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Environment

Visual Science: The Daredevils Who Chase One of the Sky's Greatest Mysteries

Some brave pilots fly tiny gliders into an amazing type of cloud that forms only in Australia.

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Off the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia, amazing funnel-shaped “morning glory” clouds sometimes ripple across the sky. These stunning cloud formations are the objects of desire for a guild of daredevil pilots—cloud chasers seeking to glide thousands of feet above the ground along the heavy wind stream that creates these rare clouds. Riding in a fiberglass gliders is one way to surf over a morning glory. One often-used glider—PIK-20E glider—has a 49.2-foot wingspan and a retractable engine, and it can fly up to 174 miles per hour.

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