Surprise 6.6.2010



Really this is all Wittgenstein's fault - I mean, the form of this blog. I'll explain later. Let's go back to 6th June, 1971. I'm on a quickie out-and-return from Nummela to Hyvinkää in our (Cumulus') beautiful turquoise blue Vasama Victor Alpha Juliet. Dryish thermals ahead of a weak warm front, surface wind from about SW, upper wind from the NW. About half-way home from Hyvinkää (this is 1971: I'm not troubled by any air traffic control, "their" airspace base is 6000 ft), I find a rather rough dry thermal and work it up to about 5000 ft, but then lose it and head out westwards ... into very weak smooth lift. Hm ... feels like wave (I'd been to the wave camps at Kebne and Pallas) ... and so it turns out. Backwards and forwards along a SW - NE imaginary line, and soon approaching 6000ft I ask Helsinki ATC for clearance upwards: refused. Oh well ... back to Nummela. My first thermal wave.

Jump 39 years to 6th June, 2010. Hyvinkää. No great expectations, looks like dry thermals below increasing medium-level cloud. Let someone else try: send out the Astir dove from the ark - but the dove doesn't return, he's in lift. Now a serious rush for take-off, behind the other Astir and the LS-7. Sitting in the Hyvinkää Ilmailukerho's ASK-21 with Roger, chatting in our own tongue, we still don't expect much - just a quick local flight, I want to try the latest version of Cumulus (see Cumulus flight navigator), Roger wants to get acquainted with the countryside.

No luck: 4 minute circuit.

Try again - this time we find some weak stuff, and slowly but ever more surely we extract ourselves from the G47 ABC "prison", 4000ft, 5000ft, finally FL60. All the time lift improving, and then real cumulus. But - best of all - wave clouds. To continue we have to be in D or E, so we push further north, with the navigator giving us confidence that we have bags of height to get home. The clouds get ever firmer, and now, for the first time we feel, in clear air, between cumulus streets, the unmistakable silky-smooth wave. Going still one step northwards, we finally reach even better wave lift. We are still below cloudbase, but now we cruise along in the clear air in a WSW - ENE direction in weak but steady lift. Up, up, past cloudbase; now we can see that the NWly flanks of the cumulus streets are here and there smooth, like gently rolling hillsides. Above us, much higher, a long lenticular cloud bank helps us keep our direction parallel to its edge. We do a few circles in the lift, and the navigator confirms that we are in a NW'ly flow, one at right angles to that of the convection layer where we had earlier circled in thermals. Looks like thermal wave.

We reluctantly break off our dream flight at FL95 - why didn't we have the confidence to ask for more before take-off? Now back home, enjoying our more than adequate height, funnelling ourselves down and in through C and B into A.

Esa and Kari have arranged a grill evening, bless them: club members gather round and sit in the soft evening sunshine and talk, or just listen. But for me, and I guess for Roger too, we are still up there, amidst the peace and beauty of the cloudscapes, floating about without a care in the world. It's difficult to come back down to earth.

Oh yes - what about Ludvig W., how did he get into this? At the beginning I sat looking at the blank screen, trying to think how to start this blog. With such marvellous experiences to express, but so many conflicting thoughts, too. Why am I writing this, for whom, how can I explain these sensations of joy and satisfaction? And in Finnish, still a foreign language for me after all these (45) years? Wittgenstein's famous dictum about what can and what cannot be said came uninvited to mind. I turned to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations to see what L.W. had really said. P. 824. So that was it? Not very impressive after all - but, hey, what's this he said, too - this is my problem in a nutshell: "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world" (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922)). That's what's holding me back - trying to express my dearest thoughts in a language other than my own. Why not write in English? (small voice: "No-one will read it anyway, so what does it matter, except to you yourself?). Done. I read quotations from the next author (P.G. Wodehouse 1881 - 1975), and feel much better. Then I read those from the previous author (George Wither 1588 - 1667), and feel much, much worse. Thank God for flying in sailplanes.
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