Sailplane Posts North American Distance Record

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A Nevada glider pilot has been quietly working away at breaking the North American distance record, with a flight of 1,212 miles in 13 hours and 17 minutes on April 3, breaking his own unofficial record of 1,130 miles set eight days earlier. Gordon Boettger flew a 33-year-old Kestrel 17 sailplane along the rising wave of air on the downwind side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range during a lee-wave storm. He reached heights of 27,000 feet, and the canopy of the plane was sometimes covered in ice. Boettger, 37, soloed in a glider at age 14, flew off aircraft carriers during eight years in the Navy and now flies MD-11s for Federal Express.