1998 Soaring Diary

Posted on this page by P Kelly, Jan 2012.
Background: Back in 1998, about the only way we shared stories on the internet about soaring was in a file called “The Soaring Diary.”   For about four years ( ’98 to 2002) the “Diary” was regularly uploaded to a server as part of my ISP (internet service provider).  This “Volume” of the “Diary” was published from Sept 1998 through Mar 1999.  Content of the Soaring Diary was usually cut and paste of emails from members of VSA, other soaring correspondence and even newspapers.


The Soaring Diary
Sept 1998 to Mar 1999
(In chronological reverse order)


Tue, 30 Mar 1999, 9 PM – previous entry posted yesterday morning. This is the last entry in this volume.

I took a flight today out of Williams. I knew the rain was coming, but I figured I’d find wave. Sure enough, there was plenty of it. My longest flight ever in wave. I was fiddling about with the bird, and finally launched at xxx I climbed at the Maxwell power station, up to 17,000. I headed south, to Rumsey, then turned Travis at 2:38 PM crossed Gunnersfield at 4:17, and then returned to Williams. When I landed the sfc wind was about SW at 20 to 25.  Note about the times. I already have my computer set up for daylight savings time. I turned overhead travis at 2:38 – which is 3:38 on the trace. My average speed from Travis to Gunnersfeld was 101 Kts/117 MPH over that 66 NM/75 sm leg.

I hope to start a new log on the next entry.


Mon, 29 Mar 1999, 9 AM – previous entry posted last night.

As promised, I’ll provide a further report about this last weekends flying. Sunday was very different from Sat. There was no wind in the valley, except maybe light from the south toward the end of the afternooon. the winds above 10,000 were stronger westerlies. A weak Wave was working just over the top of St John’s – (where I set the alt record for the day of 11,000 – but I didn’t go anywhere). Those who stayed in the Valley didn’t stay up long. And even if you towed over to Bear Vly or to Indian Ranch Airport, it was a struggle to get up because curl-over from the wave was disrupting the formation of thermals in those areas. I released southeast of Stonyford, and went through rotor to get to one of the few wisps of cloud in the sky, just east of St Johns – it took me 45 minutes to get up to 6,000. Key (PS) released a little higher and south west of Stonyford but we got together after an hour.

Peter D (2T), Dave G (GJ), and Sergio (C2) all had good flts – traveling north from Goat up past St Anthony Pk. Guy (DDS), who had not flown cross-country here, took a long guided tour behind the supercub with Rex pointing out landmarks, and emergency landing fields along the way. Guy sounded like he had a good flight, working both thermal and wave from Snow over towards Diamond M. Bob Ireland flew the Pegasus, but I didn’t get a debrief on that. Jim (1B) launched twice, still getting used to using a flap handle, and still calibrating his Cambridge speed to fly. Oliver rigged and flew the DG- 505 Orion – doing a couple of ride flights in the valley – one with his teenage son, and the other with Roger from Oklahoma, who is delivering gliders for Oliver. Tim flew his new ASW-20 (PY) and seemed to have a good flight. It sounded like he was working the area around Walker and then the ridges north and south behind 3 sisters. He was reporting 4,500 most of the time.

It was a different crowd on Sun than on Sat. More “youthful” enthusiasm, as people were getting ready to launch. I had finished up revising the TP data base, so I assisted loading it into the ships of 2T, PY, and 1B as well as my own. Steve noted that I could use some air in my tires, so he serviced them as I prepared for the days flying, and not 5 minutes later Key mentioned he needed air, and Steve was right there again, helping out. And then, about an hour before takeoff, Noelle came around and took sandwich orders, so we all had a good lunch before we flew.

Kenny had a new student doing solo flights in the ASK-21- I didn’t get his name, but he’s the one who won a new PW-5. What luck!

Anyway, I just wanted to communicate some of what happened this weekend – I didn’t even tell you about Jim’s new mobile home which he bought for the Truckee summers, or the stories by Mike and Sumner or by Robert and Henrych – the two German students who also work at the gliderport, or what Dean A is doing in the shop with his fibreglass, and painting skills, or about how Midge walked the field handing out freshly baked chocolate ship cookies on sat nite – or about how several of us each had a cookie before breakfast on Sunday morning, as Kenny and Suzanne walked their new dog Daisy down the runway, while we wiped the dew off the wings, etc, etc. A very idylic gliding weekend.

Oh, before I close this volume, the weather looks very promising for the Air Rallye on friday. Actually Thurs might be the best day, but both fri and sat look like they will be good soaring days. I get the feeling that there may be a lot of pilots at this first Air Rallye. Please coordinate with John Shelton, or call Rex if you plan to fly on Friday and/or Sat so he’ll have the needed additional tow planes. I’ll get the new data base onto the web page today so you guys can have something in your GPS machines when you show up on Fri. Have fun!


Sun, 28 Mar 1999, 9 PM – previous entry was on Thurs, 25 Mar.

