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Aug 03, 2018, 10:29 PM
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More record attempts- pioche nv-2018

For the 5th year in a row a handful of XC Soaring enthusiasts met at the town of Pioche, in Eastern Nevada to attempt to set new XC soaring records. This year there were two teams. Bill Chase, Mike Leggett and Barry Denieli was one team and John Ellias, Marquita Ellias, and Mike Grindle was the other team.

Bill Chase brought 2 gliders he designed and built himself. The Appersonic and the Appersonic P (“P” for Pioche). Both are very high aspect ratio gliders with a high wingloading. The Appersonic P has a smaller span and a wingloading of about 22 oz/sq ft.
I brought two of my modified Xplorer 2 gliders. Both have a 4 meter span with a wingloading of about 19 oz/sq. ft.

Monday, July 30th was the first day of flying. The weather was OK, but not ideal for attempting long distance flights. Temps were in the mid 90’s with very light winds that varied in direction. There was considerable overdevelopment of clouds predicted at numerous spots along the projected course. Both teams declared Wells, Nevada as the goal for a distance of 215 miles. This would exceed the existing straight line distance record of 187 miles.
Bill wanted to fly his Appersonic P (which he was flying for the first time), but he had a servo shorting out that was causing radio glithcing. So he switched to his older Appersonic. They had a good flight going, but at about 60 miles they briefly lost sight of the glider. They regained visually after only a few seconds, but the Appersonic was already in a dive. GPS data showed it reached 150mph when one wing-joiner failed and about a quarter of the wing departed. Somehow Bill was able to regain control and safely landed the glider (minus the wingtip). Unbelievably they found the wingtip and it had no damage. Actually, given the incredibly strong construction it is not surprising the wingtip had no damage.

I had a 4 hour 90 mile flight. We landed when we flew thru an area just after a passing thunderstorm.

Tuesday the weather forecast was very similar to the previous day. Bill decided to try for a Goal and return record of 48 miles. He now had the Appersonic P sorted out and flew that. He got off the field early in very light lift, hoping to finish before the wind picked up. He made to the turnpoint but landed out there.

I again declared the 215 mile goal flight. My flight went slow, but we did manage 120 miles when we had to fly directly into a thunderstorm with lighting and very heavy rain . We saw the lighting and rain directly in our path but we decided to try to fly as fast as possible to get thru the storm quickly. That did not work. After just a minute or so we were in the middle of a downpour with extreme turbulence and winds over 40mph. I tried to shield my glasses from the rain but it was not possible. I could barely see the glider and within just a few minutes it was on the ground. Luckily no damage. Flight time was 6 hours.

Wednesday, the last day of flying, the weather forecast called for less clouds, slightly stronger winds, but mainly from the west(crosswind). Bill again tried for the 48 mile goal and return but came up just short. We still wanted to try for the 215 mile task. We launched at 9:30am and found lift that was stronger than the previous two days. While there was pretty good lift, there were very long stretches with heavy sink and no lift. We had many low saves and progress was slow. The cross wind was hurting more than helping and it seemed that much of the time we had a head wind. At 3:30pm we had gone about 130 miles and were entering an area of low hills on a winding dirt road. The lift in this area was exceptional good and even though it was late we thought we had a good chance to complete the task if the lift remained good. Unfortunately, once we reached the summit area (7000’ ground elevation) the sky changed. It went from big cumulus with blue sky in between to an almost completely cloud covered sky. The lift really tapered off and we struggled to make any progress at all. We did make to the paved highway 93A mostly because the ground elevation gradually sunk down to about 5900’. I managed to milk a very weak thermal to around 2000 feet and started off on the final glide of about 6 miles in very smooth air. We landed at 4:30pm. Time in the air was 7 hours and Total distance was 148 miles.

No records this trip, but lots of good flying and good friends.

We hope to do this again next year. Anyone is welcome to join us and try for a record.
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Aug 04, 2018, 01:30 AM
launch low, fly high
Thanks for the write-up! Let me know in advance for the next time. I would enjoy flying some serious XC again, it has been a very long time for me... one of my biggest regrets in moving to NZ is missing the XC and the people that fly XC.
Aug 04, 2018, 09:03 AM
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Thanks for sharing the valiant attempt, best of luck next time!!
Aug 04, 2018, 11:35 AM
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Great post John. I'll be there next year for sure.
Regards Dean
Aug 04, 2018, 05:42 PM
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Dean, we definitely missed you and Rick this year. First time you guys missed going!

Joe W, it would be great if you could make out next year. I am hoping at least one or two more teams will give a try next year. For planning purposes, just assume it will be approximately the last week of July or first week in August next year. What we typically do is plan for a 7 day window, and then as the date approaches and we get accurate weather info we select a 3 or 4 day period within that 7 day window.

I am open to other dates. The biggest factor in choosing the date in late July/early August is the probability of a South wind. Based on my research that time frame is most likely to have winds from the South. The disadvantage of that date is areas of the course are likely to over-develop into thunderstorms. Over-development has been the biggest factor in forcing an early landout. I need to do a little research to see if moving the date up to early to mid July would reduce the likelyhood of over-development but still have a high chance of south winds.

Aug 04, 2018, 11:28 PM
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Nice write up John - keep up the good work and effort, records will come.
For whatever reason the monsoon seems to have stayed largely in place for the last 1-2 months over the Great Basin and daily overdevelopment was early.
Aug 18, 2018, 02:05 PM
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I would like to go to.
Based on my hang gliding and full size experience, I think the best place to attempt a record is South Of Texas. Zapata to be exact. The world hang gliding distance record was set there. You have straight downwind winds, low ceiling clouds and thermals start at 8.30 to 9am.
Either way, I would like to try next year
Aug 19, 2018, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by marios
I would like to go to.
Based on my hang gliding and full size experience, I think the best place to attempt a record is South Of Texas. Zapata to be exact. The world hang gliding distance record was set there. You have straight downwind winds, low ceiling clouds and thermals start at 8.30 to 9am.
Either way, I would like to try next year

You are welcome to join us next year. It would be a lot of fun to have 3 or 4 teams flying. Not yet sure of exact time frame. I am thinking mid July instead of early August. Less chance of thunderstorms.

The weather conditions around Zapata look to be fantastic for soaring. Summer appears to have a very consistent wind coming from the SE. I am not sure if the roads would allow for a 200 plus mile flight. Also, its a long way from the west coast. Logistics would be more difficult.

Someone suggested Tucumari, NM to Liberal, KS. This course looks like you could get 200+ miles. Again weather looks great in this area, and roads look pretty good. But the long distance to get there is a big draw back.

Aug 20, 2018, 12:27 PM
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Both the Texas and NM start sites mentioned have airports on the route, Nevada still looks the best since there is so little development, there’s a reason they did the nuke tests there.
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Dec 23, 2018, 10:40 PM
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Merry Christmas
Last edited by pnubtrnjly; Dec 25, 2018 at 01:02 PM.

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