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Last updated 06/24/02

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By George “Hawkeye” Powell
Photos By Greg Sperbeck & "Hawkeye"

During the first weekend in June 2002, twelve 1-26s, pilots and eager crews converged on the Jean, Nevada airport for Goal Strike13. Individual goals included: earning FAI badges; setting regional 1-26 speed records; logging Sweepstakes miles, and the toughest one of all: beating Harry Baldwin’s straight-out distance record. Not all of these goals were achieved, however, all hands achieved the ultimate goal which was to just have fun.

The Lineup:
024 Two By Four Garry Dickson Jim Leary
Brian Dickson
144 High Gross Del Blomquist Tom Basham (Low Gross)
187 187 Joedy Gregory Kathleen Gregory
190 One Nine Zero Bob Hurni Jim Armstrong
198 Hawkeye George Powell Norman Simpson
Greg Sperbeck
277 G-Man Al Gough Wes Griffith
309 Three Zero Nine Pete Donath Mark Britton
317 Hangman Doug Levy Greg Sperbeck
Mike Wills
366 Apollo Wayne Walker Merle Clements
412 Tweetybird Jimmy Zapata Mark Greenstone
Annie Everington
Steve Whiting Nancy Whiting
446 Scooter Jim Sweet Margaret Sweet
460 Four Sixty Rich Gillock Stephanie Campbell
(* Sociable, Tenacious, Aircraft Retriever)

This is the 13th consecutive year that those wonderful folks at the Las Vegas Valley Soaring Association (LVVSA) have hosted Goal Strike. This annual fun gathering is the brainchild of our former President, Del Blomquist. Del was stationed at Las Vegas during his younger days and became an active member of the LVVSA. Later, he retired to the San Diego area and began flying High Gross at Warner Springs. Because of the many friendships he had forged with the members of the LVVSA, Del was able to organize Goal Strike as an annual event. Goal Strike is a non-competitive meet where pilots can seek individual goals and help other pilots hone their flying skills. Many a 1-26er has made the first cross-country flight at a Goal Strike meet.

Friday: The Jimmy Z Incident:
Jimmy Zapata & Exhibit “A”
After registering at the Nevada Landing Hotel & Casino Friday afternoon, Jimmy Zapata (aka “Captain Zap”) was observed by hotel security guards and by strategically placed cameras carrying a mock-up of cockpit instrument panels into his room. He was also seen moving mysterious looking black boxes with wires dangling out and other electronic paraphernalia from his vehicle to his room. That evening, while having dinner in the restaurant with his friends, Jimmy was approached by the hotel manager, surrounded by uniformed officers of the law, taken into custody, interrogated and confronted with photographic evidence of his suspicious activities.

Jimmy explained that he was an airline pilot on a working vacation and that he was studying for his annual flight examinations. He explained that the electronic equipment was for his glider. His story sounded a bit lame at first. However, after turning on the irresistible Zapata charm and presenting numerous ID cards, licenses and FAA credentials, he finally convinced the authorities that he was a genuine airline pilot and not a terrorist in training.

Later, he commended the security personnel for their alertness. He assured them that he was not upset with their actions; that they were protecting him, his aircraft, his passengers and the entire airline industry.

Weekend Warmup:
Jim Sweet, Jimmy Zapata & Greg Sperbeck at the Pioneer Saloon
Several Sweepstakes flights were logged on Saturday, with land-outs occurring in such exotic sites as the Cherry Patch Dry Lake (2x4) and Haul Road (Scooter and 187). Saturday night a cold front passed through southern Nevada which brought strong winds and shut down glider operations on Sunday.

Kathleen Gregory, Margaret Sweet & Norman Simpson at the Pioneer Saloon
During the weekend, numerous Goal Strikers were observed studying artifacts, sampling beverages and playing the poker machines at the famous Pioneer Saloon in Goodspirngs. Besides the bullet holes in the wall, one of the Pioneer Saloon’s claims to fame is that it is the pub where, in 1942, Clark Gable waited for Carol Lombard’s body to be recovered after she died in a plane crash in the mountains behind Goodsprings. A chunk of the melted engine from the TWA airliner is lying on the stove.

Stormy Monday:
At the conclusion of the pilot’s meeting former Navy boatswain’s mate, Del Blomquist, and retired Chief Petty Officer, Tom Basham, distributed the official Goal Strike XIII shirts to the pilots and crews. Del’s choice of colors this year was impeccable. The shirts were Navy blue -- trimmed in gold. Nice call, fellas!

