Monday, April 28, 2008

Arctic Levitation

In Alaska, come December, I'll be flying my paraglider in strange conditions: darkness, extreme cold (you need wind to do this kind of flying, and you fly into the wind, which means windchills of -100F or more), and a very constrained region of mechanical lift called the "lift band," where air rushes up a bluff face, raising the paraglider like a kite -- with you on board. But hang too far back, and I'll slip into "rotor", turbulent air that can send me down, or fly too far forward, and though I'll have a decent landing on the sea ice, I'll be out of the lift band. For this reason I'll have to fly back and forth across the bluffline. When I want to come down, I'll ascend up and out of the lift band, adn make my ideal landing approach, Downwind, Base, then Final approach. These are the plans, so far! But of course, no plan, as they say, survives contact with the enemy. The Arctic isn't my enemy, only a fool would go up there thinking that way, but you get the idea. I expect things to come unglued the moment I lift off :)

Right now I;m working on my arctic-grade helmet & flight suit, and surveying photos and maps of the north coast to find suitable bluffs. The drawing above is a schematic of an ideal location for this kind of ultra-low flight or "levitation".

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