Friends, it doesn’t get any better than this. This was an excellent weekend on which to end this volume of the diary– before I start a new volume. This is Sunday nite, and I won’t get the report for today written until tomorrow, but I got up this morning at 5 AM and wrote the following. I had stayed the night at the bunk house there at Williams. Went to bed early- still full from dinner, so I was restless as sunrise approached. I figured I might as well write about what happened, since I had the computer right next to me there in the bunk house- besides, I wanted to update and revise the Turn Point data base for the williams area, since I think there will be a good crowd there for the Air Rallye on this coming Fri and Sat. I have to say (excuse the soap box I’m standing on as I say this), but we certainly are fortunate to have Rex and Noelle as a part of our glider community. What a facility Williams is! Fly your glider during the the day, go to dinner with lots of nice people, and then crawl into a clean bed with all the comforts of home. Noelle makes it happen as far as the running the office and the guest ammenitites go, and Rex insures that operationally, it is a first class facility. People are able to drag their ships in after landing with the gear up (because it was some one elses fault) and get it repaired promptly and correctly. Those that want Cambridge sytems installed, annuals done, repairs of any kind – can just park the ship at Williams and the work is done in a competent manner, AND, at a fair price. I’ve been flying airplanes since the early 1960’s, and there are few people in the field of aviation who are as competent and dedicated as Rex. Enough of the soap box. Here’s the report I wrote this AM – I’ll write up a report about today (Sunday) – first thing tomorrow morning – hopefully.

here’s the report written – as if it were Sat nite:


Sat, 27 Mar 1999

Yesterday, Friday the 26th, Volkober and Kemp each had a good flight, with Gary
launching about 30 minutes earlier than John, and each going over 250 miles. I
think “13” went about 270 miles. Today, Sat, we had a good crowd, and I guess it
John’s turn to launch first. There were no clouds to mark the thermals, and the
wind was light from the north northwest. Gary (NK) launched about 20 minutes
later, and during the next hour or so several others each took a tow over
towards the hills. There was little lift in the valley, so those who did not
climb up the side of the 7,000 ft mountains were doomed to land within an hour
or so. Charlie W (A5) was the first to be struck down. Mike S (AJO) had trouble
going north from Bear Vly, so he headed South to the Bessa Towers. He reported
low over Esparto, but eventually climbed up and was able to make it home. Paul
Kellas (PK) seemed to have a good flt, climbing into the hills and then gliding
back to Williams, as did Mark R (54), Sumner D (LU), and myself (2P). Bob
Klemedson launched in the Duo Discus, as did Robert in the junior, and Jim D
(1B)– test flying his new ship with a couple of sorties.

I think they were practicing for next weeks Air Rallye, as Gary and John won the
day with a trip up Goat Mtn, then north to St Johns, Alder Springs, Eagle Peak
and then return. John was going to explore to the south after he left the hills,
but soon headed back to the patch and landed just ahead of Gary. Paul K hit the
high for the day of 10,000 over St Johns. We heard pilots flying out of Minden
up at 18 and even 22,000 ft (I hope they were in the Wave Window). The westerly
jet stream was overhead, and even at 7,000 I was told the wind became westerly,
but on the west side of the valley, below 5,000 ft along the hills where I was,
it was from the east and then southeast along the hills in mid afternoon,
gradually becoming southwest.

Didn’t hear anybody in the air at Crazy Creek, and Gary G wasn’t heard from on
his planned launch out of Sonoma in his DG-800. In the evening about 15 people joined me
in having dinner in Colusa. It was a good day — Elden, you should have been there.

PS – I redid my version of the Williams data base. That coding system (emergency
fields, unlandables, etc,) had to be at the end of the name of each TP name — as Jim D had
suggested to me, rather than the beginning. It was too hard to find the
Turnpoints when they were not really in alphabetical order. Also, I tried to
eliminate the duplicate TP’s I will call this set “version 2” for Williams– that
is you will find it on my TP web page as “WSCv2”, If you want to use it.
Thurs, 25 Mar 1999, 8 AM – previous entry was on 23 Mar.

Spring wx is here. Expected high on Sat is in the 70’s. However, looking at the quick list of charts on my wx page, I see the jet is changing radically today through sat. On the surface for Sat, I see a ridge of high pressure protruding into Southern Oregon, and that’s what is expected to bring the temps up to the 70’s on sat – a moderate NE wind – not good for us – stable air in the valley. However, I think something is amiss in the forecasting dept. The High to the North of us is somewhat incongruous if a strong the jet is just on the South side of it, so maybe the surface high won’t be as strong as they fcst. In any case, this weekend would be a good one to try. It could be very good, or at least the hills ought to be working, especially if the ne wind isn’t too strong in the valley, and there is any flow from the west on the surface along the coast line.

John Shelton announced the first Air Rallye days to be Fri and Sat the follwoing week at Williams – that’s 2 and 3 April. Here’s his msg to those interested. If you have any interest in participating in the Air Rallys, give John a call, or email to him.

