02-04-17 Wave Soaring

The temperature this morning was a balmy 15 degrees when I arrived at the airport. Luckily, all five of us were dressed for it. The mission was to explore some wave! The weather forecast suggested that it should be there.

At 8am, it was a totally blue sky and little wind to speak of on the ground. While all the forecasts and numbers checked out, it was still somewhat disconcerting. I really hoped that it would be there so that everyone would have a chance to fly it, especially after going through so much effort to fly today.

Well on tow, the vario was off the dial. The density altitude was -2000ft and the towplane was having a really good day. However, by 1600ft, we started to hit rotor! One 360 later, we were at 3400ft, I popped off in solid wave. This is the lowest I had ever found wave at Blairstown! I dove down to 3000ft, got a notch and started climbing.

All of the other ships started to launch one after the other and all connected!

The wave itself was quite weak. 2 knots was a luxury. Slowly but surely, Paul Seifried and I worked our way up. The wave seemed to be positioned somewhat offset from our ridge. My guess is that the low level wave may have triggered from our ridge, but it was also in phase with the upwind waves, which were angled a bit more to the North.

The best moment for me was around 7,800ft and while we were climbing at 1 knot. The wind picked up, so I was hovering at 40 knots indicated. It was a surreal feeling, like being suspended in air. It was quite satisfying and quite beautiful seeing the world all around me. It just seemed so unreal.

Climbing through 10k, I got a whiff of oxygen and figured I’d give the upwind waves a go. Down went the nose and we were cruising at 100 knots. I contacted the next wave at 5500ft, several miles NW of East Stroudsburg. Initially, it was 3 knots but it quickly weakened at 7500ft. At that point, I went NE to sniff, but no joy. Then heading SW, I saw some rotor-cu set up in several harmonics, so off we went there.

The upwind one off of the plateau was pitiful, though the next one near Fitch’s Quarry worked quite well up to 7500ft. The next one downwind, just behind the ridge worked even better, sometimes seeing 3 knots up to 9200ft.

After that, I cruised NE bound hoping to find a nice place to climb in. The waves set up in a rather interesting fashion. It seemed that the ridge was setting up a long, consistent and weak wave. However, it was also interacting with the upwind waves which came in at a more N/S angle. Every once in a while, the waves would constructively interfere and the lift would get stronger and vice versa. This happened the whole way down to Sunrise Mountain, where I started getting more to the fringe of gliding distance from Blairstown. Since my feet were getting cold, I headed back.

Coming back, I dropped out of the wave band into the rotor at 5,000ft. It seemed quite broad and not all that organized. I flew the rotor from Newton all the way to Blairstown.

A great way to spend 3.8 hours on a frigid winter day and be down in time for lunch and a little work on our club Grob project!

The cold wasn’t a problem with three layers of thermal pants/shirts, sweat pants, long sleeve shirt, fleece, down-jacket and coveralls on top. Ski mask, hat, three pairs of socks, two pairs of footwarmers and heavy duty boots. I felt like I was equipped to go to the North Pole.

Thanks a million to Aero Club Albatross for letting me fly the club’s LS3 (44) and Aaron Stout for towing today. You’re a real sport for making it happen for us crazy gliderpilots.

Find the flight log here.