This textbook evolved from extending and expanding class notes which we developed for use in our symposia on soaring cross country. It should perhaps be thought of as an intermediate text and it presumes that the reader has gone through elementary training in sailplanes and has post solo experience and is now ready to think about soaring cross country. It is also intermediate in the sense that we would expect potential readers to have already read such excellent elementary works as The Joy of Soaring and parts of The American Soaring Handbook, and after reading and studying this book they would be ready to proceed on to the more advanced texts such as the Proceedings of the Symposia on Competitive Soaring.
We have tried to make this a non-technical presentation which stresses philosophy and ideas about how to make more intelligent soaring decisions. You will not find detailed discussions on sailplane aerodynamics nor, for example, detailed explanation of such things as vortex theories of thermals, etc. We do hope, however, that after you have read this book, you will have gained appreciable confidence in your own ability to safely embark on either your first or additionally expanded cross country fights.
We think and hope this book and its contents will have significance for soaring in all parts of the world; however, we frankly admit that it is written from the American viewpoint and emphasizes the American approach, American conditions, equipment, etc. We do not apologize for this, but rather, feel strongly that it is necessary since most soaring references available in English definitely have a European, and, more specifically, a UK slant.
It was decided that we would write this book with detail on currently available equipment. We realize that this could make the book obsolete much quicker than if we had taken another tack, but we felt it was much better this way because readers want to know specifics about presently available equipment and we would rather keep this approach even though it means upgrading this text rather more often than would otherwise be necessary.
We would like to thank our many soaring friends who, knowingly and unknowingly, made the writing of this book possible. We have learned a lot from our teachers both in the air and on the ground, and we realize that this education is a continuing and never ending, but delightful process which makes our sport the tremendous challenge that it is. Specifically, we would like to thank soaring professors George Moffat, A. J. Smith, Dick Johnson, Ben Greene, Dick Schreder, whose classrooms, both in the sky as well as and on the ground, have been of great benefit in collecting material for this book.
Ed Byars & Bill Holbrook - 1974