Before my recent slope flying trip to South Dakota, my slope flying was rather limited. The slopes I had flown on either were so hard to stay up consistently on, or I was worried about flying out over trees. Besides I could thermal fly a couple of miles from my house. Lucky for me, I was open-minded and gave slope flying a real chance. The following are a few of the reasons that I have a new interest in slope flying.
Trying different slopes; the scenery, the lift conditions, the challenge of the landing zone provided new variety for me. I am the type of person that likes to explore, I try new trout streams, bike trails, or web sites on the Internet, it is what makes life interesting. Thermal and power fields are pretty much the same, but it looks like there can be a wide variety in slopes.
Feeling Out the Slope
Exploring the lift zone, exploring how high above the hill you can climb, or how low you can fly down the hill and climb back up. Finding the spots on the hill that give the extra bit of lift, and using the lift to perform aerobatics. Thinking ahead what to do if the lift suddenly dies, landing in tall trees is not a good option.
The Landing Zone, the “LZ” in slope-talk. It is all in how you look at it; do you like a challenge? I do. Landing can be fairly easy on some slopes or it can be an exciting challenge for the best pilots. With EPP airplanes, even a controlled crash gets you down with no damage.
Choose Your Weapon
Trying to pick a sailplane that works best in the current conditions or flying site. Some planes will not stay up at all on a slope under some wind conditions others will do pretty well. Even if it works well, the slope flyer will try something different, just because. This is why so many slope flyers bring a van full of planes to go flying, wouldn’t be that they would ever crash that many.
The Feelings You Get
The view from the top of the hill or mountain, being able to see for miles and miles, it gives you this great feeling; like watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
The great feeling that you can do about any maneuver the power flyers can, without all the hassles and mess of dealing with those noisy glow engines. It is like you are getting something for free. Better yet, you look forward to the one thing that seems to bother most power flyers the most, wind.
What is Better About Slope Than Thermal Flying
Thermal flying pretty much ends early evening because the lift dies out, but slope flying can very well extend into the evening hours. Really adventurous slope flyers put lights on their planes and continue to fly.
EPP planes fly very well on the slope; EPP can work for thermal flying, but at least for the hand launch flying I do, a plane that costs at least $300 is what I prefer. Planes that cost well under $100, do just fine on the slope.
The Icing on the Cake
Observing dynamic soaring, really has me looking forward to taking on one of the ultimate slope soaring challenges. Besides, I haven’t had a really good crash in a long time.