Ridge soaring is perhaps the simplest soaring lift method to understand. If the ambient wind strikes a perpendicular obstacle (like a ridge line), the air has no choice but to go… up.
The 4000 foot Mount Roland, right beside the airfield, works really well for ridge soaring. The mountain is almost square, with sheer faces on the west, north and east sides. You can see this shape clearly on this Google Earth image of the local area:
(orange dotted lines show soarable ridge faces)
I’ve done a lot of ridge soaring on Mount Roland and on the ridge line extending immediately to the west, toward Mount Claude. However, until Day Three of this particular three day soaring exercise, I had never been over to the eastern ridge line – the Gog Range.
I took off and motored up in the Pipistrel Taurus Electro above the Gog Ranges, shut down the engine, and wafted down to the ridge line to give it a shot.
The wind was in the right direction but wasn’t very strong, so I couldn’t get much above ridge-top height, but I had no problems in maintaining that height, while flying end to end along the Gog Ranges ‘at will’, with an armchair view, watching the world go by 🙂
After a few passes back and forth along the full length of the ridge, I recorded a short video of the experience:
The beeping sound in the video is the sound of the “Audio Vario”. It is a good sound to hear when gliding.
The Audio Vario is a standard piece of gliding instrumentation that converts aircraft rate-of-climb into a tone sequence that becomes more urgent/higher pitched as the climb rate increases. The tone falls away entirely when you are not in lift. This sound lets a soaring pilot keep their eyes outside the cockpit, while using their ears to gauge their soaring performance.
The Gog Range is around 2500 feet high, and the terrain and the forest are really quite pretty. Ridge soaring really allows the opportunity to see it all ‘up close and personal’.
Interestingly, the Skysight ridge lift prediction (below) didn’t highlight the Gog Range, but it did show good ridge conditions on the edge of the Central Plateau itself – parallel and to the south of the Gog Range. It was that prediction that gave me the impetus to try the nearer, smaller Gog Range line.
The Central Plateau is a much higher, much more sheer, face – but it is also somewhat further away (with a long motor run back into wind to get home from it). That is something to try on another day.
Here is how the ridge looked, from the far (eastern) end, looking back toward Mount Roland in the distance:
This ridge flight in the Taurus Electro capped off three excellent days, experiencing three different weather systems and three different sorts of soaring technique, all in the same place.
What a wonderful spot to go gliding 🙂