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  • Methow 2024 - Soaring the Methow Valley

Methow 2024 - Soaring the Methow Valley

  • 15 Jun 2024
  • 22 Jun 2024
  • Methow State Airport


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    One of the pilots flying a shared sailplane must register in the "Pilot + Sailplane" category.


As many of you are aware the Methow is possibly the best venue in our state combining fabulous geography, soaring, and great alternative activities for those who prefer remaining on the ground.  Surrounded by beautiful mountains & Canada to the north, our ‘Northern Alps’ to the west, and plains to the south and east makes for an exceptional week.  So, with the support of our local soaring clubs and the Seattle Glider Council Sponsored Sixth Annual “Soaring the Methow” is planned for Saturday, June 15 through Saturday, June 22 (8 days).

 Here are some points to start considering:

1. DATES: Tows at Methow will be available Saturday, June 15 with our usual pre-flight briefing at 0930 in the big hangar on the east side just north of the fuel pumps. Last tows will be Saturday, June 22. Note: Sunday, 16th, happens to be Father’s Day in case that might influence your plans. Those coming are encouraged to preferably arrive on Friday (if you can) so you can get set up for flying and the first morning briefing on Saturday at 0930. Again, many thanks go to Craig and Perri Howard for letting us once again use their very nice hangar for our morning 0930 meetings and our center of ops.  Thanks in advance also go to John & Jeanette O’Keefe, owners & operator of the fueling facility at the airport which makes this extra convenient for us.

2. TOW PLANES & TOW PILOTS: We are planning to have three tow planes.  Two Pawnee’s from SGC and Evergreen Soaring and the 160hp Super Cub from PSSA. I think most of our tow pilots will be familiar faces and are experienced towing at this location.  Once again, we are providing them accommodations at the Sportsman Motel in Twisp.  Please remember to give them your thanks and respect for helping us with safe tows and making this all possible. NOTE: It looks like we might only have one tow plane on the final Saturday. SGC wants their Pawnee back to Ephrata for the R8 early arrivals and PSSA probably will want their Super Cub back for their Saturday ops at Bergseth Field. So, 3 tow planes each day except the final Saturday.

3. GLIDERS: This year will again be limited to 24 towable gliders. Self-launchers are in addition. We will hold out two spots for two-seaters; one from each club (PW6 & DG1000?).  One limitation we always face is returning to land with only one runway, no parallel taxiway, and limited exits off the runway. If you plan to fly only certain days, then a single week slot ($100) may be shared by prior arrangement between two gliders (no overlapping days please.  For those who sign up but then cancel, we will use an alternate-list for any unused glider reservations - please no “trades” to another glider owner if you cancel as that would take away an opportunity for the next registered glider on the “alternate glider list”. The final roster should be out within a week after the signups start.

4. ACCOMODATIONS: The Methow Valley is a popular vacation destination and gets booked up very early.  I would suggest you book now and cancel if you can’t come.  Consider VRBO or Air BnB for a house for several pilots or motel rooms either in Twisp or Winthrop, etc.  If you are willing to cash in your retirement then Sun Mountain Resort is five-star, super nice and you may see our gliders overflying the resort during the afternoons.  Book early.  For RV’s there are no hook ups, no power, etc. on the field but there is some limited space for dry-camp RV’ing or tents. I have an arrangement for my RV (thanks John O’) since I need to be on-site…

5. GLIDER TIE-DOWNS: As nice as the Methow is, the region is not entirely glider-friendly for the unprepared. The plan is for two-seaters, self-launchers and longer wingspan (18 meter+) gliders to have priority (an option for them) on the west side paved area using the tie down rings (enough for about ten gliders). Bring long tie down ropes and for those on the west side trailer parking plan is still being worked out. (WSDOT requirement & they monitor via video feeds).

Most other gliders will be on the sod on the east side more than 200’ from the runway – it will be marked. Again, secure your gliders & trailers using self-supplied ropes & sturdy dirt anchors, etc. Night winds and T-storms are not unusual.

6. VOLUNTEERING: Please plan to assist with launching, taking a morning or afternoon as ground crew. I think we have had as much fun helping each other as flying (almost).  Some folks in the past have done a lot of the work to keep things organized and safe. Again, I will pass out a clipboard with slots to sign up as daily Launch Managers (1-morning, 1 afternoon), morning launch helpers (2) and end of day Retrievers (2).  Sometimes we all just help and it’s worked out but it’s nice to spread out the duties with some pre-planning. In the past Marlene & Curt have done a great job helping organizing things and collecting tow cards and making sure everyone gets logged in. Also special thanks to Nan Klix and Greg Gohsman for their expert help past years at Methow. This has been a subject that will be discussed at the first 0930 meeting. Please figure a half-day volunteering. We want everyone to fly as much as possible but need an advance plan for sign-ups possibly prior to the event.

7. LOCAL SCHOOL STUDENTS: It was suggested we invite local students to come and help.  If this works out, they might each get a flight (with written Consents of course) and free meals at our social functions.  Including the local kids is important and I have already sent a proposal to the local high school counselors.  About 2/day, 4 days each (maybe 4 kids).

