XC Soaring in 2017 in Washington State

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With the end of the soaring season for this year it is time again to review what happened in the world of XC soaring in the state of Washington (WS).  While the calendar year is not over yet, the OLC year 2018 started already on September 25.  This cutoff for the OLC 2017 may generally be enough to cover the thermalling season but wave flying is attracting some renewed interest lately and we have already some entries for the OLC 2018.

Thomas v d Velde started the Arlington soaring season with his historic 6 hour wave flight in January behind Mt. Pilchuck that earned him the full Silver badge.  Then came a long wet spring and it took almost 3 months to see the first 300 km flight from Arlington.   The best flights took place in May with 3 Cascade crossings on 5/26 but generally this year’s results were disappointing compared to previous years.  The last 300 km flight was made on 8/28, showing a fairly long XC soaring season in thermal conditions.  XC soaring in wave conditions would open up the whole year but is still awaiting some exploration.

Altogether 2017 was a poor year for XC soaring in Washington on both sides of the mountains.  Blame it on the weather (either too wet or too stable or too hazy/ smokey) and the cumulative results for the major airfields (Arlington and Ephrata) bear this out. Only the mountain airfield of Twisp showed some better results – based on a single week of flying by about a dozen pilots.  The average OLC score for Twisp was considerably higher than for the other airfields (almost twice as much as for Arlington and about 50 pct higher than for Ephrata) and this year’s best flight in WS was made by Ron Clark from Twisp.  This confirms once again the XC potential of the mountains; for that matter most of the better flights from Arlington and Ephrata were flights into the Cascades.

So, congratulations to Ron Clark who was the OLC champion for Region 8 by making the best of the conditions and posting the longest flights from Arlington, Walla Walla, Ephrata and Twisp!  For the rest of us, let’s hope for better conditions next year.


XC Flying in 2017


                                  Arlington             Twisp                  Ephrata    

OLC points      15.081 (13.637)          13.795 (12.165)          84.914 (83.091)

flights                88                              41                               367

 pilots                 20                              12                               71

  OLC pts./flt.     171                            336                             231


                                                                                                ( )   w/o skylines        

best OLC flight in WS            717.6 points by Ron Clark – Twisp, 6/26             

longest flight (duration)          8:24 hrs by Ron Clark – from Twisp, 6/27

noteworthy flights from Arlington


1/28     Thomas v d Velde                             first XC of the season (165 points),

complete Silver badge in 6 hour flight.

4/14     Dan Housler                                       first 300+ km flight of the season.

5/26     Ron Clark                                          first XC soaring flight to Walla Walla

(incl. CC),

                                                                        best  OLC flight from AWO in 2017.

            Phil Rose/ Paul Adriance                  to nr. Davenport and Ephrata (incl. CC),

                                                                        second best flight from AWO in 2017.

            F Hermanspann/ K McCrary          to Ephrata (incl. CC).


8/28     Ron Clark                                          last 300+ km flight of the season.

10/8     Thomas v d Velde                             last XC of the season (151 points),

                                                                        first OLC 2018 entry.

(CC)  Cascade crossing