Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/63

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
57
HOLES IN THE AIR

explained, of treacherous "holes in the air." The whirl is best avoided by landing in an open place some distance from bluffs and large obstructions, or, if the obstruction is a hill, on the top of the hill itself. If, however, a landing to one side is necessary and the aeronaut has choice of sides, he should, other things being equal, take the windward and not the lee side. Finally, if a landing close to the lee side is compulsory he should, if possible, head along the hill, and not toward or from it; along the axis of the eddy and not across it. Such a landing would be safe, unless made in the down draft, since it would keep the machine in winds of nearly constant (zero) velocity with reference to its direction, whatever the side drift, provided the hill was of uniform height and slope and free from irregularities. But as hills seldom fulfill these conditions lee side landings of all kinds should be avoided.

 

Aerial Torrents

Just as water torrents are due to drainage down steep slopes, so too aerial torrents owe their origin to drainage down steep narrow valleys. Whenever the surface of the earth begins to cool through radiation or otherwise the air in contact with it becomes correspondingly chilled and, because of its increased density, flows away to the lowest leveL Hence of clear still nights there is certain to be air drainage down almost any steep valley. When several such valleys run into a common one, like so many tributaries to a river, and especially when the upper reaches contain snow and the whole section is devoid of forest, the aerial river is likely to become torrential in nature along the lower reaches of the drainage channel.

A flying machine attempting to land in the mouth of such a valley after the air drainage is well begun is in danger of going from relatively quiet air into an atmosphere that is moving with considerable velocity—at times amounting almost to a gale. If one must land at such a place he should head up the valley so as to face the wind. If he heads down the valley and therefore runs with the wind he will, on passing into the swift air, lose his support, or much of it, for reasons already explained, and fall as though he had suddenly gotten into an actual "hole in the air."

 

Aerial Breakers

The term "aerial breakers" is used here in analogy with water breakers as a general name for the rolling, dashing and choppy winds that accompany thunder-storm conditions. They often are of such violence, up, down and sideways in any and every direction that an aeroplane in their grasp is likely to have as uncontrolled and disastrous a landing as would be the case in an actual hole of the worst kind.

Fortunately aerial breakers usually give abundant and noisy warn-