Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Blue Day

Following my longest flight, I had many chances to do short tows and work on my landings. Which is a nicer way to say that the weekend weather sucked for few weekends after that flight and soaring was out of question. I did experience the “torture by Cumulus” watching nice thick puffy clouds drift by my office windows quite regularly during the weekdays though.

Finally, a day with strong lift arrived, the glider was available and I had an approval for overtime as I was going for a two hour flight (normally only one hour allowed in club’s gliders).

There was only one complication – there were no clouds in the sky. It was the so-called blue day. Blue days happen when there is a temperature inversion in the air mass that prevents cumulus cloud from forming. Or something like that. Bottom line, on a blue day, there is lift, but you generally have no clue where it is.

The tow pilot dropped me right in the good thermal and very shortly I was at 6,000 ft adjusting to the environment. Getting in and out of my “house thermal”, I have established where its boundaries were at different altitudes. As I was circling in it, I also had time to look around and notice where the other gliders were circling.

With those basics down, I went exploring. I briefly ventured north towards Cambridge, but having encountered nothing but sink, I hastily made retreat to the house thermal and re-grouped. As I was re-grouping, I noticed a glider a few miles away over what seemed like a forested area. I did not think that area would produce any lift but I watched the glider shoot up as he centered a thermal and wanted to go there and try it myself.

I made my way to that area and started searching for that bump the usually signals a thermal but initially found nothing but massive sink. Thinking to myself that where there is massive sink, there should be lift, I did a wider circle in that area and finally was rewarded with a surge and my little glider shooting upwards. That thermal was even stronger than the one I was in before and for a little while I used that one as my base to venture further out and explore what else was out there.

Trying to find thermals on a blue day and watching the passing gliders kept me occupied so that two hours few by very fast and I eventually had to come back to the ground. This was another first – soaring on a blue day!

No comments: