Thermal Soaring

Thermals are rising columns of air created by convection heating. Birds have been using this source of lift to gain altitude for a long time and now the r/c glider flyer can have access to this free source of energy. R/C models can be launched in to the air by the aid of high start, winch and aero-tow and then released to search for thermals.


Thermal duration requires strategy, skill, and luck!
Add some competition and it gets exciting.

Pilots can test each other's soaring skills in Thermal Duration contests. Thermal duration requires a knowledge of your airplane, the weather, and the ability to see columns of rising air (also known as thermal vision).

Thermal duration competitions are held throughout California. Competitors and classes include novice, sportsman, and expert levels. Competing in a group of your peers can add excitement to a Sunday afternoon. Whether it's flying a Gentle Lady polyhedral in the GLIDER class, trying to make a 5 minute time, or trying for a spot landing where an inch can make the difference between first and second. There is a challenge for every skill level.

 Flying for time and landing skills come into play at the sportsman and expert levels, while novice and GLIDER class pilots are more concerned with just making their assigned task time.

The GLIDER class is for those who enjoy flying polyhedral type airplanes with a minimum of controls. A computer radio is NOT needed; in fact a 2-4 channel radio and a well designed plane are all that is required to be competitive.

The Gentle Lady. A simple and inexpensive way to get
involved in thermal soaring.


S.B.S.S. Glider Guiders

A tough landing task at Visalia

For expert and sportsman, landing within a second and hitting a small spot on the ground can make the difference between first and second place. This picture above shows a missed spot landing. The aircraft must land with its nose inside of the triangle. The closer you get to apex, the more points you receive. Here the distance is good, but the plane is just outside of the triangle's border.

Scale Thermal Duration, No landing points needed.

To fly the scale thermal duration task adds to the challenges of thermal competition. These gliders do not have all the capabilities of the unlimited T.D. gliders. Making your times are more challenging due to generally lower launch heights and performance. While making your task time is tougher, landing is easier. Due to the long rollouts these planes are required to use for landing, all you have to do is make a safe landing in the designated runway. With extra points given for accurately flying downwind, base, and a final approach, just like the real thing! See our scale page  for more info on this type of glider.

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