Gordon Boettger started soaring at the age of 13. He joined the Navy at the age of 21 and flew as a carrier based pilot for eight years before getting a job with Federal Express where he is now an MD-ll Captain. Gordon has accumulated several junior class state soaring records as well as national records. He lives in Minden with his family where he enjoys soaring, skiing, hiking, bicycle riding and kayaking. Gordon focuses his attention on extreme distances in the mountain wave although he enjoys year round soaring.
During the past several years, Gordon has made some remarkable—and record-setting—flights in the Sierra wave, at first with his Kestrel and more recently with Hugh Bennett in Hugh’s Duo Discus. Gordon lives about five minutes from the Minden airport, which is an ideal launching point for long distance wave flights in the Sierra and Great Basin.
In 2011, Gordon and Hugh set the following U. S. national records in Hugh’s specially equipped Duo.
|US||General||Free 3-Turnpoint Distance||1321.63mi||4/20/2011|
|US||General||Distance up to 3 TPs||1229.06mi||4/20/2011|
|US||General||Free 3-Turnpoint Distance||960.8mi||2/24/2011|
On June 1, 2011, Gordon set a open class, single-place U. S. National record for Free Distance Around Three Turnpoints by flying his Kestrel 1084.27 miles. He also racked up enough miles between October, 2010 and October 2011 to place 2nd in the world in the 2011 Aerokurier Online Contest (OLC), followed in 3rd by fellow wave pilot, Jim Payne. Gordon and Jim were recognized for Gordon’s national records and for their OLC rankings on February 4, 2012 at the SSA Awards Banquet.
Gordon and Hugh graciously consented to this interview at the SSA convention.
The full title of Gordon’s presentation is How Fast, How Far? What the Sierra and Great Basin Offer Us for Maximizing Mileage in Mountain Wave. Besides discussing the preparations necessary for long distance wave soaring, Gordon recounts several of his longer flights, illustrated with spectacular photos, and outlines plans for attempting very large speed triangles. But beyond that—the ultimate challenge—a long downwind dash, perhaps to South Dakota by flying a three-turnpoint yo-yo followed by a nighttime ‘stopover’ holding in the wave overnight, then continuing east and downwind the next day for maybe 3,000 km!
During his presentation, Gordon showed the following time-lapse video of wave clouds forming throughout a day. You can see both classic lenticulars and rotor clouds forming and re-forming.