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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby Rick Masters » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:21 pm

Meteorologists baffled by bizarre isolated winds that whip San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/wind-Bay-Area-Pebble-Beach-meteorologists-baffled-12188308.php#photo-14065505
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby wingspan33 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:03 pm

These events sound similar to microbursts. But, if I remember right, microbursts are usually associated with sudden thunderstorms and this report doesn't bring up rain - just strong winds. So would they be precipitation free micro bursts? Hmmmmmmm . . . :?:

Just found this video of a "traditional" microburst - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_G2KRzha7o

The announcer calls it a "wet microburst" so it seems there must be dry ones as well. The audio describes the same effect happening in the microburst video as does the SF Bay area news article.
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby Rick Masters » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:33 pm

Image

It's getting weirder and weirder. The night that article on curious wind gusts was posted, look what happened:

The National Weather Service reported Tuesday morning that 1,200 cloud-to-ground strikes and 5,800 in-cloud strikes hit the Bay Area Monday night.
"You can see both," says Scott Rowe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Monterey. "Both are just as dangerous."
http://www.sfgate.com/local/article/Bay-Area-thunder-lightning-rain-storm-weather-SF-12189916.php#photo-14097886

Does it strike anyone other than me as odd that Scott Rowe would say cloud-to-cloud strikes are as dangerous as cloud to ground strikes?

Now, in an update to the original article, they're blaming the winds on "collapsing thunderstorms."
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/wind-Bay-Area-Pebble-Beach-meteorologists-baffled-12188308.php#photo-14065505

I'd imagine that flying a paraglider in a collapsing thunderstorm would be twice as dangerous as normal.      :o
Good thing my flying lightning rod won't collapse!     :shock:
Gosh... Maybe that Scott Rowe fellow is a hang glider pilot.

That reminds me of a time when Mike Brewer and Mark Hanley and I launched of Mt. McGee, south of Mammoth at the north end of Owens Valley, in a lightning storm.

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Probably a Dave Turner paragliding photo of McGee taken 30 years later.

After the 1981 XC-Classic, we'd driven my old '61 Scout up that narrow and dangerous road on the right. Don Partridge had told us it was the greatest undiscovered site on the Sierras so we just had to check it out. (We didn't have a driver so Mark top-landed later and drive it down.)

We drove across the wide plateau to the south edge, this side of the peak. We saw the dark clouds moving in from the west and heard the thunder rolling among the peaks to the south. We didn't say anything to each other. We just concentrated on setting up our gliders real fast, intent on getting the hell out of there. It was kinda calm at first, but as we got ready the wind picked up with sudden little gusts coming from the back, the front, the side. Mike launched off by himself and flew back into the range, climbing slowly. Mark was planning to give me a wire assist but he couldn't leave his glider.

"I'm okay," I said, fighting the Aolus. We were both hooked in, nervous and ready. About 50 feet apart. It was pretty much a cliff launch. We were both watching Mike. He'd turned around and was heading back towards us, maybe 400 over the peak, when our hair lifted along the edge of our helmets and the rigging started buzzing. . If you've never heard that, and I hope you never do, it's like a guitar string, the low one, the flying wires, buzzing in front of the amp. The side wires buzzing in accompaniment.

Hanley says "Oh, f**k!" over his CB radio and a huge burst of static roars as a lightning bolt strikes the edge of the mountain in the direction of Brewer. The world lit up like a strobe light and a big WHAM washed over us, leaving my ears ringing. As my hearing came back, I heard this pounding noise and looked at the peak, which was like a little hill about 900 feet west, and this humungous boulder the size of a Volkswagen comes bouncing over the edge and off into space.

Brewer gets on his radio: "Get outta there!"

Mark is off in an instant and I am right behind him. No longer grounded but waiting fearfully for the next lightning bolt, very aware of the huge lightning rod I was dangling under. Had a nice flight under dark clouds, though. Really nice. Flew down to Split Mountain at cloudbase, then came back and landed in a big meadow near Hilton Creek.

