St John to Red Bluff Airport

Friday night: I get the map book out of the Jimmy and started “daydreaming” about that great X/C flight from St. John. You know the one where the thermals are always there, landing is perfect, then you wake up. Yep, what a dream!

I left the house at 9:30 and my faithful driver asked me where the map book was (still in the dream?). The big question, “do we need it”, back to the house we go. Bill and I set out for St. John at about 10:30 from his house. His truck was down and the Jimmy’s A/C was on the fritz. Well, there is a lake to land at to cool off!

Got there and had Kurt’s new rig to take up to launch with Kurt, Ernie, Gregg, Bob, Todd, Bill, myself and Linda to drive. Gregg, Todd and I were stuck in the back with one seat left in front. We flipped a coin for it and I won.

Everyone got off the hill in light cycles. Todd didn’t have a radio or vario, so he flew halfway to Hull and then landed at the lake. Of course he had Teri waiting for him. Linda drove down the hill and got the Jimmy to start chasing me. Big mistake, everyone headed out.

Everyone was getting to 10,000 but me. I left the hill at 9,300, to follow my drift to the north. Got to the next hill, no bumps, next hill, no bumps. I kept moving on, figuring I would get to the lower inversion eventually. My next thermal was around Road 309 and I climbed back up to 6,700. My next stop was “crying stone canyon?” with a few lite lifts along the way to just before Red Mountain. There was strong sink and lite lift. I was down to 4,000 when I hooked something that started at 100 up, then 200, then 300. I left Red Mountain at 6,600, staying in the hills but headed towards Paskenta. This sink was lite with lift fairly far apart. I got to the Prison camp and found a lite thermal that just kept getting better as I got higher. The next lift was west of Paskenta and I got over 6,000 again.

By this time I was the head repeater for everyone else landing. Ernie was on the dirt road part of 309 (14.9 miles), Kurt on 307/162/Alder Springs Rd. Bob landed and broke both downtubes 1 1/4 miles behind a locked gate on the north side of Alder Springs Rd. Gregg was next at Rd. 315 in Chrome (21 miles), then Bill between Chrome and Paskenta (30.1 miles).

Linda gave Ernie a ride back to the main road (306). Todd drove up from the lake and picked him up and together they retrieved Bob. Linda picked up everyone else who had landed by an accessable road then headed north to follow me.

I was getting worried about leaving the foothills and heading North/East. I was moving slower and tried to top out everything I got. I started to fly roads at this point, but they were obscured by lots of trees. I left the hill at about the 40 mile mark. The sink rate in between thermals started to get stronger and the thermals were closer together to my surprise. From then on I topped out every thermal like it would be my last and headed down the road. I was heading more East and had to cover more miles to get a straight line mile. I spotted an airport at the end of the road I was following (it turned out to be Lowery Rd. / Red Bank Rd.) but I was losing altitude faster now, it was after 6:00 P.M. I had to work a 50 up thermal to make it. There was a field just at the N/W corner of the airport that started to look real good. As I glided toward it, the air became more bouyant and I made it over the airport to check out the wind sock and hit the runway thermal. It was too late by now and I was done. I headed out of the thermal and landed at 6:42.

Red Bluff Municipal Airport, 55.6 miles, 3hrs, 40mins.

Rich Sauer

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