October 24, 2009

The First Thermal is Always the Hardest

With 170 hours in the cockpit this summer, I have greatly expanded both my depth and breadth of soaring experiences. But as I stand around the glider port here in Tehachapi, Ca I often cross paths with pilots who have been flying longer than I have even been alive; I clearly have a long way to go! So the question becomes; how do you catch up without losing your job for taking too many “blue flu” days? I believe the answer lays in a rule of thumb from back in college, “for every hour spent in class you should spend 2 hours studying”. So I figure I need to spend 340 hours this winter studying soaring. Lucky for me, along with a love of airplanes and flying I was born an engineer, and engineers love to analyze data. Now that the sun is setting earlier and earlier, the thermals are drying up, and the winds are starting to blow I have more time to research and read about the science of soaring flight. That’s where the idea for this blog originated; The Soaring Laboratory will capture all the interesting ideas, data, and results that I develop or find as I press forward with my study of soaring. Some articles will be original works, some will rely heavily on the work done by others, and some will bring together the voices various pilots on soaring technique. The articles will follow the rigor required of scientific study, however great effort will be made for the major points and any conclusions to be clearly stated for all to understand. I may even add humor if I think people are actually reading what I am writing.

For an example of the type of information to be presented I would like to share a website that I found very interesting. It answers the question, “what would it look like if a large selection of soaring flights from 1997 to 2003 from around the world were plotted on one map?” The website (http://www.pfg.dk/termikanalyse/) is the product of a Denmark soaring club called Polytechnic Flight Group, I would suggest using this link for the translated version of their website. The source of the plotted flight data is unclear for years 1997-2002. The 2003 data appears to be from the OLC and amazing learning resource and a topic of a future blog post. For now enjoy sifting through the data; I find it very interesting the amazing disparity in the number of flight in Germany as compared to the rest of the world. For the time period studied, Germany accounted for 20912 flights, about 2 times the 2nd place country, Austria. However because the data source and collection methods are ambiguous only general trends can evaluated. Here is an image of all flights in North America.

Keep soaring,

1 comment:

  1. Michael,

    This looks great. I'm really excited to read about your research and findings. This is a great contribution to soaring. Keep it up!