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Texas or Bust

By Bob Holiday

April 19: 6 PM. The thermals were pretty good today as I flew to Kingman and then attempted to go on to Pratt. Unfortunately there was some pretty good sink west of Kingman about 5 miles. I tried twice but the air wasn't cooperative. So, after 3.5 hrs I landed at Sunflower. Boy oh boy this spring might just be a good soaring time. That night the TV weatherman predicted a cold front that would move through the area on monday evening. Go South? I started making plans that night. On Monday I talked with Gary Osoba and he said that he was planning to fly tuesday. I volunteered to find a tow pilot and we talked several times over the next 12 hours. Gary spent a lot of time coaching me on what to do on a cross-country flight and the weather aspects. He was extremely helpful and I am extremely grateful for his taking the time to help me.

Tues AM: Aaron Martin arrived ready to tow. My crewman was Nick Martin. Gary Launched at about 11 AM I think. I launched at 11:40 and true to what Gary said the lift was pretty weak. I got down to 900 ft before I finally found 5 knot lift and it was a good thing because they had already put the towplane away! Gary kept talking to me and encouraging me and I finally started south. I got low near Caldwell Ks and again near Blackwell-Tonkawa Ok. The scary part about being low near Tonkawa was that there weren't as many fields to land in. I was down to 1400 AGL when I found 0 sink and circled in it over a landfill. It gradually worked up to 8 knots and took me to 8500 MSL. From that point on I tried to stay in the better lift band between 6K and 8K MSL where the thermals were usually 5-6 Kts. I flew east of OK City to avoid the positive control and congested areas. There were a lot of trees and very few landing sites but my glide ratio was pretty high due to an estimated 18 knot tailwind. When I reached Ardmore (Will Rogers Airport) I was seriously considering stopping there due to Lake Texhoma and the possible sink, but then the lure Texas drew me down to Gainesville. When I arrived at Gainsville Nick was about an hour behind me so I just flew in the area exploring the skies and wondering if I could make it to Caddo Mills. I remembered Gary saying that sometimes when you push on and you're down low you remember that perfectly good airport that you passed up and wish you had landed there. After a while I flew north up I-35 and found Nick driving along. I gave him instructions on how to find the airport and then I touched smoothly down on the widest runway. By the time Nick arrived I had thawed out and pushed the glider over to the hangar. The temperature was 28 degrees F at 8.5K MSL and I did get cold feet despite my wearing insulated boots. I spent a lot of time circling and flying here and there in order to not outrun my chase vehicle. Nick and I were in radio contact most of the time during the flight even though I was sometimes 100 air miles ahead.If we had set up a second phone number to call I might have gone farther...but then again there was this perfect airport with wide runways......19er out.


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