‌Suppose you’re looking up and see vague milky blotches in an otherwise empty sky. Unlike clouds in clear air, patterns and depth perception are indistinct, but they could represent significant information. You can’t tell if you’re looking at fog nearby, smoke atop the convective layer, or who knows what between.

There’s a trick for situations like this, that’s so simple it sounds dumb. All you do is put a finger up there and draw a line slowly across the scene, following the finger with your eyes. You’ll see surprising patterns emerge from the background, and a second swipe some other direction will reveal even more. Cool, huh? That’s it, now the secret’s out.

Surely recon experts know about this kind of thing, and perhaps many of our readers as well, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it, or seen another pilot pointing at the sky and watching their finger like a lunatic.

Of course, to those looking on it does appear standard issue crazy, so it’s okay to peek around beforehand, just in case. You know, like you do before uh…

Anyway, when someone finally does catch you, may as well try to explain yourself, not only to seem sane, but hopefully share some enlightenment as well. If that makes them think you’re nuts and a pompous know-it-all, it’ll be their problem, not yours.




Check out our friend Chuck Fulton’s podcast where he features stories of glider pilots from all over the world.

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