From: “jshelton” (his email is: “shelton@imdata.com”
Subject: First attempt
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 18:41:29 -0800
This message is going out to everyone who showed an interest in AirRally, not just those who sent in the questionaire. Next time, I will bother only those people who responded.   Good news! I landed with my gear up at Taft on Sunday! (It was entirely, absolutely someone else’s fault although I have not decided who to blame yet.) That means that my plane is at Williams being fixed. To take advantage of the situation, I would like to propose that those interested meet at Williams for the first AirRally on April 2nd and April 3rd. (That is Friday and Saturday, Gary.) Anyone who wants to play Sunday too, certainly may. I will make sure the software is available for scoring and you can just stay there and go again.   As we get closer to that weekend, we will check the weather, etc. If the weather turns sour and someplace else looks better, we will adjust. Too bad today wasn’t the day.   So, please send back the information I requested for the records. I will prepare a checklist of those things that would be common to any briefing and send that out for your perusal.   Have your stuff ready to go. Don’t be raising your gear in the pattern trying for a save and forget to put it back down. We will take it easy at first but this is no time to blow the spider webs out of the ship.   Spring has sprung finally.

Tue, 23 Mar 1999, 9 AM – previous entry was on 9 Mar.

We’ve had one flight report and a request for assistance from SN – Stephen Northcraft for help on supporting the Junior team. Write directly to SN if you can be of any help. The two msgs follow. Also, regards to the soaring weather (just from watching the TV) – today looks somewhat promising, with another front passing through during the next 36 hours, making Friday looking even better. Here’s the msgs we recvd (I’ll send out a copy of Steve;s msg to all pilots on the email list):

From: “Northcraft, Stephen A”
To: “‘Kelly Peter'”
Subject: USA Jr Team
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 14:04:32 -0800


I have taken on the task from the SSA to try to get the Jr. Programs on
better footing.  One of the problems that has been identified by the SSA
Leadership is that it is difficult for qualified Jr.s to obtain ships to
fly in the National Championships.

Since you are well connected into the West Coast (Nevada, California,
Oregon) gliding scene, maybe you can pass on the attached request.


Stephen Northcraft

Hi Steve,
We have the problem once again… Joe Walter is looking to borrow a ship for
the Std. Class Nationals at Minden in June. I am currently working hard to find
him a ship to fly for the contest. Do you know anyone in your club that would
be willing to let him borrow an ASW-24, Discus, SZd-55, DG-300, or LS-4? I
appreciate if you could possibly ask around for us. Joe is willing to travel
anywhere to pick up the ship. Thanks for your efforts.

Tim Hanke
USA Jr. Team Manager

We are fortunate that Elden is willing to provide us with some info about what’s been happening – I haven’t had a chance to go flying recently. Thank you Elden. Here is Elden’s flight report for last weekend:

From: EHinkle@aol.com
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 18:07:03 EST
To: pjkelly@community.net

It was another good weekend at Williams (20th & 21), Saturday Ray Gimmey, Paul
Kellas, Sergio with his new Discus and myself launch around 12:00 with the
cloud bases not much above 2,000 but later at Oroville we got above 4300′. We
had the battery fail about an hour into the flight and it sure is surprising
how quiet it is without the vario and the radio noise. Sunday JJ and John flew
they launched during a shower to the east and had a good flight, cloud bases
aroud 4500’. Should have been there
Tue, 9 Mar 1999, 9 PM – previous entry was this morning.

Well, it was a gorgeous day for soaring. Only Rex and I launched. We departed an hour or so later than we should have, but we still had a good day. the lift was in different locations than normal, so we went somewhere different. We were headed for Rio Vista, but the sky was a bit blue over Travis, so we turned the Nut Tree Airport, and headed for Napa – that was blue also, so at the Budweiser plant we headed towards Santa Rosa, but we couldn’t get in there due to a rain shower, so we went south and turned the little strip just south of Sonoma, then headed for the Lake Berreyessa Boat Launch. I got real low at Moskowite and would have landed, but was able to air start and climbed back up and joined Rex at the Vacaville ridge. We then crossed Blakes, the Bessa Towers, got low again over Capay Valley, but made it to Arbuckle where things were going up again. We climbed to 6,000 and headed north to Gunnersfeld, then Maxwell, then home to WSC. Rex carried his 30 gallons of water all the way around the 190 mile course.

Tomorrow is not as promising. I’ll still go the Aiport at Williams, but I doubt it will be anything like today.

So much for Air Rallys during the week.


Tue, 9 Mar 1999, 6 AM – previous entry was last night.

Wx is clearing faster they they forecasted – just as I expected, based on the jet stream movement.

If the winds don’t become a problem, and the sun warms us up enough, which it should, today ought to be a great soaring day – I hope there will be a few pilots out at Williams for the Air Rally.


Mon, 8 Mar 1999, 9 PM – previous entry was this morning.

Looks good for flying tomorrow at Williams – tow plane is available. Pilot meeting will be at 10 AM. See you there, for an Air Rally.


Mon, 8 Mar 1999, 9 AM – previous entry was this morning.

I should check my email before I post the diary page! Here’s an excellent debrief by Peter D. on the fine flight he had yesterday. Thank you Peter, for sharing it with us.

