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

By James Fallows

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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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/02/happening-right-now-gliding-attempt-across-the-mountains-nevada-to-south-dakota/283883/