Groundbreaking Flights


Groundbreaking Flights from Boulder

(Source OLC, Flights from 2007-2022 only, listed in chronological order)

On this page I have listed flights that broke new ground:  pilots did something that hadn’t been done before.  Each of these flights demonstrated that something was possible that hadn’t been attempted up to that point. The pilots who accomplished these flights inspired others to follow in their footsteps.  But these accomplishments should not be seen as setting limits.  Instead, they should remind us that there is always new ground that can be broken.

Border to Border plus without yoyo, first flight >1000 km

Bob Carl, June 24, 2007, Ventus 2 15m

First flight to San Luis Peak and return from Boulder, ~600km

Alfonso Ossorio, September 7, 2010, Nimbus 2

Boulder to Santa Fe and Return, furthest south, almost 1100 km

Pedja Bogdanovich, July 4, 2011, Ventus 2 15m

San Luis Peak plus Taos, triangle around the San Luis Valley, first flight >1100km

John Seaborn, June 24, 2012, Ventus 2 15m

Biggest triangle to date >800km; 1000+ km total

Pedja Bogdanovich, August 17, 2013, Ventus 2 15m

650 km FAI triangle around Denver Class B, without actually flying a triangle; furthest flight east, 1050km

Pedja Bogdanovich, July 16, 2016, Ventus 2 15m

Flight within the San Luis Valley, 960km

Pedja Bogdanovich, July 6, 2017, Ventus 2 15m

Around Denver Class B Airspace, 750+ km

Pedja Bogdanovich, August 26, 2017, Ventus 2 15m

14ers in the San Juan Mountains, furthest flight ever to southeast, 850+km

Tom Zoellner, June 27, 2018, ASW 20

Biggest FAI triangle to date, 900+ km, with legs into plains, longest flight to date 1150+ km

Pedja Bogdaovich, July 19, 2018, Ventus 2 15m

Longest Flight per OLC+ rules in Colorado to date, 1273 km

Pedja Bogdanovich, September 2, 2019, Ventus 2 15m

Furthest to the north-west (Crestone Junction, WY and return), 913km

Clemens Ceipek, July 20, 2020, Ventus 2 18m

Almost to Caspar and back, 650+km, furthest flight to the north

Bob Faris, June 8, 2021, DG800

First flight to the Utah Border, ~400km (outbound only, no return)

Karl Hanzel, June 6, 2021, Stemme

First 1000km FAI Triangle, furthest west with return to Boulder, 1070 km

Clemens Ceipek, June 4, 2022, Ventus 2 18m

Crossing the San Luis Valley from Southern San Juan’s to the Sangres, 600+km

Benjamin Pinnell, June 6, 2022, DG400

What’s Next?

I believe that modern gliders and – especially – the increasing accuracy of weather forecasting make much bigger flights possible.

E.g., No Boulder pilot has ever flown to the Utah border and back.  We have not seen a flight to the Kansas border and back.  No one flew to a point more than 300km to the north and back when some have flown more than 500km to the south and back.  Such flights should definitely be doable.

And yet, we can dream even bigger.  I think it should be possible to reach the Four Corners (where CO, NM, UT, and AZ meet) and return back to Boulder on the same day.  Or someone may be able to fly an O&R to the border of South Dakota or Oklahoma.  We might explore getting into Utah’s High Uintas from Boulder.  Or into Wyoming’s Wind River Range.  Or into the Bighorn Mountains north of Caspar.  It may even be possible to fly an O&R to the border of Texas or Montana.  Or a declared 1250 km flight, possibly even a triangle.

Clearly, such flights require excellent weather conditions.  In some cases truly extraordinary conditions.  But I think we have seen a few days this year when some of these flights would in fact have been attainable.  Of course the risk of a landout far away from home goes up quite significantly.  Pilots attempting such flights will have to take that into account and prepare accordingly.  They will also need to either have a crew willing to retrieve them from far away or a self-launch capable motor glider and the right conditions to fly back on the next day (or the coming days).  Or both.

It’ll be fascinating to see what ground will be broken next.