Date: Sun, 07 Mar 1999 23:33:19 -0800
From: Peter Deane
Reply-To: twotango@worldnet.att.net
To: pjkelly@community.net
Subject: March 7th flight at Williams

Hi Peter;

I downloaded the trace from today;

Flight details as follows; Release over middle of Bear Valley @ 5500.
Northern most point was Knob. (Nr Hayfork) I wanted to see what a place
with a name like ‘Knob’ looks like. The answer is the number of houses
at Knob is almost as singular as the name of the town. I turned 1/2 a
mile short of Knob not sure if I was looking at the town or not!

Conditions were weak from Eagle Peak north, with
lower cloud bases.
Made for some ‘interesting’ flying, mostly below ridge height. Things
picked up again after having to take 1-2 kn lift in places. Heading
south to Berryessa Towers, there was a long glide in the blue to the
Highway 20 intersection, weaker climbs to cloudbase and a long final
glide around the last turn and into Williams.

Flight was 255st mls (measured from the map)
which gives
408km. Not
bad for early March. Flight time was 4hr 45 mins chock to chock, 4hr 30
mins on course.

If anyone wants to see the trace, it is on Rex’s PC as
piloted by
Rex & Karol Hines (FNX);  I borrowed Rex’s black box for the
day since I
didnt bother to pack mine, not thinking I’d be flying x-c this weekend.
This was the first time I’ve taken a mountain tow at Williams. It
certainly proved worthwhile.

Best Regards

Peter Deane 2T

Mon, 8 Mar 1999, 8:30 AM

OK, I just looked at the wx pages from my short list web page of wx products. The 24 hr jet fcst show the current jet pattern petering out, and the one beind it – from the nw, will become the single jet with a west to east flow across the top of us tomorrow afternoon. The rain today is moving through fast – I don’t see anything east of us that will cause it to stall overhead. The 24 hr 500 mb fcst shows it may be clearing tomorrow mid day. The text of the NWS fcst for WSC says clearing tue afternoon and rain in the nw by wed afternoon. Here’s what I plan for flying.

I think tomorrow afternoon may be good. I plan to have a pilot meeting at Williams at 10 am, tomorrow morning – Tue 9 Mar if anybody is there, and then another one on Wed, assuming the wx looks good during the tue night evaluation. I plan to fly on both days. I heard we will have three pilots for the air rally – that includes me, so we might just have a meet.

Preparation. If you don’t have a data base, take the one off my web page for Williams. Bring a printout out of yours so you can compare TP’s for the task. We’ll agreee on the task at the pilot meetings. I’ll have a printout of my database, and a disk copy also available. (Cambridge format).


Sun, 7 Mar 1999, 10 PM

Just got back home. Rather than fly home to Nut Tree, derig and drive up there tomorrow to fly, I landed at Williams after a four hour flight, had dinner in Colusa with gliderpilots, and got a ride back to Vacaville. Lots of pilots out enjoying the lift today.

Peter Deane- 2T made it almost to Hayfork, then flew down to Berryessa Towers – Isuspect he had the longest flight of the day. Mike Schuster AJO had a good long one also, as did John Volkober, Rex Mayes – flying a Discus, Charlie 2- Sergio in his first flight with his new Discus, Cindy – CP had a good one, and I heard Pete Alexander and Ty White in the neighborhood, Bob Klemmedson, and others. It was a good day. Supposed to be a front coming in in a day or so. I’ll look at the wx again in the am, maybe we can get a flight in tomorrow. for right now, it looks like the Air Rally will be on Wed at Williams. Stay Tuned. However, looking at the charts, the low that was supposed to come thru on tue looks like it will be through here by 4 pm tomorrow. We’ll see.

Another note for the calendar–

The regionals will be held in Montague on 31 May thru 4 Jun 1999. Contact person is Dale Bush.

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ @@@@@@


Sun, 7 Mar 1999, 8 AM

Saw the wx today on tv – so much for watching it closely. That low that was off the coast moving SE moved fast and now a high is dominating – the wx forecasters didn’t have a clue. I guess to was hard to see the movement. I flew to from Nut Tree to Williams, landed showed off the new bird, paid Jim Darke for the PASCO CD ROM about x-c planning in the Sierras that he picked up for me at the seminar I missed, and took a tow out of WSC heading for NT at 4:30 PM. Lift was weak, I had to start the motor over Guinda in Capay Vly to get to the Bessa towers, where I made a final glide for home (ps, that turnpoint is mislocated 1/4 mile to the SW of the towers). Typical soaring activites – no time to write about it – today looks like a good day.

If temp gets above 60, the next inversion is not until over 8,000 so we might get good lift in the valleys, and rain showers over the hills. Might be some prefrontal wave on Monday – depending on how fast it move in. Wednesday looks like the best day for an Air Rally at Williams – anybody goinf to show up?


Fri, 5 Mar 1999, 11PM

Wx doesn’t look good for tomorrow. Jet is making a right angle bend overhead. Doesn’t look like the bend wants to move to the east real quickly. Monday looks somewhat promising – but Tue may be better. As the wx guy said on the radio – the computer models aren’t sure what’s going to happen in the nest 24 hours, let alone the next 48 or 72.

Sent an email to all Pilots INCS earlier today. Mostly telling them about what’s on this page.

Received a note from Bob K today about the Air Sailing Sports contest. Here it is FYI.


