What is Foiling?
Imagine yourself zooming through a forested mountainside; you are Luke riding a speeder through a glen on the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi, except you would be standing like the Silver Surfer, and you would be foiling. Foiling is traveling along a zip line, while being suspended beneath it. The mechanism that secures you to the zip line is capable of capturing and holding kinetic energy, and will be referred to as a mast. At the rider’s feet is an airfoil, which shall be called a foil, and one who rides it is a foiler. A foiler uses their body movements to control the foil’s axes of pitch, roll and yaw, and through aerodynamic forces is able to chart a course down a mountainside.
The foiler straddles a pivot running the length of the foil and by raising and lowering their legs in relation to one another the foiler controls the foil’s axis of pitch. Depending on the angle of attack the foil either creates lift and thus the foiler would be flying, or the foil creates downforce that the mast holds till the foiler wants to use that kinetic energy to propel them which they release by changing the pitch of the foil with their leg movements.
The Sport of Foiling
The foiler controls the foil’s axis of roll by leaning from one side to the other to change the foil’s center of gravity. This is made possible by the fact that the carriage rolling down the zip line can roll around the zip line in addition to just rolling down it.
The foil’s axis of yaw is controlled by the foiler swinging their hips and footing. The foiler’s feet can be in binding or not depending if they want to ride their foil more like a snowboard or a surfboard.
The Foil Effect
What is the foil effect? This eagle is exploiting it beautifully. The foil’s axis of yaw is controlled by the foiler swinging their hips and footing. The foiler’s feet can be in binding or not depending if they want to ride their foil more like a snowboard or a surfboard. One of the greatest dangers of flight is the possibility of stalling, which is the loss of aerodynamic lift, and in an airplane means crashing into the ground. But because a foiler is secured to a zip line stalling a foil will never cause the foiler to crash to earth. In fact, depending on the skill of the foiler, stalling a foil will allow the foiler to do some mind blowing, thrilling stunts for their enjoyment.
As in skiing where there is freestyle and slalom, foiling will have Freestyle and GE Foiling, with GE standing for Ground Effect. With Freestyle Foiling the foiler will be suspended high above the ground and will need a larger foil than with GE Foiling. GE Foiling the foiler will be skimming only a foot or two off the ground, and the foil will be smaller than the one used for Freestyle Foiling because of the added lift created by ground effect. The first foil runs will most likely be Freestyle Foiling runs because this type of foiling will be easier to implement, but GE foiling will best mimic skiing and snowboarding, so the long range goal is to have most foiling runs be adapted to be GE foiling runs.