It may be the closest thing to flying like a bird: catching thermal lifts and soaring, rising or descending at will over breathtaking scenery.
It also does a reasonable job of explaining our sport to those unfamiliar with it.
"Because of its geographic and atmospheric conditions, the Truckee area is one of the five or six best places for soaring on Earth," says Joe Silvestri, manager of Soar Truckee Inc. "The scenery is especially beautiful, and long flights in the summer months are easily attainable because of the tremendous lift."
The lift Silvestri speaks of is thermal lift. It's caused by rising currents of air created when the sun has heated the ground.
Those currents are especially prevalent over mountainous terrain. Even though invisible, they are easily sensed by an experienced pilot, who will usually do his best to maneuver to stay near the core of the thermal, letting it carry him higher until it begins to dissipate.
There are other types of lift, such as ridge lift and wave soaring, but thermals remain the name of the game.
Without them, a sailplane would have no way of gaining altitude. With them, pilots have been known to soar for more than 1,000 miles.
There's a lot of good info pulled from local experts like Joe Silvestri of Soar Truckee.
It is a very well done article if you don't know much at all about glider or the sport of soaring. Make sure to scroll all the way down on that page to see some of the pictuers that go with the article.
Posted by jzawodn at September 25, 2005 11:36 AM