Minden pilot cracks glider downwind distance record
February 17, 2014
A 743-mile flight from Minden to Casper, Wyo., broke a previous multi-place glider distance record set last year.
Minden glider pilot Gordon Boettger and co-pilot Hugh Bennett flew 10 hours in Bennett's Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus glider in an attempt to reach Rapid City. S.D.
Retired National Weather Service forecaster Walt Rogers, who served as ground communications for the flight, said the distance beat Boettger's previous 701.46 mile record, set in April 2013.
The pair took off at 6:42 a.m. Monday from Minden-Tahoe Airport in their attempt to fly 933 miles downwind to South Dakota.
They crossed out of Nevada at 12:45 p.m. By 2:07 p.m. they were over Bear Lake, but having trouble finding enough lift to gain altitude.
It took an hour and 11 minutes over the lake located in northern Utah to find the lift needed to take the glider up to 28,000 feet and through a corner in Idaho, into Wyoming. After crossing the Wind River Range, Boettger reported his transponders were frozen, which would have required him to land. The transponders are required for glider flights of higher than 10,000 feet, so airliners know where a small aircraft is located.
The glider lost altitude in preparation for landing, but the transponders warmed up and allowed them to fly another 60 miles downwind, and break the previous record.
Rogers assisted in weather and communications with Boettger and Bennett throughout the flight. He updated the pair's locations and status on his Twitter feed.
Boettger announced the flight on Sunday evening. He encouraged people to watch the flight online.
Last year the pair made a similar flight, aiming for Garden City, Kan. They landed in Colorado, 350 miles short of their goal, but still cracking the record.