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Labor Day Soaring Festival '99

By Bob Holiday

September 4 was the beginning of a remarkable three day weekend in Ulysses Ks. The pilots names were Bob Neidert, Darla Neidert, Dirk Bowen, Bob Leonard, Steve Leonard, Dennis Brown, and Bob Holliday. Crew members for the various sailplanes included Barbara Leonard, Nick & Jerrod Neidert, and additional volunteer aviation types from Ulysses. When Steve Leonard and I arrived at 2pm the cu were already forming and we quickly assembled with help from our fellow pilots. I stated that I was going to fly to Holly Colorado so we all decided to make an attempt to reach the turnpoint. I launched last since I was the last to arrive. By the time I reached Syracuse Bob Leonard (he launched second) was returning from Holly and was circling in a cloud near me. Steve was right behind his Dad coming out of Holly and headed for Garden City. I got to within 6 miles of the turnpoint and it was all blue with smooth air. I was able to climb to 8500 ft and go in to Holly without too much altitude loss but I could tell the lift was getting weaker. When I reached Syracuse on the return leg, my altitude was down to 3000 AGL. I had a tail wind and the prospects of lift looked good towards Ulysses so I set out on course for home. It wasn't long before I was in light lift south of Syracuse and it got stronger as I flew the final 30 miles south to Ulysses. Steve called from Garden City and said he was down to 1300 AGL and circling in zero sink. Luckily he had a tail wind to blow him home. I stayed airborne between Johnson City and Ulysses listening for his radio calls for quite some time before he said he had the field made. While the four of us were stretching our fiberglass wings, Ed and Darla were flying their 2-22 and 1-26 in the general area of the Ulysses airport. I believe Ed gave some rides, also.

After a hard day of flying, we met for dinner at the Peddlers Inn for an all you can eat BBQ buffet. We sat around for a long time telling stories and visiting with our hosts and lots of other aviation nuts.

September 5 was another great day with the cu starting to form about 1pm. The winds were out of the southeast at 10 knots. I was first to launch and my goal was Hugoton, Satanta, and return (hopefully). Steve and I flew together for a while as we headed out but the lift took a while to get strong enough for good headway. I made Hugoton with plenty of altitude and went on to Moscow, then Satanta. The lift in the Satanta area was pretty weak and the day was starting to die, but I decided to head home to Ulysses since the wind was in my favor. I was down to 800ft AGL and had a field picked out to land in when I flew over a CARBON BLACK plant (whatever that is) on my downwind. There was zero sink and lots of other fields nearby so I started to circle and was able to drift downwind for several miles before I decided to go ahead and land in a field near 160 hiway. As I left the zero sink at 1000 ft AGL, I found 2 knots lift and was able to gain enough altitude to make it back to the airport. Steve thrilled the crowd later with a low altitude "contest finish"

That evening we were treated to a wonderful dinner by the Neidert family (our hosts for the weekend). The evening meal included roast turkey, potatoes, corn, lots of homemade bread and pies,etc. It was an absolutely beautiful evening and we visited until ten o'clock with numerous guests and relatives of Ed and Darla Neidert. I'd say it was a very fun evening for all.

Sunday September 6, we launched about 1:30pm. We had a south wind so everyone agreed on flying toward Oklahoma. I launched third, and was able to thermal to 4000AGL with little trouble. I started south even though the cu were late in forming and got low about 10 miles out. I went back to Ulysses and thermalled to 11,000MSL and started for the border again. By that time the other guys were almost to Hugoton and still going south. I heard them talking about being down near the border and then heading back. I flew south of Hugoton about 10 miles, then headed for Satanta, Hickok, Ulysses, and Johnson City from over 11,000MSL. Its amazing how far you can fly with a tailwind. I caught the last themal of the day and landed after 5 hours.

Ed and Darla own a CallAir tow plane and showed the utmost in professionalism in their flying. All the tows were smooth with wide turns and precise speed control.

I think the facilities at Ulysses are more than adequate with a smooth and wide north-south runway and a narrower crosswind. Hanger space is also generally available.

Thanks to our hosts, we had a great weekend and I hope to visit you'all often.


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Published and maintained by Jerry Boone, Hutchinson, KS