Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Slope Soaring Trips

For a couple of years I joined a group of model sailplane enthusists for several days of slope soaring in South Dakota. This was possible by a connection we had with someone in South Dakota getting permission to fly from private land. Much of the land overlooked the Missouri River and the bluffs were more rolling and not so tree covered as in the city I live in along the Mississippi River. Everyone would stay in the same hotel, eat together, and fly model sailplanes for 10 hours a day. I made this trip several times and was lucky the weather was normally good. The guys going on the first trip this year might not be so lucky as a blizzard is forecast.


Slope soaring is where the wind facing a hill is deflected upwards giving the model sailplanes constant lift as long as the wind was blowing. The strength of the lift did vary so often you were seeking out the spots on the hill with the best lift to fly over. Most of the time the lift was rather strong and gliders that were way too inefficient for thermal flying could stay aloft over the slope. One day we were flying in 50 mph wind which I took a short video of.

Many of the gliders were made of a foam that could absorb the shock of bad landings or even crashing into each other in the air, which is great fun. Other planes were of composite construction and designed more for high performance. Some of the guys were really creative in the gliders they designed such as the giant C5 glider pictured or a radio controlled bald eagle.

                                                            Video of 50+ m.p.h. Wind

My Article on Slopeflyer.com from 2002

Bill Kuhl

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