June 1, 2008
The day looked strong, and with Steve Kennedy crewing, and a tow from Roger Lee, I launched. Well, I should really say I made three launches. The NOAA forecast predicted the day would start around 1pm, and at Osceola, that was about right. Big (looking on the verge of overdeveloped) cumulus were appearing on the horizon, but it took until about 1pm for them to be in place over OEO. On my third launch just after 1pm, I managed to stay up. My plan was to go downwind, but I was unsure what the wind was doing aloft. It turns out the wind was almost directly out of the West, so I radioed down to Steve Kennedy to tell him I would head "East". We had had only a brief conversation at that point about my plans. By East, I meant heading for a first goal of Boyceville. Steve got underway in my car & trailer and I was a little concerned if he would be able to keep up, but by about the time I made Eau Claire, he was gaining on me, making excellent time on the ground. I contacted the Eau Claire tower to tell them I was about 6 miles to their NW, and transitioning to the East. They gave me official approval to transition to the East (!). I climbed at Eau Claire to my highpoint of almost 7,000 MSL in a 5 knot thermal. Continuing East at Eau Claire, I had a couple of more good climbs, but after that the clouds that I flew under were not productive, and it wasn't long before I started looking for fields for a landing.
I made my landing in a freshly cut hayfield, at 3:30pm, and the day was still booming. Just not for me. I had noticed a water tower near my location as I was coming down, reading "Curtiss". My cell phone wasn't getting reception (despite the monterous 500' tower-- I'm assuming it was a cell phone tower-- just North of my landing location) so I walked to the nearby farmhouse, and knocked on the door. I was greeted by a young girl, and I asked her where her parents were-- telling her I needed use a phone because I had put my plane down in their field. Her father, Larry, came to the door, and kindly allowed me to place some calls on their home phone to call my crew. Steve, it turned out, was very close. In less than 1/2 hour, he was driving up the road to the farm. Larry and his wife, and baby, and daughters came out to join us for the derigging fest, and one of their neighbors (Brian) also dropped by -- saying he had seen me thermalling down low and wanted to make sure things were OK. With help from Brian and Larry and the family, Steve and I derigged the glider, and wrapped up the flight. I fell in love with Larry's family. Four beautiful, well behaved young children, in an idyllic farm setting. I gave Brian and Larry glider ride certificates, in case they were ever to come to Osceola. Larry said to me (and I paraphrase), "Well, at least I know you could get me home!".
Steve and I dined in a Mexican restaurant in Chippewa Falls. It seems Chippewa Falls has a strong hispanic community. I enjoyed the meal. We finished off the drive, with Hilda (my female voiced car mapping GPS) and Steve navigating. It was an enjoyable day, made even better by learning, when we returned to the RWSA clubhouse, that Paul Esser had completed his Silver Distance flight that same day. Excellent Paul!
Here is the OLC Link. The flight was some 121.73 miles (195.91 km OLC Classic), with an average ground speed of 55.99 mph (90.11 km/), flown in 2 hrs 10 minutes.