Happening Right Now: Gliding Attempt Across the Mountains, Nevada to South Dakota

Wind power in action
Flight Aware track of today's transmontane glider flight ( Flight Aware )

This morning a glider plane was launched from Minden, Nevada -- in the Sierra Nevada east of Lake Tahoe, very close to the California state line -- in an attempt to fly all the way during daylight today* to Rapid City, South Dakota.

Glider progress at of 1:30pm EST, via the live-tracking site.

In the flight's favor: very strong winds from the west, as explained in great detail (and with lots of the weather graphics pilots look at when planning flights) at the site of Walter Rogers, a retired National Weather Service forecaster. 

As a challenge for the flight: mountains, as shown on the Flight Aware planned route for the journey. They're not attempting to cross the heart of the Rockies, in Colorado, but the terrain in Utah and Wyoming is plenty high. This screen shot, showing its progress, was just a few minutes after the one above:

KMEV, at the beginning of the trip, is the Minden-Tahoe airport. KRAP is Rapid City's, which we visited a few months ago. (In aviation parlance, most U.S. airports have the K prefix -- KJFK, KLAX, KDCA, etc.) 

To follow the action, you can check this map based site, run by one of the pilots; the Flight Aware track; and Walter Rogers's posts. Thanks to my friend Michele Travierso, himself a glider pilot, for the tip. Good luck!

*5:30pm EST update: I am actually not sure they intended to make it during daylight, and in any case that looks difficult at this point. Again, good luck.

Midnight update: They made it to Casper, Wyoming. Flight track here. Explanations and background here. Glad all are safe.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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