Captain Monkey and the Downed Duckling were out of hibernation and ready to be awarded to the pilots who flew the longest and the shortest distance each day. Wayne Walker created a new trophy: a beautiful golden eagle called the “Hang in There” award, to be presented to the Goal Strike pilot that best exemplified superior airmanship during the course of the week.
The initial line-up included the following veterans and first timers:
Then the trouble began.
Mark Greenstone’s mother passed away.
Merle Clement’s father suffered a stroke which required Merle’s presence in San Diego. This is the first year that Merle has ever missed a Goal Strike.
Mike Webb had a scheduling problem with American Airlines, which required that he fly 737s instead of his 1-26. As a result, his plans to fly team with Bill Vickland had to be cancelled.
In late May, a wicked windstorm blew through eastern Nebraska, knocking the doors off Rich Nicholson’s hangar crunching Yellowbird’s nose and tail.
Hearing of Rich’s problems and being without a crew, Jimmy Zapata offered to team fly with Rich in Andiamo, so Rich and Peggy drove from Omaha to Las Vegas, sans glider.
On Saturday, the weather reports sounded good:. No cus, but the lift was predicted to reach 14k. Hawkeye, Two By Four, Sparky, Mickey, G-man, 187, and 460 launched about noon, climbed over Mt. Potosi and headed for the top of Mt..Charleston.
Garry Dickson and Joedy Gregory made the longest flights of the day, (135+ OLC miles). They pressed north past Jackass and made it to the Cinder Cone near Beatty. There, the wind shifted, and the thermals began to die. They turned south and landed at the Cherry Patch Dry Lake. Later, they joined G-Man, Mickey and Wildcat for Bar B Q. at Sandy’s Pig Place across from the Calvada Meadows airport.
After releasing Hawkeye near the field, LVVSA tow pilot, Jim “Mad Dog” Madson, entered the pattern. As he approached the airport on the downwind leg, he suddenly discovered that he had no lateral control. An aileron control cable had snapped. Except for the rudder, he had no directional control. Jim immediately did the right thing. He eased the stick forward, cut the throttle and landed straight ahead in the sagebrush. The Pawnee was slightly damaged and the pilot was only bruised.
At the Monday Morning pilot’s meeting, the assembled Goal Strikers unanimously decided that Jim Madson deserved to be the first pilot to receive the newly created “Hang In There” award. Bill Tisdale accepted the trophy on behalf or Jim. Later, Bill said,
As the pilots meeting progressed and Del and Tom passed out the tee shirts, the wind began to blow. Because we were without a tow plane, we adjourned for the day.
By Tuesday morning the wind was blowing 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40. Even if a tow plane had been available, it would not have been safe to launch gliders.
For all intents and purposes, Goal Strike XV was over. Gale force winds continued to blow in the Jean valley through Wednesday. Some 1-26ers went home. Some went fishing. Three drove to the Owens Valley to prove that, if you hang in there long enough, it is possible to make lemonade out of lemons. On Wednesday, 2x4, Sparky and 187 drove to Bishop. On Friday, Doug Levy, #042 and crew, Greg Sperbeck joined up.
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the White and Inyo mountains were producing cloud streets and thermals to 17K. By running up and down the Owens Valley, Garry, Mike, Joedy and Doug scored more than 6,000 OLC points for the 1-26 Association. On Saturday, Hangman flew #042 north from Bishop to Boundary Peak, east to Goldfield and south to Fran’s Star Ranch.
To top things off, on Friday, Mike Wills earned his diamond distance in #191. He flew just a few kilometers more than the 500 km needed. However, because he took off at Bishop and landed at Manzanar, an altitude penalty was assessed. After crunching the numbers, Mike’s official FAI distance was seven tenths of one kilometer over the required 500km. It has been suggested that we should have an award for the pilot who comes the ‘closest to not making it.’ Congratulations, Mike! Now, all he needs is a diamond altitude flight in #191 and he will have earned all three diamonds in his 1-26.
Many thanks to Bill Tisdale, Jay McDaniel, Jim Madson, Al Gough and all the hard working members of the Las Vegas Valley Soaring Association who put Goal Strike XV together. We have enjoyed flying with you for the past fifteen years, and this was no exception. You can’t control the weather and accidents happen. We are looking forward to flying with you again next year!