Lausanne’s Damp Squib
/bigger>/bigger>/bigger>Uncle Sydney’s CIAM gossip - April 2008/fontfamily>
After all the arguments about chopping 50 metres off the F3J towline
length, FAI’s 2008 CIAM meeting in Lausanne rejected any change. Talk
about a damp squib - more like a lead balloon - the RC -Soaring
Committee spent barely two minutes on the radical proposal. No talk
about the pros and cons, no discussion about “what-ifs”, the technical
committee found no reasons to apply any new towline ideas to the
international rules because the change had not been tried out at any
proper “big” competitions and therefore was not proven. One in favour,
12 against and one abstention, that was that!
Belgium’s proposal to penalise any pilot who lands his model leaving the
tail stuck in the air was given equal short shrift, three in favour,
nine against and two abstentions. It was withdrawn, and as some joker
pointed out, “we don’t want pilots turning up with tailless models do we!”
Best CIAM news for me is that France will host the next F3J world
championships in 2010, and the likely venue is Arbois where the French
have held their recent Eurotour events, a lovely location with super
food and abundant fine wines! That will be a treat and super incentive
for pilots to fight hard for their national team places.
F3B is to get a new name - “radio controlled multi-task gliders.” The
launch line for F3B and F3J can only be moved between rounds should the
wind direction change. F3K handlaunch gliders get official FAI status at
last, both for seniors and juniors competing separately, with the first
Eurochamps to be held in 2010, and the first world championships will
follow in 2011 either in Sweden or Croatia.
Back to F3J: all of the sensible proposals for splitting the last two
metres of the landing circle into 20 cm divisions worth one point each;
a refly for crossed lines blocking launches and 100 point penalty for
not removing lines after launch - (more headaches for timekeepers and
CDs); reducing the frequency spacing between transmitters to 10 kHz
below 50 MHz and 20 kHz above 50 MHz; and the new matrix rules; all were
passed and are applicable from January next year.
Some gossipers might blame Uncle’s column for helping to create the
furore on 100 metre lines, and to those who feel annoyed, my apologies.
Discerning readers might also recall the words: “Nobody I know is sure
whether the committee really wants to see the change or whether they are
offering the proposal to get Jojo off their backs.”
The facts are that the proposal for shorter lines was put on the agenda
by the RC-Soaring subcommittee itself, not by a national committee. An
e-mail was circulated last summer asking committee members if they
wanted it on, and they did, and then they chose six months later to
reject it. The danger with this sequence is that it will discourage
serious advance debate on agenda items proposed by the subcommittee in
I am reliably informed that no CIAM meeting for many a long year has
sparked such advance speculation, and if interest in the machinations of
FAI in Switzerland results, then that cannot be bad. Whatever, shorter
lines are certainly dead for a long time ahead! Sooner or later, the
question of F3J winch launching will be back.
Short line feedback
Much of the short line feedback coming my way has been interesting.
David Hobby, Arend Borst and several other high-flyers reckoned that
everybody has to follow the same rules, so what does it matter. Not
surprisingly, they are confident and content to leave the rules to CIAM.
Several pilots became excited about the model design changes which would
be sparked by the need and ability to launch faster. One was convinced
that the change had been promoted by manufacturers wanting to promote
the next generation of models. Of course nobody would seriously follow
that line. Many pilots were far more were concerned about collision
dangers and discouraging newcomers to F3J.
Peter Zweers was keen to test pilots’ skills and suggested that the
number of helpers should be limited to two. If a pilot chooses to use
two towmen, then he forfeits his spotter and needs to launch himself.
The official timing system would need to give more information to the
pilots, for example there could be a five minute signal, and beeps or 10
second announcements over the last minute of the slot.
Another novel idea I liked came from Arend Borst, not that he thinks
that it would get much support. Make a 0.5 metre circle on the landing
spot and the pilot stands there. To gain a 100 point landing the pilot
must catch the glider by the nose - only the nose! If he loses his
balance or stretches too far and steps outside the circle, then he loses
10 points for one foot out, and all his points if two feet step outside.
If the glider hits the pilot other than the nose catch, then he scores
zero. If he opts not to stand in the circle, then the maximum points he
can earn is say 98 and down for every metre away from the circle. Should
the pilot need to come in at speed, “coming in hot” as Arend puts it,
and feels it is not safe to catch the nose, then he walks away and
spears the glider in the circle for 98.
Who says F3J could not be a spectator sport!
