No doubt that thermaling in winter can be pretty good. The main limitation is the low angle of the sun and the resulting lack of intense heating of the ground. I have found (at least around here) that thermals tend to be pretty anemic within 3 weeks or so of the winter solstice (Dec. 21), unless the atmosphere is very unstable and "thermalific". Another practical limitation is one's ability to withstand the cold air!
Originally Posted by peterlngh
Nice flying, Forest Flyer! I'm a little tipsy so I'll log your flight when I get back to the computer next time.
You demonstrated what I keep trying to tell anyone who will listen.
1. A cold ambient air temperature does not inhibit the formation of thermals.
2. Cold air temperatures can actually enhance the strength of thermals.
3. Thermals do, however, form differently than in high summer.
The "different kinda lift" that you caught sounds like the lift I worked until well after sunset the other day. In my case it came off a freeway (NOTE: I never fly over the freeway! It's a few hundred yards from my field and I just use said freeway for lift when the wind blows the lift back to me.) that cooled more slowly than the ambient air. It sounds like you found one of those heat sources too. In years past I had several really exiting times using the lift from a relatively warm bit of open water in the middle of a frozen lake.
My message? Don't think you won't find lift because of cold air temps.