So if I flew up into a cloud...

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Matt G.

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Is there a verifiable source? the Daily Mail is notorious for basing stories on such things as random tweets & half-heard drunken conversations.
Can't remember the title, but there is a book about a fighter pilot that ejected in a thunderstorm, and ended up stuck there under his parachute for several hours before finally being spit out. So it is definitely plausible...
 

Pops

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Derswede

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One thing to watch for when using the cat"/duck method is the cat's friend....the goat. Normally expressed as, "what the Heck is that goat doing on that cloud!!!???". Typically followed by a loud sound.

We rebuilt a Luscombe 8A some years back, (it had gone solo w/o a pilot....). And the guy that bought it managed to fly thru a cloud into a hillside about 50 degrees off course. His last transmission was, " where the &&&@$ did that tree come from!!"

Derswede
 

radfordc

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mcrae0104

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And did you finish "High Road"? If so, What did you think?
Loved it! It was good to get the perspective on the "old days" but still timely now. His commentary on how different the land (by which he means more than just the physical landscape) looks from the air was one of my favorite parts.
 

Dana

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Is there a verifiable source? the Daily Mail is notorious for basing stories on such things as random tweets & half-heard drunken conversations.
Yes, it happened during a competition and was well documented, and exhaustively discussed on the paragliding forums.

Dana
 

Dana

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Is there a verifiable source? the Daily Mail is notorious for basing stories on such things as random tweets & half-heard drunken conversations.
Yes, it happened during a competition and was well documented, and exhaustively discussed on the paragliding forums.

Dana
 

Aesquire

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So.... the consensus is a nut on a string is not a reliable flight Instrument? :)

Cumulo-granite is what we called clouds below mountain tops.
 

DangerZone

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Is there a verifiable source? the Daily Mail is notorious for basing stories on such things as random tweets & half-heard drunken conversations.
Dunno about that story, but a friend of ours stopped paragliding after being sucked into a CB the similar way. Them paragliders don't learn about meteorology much so he was paragliding down a mountain on a clear Summer day when this anvil kind of cloud approached him from behind the mountain. At first he was so excited how his parafoil gained altitude and he thought he was in control. Then in a split second the whole airfoil and his rig were pulled down, back and then up into the cloud, like swallowd. The cloud was dark inside, dull gray, the wind was hissing and ice started accumulating on his parts instantaneously. He felt he was pulled up and tossed around as a feather (he's a large heavy guy) and then he saw what he thought were golf balls. At some point he realized it was hail, and was happy he had full gear on with helmet & protective covers. But then it got worse, he was tossed around more violently and confused, he was not aware what was going on anymore. He even thought this was just adream from which he could not wake up. A nightmare. Cold, fingers froze in gloves, unable to move and reach for the mobile phone (like it would help), complete helplessness and all he could do is wish for this nightmare to end. And then after this torture at one moment, he was spit out of the cloud at around 6000m of altitude some 50km from the place he was paragliding. Temperature around 30°C, sun shining, he still could not move because he was frozen solid, his whole body was covered in ice. After a couple minutes, he managed to take control and start spiraling down to lower altitudes. When his right hand defrosted, called a friend to pick him up at the beach. He picked him up, took him to hospital, he had frost bites on his face and hands. The nurse at the hospital could not understand how he got frost bites during a clear Summer day. He never paraglided again in his life, sold his whole gear for peanuts, transitioned to kite surfing during Summer.

...
It occurred to me immediatly, I wouldn't have an attitude indicator. Working good aircraft grade Attitude Indicators are *very expensive*, so they are way, way down my list of things to try and score on the cheap someday.

To fly into a cloud, even for a minute without one, either accidentally or intentional, probably would be a dangerous proposition, as I'd no longer have visual reference to anything like the ground or sun or space above.

So what could I do in such an emergency? And then I though...
It would really be advisable to do a PPL or anything which would allow you to understand the difference of clouds (meteorology), the deception of human senses (the subject 'Human performance and limitations' is taught at a PPL course) and the basics how to fly according to instruments in VFR conditions.

Sure, you MIGHT get away with getting into one cloud, but then again you might not in the next one. Part of the PPL training before tha final check is when the instructor pulls his jacket onto the windscreen and tells you "You just flew accidently into a cloud, what do you do?" If you get confused or don't do what you are trained to do, the aircraft will lose altitude (and in a worse case attitude). Many good and well trained pilots still manage to lose it even after knowing all these subjects and having been trained to cope with such situations. So, what do you think how much you could manage to stay safe in thin air, with no training and completely unaware about what is going on around you? Your speed is constant, and time is running second after second... Even with a small aircraft, the speed would be around 20 meters a second (you'd move more than 60 feet every second) in an unknown direction and attitude.

