ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Alby's Voyage is promoted by the Pacific Soaring Council(PASCO), and encouraged by the Soaring Society of America (SSA). PASCO represents about 400 glider pilots of Northern California and Nevada. The SSA represents about 12,000 U.S. glider pilots. Like Alby, both organizations foster and encourage all forms of soaring.



Alby's Progress

Map Legend

___ Successful Legs

___ Attempts

___ Proposed legs



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latest news


8/5/2017 – Shane Neitzey took Alby from Front Royal to Eagle Field with a spectacular ridge flight – plus some thermals. See the flight on the OLC. With his flight Shane gained Pin No. 31.

Alby is now in the capable hands of Karl Striedieck who will make the final leg to Elmira, NY venue of the National Soaring Museum. This last leg is tricky but Karl is confident he can make it, with the best period for the attempt in October.

8/4/2017 – Dave Reilly flew Alby from Culpeper to Front Royal, completing his leg and earning Pin No.30.

7/16/2017 – Alby is at Culpeper airport, taken there by Dave Reilly who made it almost to Front Royal, but was 20 miles short when he decided to go back a little and land safely at Culpeper. He wants to try again soon.

6/3/2017 – Mamad Takallu flies his ASW-27 from Garner to Merlin, earning Pin no. 29 with a powerful straightforward flight.

7/17/2016 – Eric Lambert after almost one year abandons dreams of making a pure glider flights, starts the engine and motor all the way from Currituck to near Garner.

9/17/2015 - Eric Lambert flies Alby from First Flight to Currituck using the engine of his motorized Grob.

9/14/2015 - Alby arrives at First Flight, Kitty Hawk, NC!

Heartfelt congratulations to Alby pilot Eric Lambert, who found reliable lift on a blue day to get Alby safely to Kitty Hawk, for a well-deserved rest. Eric's notes on the flight are found in more detail below.

Briefly, he said, "I will return to First Flight in the morning and plan to meet with Karen Warlitner, the Executive Director of the First Flight Foundation, for a photo-op. We would like to have a photo of Alby next to the Wright Flyer. On Thursday and through the weekend, we hope to take advantage of this spell of good weather to fly Alby north."

8/31/2015 - Alby flew Sunday from Chesapeake, VA to Currituck , NC with Albypilot Eric Lambert in his motorized Grob 103.

Eric said that he found clouds to 5,000’ and lift up to 4 knots. He got low (1,700’) at the Academia facility (U.S. Training Center) but got back up to 4,000’ and then to Currituck. He said it was not difficult – sure I believe it, when the conditions are good! The flight of 25 miles required only two thermals, but it was one of the very few days that there were clouds and workable lift and no adverse winds. Clouds and lift disappeared soon after the landing.

Eric wants to spend four days of the long Labor Day weekend trying to fly with Alby the 33 miles from Currituck to First Flight Airport, a place that is so historically important for all aviators. Not an easy thing to do since near the coast the weather is not favorable to soaring in general, and in this case in particular the glider has to fly for several miles directly above water.


TALES OF THE FLIGHTS


Alby flight No. 19 and pin No. 10 - Ted Wagner 5/31/09

Sunday, May 31st7:30 AM
The day starts early with a check of the weather and preparation of new turnpoint databases for the PDA (running WinPilot Pro) and LX 7007. (This step I managed to overlook before the previous day's attempt, though when I started that flight I knew I could select a new database on the PDA in flight.)
To get the same database in both instruments, I loaded the ASA and El Paso turnpoint files in SeeYou, deleted the non-landable points, and saved a geographic subset of the remainder to WinPilot (dat) and LX (da4) files in turn. I was thankful that Alby reminded me to do this today. Smart bird, he.


Alby admires the eastern sky from his steed prior to Saturday's unsuccessful flight. El Paso is 305 miles thataway.