Guy Mertens from Belgium wrote a chatty letter covering many aspects of
the sport from his earlier days flying and organising thermal contests
to today. Ideal F3J rules should promote the competition as suitable for
everybody, rich and poor, young and old, the home builder and buyer of
ready-to-fly. He wants to see the end of “speared” or “dorked” landings
- a glider should glide into a landing. He would do away with reflights
with only two exceptions, when someone flies on the wrong frequency or
the contest organiser is at fault.
As an Oldie, I am sympathetic to the wish to attract all pilots who
enjoy thermal soaring. In the UK, up to 40 or so regular F3J pilots who
travel to most league events wherever they are held, but that is usually
within 200 miles of London. But in Kent, to take one county for example,
Barcs thermal contests attract 50 or more competitors regularly, many of
whom have the ability to win team places.
Larry Jolly and Arend Borst repeated a serious complaint which should
have been addressed by a new rule this year. Launch positions for pilots
in the flyoffs should be moved along three places after each flight. Far
too often air conditions make it easier to latch onto kind air on one
side rather than the other, and the 150 metre plus distance from one end
of the flight line to the other can easily mean missing the bump. This
same problem applies in the preliminaries where some matrices tend to
place some pilots at the far end too often and vice versa.
Grateful thanks to all who got in touch.
Turkey’s Big Event
Turkey’s budding junior pilot Esra Koc and super host Semin
Kiziltoprak who can’t wait for the Big Event this summer.
As I write there are 86 days to go before the 2008 F3J World
Championships. News of who will be going, and more sadly who will miss
out this year, will wait for nearer the time, plus the predictions of
course. If you have WC team news and gossip, please let me know.
Before then, next week, I shall be flying to Turkey and Adapazari for
the first of this year’s Eurotour contests, hoping this time that this
beautiful and perfect flying field will not suffer the stormy rains
which beset last October’s champions’ championship causing the event to
be abandoned after three rounds. 2008 will be a world championship to
remember - don’t miss it!
Long live the King!
Sandy Pimenoff, stepping down after 40 years, in typical positive
Lausanne saw the retirement of CIAM President Sandy Pimenoff, or as I
prefer to think of him, FAI’s King of Aeromodelling. He has dominated
that job for the last 40 years, and CIAM is unlikely to be the same
again, although he will still make his presence felt as president of
I cannot claim to know Sandy as a close personal friend, although I have
known of him and his contributions to our sport for nearly 40 years. I
met first at Upton for the first F3J WCs, and again in Corfu. In
Lappeenranta 2002, his home country, we and the team managers chatted
and skinny-dipped after a proper woodburning sauna which left everyone
smelling like kippers for three days after.
My first encounter was through the writing of Ron Moulton in RCM&E in
1971 when a party of Europeans flew over to Doylestown in the US to fly
in an AMA organised international F3B championship consisting of pylon
racing and thermal soaring.
Sandy took with him a Graupner kit of the then new, and later to become
the legendary, Cumulus, a 2.8 metre two channel soarer, with balsa
covered white foam wings and a plastic fuselage, one of the first ARTF.
Snag was that the model was not yet ready to fly, and although everyone
was drooling over the various parts on the plane flying across the
Atlantic, he still had to iron film on the wings and fit the radio,
which he did in the motel.
First he had to persuade AMA to drop their home-baked rules which did
not conform to FAI, then he entered the glider contest, one of 12
competitors. And he won. After the first round in which he had enjoyed a
remarkable flight longer than any of the others, a big rainstorm swept
across the field and that was the end of that. A legend was created.
(For those with long memories, Brits Geoff Dallimer and Dave Dyer were
in the contest, Fred Militky from Graupner demonstrated and flew for 30
minutes with a twin electric motor pusher glider, and Dieter Schluter
working with Kavan rocked the US hosts with a RC model Cobra helicopter.)
Sandy was born in 1937 and has flown models since 1952. Four times he
was Finnish national champion in free flight power. His first encounter
with FAI was as an observer in 1961, climbing rapidly to CIAM
vice-president in 1965 and president in 1967. He has been jury member
for more than 30 FAI championships, and has been awarded FAI diplomas
and medals in 1977, 1986, 1991 and the Gold Air Medal 1996.
Anyone who has served on a model flying club committee will know what a
thankless frustrating and impossible job it is. What can it be like to
meet a couple of times a year with 30 to 60 delegates from all over the
world, with vested interests and often absolute ignorance of most the
many specialist forms of model flying, with all the different languages
and an agenda so long that doesn’t allow any item more than a couple of
minutes? What does it take to keep tight control and the admiration of
almost all for so long?
Well Sandy has done it. I do not know how. I have heard him speak in
many languages. I have seen him being tough in a rowdy meeting of
arguing team managers. I have listened in 2002 when he feared
passionately that the US and UK would initiate military action in Iraq.
