“Goal Strike” is the brainchild of our fearless leader, Del Blomquist. For the
past 12 years, during the first week of June, 1-26ers have gathered at Jean
seeking goals. Some arrive with visions of silver, gold or diamond badges
dancing in their heads. Others dream of breaking speed and distance records.
Many look forward to making their first Sweepstakes flights of the year. Others
are content to play a few hands of blackjack at the Nevada Landing or knock
back a beer and enjoy a round of pool at the Pioneer Saloon in historic
Strong westerly winds prevailed the weekend we arrived. By Monday, weather
conditions had improved with thermals to 10K. By Wednesday, magnificent cloud
streets were forming over Mt. Charleston and we found ourselves zooming along
at cloud bases above 17K.
Del’s eyesight seems to have improved this year. Goal Strike shirts were a
light shade of tan which could actually be worn in public without
embarrassment. Del said that he tried to choose a color which would match Rich
Gillock’s glider. The shirts not only matched #460, but also went well with the
Nevada desert and most of the dry lakes in the region.
Garry Dickson (“Two By Four”) made the longest flight of the meet on Friday:
249 miles straight out from Jean to Hadley, Nevada. Garry also flew the most
Sweepstake miles during Goal Strike XII, logging 785 Sweepstake miles in five
Steve Whiting (“Wildcat”) earned his Silver Altitude over Table Top in #050 on
Wednesday. He immediately celebrated by landing at the Sandy Valley airport.
Steve and Lane Decker took turns piloting and crewing in 050.
Lane Decker (“Mickey”) flew locally on Sunday and Tuesday. On Thursday he flew
050 over the top of Mt. Charleston at altitudes above 17K, took a turnpoint
picture at Hwys 95 & 160 and landed at the Calvada Meadows airport (93 miles).
Jim Sweet earned Gold Altitude in “Scooter.” While rocketing upward through
12,000’ in a boomer over Table Top Mountain at 1,000 ft. per minute, Jim was
able, for one shining moment, to claim the title: “King of the Hill.” He had
out-climbed all the other 1-26s in the sky! Although his moment of glory didn’t
last long, he enjoyed every minute of it.
Rich Gillock set a Region Eleven 300km Out and Return speed record. He flew
#460 from Jean to Beatty and return (213 miles). His average speed was
38.15mph. Rich also made a few fun flights: a one way flight to Beatty and a
dog leg from Jean to Searchlight via Kidwell.
Doug Levy completed five Sweepstake flights totaling over 550 miles and made
two memorable landings. On Monday, after getting low crossing the Colorado
River, Doug called the tower at the Laughlin/Bullhead City International
Airport, received clearance to land, flew the prescribed pattern and touched
down on the main runway. Managing his energy, Bob Hoover style, he floated #317
in ground effect along several taxiways all the way to the ramp in front of the
tower where he tied his little 1-26 down right next to the “Big Boys” (737s,
etc.). On Wednesday, Doug had a white-knuckle experience while landing on
Highway 95 south of Tonopah. He was forced to quickly master the fine art of
levitation as he waited for a slow moving vehicle to move far enough ahead to
squeak his bird onto the highway.
Jimmy Zapata performed two spectacular feats of airmanship with style and
grace, of the sort we have come to expect from “Tweetybird” each year. On
Tuesday, arriving at the Tacopa road gravel pit a bit too low to safely fly a
pattern, he sneaked under three sets of power lines to a perfect landing. On
Friday, as he attempted to cross the Red Rocks area west of Las Vegas, he was
forced by a huge downwash to make a helicopter style approach onto a narrow
gravel road near the Blue Diamond Highway.
Wayne Walker climbed in “Apollo” to 10K over the top of Mt. Potisi, then
gradually descended into the Parump Valley, where he set up a 45 minute holding
pattern waiting for his crew. Wayne made a nearly perfect off-field landing at
the Sandy Valley Road gravel pit, where he was given refreshments by passing
crews. (See Wayne’ story in this issue).
Del Blomquist flew “High Gross” locally during most of the meet. However,
during the middle of the week he made two nice Sweepstake flights. On Tuesday,
using turn points he flew 123 miles and landed at the Calvada Meadows airport
north of Parump. On Wednesday, he flew 112 miles straight out to Fran’s Star
Ranch (now “Angel’s”). We are still investigating why he mysteriously lost
radio contact with his crew for over an hour during that flight.
Joedy Gregory exemplified the “Never Give Up” spirit which makes 1-26ers a
special breed. Joedy attempted to fly Diamond Distance every time he took off.
Each morning, he loaded his cameras, wound his barograph and signed a
declaration to fly to Lida Junction and return. (314 miles). Each day he landed
out. Among his landing sites were: the Cherry Patch, Jackass, Scotty’s Junction
dry lake and Haul Road. Although he didn’t achieve his goal of Diamond
Distance, he logged several hundred Sweepstake miles. Meanwhile, while Joedy
was slaving away in the air, his faithful crew-wife, Kathleen, was busy on the
George Powell completed four Sweepstakes flights totaling 531 miles in newly
acquired #029 (Hawkeye II). An interesting off-field landing occurred at about
sunset on Wednesday when he landed on Mud Lake, 12 miles south of the Tonopah
airport in the vicinity of Area 51. The retrieve over rugged terrain took over
four hours. While waiting to be rescued by Mark Greenstone, Garry Dickson and
Jim Leary, he claims to have seen large rocks the size of footballs that move
across the dry lake bed all by themselves, but denied being abducted by aliens.
Al Gough’s closest call occurred Friday evening on highway 160 while returning
to Jean from Jackass. Al was trailering #277 down a steep and curvy grade on
Blue Diamond Pass when the retaining pin fell out of the trailer hitch and the
hitch separated from the receiver. Fortunately, Al kept his cool, the safety
chains held, the trailer stayed behind the truck. Al successfully navigated the
truck and trailer to a safe landing along side the road -- thus averting a
Merle Clements, who has not missed a Goal Strike during the 12 years of its
existence, was forced to leave his beloved “Merlybird” (#019) at home this
year. It seems his bird is out of annual and in need of TLC. Not wanting to
miss out on the fun, Merle crewed for Jim Sweet, and took charge of the
erection and maintenance of the Haul Road wind sock – a project which was
greatly appreciated by Joedy on the day he won the Downed Duckling award.
This report merely scratches the surface. There are many more Goal Strike tales
to be told. Hopefully, a few of them will appear in future issues of the 1-26
THANKS TO THE LVVSA
Many thanks to the members of the Las
Vegas Valley Soaring Association for making Goal Strike possible and
for allowing us to share your tow planes and your thermals. Your hospitality,
those great tows directly to the lift and teaching us how to legally climb
through the TCA veil were greatly appreciated. We especially want to thank
Ralph Beismeyer, Vince Felger, Al Gough, George Mapes, Bill Tizdale and
President, Shad Dvorchak for all their help.
See ya next year!