Wave Soaring

Wave lift is found on the lee side of mountains.  Crests of the wave are found at a distance between 5-50km from the top of the mountain.  The mountain wave is often recognized by the presence of mountain cap clouds, roll (rotor) clouds, and lenticular clouds.

Flying in mountain waves presents a number of hazards:

  • Foremost is turbulence which is greatest in the area of the rotor clouds and can be quite severe.
  • There is also the danger of clouds obscuring the ground.
  • With navigation at these altitudes one can become disoriented easily.
  • Strong winds aloft can also lead to navigation and glider performance misjudgments.
  • Variable ground winds are often associated with wave conditions and can lead to dangerous landing conditions.
  • Icing conditions can arise, affecting both the sailplane externally and internally in the cockpit.
  • Oxygen systems are required. This represents another source for mechanical failure not normally encountered in soaring.