All photos by Aaron Kiley
My brother Aaron (Puddie), just returned from a week of soaring at Minden, Nevada with SoaringNV. For his first day he flew with an instructor in a Duo Discus, a high performance 2 place sailplane. Gabe, his instructor, is a lovely, french canadian from the North East Kingdom of Vermont. His job was to check Aaron out in the Duo Discus and show him the thermal and ridge hot spots in the area.
January 11, 2012—First Day
For starters, my instructor Gabe is from the north east kingdom of Vermont, and yes, French Canadian with the accent and all! He is a super nice, funny guy who is very relaxing to fly with. He just retired from the state of Nevada where he flew the governor around in a jet. You would never know it. He used to pump gas at the Texico station on Main street in Burlington in the early 60s. He is 71 and as sharp as a tack.
I’ll send you the IGC later, but we took one flight. I did all the flying. We released at 10,500 above Heavenly Valley ski area or in that gap. A few places had a touch of lift—then we got a little thermal in the valley, but not worth stopping for. Gabe said I flew extremely well. He said, 2 short flights tomorrow and he’ll check me out in the LS4. Cost me 300 bucks, but that was also 2 hours of ground school. Oh I forgot to put the gear up in the Duo for 7 minutes. The Duo is a very pleasant ship to fly, just like it states in the POH.
The people here are really really nice and fun loving.
Above: Gabe with Duo Discus – Photo by Aaron Kiley
Aaron, Puddie, Woody with Duo Discus
On tow , cresting the Carson Range with a peek at Lake Tahoe beyond
I took the photos with my Canon DSLR, then transferred them to my iPad.
I’m trying to stay close to Michigan time by going going to bed earlier.
The drive to the airport, then up to Lake Tahoe was beautiful—very eerie light and colors. I stopped several places to look back. I could see Sunrise, Mineral, and Mt Siegal.
Heavenly ski area and the mountains are almost snowless. They are making snow though.
I have a rental Dodge Caravan in case of a snowy drive to Williams. Its a very nice car!
Aaron absorbing the peace and mystery of Tahoe
My Hampton inn in Carson is very nice. Huge free breakfast, free wifi etc. I stopped by SoarIngNV yesterday, but they are closed on Monday and Tuesday. They DO have a web cam, but it only refreshes every 15 minutes—and no history. You can see it by going to the SoaringNV site and hitting the weather icon near the top of the page. Also mindensoaringclub.com has 3 web cams, but not at the airport
Yes, on the Duo. The Duo is higher performance than the LS4, but 2ce the hourly rate. Probably NO thermals this time of the year. Maybe ridge, or wave though. Wave more common after a low passes which I don’t see in the near future.
The photo you ASKed about was tyken just north of the pass. (Kingsburrys Grade) Aboot two minor peaks north pf the ski area.
I drove 3/4 up the pass and did a 45 minute hike at 7000 feet. I was amazed to NOT be shot at by a hunter as you were in Colorado. But it was beautiful. I took my ipad that has USGS maps and track logging which is nothing crack logging which Im sure you know about.
January 12, 2012—Second Day
It’s a rugged landscape of granite and gnarled and twisted wood
Kor: Are you flying with Gabe again today and then get checked out in the LS4?
Yes, That’s the plan. I’ve attached my IGC from yesterday. Not much to
look at. We didn’t even circle enough for SeeYou to figure out winds aloft.
The tow pilot said they were from the east. The forecast was from the NNE,
and from where we got sink, I think it was probably in the northern
The sun is like a torch here. Haven’t been cold on ground or in the air. It was 50 yesterday afternoon, but in gets very cold at night. I wore a t shirt with a polar fleece over it, and no gloves.
I did two solos in the Duo today. The light winds were favoring the Carson range. Both were tows to 10,500. 1st flight I got a little ridge and was up an hour. But the second flight I went farther south and found a good lift spot. It was unbelievable! Just like Condor heading into a ridge and getting spots where the vario spiked, then sink in the turns. The scenery and sensation was beyond belief. I was fairly close to the ridge like Condor, but I gave myself extra airspeed, and alway a huge “out” in case I suddenly got a ton of sink. But getting a huge surge of lift then watching the mountain peak drop below and lake Tahoe come quickly into sight was indescribable.
I was amazed at how much it was like Condor. Besides the seat of the pants sensation, you really feel the turbulence in a few spots. It didn’t feel, bad and then would get glassy smooth. On the good ridge, the lift suddenly got glassy smooth when I got higher. It was almost as if I was in wave from the adjacent peek. Thelat flight was 2 hours and I think I gained 1500 feet above tow release.
