Diablo (Tony Deleo)
Pine Mountain to Ballarat
155 miles (LFSD points ~ 50)
I think it goes something like this "it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog"
The day before Hammer and I had flown eastbound from Pine Mountain. 122.8 miles from launch, I landed near Hinkley (just west of Barstow) into a southeast headwind. Hammer "landed" further south in Apple Valley. At least I didn't deck it. The last time I invited Hammer along he flew 155 miles to Ballarat after I hit the deck at Dry Canyon (6 miles) resulting in the opportunity of chasing Robert all day!
Unfortunately, Hammer had suffered a wrist injury "landing" in over developed conditions, which kept us at the Apple Valley airport until 12:30 a.m. As much as I wanted to leave him at the hospital, Eddie and Hammer's partying friends would have nothing of it. In fact, they expressed more concerned about his condition than his girl friend did! It was this day that I learned that Hammer was actually "OLDER" than myself which made him the "OLDEST" local pilot, and in my book, indispensable. We drove home that night arriving in Ventura about 3:30 am. Eddie drove Hammer home to Santa Barbara and I went home for a brief respite. I think that Eddie got home about 5:30 a.m.
At 9:00 am we were headed back up the hill for Round 2. In a short time I was on course flying along the Tehachapi's where I turned north near Double Mountain to the south end of Barren Ridge. At this point the dominant flow was still southeast but the clouds were beginning to show the west pushing through. I flew off of Barren Ridge into the Mojave Desert and worked broken thermals to south of Jaw Bone Canyon. Heading for Freemont Dry Lake Bed, my GPS went dead. Eddie was nearby and looking for landable areas near Garlock beyond the 100 mile mark. I continued up the alluvial fan to 395.
The lift southeast of Ridgecrest was diminishing and it looked as if I was going to flush off into the east end of Poison Canyon which is the entrance to the Searles Valley (THIS IS ANOTHER GO TO SPOT WHICH SEEMS TO WORK REGULARLY). I was floundering around here for nearly 30 minutes and was finally able to climb out and cross the Valley to the foothills east of the airport. In light conditions I dove thru "the notch" into the Panamint Valley and went to the Mine where I had been able to climb out on a previous occasions. I could only get to 8k. Not able to get over the Panamint Range for a jump into Death Valley, I opted to take my altitude and head downwind up the valley northbound. I landed a couple of miles north of Ballarat (do you hear this Hammer?). At Ballarat, if you go much further north you begin to arc back towards takeoff. After viewing another magnificent sunset Fast Eddie was there.
We picked the Sundowner up on the way back after his 122 mile flight.