There is a reason why VFR flying is performed strictly clear of clouds - it is illegal for a VFR pilot to fly into clouds even WITH instruments. And still, every year there are some VFR pilots who simply die because they thought they could manage to pass through, trusting their 'feelings'. Those without VFR PPL training have even worse statistics, so it might give you some food for thought about safety.
 
M

Manticore

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I still remember one question in my (French) PPL(A) exam.
It was a picture of a CB with the question being "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" (What is this).
The correct answer was, simply: "Dangereux pour les pilotes"
 

Dana

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Dunno about that story, but a friend of ours stopped paragliding after being sucked into a CB the similar way. Them paragliders don't learn about meteorology much....
I don't think you can make a blanket statement like that. Any decent PG instructor will make sure the student understands weather as it affects a paraglider, since a PG is so affected by the wind, and it's a large part of getting maximum performance.

Dana
 

choppergirl

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Spirit of St. Louis Spirit Level Indicators


It really is nothing more than a plumb bob :) Invented thousands of years ago by the Egyptians.

The reason I hazard it would be better than nothing, is that even if its just an inclinometer, you could have some idea of the orientation of a slow flying plane by looking at it. Not a jet fighter, mind you, but a 45 mph slow flying ultralight.

If your plane started to roll to the left or the right, it would be an uncorrdinated turn, and you could tell from the inclinometer.

The problem with an inclimometer, is in a moving vehicle, it is affected by three different forces. A perfect instrument, ideally, would only read a change in one variable, not three added all together, which seemingly would tell you nothing.

You would think an instrument that reads out the sum of three different forces would be totally useless. But another aircraft instrument, an altitude indicator, is affected by three different variables aggregating together: altitude, weather (fronts), and temperature. The only thing it accurately reads is barometric pressure. You have to calibrate it before every flight to the current conditions to try and cancel out the other two variables you don't want to measure, and just hope they don't change to much during your flight... and if they do, you just factor in that error introduced as not too important and acceptable.

If we eliminate wind against our plumb bob instrument, and periodically dampen any pendulum swing motion on it by dropping it against our pants leg... we get a rudimentary inclinometer that works perfect if you are stationary, but not no so great if you are moving through a frame of reference, because two other forces start acting on it.

Such an inclinometer is then affected by three forces... and you can't tell them apart... they can act with each other, to exacerbate a reading), or against each other (to cancel out any reading):

1. gravity
2. acceleration/deceleration
3. centripetal force

In this scenario, the only force we want to measure is gravity (which was is straight down). The other two, will give us false indications, if all we want to read is gravity. If we can somehow minimize them, or interprete them out, we may be able to get some idea of the one variables effect we do want to measure (gravity).

Since we are flying straight and level to begin with, and holding a constant throttle, acceleration/deceleration is going to be negligable. And its also an instantaneous force... meaning you would have to be steadily accelerating / decelerating for it to continuously throw off the reading. And ruling out gusts of wind, it will mostly just affect your forward/rear inclination, which is not as critical as your left/right roll.

So for intents and purposes, I think we can cross that one out.

That leaves two main forces, and things are looking up for your survival chances, until you realize, centripetal force is a real bugaboo. Depending on if you are slipping or skidding or in a coordinated turn, it can show left, right, or no change at all (cancels out any indication of your roll and gives you no information at all).



However, if we have a compass as well, a very cheap instrument an ultralight might not be without, we might be able to use that in concert to tell if we are turning or not, even if our slip/skid indicator (the plumb bob leaning left or right) told us nothing at all (if we were in a coordinated turn).

My theory is, if you were to glue your eyes to your plumb bob, and periodically glance to your compass, and do your best to hold her steady and level (and not get too far out of that), you just might make it out the other side. I'm not saying you wouldn't be sweating buckets while you did this... I'm saying it may be better than nothing.

Your house keys tied on a jacket string in a pinch, won't make flying through a cloud a cinch, but as long as you don't flinch, you might just live another day to return to HBA and be a grinch :)

I was hoping to make a little science experiment video to film and test this in use on my motorbike, against hard reality, like any good amateur scientist would, which in lieu of having a flying airplane myself, at least does lean during turns, but I've since lost interest. I'd have to build a little contraption to hold my camera steady, and drive at a constant throttle up and down hills and around curves, and then dub narration over it... more work than I have time to invest at the moment.

