Sunday, May 25, 2014

It just might be working...

Those two or three of you who are regular readers know that I have been working on the "Essence and Finesse" project for a long time.  Put briefly, I have been exploring how the aerodynamic concepts of "essence," which is like energy only more so, and "finesse," which is the wing's glide ratio only more so, can explain various flying phenomena.  You can read more starting here.

But one thing that has always bothered me about this project was that, so far, I had not used it much in the air.  The reason for this is simple: a primary student has to pass the FAA knowledge test, and presenting an alternative approach to the basics of aerodynamics is more likely to confuse people than help them.

But if I can't teach it, then what's the point?

Our new glider club is appropriately strict about who instructs, and I needed to fly with the Chief Instructor before taking on students. We flew yesterday, and it was fun!  He asked me to do some things I haven't done in a while, which I enjoyed.

But I saw an opening.  We were in slow flight with almost continuous buffet (remember, few gliders have stall warning devices, so being sensitive to the buffet is important).  He asked me to do a 360 degree turn, so I put the ship into a 10 degree bank and started around.

The buffet increased so I relaxed just a little back pressure, not so much that we picked up speed.  The buffet was still there.

"That buffet is energy your glide doesn't have any more," I said softly.  ("Said softly" can be hard in a glider at high speed with the air vents open, even though there's no engine noise.  But in slow flight there' s much less wind noise so you can speak softly.)

Now, I didn't go into a long dissertation about essence and fuel and the psyche, just a simple statement about energy management.

There was an appreciative murmur from the front.

This stuff might be useful!


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