L is for Lovely Lenticular, and Lift, and Lost Airplanes (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Mon, 25 May 2020

L is for Lovely Lenticular, and Lift, and Lost Airplanes

[Complex cloud formation]

Driving down to Española a few days ago, I was struck by this lovely cloud formation -- a lenticular cloud over the Sangre de Cristos, with something more cumulussy in front of it.

Though admittedly, lenticular clouds aren't particularly uncommon here. The Sangres, in particular, seem to form eddies that lead to all sorts of interesting lenticular cloud structures.

Lenticulars apparently are good indicators of lift: glider pilots seek them out. I guess if we had more moisture in the air, we might have seen some lenticulars over the field Sunday morning when we were flying R/C planes at Overlook.

It was windy, too windy for most of us, but there was a lot of lift. I had fun flying my little UMX Radian glider for a while, but ultimately the wind was just too much for a 1.5-oz plane; I kept needing to use the motor to keep the plane from getting blown so high and so far downwind that I couldn't see what it was doing.

Another pilot didn't do so well: her UMX Timber didn't have enough power to fight the wind, and since it was in "safe mode", which tries to keep the plane flying level and doesn't let you overcorrect or put the plane into dangerous attitudes, she couldn't put it in a dive to gain airspeed. So it just kept flying farther and farther downwind as the lift took it higher and higher, until finally we all lost sight of it.

[Dave with UMX Radian] It probably landed gently ... somewhere ... after it lost radio contact. Probably miles away. Some San Ildefonso or Santa Clara pueblo member may find a nice plane in their yard or on the trail.

(And the UMX Timber is indeed a nice plane. Dave has one too, and I've flown it quite a bit. Here's his, with the floats he added to help with taking off from grass. My UMX Radian glider is hiding under the blue chair, where it won't blow away in a gust of wind, and those are some of my other planes stacked behind the chair.)

The loss of the Timber was a lesson to all of us of the dangers of not being clear on which switch disables safe mode, for those who use it. I don't use safe mode myself: it requires a special, more expensive receiver, and I've seen more planes crashed due to safe mode than I've ever seen saved by it.

Here's another lenticular cloud from last year: [Complex cloud formation]

[ 14:57 May 25, 2020    More nature | permalink to this entry | comments ]