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Old 11-08-2014, 10:54 AM   #21
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

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Originally Posted by rkhoo View Post
Like Ed, I ALWAYS launch my Radian without motor. No running, just a FIRM smooth flat toss.

It does take some practice to get used to that flat toss. The Radian glides very well.

5 feet later, then a slowly add 50% throttle and climb out.
Thank you...I'm going to do several practice flat tosses with no power at all to see what the bird does, trim if need be, then follow the "power add" suggestions from you and Ed. I have to wait until Christmas though...wife's christmas gift to me Phil
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:14 AM   #22
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

Originally Posted by aeajr View Post
I am primarily a glider pilot. I have a fleet of high end molded gliders, both pure and electric launched. But one glider that almost always comes to the field with me is the Radian. I just love it. So simple and it thermals so well.

I also take it slope soaring.
I will second that- i never go to the field without my Radian had it now for 4 years- it's a joy to fly- no flaps on mine so I add some reflex to make it easier to land, just don't get carried away in a strong thermal, it can soon get out of sight!
when I'm ready to bail out I usually has some fun with it- doing some loops and
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:18 AM   #23
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

Four years with your Radian and it's still a "go to" plane. High praise indeed. Thanks Kai. Phil
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:59 AM   #24
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

Learning to Thermal
by Ed Anderson
aeajr on the forums

A thermal is a column of warm rising air that occurs when one section of the
ground warms faster then other sections. As the air raises it draws in
more air. Think of a very slow moving tornado.

Not exactly correct but close enough for first approximation.

Here is a great video on thermals. I highly recommend it!

The Secrets of Thermal Soaring

Almost any plane can thermal, but the lighter the wing loading the better.
Under 12 ounces/sq ft is good and under 8 is great for gliders 2M and
larger. For DLGs you want to be under 5 ounces if possible!

Many small electric planes have wing loadings in this area so they often
thermal well too. My first thermal experience was with a small electric
airplane called an Aerobird.

Flat bottom or under cambered wings tend to do better than symmetrical or
semi-symmetrical wings but if the lift is strong, you can thermal anything.
In fact we sometimes have to pull out of thermals because the lift is so
strong that the plane can be pulled into the sky and out of sight. I have
seen it happen.

For some people this may sound boring, but I relate it to fishing. You may
cast out many times with no bites. Still, the process is relaxing and

Finally you get a strike and the fight begins.

You go on each fishing trip looking forward to the catch, but knowing that
you will enjoy the process even if you come home with nothing. To
non-fishermen this sounds odd. They just don't understand. Likewise with

If you are a new glider pilot, this is a great resource:



The best conditions are low wind, hot sun and low humidity. Some big dark
areas surrounded by lighter areas will help to create thermals, so look to
see if there is anything like that on or around your field. A freshly
plowed field is good. A parking lot works great! A large building with a
black roof is awesome.

However I have caught thermals at 35 degrees F in 15 mph winds. They can be
weak and they move fast, but the are there!

Here are some thoughts on the hunt for glider and light airplane pilots.

Get your plane up high, the higher the better. Get it well up wind from you
as we are going to glide and drift with the river of air.

If you have a motor, cut the motor and trim the plane for nice level flight.
Now, focus on watching the plane and keeping it on a nice steady glide.
Steady as she goes. Try to keep your hands off the sticks as much as

Let the plane ride with and across the river of air, giving it only
occasional input to keep it going in the general direction you want to go,
but don't be a stickler about it. Let it drift like a fly on the surface of
the river, waiting for a trout.

If you listen with your eyes, it will speak to you, but you have to listen

Glide across the air flow, not into it and not with it. Sort of a 45 -60
left for a while then a 45 to 60 degrees to the right. Nice and slow and
easy. You want to cover the sky and search the moving river of air, like a
bird looking for food.

As you are flying watch the wing tips the nose and the tail. If a wing
seems to bump up, or if the plane seems to become buoyant, floating up for a
moment, it could be a gust, or you might have just brushed a thermal. Go
immediately into a slow turn in the direction of the wing that rose. If
you think you went right through it, fly on for a moment then turn to
circle back into it. It will be moving toward you.

Try to make a circle, but not too tight or you will lose too much altitude.
For 2 Meter and above, try for about a 75-100 foot diameter at first. Under
2 meter cut that in half. Complete a couple of turns
and see if the plane seems to be rising. If it is, just stay with the turn.
We don't want to scare the thermal, we want to bond with it.

Try to observe if the plane is rising steadily, or if it seems to rise and
fall that means you are not centered in the thermal, so work your way more
toward the side of the circle where the plane rises.

Remember that thermals move with the wind, so you are not trying to stay in
one place in relation to the ground. The air is like a river and you are
trying to stay in a little whirlpool that is moving with the river.

If you go into the turn and make a couple of turns with no success, then
just resume the search pattern I mentioned. Angles across the wind. Not
into it and now with it. If you have no success then try a different part
of the sky on the next launch. This is like fishing. You have to cast about
you find where the fish are hanging out. Typically you will find a region
on your
field were the thermals are hanging out, that day. Other days they may be
else. That is why it is a hunters game. You have to go looking for your

A sailplane in lift

If you are getting out too far, work your way back the same
way, angles to the wind.

Unless you hit a boomer, you are not going to immediately know you are in
lift, so you have to watch the plane. Sometimes it becomes apparent because
you realize that you're not sinking but appear to be holding altitude. The
only way to do that is to be in lift.