I just leftthe SoaringNV so I’ll send photos later.
The amazing thing about soaring here is that you can safely fly close to terrain. When you think about, of all my flying, I have never flown close to terrain except during landing and takeoff. To be right next to these mountains is incredible and this is what I like about ridge soaring in Condor.
In a place like State College you have ridge lift, but no out is the lift doesn’t work. At minden the airport is very reachable even half way down the ridge.
I’m really glad I didn’t go to Williams now. Save that for summer thermal.
Eating a slab o salmon at a restaurant.
There is a Tai restaurant the has very high reviews in tone. I wouldn’t know what to order though. What should order if I go soon?
The vario was all over. I would get a spike that was probably 15 KTS, then smooth lift at 1 to 2 knots. I’m guessing the wind was only 8 knots, but it got channelled in only a few hot spots that I was lucy to find.
Oh, the Carson range is just the Sierras 5 miles west of Minden, where we did the wave. Gabe told me California didn’t want Nevada to claim any Sierras, so they called it the Carson range.
I got my good lift at Freel peak on the S/E side. It’s between Jobs and Jobes sister peaks and the Jobes canyon is you look at a USGS. Basically the first or second peak south on the ski area at the SE edge of lake Tahoe. Remember we got Condor loft at that ski area mountain? (called Heavenly). I worked Heavenly too, and was just able to hold altitude. I could look down at skiers and was close enough that I wondered if they felt I was buzzing. Probably 4 to 500 feet above them.
Thanks for the Tai info. I’m a moron. Rex at Williams told me I would probably be fogged out, so Minden was my second choice. It had good gliders, scenery and OK daytime high temps. I consulted historical weather data for both places.
I haven’t seen Minden yet. It’s south of the airport maybe 4 miles. I’m staying in Nevadas capital Carson City about a 20 minute drive north. Minden is tiny with only a few restaurants.
Drive back to hotel, I flew that peak, but no lift
On the good ridge at Freel heading SW, but looking NW at Largo De Tahoe
Looking NNE Carson City on left, far right is Thermal hill just 3 N of Minden Airport KMEV
Heavenly at summit wide lens makes mountains seem flat and low
Did you know the newest CU can imbed photos if the cameras clock is set accurately. How did you get the laterst CU without paying for it. Just a one month demo?
Join Sullivan said I’m going to love the LS4. The Duo has great performance, but it’s large. You feel the mass of any two place glider. Single place gliders are super light and nimble feeling.
I have IGC reader on my iPad, is that bad? The iPad is great, but some things are sorely missed. One is there is no damn search within a page with Safari. I wonder if other web browsers work well on the iPad?
January 13, 2012—Third day
Aaron: About to fly LS4. Tail number 402K going line nuts!
I got your message rather late but I see your track–not a very detailed one but it looks like you headed over to the Pine Nut range. Is that right. The present fix shows you north of Minden airport.
Now looks like you got a tow and are headed back to the Carson Range. You must be having a gooda time!
Aha! Your next fix is right near your last one so you must be working that same ridge near Freel Peak. You did all this in the time that it took me to type out my Tiramisu recipe!
Both flights for 45 minutes I think. Yes first to pine nuts second 1 to sierras.
No lift today. It was amazing to soar mt Siegel.
I’ll email a little later. Driving for a hike before the sunsets.
Aaron with LS4 that he flew today
The Wood northbound on the Carson range with 5 MC back to Minden at Kingsberry Grade
“I took my first tow to Mt. Siegal. We got there right at 10,500 which put me just above the peak. I couldn’t lock onto the very small places that had just a little lift. But this is expected this time of year.
Looks like wave might happen Sunday. Not for sure but wind is predicted. I’m a little nervous about flying wave. I think I like ridge the best. Wood”
Oh boy! Little did he know!
Wood looking tubby these days
The LS4 was a nice ship, light and lively like the Cirrus but probably more docile!
Today was not a disappointing day. It was really fun trying a different ship and also seeing the Pine Nuts. On the Sierra side today, there were a few places I circled in that seemed promising, but didn’t pan out.
After the soaring, I did an hour hike in the rolling hills west of Carson City.
P.S. but its hard to beat yesterday!
Saturday, January 14, 2012—Day 5
I didn’t hear from Aaron all morning. He flew the LS4 yesterday and this ship was on SoaringNV’s Spot system so I kept checking in case he was flying. I had checked the weather and the winds aloft for the day and it seemed like there could be more wind today. Tomorrow would definitely be windy—scary windy, and I suspected for someone with no experience with wave, it would probably be too much. I really hoped that he would at least get a little better ridge soaring today.
