This is the home for everything related to Cherokee II Sailplanes. Email me at if you have anything to add.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gold Crewing

My crew for the Gold Distance flight was Shea Zuckerman and Summer Gajewski.  Shea was one of my students last year and got his Private Glider add on last Fall.  Summer is a current Student Pilot in the club and should be ready for a checkride in the next month or so.  Shea put together a very entertaining report of his first experience chasing a glider.  Enjoy.

In the far too recent past Summer and I had an adventure neither of us bargained for. Let me set the scene: Picture me driving a pickup with more miles on it than the wheel, hauling Tony Condon's trailer which is as long as a bus and shiny as a mirror, with Summer riding shotgun holding the map. Tony whipped off tow above, and Summer and I were off below. Reminded me of the movie 'Twister' where they get the weather info that sets the team off chasing a rogue tornado. Yes, Tony was a rogue tornado. What else could he be when he goes wherever our beloved invisible tornadoes rise.

We headed North towards nothing in particular. Summer guiding our one vehicle circus; hunting and pecking for roads that are solidly paved. Funny how towards the end we found out the map tells you which ones are paved and which aren't. Newbies. Tony and his vintage Cherokee effortlessly lifted to over 7K, and we effortlessly got lost. As he crept more east we attempted to follow on a road that was going directly on an intercept course. Summer was navigating with flair, I was one with the bus. All was well...until. Our path, without any warning, no signs, nothing, whipped right. (Tony, the brakes on your truck work fine, or at least they did then) . Our brilliant road wasn't getting us any closer to the eastbound sailplane suddenly. Turning around to remedy this error is an excersize in traffic management. You all know what I'm talking about. I might also add that this truck (and, incidentally, the invention of the wheel) both come equipped with no cruise control. I looked very much forward to getting off-track briefly so I could pull over and work out the kink in my gas foot. I am sure Summer looked forward to those brief breaks also so she could tell me to shut up about the dinosaur on wheels.

Fast forward to later when we were back to chasing Tony-Tornado. Both Summer and I thought at best we would be chasing for say, maybe 4 hours. Conditions were just too perfect, and we, after much in-cab banter, 2 fuel stops, unfortunately shaped Nutter-Butters, and nightfall, caught Tony chilling somewhere in Nebraska! That man and his wooden stick ship flew for over 180 miles out of Sunflower and for well over 6 hours! Unbelievable! We drove more than 300 miles through Kansas to reach him. All of us were astonished at the duration and distance of the flight. He was soaring for whatever distance, and ended up with a Gold Badge by accident. That's some skills!

Green with envy, we met him at the airport to trailer the ship in the dark. The weather was threatening rain, but we caught some luck and never saw any. Weary from travel, but excited about the journey, we drove the circus back to Wichita and arrived here at 3 in the morning, polishing off an adventure that began at 1 the previous afternoon.

Were Summer and I mad that WE weren't the ones flying? Absolutely. Would we have given up the opportunity to putz around, hone our tracking skills, and create a story? Absolutely not. It was a memorable day, both on the ground and in the sky.

No comments:

Post a Comment