Thermal Like a Pro

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The first thing you should learn is to thermal properly. This is REALLY important as it will make gliding easier and more relaxed. If you have learnt the wrong way it will feel counter intuitive in the beginning thermaling this way but after some practise you will be comfortable with it.

yaw string during thermaling
Nicely coordinated turn: yaw string outside and slow speed in a steady thermal

1.Yaw string should be pointing straight or outside the turn

THIS VIDEO HERE will show you how to determine the correct yaw string position in turn. When thermaling it's your job to keep the string in the correct position. Avoid the yaw string pointing inside when making a steady turn.

2.Keep the speed and bank angle constant

Read any book about gliding and it will describe a few different ways of centering a thermal. All of the techniques is based on moving your thermal cirkel one way or the other. The absolute core basic of this is that your circles in the first place is stationary and round. To make perfectly round and stationary circles you need to carefully guard speed and bank angle and keep them as steady as possible.

Flying my Standard Cirrus at 32kg/m2 the bank angle is between 30-45 degrees and speed around 80-90km/h. The optimal speed and bank angle varies all the time depending on the thermal and glider you fly. The general rule is to bank as little as possible and fly as slow as possible to reduce the gliders own sink thus increasing climb.

3.Minimum of control inputs

This technique will allow you to use the controls less as the glider is in a more stable position, thus giving less drag. By anticipating speed increase or decrease it's possible to thermal with very small and precis inputs.

When thermaling like this (constant speed and very small control inputs) the variometer also works better. The constant speed takes away errors in the total energy compensation and the small control inputs affects the gliders own sink less. What you see on the variometer is a good representation of the thermals movement.

It's a good idea to put a small center marking in the canopy that indicates center line. This way you can easily see which way the gliders is slipping.

This way of thermaling is nothing new and have been know for many years. I first read about it in an article from 2004 in Soaring Magazine called " CIRCLING THE HOLIGHAUS WAY - OR DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KEEP THE YAW STRING CENTERED?"

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