There are many books on “how to fly gliders” and even some on flying cross country or racing, but few on how to soar. I want to engage those people who are passionately interested in the way sun, wind, terrain and the airmass combine to create all the varied patterns of air movement that we collectively call “lift”. Ridge, thermal, wave and convergence lift are all familiar to soaring pilots, but to look ahead at the sky and predict what will happen as you fly through it has always been a hard skill to acquire. Fear not, it isn’t a black art and no talent is required, except for a hunger to know what is going on. There is a solid, well understood body of knowledge and a set of well proven techniques that you can employ to play the great game of soaring successfully and safely, in all kinds of terrain, and in all types of lift.
This knowledge may exist already, but it isn’t widely disseminated. Yes, there are books, videos and magazine articles, and plenty of stuff on the internet. But is difficult to dig out the information in any coherent way that hangs together as a set of lessons, any scheme that makes it easy to learn and to make progress with your flying.
I believe that you should should learn and teach in a logical progression: from the easy to the difficult, and from the known to the unknown. Straightforward concepts and easily remembered, clear images help this rather abstract soaring stuff stick in the mind to be recalled when you need it. And when it comes to the science of how the air masses behave it’s important not to get too deeply involved in the maths and the physics. Leave that to the meteorologists: we only need to find the rising air.
The ﬁrst volume is a primer on the most common forms of soaring: ridge and thermal, ﬂatland and mountain ﬂying. The second volume gets a bit more technical, covering the less well understood areas of wave and convergence ﬂying. The third volume is about “the inner game” – how to make the right decisions to ﬂy fast and reliably in all the circumstances you may experience. The fourth volume focuses on the technology behind our sport and how to manage it. You don’t have to read the books in the order they were published: each volume contains enough background information to stand by itself. And all the books are designed to be consumed a page at at time: I’ve tried to lay out each page in the same style, with just one major concept or teaching point, a little extra discussion and a diagram to back it up. They’re text books, but reading them should be entertaining and not too difﬁcult. Enjoy!