To SEE or NOT to SEE

From one tiny, short-lived wisp of cloud to several days of low, heavy overcast; from two hundred mile visibility to fair-weather haze or smoke so dense you cannot see the sun or your own shadow; from summer sleet under a booming cumulus to angry squalls of rain, snow, or hail so thick the far end of your runway disappears on final approach…   these are all conditions we can expect to encounter during a well-rounded soaring career.   Learning to interpret what we see (or can’t see) is vital, so look UP and study the sky whenever possible.

Sudden showers may be forecast, but often are not.   They can plummet unseen from fair-weather clouds directly overhead, instantly reducing visibility to zero.

Blowing sand may completely conceal a desert landscape on perfect thermal or wave days, and even sunlight itself can cause profound visibility problems any time you’re looking toward the sun.   When the air gets so thick that you can only see straight down it’s time to go where you can see:  DOWN!