Tuesday Tip: Safe distance when soaring

This week’s Tuesday Tip comes from the classic Thermal Flying by Burkhard Martens

Safe distance when soaring

There are a number of factors influencing the recommended safe distance both laterally and vertically when soaring. None of these are hard and fast rules, and nothing beats sound judgement, but having a few simple hints in mind will help you stay safe.

The stronger the wind becomes, the greater the safe distance should be. There are two reasons for this: turbulence and drift.

Turbulence first: this is exponentially related to wind strength. If the wind increases from 15-30km/h the turbulent area behind the obstacle grows four times. It follows that a ridge that is pleasant to soar in 15km/h wind may be all but unflyable at 30km/h, so your distance must reflect this.

Drift also increases with wind strength. If we encounter bad air and we take a hit, we need to make sure that we have sufficient open air to operate in while we correct the situation. Soaring a paraglider close to a vertical cliff in strong wind and suffering a collapse could have us hanging from a rocky outcrop in no time.


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