Elevation vs sealevel and how it affects distance

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Elevation vs sealevel and how it affects distance

Postby Drew » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:42 am

I am down here in florida, and a local pro told me that it was harder to throw down in florida because it is all at sealevel. the argument was that at higher elevations discs actually weigh less and therefore go farther, but i have been reading here that elevation makes a disc more overstable, so i thought it would hyzer out sooner, thus costing distance. the discussion came up because i have not been playing neerly as well here in florida despite an increase in play as i did when i was on vacation visiting friends in seattle. up there i did not notice any greater overstability of my discs, but i was able to throw them farther. any one with some info to contribute would be great, because i have lived in fla my whole life i do not have a frame of reference besides fla and va (where i started to play), but where i was in va was not at a signifigant elevation
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Re: Elevation vs sealevel and how it affects distance

Postby Bradley Walker » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:35 am

Drew wrote:I am down here in florida, and a local pro told me that it was harder to throw down in florida because it is all at sealevel. the argument was that at higher elevations discs actually weigh less and therefore go farther, but i have been reading here that elevation makes a disc more overstable


I have no idea what has been written here, but for me discs fly further with less resistance, period. The thinner the air, the further they go. This is the same in ball golf, the thinner the air the further the ball goes.

The thicker the air the more list the wing can create, and thus the more parasistic drag. The thinner the air the less lift and LESS DRAG (my guess this is why you see all these World Record throwers throwing relatively slow giding discs at elevation for their records). I played with a guy the other day that said he just got back from playing in the mountains in California, he said everyone just threw putters.

This density/lift coorelation also explains why a disc will be less stable in thinner air. The wing is not as effective in thinner air. Thus, the NOTCH on the bottom wing of your Teebird is not as effective (like the notch got smaller). This is the part of the wing that makes the disc stable. So, thinner air equals less stability for normally stable discs (typically).

There are several factors that effect air density. Elevation, humidity, air temperature, ground temperature. I have a density meter and have been taking readings for some time (I fly model airplanes in aerobatics competition). When the air is thinner, wings and props work far less effective. We see "density altitudes" like you might see in Colorado in the summer in Dallas over asphalt.

Elevation higher=thinner
humidity more=thinner (more water less air)
air temperature higher = thinner
ground temperatutre higher = thinner

Now, there may be an explanation as to someone making the assumption that thicker air results in less stability. The speed of the air has more effect at higher densities. In other words, the wind becomes much more effective at higher densities. A winter 5 mph headwind will seem like a summer 10 mph headwind to your disc. So your disc might flip into a headwind in the winter that would not flip your disc in the summer.
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Postby roadkill » Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:36 pm

Without going into a long drawn out physics discussion. The answer is discs fly both farther and more overstable at higher altitude.

You want that monster crush? Throw a beat to heck teebird at 18,000 ft.
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Postby trogdor » Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:09 pm

roadkill wrote:The answer is discs fly both farther and more overstable at higher altitude.


Which? Farther or more overstable? :?

I would say that they go further in the high speed (projectile) portion of the "flight" but go significantly less far in the glide part of the flight.
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Postby some call me...tim? » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:47 pm

Um, one thing to keep in mind...Seattle is at sea level too. We do have some mountains and hills here, but all the main courses in the area are at most 400 ft above sea level, most being in the ~150 ft. range. We don't have nearly as much humidity here, which might account for some difference, but the altitudes would be relatively the same.
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Postby Thatdirtykid » Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:11 am

trogdor wrote:
roadkill wrote:The answer is discs fly both farther and more overstable at higher altitude.


Which? Farther or more overstable? :?

I would say that they go further in the high speed (projectile) portion of the "flight" but go significantly less far in the glide part of the flight.


thats what I believe to be the gist of it.
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Postby Weebl » Wed Oct 25, 2006 7:51 am

To me discs flew like they would in a slight tailwind... that changed directions to always be blowing on the discs tail... It would fly much more High speed stable,but once turned would stay turned for a bit. My putters were long ar 250' and i was putting like a madman becaue you can just ninja star it straight at it, and it almost always hits and if not it doesnt glide far.
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Postby Bradley Walker » Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:28 am

Weebl wrote:To me discs flew like they would in a slight tailwind... that changed directions to always be blowing on the discs tail...


I have more comment with more time to reflect on my previous response. :?

I does make sense that lower density air would result in less aerodynamic effects, in general. So, this would mean that the natural aerodynamic tendancy of all discs to turn over to the right due to aerodynamic forces would be minimized. Conversely the gyroscopic effects to turn the disc into a fade would be more evident.

So, if you are using a disc that relies heavily gyroscopic stability over aerodynamic stability, this disc would tend to show overstability even more. So, I might recommend cheaper plastics at elevation, and avoid premium plastics.

What Weebl spoke of would be the other effect. The "speed" rating of the disc would increase with thinner air. Thus, a 7 speed Teebird might take 10 speed power to "cruise". This is the same effect of the tailwind. I would feel this effect would be more evident than "actual" changes in stability. There are simply not the same amount of air molecules interacting with the wing as there would be at higher density air (same as in a tail wind), so the wing would think it is going slower... So, I would recommend a true stable disc with a much slower speed rating at elevation.

My assertions to actual density reading and my personal disc performance might be attributed to other factors. Ground heat for one. Updrafts from the ground could make a disc glide....or the fact that I am not so stiff when it 100 degrees outside!!! :lol:
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Postby domromer » Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:29 am

All I know is that when I go to Phoenix to play, my discs seems to fly alot further than here in Flagstaff.
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Postby Craig » Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:06 pm

I play on Vancouver Island at about sea level. I am told that there was a long drive competition for ball golf nearby, where the longest hitters in the world were saying that they had never experienced a place where they were driving the ball shorter. There seems to be fairly high humidity here as well.

I've noticed that discs fly less stable here, compared to the descriptions on these forums. I believe that this has an effect on disc selection, with respect to Blake's power ratings. A DX Orc, for example, is really not too much disc for someone with only 260' of power, because it flies more like a Valkyrie.

I've also noticed a massive difference between the flight characteristics of DX and Champion plastic. I know this is the case everywhere, but DX seems to get crazy flippy in most molds.

I've also noticed that even the hotshot players here aren't hitting the huge distances that are routinely reported in these forums. I'm not sure if this means that a 375' shot here is more equivalent to a 415' shot elsewhere, or if we simply have a weaker throwing population (we are Canadian, after all).
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Postby Blake_T » Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:37 pm

a lot of it depends on the type of flight people are gunning for.

in the pacific NW, i've found that yes, discs fly a lot less stable vs. the midwest at similar elevation... as for distances... an 8' high line drive will go farther in the midwest, but if you can air the disc out and catch an air pocket, you can go farther with less power in the pacific nw due to better lift/glide characteristics but increased air friction as well.

similarly, at dry elevation, it's harder to throw golf D, but easier to go max D if you can get enough height/nose down.
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