Ultimate Light Wind Indicator
2015-10-15 Conquering The Calm
Calm conditions are one thing but NEARLY calm is even worse. "Light and
variable" carries max suckage. I suspect that many blown launches
in such conditions involve a slight tailwind up where the wing
is, especially for pilots who normally make it and then have to abort
for no apparent reason.
While working on the XC column I was telling Tim about my ideas and
he came up with one better. How about a helium balloon? Of course, and
I've heard about it before but just forgot. That wasn't his best idea,
After flying yesterday morning in similar conditions, one pilot had
to abort two launches--probably because, in spite of apparently calm
winds, it was a very slight tailwind. It doesn't take much.
So yesterday, Tim & I went to Party City in Lakeland, bought two
Mylar balloons and a small container of helium. They filled the two
balloons but they can be REfilled once they leak out.
This morning we tried it out and Tim offered his second great suggestion: put
streamers on the balloon itself. My initial idea was to use the
direction of the balloon's drift from the windsock's top where it's
tied. But the streamers worked WAY better as you can see.
Tim's great ideas: a helium balloon
wind indicator with tell tales hanging below. You can see why it's so
The sock on the bottom is barely moving but the streamers look
like they're in a gale.
Even when we couldn't tell direction on the
ground those streamers showed there was some wind up where the wing
would be gasping for airflow.
Below are pictures from the last
couple days. Some fun at Flanders.
Tim cruising the countryside.
Jeff Goin launching a Doberman 16.
This was the opposite direction from how Tim launched and was BEFORE we got the helium
Landing the Doberman 16 power off.
wings have tons of speed for flare but, if you do a wee bit of slowdown
at 30 feet,
then let off the brakes to dive, you can get a HUGE slider.
Tim is underfoot.
Thomas Stross was letting off steam
which, it turns out, is an even better wind indicator,
it just doesn't last long enough to get up where the wing is.
Smoke or steam
is, in fact, the best indicator when it's available because it shows the
winds at different elevations.
Thomas getting ready.
Tim putting some gadget in his pocket.
More accurately, Tim putting ANOTHER gadget in his pocket.
Tim landing with beautiful Lake Lliaho
in the background.