Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Update from Minden

Tony writes:

Last Friday the auguries shouted Gold distance. Cumulus clouds were popping at 9:30AM after weeks of blue sky. The Reno soaring forecast projected strong thermals with tops to 17,900. The meadow next to the airport was suddenly in full flower clear to the Sierras.

And it was my flight instructor's 60th birthday.

I launched into a 5 knot thermal directly over the airport, jumped off tow at 1,500 feet, shot up to 4,000 feet AGL, and headed toward the hills and ridges that ladder up east to the Pine Nut Range and my declared start point.

That's when it fell apart. Soon there was nothing but sink with the vario hitting as much as 10 knots down. Thinking that big sink had to mean huge lift ahead, I put the nose over and pressed on. I arrived low at the first house thermal, got zero lift, and then more sink. Now I had to start searching ahead for a place to land, since a return to Minden over unlandable terrain through the same sink wasn't an option.

The only choice was one of the cultivated fields in a sea of sagebrush that surrounded some odd-shaped, symmetrical buildings. I noticed guard towers and concertina wire but the fields appeared to be on the outside.

I lined up with the plowed furrows and came to a quick stop in a cushion of loam. Then I saw the SUV's with yellow strobe lights racing toward me.

Bad news. I had landed at the prison farm, part of the Northern Nevada Correctional Center at Carson City.

And the good news? After checking my ID the warden got a farm hand to drive me to my trailer at Minden. Even better, when I returned seven trustees were waiting to help load my ship.


Anonymous said...

at least you know a good lawyer if needed.

Anonymous said...

Next time, fly a pattern!


PS Glad it worked out and thanks for sharing. Great story. Better luck, real soon now!

Anonymous said...


Eric Blair, please pick up the red courtesy phone...

Old CFI said...

Good job, Tony. You made a bold move that didn't work out. It shows you're trying.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure you don't belong there?