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Sundowner Archived Flight Log
Copied from old hard copy hand written log book
Pine SS to Shadow Mountain Road
1st 100+ mile HG flight in California south of the Owens Valley
Flight on September 5th, 1984 (transcribed on 6/7/2011)
This entry is mostly from recollection. I only had a 1 line entry in my standard issue USHGA flight log that read
105 Mi my longest, again
Date: Wednesday, September 5th, 1984
Duration: 6:20 (landing at sunset)
Distance: 105 miles
Glider: Comet II 165
I used to have a better recollection of this flight, but it's been almost 27 years.
Clayton and I headed up to Pine midweek. Clayton was only about 15, so no drivers license. He lived at the base of the Avenue and didn't go to school, so we utilized his services a lot. I think we might have given him $5 a day to crew. We were likely running the old blue Datsun (Topa Chase). Hand held CB radio's back then, channel 34 with a trailing wire antenna about 107" long. I had my previous longest flight the day before, 43 miles. My log says I landed at the intersection of 99 and 233 on Tuesday, so that flight was a glide north into the San Joaquin Valley towards Bakersfield. Tuesday's flight took 2:40, so I wasn't used to long duration, and we reached our battery limitation on Wednesday.
Clayton was a pretty good crew member. Not much on formal education, but he had good sense and street smarts for a kid his age. He did later start flying himself, but always had substandard discarded equipment. My batteries were going dead, so I could receive, but not transmit. I think Clayton's radio may have been powered from the car. He was able to maintain some degree of communication by keeping a visual and asking yes or no questions. He would say turn right if... and that seemed to be good enough for him to be right under me when I landed.
I'd only been in California about 3 years (since the summer of 81) and had just one LA relief map, so it was all new territory. Had to buy the next map over after this flight.
Launched near midday. I seem to remember it was headwind until crossing Hwy 5. Cloud street about 12K right down the range from launch. Had the bar stuffed on glides toward the interstate, staying on the range. Didn't go OTB. Crossed Pyramid Lake and kept going out into the flats. Just as I was entering the Antelope Valley over the tip of the Liebre Mountains in somewhat smooth air, I recollect getting jolted and dumped upside down (inverted). I think it was this flight, but not certain, it might have been a different flight.
It was late in the season, so there was less influence from the south. A convergence seam went right down the middle of the valley. Didn't really understand the local meteorology back then. Just kept going straight away from launch, and south of Edwards Air Force base, and that line happened to be on a convergence seam. The Comet wasn't very fast, so it took awhile. I remember getting stuck below the top of McDonald Peak for an hour once (where the Sespe bends 90 degrees from west to south), but don't think it was on this flight. I just wonder because over 6 hours seems like a long time to cover 100 miles.
Landed on the Shadow Mountain Road just east of Hwy 395 in butter smooth air near sunset.
Did this flight in my original knee hanger harness (no reserve parachute). As a token of consideration for doing the flight on one of their gliders, Mike Arrambide persuaded UP to give me a cocoon harness and a reserve parachute, which I used until I eventually stopped flying hang gliders. To the best of my knowledge, I think this was the first ever 100 mile foot launched (HG) flight in Southern California (south of the Owens Valley).