In addition to weather checks on xcskies.com and drjack.info, Cliff "CH" Hilty, Alby and I spend a little more time planning the possibility of getting to Alamogordo or even Moriarty. We decide that if (1) Alby and I make it to Deming early enough, (2) Albuquerque Center clears us to fly through the R-5107 (White Sands Missile Range) restricted airspace, and (3) the weather that direction looks good enough, we will divert northeast to attempt one of those alternate destinations.


The flight plan, as far as landable turnpoints to El Paso goes, consists of Cascabel, Willcox, Lordsburg, Deming, Dona Anna, and finally Horizon Airport (formerly West Texas Airport, on the east side of El Paso).

9 AM
Did I say the weather forecast was good? Mike "WA" Stringfellow stopped by during the wipe down to brief us. "There's good news, and interesting news," he said. "The good news is that today looks better than yesterday. The interesting news is that the low pressure system stalled in a position to bring in more moisture on your course line than was previously expected. Look for CUs over most of New Mexico." That was great news!By 10:30a we have the glider ballasted (45 gallons), programmed and ...

11 AM
All systems ready for launch! I am feeling both nervous and optimistic. (A few extra butterflies because this flight brings back some rich memories of an identical flight I did from El Tiro to El Paso on June 5th 2004, almost exactly 5 years earlier. It remains the only straight-out goal I've ever attempted, and I was about to try it again, but this time with better weather, a better glider, and no excuses!)

11:30 AM
Giddy-up! I slap Cliff's horse on the flank and send him on down I-10.
11:52 AM
Alby and I launch at El Tiro. Three minutes later I release in 3 knots at 2600 AGL. The sky to the east is mostly blue but well to the northeast some white puffies are visible.

After reaching 9000' (the field elevation is 2100') I flew west to find something over the higher ground nine miles from the field. Halfway there I stopped to turn in a few knots, and when this was suddenly disappearing after only 1000' gain, I spied some dust devils on course eight miles to the northeast. I pushed the nose down and connected with the first of them. That got me to 11,500' and from there I headed toward Mt Lemmon, 35 miles east. Some CUs were showing up just northeast of there.
12:48 PM
We arrive south of Mt Lemmon at 9k, just below the peak. The lift to this point has been marginal, but then the day is still young. At this point in the flight the goal is to find the higher lift around Mt Lemmon to get to Cascabel, 30 miles east. With the wind coming from the SSW, I search along the Pusch Ridge southwest of Mt Lemmon for some adiabatic lift, and find some, eventually working it to 12,500'. This is good enough for a glide to Cascabel, so off we go. Still solid blue, but I can see CUs forming way to the north and east. I hope my kindred spirit Alby is enjoying this as much as I.
1:15 PM
After a long, sink-riddled glide to Cascabel (a remote dusty strip by the San Pedro River way out in a place you absolutely have to be going to to get to), I finally hit a few knots at 8500'. (I was thankful not to be nearly as low there as I was five years earlier, when I caught a butt-thumper at pattern altitude above the strip.) Ten minutes later I resumed course at 13,000'.

The clouds to the north and east look like they were getting farther away. Cliff, who is well ahead of us on the east side of Tucson, reports CUs north of Willcox and lots of dust devils by the freeway.

On course to Willcox I stop in just about all the air I encounter that's going up. The day is still young and landout options far between, so I don't take any chances, especially with CUs visible (maybe 50 miles) to the east.

North of Willcox I'm finally up to 14,000' and now confident that the day will end at one of the three planned destinations.
2:25 PM
After an hour and ten minutes of glide-and-turn in blue but strong skies, I finally reach the CUs twelve miles north of the ghost town of Steins. The first one is a dud but the second one is decidedly not - 9.2 knots to 16,600'. This flight is now in the serious No Excuses stage. I hear Alby telling me how much fun he's having, and how beautiful this part of America is. I say yes, I agree, but it's even more beautiful from this altitude!

I curse myself, yet again, for forgetting to pack a camera in the cockpit.
3 PM
I call Albuquerque Center and ask about the R-5107 (White Sands Missile Range) restricted area. Will we go toward Alamogordo (and possibly Moriarty), or continue to Texas?

