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Gliding - a good complement to powered GA?

Peter wrote:

How do glider pilots work out what the wind pattern is likely to be?

Statistics I saw software crunching data uploaded after the flights (by many pilots), resulting in forecasts for certain weather conditions (winds, thermals).

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Peter wrote:

How do glider pilots work out what the wind pattern is likely to be?

There is generic or personal knowledge that particular weather pattern will create wave in certain location or that certain ridge works in certain wind angle/direction or airmass provenance is particularly good (like the polar air on Easter Monday in the UK after the front).
This can be backed by statistic built form GPS trace as @Emir mentioned.

There are also (both free and subscription based) weather services which take the output of GFS, ICON, ECWMF, Arpege, … generic weather model and either used them to rerun some tweaked models or calculate data suitable for soaring from the raw data. By example, this is RASP, Skysight, TopMeteo

Nympsfield, United Kingdom

Another one today – very slightly shorter at 1106km. 11hrs!

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

You might not believe it but my plane has an old sticker from the gliderport at Calcinate del Pesce, installed by a previous owner who spent a lot of time in the area for work and flew there. I stopped there a few years ago to get a replacement sticker, in conjunction with a stop at the Cagiva/MV/Aermacchi HQ down the road.

It’s easy to imagine the beauty and excitement of making a long silent flight along the Alps from there.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 08 Apr 01:32

Peter wrote:

How do glider pilots work out what the wind pattern is likely to be?

For the general wind direction the normal forecasts are just fine. And as one can see in the altitude charts most of the two flights have not been in waves but normal ridge upwinds. The tactical decisions are then not based on forecast but on the actual situation you find locally.
If you have strong stable general wind from the south and fly along the south side of the alps, it is not so difficult to always find a ridge that keeps you in the air. The (significant) challenges of such flights are more the duration (keeping the mental fitness up for 11 hrs…) and even more keeping the speed required for doing 1200km in a day.

Germany

I would think one needs to plan a lot of land-away sites on a flight like that, and perhaps organise someone to collect you. But that will be difficult along such a long route, so you will have to be prepared to spend the night out somewhere.

The other thing is that you can’t fly in darkness, or can you?

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

I would think one needs to plan a lot of land-away sites on a flight like that, and perhaps organise someone to collect you. But that will be difficult along such a long route, so you will have to be prepared to spend the night out somewhere.

My glider time is 20+ years ago (but I spent some nice summers in Aosta…) but some thoughts your questions at least from that perspective:
- For the main parts of the alps there are good catalogs of land away sites. And I assume these days they are already integrated in the maps of the GPS flight computers you have in these kind of planes anyways.
- Identifying a suitable spot for landing is a significant part of learning to fly gliders. So in most terrain you do not even need a catalog. Obviously it is not so easy in mountainous terrain…
- … but that limitation is mainly relevant over the central alps. As you can see in your plot, most part of the route has been flown on the southern edge of the alps. While the flight has been close to the ground at the specific spot, it has been substantially over the altitude of the adjacent northern Italy terrain of the Po-Flats. The Ventus 2CXA he used has a glide ratio of about 50 – so with the about 3000m MSL he had during most of the flight he would get up to 150km into the Po-flats. And that is the main escape plan for such flights from Aosta if you have wind from the south.
- Yes, part of flying a glider has always been to organize somebody to get you back – it’s a team sport! These days, however, most of the high performance sailplanes have some kind of motor to get you to the next airfield in case you do not make it home so the need for actually putting the plane in a trailer is significantly reduced.

Peter wrote:

The other thing is that you can’t fly in darkness, or can you?

Theoretically you can as long as there is wind but it would be a very very very bad idea! You fly close to (un,ightened) terrain and landing away from airfields is part of the plan – plus most glider fields do not ha a lighting system either. So yes, if you are ridge soaring you could (and it has been done for some record breaking flights) but you simply don’t

Germany

No gliding experience but I believe having a Glider PPL, and ideally up to Silver, helps bump up the CV with some airlines. It also reduces the hour building requirement on the modular CPL (Silver badge).

There is a bit of a symbiosis with the Super Cub fraternity as the Super Cub and Pawnee are still acting as glider tugs.

Oxford (EGTK)

Peter wrote:

I would think one needs to plan a lot of land-away sites on a flight like that, and perhaps organise someone to collect you. But that will be difficult along such a long route, so you will have to be prepared to spend the night out somewhere.

You have posted a flight with an Arcus M, essentially a self launching sailplane. The chances of an outlanding with self-launching motor gliders are dramatically reduced compared to “straight” gliders.

Also, while the alps are challenging to fly and without diminishing the performance of the pilots, I am much more fascinated by the 1000km flights in Club class gliders, like this one in the Jantar 3 https://www.weglide.org/flight/18268

Other flights are very remarkable without touching the 1000 km mark, like this 750 km FAI triangle in Denmark: https://www.weglide.org/flight/13514 Although the ASH26 is a very capable glider (also with an engine), he was quite low overhead lolland.

Flights that are much too less recognised are those with old aircraft, like this 360km triangle with an SF-25b: https://www.weglide.org/flight/8600

Weglide is a much nicer platform to view flights and stories than OLC – I hope that more nations/gliderpilots will use it in future.
mh
Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany
Nympsfield, United Kingdom
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