Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tiny Bubbles for Finding Thermals

Forecast the other day was for afternoon wind speed of only a couple of miles per hour; I just had to take vacation and do some model airplanes flying. Besides I had a new toy to try, a Bubble Shooter. My hope was to release a barrage of soap bubbles and I would see the bubbles quickly rising in thermal air currents, not a new idea for sure but something that I had not tried yet.

Tiny Bubbles Find a Thermal for Me

Sky condition was partly overcast much of the time but the sun would peak out also, the wind was indeed light. I was launching my efficient radio control sailplane the Allegro Lite from a short hi-start and I just couldn’t find much for lift. It sure gave me a lot of practice launching and landing but thermal lift strong enough to climb in seemed rather elusive. After a couple of hours of flying only a couple of times there were flights where there glider was climbing in thermal lift. The last time I tried to video with my GoPro camera and started to go into a dive. Flying and holding a camera doesn’t always work so well.

Launching Soap Bubbles

Bubble Shooter

Launching the bubbles I was not detecting much thermal action either, most bubbles would just travel horizontally along the ground with only a couple of bubbles actually starting to rise very high at all. The true masters of the thermal were having trouble, I spotted a turkey vulture that would only make one circle and have to start flapping it’s wings.

Holding Allegro Lite Sailplane

Wind Speed was Low

To test the air further I had brought along a couple of simple rubber powered free flight models. One of these planes is kind of a cross between a Denny Dart and a Squirrel. Tail was Denny Dart but the wing was flat with ribs curved in a form and winglets for stability, it is a good flying plane but the covering was ripped in places.  I wound in some turns and launched this plane, it started to climb like crazy, it had found one of the elusive thermal air currents. 

Rubber Model Found

Model Traveled From Way Back

Spotted on Top of Weeds

Flying With the Birds

Tried to take video of the plane probably about the time the rubber wound down but it was much too far away to see anything on the video. The video recorded for slightly longer than one minute so I am guessing the flight was around 1 ½ minutes. I chased the plane across a good distance of tall weeds but it was easy to find.  Tried the rubber model three more times to see if it would again find thermal lift but the flights were shorter; 52 seconds, 45 seconds, and 36 seconds. On one flight a bunch of birds joined it in flight.

Bill Kuhl

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