Date: Fri, 05 Mar 1999 11:19:39 -0800
To: Peter Kelly
From: bkuykend@nortelnetworks.com (Bob Kuykendall)
Subject: asi sports class contest internet mailing list


In your next mailing, can you let folks know that there’s an Internet
mailing list for potential Air Sailing Sports Class Contest
competitors/crew/volunteers/ruffians? The list is currently quiet, but I
expect increased traffic as we approach the contest date.

To subscribe, send a blank email message to:


Best regards


Bob Kuykendall, HP-Gliders mailing list administratron
HP-11A S/N 038 N5578V “18K”
HP-18k Under Construction
“HP: The glider for all impractical purposes”


Fri, 5 Mar 1999, 9 AM.

Yesterday looked like a good soaring day. It was cold, but the scattered clouds were solid looking with lots of dark bottoms – not much vertical development around Vacaville, but Elden found some good stuff. Before I comment on the forecast and coming WX, here is Elden’s msg, which I received late last night!


From: EHinkle@aol.com
Date: Thu, 4 Mar 1999 23:13:16 EST
To: pjkelly@community.net
Subject: Williams


JJ and I had a good flight out of Williams today in our ASH-25 (Thursday

Launched at 11:30 and got off at the first ridge under clouds – climb to
6500′ – lift ranged for the day 5kts-8kts and to just below 8000′. Headed
towards Crazy Creek and diverted over to Calistoga and on down to
Vacaville. Turned and came back to Snow Mountain over the top and on
North to Alder Springs.  Left Alder Springs around 7k and headed
over to
Colusa and returned to Williams.

Flight time around 5HRS and 240+ miles a really good day a little
cold (27F) but a real fun day.

Think spring soaring has started.


WELL! That establishes the new records for 1999. A five hour flight, covering over 240 miles! Granted that’s only about 48 miles per hour, but considering it’s just the beginning of March, that is quite a feat. (Besides it was probably more like 50 miles per hour,since Elden tends to be conservative in his reports). I was gonna go flying, but I was getting my bird ready for next week – I hope it proves to be worth the wait.

Speaking of next week, the weather (wx) patterns seem to be lined up very well. We have a good chance of a good soaring day on the average of one out of five for the next few weeks. I’m betting on either Tuesday (the 9th) or Wed (the 10th) for the next good day. Any one up for an AIR RALLY??? If you can make it, please give me a call or email me. I’d be glad to conduct a pilot meeting at 10 AM, provide the wx brief, call the task, and do the scoring. If anyone is interested get in touch. I had arranged to have tows at Nut Tree, but it seems that most of the birds that would be participating are already at Williams, so we’ll have it at Wiliams. Noelle says that WSC will be open. So let me know if you are interested.

So – I will watch the wx closely between now and mon, tue, wed of next week.

I will be at Williams launching on whatever one of those days is flyable.

I will conduct an Air Rally if we have more than three official participants. (That seems to be a reasonable minimum number to call it a Rally).

For those on the PASCO League circuit- Doug Lent has notified me that the first event is planned to be at Crazy Creek May 15, 16, and part two of the CC meet will be May 22 and 23.

Before that, there are other events planned:

Mar 21 is PASCO Safety Clinic at Hollister

Mar 22, 23 CFIG clinic at Hollister, by Bob Wander

April 11-17 Seniors Competition at Phoenix, coordinator – Ray Gimmey

April 24, 25 PASCO Spring Cleaning Clinic – Byron see Bruce Roberts

May 7, 8, and 9 Chico Distance Camp, and Doc Mayes Fun Contest at Williams. See Elden and/or Noelle

May 13 – 16 is the Avenal Contest – contact Dan Gudgel.

That’s the Spring Soaring Schedule as I see in West Wind between now and the end of May ’99. June begins another big list. Better get out there and practice if you want to enjoy the excellent soaring conditons that appear to developing. We certainly have lots of activites to participate in!

ps, if you have questions about what an Air Rally is, go back to the VSA home page and link to the various descriptions written by John Shelton. It’s pretty informal.


Tue, 2 Mar 1999

Today we had wave over Vacaville – no reports received.

Yesterday (Monday), as I forecasted here on sunday, was good soaring for about an hour or two. The upper level air did show the jet stream overhead, and the high pressure pattern developed on the surface as forecasted by national weather service. The jet has a bend in it overhead tomorrow, but then on Thurs it straightens out back west to east, but it is over a wide expanse (the whole coastline), so I don’t see any high pressure setting up too quickly. I’m still holding out hope for next monday thru wednesday for a nice soaring day. i plan to fly – either out of Nut Tree or Williams. I haven’t heard from anyone about a possible Air Rally for next week.

I heard Mike Schuster had a good flight from Williams over Valentines weekend in mid- Feb. I heard Ray Gimmey, Steve Smith and other notables were flying also. I heard Jim Darke is working on a radio in his new ASW-20. Noelle is working on the VSA Scholarship for this spring. She also reports that the Williams web site has a photo story of the flying done there in mid-feb. Check it out at http://www.williamssoaring.com

I looked at the site – there are lots of excellent photos. Noelle’s doing a good job of reporting current events at Williams.


