Why are we cruising in this direction? Why not 10 degrees to the right or left? You should be heading in a precise direction, you should always be trying to increase your odds and find the next area of lift, even finding less sink is great. You should try each and every source. You should be trying every area along the way that you think will produce lift. Of course you still have to think about deviation and what is an acceptable amount of deviation (earlier newsletters).
Many times when I am teaching slope soaring and my student continues to get us in bad/sinking air. I use the analogy that the air is like a fluid and how would the water flow around these hills, mountains, rocks, etc. This generally makes it much easier to visualize which makes it easier to avoid the bad air and only go to the lifting air.
One of the more annoying things while soaring is passing something just off your wing that might have been going up. Like watching a small cu begin to form, noticing a bird circling, looking down and seeing a dust devil kicking off… Even looking down and realizing you are not in the right place with relation to the trigger and the thermal drift. I am constantly looking out for signs of lift ahead and asking myself is this where I want to go? Should I head over there or that way…
Many times we pick a line and a little time later they have wandered off course and heading towards a different mountain. A little distraction here or there and next thing we know we are finding all of the sink.
When thermalling I continually think about where the core is and how to get into it. Meanwhile I am continually looking at when to leave the thermal I am in for a better one. Each turn looking down course trying to decide what is the best path to take. Where the next thermal might be, how many options for another thermal do I have if I leave now? Still trying to better center the thermal. Also looking for gliders coming in, mainly to determine if I need to take evasive actions. There is always the chance they do not see you, so do not assume you have right of way and they will stay clear of you.
The idea this week is you always want to stay efficient. You should always be thinking about what your next move is and is your current move the best one. Are you taking the best path? Should you take another? Is there another? Why is yours better?
Remember the clues are small and many times missed. Alastor “Mad-Eye Moody” from the Harry Potter Series gave his advice with a slogan “Constant Vigilance”. I am sure he was referring to wizards and curses, but we can apply it to flying and our decision making process.
Eventually the constant decision making becomes second nature, however so many people just wander around aimlessly with no idea why they are heading over that hill or under that cloud or where under the cloud they are going.
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