Some very thick cloud cover to the north and east has me slightly concerned about the weather that way. Alas, Albuquerque Center reports that the R-5107 is hot. (The tone in his voice suggests that it's a dumb question - "Eh? It's always hot!" is the message I get.)
So, El Paso here we come.
~3:30 PM
(Conversation overheard in cockpit)
What's that over there?
Alby, that's the Deming Aerostat. Ask Randy Acree about those. No, we're not going any closer.
Why did you stop turning in that thermal? Dude that was like 14 knots and you just waived it goodbye.
We have an altitude limit, my friend. We can't go above 18,000', and to play it safe we absolutely stay below 17,500'.
Cool! But this is still the highest I've ever been.
Yeah, I bet you tell that to all the taxi drivers. And yes, it's cool, I'm freezing my toes off!
Can I have a bite of your apple?
No. I'll explain later.
What are those big round things down there?
Cowboy hats, Alby. Welcome to Texas!
4 PM
We cross the border into my home state of Texas at 16,000'. At this point I have enough altitude to fly well over the El Paso Class C, but to play it safe I skirt the perimeter around the north and east side. (Horizon Airport, formerly West Texas Airport, is tucked into the east side of the Class C, just west of the city of Horizon.)

Exactly as the forecasts predicted, the sky to the east of El Paso looks lower and less organized than to the west. Cliff reports that the Garmin nav is showing a 5:30pm arrival time at Horizon Airport, so to kill time, I head southeast in an attempt to pick up a cloud street following the line of the Rio Grande starting around Fabens, about 25 miles away. This is the worst leg of the flight! Nothing but down, down, down until I turn around before losing my ability to land at Horizon. Just before getting back to Horizon I find some lift to work back to 12k.
6 PM (local - now an hour later than AZ)
With Cliff still a half hour out, I head to a street to the northeast, and this one works much better. Thirty miles later I turn around to head back and call it a day. Alby says he's hungry, what's the possibility of a real Texas steak for dinner? I tell him, "pretty darn good, pardner. You'll like it better than the fish those Californians have been giving you! Better than any apple, too."

7:07 PM2NO and Alby full stop at Horizon Airport
















As promised, Alby gets a steak dinner at the famous Cattleman's Restaurant (which is a turnpoint in the El Paso database!). The wine is Bin 38 - a very fine 2002 Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape Grenache Noir. If you think that sounds good, you shoulda tried the 10 ounce aged filet!







9 PM
Alby says goodnight with a Thank You to Sergio for organizing his journey across this great country of ours. The El Paso club doesn't do much cross country (not surprising, being boxed in by the Class C west, Mexico south, R-510x north, and the next landable point to the east just short of San Antonio!), so hopefully someone from Alamogordo or even Moriarty will be able to trailer down and fly Alby to his next destination.

Alby, CH (pin #9) and 2NO (pin #10) at the Cattleman's Steakhouse


View Flight on OLC
Alby in the News

The flight of the Albatross across our Country caught the attention and the fantasy of a newsmaker, Adam Breen, who published a well written and inspired article in Hollister's "The Pinnacle" newspaper: www.pinnaclenews.com/news/contentview.asp?c=255106

Alby's Story

Alby is a Laysan Albatross. He was born and raised in the Midway Islands, not far from the very same Laysan Island that gives names to all the individuals of his species. His parents fed him for six months. They alternated trips of one or two weeks, during which one of them was feeding and the other was protecting Alby and the nest. The long intervals were necessary because often the food was very far away, up to 400 or 600 miles away. They fed him until he became as big as them, and then suddenly deserted him. They did that because they instinctively knew that he was developed enough to take care of himself from then on. And they could not spend all their energies in raising a chick. Although they can live 40 to 60 years, they can only raise a chick every couple of years.

