A tip on thermals off tow

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    • #10607
      John LincolnJohn Lincoln

        I’ve had several folks ask me about thermaling. Mostly I can explain what I do, but it’s the “when” to do something that’s the real problem. I did notice something yesterday that might help some of our members. I’ve flow in contests a lot in the past. Like contests these days you get off tow at 2K. Frequently NOT in lift. By watching the tow plane depart and seeing if he descends quickly or not is frequently a very good indicator of where lift might be. Yesterday was, for me, another perfect example of this. I thought I was releasing in lift at 2K with the vario showing 800 fpm up. My clearing turn to the right provided 400 to 600 fpm down. At 270 degrees of turn I saw Gary Palumbo in the tow plane a quarter of a mile or so ahead of me and higher than I was. Knowing that the tow plane is trying to get down for the next tow usually means the pilots is trying to descend. So if he is above your height it usually means the tow pilot is in lift. I shifted my thermaling turn toward Gary and sure enough I found lift. Not 800 fpm but a very workable 3 to 400 fpm. So when you get off tow and if the lift you expect isn’t there take a quick look for the tow plane. He may inadvertently show you where you need to move your thermaling turn to find that first important thermal. Here’s to fewer relights! John Lincoln

      • #10608
        Petr FolwarcznyPetr Folwarczny

          Yes, there is a lot of method, technics (and theories) how to find a thermal lift. What John described is one of them. What I’m doing while on tow behind the plane, just after take off and first (usually) right turn I start paying attention for when “a normal” raising number on vario for tow suddenly jump up. Which mean we are flying thru lift. That’s the moment where I look down on earth, remember the location. Especially when I’m close to release altitude. It happened to me many times that reaching (for example) 2K I release with no lift around me. So immediately flying back to last know position of lift we pass thru. How to find the lift when you fly free, that’s for another (long) article.

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