Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thoughts on a non-flying day

In the last flight (task4) I was on glide to goal from 25km out at 12:1 (finally got one right). I was flying at about 65mph and for whatever reason sneezed. A split second later I realized I had to make the conscious decision to close my mouth (it was still inflated open by the airspeed). The humour of this little situation tickled me and I found myself sniggering to myself as I blazed into goal at 200 feet. Its a little random but I thought I would share...

We did not fly yesterday on account of stormy weather. So I spent a fair bit of the day thinking about flying instead. I have been making goal more consistently but I am still getting my arse kicked. Jonny and Len (A great Aussy pilot) have given me a few clues, saying I am turning to much. This means I am not thermaling efficiently, and stopping in weaker lift when there are stronger climbs to be had. One of the things I have noticed is that the thermals seem to behave differently out here (or is it that I have only just noticed a dimension to thermals that I haven't before?). Either way the thermals seem much wider sometimes even a few km wide, with many cores. Better pilots slide, turn and yaw through the thermal, until they get to the main core of the thermal. The core is by no means in the centre, and will often move with altitude and time. So how do they do that? Is it all by feel and practice?

Thermals are invisible, but the evidence is not. So we form pictures in our mind of what the thermal is like based on the evaluation of our senses, feel, sight and even smell and sound. This model, takes into account assumptions and constants sometimes that are not correct. The more sophisticated the model, the fewer assumptions and constants there are. So I have been re-evaluating : what assumptions I am making, and what I maybe thought constant, often subconsciously. This is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe an analogy might be driving a car. How often do we consciously consider the friction coefficient of the road surface and our tyres, taking into account the surface (lose gravel, oil, water, holes, camber) suspension travel, weight of the car, centripetal forces, suspension damping effects). There is more to travelling safely and efficiently than the speed limit. Hopefully you get the idea, these evaluations are not always conscious, it is the same with flying. The more sophisticated the model the better pilot you may be, providing prioritization of the most important factors can be managed.

I've also been thinking about the points system now I am making goal a little more regularly. I will leave that for another blog. Day6 of 9 today. Tomorrow is Steve's memorial service, no flying tomorrow. More soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know how a toilet flushes in the opposite direction south of the equator... maybe.. ;)