Over the Back

A place to stretch the truth a little...
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Greg Kendall
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Over the Back

Post by Greg Kendall » Fri Apr 23, 2021 7:23 am

The forecast for Monday 4/19/21 looked good enough to ditch work over, so that’s what I did. I didn’t find anyone else interested in flying, so I drove my own car up. By the way, the road is great. I hadn’t seen it in a long time.

I got off the hill a little before 1:00 because the forecast was for building gusty winds and I didn’t want to self-launch in that. I was topping out at 4,600 ft until I went to Trash and got a thermal that broke through. I left it and headed over the back with 7,900 ft. I talked to Andy Beam briefly on the radio, so at least someone knew I was headed over the back.

There wasn’t much at Magic Mountain, but the next point along that ridge worked to about 8K and the West side of Gleason got me to near 9K. The next peak East of Gleason really worked and got me to 12K. Even with gloves and bar mitts, my hands were cold. From there, it was a glide to the foothills near Juniper Hills.

I worked one hill, but the wind direction didn’t quite feel right. The wind was West and the hill kind of faces NNE. I headed out over the desert and got a climb that started out slow, but accelerated as I drifted past Devil’s Punchbowl. That got me to 12,300 ft (not as cold this time). Now it was time to decide whether to go North or South of the Victorville airspace. I chose North and went on a long glide toward a cinder cone SW of El Mirage.

The cinder cone didn’t work. Now I was down to about 1,800 ft AGL, not that low, but the lowest point of the flight. The best looking, nearby, possible lift source was a big, black area of asphalt that happens to be the Predator flight test facility. The airspace there isn’t restricted, but it is an airport (an uncontrolled one) so I needed to make sure that I didn’t get in the way of any other air traffic. I looked around and saw none. I got a good climb right over the runway and topped out at near 12K.

During that climb, my 6030 lost all of its GPS satellites (jamming?). Once in a high, slow climb I started playing with the 6030, trying to fix the problem. Not knowing what else to do, I eventually cycled power. The GPS location came back, but that split my track log into two halves. The first half is at

https://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-3.0/p ... Id=8316482

The second half is at

https://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-3.0/p ... Id=8319306

I continued on and got to 12.7K just South of the Barstow outlet mall. That was the high point of the flight (still not as cold as before). I followed I-15 from there in a strong (as forecast) quartering tailwind, alternating between drifting to the East and gliding to the NE to stay close to 15. My drift in one thermal indicated an average wind speed of 27 mph, but the air was relatively smooth. My thought at the time was “just don’t land”.

As the sun got low, the texture of the desert really stood out. It was quite beautiful. Sorry, no video. I climbed to 10K again before crossing some pretty impressive volcanic mountains on the glide into Baker. I got to Baker with 2,800 ft AGL and climbed back to 4,500 AGL (5,500 MSL). That’s plenty high enough to keep going, but it was getting late and the view downrange was pretty bleak in terms of civilization. I was also worried about people worrying and I had no idea how I was going to get back. I decided to land in Baker where phone coverage, food, and beer would be a sure thing.

I spent another 35 minutes farting around over Baker trying to figure out which way the wind was blowing. I ended up landing to the NW in a light East wind. I did a full flair, but my legs weren’t up to running out the remaining groundspeed. I didn’t whack, but I fell down (embarrassing, but no damage).

The flight distance was 147 miles according to Google Earth. Thanks a million to Jay Devorak for driving out to pick me up. I got home a little after 3:00 am. The next day, I hiked to launch to retrieve my car.

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Re: Over the Back

Post by gregangsten » Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:27 pm

Fantastic, Greg. Congratulations.
...and I didn't even look at the weather Monday because I was sure it was blowing down.

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Re: Over the Back

Post by vannoppen » Fri Apr 23, 2021 3:49 pm

Impressive Congratulations

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Re: Over the Back

Post by greblo » Fri Apr 23, 2021 5:13 pm

Great to hear Greg.

You certainly earned every mile of it as few locals are willing to go over the back without more altitude than that.
Victorville to Baker was a bit of a "milk run" in the 80's, but getting there from Kagel is truly an accomplishment, even on better days.
Safety is a book, not a word
Michael Robertson

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Re: Over the Back

Post by stebbins » Fri Apr 23, 2021 5:39 pm

Way to go, Greg. I am impressed. Great flying, great forecasting. Well done.

Kagel to Baker. Just wow.
Fly High; Fly Far; Fly Safe -- George

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Bob Kuczewski
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Re: Over the Back

Post by Bob Kuczewski » Sat Apr 24, 2021 12:14 am

Great flight ... Great description.

Thanks for sharing it.
Join a National Hang Gliding Organization: US Hawks at ushawks.org
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Re: Over the Back

Post by Vrezh » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:08 am

Exceptional dedication, determination, preparation and execution!
Congrats Greg, great achievement!

This is the new site record, i believe?

:D Greg's name should be listed amongst all other superheroes :D

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Re: Over the Back

Post by rebardan » Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:18 am

Another nice one.
Baker airport has windsock?

Greg Kendall
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Joined: Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:42 am

Re: Over the Back

Post by Greg Kendall » Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:20 am

Thanks everyone. The Baker airport has a sock and it was hanging straight down when I flew over. I didn't really want to land there because the runway is narrow and oriented North South and I was still thinking about the West wind I had seen the whole flight. I couldn't tell from the air whether there was a fence around the runway. It's also a ways from the town. The West wind picked up at around sunset. Every time I start to think I know how weather works, I get proven wrong.

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