What is good weather for soaring? contrary to popular belief sailplanes do not need wind to soar, there are three basic types of rising air currents "lift" that allow sailplanes to stay aloft for hours on end, thermals, ridge, and wave. The Tehachapi area has all of these as well as some other sources specific to the valley.

Primarily glider pilots use thermal lift to stay aloft, simply put a thermal is a bubble of hot air that rises, when that bubble is rising faster than the sailplanes natural descent rate the sailplane will rise within the bubble. The best weather for thermal formation is hot with a gentle breeze.

Ridge soaring is the earliest recognized source of lift, like a gull soaring along dunes, sailplanes can race along ridges when the prevailing wind strikes it and is forced up and over the ridge.

Wave lift is the strongest and most dynamic lifting source. Flights of over 1,800 miles and 50,700ft have been made in wave and many record flights over the years have been made in Tehachapi's nearby mountain ranges. Wave lift is akin to the waves downstream of a boulder in a river. Sailplanes will in a sense surf the upward flowing waves which can be rising several 1,000 ft per minute and stretch along mountain ranges for 1,000 of miles. The longest and fastest flights in soaring are made in wave lift.

Useful Weather Websites:
National Weather Service
Great Basin Dust Cameras