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By red
andylongvq wrote:. . . I team fly whenever possible when flying XC.
With just one other person gliding next to you, you double your chances of finding lift. This previous sentence may sound theoretical yet has proven true in real life so many times it's ridiculous.
I've lost count of the times I've been gliding next to my buddy and one of us hits lift where the other guy felt nothing. Even when we've been gliding not very far apart.
When The B Team goes on glide together, we often fly 3 abreast to triple our chances. Here's a Camtasia/SeeYou video of team flying in action.

- Andy

+1 big-time, on Andy's post. Here in landlocked Utah, USA, you will often see our famous seagulls flying XC over the desert, in a loose line-abreast formation. Any bird that catches lift will give the call, and then both ends of the line turn back, to the bird that called. The spacing between birds is enough that two birds will seldom hit the same thermal at once, but there is no chance they will miss a thermal, as a group. The average line formation is usually ten to twenty birds, working together.

Co-operative flying (like Andy says) gives everybody the best chances of going long.


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I've witnessed similar above the Sierra foothills. I couldn't comprehend what they were at the time but since then have decided it was seagulls in a vee formation in route to nesting at Mono Lake. They found lift a couple thousand feet A.G.L. and climbed so high in lift if there was more drift to the thermal I would have needed binoculars to keep track of the gaggle before they topped out and continued E.N.E.
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There's a ridgeline near Portage Glacier south of Anchorage Alaska where you can literally see thousands of all types of birds in migration over a short time period in the spring. For whatever reason they use a different route in the fall I guess.
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By andylongvq

You must have "read" my mind because I was going to start a thread on this. Here's what pilots who want to do this should look for.

Find someone in your area or group of pilots who has similar climbing skills as you. Doesn't matter if you are just starting to go XC. Someone with similar skills and who also has a glider with similar performance.

Talk to them and see if they would be interested in forming a team with you. If they say yes, you've gained way more than just doubling your chances of finding lift.

Two of you make it easier to:

- pay for gas
- find a driver
- pay for a driver
- predict the weather
- drive for each other when you can't find a driver on a really great day
- scout LZs
- gather waypoints
- etc.

Both our local A Team (Vince and Rich) and our B Team (Andy, Greg and Kurt) share all our information and chores.

As the Nike commercial says, "Just Do It".

- Andy
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By andylongvq
The Basics Of How To Team Fly

- Get in line one right behind the other when it's time to launch. If one person is a better climber, he should launch second. The reason for this is because the second guy off will be able to climb to the top of the lift faster than the slower climber... who launched first and is waiting at the top of the lift for the second guy. This will give you a quicker departure over the back.

- Spread out when gliding. If one guy follows the other, you're defeating the purpose of flying as a team.

- Fly with radios so you can communicate. Tell each other what you are feeling in the air. Rich and Vince got it down to the point where if one hit lift, he'd just say over the radio, "Turn right" or "Turn left".

- If one pilot is quite a bit higher than the other while climbing, the upper pilot should wait at the top of the lift for the lower pilot. If you watch this video...

... and this one...

... you'll notice the higher pilot seems to repeatedly circle at random near the end of the climb without gaining anything before the pair set off on glide. This is not a random act. It's the top pilot waiting at the top of the lift for the lower pilot. This allows you to head off on glide together at the same altitude.

- Staying together his hard. When one guy is way lower or misses a climb and you've now got a thousand feet between you, it makes no sense for the high pilot to wait. Just head off on your own because you'll be amazed at how often, just by the statistical chance, you'll get lower while the trailing pilot gets up and you'll end up back together again.

- If one pilot's radio craps out, the rule is that the one who can still communicate (with the driver) sticks with the pilot who can't and lands with that pilot no matter what. This way you don't have to pull the plug on an XC flight just because one pilot's radio dies.

Team flying is a blast! Give it a try.

- Andy
By jloopingBE
Hi Red,

Team flying's also my favorite, and to be honest, I don't enjoy XC flying without folks up in the air. I soooo much understand your statements.

Where there team competitions, I mean like the whole of a party must reach the target in a given timeframe, I might be interested in comps. Without it and just for pure competition, no interest at all.

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By andylongvq
Here's footage of a classic example of how a single pilot on glide could have flown right past a thermal.

Kurt and I were gliding side by side. We were actually closer together than ideal at the time. Enough miles had past since our last climb that we figured that there should be something nearby. In fact, you can hear Kurt say, "Where is it?"

You can see me drop into the sink before the lift then fly into the lift. I delay banking fully at first so I can just roll flat again and continue on glide in case it's just a little useless area of up air. I then fully crank it over when I see it's worth 360ing in.

You'll notice Kurt's glider does nothing as I fly into the lift... even though I was quite close to him as we are normally more spread out. This shows how he would have flown right past it and never known it was there.

It's amazing just how many times this has happened when I've been on glide while team flying.

- Andy

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