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Owen Morse Tells His Story

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This flight was a dream come true for me. For six years I’ve been
chasing the out-and-back world record, and this year, all the pieces of the
puzzle finally came together beautifully.

My previous attempts had ended prematurely for a number of reasons – thunder
storms on course line, a NOTAM due to a nearby forest fire, a harness pitch cord
failure, and running out of daylight (another way of saying I had been flying
too slowly). It takes a lot of things to go right to have success, and one
significant thing going wrong can be the end of it all.

On June 19th, 2020 the winds were forecasted to be light and variable throughout
the day at most elevations. Though there were not going to be any clouds along
my planned course line, usable lift was expected to be just above 18,000 feet.
Only two days before the summer solstice, I knew the number of daylight hours
were on my side. The other thing I had going for me this year, was my new wing.

I hook in at 225 pounds, putting me squarely in the weight range for the large
wing, but because the summer conditions at my home site (Crestline, California)
can be rowdy, for the last decade I have opted for the medium sized wing. But
the new T3 has changed all that. With the bearing tips, I’ve found that I don’t
get pushed around anymore and I can put the wing exactly where I want it to be.
There seems to be some significant turbulence dampening too, so this year I
stepped back up to the 154, and I couldn’t be happier.

I launched Walt’s Point (elev: 9,300 feet) as early as I thought reasonable
(9:41am Pacific time). Though I found lift right away, I wasn’t able to climb
above 10,500 feet as the westerly winds seemed to be blowing the light lift
apart. Wishing I could depart the mountain above 11,500 feet (but fearing that I
was burning daylight) I pushed east to tag my start/finish waypoint in the
valley along highway 395. From the moment I left the mountain, and until I
returned, my vario was silent. Though expected, it was unsettling to be looking
up the side of the Sierra Nevada range from 7,000 feet. It was a long slog to
get reestablished, but my patience was finally rewarded with a climb that put me
back in the game.
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