Official Goal Strike XIII shirt
Cumulus clouds could be seen gathering over Mt. Charleston during the meeting and it appeared that we would have cloud streets to the north. Instead, by the time all the birds were launched, the clouds had grown into huge over-developed cu-nims, bringing dust storms, lightning, thunder, rain squalls and hail into the Parumph Valley.

Mike Wills & Doug Levy receiving ‘Captain Monkey’ award from Del
Joedy Gregory and his faithful crew, Kathleen, provided comic relief during Monday’s often white-knuckle flying. Radio transmissions on 123.3 led eavesdroppers to the conclusion that either Joedy or Kathleen was lost during most of the flight, with the unlost-half giving directions. Al Gough later suggested that we assign 187 and crew the call signs: “Clueless” and “Director.” The only weakness in Al’s plan is that we will never be sure which one is ‘clueless.’

Three brave souls, Rich Gillock, Doug Levy and Garry Dickson, managed to penetrate the storm, take turnpoint pictures near Beatty and return to Jean (Approx. 220mi.)

Jimmy Zapata generously let Steve Whiting fly Tweetybird on Monday while he remained on the ground and introduced Steve’s wife, Nancy, to the joy of crewing.

Hangman won the coveted “Captain Monkey” award for the longest flight of the day by flying to Beatty and rounding a turn point which was two miles further from Jean than Two By Four’s.

Microburst over Sandy Valley
The only land out of the day was committed by Wayne Walker in “Apollo.” He was forced down by the rain and merciless microbursts. He landed safely at the Sandy Valley Road gravel pit, thus winning the “Downed Duckling” -- an award presented to the pilot who lands the shortest distance from the airport.
Wayne Walker: Two time winner of the “Downed Duckling”

Tuesday: Mass Landout at Parumph
The weather was improving. On Tuesday morning the sky was blue and Cu’s were forming to the north of Jean. Pete Donath, Jim Sweet and Bob Hurni were forced to abandon ship, Pete and Jim because of the demands of their jobs and Bob, because of a broken collar bone which prevented him from climbing out of the cockpit without assistance.

With one notable exception, the pack flew north with visions of Tonopah dancing in their heads. Things went well over the mountains, with 1-26s reaching altitudes between 16 and 18K over Mt. Charleston. However, the lift over the valleys and desert was not as user-friendly. One by one 1-26s began falling out of the sky and landing at the Parumph airport. It was as if someone had scheduled a fly-in.

Landout at Parumph
First to land was our fearless leader, High Gross, followed by Apollo, G-Man and 187. Tweetybird and Hawkeye burned off excess altitude with aerobatics and 2x4.landed last, after taking a turn point photo at Fran’s Star Ranch (now “Angel’s Ladies”). Garry had enough altitude that he could have returned to Jean, but he spun down to join his friends for dinner instead.

Parumph is the home of radio host, Art Bell, who had predicted that during the first week in June, aliens would be landing in the Nevada desert. Had Art been looking up Tuesday afternoon, he would have seen his prophesy coming true. After trailering the birds, pilots and crews gathered across the road for a delicious Bar BQ dinner.

Because he was the first to land, Del graciously accepted Tuesday’s Down Duckling award on behalf of all who landed at Parumph.

Hangman captures Captain Monkey -- Again.
Hangman: Two time “Captain Monkey” winner
Conspicuous by his absence at Parumph, was Hangman, who flew south – all the way to Phoenix.

It was not an easy flight. Doug made several low saves and struggled along at low altitudes much of the way. He landed just before sunset at Turf Soaring, 220 miles from Jean. He was met by his crew, Mike Wills, and by Bob Hurni and Jim Armstrong, who had driven beneath him all the way with #190 in tow. Hangman won the Captain Monkey award for the second day in a row. On Wednesday, duty called, and Doug and Mike returned home.

Wednesday: Better Weather – Longer Flights
Merle Clements: Has never missed a Goal Strike
As the ranks thinned, the weather improved.

On Wednesday, with professional coaching from his crack crew, Merle Clements, Wayne Walker flew Apollo south and landed on Nipton Road. This feat made Wayne the winner of the Downed Duckling award for the second time.

Hawkeye wetting his whistle at Scotty’s Junction
The rest of the pack headed north.

While attempting to set a speed record, Rich Gillock flew as far north as the Cherry Patch where he was forced to land 460 in the parking lot directly in front of “Mabel’s” brothel. (68 mi.)Fortunately, his ever-watchful crew, Stephanie, arrived on the scene before he landed.