Another time, I was up on Five Gallon Ridge on Paiute with Eric Raymond under a big, evil-looking cloud street. Sounds crazy, I know, but we had learned by then you just have to fly out of the lift toward the valley and find the perfect north-south gliding band. It was good for some of the fastest distance in the world. He'd just rigged the Sunseed tight as a drum when all our gliders started buzzing. Everybody backed away and crouched. The Sunseed sang like we couldn't believe. It was really freaky.

The Sunseed is the 13th frame on this strip. Mark Hanley is the 11th.:

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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby wingspan33 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:03 pm

I remember one year in Telluride lots of pilots were set up - or setting up - at launch with over developing cumies that had turned into "thunder" clouds. I don't remember any close lightening strikes but I do remember something about multiple pilots' hair standing on end due to static electricity in the air. :shock:

Humming cables never happened, as far as I know, but I was more than a little concerned about being hit by lightening. As I recall the message was shouted out for us to not be in contact with (or under) your gliders for at least a several minutes.

I wouldn't want to be there live, but I'd love to see a video which shows humming support cables! Yikes! (and) Holly Molly!

It was probably that day that I launched and flew in the clear sky between the rain clouds. :) :roll:

I don't know from first hand knowledge, but I'll bet that the Owens Valley (and its high mountain range) is more "dynamic" then Telluride.

But I must ask, - Rick, have you ever flown in Telluride? If so, you might know which is more or less "dynamic". Telluride is the only place I've flown where a thermal was so strong that it "deflected" me from entering it twice before I could "punch" into the core and ride it high.
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby Rick Masters » Wed Sep 13, 2017 6:45 pm

have you ever flown in Telluride?

    Nope. I was kinda like the Torrey pilot who told me he wouldn't fly Owens Valley because he might miss a good day at Torrey Pines.     :shock:
    It's hard to go travelling when you're already there.
If so, you might know which is more or less "dynamic". Telluride is the only place I've flown where a thermal was so strong that it "deflected" me from entering it twice before I could "punch" into the core and ride it high.

    Yeah. Sounds like the Owens for sure. I doubt there's much difference in the quality of the air on a good day. I've rammed a lot of powerful thermals full bar out here just to get into the core.

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Larry Edgar broke a Pratt-Read a few miles up the highway from my house.
http://www.nateferguson.com/glider.html
    That was a famous wreck. He told me about it. Said pieces of the sailplane were tumbling all around him in a roll cloud, some going up, some going down.

    Of course, what makes the Owens great is that when it's good, you can jump mountain ranges all day. I love mountains. It kinda disappointed me when everybody started flying Texas for XC on aerotow. I really get off on trying to reach a peak where I know there's a resident thermal generator.
    It's the quality of the experience, I think. Mountains are beautiful and exciting. Flatlands are boring. Not as boring as Torrey Pines, but pretty boring. Others will disagree. That's fine. I don't need to sell Owens Valley to anyone. If you fly it enough, you'll learn how dangerous and rewarding it can be.
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby Bill Cummings » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:00 pm

Hang Gliding and Lightening.
In the days of hang gliding with citizens band radio (AM) a pilot had some advanced warning of approaching electrical storms due to static.
When almost everyone in the sport switched to FM radios there was a sigh of relief no longer having to listen to, "(mouth whistle) The Virginian from San Salvador calling CQ DX, CQ DX bring it on back good buddy." (I wish I could have wrapped that cord around his neck!) AND -- all the while your tow vehicle at the end of a two thousand foot towline couldn't hear the pilot until the "Virginian," released the TX key on his microphone.
(The trouble with civilization is that you can't kill the people that desperately need it.)
With FM radios we lost that advanced electrical storm warning. For the most part we also lost some distance with the same wattage output.

