July 3, 2023 at 12:18 AM #18450
for quite some time, i’ve been looking for favorable weather (and work schedule) conditions to set a new crestline out and return site record. saturday, july 1st 2023 looked to me like that day. a visit to xc skies soaring forecast the night before showed promising conditions starting at 11am.
light southeast winds with impressive top of lift numbers seemed like a good start.
another promising aspect of the forecast showed climbs to 17 grand over san gorgonio at 1pm.
i set my sights on a flight to the east, jumping across the banning pass to san jacinto, continuing on until i reached 51 miles from crestline launch, then returning back.
getting ready to launch at 11am, i prepared for the cold at altitude with my fancy heated motorcycle gloves.
i launched just after 11am and slowly made my way east. above running springs, i found a boomer that took me to 10,500 feet at 800 fpm. that allowed me to skip keller peak, and instead, head straight toward little san gorgonio. once there, i found another monster which took me to over 15,250 feet.
it was time to make the jump across the banning pass and attempt to get established at san jacinto. this is always a bit of a tricky proposition because it’s not always clear (to me) where to connect with the first climb. another issue is trying to sort out the likely wind direction before getting there. a lot of that depends on how high you are when you arrive. the forecast for that area at 1pm illustrates the issue clearly.
here is the forecast in that area for 1pm at 4 thousand feet:
and here is the forecast in that area for 1pm at 12 thousand feet:
i use my altitude as i cross the 10 freeway as a marker for my decision making, and whether to play to the east or west of a prominent spine. i like to be above 10 thousand feet as i cross the freeway, and this time, i was right at 10k feet. i saw a handful of windmills turning in the west wind below me, so i expected that’s what i would find.
i stumbled into some broken lift and quickly saw that while circling up, i was drifting significantly to the southwest! yikes, i’ve got to get myself on the east side of the spine as i was seeing the wind registering on my flytec blade at 11 mph from the northeast! heavy sink all the way around the corner and down to 5 thousand feet, my fancy heated gloves mocked me.
finally around the corner, i connected with strong lift that got me safely, and smoothly back in the game. a couple more spines to the east later, i was comfortably climbing above 10 grand again and finding abundant strong, yet friendly lift.
i hit 51 miles out a few minutes after 2pm. i believe i could have easily picked up another 8 or 10 miles, but i didn’t want to be too greedy. i also wanted to insure to not only get back to andy jackson airpark, but i wanted to tag crestline launch first, so i elected to “return”.
as i climbed back up over san jac to 14,700 feet, i watched a southwest airlines 737 cruise through the banning pass below me! my head was on a swivel as i started my glide across, knowing full well that this was a common route for commercial flights heading into john wayne airport.
across with zero drama, little san g welcomed me back with an impressive (1100 feet per minute on the 15 second averager) thermal all the way to 14.7 grand. for fun, on my glide home, i flew across the top of (the still snow-covered) san bernardino peak. vg of my wills wing t3 154 on overdrive, i settled in for the long, no need for any more altitude, final glide all the way home to crestline launch.
we are so fortunate to be able to fly through the skies as we do — and now, with some amazing new tools created by some very talented people, we can share these experiences with our friends. if you care to watch an interactive track log of my flight, you may do so here:
fly high, fly far, fly safe.
a few questions from friends and family that weren’t addressed in the above write up.
q: were you flying with oxygen?
a: i was not. though it seemed likely that i would be spending some amount of time above 12,500 feet, i knew i wouldn’t be staying there for long, so i opted to not bring my oxygen system with me.
q: what was the total time of the flight?
a: 4 hours 45 minutes. all in all, a very comfortable flight. conditions were not too rowdy, so i didn’t have to work very hard to stay in the generous lift.
q: who held the previous record, and how far was it? what is the new record?
a: amazing pilot and friend john scott set the out and return record by flying (west) to mount wilson and back. his record flight of 86.89 miles stood for 13 years. the record is now 102 miles.
q: did you pee?
a: not this time. peeing isn’t much of an issue (for men) while hang gliding though, just unzip, and let it fly. tmi?July 3, 2023 at 6:51 AM #18451
The tracklog link provided quite a ride. Congrats on an incredible flight Owen.July 3, 2023 at 8:00 AM #18452David WebbGeneral Member
Awesome flight.July 3, 2023 at 4:16 PM #18461July 3, 2023 at 7:21 PM #18462Scott IsbellGeneral Member
Nice job, Owen!
Quite the flight. Thanks for the narration and the tracker.July 4, 2023 at 12:56 PM #18464Jonathan DietchGeneral Member
Good job and well-presented report! Thanks!
Here you are (speck in the middle) after tagging the return cylinder.
July 4, 2023 at 9:30 PM #18469
You are my hero, Owen!July 5, 2023 at 11:43 AM #18475Nathan HallahanGeneral Member
Thanks for posting the write up and tracklog, this is very cool!
What is the record in the end? (51 miles out and return? Total of 102?)
What was the previous record?July 7, 2023 at 4:14 PM #18481
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