Vehicle: Aircraft: Glider
Thermal Generator   (+4)  [vote for, against]
.. possibly tornado generator

Sailplanes and soaring birds require mother nature to stay in the air. One of the many sources of lift are thermals - rising columns of air produced by uneven heating of the ground.
As any glider pilot will tell you, finding thermals is hard - that's what makes soaring so much fun. For training purposes, or on "weak" days, relying on mother nature is a real drag.
That's where the thermal generator comes in. It is a large light colored or reflective circular surface with a dark area in the middle. Basically it looks like a huge bullseye laid on the ground. This combination of light (cool) and dark (hot) areas produces the perfect conditions for a rising column of air to develop. (see picture)

RC glider pilots may find this to be equally useful - especially since the scale of the thermal generator can be greatly reduced. To reduce costs, the thermal generator can be created by simply paining the grass white and black, or by plowing a circular field, surrounded by some type of crop.
-- ixnaum, Jul 10 2009

Thermal Generator Diagram http://img102.image...hermalgenerator.png
[ixnaum, Jul 10 2009, last modified Jul 11 2009]

Thermal Generator would help with this too http://hardware.sla...mous-Flight-Records
[ixnaum, Jul 13 2009]

Well, at least now we have a rational explanation of crop circles.

[+] for enambling R/C models to fly better.

[-] for encouraging manned glider piots, who clog up the circuit, like to show off how very, very slowly they can make their final approach, then squat helplessly in the middle of the runway, whimpering and demanding to be towed clear while other pilots grind their teth and do yet another go-around. Worse than microlites ...

Result: [ ]
-- 8th of 7, Jul 10 2009

8th of 7 - you should reconsider.
On a weak day and no thermal generator around, with 2 sailplanes operating from the field, you'll get an average of 10 takeoffs and landings in a day, clogging up the runway. However, with the thermal generator nearby, you'll cut that down to 2 takeoffs and landings (they'll take off in the morning and won't return until the sun starts to set).
The only downside will be hearing "weeee" all day on the glider channel --- just tune it out, keep away from the big bullseye and enjoy your powered flight.
-- ixnaum, Jul 11 2009

random, halfbakery