SSA 2012 Presentation: Extraordinary Weather and Extreme Soaring Flights

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Here's a presentation by Prof. Emeritus Dr. Edward (Ward) Hindman of the Earth and Atmospheric Science Dept., The City College of New York, NY USA

Presented at the U. S. Soaring Society of America (SSA) Convention in Reno NV on February 2, 2012

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SSA 2012 Presentation: Extraordinary Weather and Extreme Soaring Flights

  1. 1. Extraordinary Weather Plus Modern Sailplanes Produce Extreme Flights Prof. Emeritus Dr. Edward (Ward) HindmanEarth and Atmospheric Science Dept., The City College of New York, NY USA www.sci.ccny.cuny.edu/~hindman/ Ward and ‘Big Bird’ Photo by Baud Litt 1
  2. 2. This unique 3.5 minute video highlights the beauty and grace ofsoaring flight. The video was shot by Daniel Ramseier from analpine peak near Dent de Broc during the 2004 Swiss NationalChampionships. The alluring background voice is Enya’sEnjoy! 2
  3. 3. Talk ContentRising air makes a glider a sailplaneMain sources of rising air for cross-country flying: thermals, ridge winds andmountain wavesAn extreme thermal flight, Hobbs NM, June 2011 [18m Nationals]An extreme ridge flight, Julian PA, April 2010 [TS 34(4)]An extreme wave flight, Argentina, November 2003 [TS 35(3 & 4)] 3
  4. 4. Rising air makes a glider a sailplane ‘Thrust’www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/glidfor.html 4
  5. 5. Rising air makes a glider a sailplane Glider forward speed ‘Thrust’ Glider sinking speed Rising air < Sinking speed = gliding flightRising air > Sinking speed = soaring flight 5
  6. 6. Sources of rising air: thermals, ridge winds and mountain wavesFrom Liechti and Hindman (editors), 2009: Weather Forecasting for Soaring Flight, 6World Meteorological Organization - No. 1038, 70 pp.
  7. 7. An extreme thermal flight at the Soaring Society of America’s 18m Nationals, 26 June 2011, Hobbs NM ‘A8 and his gazelle Brenda’ From www.ssa.org, Sailplane Racing Results and Reports 7
  8. 8. An extreme thermal flightThe morning weather forecast required to set the afternoon’s task:Winds at the surface and aloftClouds and precipitationConvective boundary layer characteristics: depth and expected liftThunderstormsTaskResults 8
  9. 9. Winds, clouds and precipitation Aviation Forecast from the National Weather Service: KHOB 261120Z 2612/2712 18005KT P6SM SKC FM261600 20012KT P6SM SKC From aviationweather.gov/adds/, TAF for KHOB (Hobbs/Lea County) Civilian Forecast from the National Weather Service:0312MDT SUN 26 JUN 2011: SUNNY. HIGHS AROUND 108. SOUTHWEST WINDS10 TO 15 MPHFrom www.weather.unisys.com, Local_Forecast (88240, Hobbs NM) 9
  10. 10. Winds, clouds and precipitation 10From www.weather.unisys.com, Satellite_Surface
  11. 11. Winds, clouds and precipitation 11From www.weather.unisys.com, Upper Air Data/700mb
  12. 12. Winds, clouds and precipitation 12From www.weather.unisys.com, NAM/WRF Model
  13. 13. Convective boundary layer characteristics 13From www.arl.noaa.gov/ready/cmet.html, HOB (32.7N 103.1W), Meteorogram
  14. 14. Convective boundary layer characteristics 14From www.arl.noaa.gov/ready/cmet.html, HOB, Sounding
  15. 15. Convective boundary layer characteristics 15From www.xcskies.com, Top-of-usable lift.
  16. 16. Thunderstorms 16From www.xcskies.com, Lifted index.
  17. 17. Task4.5 hours minimum time on course with 360 miles of required turn-points (Min: 172 miles, Max: 511 miles) 17
  18. 18. Results (www.ssa.org Sailplane Racing/Results and Reports)“7V (70+ year-old Ray Gimmey) smoked the field with 465 miles at 103 mph” 4hr 32min time on course; 23% circling flight, 77% straight flight 18
  19. 19. Results“7V (70+ year-old Ray Gimmey) smoked the field with 465 miles at 103 mph” 4hr 32min time on course; 23% circling flight, 77% straight flight 19
  20. 20. ResultsThe ‘round, firm, and fully-packed’ cumulus > 1000 fpm climb passing through FL170 20
  21. 21. An extreme ridge flight that originated from Julian PA on 28 April 2010 Julian PA Appalachian Ridge and Valley System From Wikipedia 21
  22. 22. An extreme ridge flightThe pilot, 22-year old Devin Bargainnier flying a Ventus 2b,planned the flight because a cold front associated with a powerfullow pressure system was expected to produce favorable winds fora large portion of the Appalachian ridge system betweenWilliamsport PA and Knoxville TN. Further, the forecasts forcloud cover and precipitation for stations along the route wereacceptable.He did not utilize the experimental thermal, ridge and waveforecast system we - the German Weather service, the system’screator Dr. Olivier Liechti and me - made available to northeastUSA glider pilots during the 2010 soaring season. He was notaware of its existence. Had he used the system, this is what hewould have learned. 22
