Monday, April 24, 2017

Speech #6: Soaring

[Toastmaster Competent Communicator Project #6, Vocal Variety.  Objectives: Use volume, pitch, rate and quality to make your points.]

Mr. Toastmaster,

I told you before that I am a sailor. Today I would like to talk about a sport that is closely related to sailing. --- Soaring. I''ll tell you about what soaring is and how it works. Hopefully, that will enable you to understand better when I try to paint a picture of my best soaring day. I'll finish by telling you how you might experience it yourself.
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Soaring is nothing but a fancy word for flying gliders. A glider is an airplane with no engine and no noise. Especially no noise.

The main principle of flying gliders is very simple. I'll explain it right now. Wind does not always blow horizontally. Sometimes it blows up, sometimes down. To a glider pilot, up is good and down is bad. Remember that up-good, down-bad.

So, soaring means just flying around in the sky, here and there, looking for good air. If you feel the air blowing you down, that's --- bad. When that happens you push the stick forward, point the nose down and fly just as fast as you can to get away from that bad air. When you find the air going up you pull back on the stick to fly as slow as possible, then start turning in circles to remain in that up air because up is --- good.  In Florida, you often see a dozen or more turkey vultures circling the sky.  That does not mean a dead thing is below.  It means they found up air and they are soaring.

One more time up? Down?

That was your final exam. You all passed and now, you are all certified glider pilots.
Today, I want to tell the story of my best day ever soaring. There is something called a mountain wave. I'll have to explain that. Did you ever see a swift river where the water flows over a submerged rock. The water goes up over the rock, then down the back side. Then, downstream it goes up and down again. The same thing happens when the atmosphere flows over a mountain. The wind blows up one side, then down the other, then up again in a mountain wave. An invisible, but powerful wave.

It was a cold crisp day in the fall. The fall colors in Vermont were near peak. The trees were red and orange and yellow and crimson and gold. The air was crystal clear. I flew into a mountain wave. Up I went, faster and faster. One more time, up is ??? good. It became very smooth and very quiet, like riding in an elevator. I could have played muzac. Tall and tan and young and lovely.

The higher I went the faster the wind blew against me. The wind tries to push you back while the glider tries to fly forward. Eventually, I rose so high that the wind speed matched the air speed and I became stationary relative to the ground. I went no higher.

There I sat, 14000 feet up in the sky. No motion, no sound. I was able to let go of the controls with my hands and my feet and look around in all directions. I could see across the mountain. Across all of New York state. Across Lake Ontario. There was Toronto Canada. In the other direction, I could see across the mountains of Vermont to the mountains of New Hampshire. There sat Mount Washington. Spectacular.
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Then I saw something even better. The mountain wave had sucked in some white clouds. That made the mountain wave became visible. It looked like Niagara Falls with the white water falling, except that this waterfall was falling up. It was the scale that was most magnificent. From where I sat, it appeared to be 20000 feet high, and 60 miles long. I flew over to the waterfall and I was able to put the tip of my wing only one or two feet away. There was just enough lift to maintain my altitude. So I was able to fly along the world's biggest upside down waterfall, following it left and right as it meandered across the state.

Ladies and gentlemen, that was the most amazing sight I have ever seen.
Perhaps you would like to experience soaring yourself. It is not terribly difficult, nor ruinously expensive.\

The easiest way to get started is to buy a ride at soaring centers where they offer them. I recommend Google maps as a good way to find anything local. Expect to pay about $100 for a 20-30 minute ride.
Obviously, it will be more fun to do it where there are big hills or mountains. Not Florida.

Mr Toastmaster, the floor is yours.


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