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Memorial Day Fly-In in Alamogordo, New Mexico

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Re: Memorial Day Fly-In in Alamogordo, New Mexico

Postby RobinHastings » Tue May 26, 2020 3:09 pm

The 2020 Coronavirus Fun Fly
by Robin Hastings
This year’s Memorial Day weekend event turned out to be one of the finest ever, despite the lack of trophies, contests, barbecue, or really any organizing on my part. We had 16 pilots come to the Cox Field LZ, plus Terry Cummings (RGSA President) with merchandise, Finis Miller and Steve Kinsel as drivers, and a few spectators including Byron Stevens (novice pilot) and my dear Nancy, whom I first met at the fly-in back in 1984. We all kept our proper distancing, some of us wore masks, and in general all the protocols of this weird time of plague were looked after. Every day, from Friday May 22 through Monday May 25, was flyable. And some of them were really flyable.
Friday started out with me in the LZ at 09:00, and a couple of Texas trucks appearing, plus Charlie Schneider and Vanessa in their super van. Rich Reinauer’s Nissan Armada was the only 4WD available (my Tacoma was being repaired) but we got 5 gliders onto it, and with me as driver we headed up to the launch. Lucky we had so many of us, crammed into that vehicle – the roadwork that Wyatt Lines and I had done two weeks before had fallen apart by now. But many hands lighten loads, and we soon got past the bad parts and had everyone up at Dry Canyon launch. Greg Chastain unfortunately had the wrong basetube for his Moyes Extralite, so ultimately he drove the Armada back down, but I was able to launch Tony Conger (Sport 2), Nate Wreyford (T2C), Rich (T2C) and Chris Chaney (U2). Conditions that day were clear and breezy and all four had fine flights. Nate went XC, thirty miles north to Three Rivers. Terry and Finis were in the LZ when I reached it with Greg – Terry had the first RGSA shirts, hats and other gear I’d seen in years. After the Texans went in chase of Nate, Tony Conger found that he had to head back home a day early (business) and the rest of us dispersed until the morrow. My family had retrieved my truck from the repair shop, and I was eager to be driving it with a glider on top. Curt, a PG pilot from Oklahoma, was willing to take hang gliders up to launch in his Honda Ridgeline, trailing the Armada. On the way up we met with the 4WD van that Brian Reindl of Albuquerque owns, with Josie at the wheel; Brian and Gills had already launched. My Tacoma wound up taking some gliders up when the Ridgeline hit some show stopper holes on the way, but everyone got up to launch and everyone flew. New local PG pilot Chris Mendoza helped me launch them, while Finis got video of the event. Finis was the nose man when I got to launch at last; I had a nice, 1-hour soaring flight, and landed at La Luz, 5 miles north, where Finis picked me up. Attila Plasch of Colorado flew with me a while (I was last off) and took a 2 and a half hour aerial tour of Alamogordo before landing at Cox Field. Everyone else went XC. That included Dan Jones from Colorado, as well as all the remaining Texans. Nate reached Carrizozo, his personal Dry Canyon best, and Rich made it up to Corona, quite a bit further. PG pilots Steve Crye, Max Montgomery, Wyatt Lines (our Meet Head) and Greg Clark were in the LZ visiting with Terry when Finis and I arrived from La Luz. There was some good visiting, and a bucket of chicken from KFC to assuage any hunger pangs when the XC chase crew made it back. Temperatures were very pleasant, so nobody needed a fire or even any lights as the evening went on. Since nobody seemed to have any concerns about this low-key gathering, we once again camped in the landing zone.
Sunday turned out to be a day that will live in Fly-In history. When getting breakfast, Max confided to me that it was surely going to be a good day, but nothing epic, with the conditions a bit milder than Saturday. The PG pilots went up the mountain at 08:30 and around 10:00 we saw gliders in the air – Terry, with her binoculars, missed nothing. Former H4 pilot Steve Kinsel came by that morning to see the festivities, and I used him for my driver when Steve Crye and Curt landed and wanted to go up to retrieve the trucks at launch. Yet again, we got enough holes filled in (that road is in dire need of grading!) that we could reach the launch, and I found that Nate was willing to drive one extra vehicle down – thus giving me a chance to soar. Brian, Gills and PG pilots were already skying out (including both Chris Mendoza and biwingual Chris Chaney). Again I was last man off, after launching everyone else (except Brian and Gills, who’d already flown that morning). Try as I might, though I reached 11,000+ MSL with Attila, I couldn’t get past La Luz again, and had a perfect touchdown there; Attila landed again at Cox Field. But, oh my! – did everyone else make the miles. Chris Chaney PG’d his way to Three Rivers, thirty miles north, and Max reached Carrizozo, his longest flight from Dry Canyon. Wyatt set a new PG site record by reaching Vaughn – a 6-hour marathon flight. Greg Chastain almost broke his site flex-wing record, which is 132 miles to a little past Vaughn – instead, he came down into that little town. Dan Jones came down at Duran, just short of the place. But the amazing flight of the day went to Rich Reinauer, in his Wills Wing T2C topless; he set a new site record by reaching Conchas, north of Santa Rosa, at 195 miles. (The record of 184 was set several years ago by B.J. Herring of Colorado in his rigid wing ATOS.) Greg confessed to me that seeing his record broken took a load off his mind – like finalizing a divorce, perhaps. The chase crew for the PG’s returned around 10:00 pm, but the ones who picked up Rich didn’t arrive until midnight. So if this was a “good” day, I wonder what the spectacular ones look like? I got to visit with everyone about their exploits the next morning, when everyone returned to the LZ before heading homeward. All except me and Attila – we had north winds, and he was up for one more flight, so I took him the La Luz site NW launch. He flew for an hour and a half from there, and finally did a bit of XC flying, landing in the Cox Field LZ. All in all, an exemplary intro to Southern New Mexico flying. I’d like to say “thank you!” to every person and pilot who came, and helped, and made this fun fly the sterling event it turned out to be. I have every hope that the COVID19 virus pandemic will be defeated by the time we do the Columbus Day Adventure in October – see you all then and there!

Greg&Gliders_May22.JPG
Greg Chastain at launch, May 22, 2020.
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TonyConger_May22.JPG
Tony Conger soaring Dry Canyon on Friday, May 22, 2020.
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Brian and Gills in Cox Field, May 24, 2020.
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AttilaAboveLaLuz_May25.JPG
Attila Plasch above La Luz, New Mexico, May 25, 2020.
AttilaAboveLaLuz_May25.JPG (64.49 KiB) Viewed 541 times
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