As its winter so the soaring season is off. My goal for the year 2023 is to learn about cross country soaring. I personally like a more planned approach with set goals to learn something.
Gladly in the world of soaring we have various badges which are recognized by FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale). You start with Bronze badge and then make your way up to Silver, Gold and finally the Diamond badge. The badge provides a set criterion you need to meet which allows you to build your skills gradually.
I plan to use that as a way to learn about cross country soaring in real world. At the same time I want to make good use of time during winter on Condor 2 soaring simulator. Gladly some people have put tasks you can load in the simulator and try to do them. This week I tried with a Silver badge containing
- A flight on a straight course of at least 50 kilometers.
- A duration flight of at least 1 hour.
- A gain of height of at least 1000 meters (3280).
I choose the task that was setup in Nephi, USA as it's also a place I want to go in person in future so it's good to be aware of the landscape. Following is what the task looks like.
I started with a club class LS4a as when I tried the task I wasn't intending to complete it. Sadly club class glider are not eligible for the task so I couldn't get the credits for it online. Nonetheless the fact that I was able to complete the task was a moment of pure joy and also helped instill confidence that I can get better at it and do it this year in real life.
There were certainly some decisions I made that I definitely wouldn't make in real person. The simulator does afford you less risk hence its more prone to making those decisions but I was very conscious in calling out to myself that this is not a decision I would make in real life. I think this helped me complete the task but at the same time practice more thermalling.
I see thermalling as a task for exploit vs exploration (a notion from Machine Learning world). Mostly you want to exploit the thermal to the maximum you have found but at the same time you should leave room for exploration as otherwise you may be globally making a suboptimal decisions and may not go far. Hence some of the risks I took were for exploration of new thermals.
I would also recommend the following two videos that were really helpful for me to center thermal better.
I used the "Easy as 1-2-3" technique and what I found helpful was that in each circle I was calling out loudly where the thermal started and where the maximum lift was, so that in next circle I can adjust my bank angle to get more into the center of the thermal.
My next goal will be to use a school class glider to redo the Silver task so I get more practice and also get the credits online for completing the task.