8. COMPETENCIES:  With several out-landing sites available the Methow is not inherently unsafe for good soaring, but traps do exist.  Making every morning 0930 briefing is particularly important for everyone to share knowledge and form an easy & well-coordinated daily plan.  Depending on an individual’s currency and proficiency, and for intermediate level glider pilots, this can be a reasonable outing and done safely with help and guidance from those more experienced.  Staying in sight of the airport works well and it’s easy to maintain a downhill return course back if you are careful.  The Twisp airport (southeast about 6 miles) and Lost River airstrip (about 20 miles northwest) offer reasonable bail-outs if needed.  Studying the area, being well prepared and getting a good briefing are all important for a safe, comfortable, and fun week. Each year we have had a few land-outs and heeding the experiences of some of our seasoned pilots could help you from damaging your glider or worse.  It is easy to avoid pitfalls and enjoy the magnificent scenery if you allow some extra altitude, etc. to return home or to another good runway. Again, our 0930 safety briefings need to be a requirement.  Anyone who has not had an area familiarity briefing must receive such from one of the Methow experienced pilots.

9.  EDUCATION: Each morning at 0900, starting Sunday, there will be an optional discussion of various topics which could include: avoiding & preparing for unexpected landouts, mountain flying, wave entry/exit/flying/precautions, best thermalling, convergences, traps to avoid, etc…  Since there are many experienced cross country pilots expected this will be interesting.  We will do this each morning at 0900 in the large hangar north of the fuel pumps. This is not a requirement but an opportunity for those interested.  Ideas are always welcome.  Last year we had some amazing discussions and “chalkboard talks” with our many experts.

10. SOCIAL: For those interested, we hope to have at least two dinners together.  This has always been a highlight and helps us get to know each other better.  We will likely do at least one dinner-out as before which was in Winthrop.  In the past Henry & Chloe Rebbeck have invited us to their cabin on the river for BYOB & BYOsteaks (or whatever) using their BBQ.  This will depend on their family schedule so stay tuned.  Other ideas are welcome??  Also, a few of us went golfing at the 9 hole course just up the road from the airport for 0630 tee-offs and made it back for the 0900 briefing. Reservations preferred, 0630 is busy on hot days.  Also good for non-flying days.

11. COSTS:  Each pilot must pay a $60 fee and the fee for each towed glider is $120 (glider + one pilot = $180).  Two gliders may share a week without overlapping ($120 only once is fine) but every pilot (PIC’s only) needs to pay $60.  Tow fees are yet-to-be determined.  Self-launching gliders are free, but we ask that pilots still sign up and each pilot please pay the $60 fee. Again, $60 for every pilot, and $120 for each towed glider.  Tow fees will be billed by SGC to each glider following the event. Our goal is to at least break even and in the past we made a bit for the SGC.  Expenses include tow plane ferrying to & from their bases, fuel, tow pilot accommodations (3 rooms x 8 nights, already reserved at the Sportsman in Twisp) and rental of port-a-pottys, etc.  Also, we need to cover the costs of glider flights for any local student volunteers and our hangar owner if possible (DG1000 or PW6?).

12. SIGN-UP:  To sign up you must be an SGC member, willing to volunteer with ground tasks, and pay fees on the SGC web site during the sign up when it opens.  I expect this might fill quickly to the max of 24 (not counting self-launchers). Self-launcher pilots ($60) please sign up so we have a count. You may want to be sure you are already paid-up as a 2024 SGC member ahead of time ($75 Annual Dues which includes a one week facility fee at EPH), so that doesn’t slow down your signing up on April 18st at 7pm…

Here are the current sign up rules:



1. Slots are allocated in order of payments made online - SGC web site.  Each glider must be signed up separately - no one person signs up for multiple gliders please. The two place gliders must pay ($120), but slots will be held out for them and released only if they don’t plan to come.  When we reach 24 non-powered gliders any remaining gliders will go onto an alternate list for additional positions. Alternates still require the above fees to get on the alternate glider list and which is fully refunded if they don’t use a spot.  No limit on number of pilots or self-launchers, just towable gliders (24).

2. Full refunds are okay up to May 25 (three weeks prior to the event).  If your plans change and you decide not to come, please let us know asap so a glider on the alternate list can be scheduled and make their plans.

3. The 'alternate glider list' will likely stop at 10 alternate gliders which would close the sign ups - if things fill up.

Finally, participants and pilots taking part in this activity accept that flying gliders involves substantial risk and the above entities (Clubs), officers, organizers, volunteers, and tow pilots associated with this event shall be indemnified and assume no liability for any damages or injuries suffered in connection directly or indirectly with this event. When you sign up you fully accept these terms. All pilots must be signed up and paid up prior to participating.

If you have any questions or suggestions for a better format, etc. please let me know.  As before, this is an “ongoing experiment”, all subject to change, with flexibility, good humor and working together to make it a safe and unforgettable week doing what we all love.

(C) 2017-2024 Seattle Glider Council / SGC Soaring Foundation

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