  23. 23. The forecast systemThe forecast system is called Java TopTask. The system is operational in Europethrough the German Weather Service and is described in Technical Soaring.Briefly, the system is based on numerical weather predictions of winds, clouds,precipitation, convective boundary layer characteristics and ridge and wave lift.The TopTask algorithm ‘flies’ a glider through the predicted weather to determinethe feasibility of a proposed task. After the flight, the predicted weather can bevalidated by ‘flying’ the actual flight trajectory through the prediction. 23
  24. 24. Thermal lift forecast 24
  25. 25. Ridge lift forecast 25
  26. 26. Proposed task 26
  27. 27. Actual task 27
  28. 28. Validation of the forecast for thermal and ridge lift 1714 km, 155 kph 1741 km, 142 kph 28
  29. 29. Validation of the forecast for wave lift 29
  30. 30. An epiloguePilots participating in the experiment provided positive and encouragingevaluations. Consequently, Dr. Liechti and I attempted to make theJavaTopTask forecast system available the 2011 soaring season. The systemneeded to be connected to an operational USA numerical weather predictionmodel to replace unavailable German model. No connection was madebecause the necessary expert could not be found. Hence, the system was andremains unavailable.Baud Litt reported in the recent issue of the National Soaring Museum Journalpioneering long-distance flights in convective, ridge and wave lift during thewinter of 2010-11 similar to the flight simulated here. Baud’s flightsoriginated from Fairfield PA in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley System.Had the system been available to study Baud’s flights, the TopTask algorithmwould have benefitted especially the wave portion. 30
  31. 31. The world-record, straight-line wave flight of 2138 km (1188 smi)) from El Calafate to San Juan, Argentina on 23 November 2003 Nimbus 4DM From www.wolframjust.de/Nimbus_4DM.html 31 The Route From maps.google.com
  32. 32. An extreme wave flightThe weather forecast required to set the task was provided by the MountainWave Project team (www.mountain-wave-project.com):Winds aloftClouds and precipitationWave lift 32
  33. 33. Winds aloftThe Polar Front Jet Stream and the Subtropical Jet Stream werejuxtaposed ‘hosing down’ the maximum length along the Andes. 33
  34. 34. Clouds and precipitationAltocumulus standing lenticular clouds above and rotor clouds below mark the wave.The clouds were too thin to produce precipitation.From Liechti and Hindman (editors), 2009: Weather Forecasting for Soaring Flight,WMO-No. 1038, 70 pp. 34
  35. 35. Wave lift ‘Read’ the clouds to locate the lift 35From Liechti and Hindman (editors), 2009: Weather Forecasting for Soaring Flight, WMO-No. 1038, 70 pp.
  36. 36. Flight: 2138 km (1188 mi), 14.5h, 147kph (82mph), 10% circling & 90% straight ‘we had to climb to see “Mendoza D-KAHG buenos dias, para transitar the foehn gaps and rotor en su zona al nivel de vuelo 245?” “Do you have clouds that marked the a sqwak HG?” “Negative”. “Then report to 2,000 ideal path’ ft overhead the airfield…” “Please, I’m flying a world record. Can I fly to the west, via the 36 Laguna Diamante?” To my relief, she conceded,‘0525 LT departed El Calafate’ but only to an altitude of FL 195 (6,000 m). ‘2000 LT arrived San Juan’
  37. 37. OSTIV-AWARD Joachim P. Kuettner Prize and Trophy for a 2500 km free, straight distance soaring flight‘Since it is considered possible to achieve the 2500 km free straight distance in soaringflight with high performance sailplanes by using only meteorological power sourcessuch as waves, cloud streets, slope winds etc. combined with meteorological navigationand flight techniques, OSTIV continues to comply with the wish of the late Dr. JoachimKuettner to set up a prize and trophy for the first flight over the 2500 km free, straightdistance.’From Technical Soaring, 35(3), 2011 37
  38. 38. Talk ContentRising air makes a glider a sailplaneMain sources of rising air for cross-country flying: thermals, ridgewinds and mountain wavesAn extreme thermal flight, Hobbs NM, June 2011 [18m Nationals]An extreme ridge flight, Julian PA, April 2010 [TS 34(4)]An extreme wave flight, Argentina, November 2003 [TS 35(3 & 4)] 38

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