Sliwa Brothers Go Soaring

In Flights, Journal, Family by Steve Sliwa

My brother, Dave, and I took off a few days to go the West Coast Touring Motor Glider Fly-In in Minden, NV on July 12 through 16.  We went 2 years ago by Cirrus as my Ximango was stuck in the shop for an extended annual.  This time we took the Ximango.

Thurs – July 12

We got to airport on Thursday about 8AM and went about the process of prepping the bird for the longer trip and soaring.  Since we intended to leave the wings together (fully extended) for the entire trip we decided to tape up the seams.  In competition gliders you tape up all of the seams for each flight. We have a couple of extra seams and are normally a bit dragger so it’s not as big an issue.

We fueled up and departed about 10:45AM.  We decided to fly our first leg to Lake City County Airport (KLKV) which was a bit over 2 hours (about 5 knot headwind at 8,500′).  We did a fairly quick fuel turn and then proceeded to Minden, just under 2 hours.  We used our Garmin GPSMap 696 interfaced to the panel as our Flight Management System.  I am attaching some screen shots from the flight records section of the device.

Landing at Minden was quite challenging.  The winds were 20 gusting to 30 knots with a 50 to 70 degree crosswind angle.  I am still getting comfortable in the Ximango and only had about 6 landings so far this year.  This one caught me by surprise.  It was quite turbulent coming in and I got it on the ground OK but didn’t have full dive brakes on when I landed and got lifted off twice by cross-wind gusts.  So now I am up to 9 landings this year. 🙂

We taxied over and got the airplane tied down, once the adrenaline fully drained.  It was great rendezvousing with TMGA friends.  I have been serving as the TMGA webmaster (see the website) and have flown with Ron Snedecor the first week I picked up the bird in 2009.

We spent some time hangar flying, got our rental car from Hutt Aviation, and then headed over to the Flight Bar and Grill on Airport Road about 1 mile away.  It was a comfortable place with great service and excellent food.

We then checked into David Walley’s resort in Genoa, about a 15 minute drive away.  It was quite nice.  Right at the foothills of the Sierra’s backup up onto a beautiful marsh wildlife preserve.  The rooms were large and comfortable.  We got a good rate and Dave and I had rooms next to each other.

Friday July 14

The next morning we arrived in time for the 9AM pilot’s meeting on weather, mountain soaring, and high-altitude health effects.   Dave and I decided to take our time to get airborne and didn’t launch until 1:30PM until after a lunch at Taildraggers on the airport.  We had a great soaring flight, engine off time was about 4 hours, we got to 16,700 and about 40 miles away.

The winds were tricky coming in for a landing again, but this time I nailed it.  So we tied down and enjoyed  hangar flying until dinner.  We had a Basque family style dinner at the Carson Valley Country Club.  Attendance was great and there was plenty of food.

Saturday July 14

Pilot’s meeting covered the weather again and we decided to delay until about 2PM this time.  Another great flight with about the same characterisitics.  Another challenging landing, but we stuck it again.  This night we had dinner on the airport at the Taildraggers Cafe.  Hans and Betsy Nilson joined us for dinner.  Both their planes were in the shop but they drove up from the Bay Area to visit with us.  It was fun to see the again.  I flew with them back in 1990 to 1991.

Sunday July 15

This morning we got up early and made it to the airport at 6:30AM.  We then took off about 7AM and proceeded to go over Lake Tahoe.  There we rendezvoused with a Cherokee 6 with the door removed.  It was a photo aircraft of Big Andy.  We had briefed the day before and had our own frequency.  We spent about 45 minutes with him in a variety of formation flight maneuvers to get some good shots of the motorglider over the lake, shoreline, and mountains.

That morning they gave out some awards and my Ximango received the Judge’s Award for Aircraft Excellence (unanimously).  So my TLC and pocketbook investments have paid off.  Actually, it might have been cheaper to buy the judges. 🙂

Dave made the take-offs and landings for the morning flight in low winds and he worked them in high winds as well before and after the soaring flights.  So he is getting comfortable in my bird.  Our soaring flight was about 3 hours after a dinner at the Flight Bar & Grill.

Most pilots departed about noon and we were on our own for dinner.  We used Yelp to find Buona Sera Ristorante in Minden.  It was a 5-star in Minden with over 100 ratings.  I told Dave that was excellent and sure enough it was.  Part way through the dinner the hostess sang an aria to help with digestion.  Apparently there is harp player on Fridays and Saturdays.

Monday July 16

We got to airport about 7AM and were able to get in the air by about 7:45AM.  We flew about 9500 back north.  Tailwinds were strong and we saw as high as 140 knots of ground speed.  We were tempted to stretch it all the way home but decided to stop in Bend OR for lunch.  The Cafe there changed hands but the lunch was pretty good.

Departing Bend we had  a problem with the landing gear.  It got fouled on the way up so we decided to leave it down and fly the last 70 nautical miles with the gear extended.  Landing was uneventful and we fixed the issue on the ground.

So it was a nice trip with good vacation time.  I am including some plots of the cross-country powered legs, the soaring flights, ground shots, and a peek at the photo-plane shots.  Here is a link to the OLC flights.


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