A single take of my totally stock Ahi flying at Mt Clocher in the French Alps. The scenery was absolutely dreamy, but the lift was off-center and intermittent as thermals rolled through. Still had lots of fun! 🙂
When it was “good” it was about 10-12mph (guesstimate), but it was off-center about 25-30 degrees to the right, so even when it was “good” it wasn’t really very good by normal standards. You can see this in the stall turns on the left hand side… they drift downwind a lot, and really lack the vertical punch of the ones on the right hand side.
Trying to link aerobatic figures in such conditions is challenging, as you have to be ready at a moment’s notice to go hunting for lift. You also have to very carefully and subtly maintain your energy.
I shared this video for the specific reason that I wanted to demonstrate some techniques and tactics to keep the flow going in situations where the lift isn’t great:
– Focus on establishing vertical uplines aka “half piping” immediately, as these are the “engine” that keeps your airspeed/energy going. You can see I do this right on launch. By using the punchier vertical lift on the right hand side to gain back altitude / speed / energy, I was able to mostly keep a steady flow of figures going – at least until a thermal would blow through.
– You can also do a form of frontside dynamic soaring, where you do vertical loops in the middle of the “aerobatic box” (i.e right in front of you), exploiting the punchier side of the slope to keep and (hopefully) generate speed.
– On shallow slopes like these, I use the depth of the slope to my advantage when the wind shifts / a thermal blows through / I’ve done some “expensive” (in terms of energy) figures like low-level snaprolls, etc. When the wind is good, I try to stay as close to myself / high on the hill as possible, but as the lift starts to peter out, I trade altitude for airspeed by moving down / away on the slope. This lets me keep my halfpipes going for a bit longer before I’m forced to go thermal hunting. Sometimes the lift will pick back up and you don’t have to, you just work some in/out figures into your sequence and bring it back up high.
– Eventually you have to go thermal hunting. I am far from a slope / thermal expert, but generally speaking I can find and exploit thermals reasonably well in a slope setting. Anyways, this is an essential skill for mountain / inland flying. Find a thermal, climb out, and eventually, dive, using the speed to perform some high-speed acro, and finishing in a way that (hopefully) lets you re-establish your energy-sustaining halfpipes.
Re-posting the video for context:
Hope it’s interesting or at least a little helpful 🙂