Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wave in Central New York?

Even after a quarter century of soaring I am still amazed with the ability of soaring aircraft to remain aloft. On the majority of days there is at least enough air movement to keep us flying, though sometimes not enough to confidently venture away from the safety of our home field.

On this mid-winter afternoon with a light west breeze we found enough lift to keep us flying for about 3 hours in Jeff's Lambada. All the time with the engine idling at 0 thrust. We spent most of the afternoon fairly low running along the windward sides of the low hills bordering our N-S glacial valleys. Lift was weak but consistent and occasionally we came across stronger lift that allowed us to climb a couple thousand feet.

We made our way from Skaneateles to south of Moravia where at below a 1,000 feet we came across a thermal that gave us enough height to head SE and on to Cortland for a fuel stop.

Leaving Cortland with the engine once again idling we made our way up the Tully valley working lift along the hill face. Just south of the long gone Thermal Ridge soaring site we picked up a thermal that carried us to cloud base. From there we headed west and upwind to the Otisco valley.

The clouds were arranged parallel to the hills and across the wind. We began to suspect there was some weak wave action. We were right. After crossing blue sky and over the Otisco Lake valley we turned north and ran under this next band of clouds. The lift was weak and finally forced us to power up and climb before reducing power and turning west again towards the Skaneateles Lake valley. Leaving weak lift under the clouds we expected to encounter sink through the blue. But we didn't. Instead we continued to climb in perfectly smooth air.

Wave! It must be.

Turning north we continued to climb. Higher than the line of clouds to either side if the valley. Finally topping out at over 5,000 feet. Beautiful...

Once again I am amazed at the ability of soaring aircraft to make use of even the slightest movements of the atmosphere and remain aloft. Also, I appreciate the opportunities that flying a motor-glider such as the UTM Lambada opens up. While I might have been able to stay up a few hours Monday in my Libelle, it would have been unwise if not impossible to head out exploring the snow covered landscape as we did without the confidence of the Rotax idling in front.

Thanks for inviting me along for a fantastic afternoon Jeff!

1 comment:

Kathleen Jacques said...

Once again I am grateful for George's splendid photos and vivid commentary that makes me feel as if I, too, have been aloft. Thanks for the ride George!