Tag Archives: XC attempt

Luling to Dale

An unepic adventure and epic fun.

A journey with a friend always tops the journey made alone.

On July 11th, Mark and I towed up with the mindset of get high, go far. I had going east around Austin in mind.

After I finally got a good climb, Mark came in way under me, eventually climbing over me at 6500ft. At that point, string was pulled and miles were covered. 5 miles out, I turned in lift, gaining 1000ft, then raced off into what turned out to be the ground at Dale, Texas – a mere 15 miles straight distance. As a dog leg, more like 20 miles.

In true form, I was picked up by a local drunk, taken to the beer store a mile away and went off in search of Mark who was gracious enough to land near me.

Lessons learned…..

1. Every day is different. This day was higher pressure with sharper edges and severe sink. Being cavalier on buoyant air days can work….. on days with severe sink, despite higher than normal lift, being cavalier will put you on the ground.

2. Beware of which car you get into. The operator may be drunker than you think!

Against the wind…

What we do when we are tired determines our capacity the most.

Being tired, having started late in the day, plus not having communications or a ride, something simple seemed logical. I love LZ unknown. I think even more I just love letting go of one point when flying. For me, that greatly increases the amount of sky to play in. It also opens up the reality that your reach is further than your glide.

I ventured downwind to Lockhart, played with lift there, climbed, then decided to return. And return I did. I learned much more on the return than in my prior downwind cross country trips.

Buzzards helped me pick a good lift line on the way back.

Normally I am a hang in zeros and hope to find better type guy, but with a head wind, it forced me to be more judicious in the lift I chose – it also forced me to be quicker about the decision.

I’m not calling it a comeback, but while I’ve had very little flying, what I have had has been full of personal bests since some recent life changes that have greatly decreased my stress and increased my decision making capacity. Too soon to tell, but at some point, luck will start getting less credit.

Llano Attemp 3 – 32 miles

“I don’t think you can ever do your best. Doing your best is a process of trying to do your best.”
-Townes Van Zandt

Short Version:

Fast drifting in the blue. 32 miles
Ratty light lift.

Landing north of Cherokee, Texas.

*edit*A giant thank you is in order. In accomplishing free flight goals, from the 1st sledder off Pack, to my last NM flight, or this flight, it has always been with the help of other people. For this flight, I could not have done it without Dave H. He not only drove me to the hill and then was kind enough to retrieve me, and he is better than I am at picking visual indicators in front of launch to ensure uneventful launches – with lift. I hope to return the favor.

Long version:

Scratch around the hill in very rowdy air for too long. Fly over the LZ and hit a climb. So does Dave even further out.

With heavy drift, 15-20mph? Climb to 2K over, start climbing towards 3K, drift, drift, climb to 4k. Hit a climb on glide to Llano airport, glide to Llano to tag it.

I am down to 900, on approach to Llano airport. Looking to land in the grass near gas station (no planes), I hit lift and turn, still drifting fast with the strong SSE wind. Stick with it but now I am drifting over 16, going further away from the highway but still very low, climbing in 150fpm but drifting fast. I punch down wind to a redtail in better lift. Take that up well over 5K. I have altitude to cut down/crosswind to Cherokee, TX.

Climb again drifting a few miles north of Cherokee, but the 16hwy goes through a few miles of cactus and brush. Continue to drift fast but bail back upwind to a green field with a irrigation pivot. Upwind is a bitch.

I arrive high, going over the cows giving a cow call.

“Landed” in friendly country. I was greeted by the landowner and other locals with the use of a good cell phone, some cold Shiner Beer, and good conversation. I love Texas.

One of the neighbors that came over was NFL linebacker for the AZ Cardinals, Brandon Sharpe Sharpe was a Texas Tech star player and the locals were Texas Tech fans. As a Texas Aggie, it was a good day to be a 2 percenter.

My biggest climb was to 5300ft above ground level (AGL). This climb started when I was on final to Llano airport. To give an idea of how much drift there was, in 24 minutes, I climbed 4400ft while drifting 7 miles. Quick math says drifting at 17.5mph with an avg climb rate of only 180fpm.

17 mph was just drifting. The few times I went on glide down wind, I was moving. Max speed 73mph.
“You’ve gotta move – or you’re just waitin’ around to die.”
-Townes Van Zandt

Time with my mistress – Llano Attempt 2

View the flight here

2 passes before climbing out to 4600 over and then gliding NW 8 miles….
Target: Llano

Result: Fail….. and a whole bunch of fun…. climb up… bomb out. 8 miles – 36 minutes.

A Look at Pack Thermals

My climb out – get up, get out

The last three XC attempts

One last gratuitous wing shot

2011 Pack XC continues

Who rocks?


On 3-18 he flew out of Pack on a very similar path as I did on 2-20. I decked it when failing to push west, Dan when he pushed further down wind for a bit over 15 miles.

A few images of his flight and mine on GE. Similarities are amazing. It appears we fly in formation even if on different days. That is how the Black Sheep Squadron rolls! 😉

You can see similarities in the pic below. I can’t help but to notice Dan seems to make more circles* 😉

* I poke fun, but keep in mind, not just 2 different pilots and wings, but 2 different days and conditions.

Dan landed in hostile territory…

Hostile LZ

Llano Attempt 1 – Packsaddle XC

My 1st cross country out of Packsaddle. I have flown to the airport in Kingsland. I went north, then west towards Llano airport for a total distance of 13 miles before turning around and decking it 5 miles east of Llano airport – 12 miles from Packsaddle.

My mistress

Mark has some footage of me before I left the scene. Thanks Mark! I am in the 1st minutes… check it out.

It was a cloudy day but looked like plenty of ridge lift. Dan punched off 1st.

It looked like just ridge lift until Dan jumped west and made a good climb out stinking high. At this point, I just tried to copy what Dan did and climb out. When I did, I just kept going.

I headed down 29 west after choosing not to drift further north. I caught another good climb after going west. The more you climb, the more you drift until I had drifted to far north and didn’t have altitude to keep charging west. Drifting at this point would have only taken me further away from an easy retrieve. Land.

Here comes the cavalry


My declared goal for the day was to not land at Packsaddle. Goal setting works.
Goal setting works both ways. Had I started towards the Llano airport, I may have made it – Instead of ever changing goals – Kingsland airport, then flatrock, then 29, then Llano airport.
Radios – was nice to be able to radio my intentions to go when I went.