Setting land speed records on the Alvord Desert

Steens from Alvord side Harney County, Oregon

Tires grumble in the gravel… no pavement found here…

Too far from civilization say highway commissioners…

And best drive slowly… protect car tires from rock cuts…

 Nothing worse than a flat tire… (unless it is two flat tires) …

Repair is hours away… weeks if you walk…

Behind the car… A plume of dust reaching out like a giant rooster tail…

Announcing our presence… pointing out our direction of travel…

To anything or anyone that cares…

From highway 78… we are headed south toward Fields…

And Denio… on the Oregon border shared with Nevada…

Passing between Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert…

A classic example of basin and range topography…

A pronghorn antelope challenged our car to a race…

Easily keeping ahead of us at 30 mph… we slowly pushed to fifty…

Then he (or was it she) put on a burst… maybe a world record…

For antelopes… only the Cheetah is said to be faster… barely…

The antelope left us in the dust… we admired its pace…

Crystals of ice landing on the hood of the car… precipitation…

Flakes of snow… transformed to liquid by heat from the engine…

Evaporating into the dry air… creating dehydration and drought…

It’s cold here at 4,000 feet… 23 degrees Fahrenheit this morning in May…

Minus five degrees Celsius sounds colder… but it is not.

A mile above us…  the crags of Steens Mountain range to our west…

Wrapped in swirling clouds of snow… drifting deep in winter…

The summit of Steens…  9,733 feet… warm in summer sun…

Melting snow water trickles down from the rim…

Forming a lake in the Alvord basin far below…

Once upon a time Alvord Lake was 300 feet deep…

Dare I say it, climate change evaporated the water…

Leaving salt pan… a perfect surface for setting speed records…

Dust devils spin on playa flats on the ancient lakebed…

Now called a desert… the Alvord… on our eastern flank…

Alvord Desert Harney County, Oregon

Dirt sailors delight in racing their land yachts on the salt pan…

Powered only by wind in the sails… what a blast…

Reaching a record speed of 126.2 miles per hour…

So much faster than the wind… hard to imagine.

Kitty O’Neil was here… December of 1976…

 Riding a high-speed tricycle to a world’s record…

For a woman… 512.7 miles per hour on the average…

She promised not to break the record of 630.4 mph…

Set by a man… and allow a man a try for the record…

She set the power of her tricycle at 60 percent…

The woman’s record was hers… she wanted more…

She wanted a second run… with boosted power…

But the man demanded his chance…

While lawyers wrangled a snowstorm set in…

Ending time trials for the season… no chance…

For man or woman… the season was over.

The man didn’t get his tricycle ride… too bad…

Once upon a time I piloted a fighter jet across this desert…

On the deck… not touching the surface… I pushed the throttle…

afterburner blazing… what was it like at 512 miles per hour…

Breath-taking… an adrenaline rush… lakebed ripping past…

Raising a dust plume while thundering across the Alvord…

Steens Mountain began looming large… rapidly approaching…

Can’t stop… take it vertical… climbing for sky… over the top…

People at the viewpoint… looking down on the Alvord…

Startled to see a jet flash past… upside down… afterburner roaring…

Doing a victory roll… mission accomplished…

Kitty has my admiration… she is on top of the list… in 2019…

Jessica Combs, driving a jet… a F-104 Starfighter without wings…

Named the North American Eagle… A missile with a woman at the controls…

52,000 horsepower… capable of super-sonic speed… she wanted to be first…

She had her eye on the top ranking… the fastest woman on earth…

Something went wrong… no explanation yet… she died in the crash.

She died trying… she said she had no fear… she wouldn’t stop trying…

Keep on trying. Don’t be afraid… keep on trying.

It’s her epitaph.

byLarry

Additional information: https://www.landspeed.com/project/vehicle

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