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Following the Terrain

After the slow mode flight Mark did a mild dive of maybe 20K or 30K fpm and leveled off at the minimum allowed altitude of about 200' agl. We cruised at about .85 mach (600 mph?) up the Panamint Valley. I remember passing a small hill that was higher than us just off our right side. We gradually slowed to about .6 mach as we neared the end of the valley. It was now a box canyon with us trapped. It wasn't wide enough to do a 180 back out and the mountain in front was about the height of Marshall and about as steep. I kind of knew the answer but with only a slight hesitation I asked Mark if we had the power to climb over the hill. (again... Duhhh!). A slight forward movement of the throttle and we not only matched the terrain upslope, we were gaining speed easily as well. Just Like Star Wars.

Over the crest of the ridge banking right 90 degrees, down the next ravine, banking left 45 degrees, up the next slope and over into the Saline Valley. Impressive! And this kind of low flight with adequate airspeed got my stomach back into where it belonged. Zip that airsick bag pocket closed.

Time to head over to the Owens and as we did I got a little demonstration of the onboard computers that are capable of measuring the vertical air movement. However I don't think it would help me thermal a wing that has a turning radius measured in tens of thousands of feet.