Monday, July 04, 2005

Flying by the seat of one's pants

I've read about it, I've flown with people who tried to teach it, and I've felt hints of it before. But yesterday in the Grob was the first time I've clearly felt the lift of a thermal more consistently than I could detect it on the variometer. And yesterday's lift wasn't all that great.

The varios in the Grob are not as straightforward to use as the ones in the Blaniks. There are two: one directly connected to the static system, and one electric. The electric one is (at least yesterday) very "nervous", jumping up to 4-6kt for just a half-second, then back down to 1-2kt just as fast. I found it hard to use for centering a thermal. The direct one is less jumpy, but much slower to react. OK for gauging the strength of a thermal over time, or the strength of a shear line. But not useful for finding the center of a small or weak thermal.

Since I'm still getting used to the turn and rudder characteristics of the Grob, I spent a lot of time looking at the horizon, yaw string, and airspeed indicator. Then sometimes I would feel a silent "whoosh" upward, check the vario, and sure enough I was in about 1-2kt lift. Very cool!

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