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AUGUST 6 2002

Firstly I'd like to thank all of you who have faithfully continued to check this website despite the blatant dearth of updates. And thanks to the folks who have written in, I've forwarded your messages to my dad and he is very grateful to hear from you all. After our shake-up in Carson City, plans for the journey had to be somewhat rearranged. Having committed to a previous obligation, I (Tierney) just couldn't join my dad and since I was in charge of downloading the flight information etc, that part of the journey had to be put on hold. Fortunately, a close family friend and accomplished glider pilot, Al Grismer, was able to join Thierry in Carson City and off they went.

Thierry and Al made it all the way up to Point Barrow, turned around, headed back down,and by tomorrow (August 7th) they should be hitting Nevada. Whew! They've lots of stories, were thrilled to soar through virgin territory and even managed to film some of it (that is when the cameras were cooperating) So as soon as I catch up with those adventuresome souls, I'll download their flight paths, write-up their tales and post them to the website, with the help from our fearless website designer, Mike Johnson.


Please stay tuned. There's certainly more to come in the next few weeks.

Crash video

The Stemme gets Stymied June 9th

We had a couple ominous omens before we finally took off on June 9th, 2002. Our first omen was a ripped Achilles tendon sustained by Thierry while pushing the Stemme earlier in the week. Fortunately that injury was healing fast until the second omen arrived in the form of a lame duck.

The night before take off, we found a small female mallard wandering bewildered in the middle of a busy Oakland street. Thierry jumped to shoo the duck to safer ground but as he was veering it away from a predatory feline, he face-planted and retore his tendon. We managed to capture the lame duck and ferry it to the airport where it followed us around the airstrip and then suddenly flew off into the night.

At last after mounting the cameras, installing the audio system, affixing the solar panels, troubleshooting leaks and figuring out how to keep everything working during long flights, the Stemme and her two person crew finally seemed ready to go. The local news crews from KRON Channel 4 had gotten their interview. We’d loaded the plane up with all our essentials—camera gear, parkas, personal urinals, luna bars, tool kit, nav aids and charts, mp3 player. . .we were set!

Right as we were buttoning up the Stemme, a mechanic friend decided to take a last minute peek under the plane and noticed a problem with the brakes. Our ground crew immediately installed new brake cables and we were ready to go.

But then just as I was about to jump in the cockpit, I noticed a small swimming pool behind my seat. My Camelback water backpack had leaked all over the gear and the nav manuals. So our fearless ground crew helped dry out the manuals-- leafing them in the baking sun and wind.

At long last we bid tearful good-byes, buttoned down the canopy and taxied to the runway to slip those surly bonds of earth, lift off and dance on laughter-silvered wings. Well sort of. . . .

The day was spectacular--one of those rare days in the Bay Area where the air is crystal clear and the whole place sparkles. After crossing the Sacramento Valley, we headed to Pyramid Peak, flew through Desolation Valley, buzzed Lover’s Leap, and then sailed across Tahoe—a blazing sapphire in the mountains. Just gorgeous! Crossed into Nevada, turned off the engine and entered silent flight. Not too much thermal activity but enough to do a couple turns before preparing to land at Carson City.

Carson City UNICOM informed us, as well as the sock, that there would be a crosswind and we readied to land power-on. Lining up on runway 27, everything was smooth until we touched down. With too much speed and a high tail, we started to porpoise. Up and down, we smacked the ground. The stall warning went off and then the prop kissed the tarmack. In an instant, we were off the runway and partaking of an intimate session with the sagebrush. On landing, the Stemme has one inch clearance between its prop and the ground so it’s not what you’d call very forgiving. Next time we'll land with the prop stowed.

Broken propWithin minutes we had a crew out on the runway who all lent their weight to push us out of a trouble. My oh my. Our prop was toast.

June 10th   Next morning we located a temporary hangar--compliments of Steve Lantz, an amazing pilot who flies airfoils with seats strapped to them up to 18,000 feet. He set us up in one of his hangars where we tucked in behind an Airstream, a SuperFloater and a great looking black window spider.

We rented a car and drove to Minden to orchestrate a repair schedule with the kind folks at High Country Soaring and then headed back down to the Bay Area.

Whew! What a first leg. Not quite what we expected. We may be dented but we’re certainly not daunted! We'll be back in the air again soon, so stay tuned.

Broken prop