Downwind glider flight ends short of goal |

Downwind glider flight ends short of goal

Staff Reports
Utah's Delano Peak rises 12,173 as glider pilot Gordon Boettger and copilot Hugh Bennett pass it on their way across Colorado in 2013.
Gordon Boettger/Special to The RC |

An effort to set a new downwind glider record was becalmed in Utah on Saturday.

Record-setting glider pilots Gordon Boettger and Mitch Polinsky landed 3 p.m. at Logan-Cache Airport north of Salt Lake City.

The pair travelled nearly 600 miles to northern Utah by noon after taking off from Minden-Tahoe Airport at dawn.

Their goal was to fly 934 miles downwind to Rapid City, S.D.

“The winds are a bit weak at the lower levels so we’ll have to see where we end up,” Boettger said on Friday. “As most know, it’s very difficult to make a straight out flight downwind due to the changes in weather over the large distances so it should be interesting.”

A Minden resident, Boettger is a U.S. Navy veteran carrier pilot, who has set several records, including one in 2014.

Plinsky is a 69-year-old Stanford University economics professor with 16 U.S. speed and distance records.

In order to make the flight, the pilots had to get clearances with Oakland, Salt Lake, and Denver Center.  

On May 4, 2014, Boettger and co-pilot Hugh Bennett made a record-setting 877-mile flight from Carson Valley to northeastern Wyoming.

That flight lasted 13 hours, 13 minutes, and reached a top altitude of 29,000 feet.

Boettger uses the Sierra Wave to climb to high altitude and then crosses the country by hopping from one updraft to another.