There are various scenarios where you might find yourself in a cloud in an ultralight when you didn't intend at all to be in one. Maybe you flew up between patchy clouds, and as you kept flying, the clouds came together in a constant blanket, and then your engine goes out and you have no choice, like it or not, but to descend through them. Or maybe you got sucked up into one while thermaling via cloud suck. Rare but possible. I myself don't intend to do much flying up that high, where the clouds are, that kind of altitude in a flying lawnchair scares me, but I might just screw up my courage and try it once just to see how high I had the guts to go. I'd chicken out way, way lower before I ran into issues with hypoxia or super cold.

If I were to use a plumb bob, it would be smart to know how it reacted ahead of time of needing it before your life depended on it. I would fly with it when I wasn't in a cloud, so that I could get use to its behavior and reaction and the amount of such reaction, during normal flight, climbs, descents, stalls, and how it reacted in rolls, skids, slips, and coordinated turns. If you knew how to read it, and its limitations, and its reactions, ahead of time before your life depended on it, your chances of survival in a white out situation might increase even further.

You could go from "I'm already dead" to "Well, maybe I've got a bat's chance in hell... glue my eyes to this instrument and steady and gentle on the stick. Think balancing a basketball on your finger tip..."

~

You shouldn't get your panties in a wad over a plumb bob. Stay frosty, guys ;-)
 
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Dan Thomas

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You shouldn't get your panties in a wad over a plumb bob. Stay frosty[/URL], guys ;-)
The problems with the internet include misinformation that innocent people take as fact. The idea of a plumb bob as a blind flying instrument is one of those that can get someone into trouble. That's why experienced people try to correct misconceptions: to save lives and prevent a lot of grief. Over the years we've had plenty of heated discussions over various things, and it can be difficult to convince the uninitiated of their error. A few hours of flight instruction goes a long, long way to opening the eyes and mind to the real stuff and eliminating the false intuitive feelings and ideas.

One of those more recent issues was skidding, low-speed turns. Those of us with stall/spin instructing experience know the dangers there, while those that haven't experienced such a phenomenon just don't get it, and sometimes it kills them.
 

Marc Zeitlin

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It really is nothing more than a plumb bob :) Invented thousands of years ago by the Egyptians....
I can't really believe that we're having a discussion here as to whether a slip/skid indicator, which is all that the "nut on a string" is, could in any way, shape or form be of more than infinitesimal assistance when in IMC.

And the use of the SOSL IP as an indication that these COULD be useful is disingenuous. The instrument just above the "T" shaped yellow liquid filled tubes is called a Turn and Bank indicator. It, in fact, has a gyroscope in it and DOES, in fact, indicate whether the wings are parallel to the ground or whether the aircraft is banked (hence its name). With THIS instrument, one CAN, in coordination with the airspeed indicator and altimeter, fly safely (if with some difficulty) in IMC. It's used as a backup to the Attitude Indicator to which you have so much antipathy.

You shouldn't get your panties in a wad over a plumb bob.
No one's panties are in a wad about plumb bobs or slip/skid indicators - the issue is one of uneducated (which is fixable, with effort) people promulgating unsafe information in public. The tiniest amount of research into instrument flying, and the first lesson in instrument flying, would disabuse you of any notion you have with respect to flying safely (for however short a period of time) in IMC with a plumb bob.
 

DangerZone

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I don't think you can make a blanket statement like that. Any decent PG instructor will make sure the student understands weather as it affects a paraglider, since a PG is so affected by the wind, and it's a large part of getting maximum performance.

Dana
Indeed, you are right. It might be different in the USA, but in Europe generally the meteorology learned during a PG course is nowhere close to what is learned during a PPL course. The PG instructors simply explain which winds are favorable, the idea behind lift and wind, and present a general view that bad looking clouds should be avoided. Even if they explain all about CBs or mountain waves, most paragliders soon forget all about 'the bad stuff'.
 

nerobro

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Take care on jumping on people when they're wrong. Being "wrong" is ok. Explain nicely. Chewing them out, calling them dumb, showing exmaples of why they're dumb, just makes them less likely to ask questions in the future.

It's not good behavior.
 

Victor Bravo

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"Bubba-baiting", and "piranha hunting", and "trolling" just to stir the pot and get a bunch of old folks riled up, is not really exemplary behavior either. Particularly when the old folk have consistently shown a strong desire to actually help the kids who are playing with the fishing rods, or get them started on the right foot, etc.
 
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