The young albatross did not know all the tricks of life at sea, and the first year he had difficulties at times. One half of the fledglings do not make it through the first season, but Alby did, and everything was much easier after that. He went out on the open ocean and did not come back for years, not touching land at all, living off the bounty of the ocean, sleeping on it, learning to travel using the wind forcing the air up against the moving ridges formed by the waves.

Alby came back to his native island when he was three years old, because his biological clock was giving him the urge to look for a mate. His tentative dances with prospective mates were as clumsy as those of the other young albatrosses around him. Naturally nothing happened, but he experienced and practiced the ways of the elders.

He is 4 years old now. He has wandered the ocean all this time. He has gone through the vast expanses of water finding food, freedom, and safety. He has gone to the north Pacific and flown around the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska and the fiords of British Columbia. Next year he will try again to go back to his birthplace to search for a mate, and probably will find one.

Albatrosses are at home in the open ocean, keeping at least 30 miles offshore. But Alby is different. He is curious about the land, just as curious as a young soul can be. In his voyages near the northern seashores he watched eagles fishing for salmons. That was not his preferred food, but he looked with interest at this different method of fishing. He communicated with the eagles, answering their whistles with his screeches.

He is fascinated by the land, but unable to penetrate it - he is used to mastering the wind over the waves, and the different way of flying inland is unfamiliar to him. He asked Eagle about the extent of the land, and Eagle said that there is land up to the summit of those far away mountains to the east, and more.

One day he met Pelican, and while they were floating and chatting over the gentle waves of a mild afternoon he learned that Pelican had actually been inland while flying with his flock. He had flown across the fertile valley of California, and over the magnificent mountains of the Sierra Nevada and farther more to the northeast. Alby learned that inside the land, beyond those far away mountains, there is a great lake, and peaks with snow, and forests and valleys, and towns and people.

Pelican described the beauty of the land, which is called America, according to what he heard when people talked about it. Being a sociable character, when he was inside the land Pelican also had contacted other big birds and knew a good deal about what lay farther inside that large country.

Pelican learned from the other birds that there are large deserts and arid mountains in the interior highlands. There are very few people in those deserts, few roads, few machines. Nature is mostly untouched by man there, with many animals running free. The air is not disturbed by artificial smells and mechanical noises. It takes many days of overflying this natural environment before reaching the majestic mountains of the Continental Divide. Here the land is green again with large forests. Snow may remain up to late summer, the rocks are harsh and austere.

From there one can overfly the vast farmlands that gradually decrease in elevation until they make room for the mighty rivers that cut the America land in two. Pelican had also contacted seagulls that told him about more land to cross going east, with plenty of houses and towns and people. There are cities sporting very high buildings that tower up toward the sky. There are rivers and lakes where an aquatic bird can feed. He heard tales from vultures and hawks that there is another long range of lower mountains and beyond that, couple of days away as the crow flies, there is ocean again.

Alby would like to go inland, see the beauty of the country, but he is not fit to go there. He does not know how to master the thermals the way eagles, pelicans and other birds with big wings travel there. He is made for the ocean.

Still he would like to go and try to cross this enormous island that he cannot cross, and get to the sea on the other side.

One day he flies along the shore, and sees some very big wings flying along the cliffs of the big town called San Francisco, as he understands people call this place.

Approaching those big wings, he realizes that there are people hanging on them. He discovers then that people cannot fly on their own, but have created artificial wings that support them. He knows what they are doing; he knows how to fly along the cliffs. He knows that, ‘cause such was the very kind of flight he took when he left his nest for the first time.

Soon those cliffs become a favorite place for Alby. He flies there often and so close to the flying people that learns many of the words they speak. He listens and learns that there are even bigger and faster flying machines with long wings for the people that like to fly like birds, which are called gliders or sailplanes. And there are flying crafts with propelling engines, capable of transporting many people at high speed. He understands now what are those enormously high flying machines that cross the ocean, so high that he barely can hear their sound through the whistle of the wind.