He is a remarkable man and our sport owes him respect.
So, the king is dead. Long live the king - the new man is Bob Skinner
from South Africa. Long live the king -- but not for 40 years again
CIAM get-together in 1964 with then future President second row central,
with 44 years yet to go and already smiling! Spot UK legend “308” Henry
J Nicholls, front third from the left. Prizes for naming the others.
Sydney Lenssen, 4 April 2008
UNCLE SYDNEY’S GOSSIP COLUMN
Uncle Sydney previews CIAM in Lausanne
Do you want to launch with 100 metre lines?
This month’s biggest F3J question is when and if we are going to get our
launch lines shortened to 100 metres. That’s the explosive issue that
the 2008 CIAM plenary meeting is set to decide on 29 March in Lausanne.
Another decision due that day is whether the last metre of the landing
tape will be divided into 20 cm lengths so that the landing score can be
anything from 100, 99,98 etc down to 95 before the old tape scores of 5
points lost for every metre resumes. What the FAI wants to see are
bigger differences between top scores, particularly in the flyoffs.
F3J models and pilots have become too good in recent years. All top
pilots reckon to score 9 minutes 54 seconds plus and hit the 100 spot in
all but horrible weather. Quite a number also rarely fail to achieve 14
minutes 54 seconds plus in the flyoffs, although doing it four times
running in calm or tricky air is not so easy.
So the F3-RC soaring subcommittee has proposed an amendment to Rule
184.108.40.206 Towlines, where b) is set to read “The length of the towline
shall not exceed 100 metres when tested under a tension of 20 N.”
The committee, headed by Tomas Bartovsky, reckons that flight times will
be become shorter and fewer pilots will fly out the working time. That
in turn will put greater emphasis on the skill of pilots finding thermal
lift. Instead of the all-too-common “launch and landing” competition,
the event will turn into more of a thermal hunting - or “aerodynamic
quality” - competition.
The likely result of shortening towlines for F3J is more complex than
The committee also notes that shorter lines would allow a smaller field
to be used, and that cannot be disputed. But I am not sure that F3J
competitions are seriously restricted because the organisers cannot find
a big enough field to cope with 150 metre lines.
There is a problem. At the start of every FAI world or european
championship, the early discussion among pilots is how close the scores
will be. There is much talk of “launch and landing contests”. Top pilots
do spend plenty of effort into deciding whether to make a two or three
second launch to gain an extra point or two. It is not unusual for all
the flyoff places to be within 20 points of the maximum possible after
ten rounds - allowing for one dropped round. But in all fairness, that
is the nature of F3J.
F3J as a class started as the simplest way in which to run a thermal
soaring event. In F3B, still the most difficult and demanding contest
for RC sailplanes of this model size, more and more pilots became fed up
with the increasing physical and mental effort - and money - involved in
competing at top level. F3B still thrives in many countries, it remains
the pinnacle of our sport in my view, but the numbers of pilots enjoying
the class are diminishing even amongst the leading nations.
The answer was F3J, a derivative of the British Association of Radio
Control Soarers Open thermal competitions, and FAI championships started
in 1997. Keep it simple, try to fly out your slots and land reasonably
accurately to gain maximum points, flying “man-on-man” to reduce the
advantages gained between slots when thermal conditions changed.
Inevitably when rivalry and competition is involved, the sport moved on
quickly. Pilots wanted to launch quickly and as high as possible. Tow
using two men, speed up the line and zoom to gain extra height,
aerofoils which allowed pilots to cross the skies at speed with minimum
height loss, greater manoeuvrability for precision landings, more
reliable towlines and pulleys. Many of today’s pilots have seen the
whole period of development for it is less than 20 years in total.
Development still continues, albeit at a slower pace. Even five years
ago when the Sharon and Pike Plus and a few others reigned supreme, few
pilots guessed that another generation of aerofoils and better use of
high tech materials would be significantly better and more likely to win.
Now let’s look forward. What will be the result of shorter lines?
Shortening competition lines started I believe in 2002 in Lappeenranta,
Finland, where the same problem of tight scores existed, but also a few
pilots sought to gain advantage with the quicker launch. Jo Grini was
the early promoter, he used 75 metre lines (red.mrk. 150m lines with
stake at launch and 75m to runners) one or more rounds, and he got CIAM
to agree to examine the merits of shorter lines. But nothing happened at
Red Deer in Canada, nor at Martin in 2006 except that the matter as
briefly talked over at the managers’ meeting.
Then out of the blue late last year, CIAM’s F3-RC Soaring committee was
circulated on the line change now up for decision, and nobody I know is
sure whether the committee really wants to see the change or whether
they are offering the proposal for debate to get Jojo off their backs.
