Intermediate XC Session 2 – The Cumberland Run

Lesson Plan:

Objective: Practice ridge soaring and ridge transitions on a fun and informative ridge task

Discussion Topics:

    • Ridge Soaring Basics
      • Vertical position and crab angle
      • Vary speed to maintain vertical position
      • Need to have landing options in mind at all times
    • Ridge Transitions
      • Upwind transitions (see ‘Mifflin Upwind Transitions’ movie)
      • Downwind transitions
    • Thermalling off a ridge


      • Cross-country flying concepts
      • Cross-country safety considerations


      • Mifflin soaring area

Completion Standards:

      • Ability to recognize proper crab angle and position relative to the ridge
      • Proper attention to airspeed, varying as necessary to maintain ridge position
      • Ability to generate and verbalize Plan A/B/C… including landing options

Required Resources:

      • Mifflin Scenery (available from gliderracing site)
      • Plane Pack 1 (required for Discus 2 glider)

Condor Settings:

      • Water ballast: None
      • C/G Bias: -1.6″

Lesson Files:

Pre-brief (15 minutes)

Answer any questions and/or address any issues arising from Session 1.  Review basic ridge soaring techniques and associated safety principles.  Remind the student of the need to hold a distinct crab angle (and the natural human tendency to remove same), the concept of varying airspeed to hold vertical position (and therefore the use of airspeed as a ‘figure of merit’ rather than altitude), and the absolute requirement to keep thinking about landout locations available within the next 60-120 seconds.

The Cumberland Run (2.5 – 3 hours)

This 172-mile task is set in the Mifflin scenery, as most U.S. pilots know this site as a ‘ridge soaring’ site, and it the scenery is readily available from multiple sources. The concept for this session is to fly one of the most popular and scenic ridge tasks in the entire Mifflin soaring area, concluding with the thrilling (esp in real-life!) Raystown Dam Reservoir ridge run, 20 miles or so of spectacular ridge flying along the eastern edge of the Raystown reservoir.  Although the task length seems rather daunting, it can actually be accomplished in a  little over two hours, even with some minor mis-steps.

 Other Notes:

This is a fairly long task, and there are lots of places where the student might get in trouble. In particular, one place is the Pulpit Hill transition (the ‘Zig’ in KS’s description), as it is tempting (and wrong!) to go behind Pulpit Hill going southbound (its OK to do this northbound).  Another is the upwind transition at ‘The Wall’ going southbound – this requires some thermalling, and it may not work on the first try (remember that you can easily ‘fail downwind’ back to the Tussey ridge).  One last place I’ve seen trouble is going over ‘The Wall’ southbound – if the student jumps downwind too early, then the patch of high ground between ‘The Wall’ and Tussey ridge can be difficult to negotiate.

The instructor should stress to the student that while the Raystown Dam Reservoir ridge fun and instructive in Condor, in real life it should never be attempted except in very good ridge conditions, and it is a ‘one way’ (northbound only) ridge system.  Part of the reason it is ‘one way’ is that when exploiting it on the return to Mifflin, the pilot has already had several hours of ridge flying in which to assess conditions, and the risk of ending up in the reservoir.

No ghosts have been provided for this session.

See Also:



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