Mirko sent in this report on slope soaring in Florida the 30 foot dunes at Merrit Island located about 10 miles north of Cape Canaveral. If you look closely at the photos you will see the gantries in the background for shuttle launches!
We drove from Orlando to this area (Titusville) in a little over an hour. Merritt Island is a viable slope. It is situated just 10 miles or so north of Cape Canaveral with a series of continuous dunes of about 30 feet high. Facing ENE, these bluffs are completely covered with vegetation, where walking is forbidden. Every several hundred yards there are raised, wooden decks that transverse the dunes. These walkways are the only access to the beach area.
Already, I had set the Sirius charger on the Dynamic receiver and JR transmitter. We stopped at the first dune âoverpassâ to observe the sloping buzzards and gulls. You could easily see them from the road as we drove north. I walked to the top of the first walkway and watched as the birds approached. You can learn a lot from the way the birds are moving along the slope.
The gulls were actually beating their wings as they approached our area. The buzzards went through smoothly and very low to the vegetation. However, I noticed that several hundreds yards to the north, the gulls were not moving their wings at all and were flying at a higher altitude.
So as my wife walked the beach in the eighty-degree temps, I drove further north and kept watching the birds and stopping at each parking area. I also was watching for an area that lacked swimmers and fishermen. At parking area 5, humans were in thin supply on the beach and the wind was still about 9-10 mph.
The birds were all cruising through this slope area with no wing movement at all. I noticed from the top of the stairs that the slope at this point was very abrupt at the base for about 10 feet, then more rounded to the top. This accounted for the extra lift in this area for several hundred yards to the south.
Going back to the van, I saw that the charger was done, and started assembling the Dynamic in the hot Florida sun on the backside of the slope in the parking lot behind my van. Of course, the wind was completely dead here, and although I did hear the surf pounding, I wondered how miserable this had to be when the temps here were in the 90-100 degree range in the summer. I was sweating profusely as I assembled the plane.
After checking the flight battery with the meter, then the controls for correct movement, set for low throws on the ailerons, I locked up the van and walked up the âoverpass.â At the top of this walkway, I launched toward the SE almost parallel to the slope. The plane climbed slowly and I easily had twenty feet of height above the slope with ten to fifteen seconds. My wife took a series of photos as the plane flew.
This slope, with a 15-20 mph wind will be very good for flying. However, the beach landing zone will shrink as the surf gets heavier. When I landed, it was in the middle of the beach and the plane was about 20 feet from the water. In todayâTMs wind, landing was easy, especially with the flaps on the Dynamic. With higher winds, things could get tough, and one might accidentally land in the vegetation. You will have a serious problem if the park rangers catch you.