Record U.S. Wave Flight: 2257 Km


Gordon northbound at 17,000' over Lone Pine, CA - iPhone 4 Photo by Laurie Harden

[Editor: Here's a flight report from Doug Armstrong: 1 June 2011. To view a slideshow of Gordo's beautiful photos taken during the flight, click here or on the slideshow thumbnail near the bottom of our home page.]

"Gordon Boettger on May 31st, established a new record distance for a sailplane flight in the northern hemisphere and increased the lead over the previous best flight in the world for the sport of soaring so far in 2011. Today's flight was in a single seat Kestrel covering 2257 km or 1401 miles in 13 hours 17 minutes at an average speed of 110 mph. The previous record flight by Gordon Boettger and Hugh Bennett was established on April 20, 2011, in a Duo Discus, which covered 2200 km or 1367 miles in 13 hours and 20 minutes at an average speed of 103 mph...

The journey began at Minden, Nevada's airport using the meteorological lift of the Sierra wave (well known to general aviation interests). The first turnpoint south was near Little lake in the lower Owens valley adjacent to the southern Sierra in California and then nearly retracing the flight's path to the next turnpoint north over Frenchman lake northwest of Reno, Nevada. Subsequent legs of the flight generally tracked south along the Sierra returning to near the Cinder Cone--Little lake area and northern turnpoints were selected around the Minden area south. The Sierra wave generated strong lift of 10+ knots per minute at times to a maximum flight level of 28,400 ft MSL. At times a favorable southwest tailwind component generated ground speeds of 165 mph.

Soaring NV, a soaring based operation at Minden's airport, provided the aerotow that launched the flight. The FAA's Air Traffic Control in Oakland and Joshua Control in southern California graciously handled the safety of the flight's airspace for the entire flight."

[Addendum from Doug Armstrong: received on 2 June]

"Footnote to Gordo's flight on 5/31...from Gordo"

"...had two legs without making one single turn, other than the turnpoint (180 degree turn). The longest non turning leg was 1374 km (854 miles) and the other was 1016 km (631 miles). When was the last time you heard someone brag about having 2 1000K+  legs without turning on a single thermal flight? Just some trivial stuff.  Unreal though, isn't it?  Max groundspeed at one point was 231 mph (372 kph)."

[Editor: The featured photo was taken by Laurie Harden of Soaring NV (with her iPhone 4) while flying with Devin Bargainnier in a Duo Discus (DDX). Devin and Laurie were No. 2 in the world on the OLC for the day with a flight of 1,229 km. This was Laurie's longest flight ever. Congratulations to Laurie for a great photo and to both Devin and Laurie for a fantastic flight! To view a slideshow of Gordo's beautiful photos taken during the flight, click here or on the slideshow thumbnail near the bottom of our home page.]

  11 comments for “Record U.S. Wave Flight: 2257 Km

  1. Stan Palmer
    June 2, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Great flight Gordon. You are the best. See you next week. Stan

  2. Roy
    June 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Hi. Congratulations!!

    Could you please answer a question for me? I,m not a glider pilot, but I know that a knot is one nautical mile per hour, but what exactly does the article mean by "The Sierra wave generated strong lift of 10+ knots per minute at times ….?" Are we talking acceleration here?


    • June 5, 2011 at 10:54 am

      A knot is also 101 feet per minute. So, rather than saying 1000 fpm lift (vertical velocity), it is easier to say 10 knots of lift.

      Hope this helps.

      • Jim Martin (UP)
        June 6, 2011 at 3:12 am

        A Knot of lift is 115 foot per minute…It deals with climbrate.

        So they were going up at 10Knots = 1150 feet per minute.

        6076 ft per Nautical Mile divided by 5280 feet per statute mile = 1.156

        • June 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

          In the article, 10 knots 'per minute' is incorrectly stated. He meant just '10 knots.'

          By the way, 1 knot is NOT 115 fpm. 1 knot = 1 nm per hour = 6076 feet/60 minutes = 101.26 fpm, just as Bill said above. Jim, in his comment, calculates the number of statute miles per nautical mile (incorrectly), The ratio is 1.1508, NOT 1.156.

  3. Torsten
    June 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

    How on earth did Gordon get those winglets approved. I tried to get approval for my Kestrel (#105) but Streifender (type certificate holder for all Glasflügel planes) said, no way….feck it. So, what's the secret and where are the plans?



    • Mike Bond
      August 28, 2011 at 3:54 am

      Hi Torsten, Don Austen, Yorkshire Gliding Club has winglets and has the mould for them, he also has a one piece canopy, hinged at the front (off a Vega) and a disc brake (off a Kawasaki) fitted. he is some engineer. Mike Bond Kestrel 19 G-DDBS (just came 5th in the Northern Gliding Championships) so there is not a lot wrong with the Kestrel as is, though I would recommend Mylar wing, fin and elevator seals.

  4. dbenj
    June 20, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Could you describe how air traffic control issues were handled?

    Was the flight carried out as an IFR flight to allow freedom to exceed FL180?

    • June 20, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Gordon has had long-established letters of agreement with several ARTCC facilities in the western U.S. that permit him to climb above FL18 after receiving approval from the appropriate facility.

Comments are closed.