Finally about 5pm (2pm Nevada time), I saw that 1R had laid down a point West of the airport. Up until this time it had been reporting the same position at the airport. I had no way of knowing if this was my brother but I assumed it was because I think that he was their primary customer at the time.
The position where I first spotted the LS4 (1R)
Kor: If that’s you, I can see that you are on west side of the ridge! Wow! That must be exciting. It looks like you have been there for about 40 minutes so far so something must be happening!
Kor: If this is really you, you’re starting to scare me. From Slide Mountain to Thornburg Peak where 1R is now is almost 50 miles as the crow flies. From there back to Minden is about 20 miles and it is almost 4pm
That WAS me Tort! I think I got 82 km straight line. Up to over 17,000’. 3 hours and 12 minutes.
More later, they are having a Chili cookoff party here.
Kor: Fantoostic! I did a rough measurement with GE and you covered about 100 miles not counting the zigs and zags! Must have been mighty cold at 17000 feet!
I’m at a Sushi restaurant now.
I was hot on the ground waiting for the tow plane to return. On climb-out, I opened the vent to cool off. Didn’t wear gloves and was warm the entire flight. My toes got a tad cold toward the end.
I was told afterwards that I should have flown east at Alpine to pick up the east (?) when I got to lake Topaz.
This phone is maddening. If what you are typing scolds (sic) out of sight, you can’t get it back and can not continue typing.
Anyway, my soaring day was amazing beyond belief!
Hi Tort, Sorry about all the abridged emails. Attached is the IGC from
today. What a flight! I had a ton of altitude the entire flight. At my
farthest southern point, I still had about 13 MC back to the airport with a
2000 foot safety buffer, PLUS there was light to moderate wave most of the
way back and a few spots with big lift. So I could have gone farther south,
but it was getting late.
There was a guy at the club who was from a glider port near Puimoisson in
France. He said that alps flying is much more complex than Condor. There are
areas of convergence, upslope wind from the sunny side of the mountains is
as strong as the ridge lift on the other side. He has flown 1000K flights
in his Nimbus 2–I think it was.
Also the guy who holds the wave height record for Minden was in yesterday.
40K feet, about! He had to breath pure Ox on the ground for an hour before
Tomorrow looks frightening. Today was a perfect wave day for a little
feller like me. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be a powerful wave day with high
winds on the surface. Today the winds were a bit rough on landing at 18
gusting to 23 I think about 45 degrees off the runway heading. Tomorrow is
supposed to be SW at 30!
I might just bow out.
In wave looking North just north of Heavenly 4 miles
End of amazing day, LS4 tied down with linticulars
BTW, the tow was quite hairy going through the rotor turbulence. A few spots I considered releasing. I can’t imagine what tomorrow will bring.
BTW2 the photos seem to flatten the mountains and make the altitude seem lower. Probably because it’s a wide lens.
Looking SE at Highland peak 9 miles south of Alpine
Kor: I’m watching your IGC and it is incredible. To think that this little bump of mountain could set air rising way above like that! Condor must do a very poor job of modeling the wave. You got marginal lift on the windward side but once you got into the wave you started climbing like crazy (especially when viewed 10x in SeeYou : )) I’m still watching. You are still in the vicinity where you crossed over.
Aaron: It seems ridiculous to me too! Condor isn’t too bad, but it doesn’t model the rotor. I’ll email the SoaringNV wave chart and you can see how the rotor causes lift on one side and sink on the other. It was amazing when suddenly the turbulent lift switched to dead smooth lift almost instantly. I have video of all this too. At that point I turned the video towards my face and said ” Kor, I’m in wave”. After I landed the little French Canadian Gabe rushed up to me and said “are you going to tell Kor about dis flyyyt? He’s is going to be really jealous. You caught the wave at turteen towzen, or about dayer?”
Kor: Was crossing from the leeward side scary? Did they tell you how much altitude you would have to be at to catch the wave? Did they even know that there would be a wave for sure?
Aaron: No, it didn’t sink bad as I recall. No, they thought the wave might not happen, especially after looking at the official wave report from the weather service which showed almost no gradient as in no increase of winds aloft with altitude. I first suspected they could be wrong when passing the critical area on tow. There were spots of huge, but rough lift and sink. That made me suspect a rotor where more smooth sink would not. The tow was really pretty wicked! I basically fought to stay behind the tow. It wasn’t really beyond my limit because I never got much out of position.