20140401-090822.jpgLOST AT SEA?
We rode the 35-mile River Mountain Loop yesterday on our bicycles which was a great workout and good training for our upcoming Sierra/Cascade ride. The whole thing is on a nicely paved bike path. It begins at our Lake Mead campground and climbs 1200 feet – which is good. We’re going to be doing a lot of climbing on the upcoming Mexico-to-Canada ride. Midway through the ride you have a spectacular view of the Las Vegas Strip from afar with snow-capped mountains in the distance. I enthusiastically recommend the ride.

The weather was unexpectedly pleasant since high wind had been forecasted. It wasn’t until the last ten miles that we fought a headwind. Later in the afternoon the wind calmed and I decided to take advantage of that by flying our radio-controlled (RC) airplane – the Apprentice S. There is a large vacant parking lot down by the lake set aside for RC flying. It used to be parking for lake visitors but Lake Mead’s shoreline has retreated about 500 yards due to a sustained drought since 1985.

Anyway, so I started flying my little airplane around and all of a sudden the wind picked up. I landed; the wind stopped. I took off and the wind came up again. This little scenario was repeated about five times before a ferocious and sustained off-shore wind came up when my plane was down by the lake. I turned it toward me to fly it back to the landing strip but the wind was so strong that the plane was going out to sea even though I was giving it full power into the wind. A wave of panic flooded through me. The brave little plane was struggling but continuing to lose ground. I knew that the battery charge would soon give out and all hope of recovery would be lost. The plane would crash land far out in the lake or possibly on the other side of the lake even!

I thought of Malaysia Flight 370 that disappeared over the Indian Ocean recently. Would the Apprentice S share its fate?

But no! Valiantly, against all odds, it seemed to be making its way back to land. It had almost disappeared in the distance but now it was clearly growing as it crossed the sandy expanse between the shore and the landing strip.

“Come on, little plane!” I muttered in encouragement. “You can do it!”

Again the wind gusted. The Apprentice S bobbed and weaved. It dipped and rose. It veered left and right. But it was nearly out of danger at last. If the battery ran out I could always crash land it, I realized. At least it was over dry land.

When it finally made it to the landing strip I brought it down slowly. The wind was still so strong that it was basically hovering when its wheels touched the ground. I cut power and the wind promptly flipped it over backwards. Not pretty, I admit. But my baby was home. Safe. Out of the clutches of that evil, gusting wind. Whew!

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