It has been a great summer season and it is exciting to see so many pilots laying down amazing flights and so many reaching new milestones and accomplishing new goals. As a fellow pilot, it continues to inspire me and make me smile.

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Self Portrait – Jeff crossing Little Cottonwood Canyon

This year I have been trying to unlock the different cross country puzzle pieces that extend from Francis Peak to Spanish Fork. So far I have been successful in this quest, flying all legs except for one. This final leg, or should I say the committing leap from the summit of Lone Peak down into Provo has yet eluded me…until today. I left The B near my home in really light conditions where very little lift was to be found down low. I had high hopes for the day, but the climb out was discouraging at best. My fellow pilots sunk to the ground and I was lucky to climb out after calling upon every little trick I know. I had succumbed to the reality that my goal was going to have to wait for yet another day. I figured I would just fly out to draper, a typical milk run. Still a magical flight, but I was hoping for more today.

Leaving the summit to soon turn south over the back towards Provo.

I crossed Bells Canyon with just enough altitude to clear the granite walls. I found a small thermal while surfing the south face of Little Cottonwood Canyon and began circling, climbing, drifting further up into Bells Canyon. As I climbed out over Thunder Mountain and above the upper reservoir I continued to fly the spine towards Lone Peak. The vario continues to beep and I look down to see my altitude exceeding 11,500 feet. The peak is now below me, the winds light, and it is time to make the leap. I head a bit west, then south to avoid any lee side turbulence. The winds pick up on the back side and I easily cruise past American Fork Canyon, Mahogany, across the G and to the base of Provo Canyon. Success!

Waiting for a ride home.

I now sit at the base of a tree in the shade and wait for a ride home. The XC pilots dilemma and one I enjoy from time to time. The season has been great thus far, with new goals accomplished, but still a few yet to be realized. Every time I land and look back, I am reminded how magical this sport is, and how lucky I am to be here experiencing it!

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