12 April 2013

Understanding the flavour of the day

Two lovely, if rather short XC flights for me so far in the UK spring reminded me how each day has its own characteristics. Once you understand out how the day is working it will often hold fast for the main part of that day. Sometimes clouds are the key. On other days the cycles are too short and often when you fly to a cloud it is already starting to decay by the time you arrive. On other days, reading the ground is what will find you your next thermal.
Long Mynd in the distance (6.4.13)
The picture taken on my flight from Corndon last Saturday shows one such day. Those clouds look rather weak and although the shadows are solid, I realised that the bare fields like the ones just past the end of my pod were the ones to go go for, even when I was high. In areas with a mixture of hills and flats/valleys often sticking to the high ground is much more successful. Not only do the hills give good features to act as triggers, but also they may be generally drier. Of course there are no hard and fast rules, but developing a mental model is a great help.

Arriving at the Long Mynd
This was a light wind day so a triangle looked a possibility. After going to the south end of the Long Mynd and admiring the views, I decided to work North. It turned out that the snow-covered high ground and the green fields were poor options and it was only when I returned to the a fore mentioned bare fields that I found lift again.
Was the triangle a success? Unfortunately no and I was left to reflect on a poor site choice for the day. Of the sizable group of us on Corndon, only 2 of us got up all day, whilst up in the Lake District and down south at Leckhampton, many pilots enjoyed great flights!