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:
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!.)