Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/62

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56
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

lest there might be a wind sheet near the surface, and for other good reasons, landings should be made, if possible, squarely in the face of the surface wind.

 

Wind Billows

It was stated above that when one layer of air runs over another of different density billows are set up between them, as illustrated by the cloud picture. Of course, as above explained, the warning clouds are comparatively seldom present, and therefore even the cautious aeronaut may, with no evidence of danger before him, take the very level of the billows themselves, and before getting safely above or below them encounter one or more sudden changes in wind velocity and direction due, in part, to the eddy-like or rolling motion within the billows, with chances in each case of being suddenly deprived of a large part of the requisite sustaining force—of encountering a "hole in the air." There may be perfect safety in either layer, but, unless headed just right, there necessarily is some risk in going from the one to the other, and therefore, since flying at the billow level would necessitate frequent transitions of this dangerous nature, it should be strictly avoided.

 

Wind Eddies

Eddies and whirls exist in every stream of water, from tiny rills to the great rivers and even the ocean currents, wherever the banks are such as greatly to change the direction of flow and wherever there is a pocket of considerable depth and extent on either side. Similar eddies, but with horizontal instead of vertical axes, occur at the bottoms of streams where they flow over ledges that produce abrupt changes in the levels of the beds.

The inertia of the stream of water, its tendency to keep on in the direction it is actually moving and with unchanged velocity, together with its viscosity, necessitate these whirls with which nearly all are familiar. Similarly, and for the same general reasons, horizontal eddies occur in the atmosphere, and the stronger the wind the more rapid the rotation of the eddy. They are most pronounced on the lee side of cuts, cliffs and steep mountains, but occur also, to a less extent, on the windward side of such places.

The air at the top and bottom of these whirls is moving in diametrically opposite directions, at the top with the wind, at the bottom against it, and since they are close to the earth they may therefore, as explained under "wind layers," be the source of decided danger to aeronauts. There may be danger also at the forward side of the eddy where the downward motion is greatest.

When the wind is blowing strongly landings should not be made, if at all avoidable, on the lee side of and close to steep mountains, hills, bluffs or even large buildings; for these are the favorite haunts, as just