Sun, 28 Feb. 1999

The last day of Feb.- and there hasn’t been a Diary Entry since 8 Jan. I hadn’t received any flying reports. I did go flying in the Duo Discus at Williams on Sat 23 Jan. Jim Darke wanted to learn about how the new Cambridge worked, and Rex wanted to sell him one, so Rex invited Jim and I to fly the Duo so Jim could get some practical hands on experience. Jim was PIC, and I offered to fly, so Jim played with the GPS system. We encountered light wave and stayed aloft for about an hour (Sergio on the other hand, had had a flight of well over an hour a bit earlier in the day). It was fun flying. The following weekend Jim took delivery on his new ASW-20 (previously owned by Doug Murray – Sierra Two) – a nice looking machine which is now called One Bravo – and Jim already has the GPS in it.

It was very soarable last Thurs. (25 Feb) and it is expected to be nice tomorrow (Monday 1 Mar.)   Is anyone planning to fly??

I have arranged to have tows available for any glider pilots who want them on Mon., Tue., Wed, (8, 9, 10th) of next week at Nut Tree – Vacaville Airport. I have off from work on 8, 9, 10 Mar, so I coordinated with Rusty at Nut Tree. Anyone interested in having the first Air Rally on one of those days?? We could have it at Nut Tree or Williams or Crazy Creek on 8, 9, or 10 Mar. The way in which the weather patterns are passing through, one of those days ought to be a good soaring day. Email or call me if you are interested! I’ll set up some tasks – have a pilot meeting at 10 am to discuss the tasks options and the “rules”. As to which of the three days it will be is still open. It depends on the weather. As I said – phone or email me if you are interested. (pjkelly@community.net)

We received sad news a couple of weeks ago. Stan Montagne lost his battle with cancer. Funeral Services were held in Sacramento last weekend. I had made up a web page illustrating directions to the Church and wrote a small tribute to Stan, and included some photos. I was out of state, so I couldn’t be here for the service, but it was well attended by many of Stan and Jan’s friends. Here’s the article I wrote about Stan that I had on the web page.


Stan Montagne, by Peter Kelly

I wanted to show Stan my new ship. Now I won’t be able to do that.

I always enjoyed flying with Stan, and I still had so much more to learn from him. We had a good flight out of Truckee just last spring- SM, 1B, and me – we all started together from the top of Mt Rose. I’d suggest a route and then wait to hear what Stan had to say about it. I respected his opinion. If he chose to go one route versus another, there was probably a good reason for it. I liked following SM – when I could keep up with him. Several hours later, after turning Air Sailing, and other points to the North, we chased each other back from Quincy. I can still see his rudder fanning left and right as he maneuvered to center in a thermal over Portola, getting high enough to make the final glide back to Truckee. And, it was always fun to talk about the flight afterward, especially because Stan invited us to the motor home, and provided the can of Bud.

In May of 97, I was fortunate to have some vacation scheduled at the same time that Stan, Charlie Westernin, and Cindy were planning to go on Safari from Minden to Phoenix and return. We took a photo at Blythe California, after we had flown in from Phoenix – just making it across the Colorado River after about 5 PM in the evening. Just three days later, on the 3rd of May, we were getting ready to depart Tehachapi, after having flown there from Crystal Air the day before. That was a great Safari.

I remember the time Stan chewed me out for blocking the landing area at the old Lagoon Valley in my Lark in about 1986. I was getting ready to launch to the south, so I pulled the ship onto the runway waiting for the tow plane to show up – oblivious to the fact that Stan was circling over the hills waiting for me to get out of the way so he could land to the north and taxi over to his trailer on landing roll. It was a lesson in glider etiquette. Over the past 15 years the VSA has been going, Stan and Jan were always there when the VSA BBQ was scheduled- always helping out with something. And then there was the time we launched together out of Vaca-Dixon gliderport in the early 90’s. Stan had gone to the Vaca Ridge and kept coming back for me. He’d let me get out in front, but then seemed to just shoot right past each time. I was just too slow for him. That’s what made that Safari in 1997 so much fun. I had learned enough to keep up with him by then. And that’s the same reason I’m so disappointed that I won’t be able to show Stan my new ship. I want to show him how good I can fly now. I’ll miss seeing Stan, but I’ll probably still talk to him when I’m out there flying, miles from nowhere, centering in a strong thermal high above the ground, fanning those rudder pedals just like Stan always did.



Fri., 8 Jan 1999

Had a report that Joe Findley and George Marinos have established the records to beat at Williams for 1999. They flew in the Duo Discus a few days ago and had a good flight. I have updated the Williams records for 1998, and have posted them to the records web page – get to it from the VSA home page. I also listed a “gliders for sale” page. It was such a neat ad, I wanted to post it. Also, I posted the comic book about the Air Rally. Read about how Pez is nearly about to quit soaring, but his wife encourages him to get better. He discovers Air Rally and finds satisfaction while flying against his arch rival Sven (Pez D. Spencer vs. Sven Victor) it’s a good story, and the graphics are neat. Go to from the VSA home page. I sent out a message to all today. If you didn’t get it, then your email address is not correct in my listing of 100 plus glider pilots.

