Flight from Hollister to Truckee - Monday, 09/01/2003
Glider DG300 - DG3
516KM free flight
5 hrs 49 mins
49 mph avg
IGC File



satelite image taken at 5pm with trace overlay (thanks to Doug for saving it!)

click images to enlarge



My unplanned flight across the Sierras from Hollister.
I watched the weather on the labor day weekend, and Sunday looked good, with a low pressure moving in slowly, monday temps were higher, and monday avenal TIP confirmed it with 12k predicted.  Ramy, David, and myself showed up to fly on Monday. We planned the usual panoche, black mt run and Ramy towed 1st. The lift was great, and I towed next I arrived at EL1 (near Panoche) just over the ridges and took one good thermal to 11,000 feet, I flew directly to EL4 (near Hernandez) where I stopped for my second good thermal/ At this point Ramy had continued into the blue toward Black, where he reported about 8,500 alt and not the best lift. Ramy talked about the great cloud street over the sierras, and we wondered how close it was. It looked like the clouds were closer than the mountains. As I approached 12,000ft under the cloud, I decided what the heck, I'll give it a try, I told Ramy what I had decided, and he offered to retrieve me if I landed in the valley. So off I went.
  Crossing the valley
As soon as left the thermal over EL4 the air was still just like the marine layer near hollister. I had a light tail wind. The crossing took some time, and 1/2 way across now at 6,000 ft the clouds did not look any bigger. I now felt I had no chance to get over, but continued incase I found some low thermals in the valley. I arrived a few miles from the foothills at 1600ft agl with Yosemite Hidden Lake strip in glide and in site.

YosemiteHidden lake Strip
Keeping the strip in glide I glided closer to the foothills, and the bumps started, I found some light thermals about 1-2 kts to start with, I patently worked them till i gained 1000ft, then I moved over yosemite hidden lake. With the 5-7kt west wind I predicted the dam and lake would make a great thermal trigger. Sure enough I found a 4 kt thermal over there and worked it gaining another 1000ft or so.
  Yosemite Hidden Lake
As I worked more thermals I was drifted deeper into the sierras, Each time stepping up and further in. I played it real conservative, as the terrain was VERY intimidating. I set my winpilot to 90%bugs which gave me 26:1 glide and I have 1000 pattern alt on top of it. In addition, I always kept 2000 feet above glide back to Yosemite hidden lake strip (my only landing option) this gave me a total of 3000feet arrival alt at anytime using 26:1. I tip toed from thermal to thermal, toward Oakhurst. The clouds on the Sierras were now obviously on the crest miles away! But I noticed some smaller clouds scattered and some shadows about 10 miles ahead. I stumbled across an unknown short paved strip about 15nm NE of Yosemite hidden lake strip.
(coords N37 18'18" W119 41'32" - If anyone knows the details about this strip I would be interested)
I found a stronger thermal here about 4 kts, and climbed to 8200ft, I then crossed over Oakhurst, town, and noticed a golf course that I would use in an emergency.
Oakhurst town
I was getting real close to the 1st wisps now about 5 miles away,
and Reported to Ramy that it now may be possible to connect, unfortunately it was now too late in the day for Ramy to join me, as he had been waiting about 2 hours at Hernandez as I kept him updated on my progress.
Looking SE from Oakhurst
Looking N from Oakhurst

I Now had Mariposa in glide even tho I could not see it as it was way down a canyon. I had flown in there with a cessna a couple of years ago. So i was comfortable with where it was. I also spent some time in Yosemite village and had checked out the fields there (landable in an absolute emergency) This made me fly closer to half dome and yosemite village.
Half Dome in the distance
I finally broke through the inversion and connected with some real lift near half dome, connecting with the clouds and climbing to 15,000 feet. Now I could breath a sigh of relief as the streets ahead looked easy to complete the crossing to Lee Vining.

Half Dome (well half of it anyway:) - taken with zoom lens.
NOTE: Yosemite National Park has flight restrictions: My closest path to Half Dome was 3.8 miles SE at 15021feet. Well clear of there Restriction. Please be sure to become familiar with the Yosemite flight restrictions if you plan to fly near this vicinity.

Looking North on the sierras

Looking SE on the Sierras

I didn't have to turn much to Lee Vining, what a feeling of exhilaration when Mono lake came into view. The clouds streeting was well connected and looked great to Patterson, pine nuts and the whites.
MonoLake in view
The wind had now changed as I crossed the sierras and headed fro Bridgeport, I found a 9-12 kt S wind, and the cloud street was not working at all. I changed gears and flew conservatively past Bridgeport where I finally connected with a good one. I believe the wind had washed out the lift from the mono lake effect
. I was able to stay high past Patterson and arrived at the last clouds in the street over Freel Peak.
View of Mt Patterson
View of Minden valley from Freel Peak
Since it was late in the day, I could only get to about 13,000 a few miles south of Freel, I crossed Freel at 12,800 and with a tail wind, I had the gap on the other side of lake tahoe made with 2000 feet.
Still a bit intimidating, since this was my 1st lake crossing in a 15m ship.
Final glide to Truckee
Half way across Lake Tahoe
I landed at Truckee and tied down. Yee ha!

Thanks to Eulee and his wife for inviting me to dinner at Truckee, and thanks to Matt (W4) for the updated conditions in the sierras. To Drew for letting me use the RV for the night. Thanks to all my good teachers, Russell, Ramy, Drew, Carl
Herald, Peter Deane and Gavin Wills!


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