Pat Shingleton: "Gliding and Surfing..."
"Thermals" are sections of air, heated by the sun, that ride from the ground to heights of 40,000 feet. Once a glider pilot locks into a thermal they call it "soaring." They may also interact with a "wave" which is common in the western states. This rare phenomenon occurs when a layer of compressed air slides over the Sierras, and bumps across the Mojave desert. This is about the only place in the United States where these waves occur and provides glider pilots with a real treat. In 1986 the United States record for glider altitude was captured near California City at a height of 49,000 feet. The Federal Aviation Administration has placed a cap on glider heights at 18,000 feet, unless there is special permission from the FAA. On September 2, 2017 the World Record was set by two pilots commandeering the Perclan 2 Glider. A thermal over Argentina helped soar the craft to 76,100 feet. It was the highest altitude ever recorded by on-board humans in an un-powered fixed-wing aircraft. Even though the principles are the same, folks were flying gliders before the Wright Brothers and in the United States there are 42,000 hooks sail-planers with glide. From gliding to surfing. In 2007, the effects of Tropical Storm Allison caused $5 billion in damage and became a real treat for surfers on the Texas coast. Allison's landfall created extraordinary large and well-shaped waves along the upper and middle Texas coast. Winds offshore spun along the coast, meeting a strong swell radiating east across the open gulf. A continual northwest wind flattened the storm's tidal surge blowing straight into the approaching waves. This wind sculpted waves that resembled waves with Pacific coast quality. During the morning of June 5, 2007, Buoy Station 42035, located 22 miles east of Galveston recorded six-foot seas. At 2:00 P.M. the same station reported 12-foot seas.
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