Minden pilot cracks glider distance record

Gordon Boettger/Special to The RC

Gordon Boettger/Special to The RC

A 743-mile flight from Minden to Casper, Wyo., broke a multi-place glider distance record set last year.

Minden glider pilot Gordon Boettger and co-pilot Hugh Bennett flew 10 hours in Bennett’s Schempp-Hirth Duo Discus glider in an attempt to reach Rapid City, S.D.

Retired National Weather Service forecaster Walt Rogers, who handled ground communications for the flight, said the distance beat Boettger’s previous 701.46-mile record, set in April.

The pair took off at 6:42 a.m. Monday from Minden-Tahoe Airport in their attempt to fly 933 miles downwind to South Dakota.

They crossed out of Nevada at 12:45 p.m. By 2:07 p.m. they were over Bear Lake, but were having trouble finding enough lift to gain altitude.

It took an hour and 11 minutes flying over the lake, which is in northern Utah, to find the lift needed to take the glider up to 28,000 feet and through a corner in Idaho, into Wyoming.

After crossing the Wind River Range, Boettger reported his transponders were frozen, which would have required him to land. The transponders are required for glider flights of higher than 10,000 feet, so airliners know where a small aircraft is.

The glider lost altitude in preparation for landing, but the transponders warmed up and allowed the pair to fly another 60 miles downwind and break the record.

Rogers assisted in weather and communications with Boettger and Bennett throughout the flight. He updated the pair’s locations and status on his Twitter feed.

Boettger announced the flight Sunday evening. He encouraged people to watch it online.

Last year the pair made a similar flight, aiming for Garden City, Kan. They landed in Colorado, 350 miles short of their goal but still cracking the record.


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