Minden soaring pilot Gordon Boettger and co-pilot, San Diego resident Hugh Bennett, made a record-setting 877-mile flight from Carson Valley to northeastern Wyoming on Sunday.
The flight’s target was Rapid City, S.D., located more than 850 miles from Minden, and while the pair didn’t quite make it to South Dakota, their flight ended up being 20 miles longer with 870 miles.
They took off from Minden Tahoe Airport at 5:37 a.m. and by Sunday afternoon had made it to Western Wyoming.
Because the Duo Discus they were flying in is unpowered, Boettger guided it across the country by hopping from one updraft to another, gaining altitude so he could reach the next updraft.
“We got another distance record,” Boettger said on Tuesday. “We beat our old record of 701 miles by flying 877 miles from Minden to Hulett, Wyo., which is only about seven miles from Devils Tower.”
The flight lasted 13 hours, 13 minutes, and reached a top altitude of 29,000 feet.
Meteorologist Walt Rogers tracked the flight across the country as Boettger and Bennett found spots where they could gain altitude and kept observers updated on Twitter.
Boettger, a Navy veteran who flew aircraft off carriers, has been flying gliders for much of his life. He is a cargo aircraft pilot when he’s not setting soaring records.
Bennett is a San Diego resident and owner of the Duo Discus.