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Old May 05, 2002, 07:27 PM
Registered User
Joined Jun 2001
1,009 Posts
Do you get thermal on top of lake?

Hi all

My flying site have a huge lage in front. The banks are not steep or high. The wind is not strong either, so no sloping lift.

So as the day get warmer from 10-12 noon, can one get any thermal development here. I don't fly beyond 12 noon as I have other obligations, though luck!

Used to get tonnes of them when I fly behind the pit area as we have tonnes of factory/warehouses which generate tremendous lift.

But we are setting up a club and limiting the flying area so I need to check if the lake will be a friend or foe. I did manage to get one time, but only if the sun gets really hot!
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Old May 05, 2002, 08:36 PM
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Ben Diss's Avatar
USA, NY, Chestnut Ridge
Joined Jun 2000
1,694 Posts
It's not likely. Typically, water is cooler than the air and does not radiate the sun's energy back into the air. The only way I can think that you might find a thermal over a large body of water is if detached from an upwind source and climbed above the water.

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Old May 05, 2002, 08:54 PM
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Ron Cichowski's Avatar
Carver, MA USA
Joined Jun 2000
553 Posts
Every year I spend 3 weeks on the northern reaches of Lake Champlain on the Vermont side about a mile below the Canadian border. The cottage I stay at has about 200 acres of fields suitable for winch setup leading to the lake shores. This location in July and August has consistently the best thermal activity of any places that I fly. I have dotted out everything I have ever flown here from HLG to 3Meter. The activity is long lasting too, I've done an hour on every plane I bring to this site. Fatigue and boredom bring me down after 60 minutes.
Thermals are a result of a temperature differential between air masses. I think that that big body of temperature stable water adjacent to the land that heats relatively rapidly under the sun is the reason this activity is so pronounced and dependable. I also spend a fair amount of time on the lake fishing from a boat and take note of gulls working thermals over the water. I haven't yet had the nerve to try hand launch from the boat yet though.
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Old May 05, 2002, 09:54 PM
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NSP (Vermont)
Joined Aug 2000
2,695 Posts
The area you a flying from, Ron has a unique topology. I wouldn't count on this from most lake areas. You have to look at how the land sets up with the body of water and what are the prevailing winds.
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Old May 06, 2002, 06:12 PM
Private Pilot, M20J Owner
Lake Dallas, Texas
Joined Apr 2002
86 Posts
My father is a pilot (ya know, the full size things) and we fly over lakes specifically because the flights tend to be very smooth while flying over them. This is directly attributed to the fact that we never expect any thermals to be coming up off of the lake. I agree with sal, I wouldn't count on any thermals from a lake.

Oh ya, I should point out, my father prefers to fly in the early mornings and evenings when the air is a lot smoother...in the event that we are flying mid day...lakes become a fun place to fly over because it can smooth out most flights even during peak thermal hours...
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Old May 06, 2002, 08:59 PM
Launch the drones ...
Ashtabula, OH USA
Joined May 1999
3,412 Posts
You can use the lakeside to your advantage - the land, if it's flat, and especially if it's unplanted, will heat up first - before the water. This will generate your thermals quite readily.

Here in Cleveland, we have the air show on the lake front each year. When the smokers fly, you can see the smoke come back off of the lake, just above the water, move onto the land (hot parking lots and runways) and then straight up for several hundred feet. At that point, it cools off a bit and travels back out over the lake, and I think it then falls back down towards the water - but it's hard to see at that point.
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Old May 06, 2002, 11:10 PM
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Joined Jun 2001
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This started to sound hopeless to me!

The lakeside is flat but it have cow grass on it. Nice for landing and I doubt it will give me thermal action especially in the morning with the mildew barely evaporated.

Unless I have a down drift thermal from the factory area, otherwise I need to get a new plane that are lighter/floater ie the ELipsoid.

I just became a Secretary for a local Aero model that we want to set up, so we have new rules and all.

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