Steve Philipson January, 1994 [Copyright Steven H. Philipson 1994. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or part without the express written permission of the author. Authorized use is only for personal reading on the World Wide Web and Internet.] Soaring in Mountain Wave is an experience that few people get to experience and even fewer get to experience on a regular basis. We can however relatively easily simulate much of the sensation of flying the wave, and we don't have to travel far nor spend much money to do so. Here are a few ways that one can capture the sensations and thrills of flying the wave while remaining within just a few miles of home. First, dress warmly. *Extremely* warmly -- it's real cold at altitudes above 30 thousand feet. Use Charlie Brown's winter outfit as a model. If you can move without assistance, you're not wearing enough bulk. Recline in a moderately uncomfortable chair with no lumbar support for at least 30 minutes. This simulates the long wait you'll have for a tow as everybody else in the world is trying to get up into the wave at the same time. It's perfect if you start to sweat profusely. Drink plenty of water -- it'll come in handy later. Next, let's try a poor man's simulation of rotor -- one often must tow through rotor to get to the wave, so this is an important part of capturing the true experience. You may want to use a friend's car or a rental for this part. Get into the car and drive to a railroad crossing. Turn onto the railroad tracks and drive across the ties. Vary the speed until your suspension hits resonance thus maximizing the vertical disturbance. If your seat belts aren't causing you pain and your head isn't bouncing off the ceiling then you're not driving fast enough. Remember to get off the tracks if a train comes -- you don't particularly want to simulate inflight breakup of the glider while not wearing a chute. (Note: wearing a chute in the car won't help.) If you don't have railroad tracks handy, find a street with really bad potholes and drive along as fast as possible. It's all the better if the steering gets loose -- the lack of control and near panic is much like trying to stay behind the towplane in rotor. You might want to turn the heat up in the car -- this simulates how hot you'll get in your warm wave clothes at low altitudes. At this point you should consider driving home and starting over (a few times) -- it's not every tow through rotor that reaches the wave. When you think you can't take the pounding anymore, drive 10 more minutes, then return to the road and proceed to your local meat packer's plant. Drink 10 cups of coffee, tea, or other mild diuretic and proceed to the coldest deep freeze. Set up a large floor fan so that it blows directly up the foot end of some uncomfortable reclining chair. A cheap beach lounge will do, but be sure to put a few wooden boards on it so that it won't be too comfortable. You want the fan to suck as much heat out of your feet as possible, but you also want to get a good breeze in your face. This simulates having to keep the vents open so that the canopy doesn't freeze over due to the moisture in your breath. Next, set up a UV-lamp to point right at your head. This simulates the roasting you'll get from all those great "Bennies" (beneficial rays of the sun) without the protective effect of the last 30,000 feet of atmosphere to filter out the UV. Put on an oxygen mask and insert the hose end into a hole in a small cardboard box with another small hole in the other end of the box. This will allow you to rebreath most of your air but still get a small amount of fresh air, thus simulating mild hypoxia. It's not quite the same as the real thing because of the elevated concentration of CO2. You can make a more realistic simulation by leaking helium balloons into the bag, but this will cause you to sound like Mickey Mouse if you should talk. Carbon monoxide works well too, but you'll turn a funny cherry red color instead of that really cool hypoxic blue. Sit perfectly still in the chair for an hour and a half, thus simulating a climb in that totally smooth laminar lift towards that illusive "Lennie." By now the coffee should be getting to you and you'll have an incredible urge to urinate. This simulates the afferent nerve reaction that you get from having extremely cold extremities. (The deep freeze probably isn't cold enough to do it without the extra coffee.) Don't loosen your belt to relieve the pain -- remember, you're supposed to be sitting in a glider with lots of straps on, and you wouldn't be able to get at your belt while up there. Take an aerial photograph or map of your favorite soaring area and prop it up on the floor about 10 feet away. This will simulate the perspective of high altitude. Also, hang a navy blue sheet over your head. This shows you the darkness of the sky with only that thin stratosphere above you to scatter light. Continue sitting in the chair until your feet are so cold that you can't feel anything from your knees on down. Then wait an extra hour to simulate the descent from altitude. By now you should be in sheer agony from bladder pain, but that's all part of the fun. If you just can't hold it any longer, just let go, but don't forget to recite that really great line from _The Right Stuff_: "I'm really a wet-back now!" Now have some friends carry you out to the car (so that you don't get to stretch the muscles that are complaining about not moving for so long) and drive home back across the railroad ties (you've got to fly back through the rotor to get back to the glider field.) Fall out of the car and stand up, then scream in agony as your stiff legs and frozen feet haven't thawed out yet. Ignore the agony and hobble to the bushes to water them (if you still have to). Next, go back to the car, pull off your watch, put it on the ground, and *stomp* on it. Your barograph has failed, all the money for the tow, glider rental, and trip to the glider field is wasted, and now you'll have to do it all again! Finally, go clean yourself up, meet your friends, and lie to them over numerous beers about how wonderful and joyous was the entire experience, and invite them along for your next trip. Remember, misery loves company. NONE OF THESE ACTIVITIES IS WAVE FLYING, BUT ALL OF THEM SURE FEEL LIKE IT !!
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