Science: Through the Thunderhead

It was typical summer weather last week as the South African gliding meet began on the broad plateau at Baragwanath. All morning thick cumulus clouds built up in the hot, dry air over the Rand. At noon, Swiss Engineer René Comte folded his wiry frame into the cramped, rubber-cushioned cockpit of his sleek Moswey (Buzzard) IV glider, fitted the bubble canopy in place and took off, towed by a sturdy little Tiger-Moth. With good luck he hoped to fly to Bloemfontein, 200 miles away.

When he was 1,200 ft. over Baragwanath, Comte cut loose his tow. Some ten miles to the south...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!