Tips For The Racing Pilot
About the author
Tony Timmermans has been gliding since 1949. He has represented New
Zealand at the World Championship level, and is a member of the Auckland
Gliding Club. This has been taken from the web site http://www.gliding.co.nz
This is a compilation of things Tony has learned over the years and
passes on to students of cross country soaring.
- Before crossing the startline
try and assess the average thermal strength and from that calculate
the time it will take you to finish the task. From the weather forecast
you know approximately what time the thermals start dying out, and
by deducting your flight time from that, you find your starting time.
If possible let up to 2/3 of the other gliders go ahead and mark thermals
for you. the key to fast cruising is the average strength of thermals
used. thermals that are weaker than the average must be rejected unless
you are low and in danger of landing.
On long glides a deviation of 10 deg. is negligible on cross country
speed, and only deviate more than 20 deg. if climb rate on course
does not exceed 200 ft/min., in which case a deviation of 45 deg.
demands a rate of climb of more than 500 ft/min.
To obtain the highest possible cross-country speed it is imperative
to cover the distance with the maximum amount of straight glides.
Interruptions of the straight glide result in a momentary reduction
to zero of the cross-country speed, but also an added loss of potential
energy due to a higher rate of sink while circling.
The lower you can enter a strong thermal the longer you can take advantage
of it and the faster will be your cross-country speed.
When you have just entered a thermal and are still low, search out
the sky ahead and decide where to go next, as when you are low you
can see the clouds ahead much better.
If you are high for long periods, as in street flying, the only way
to assess what lies ahead is by looking at the shadows of clouds on
In general you will find a thermal which is marked by cloud on the
upwind side of the cloud if wind strength increases with height, and
on the downwind side if wind strength decreases with height.
Also note that on some days the strongest thermals will come off the
highest hills, out of open mines, from swamps, townships, sheltered
valleys and sunny slopes.
On very cloudy days follow the sunny patches.
If your turnpoint is downwind then make sure you are high on going
around. If upwind turn at the lowest safe altitude that will put you
in an average thermal on the next leg.
The last climb before final glide use your final glide calculator,
taking into account thermal strength, wind strength and direction,
distance to go, and the weather on track.
Dolphin soaring - ease off only if less than 450 m, pull up only if
more than 450 m. c ~
The fastest pilot is one who is prepared to take well calculated operational
risks in prolonging glides and sacrificing lift, coupled with good
navigation and reading of weather conditions ahead.
Back to the home