Archive for May, 2008

Opposite Day

Ten Thousand Feet over Warkworth

Saturday was “Opposite Day.”  The lift was everywhere it wasn’t supposed to be.  It was completely overcast with cirrus cloud so we didn’t expect to find thermals - we found good thermals averaging 4 knots or more.  There was a strong wind blowing straight onto the ridges - but there was no ridge lift.  There were lenticular wave clouds at our height - but no wave lift.  The cumulus clouds were bent over by the wind and parts of them were descending - that’s where we found the best lift.  It was like flying upside-down; everything that should be down was up.

The most unbelieveable moment was looking at the final-glide calculation at 9000ft, 13km out.  The computer said we weren’t going to make it home.  If we were to attempt to fly home at best-glide speed, we would have ended up being blown backwards and could not make it home, from any height.  The computer was absolutely right: when I turned back for Warkworth, the headwind was so strong that we were making no headway at all.  Fortunately that high speed wind was only in a narrow layer so we were able to descend out of it and fly home with no trouble.

Edit: I just realised that the photo above was probably taken during the time that we were nominally out of glide range.  The Warkworth airstrip can be seen as a bright stripe in between the two clouds, partially underneath the smaller cloud.  It doesn’t look very far away, does it?

Ten Thousand Feet