Remember also that thermals can vary in size and intensity. Some are fairly
narrow and some are so large that it seems a whole region of the sky is in
lift. I rode one area recently for 45 minutes where it seemed about 1/4 of
the field was in lift. You didn't really have to circle. You could just fly
back and forth and the plane would rise beautifully. Those are really nice,
when you find them.

It is a hunter's game, if you are up for it.

Good luck pilot! May your hunt go well!


What do Thermals Look Like

Finding Elusive Thermals

Thermals: Collectors, Wicks and Triggers
By Will Gadd

Thermaling on a windy day

Aviation Weather
From the full text of the classic FAA guide

Last edited by aeajr; 11-08-2014 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 11-08-2014, 12:06 PM   #25
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

Originally Posted by philfly View Post
Wow! Incredibly thorough and informative Ed! I watched the hand launch video several times and it seems a very sensible way to check and adjust basic trim. I will study the other links you offer this afternoon....and I love your fishing simile...very poetic actually. I have printed out all of your advice and will refer to it many times....certainly before I maiden the Radian. I am still marvelling at the no power, horizontal, hand launch and thinking, "Why didn't I think of that"? The answer, I think, is that I've only seen power on/upward launches. Seems to me I could have a lot of fun just doing hand launches for a long time....loved those little wooden gliders I had when I was a kid!
Thanks again Ed. Phil
by Ed Anderson

It is early Saturday morning. You have been pushing hard at work all week.
But today is yours. The Wife and kids are out doing....whatever .. and
Daddy gets some time to himself.

Some of your buddies went bowling and some are going to the game, but you
need some quiet time to commune with nature, and to bring your life back
into balance. Time to think, time to relax, time to enjoy with no caffeine,
no noise, no rush, no hurry, no stress.

The sun came up about an hour ago. The temperature is a very comfortable 60 F
degrees going up to about 75. Humidity is low and the breeze is a wonderful
5 mph coming from the perfect direction. The morning dew is starting to
lift with that slight fog that it gets sometimes. Overhead is a single bird
of unknown type working a thermal in lazy circles. You envy him, just a

The hi-start is laid out and there is a comfortable folding chair set right
were the chute will come to rest. There is a cooler with some drinks, a
sandwich for later and some hot coffee and a roll for now. ( OK, a little
caffeine. )

You do your range check, check the air, feel the breeze and launch.

The first couple of launches go well. You hunt around but there is nothing
much happening. That's OK. This is like fishing, without the rowdy guys
and the bad jokes.

On the third launch, you get the height and the direction you want. The
plane, a simple R/E woody with years of time on it, just floats off the
line. No big zoom. No heart pumping vertical release. Just floating off
the hook, so as not to disturb the air or scare the thermals.

As you venture out you feel a bump, with your eyes of course, and start to
circle. And a little thrill builds up inside as the plane starts to rise.
The lift is not strong but it is there. And you work it.

As you rise you sit down in your chair. You put in a couple of clicks of
rudder and put the radio down. You reach over to pour that coffee and grab
that roll, keeping your eyes on the ship the whole time. She is riding the
core and working upward.

You pick up the radio, settle in, put your feet up on the cooler and work
the thermal from your right, across the field, to your left over the next 15
minutes. Life is good.

You feel you are far enough down field, and have lots of height, so you
break off that thermal and head right. At about 1/4 mile to your right you
hook again at about 300 feet. And up you go again.

After a few moments, that bird you saw earlier comes to join you and ride
the lift with you. You feel like you are buddies in the air and sharing a
quiet ride together. Life is very good.

Around 11 AM, your friend shows up. He sees you are in the zone. "How
long?" he asks. Oh, about an hour, I think. You never bring a watch and
the flight pack will carry you all day if you want. R/E planes just sip

He pulls out his R/E woody, pulls back on your hi-start, and the two of you
ride the lift, side by side. You introduce your friend to the bird and the
three of you fly for... who knows how long. The conversation is quiet and

You talk of kids and wives and family and the sweet things in your life.
For what could be bad at a moment like this.

Then another bird joins, perhaps the mate to the first. The sun is
comfortably warm, and rising over your right shoulder. The breeze is the
perfect amount to keep you cool and make for good launches.

The simple pleasures are the best!

When you get home, you are relaxed and happy. You kiss the wife, hug the
kids and all is right with the world. Then your 8 year old comes to you and
asks when you will take them to learn to fly with the birds, just the two of
you. And a smile crosses your face that will probably never leave.

You smile at your wife and she smiles back and says, "I know, another

Oh yes, life is good!
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Old 11-09-2014, 08:39 PM   #26
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

Thanks for those posts aeajr!
Hang time does not apply to ceiling fans, light fixtures, overhead door tracks or basketball nets!
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Old 04-29-2015, 01:15 PM   #27
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

Wow! thanks for the links and the nice posts Aeajr.
Looking forward to my first experience at climbing a thermal.

Your story sound somehow similar to a nice day on the lake on my Prindle 16 Catamaran
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Old 04-29-2015, 04:51 PM   #28
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Re: First Glider: 3 channel or 4?

LOL, of all the posts here, I haven't seen the simplest thermal locator, right in front of your eyes, the birds.
Yeah, a lot of birds fly, but some, all they do is thermal.
So, go to your field, look for and watch the birds.
If you've ever watched them thermal and been filled with awe at the beauty and majesty you're getting the idea of how you'll feel once you've caught your thermal.
You can join them in the thermal.
Don't run your motor and try not to get too close or they may feel you are encroaching on their territory....... the thermal.
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