Thermals and other turbulence can cause the sail to oscillate and pitch, causing the pilot to oscillate back and forth.
These oscillations must be controlled by timely application of the brakes; brakes are applied during forwarding flight to stop oscillations and stabilize the wing over the pilot's head. You have to be careful as the wing can collapse if the angle of attack is too large or too small. Flying with the brakes turned on in heavy thermals reduces the wing's tendency to roll and collapse because of the changes we are exposed to from air gusts.
Thermal etiquette is how to behave in thermals in the presence of other pilots. It's more than just good manners; it can be a matter of life and death. Here are a few basic rules:
1. The first pilot in the upstream determines the lap direction. All pilots enter the heat lap and then turn in the same direction.
2. The bottom pilot has priority. This is because he cannot see you, but you can see him. If he comes up to you, get out of his way and let him pass you.
3. We will fly in a large circle to accommodate the number of nearby pilots. We cannot fly rectangles, triangles, and ovals in thermals with other pilots because that is not what they expect. We also can't fly in a tight circle in the center of the core with two other pilots at their height since there is no room for them.
4. Weak thermals can move horizontally faster than up, and even if the pilots circled in the same direction, the circles would not be concentric if they were at different altitudes. In some cases, it may be necessary to change the turning radius to avoid conflict. In extreme cases, flying a lap in the opposite direction may be better.
5. Keep this in mind, look around, and make eye contact. Let other cyclists know that you can see them. Make your movements conscious so they can see what you intend to do. Indicate your intention by crossing your legs to cause a weight shift. 6.
6. If you feel uncomfortable, go outside. Flying in lots of thermals is an advanced skill.
Use the abovementioned techniques to make a heat map and focus on the wind direction. If you follow the basic rule of thermic flying (fly where the wind is), you will automatically follow the drift of the thermic. On the other hand, if you try to steer the thermal with a preconceived notion of which direction it will drift, you will drift away from it because it will probably do something different than you expected.
If you are enjoying a thermal flight and suddenly you have no upward flow, one of three things has happened:
- You left the thermal flight crooked.
- You fell off the bottom of the thermal flight.
- The thermal flight reached the height of the inversion and just stopped.
In the latter two cases, you don't need to do anything, but in the first case, you need to change your flight path 180 degrees and fly straight for a few seconds to return to the thermal. There are two valuable things to keep in mind about thermal drift. First, because thermals drift, if you are looking for thermals on a thermal indicator such as a bird, another pilot, or a cloud, you need to look downwind below and upwind above the indicator.