Copilot: Morgan Sandercock (AU),
Type of glider: Arcus J,

Takeoff location:Chos Malal (AR)


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Flight details

Points for the flight 1417.05
scoring distance 2302.0 km
Speed 176.01 km/h
Duration 13:04:43
Scoring class double
Scoring start 09:30:21
Scoring end 23:20:46
Index: 129.96
Pilot factor 1.0 (>1000km)
Club Perlan Project
Date of claim 05.01.2018 00:40:59
state IGC-File: Flight:

Flight path

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Relevant Rankings


We started today with high hopes for exceptional long distance. But also with a warning that there was a cloud front crossing the task area. We saw amazing rainbows and cloud formations but also a big wall of cloud that blocked progress towards our declared task.

Even on tow, we were restricted by clouds. The tow pilot had to throttle back to get under a lenticular, which had enormous lift in front of it. That also pushed us too far away from home to start the OLC-speed flight, which hurt our speed score too.

We started on the Cordillera del Viento by heading north in the strongest lift until we calculated that our southbound track would bring us up to our peak altitude. Start was at 21,750ft only 6 minutes after releasing the tow plane. (We saw 23 knots on the averager.)

The first turn point was determined by the Skysight forecast which predicted weaker lift south of that point. 274km done before 8am put us ahead of our timetable and made us think this was going to be the biggest flight ever.

The first northern turnpoint was right up against the border with Chile. Transitions on and off the Cordillera are normally a bit of a worry but we had a path laid out in front of us on Skysight and had no trouble finding the lift. Speed increased even further with 1200km done before noon.

The second southward transition off the Cordillera was the first sign of trouble in paradise. The primary lenticular from the main Andes range extended from near ground level to 28,000ft. We could not move into the primary lift. No worry: the secondary is almost as good. But a grey wall blocked us there too. We pushed downwind looking for a way around it but could not comfortably go any further.

We got back to the north end of the task area fast, even with the slow point at the south end. We were able to go right up to the edge of the Mendoza airspace thanks to the friendly controllers. While there was good lift ahead, we did not want to cross a major airway in case there was a delay crossing the airway going back south.

The third southward transition was where we got shot down. There was no lift along the usual track and pushing forwards to the rotor clouds did not find workable lift. We gave the crew a fright, calling them back to the airport early. However, Morgan found a miraculous wave only 2500ft above the ground, within final glide of home. Morgan worked it and worked it, putting us back into the main wave.

Somewhere in this process, and we're not sure exactly where, we crossed the cloud front which had earlier blocked us. But now we were on the south side of it as it moved north. Our last northern turnpoint was up against the grey wall again. With "only" 2300km showing on the optimizer we decided to turn for home an hour earlier than planned.

The Arcus-J has FAA compliant nav and strobe lights. The high altitude flight was authorised by NOTAM and a flight plan filed with local ATC. Thank you to Tim for towing; Tago, Brad and Sandra for crewing; Miguel for the NOTAM; Tim, Jim and James for getting us to Argentina and home safely.


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