mandag 13. mai 2013

”Thunderstorms at Khao Sadao”

On Friday we arrived a bit late in the afternoon. Just in time to witness a tropical thunderstorm unfolding. Black clouds, a wall of torrential rain, and then the sudden onstart of heavy winds. An impressing sight. You’d better not watch this when you are airborne.

During the night it was soarable, but alas dark. I made ready just after six o’clock to check the thermals. - Four flights before noon. During the last flight I was waiting for some Khorat pilots. However, they arrived too late, and there was time for eating…

After filling up my stomach the clouds started popping up with incredible speed. All around! The local pilots had some flights while it started raining from some of the nimbuses. I decided not to fly. You do not feel very comfortable when you have to watch all the time how the clouds are developing. Most of the nearby black clouds collapsed after a while, but you can never know. Sometimes the clouds just ”explode”. A big black cloud right above the take off settled it. I didn’t want to fly. And felt happy about that decision.

On Sunday there was wind in the night but nothing in the morning. By and by the wind picked up, and at nine there were lots of big clouds in the horizon and small clouds around the take off. I decided to give it a try. There were some nice thermals but they stopped after a few turns. I never got higher than about 700 m asl. There were some very brief peaks of more than 5 meter a second but they only lasted a second or two before there was sink. I enjoyed the bumpy ride watching the clouds in the sky and the wind in the bamboo below. 30 degrees + is an ideal temperature for soaring. Sometimes I got low and thought about top landing. Then up again. Nice to move along the ridge following the will of the wind and the thermals.

Eventually I wanted to land. Right over the take off I gently pumped the brakes to get down. Too much lift though, and I glided out a few meters above ground. I turned back and came back at above 5 meters above the take off. Not too much wind downhill, and I glided in taking no lift (there usually is quite a lot of lift when top landing). I pressed the brakes slowly down and had a very smooth landing. Then I turned around and let the glider fall down.

On one of the photos you see a typical cumulus building up like a pillar at incredible speed. One or two minutes later it disintegrated.  

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