The flying people are impressed by the unusual behavior of this albatross, which so often flies with them instead of flying far away in the ocean like others members of the same species. They imagine that Alby wants to travel ashore, but does not trust doing it by himself.

The soaring people offer to take Alby inland, and to show him the beauty of the countryside. They offer to take him aboard their flying machines and let him cross this big island in silent winged crafts, no noises, no vibrations, no offending gas smells.

Alby accepts the invitation. He wants to see the mountains, the valleys, the lakes, the deserts and the forests, and the towns and the towers, and the roads and the bridges and the rivers of this beautiful land called America. He realizes that it is not possible for him to travel here alone, without the help of the flying people.

So the soaring people take Alby in their silent aircrafts across that vast territory. They understand. Because they themselves share the curiosity, the need for adventure, the thirst for knowledge of that young spirit. They share the independence that flying gives, the endless autonomous decisions that need to be taken in this constantly moving environment. They know the far-reaching view that this privileged position allows. But most of all, they share the elation of infinite freedom by being immersed in the sky, floating, suspended in the brilliance of this transparent ocean. Those are the reasons why they aimed for the skies, and now they cannot live any more without the magic of flight.

They take Alby with them, in the togetherness that unites all aviators. Alby’s great voyage has just begun.


Rules

ORGANIZATION OF THE VOYAGE

This website is recording the flights of Alby, his whereabouts and his flight log. The webmaster of the site is the Albymaster. All news and inquiries about Alby will be handled by this site.

Alby wishes to soar across America. He wishes to see it all, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, and then resume his wandering life across the seas.

Alby flies only in aircraft that use the energy contained in the atmosphere as a means for traveling. Motorgliders can use their engine only for taking off.

A proposal to fly with Alby shall be sent to the Albymaster. A proposal shall include a pre-declaration of the proposed flight.

Preference will be given, in order, to the site that is closer to Alby’s current location, to the first proponent in order of time, to soaring clubs or associations, to groups of pilots, or to an individual pilot. This means, for example, that an individual pilot has to wait for the soaring club to fail its attempt, before making its own attempt.

A club or pilot that has proposed to fly with Alby and has been accepted by the Albymaster, will be called the Albypilot. When a proposal is accepted, the flight should be made before the end of the next Friday.

If no other Albypilots have made the flight on their assigned week, the hosting club or pilot will have the right to make the flight before the end of the next Friday. If the host did not propose or is not able to make the flight, the next Albypilot shall make the flight before the end of the next Friday. And so on.

RULES FOR THE FLIGHT

Gliders can be towed to an altitude not exceeding 3,000’above take-off. Motorgliders will shut off their engine before that altitude is reached. The release or engine shut-off point shall be west of the take off field.

Each landing point will be to the east of the take-off point. If difficulties arise, an occasional back leg may happen, when accepted by the Albymaster.

The flight should end in a soaring site, or a place from where a glider can be towed out. If the flight does not end in the pre-declared location, the Albypilot or a pilot of the same club still have to the end of the next Friday to try and complete the flight as declared. If the pre-declared location still is not reached, Alby must be taken back where it started (not necessarily by flying).

Both the current host of Alby and the new host shall communicate the outcome of the flight to the Albymaster.

If the flight cannot be made before the end of the next Friday by the first Albypilot, it is the responsibility of the first Albypilot to give notice of the inability to make the flight, with timely courtesy, to the Albymaster, to the host, and to the second proponent in line.

The Albypilot who flies with Alby is responsible for keeping good care of him. When the Albypilot represents a soaring club or association, the representative of the club or association will be responsible for the well being of Alby.

The above rules may be superseded by the Albymaster when atypical circumstances arise.

Order of Preferences:

1 - The club that is closer to Alby’s current location
2 - The club that proposes first in order of time
3 - Clubs, soaring associations, soaring centers
4 - Group of pilots
5 - Individual pilots

ACCESSORY RULES

When start altitude, release to the west, landing to the east are difficult because of special local conditions, an exception may be requested to the Albymaster.

