Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Lean

My brother is an avid motorcyclist, owning dirt bikes for years and recently a Harley. He mentioned to me an article (or column) titled "The Lean" in a Harley magazine. The author, often asked what was so attractive about riding the road on a motorcycle, distilled it down to "the lean". That is, the fun of riding the curves and the way you have to (get to) lean the bike into the turns.

I think that's part of the fun of flying a glider: the lean (or the bank). We spend a lot of time turning in banks of 30 degrees to 45 degrees or more. That's something that one doesn't experience in an airliner - they tend to keep to 15 to 30 degree banks to keep people comfortable. But you know what? If you're not afraid of it, the lean is great fun!

It's partly the G-force: 1.4G in a 45-degree turn, 2.0G in a 60-degree turn. That's what makes a roller coaster fun, too.

It's partly the visual: the earth passing by sideways... the wing pointing down at the ground...

Turning a car around a flat city street corner is not the same... centrifugal force pushes the car away from the turn and does not feel natural. Taking a car at speed through a properly banked mountain curve or freeway ramp invokes "the lean" and is much more satisfying.

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