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Jimmy Z’s Diamond in the Sky

Soaring Safari, Chapter 1

By George Powell

S/N Pilot Callsign Crew
317Doug Levy Hangman Greg Sperbeck
024Garry Dickson Two by Four Jim Leary
198George Powell Hawkeye Bill Barker & Jack Green
050Lane Decker Mickey Valerie Stoldt
412Jimmy Zapata Tweety Bird Jim Sweet


On Thursday July 27, 2000 five 1-26s launched from Inyokern, California. Thus began the second Y2K Skid Row Safari. Although their specific goals may have differed, all five pilots shared the same enthusiasm and love of adventure.

There are few thrills which can match the excitement of soaring antique flying machines over some of the most rugged and beautiful mountains in America.

Jimmy Zapata exemplified the “Never Give Up” spirit shared by all true 1-26ers. By the beginning of the Y2K soaring season, Jimmy had earned two of the three diamond badges needed to earn all three diamonds in a 1-26: Diamond Altitude and Diamond Goal. He still needed the toughest one of all: Diamond Distance: 500km.

During the first safari, on July 2, Jimmy succeeded in making a 503 km flight in the Owens Valley. It took him 8 hours and 5 minutes to complete the task. However, because of a possible glitch in downloading the record of that flight from his newly acquired data logger, a technical question arose whether the documentation would be approved by the SSA and the FAI. Rather than engage in hair splitting, Jimmy decided to try it again.

Inspired and assisted by his dedicated crew, Jim Sweet, Jimmy was determined to fly diamond distance for a second time in his bright yellow 1-26D nicknamed “Tweetybird.” This time the data logger would be backed up with turnpoint cameras and Garry Dickson’s barograph. Because he is a late sleeper, Jimmy was the last to launch. He released from tow at about 1230 west of the airport ; flew along the Sierras to the Switchbacks; crossed the Owens Valley near Lone Pine, flew the Inyo and White Mountains to Nichols ranch at the northern end of the Whites; flew south to the Dolomite mine east of Lone Pine; turned north and landed at the Bishop airport before sunset. Time: 7 ˝ hours; Distance: 512 kilometers.

CONGRATULATIONS, TWEETYBIRD !

(Here’s hoping the paperwork flies as well as you did!.)

"HAWKEYE"

Chapter 2
Where There's Smoke, There's Fire.