2013 Jul 13 – a

Idaho? Part 1

By Peter Kelly

Initially, it was planned to be a flight to Idaho – something never before accomplished, and after landing somewhere in Idaho and a good nights rest, fly back to Williams  the next day.  But, only 20 minutes before takeoff I was forced to resort to my backup.  I revised the plan from a flight to Idaho, to a flight to  – “as close as I could get to Idaho and still get back to Williams”.  It was now a one day “out and return”.  That is, I now planned to go as far in the direction of the Idaho border as possible, and still land back at Williams!

Chapter one of three or four chapters.  A single flight described on separate pages so as to allow quicker loading of each page.  Besides, the flight conditions were distinctly different in each page presented.

A report, mostly graphics, describing my flight on a nice day out of Williams Gliderport, Northern California.  For the record, note that this is not any kind of a record flight – even for me.  Many pilots travel half again more miles than this on many days.  The weather is the greatest determining factor on long flights, and on this flight the weather was variable, resulting in a flight that was more interesting than usual, challenging yet fun, and may serve as a learning tool, offering  situations that offer points of discussion.

There is a lot to tell you about and a lot to show you. Here are a few of the “facts”

  • Takeoff at 10:19
  • Landing at 17:48
  • 7 hours and 29 minutes in the air
  • As measured by On Line Contest – with using six segments of the flight:
    • 658 kilometers / 408 Statute miles
    • OLC distance segments (begin after release from tow and end 7 miles prior to landing) :
    • begin – 10:39
    • end –     17:32
    • Time on course: 6+53, or 6.88 hours
    • 408 SM / 6.8 Hrs =  60  MPH average
    • 658 km / 6.8 Hrs = 95 KPH average

Throughout the flight, I illustrate the need for reassessment of the plan, and making inflight decisions that will result in a safe outcome.  Through the use cameras in inflight I attempt to provide realistic scenarios that may serve useful to pilots wanting to teach others or to learn more about cross country flying.



The initial plan was do do the flight that many of us have talked about for as long as we have been flying out of WSC.  Fly from Williams, California to Idaho.  The weather forecast supported the plan, but with an inoperative motor in my motorglider, and not being having any knowledge of where I might get a tow in Idaho, I didn’t see any way I could get back to California the next day unless I got the motor fixed before takeoff.  I hoped to adjust the engine before takeoff and be able to go to Idaho and stay the night, but I did some extra flight planning – just in case I didn’t get the engine working before launch from Williams.

I made a public declaration on the Williams Today New Forum…


Note:  You will also see on an adjacent thread –  http://www.williamssoaring.com/news/showthread.php/429-Thursday-Friday – a description of a flight by my friend Jim-1B.  Although it is not his style to announce his flight plan ahead of time, he did post a nice debrief.  I suspect he was flying as much to lend his support to me by providing flight monitoring and providing radio relay for me (as Amigo 3), as it was to enjoy a day with a good soaring forecast.  It was a good day and Jim to took full advantage of the conditions – at least along the Mendocinos, traveling at a speed of over 120 Km/H flying well over 400 Km.  See details of Jim’s great flight at:  http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0/gliding/flightinfo.html?flightId=424002644

I made up a fight plan the preceding day using the See You  software…




The Google Maps illustrates driving the route…

3google driving map



I created a couple of logs for use in the cockpit.  This is the one I ended up taking with me…..




After printing that log, I added one column to show the cumulative distance remaining to destination  (WSC), and I added a second column to show the cumulative time time remaining to get to the final destination (WSC) from each turnpoint, using an average speed of 60 kts.

After refilling my oxygen tank, filling the ship with as much water ballast as I was allowed to carry (only 8 Gallons – but that is 80 pounds more mass), I then made a futile attempt to run my faulty engine.  I had just replaced a part, and the engine needed to be tuned up. It was at that point that I knew this was a glider flight and not a motorglider flight, and I posted the following on the Forum – I was now planning to return to WSC tonight!




As my friend Ramy stated – two or three hours after I was airborne…..3Ramy-forum

As we both knew, it was unrealistic to think I could do the round trip all in one day, but without a way to takeoff from Idaho the next day, there was little sense in moving forward with the original plan.  I would just go as far as I thought to be prudent, and then I would head back to home.  So, off I went.

On each of the graphics below, be it a photo or a graphic image from See You, the four digits at the beginning of each photo will tell you the local time at that instance.

For example on the second photo, click on it and you will see the title as… “1020-Airborne from Williams Gliderport”  which tells you the photo was taken at 1020 AM on 25 July 2013.

The See You graphic with the same time stamp for each photo corresponds to the location of the camera when the photo was taken.


Chapter One

For the next 11 photos, you will find it convenient to simply click on the first photo and then click “next”  above each to move on to the next one.  The titles tell the story. After viewing all the photos, click on “Chapter One” just above the photo.

It all begins with the takeoff, and for that we need a tow plane…. Click on the photos and read the titles – take off roll begins at 10:19 AM PST, 25 July 2013.

1019-Rich Beardsley tightens the line




1020-Airborne from Williams Gliderport


1021-Runway at Cooks just ahead



1021-see you


1024-see you

1024-About to cross the first ridge


1024-fcst clouds for 10 AM

1026-Where are those forecasted clouds

1038-see you













1038-Tree Farm at 6000-Thanks Rich





1040-off tow and in lift- less than two minute





The first thermal marks the end of getting started and the end of Chapter One.

As you will see, beginning in Chapter two, the first 50 miles was easy, but the next 30 miles after that were definitely a challenge.  Then it became easy again and the scenery was majestic, but as we travel eastward you will see the deterioration of the flight conditions and the struggle to make it home to Williams Soaring Center.



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