE side was one of the few genuinely euphoric moments I had experienced in a sailplane. This was my farthest 1-26 flight on the “back side” of the ridge and the only time to date a 1-26 from Blairstown has made it to the Susquehanna River and back in these conditions.

The Team Lives On

The 2017 Junior Worlds were over. A month later, I took a flight in the club LS3 and set out to fly the Governor’s Cup. My thoughts drifted back to Lithuania and my teammates, Noah and JP. They joined me in spirit in this flight.

A Dynamic Soaring Day– Ridge, Thermals, and Wave!

It was a tricky spring day in the club LS4. The lift was generally weak, but it was there if you could find it. Ridge early, then weak wave near Tremont to the Susquehanna River, followed by hopping wave bars upwind toward State College. A short period of rocking thermals, followed by floating home as the day started decaying. An exhilarating day and one of my most well earned 500km flights.

All Pilot Reports

2016 Soaring Season

2017 Soaring Season

2017-2018 | Winter Wave Exploration

2018 Soaring Season

2019 Soaring Season

Training with Noah Reitter | Ridge Soaring | Harris Hill

2019 | Junior World Gliding Championship | Szeged, Hungary

October 2019 –> Present