Stephen Northcraft sent us a msg about a broken Astir – here’s the msg:


From: “Northcraft, Stephen A” <Steve.Northcraft@PSS.Boeing.com>To:
Kelly Peter <pjkelly@community.net>Subject: ASTIR CS hulkDate: Thu,
7 Jan 1999 17:12:39 -0800

You have a pretty good soaring e-mail list of the western US, maybe you
can help get this
The Boeing Employees Soaring Club  crashed their Astir last summer,
and they are
self-insured so
they own the hulk and it is now for sale.  We have put photos of the
wreck on a web site
with the
instructions noted below.

Simply click on thelink below to go directly to the photo album area on
the PhotoPointweb site, where you can see all the photos
Click on the link above to see the photos.  If the above linkis not
clickable, simply cut and paste it into your web browser.This is a password
protected album.  When it asks for an account, leave it blank.
Stephen can give you the password if you need it. If he tells me everyone
should the
password,  then I’ll insert it here. ________
Steve says the password is no big deal here it is — “BESC” —————————————-

Tue, 29 Dec 1998

Getting to the end of 1998, but the 1999 soaring season has already begun. Anything after the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year – Dec 21) should be considered part of the 1999 Soaring Season.

We have only one report, and that’s from Crazy Creek. Chuck Griffin sent us this update to let us know that not everyone is staying on the ground during these winter months. If you’ve never flown when the weather is cold, you ought to try it. The day is short, and the thermals are soft, but still you can get some good flights in. Here’s Chuck’s report:


Date: Sun, 27 Dec 1998 21:22:59 -0800
From: Charles Griffin<asw24@earthlink.net>
Subject: Soaring report
I had a nice day at Crazy Creek with
weak wave
over 29 to 7000 and calm conditions
on the ground.
There were quite a few tows for this
time of year and Jim
does appear to be getting some ride
business from Calistoga.
Chuck Griffin (99)

Sat, 19 Dec 1998

Heard from Gary Gammal that he flew almost every day in Nov at the “now closed” Calistoga Gliderport. Gary and his ship were on the front page of the local paper. Part of the article talked about how Oliver D-B is speaking for a group of glider investors who have apparently offered millions of dollars to Merchant – the current owner, to buy the Gliderport, but the negotiations are on going. More to follow.

Jim Darke, Editor-in-chief of the VSA Newsletter has printed and distributed another magnificent edition of that journal to about 125 of you glider pilots. You must agree – it is a work of art. Thanks Jim for a job well done. With regards to the story which I wrote about my first cross-country on the new ship – yes, I have a transponder on order. It should be operational before the next season. John Shelton’s article looked very interesting. I hope it is successful.

Jim didn’t take advantage of his position, so maybe we can help him out. Please get the word out that Jim is buying another ship and is selling his Pegasus. It’s in great condition, and it flys really well – or at least HE flys it very well. I’ve done final glides on his wing more than a dozen times from 30 and 40 miles out, when returning to Williams. If you know of someone interested in a good ship, have them call or email Jim. Here are some particulars he mentioned to me:

>Want to buy a Pegasus? “Very nice; NDH; 1,060TTAF; Serial #182; Water; A14 Oxygen; >RICO; Radio; $27,000; jdarke@worldnet.att.net (I’ll have to start checking there) or >james.darke@mw.com; (916)921-3507 (work); (916)447-8326 (home) ”

The shortest day of the year is in only a few days. Better start getting ready for next season.

New construction is going on at the Williams Gliderport. I hope to get up there tomorrow to help out. Maybe take some photos of the progress – of course you can probably see the photos of the progress on the Williams home page- Noelle is really doing a good job on keeping current photos on the home page. More to follow on that story also.

************************************************************ *

Wed, 4 Nov 1998

No flight reports received during the past 30 days.

Received a letter from Germany, from Sebastian. He’s looking for some help in locating a glider for the standard class nats in Minden next June. Here’s an intro to the letter by me, and then his msg. If you can be of any help, please email Sebastian. If you don’t get through to him, let me know, and I will assist. PJK.

Letter Received From Germany

The VSA received this letter from Sebastian H. in
October You may recall that Sebastian was
a High School  exchange student, visiting the
USA from Germany, and his soaring in the
USA was hosted by Armand M., and Rex and
Noelle, as well as Air Sailing, two years ago.
He is an very responsible and accomplished
soaring pilot with lots of experience.  If anyone
can help him find a glider to fly next June at
Minden it would be appreciated by all involved.
Here’s the letter:

>Here in Germany, the soaring season is over for 1998,  therefore I have some time to write
>you.  Weather was not so good in northern Germany this year, but I did fly in various
>contests this year because I had much time.  I finished school in may.  In five
>days I will begin to serve in the army for next ten months. It is required military service.
>As I told you, I will have the possibility to fly at different competitions
>during my time in the army.  Reading the soaring Magazine some days ago, I
>noticed that the standard class nationals will be at Minden in June.  I would
>really like to come back to fly a competition.  Do you have ideas?  Maybe you can publish a note on your
>diary page?

