National Geographic : 1944 Aug
Gliders-Silent Weapons of the Sky General H. H. Arnold Inspects "Purple Peril's" Nylon Towline The Commanding General, U. S . Army Air Forces, pays a visit to Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base in North Carolina. With him are Col. Reed Landis (right) and Col. Y. A . Pitts, Troop Carrier Command Wing Commanders. When the glider pilot wishes to cut loose from his towplane, he releases the hook in the nose. The line then drags behind the towplane, which drops it before landing where it may be retrieved. A 350-foot towline contains enough nylon to make 1,620 pairs of women's stockings (page 154). Second, its flight is governed by "thermals." When the sun warms the earth, its heat is best absorbed by plowed fields, streets and roofs of cities, and similar features of the earth's surface. Air in contact with these warm areas be comes warmer than adjacent air. The near-by cooler, hence heavier, air pushes the warmer air upward and out of the way, thus creating a thermal current. Such a conflict goes on constantly, and often the currents produced are very strong. These currents may be either up or down; hence an experienced sailplane pilot can take advantage of them, rising or descending at will as eagles and vultures do. A few weeks ago, a young paratrooper jumped with his comrades from a plane over Fort Benning, Georgia. To his amazement, he went up instead of down when his chute opened. He had been caught in a thermal current and his descent was held up for several minutes. It is a far cry from the graceful, light weight sailplane of peacetime to the bigger, heavier military craft. Glider Towed Across Atlantic The army is not concerned with thermal currents. Towplanes take military gliders to their destinations. Soaring has no part in this operation. For example, a C-47 pulled a loaded CG-4A glider across the Atlantic Ocean in July, 1943.