If they pass the proposal next month, will the shorter lines be used in
Turkey this coming July?
UK’s tentative reaction is not to support the change at this stage. They
would like to see “extensive trials”, they warn of dangerously increased
pre-launch line tensions and greater chances of models veering off
course on launch. They note that some UK flyers would support the move
but a majority would not, and suggest a more modest reduction to say 135
There have been trials.
In Norway they have flown several F3J cup events last year with 100
metres to the stake (red.mrk winch so 200m line), and according to Jo
Grini 19 of the 20 pilots loved it. Those flying F3B models managed to
launch slightly higher than the F3J models, but the differneces between
launch heights were smaller overall, which might be seen as fairer for
One serious snag with lower launch heights, and this was also noted in
the Martin discussion is that a long safety corridor with up to 15
pilots can put some pilots at a disadvantage when the air is kinder on
one side of the field, and that often happens.
The Dutch have gained some valuable experience with shorter lines, and I
respect the lessons they drew as one of Europe’s leading F3J countries.
In 2006 they held a contest with 75 metre lines, not so much as a trial
of possible CIAM changes, but the club organising it was having its 75th
There was a mix of models, and for some of the pilots they could not
apply full tension without risking the model breaking, and because it
was a fun event, many were using old lines and suffered line breaks. The
starts were explosive in all senses, the zoom after launch was very high,
a feature which might have been increased by the fact that the model is
much closer to the pilot. Pilots typically reckoned that launches were
40-50 metres lower than normal, and the apt description was “catapult
In 2007, the Dutch had a contest using F3B winches with the return
pulley set at 150 metres. The day happened to be pretty calm and most
pilots gained slightly higher launch heights. That trial is irrelevant I
think to the current proposal.
(The Brits have allowed winch launching for three years now, and I
suspect that most countries apart from Germany and Czechia do the same
for national events. In varied conditions, we found in UK little
difference in height between winch and towmen, but after one season
everyone was winch launching because at the end of the day, we were less
knackered! It also showed that some winches were much better tha others.)
Back to Holland: in 2004 several F3J enthusiasts tried putting the
turnaround stake 50 metres from the launch corridor, still using the 150
metre line. So the towmen start running 100 metres from the corridor.
The shorter towline was balanced against very high speeds on the line
and the elasticity of the full 150 metre line. Launch height was judged
to be almost the same as usual, perhaps 10 metres lower. Launch times
were at least one second faster. (Grateful thanks to Rob Sanders, Frank
van Melick, Peter Zweers and Cor de Jong for their memories!)
Could be that many other teams have tried shorter lines. We all use
short bungies for trimming out new models, and ther’s nothing more
satisfying than catching a low level thermal from a hand or short bungee
launch. If you have views or experience of 100 metre lines or shorter,
then send your information and opinion to me, Tomas Bartovsky (firstname.lastname@example.org),
your national committee or FAI.
My reservation about shorter lines? They will encourage further
sophistication in model design and materials, they will not hinder many
pilots for long in flying out the working time, and they will discourage
newcomers to the sport from even trying to fly with the experts. Keep
F3J flying for fun!
Sydney Lenssen (email@example.com)
UNCLE SYDNEY’S GOSSIP COLUMN
Dateline: September 2007
European F3J medley
August was busy for European F3J enthusiasts. First a return to Deelen
air base just outside Arnhem for Hollandglide, the 15th year of this
event. Hollandglide is nowadays billed as the largest annual Euroleague
competition, but others are coming close. It is almost too big for it
takes a long time to walk to Spot 15 or 16. This year Deelen enjoyed its
best weather for several years, reserving a soaking vicious storm for 30
minutes after the prize-giving.
But highlight for me was the fond farewell given to Harry “The Knife”
Saunders and his wife who have been contest director/supremo since the
start. Hollandglide also started a new trophy for the top placing pilot
“over-50”. I complained to Jos Kleuskens who awarded the trophy to Colin
Paddon (GB), that next year it should be “over-70” to give me a chance!
Harry “The Knife” Saunders and his wife plus
grandchild collect their presentation after 15 years of
serving as contest director/supremo at Hollandglide, truly a
servant of F3J Europe. Red hat is Albert Kort,
organiser-in-chief, another hero.
Then many pilots and helpers drove on across Germany, Austria or the
Czech Republic into Slovakia, aiming this time for Trnava for the fifth
European championships. The Trnava Cup held on the Friday, Saturday and
Sunday morning before the champs and attracted 136 pilots. They enjoyed
a wonderful treat with a foretaste of the tricky thermals, peppered with
plenty of teasing flat calms and gusty speeding winds which was to come.