>See you,
>Sebastian Huhmann
>P.S. This is my new e-mail address!

Also, we received the news about Calistoga closing, so I’ll share it with you.

Front Page Press Democrat, Friday, October 30, 1998

Calistoga losing a real highlight
(Picture of Glider on tow)

A tow plane pulls a glider Friday in Calistoga
(Picture of Glider overhead)

A glider makes its approach to the Calistoga Gliderport Friday as
flocked in for a last flight on the facility’s final day.

Glider airport closing in town’s center after decades
Staff Writer

Gliders that for three decades have soared on silent wings above
Calistoga, captivating tourists who watch the air play while
soaking in
the resort town’s steaming pools, flew their final flights
Friday. The
couple that owns the middle-of-town sailplane airport surprised
Calistoga by announcing they were closing business at the end of
the day

“It’s with much regret,” said Pat Merchant, who bought the 40
airfield in 1989 with her husband, John. She said they had no
choice but
to stop the tourist rides because the operation was losing money.

It was basically a financial decision,” she said. “It was a very

Merchant, who also owns the Indian Springs resort that adjoins
glider airport, said she
and her husband have no plans, in hand for developing the land or
putting it to some other use. She added, though, “This is a piece
property that some day could have some really wonderful things.”

Gliders are engineless airplanes that are attached to a long line
towed into the air by conventional power planes, then released.
pilots are able to climb thousands of feet by catching the same
of rising air that lift the birds.

Word that gliders have been grounded In Calistoga. was received
sadly in
the mud-bath and wine town.

“It’s Very unusual to have an airport in -the center of your
said  Shirley Lauborough, director Chamber Of Commerce. “It’s
always been a part of Calistoga.”

The town has been accustomed to having small aircraft take off
and land
in the heart of town since a man named Dave Compton built the
Airpark to the side of Lincoln Avenue just after World War 11.
Avenue is the town’s main street.

Gliders first appeared on the general-aviation airfield in the
mid-1960s. The long-winged planes have graced the skies above
toga regularly since 1968, when Pilot Jim Indrebo leased the
field and began offering glider rides, lessons, rentals and tows.

Indrebo operated the Calistoga Soaring Center for the next 21
Though the field’s two
narrow runways were used Mostly by tow planes and gliders,
Indrebo also
allowed pilots of small power planes to land.

In 1989, both he and the Merchants competed to buy the little
The Merchants won, Indrebo said be then negotiated with John
for a lease that would allow him to continue operating the
Soaring Center there.

“We weren’t able to come to terms, and that is why I left,”
said. He moved to Lake County and opened Crazy Creek Soaring in a
cow pasture three miles north of Middletown

The Merchant’s then bought some gliders and tow planes and opened
a new
business, Calistoga Gliders, on the Calistoga airfield. They
limited the
operation to tourist rides, choosing not to offer soaring
rentals or tows for private sailplane pilots, to allow use of the
airfield by private power planes.

Most recently, 20 minute glider rides at Calistoga Glider cost
$129 for
two passenger and $70 for one.

As with many of the Wine Country’s outdoor attractions and
services, the Merchants’ glider ‘ operation was hurt by the
harsh, wet
winter and spring of 1997-98.

Pat Merchant said that In addition to having a poor year
she and her husband learned that if they continue Operations at
airfield they must replace a buried single. walled gasoline
storage tank
with a double-walled tank. She said that would cost them between
and $70,000.

Rather than risk another lean winter, the Merchants chose to shut
the glider port. Pat Merchant sent letters to City Hall on
advising officials that they would close the doors and ground the
at the end of the day.

“I know a lot of People are upset ‘With it- You can’t take too
losses- Our Plan is to sell the planes, if we can, as soon as we
she said.

Merchant said she and her husband don’t yet know what they might
do with
the airfield’s swath of about 40 acres of land. She mentioned the
Possibility of a park when commenting that “really wonderful
might one day come to the property.

Longtime glider pilot Steve Brosseau of Santa Rosa said Fri. day
keeping his fingers crossed that something might happen to
Preserve the
land as an airfield.

“It’s hard to imagine Calistoga without the glider port,” he
Fri., 16 Oct 1998
Last weekend we received a proposal from John Shelton via email on how we could have impromptu get togethers so that we could fly against each other – little contests, organized via email, and held at a site which was expecting good conditions, and several people could be there. See the proposal on the web page which I created for it at http://www.community.net/~soaring/arally.html

It’s also indexed from the VSA home page.

We had a few bits of info about the October Fest held at Williams on 10 October. We are publishing a VSA newsletter, so more info will appear there, but here are some details:

There were photos taken – they’ll be posted here in a week or so.
There was a VSA meeting! (Conducted by Bill Ludlow)
There was a winner to the MAD money roll!  GRANDMA MAYES

There were:

OF 7S.

Reminder – Cindy is looking for inputs for the PASCO Awards.
See the web page I created for that at
This too is indexed from the VSA home page.

Tue, 29 Sep 1998

This was the date of the last entry in the preceding volume of the Diary.
To visit previous editions, go to psdinfo.html


For further info or to input commentary, send email to: Peter Kelly.
Valley Soaring Association(VSA)

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