Walla Walla/ Martin Field

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Earlier this year - May 28, when we still enjoyed some soarable conditions - Ron Clark made another pioneering flight when he soared his venerable LS-3 from Arlington all the way to Walla Walla.  This flight (which include another Cascade crossing) amounted to 459 OLC points and was the best flight on the west side so far.  Ron liked what he saw and is now planning for some soaring exploration of the Wallowa mountains.  Incidentally, Bob Pattison from the PSSA just announced his plans to make a combined soaring/wine tasting excursion over the October 6,7 weekend and is inviting other pilots to join him.

Walla Walla Soaring by Ron Clark

With a new commercial soaring operation (wallwallasoaring.com) providing tows at Martin field near Walla Walla, a spectacular opportunity exists to explore a very interesting mountain range in the NE corner of Oregon.  The Wallowa Mountains and Eagle Cap wilderness is a very scenic area that should provide some very good glider flying.  It is about 60 miles from Martin Field to the Wallowa Mountains, only a few thermals away considering the cloudbase heights attainable in that part of the country.  

I plan to make the 4.7 hour drive out there next summer.  I need to talk to some folks who have flown in that area and determine the best time to attempt an expedition.  I have studied the maps and made a power plane flight to the Joseph airport.  It would be an exciting place to fly a sailplane, with some very nice mountains, lakes and meadows.  There is also serious potential for knarly weather and overdevelopement.  We saw a bit of that on our trip over last year when they closed the tram at Joseph Lake due to some impressive downslope winds.

There should also be opportunity for strong, high thermals and wave.  With some diligent exploration to become familiar with the conditions, some very long flights will most assuredly be made, possibly into Idaho.  

I will be studying the maps over winter and hopefully I can get Brad to help me build a database for the flight computer.  There is an abundance of airports in the area that should allow some good safety margins for long flights.  

If anybody else is interested, let me know and I'll keep you posted on developments and timelines.  At least it will be something to look forward to as we wait out a northwest winter.