Lucas Flies 50 Miles

Just recently I had a personal best for xc distance. I managed to fly about 51 miles and land next to Weiss Lake, just inside the Alabama border. Unfortunately, I got the wrong waypoint in my GPS and so went on a slightly different course line than the others that went xc that day as well. I launched after a couple people and immediately was going up, so much so that I couldn’t do a complete 360 to turn in the thermal since I was too close to the ridge so I did some S turns to stay in the lift and once over ridge height I was able to thermal up to about 3,000′ over launch height and drifting Southeast over the back. Once I was up I noticed others who recently launch struggle low, so I decided to stay in what I was in to see how everyone else progressed. Eric Graper drifted back passed me after he had pushed out in the valley so I followed him further back behind the mountain (high enough that I wasn’t going to get stuck behind the mountain!). We were making our way up to cloudbase when Jeff Nibler appeared from around a cloud to join us and Jeff and Eric went on glide while I stayed to see how they did. I had yet to make up my mind if I wanted to go xc that day and I decided once I saw them go on glide and start turning. They had made some distance between me and by the time I had caught up to where they had been turning, they were already off again. Not wanting to fly by myself I decided to leave thermals earlier than I would so I could catch up to them, which I eventually did close to Menlow, but was only 900′ over launch height while they were high above. Since I had caught up to them I decided to take my time to make sure I get high again, even if I lose them again (which I did, but was more because I had the wrong waypoint). So I back tracked back to one of the ridges hoping something was going off there and I found my best climb of the day (700 fpm) which took me up to cloudbase (7,400′). And I continued on glide. I was eventually faced with nothing but trees on my course line (since I had the wrong waypoint) so I decided to see if I could make a field way out in the distance, but half way there I decided it wasn’t going to happen, which is why I am glad I had already picked out a bail out field if that were to happen. I landed in a patch of grass next to a field so I wouldn’t mess up their crops and reveled in my personal record flight. For me the highlights were being able to catch up to Jeff and Eric, albeit I was very low and they were high, getting to cloudbase several times, seeing new scenery like the valley’s and smaller mountains and hills south of Lookout, and also dialing into my glider better – it was only my fourth flight on my new wing! Jeff and Eric managed personal bests as well – Jeff in the 50′s and Eric at 88 miles. Greg Heckman went the furthest at somewhere just over 100 miles. It was a great day to go xc and most importantly I am happy with the decisions I made throughout the flight to keep it fun and safe. Here is a short video with the footage I captured from that flight. Subscribe to my youtube account to get updates when I post new vids! : Lucas

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