While boat towing at Colby Lake near Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota we saw a storm approaching from the west. With the set up glider sitting on top of the fiberglass boat (fiberglass is a good electrical insulator) we tied up to the floating pier at the landing. The floats were a parallel series of 55 gallon (metal) drums. The walkway was metal and only the pier side bumper strip made of retired fire hose was the only thing not metal. So no direct electrical connection between the glider while tied up to the pier.
After tying the boat I was sitting on the pier.
I was looking at the approaching storm and just as I saw a cloud to ground lightning strike about two to five miles away a spark jumped from the right nose wire of the glider to my right bicep. A distance of 6 to 8 inches. Quite a jolt it was and it sent me scrambling to shore.
I had stupidly shortened the distance between the glider and the metal pier with my body. The glider seemed to be working like an antenna. :shh: :shifty: :oops:
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby Rick Masters » Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:39 am

September 6, 2017
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An engineless glider has been flown at a record altitude of 52,172ft (15.9km).
    ...The record-setting flight took place near to El Calafate - a town by a large lake and the Andes mountains, near the base of Argentina - and took advantage of two meteorological phenomena that rarely coincide.
    The first was wind currents coming over the Andes that create a type of wave-like effect. By riding the waves to their peaks, the pilots were able to get to about 30,000-40,000ft.
    The pilots took data loggers on their journey to validate their world record
    The second factor was the south pole's polar vortex.
    This is a low pressure zone that rotates clockwise around Antarctica.
    During South America's winter months - which are at the opposite time of the year to the northern hemisphere's - the vortex throws off a polar-night jet stream, which spills northwards under some conditions.
    This can take an aircraft up to heights of 120,000ft, assuming that its wings and fuselage can cope.
http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41172587

Larry Edgar had set an earlier absolute altitude record for sailplanes of 44,255 feet on March 19, 1952 above Owens Valley.

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When the author of the BBC article above says, "assuming that its wings and fuselage can cope," in terms of the wings, he is referring to the "Coffin Corner," where, at very high altitudes, stall and overspeed (boundary layer separation and flutter) approach dangerously the same point.

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"As you approach the aircraft's maximum ceiling, you'll find that MMO and stall speed meet, or at least get close. Most of today's jets have a fairly wide margin between stall and MMO, but a great example of a coffin corner aircraft is the U-2. At high altitudes, the U-2 can have as little as a 5 knots between stall and mach buffet. That leaves no room for error."
http://www.boldmethod.com/learn-to-fly/aerodynamics/coffin-corner-where-vne-and-mmo-meet/

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Beyond the Coffin Corner
https://euclidsbridge.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/chuck-yeagers-insane-nf-104-crash-or-holy-shit-this-guys-hardcore/

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The other NF-104
https://www.landspeed.com/
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby wingspan33 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:57 pm

I don't think hang glider pilots need to worry too much about the Coffin Corner. Before we could get that high we'd die from hypoxia or hypothermia. :o

But that is something that I never knew. And I love learning new things. :thumbup:
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Re: Global Meteorology for Hang Glider Pilots

Postby Red » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:41 am

wingspan33 wrote:I remember one year in Telluride lots of pilots were set up - or setting up - at launch with over developing cumies that had turned into "thunder" clouds. . . . Humming cables never happened, as far as I know, but I was more than a little concerned about being hit by lightening. . . . I wouldn't want to be there live, but I'd love to see a video which shows humming support cables! Yikes! (and) Holly Molly
Wingspan,

One day, we were setting up at the top of Point of the Mountain, Utah, with a small storm churning over Lake Mountain. That storm was easily a dozen miles away, not growing, with miles of flat ground between the storm and us. There were some broken clouds around, but not a lot: it looked like there was nothing to worry about. As I reached up to insert the nose rib, it began humming audibly and physically vibrating in my hand. I did not know that was possible, so I kinda doubted what just happened for a few seconds. I tried again with the nose rib, and there was no doubt the second time: I heard and felt the rib vibrating in my hand. I was not touching the glider with my hand or the rib. I dropped the rib, like a hot potato. One foot of altitude had made the difference! There was no humming below the height of my head, only at the height that I could reach up to with my hands. We carried the gliders (still in the bags) very low, to a low saddle in the set-up area. We sneaked the gliders back onto the truck rack, climbed in, and beat a hasty retreat down the road.

Adventures are not adventures, while you are having the adventure. :mrgreen:
Cheers,
Red

P.S. Free advice, maybe worth the price,
for new and low-airtime HG pilots, on my web page . . .

https://user.xmission.com/~red/
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