Invisible Wave

I’ve flown on the ridges, along and through a strong convergence, and now I have worked into an invisible wave.  This was a mainly blue day with only hints of wave action in the stationary scruffy clouds that occasionally materialized. Trevor Florence and I struggled to get up on some broken cumulous lift.  Finally we were high enough. Trevor then gave me a superb demonstration of the techniques needed to break up into the wave.  He plunged into the sink in front of the rotor cloud and then pushed up almost into a stall waiting to see if the wave had been pierced.  The first couple of times, nothing happened, no sense of laminar flow.  Then like magic, he forced the glider through the rotor and suddenly, quietly, we were in lift.  At first the glider ascended slowing, but as we rose, the lift intensified.  I could not feel the increase, but the audio-vario started screaming and the nettle pegged out as our rate of assent increased. At 70 knots, we were stationary over the ridge.  As we moved forward, Trevor advised me how to line up with the next ridge and stay in the lift.

What a wonder it is.  At first we were going up 4 kits in smooth stuff.  Then as we moved forward, we finally got into the core of the lift and went up at about 17 up, moving quickly to the altitude restricted area at 14,000’. With a field elevation of 1,400’ that is a climb of 12,600’.  What fun.  And how informative.  When I am flying out west, I must be missing some wave lift. I will experiment with this entry technique when the wind is strong enough. I will also remember that one of the other gliders in the wave went from 17 up down to just 4 up and within a second, into 17 down. That means that the glider is dropping at the rate of 1,700 feet a minute. ( I’ll insert the exact figure later, but that is the rounded number.) The earth is getting larger rather quickly at that rate of descent. Fortunately, they got out of the sink, and had plenty of altitude for the trip home.

I continue to be amazed how friendly people are. I talk with at least a dozen different people each day.  Tonight I was drinking a few beers with Jeff Campbell, a tow pilot from Colorado, and a nice young couple from Queenstown.  Dagmar, the creative chef and free-spirit, took the night off. That meant that the rest of us would get out the beers, pay for them and close up the place when we finished. Nothing is actually locked up at night. All the buildings are home to all of us at any hour of the day or night.  I love the strange aircraft stories that are told on the café patio.  It’s amazing the variety of weird things that can happen that are in no way like anything I have ever heard.  John and I enjoyed talking about the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, who he often tows for. That is the group of 126ers that I flew with in Parowan.  The Gang goes to all the challenging West Coast locations. The fly only down wind and land out every day. In the morning some repair their ships using duct tape.

At the end of the evening the young couple invited me to spend the night at their home on my way north from Milford Sound. I didn’t see hospitality on the NorthIsland, but the South Island is a friendly as the American South.  It must be a Southern thing.

Tomorrow I leave Omarama and head off for the high priority tourist destination, Milford Sound.  The West Coast is usually rather damp, but it looks like I may be fortunate enough to have some sunlight while I’m there.