When an Albypilot cannot make the flight in the week he/she has been assigned, another Albypilot can make the flight provided he/she has been accepted by the Albymaster.

LOGBOOK, LAPEL PINS, SPOT DEVICE, GPS TRACE

LOGBOOK - Alby travels with a logbook. The Albypilot will fill out the log entry and sign it. The flight data will be e-mailed to the Albymaster and an entry will be placed in the website logbook. A description of the flight and pictures may also be sent along with the flight data, to be posted in the website. Enter all flights, successfull or not.

LAPEL PINS - The Alby case contains lapel pins. The pilot(s) successfully accomplishing a flight will get one pin each. The lapel pins are numbered. Check in the log book for the last pin number and take the subsequently numbered pin(s). If the flight is not successfull, place a bar in the last column (Pin No.). Please guard carefully the pins, we do not want them to misteriously disappear.

SPOT DEVICE - The SPOT device is to be placed in the glider in a place where there is sufficient visual contact with the outside (inside a shirt pocket is OK). It is to be used during the flight and placed in Alby's case when not flying. Instructions for use are in the case.

GPS TRACE - Pilots are encouraged to send their GPS log no matter how successfull the flight, as it will be posted in the map (flying with Alby is already a great success, to be recorded and displayed). Alternatively, it can be downloaded to OLC.

DISCLAIMER

Pilots who participate in Alby’s voyage acknowledge that it is a voluntary effort, and that the timing, route selection, weather decisions, and all other aspects of the flight are the sole responsibility of the pilot in command of the aircraft in which Alby is transported. The Organizers of Alby’s voyage, retain all rights to the concept, images, logbook, Alby trophy, and eventual chronicle of the journey, but neither they nor volunteers involved in the project nor the Pacific Soaring Council (PASCO) nor the Soaring Society of America (SSA) are in any way responsible for the decisions of the pilots that carry Alby in their aircraft. When pilots propose to carry Alby on part of his journey, they warrant that they have sufficient experience and will exercise all due caution to ensure the safety of their flights. By allowing pilots to carry Alby, the Organizers of the Alby project are merely keeping track of and attempting to facilitate the continued progress of Alby’s voyage.

WAIVER AND ASSUMPTION OF LIABILITY

Please accept me as a participant in the Alby voyage. In consideration of acceptance of this entry, for myself, my heirs, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors or assigns I hereby release and discharge the Organizers, The Pacific Soaring Council (PASCO) THE SOARING SOCIETY OF AMERICA, INC., and their agents, representatives, employees, successors or assigns from any and all claims for damages or injuries suffered by me or by any member of my crew during the aforementioned soaring venture.

I further agree to assume full responsibility for and to indemnify, defend and hold the aforementioned entities and persons harmless from any and all legal obligations for damages to personal property owned by, or injuries suffered by, any spectator or contestant or personnel of the aforementioned entities, or by any other person or entity, which may be caused directly or indirectly by my participation in the venture. I further certify that I have read, understand, and agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the aforementioned endeavor.

I fully understand and agree that I am waiving any claim for damages that I may suffer by virtue of any act of negligence arising in the future by any act or omission of any of the aforementioned entities or persons or their agents, representatives or employees, and that the consideration for this waiver is the permission by the sponsoring or presenting bodies of the aforementioned venture allowing me to participate in the said venture and that such permission is being granted me in the reliance upon this waiver as set forth in this entry form.



Logbook


Tracking the flights with SPOT


Tracking the flights with SPOT



Where in the world is Alby?



Scroll below to follow Alby flying in real time. For more detailed information on the flight go to our Spot satellite tracking page.



Position updates are broadcast in real time every 10 minutes, although occasionally there may be delays. If Alby is not flying at this time, the trace shows Alby's most recent flight. Traces are left posted for the duration of one week only. However, the flight can be seen on OLC.