Not wanting to take any unnecessary chances, Del landed High Gross a few miles further north on the Cherry Patch dry lake. (70 mi.)

Hawkeye landed at Scotty’s Junction on what looked from the air to be an airstrip. (143 mi.) Upon touching down, it was discovered that foot high weeds covered the abandoned runway rendering it no more landable than the surrounding sagebrush.

Del presenting Joedy and Kathleen with “Captain Monkey”
2x4 and 187 made the longest flights of the day. Both landed at the Goldfield airport. (170 mi.) By rolling a few feet further north than 2x4, Joedy won the Captain Monkey award on Wednesday.

Thursday: Final Day:
Thursday was the day we had all been waiting for. By 11am, huge dust devils could be seen swirling off the dry lakes south of Jean and drifting north. Conditions looked perfect for a trip north toward Tonopah. Immediately after releasing from tow, 187 and Hawkeye climbed above 12K. Apollo, G-Man, High Gross, 460 and 2x4 soon followed. By the end of the day, 1-26s were strung like beads along the Nevada - California border. After experiencing radio problems, Apollo landed back at Jean. G-Man flew his 1-26 home to Sandy Valley.
2x4 making a save over Cinder Cone mine near Beatty, NV

Joedy pushed north past Beatty and landed 187 on a dry lake next to Highway 95. (130 mi.)

Del landed High Gross at Lida Junction (across the road from the Cottontail Ranch). 157 mi.)

After almost landing at Goldfield, Hawkeye dug out, climbed to 12K over Mud Lake and landed at the Tonopah airport. (185 mi.)

460 Sets A Speed Record:
On Thursday, Rich Gillock, using his GPS data logger to record the flight, flew a 300 kilometer triangle from Jean to a turn point north of the Hwy 160/95 intersection to Tacopa and returned to Jean. He set a 1-26 Region 11 speed record of 34.87 mph. Congratulations, Rich and Stephanie! Rich’s flight is a reminder that there are many 1-26 records out there waiting to be broken. With the new data logger technology, more 1-26ers should be looking for ways to get their names in the SSA/FAI record books.

2x4 Makes a Delivery:
Team 2x4: Garry Dickson, Jim Leary & Brian Dickson
Four years ago, Garry Dickson landed 2x4 on the driveway of a ranch in the middle of Nevada about 250 miles north of Jean. The owners, “Larry & Birdie,” treated Garry and his crew as though they were long lost kinfolk. Since then, it has become an annual custom for Garry to attempt to land 2x4 at Larry and Birdie’s place, take a picture and deliver a photo taken at the previous year’s landing. Garry kept last year’s photo in his cockpit during Goal Strike 13. Thursday looked like the day he might achieve his goal.

After a slow start, Garry caught up with the pack and through skill, persistance and daring (he almost had to land 2x4 near the cinder cone) he dug out and passed everyone. By 6 pm he was cruising at cloudbase 17K over Tonopah with 70 miles to go. He pressed on, flew over Larry & Birdie’s ranch and landed at Kingston, a small airport 15 miles further north. Garry, Jim Leary and Brian delivered the pictures to Larry and Birdie on their way back to Jean, where they arrived at 3am the next morning.

With turn points, the distance flown was 276 miles, which not only won the Captain Monkey award for the day, but also made the 2x4 team winners of the “HANG IN THERE” award for the longest flight flown during Goal Strike 13.

Friday & Saturday: Blown out.
Friday morning the wind was blowing a steady 20mph with gusts to 30. Conditions were predicted to be even worse on Saturday, with gusts predicted from 40 to 50mph. Most pilots and crews were bushed from the previous day’s adventures and long drives. It didn’t take long to realize that Goal Strike 13 had come to an end. The birds remained on their trailers and soon began rolling down the Interstate toward home.

Although cut short, Goal Strike 13 had been a huge success.

Thanks to the LVVSA:
You would have to visit a heap of gliderports before you would find a gang of glider pilots as hospitable, friendly and helpful as the members of the Las Vegas Valley Soaring Association. They work hard each year to make Goal Strike a success. Tow pilots are ready to launch all week long and the tows are always fun because the pilots tow you directly to the strongest thermals – then start thermaling! In addition to providing us with up to date weather and safety briefings, all the amenities such as tie downs, oxygen, wash rack, etc. are made available.

Many thanks. We sincerely appreciate everything you do for us, and -- God and the FAA willing -- we shall return for Goal Strike XIV.


More Photos By Pete Donath, SN 309

More Photos By Greg Sperbeck and "Hawkeye" George Powell, SN 029