Two Men, One Sailplane, 744 Miles

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Two Men One Sailplane 744 Miles Two men, aged 42 and 78, have reportedly broken a national two-place record by covering 744 miles at altitudes up to 27,000 feet on a 9-hour, 19-minute flight out and back to Minden, Nev., in 100-mph winds, without an engine. Gordon Boettger and the elder Hugh Bennett made the soaring flight on Feb. 15, high above the Sierra Mountain range. Their aircraft was a Discus glider with tandem seating. It was modified by the addition of oxygen bottles and batteries. The two coordinated with controllers at Oakland, Seattle and Salt Lake City for the flight made possible by the vast mountain wave set up by high winds. Ground speeds ranged from over 100 mph to single digits. Boettger says he has bigger dreams that involve overnights in the air.

Boettger told a local newspaper, The Record Courier, that his goal is to fly up and down the Sierra wave and then across Nevada. The trip would involve "parking" in a mountain wave overnight and then climbing back to altitude for a second day of flying. Boettger says he'd like to test his parking concept to see how plausible the idea may be. "The ultimate goal would be a super long downwind flight," he said. Today's modern sailplane records are often set in mountain wave conditions, most often in the South American Andes. However, North American glider pilots benefit from a vast amount of safe landing area downwind from the mountain range.