Condor the Competition Soaring Simulator is a glider flight simulator dedicated to soaring competition, especially online competition. My brother Aaron and I began using Condor during the summer of 2009 and have been addicted ever since. Aaron, who has been a power plane pilot since the seventies, also started learning Real World gliding in 2009 and like most RW glider pilots, his Condor use dwindles during the soaring season. I, on the other hand, am exclusively a sim pilot so I’m not similarly distracted by reality. My only indulgence is my engagement with my digital soaring fantasy world! But the great thing about Condor is that, according to Aaron and other RW pilots, the Condor flight model is so good that it can be a tremendous aid to RW soaring. Whenever my brother tries an unfamiliar glider, he will first get to know it thoroughly if it is one of the many models available in Condor. He will also use Condor to familiarize himself with unfamiliar locations before he travels there to fly. Not only can he learn the terrain since Condor terrain is very close to reality, he can simulate weather conditions that he is likely to encounter where he will be going.
For me, Condor is all play, although I take it very seriously. I compete quite a lot and I am constantly striving to be become a better, faster pilot. And this is why I’ve created this site. From the time that Aaron and I began using Condor, we have both been impressed with how difficult it is to obtain the knowledge needed to become better competition pilots. Basic flying skills are not what I’m talking about. I earned a private pilots license and flew when I was in my early twenties. Those skills, reinforced by years of desktop simulator experience, have not left me. But there were skills specific to flying a glider that I had to learn and unlike my brother who had the advantage of glider flight instruction, I was on my own, although my brother has always been a valuable resource. But even though my brother had access to a flight instructor, he was only learning the basics of flying a glider safely. Well, I shouldn’t say only because that is a lot, but there is so much more involved in being able to fly fast and efficiently in a competition. A soaring competition is sort of a three dimensional chess match combined with three dimensional yacht racing. In short, there is an awful lot to learn. There are a lot of basics and then there is the indefinable sixth sense that the best competitors develop that sometimes seems to give them the ability to do the impossible. Since I am only an average competitor, I have felt the bitter sting of being on the other end of this supernatural ability of the best competitors to go fly a task faster. Quite a few times I will be trying my best to keep up with one of the great pilots. Everything will seem pretty good for a while but gradually I will commit those little errors, little errors of judgement, a little falling off of the efficiency of my piloting skills. This is usually experienced in a thermal or climbing on a ridge. What is the best bank angle? What is the best speed? What is the optimum flap setting in a ship with flaps? And there is often no one right answer. It’s a question of how you put them all together.
There are so many questions which constantly arise. I’m cruising and am approaching a thermal. I’ve decided (rightly or wrongly) not to climb in the thermal. Either I have enough altitude for now or the thermal doesn’t meet the criterion for having the minimum strength to warrant spending time circling instead of moving forward. But here is a seemingly simple thing. A common technique is to “porpoise” under thermals that you’ve decided not to stop and circle in. As you start to feel lift from the thermal you pull back on the stick so that you slow down and climb in the lift. Once you feel the lift subsiding you push the stick forward, diving to regain the lost speed. It seems like it should be easy enough but I still am never sure when I should start my climb and slowdown, how steeply I should climb, how much I should slow down, when I should start diving and how steeply I should dive. This should seem like a very basic and important maneuver, not only for competition but for non-competitive cross country flying. You would think that there should be a lot of good instruction and learning material. If there is, I’ve yet to find it, which is why I’ve created this site. Learning how to be a better glider racer has been a very slow painstaking process, which is why I’ve created this site. I’ve created this site to help both beginner Condor pilots and the advanced ones who are continually striving to learn more and improve.
So, welcome to my site. If you want to learn, I hope this will eventually become a great place to find what you need to know. If you want to contribute and share your knowledge, you are one of the people who will help make this information site work. I need people, possibly like you, who know more and fly faster and better than I do. I’ve won a few races and placed in the top 10 a number of times (when the competition wasn’t too stiff) but compared to the great pilots I am way behind. I know I will never be a great pilot. I’m 67 years old and my reflexes are slowing, my horrible memory is getting worse and my judgement could be better. Apart from my abilities and potential, my joy is in the quest, learning new things and trying them out, always analyzing my performance to see how I might do better next time. Striving to be the best that I can be!
As I write this, my site is empty. There isn’t a single article, not a single forum started. I’m not sure exactly how I’ll go about this. All I know is that I want it to be fun and satisfying and I need your help!