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Nephi Utah OLC/Cross Country Camp - Event Summary and Wrap Up

Seven days of soaring, over 46,000 km (28,000 miles or a little over going around the earth) of cross country flying, amazing views, interesting landings, outstanding hospitality, many new friends, and lots of smiles.  That in one sentence sums up the Nephi, Utah OLC and Cross-Country camp.  Utah has long been on the map for some fantastic soaring with Parowan to the South and Logan to the North.  Nephi is in the middle between the two allowing access to flying terrain and conditions of both as well as the desert  flying area of Ely, Nevada; all without having to worry about SLC airspace to the north.

Nephi is a city with a population of about 5,500 located about 80 miles south of Salt Lake City along I-15.  It is nestled in a six mile wide valley between the southern end of the Wasatch mountains crowned by 11,600 foot Mt. Nebo towering 6,600 feet over the airport  on the east side of the valley and the lower Long Ridge to the west.  The terrain to the west is classic Great Basin high desert providing good heating early in the day.  The airport is located at 5000 feet msl with a 6300 x 100 foot runway that provides the opportunity to launch heavy gliders.  The area around the airport is mostly farm fields so there are many places to land if needed as we found out.

Nephi has been on the radar of Utah pilots for many years with several local safaris organized by Lynn Alley (2KA) over the years. One motor glider has been based there for many years but the lack of local tows has limited the opportunity to explore all the potential.   Bruno Vassel IV (B4) has been flying over the area for many years on flights out of Cedar Valley airport, forty miles to the North.  He had noted that Nephi appeared to start earlier and was easier to get back to at the end of the day.  To truly explore the potential we needed to hold a camp and invite a few friends to come fly with us.  With that kernel of an idea Bruno was the spark that organized the event.    The goal was to have fun flying speed tasks or OLC flight in a low pressure environment.  It was not really a camp for new pilots but we had many pilots that had not flown really long flights set personal bests.

Most of the flying during the 2013 camp was limited to south and west of Nephi due to weather.  The camp was planned for early August with the hopes that the usual summer monsoons would have retreated to the south and east but still have enough heating and long days to truly stretch the legs of pilots.  Most of the week the monsoon stayed just on the line east of Nephi, occasionally drifting to the west but only really effecting one day but it was still flyable.
The area to the south overlaps with most of the flying area of Parowan so much of our flying was over familiar terrain with the milk runs down to Richfield, Beaver and beyond.  The late summer weather in Utah allows more desert flying than contests in late June and we tried to take advantage of that as much as possible.  The west desert is intimidating at first like the Caprock of NM or the Hill Country of TX, but after a few flights, pilots begin to relax and enjoy the amazing conditions as reports of 12 to 17 knot thermals trickled in during the camp.  Flights to Wheeler Peak and Mt. Wilson VOR provided a chance to see turnpoints in Nevada and many pilots got the opportunity to fly great cloud streets along the ridges to the west of the Sevier dry lake.  Nephi has the nice advantage that the winds are typically out of the southwest so 170 miles final legs were covered at over 113 mph and final glides often started at over 80 miles out along what appear to be infinite cloud streets.  Lift worked until late in the evening with the latest landing at 8:30 pm!

We did have some challenging conditions with strong east winds due to a pressure gradient and thunderstorms in the area or the airport.  Fortunately there was a nice alfalfa field next to the airport that served as Nephi airport #2 on a few days.  At one point we had eight gliders in the alfalfa field when direct cross winds set up at 18G28.  Other pilots took the grass next to Runway 17/35 to provide a wider and softer area to touch down in the winds.  Everyone landed safely and it was just an interesting way to end the day.  We were told by local pilots and airport management that east cross winds are very rare but even still, the Nephi airport wants to be even more glider-friendly and is considering adding a cross section of grass inside the airport in the future to allow gliders a place to land if there are strong cross winds.

Some highlights of the flights posted to OLC from Ron Gleason (not all the flights were posted):
104 flights
46,284 km
445 km average
809 km longest
132 km/hour fastest
Many badges, records, and personal best flights.

Bruno did an outstanding job of organizing the event and working with the City of Nephi to prepare the airport for the camp.  The city of Nephi was very welcoming and worked to make our visit enjoyable.  Beth Ann and Paul Schneider watched over us and manned the retrieve desk and Parker Zentner ran a smooth line.  The local Utah Soaring Club helped and supported the camp as well as bringing three of their Grob Twins for the members to experience cross-country flying.  We were able to get support from Utah Tow Pilots with John Templeton from Parowan as chief, Kim Hall from Logan, Dave Robinson from Heber, and Michael Alley and Stan McGrew from Morgan.  Overall we had a great time, flew fast and long flights, had a wonderful time with old and new friends, and look forward to coming back to Nephi next year.

Tim Taylor - TT

Nephi 2013 Contest Director

Posted: 8/11/2013


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