It was one of those balls to the wall kind of things in that my FM radio (walkie talkie) died shortly after launch and my flying partner and our HS student chase driver lost contact with me within the first 5 minutes of the flight. I had borrowed my buddy's radio and he had forgotten to charge it. So before I got to a thousand feet (above the ground) the radio started giving out. I flew the first 10-15 miles by watching my flying buddy's location while working the thermals. Then at roughly the 15 mile mark I had to make a decision to either follow my buddy to the west and follow what he thought was good lift or continue heading north north west in what I thought would pan out (while still being reachable by road via chase driver). I chose to stay my course to the NNW and found a good thermal to work that got me back to 5k or so in altitude. My friend got shot down and landed within 2-3 mile after that and our chase driver picked him up. From that point I was on my own and that second portion of the flight was probably some of the best flying I ever had the opportunity to do.
Normally I would (should I say wood?) work the lift above 5 thousand feet before heading downwind looking for my next thermal (heading NNW), but with no one following me I needed to be more aggressive and would head out earlier at 4,500 feet or less sometimes. I would glide NNW feeling/listening (to my variometer/vertical airspeed indicator) and sometimes got lower than 1,000 feet which was normally a death nil indicator because thermals usually don't kick off below that altitude and you are left scratching out your last glide to landing (in other words looking for a place to land that doesn't have trees, etc.). I remember 3-4 of them before I came up on San Saba. Just south of San Saba I got down to just 900 feet and looking at my watch saw that it was after 5 or 6pm and knew it was late for thermals to still be active. Luckily, I caught what was probably the last thermal of the day just on the south end of town. It was weak, but as I worked it, it took me directly over town and I topped out at nearly 5,500feet above the town with the sun hanging low on the horizon.
My goal had been to try and get to Goldthwaite, TX but that was at least another 20 miles NNE and I couldn't even see it on the horizon. So I started looking around and saw the San Saba Airport. The lift was light but steady at 5,500ft but I started thinking as I looked at the airport,... NO radio, NO water, NO clear goal on the horizon,... so I started circling ever so gently over the airport. I figured the San Saba Airport was as far as I could fly that day and with gentle circles I managed to stay in the air for nearly an hour more, directly over town and the airport before finally landing, not on the airstrip but nearer the airport manager's trailer to the south of the runway (and in the grass). After landing, I unhooked from my glider and walked a couple hundred feet to the trailer and knocked. The gentlemen, a retired sheriff, answered and was amazed that he could not see any motor on my glider. After explaining where I was coming from, he let me call my girlfriend in San Antonio. My flying buddy and I had already arranged to use her as a contact point if and/or when we might lose contact with each other during our flight.
After making contact with the girlfriend, I went back to my glider and started breaking it down and packing it up for transport. Before I could finish with that task my flying buddy and chase driver rolled up at the airport honking and all smiles. They had continued north and had stopped in San Saba to check with my girlfriend in San Antonio, got the message and was nearly at the airport before I got there! It was a great flight that day! And one to remember! I flew nearly 50 miles that day.