Awesome Glider Pictures and a Story (guest post)

The gliders land on the desert floor, which makes an awesome runway… hundreds of square miles of perfect flatness. Each glider lands and rolls to a stop next to the previous one; the ramp is, effectively, self-forming. Someone from the glider club had driven a truck with water, tie downs, and fuel for the tow planes.

Gerlach, population 500, is about 5 miles away from where we set down. We spent the night in Gerlach, feasting at the local eatery (Bruno’s). The food, by the way, was delicious. Old Italian guy who’s been there for decades.

Black Rock, as you may be aware, is where Burning Man happens, but that is just a coincidence. The “Burners” were there, just starting to set up the event. Nothing of Black Rock City was yet visible from the sky, although one of the Burners told me that they had already surveyed and marked the site. Two or three years ago, I was soaring over the actual Burning Man event, and from 18,000 feet, it looks pretty impressively huge.

The next day, tow planes launch us so we can (attempt to) fly home. While waiting for the weather to heat up, we had an unexpected visit from a Scouting troop that had been camping elsewhere in the desert. One of the pilots gave an impromptu glider show-and-tell.

As to the flights… we had an easy time of it on Saturday; there was a tailwind, and thermals going to 13,000 feet affording climbs of 300-500 feet per minute… not strong for desert flying, but plenty enough for the flight out. We arrived at Gerlach with plenty of time to spare before the dinner, so we went exploring along the mountains nearby before landing.

Sunday was to be a challenge. Steady, strong surface winds suggested that we would have to work hard to get home in a headwind. It also portends that the thermals become ragged from the wind, making them much less effective. Moveover, the boundary layer tops weren’t predicted to be much higher than 13,000 feet. This makes the jump back into Truckee, over its surrounding mountains, a genuine challenge. Fortunately, after working the area to the north east of Truckee, we managed to pick up some wave that carried us nicely into Truckee, making the ending a real smooth sail.

Finding a surplus of lift in the Truckee basin, we spent 45 minutes doing aerobatics over the ridge that separates Truckee and Lake Tahoe.

I was flying a DG-1000, which is a high-performance 2-seater with best L/D of 45:1. It is an incredible airplane, a true joy to fly.

Thanks Kurt!

Explore posts in the same categories: Aircraft, Guest, Photos, Travels

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