It’s hard to choose between the highlights. UK achieved its best FAI F3J
success ever, in contrast to the miserable F3B results from Switzerland.
Models, gazebos and even caravans were lost or shifted bodily by the
swirling storm which hit Trnava halfway through one afternoon slot. Also
the emergence of Russia, Lithuania and the continuing rise in fortunes
of the Italian pilots is most welcome.
The Feigl family legend grows bigger with Peter Feigl managing the
German team to first place in the Eurochamps after taking a flyoff place
in the Trnava Cup. His elder son Sebastian triumphed as European
champion, dropping 1.50 points in the four round flyoff. Second son,
Benedikt Feigl won second place at Hollandglide and has secured a German
team place in next year’s world champs in Turkey. Sebastian has not got
a team place for next year, such is the scramble for the three team
German team manager Peter Feigl gets the now traditional hair shaving
prior to being dunked in the pool as new European team champions.
Sebastian Feigl, new European F3J champion, has his head shaved in
celebration, a somewhat dubious tradition going back at least two years.
2007 Eurochamps - Trnava, Slovakia
Allow me to sing the praises of the UK team - not often I get the chance.
Ten years ago at the very first F3J FAI champs in Poprad, Slovakia, the
UK team did well, amongst the leaders and rightly so as originators of
this new form of RC sailplane competition. Two pilots, Peter Cubitt and
Simon Thornton, reached the flyoff, coming sixth and seventh
respectively, and the team, which also included John Stevens of
Eliminator fame, came fourth.
To set some perspective, let me quote Jack Sile’s 1997 report of the
event: Pete Cubitt having scored 1,000 in the first round - “had his
worst flight in the second round, but then followed with seven
consecutive 900 plus scores.” How standards have changed. Today if you
don’t score 55 seconds plus and 100, you are unlikely to be near the
flyoff places. Pilots returning from the flightlines don’t talk about
the minutes - times are assumed to be 9 minutes - only the seconds to
two decimal places.
2007 allows UK heads to be held high, despite the team changes only a
fortnight beforehand when Simon Jackson pulled out and was replaced by
Colin Paddon. Adrian Lee and Austin Guerrier arrived with caravans in
Trnava with two days of practice before the Open, Colin Paddon, team
manager Graham Wicks and helper Kevin Beale flying in on Saturday with
only one day to spare.
Each of the UK team pilots had one poor flight in the early rounds, but
for once their spirits did not dampen and everyone pulled together. By
the sixth round, the team was in 8th place, 500 points behind the
leaders, but in the gusty winds, not irretrievable. Seventh round the
team were up to fifth place and with consistent flying in ever more
tricky conditions, so it stayed, Great Britain in fifth team place
behind Slovakia, Italy, the Czech Republic and winners Germany.
Fifth-placed Team UK gathered around fifth-placed pilot Austin Guerrier,
highest placed British pilot ever in an FAI F3J championships.
Austin Guerrier’s progress to gaining the last flyoff place was more
dramatic. After six rounds he was in 23rd place, moving up round by
round to 19th, 18th, 14th and then 12th at the end of 10 rounds. I’d
shared some of his disappointment in the early rounds - “I am annoyed
with myself, I came here to win!” Being proprietor of Acemodel and UK
supplier of NAN Models gives him an incentive. Just before launching in
high winds of later rounds, he quipped: “There’s only one way to deal
with this - fly high and go far!” How true that was to prove in the
Saturday, sixth day of the championships, was flyoff day and dawned calm
and sunny, seemingly set for eight 15-minute rounds of split second
launches and spot landings. I had urged the contest director to squeeze
in the first two rounds of senior and junior flyoffs into the tricky air
of late afternoon on Friday, leaving everyone to relish the prospect and
excitement of the final two rounds for Saturday. A similar schedule had
produced a grandstand finish in Red Deer, Canada, three years earlier.
But contest director Milan Blazek and flight line king Miroslav Minarik,
who had presided well over the whole week after a shaky start and a
dodgy matrix, chose Saturday.
My fears that the flyoffs would be too easy proved wrong. First round of
seniors saw several pilots risking two-second launches, and all bar one
got away with it. Four pilots scored 14.55 seconds plus, Primoz Rizner
getting 14.56.50 but only 90 landing points, three scored 14.54 plus,
and only Juraj Adamek landed 45 seconds early.
Second round also looked easy, Jan Kohout netting 14.57.20 plus 100,
Tobi Lammlein 14.56.90 and Philip Kolb and Sebastian Feigl both on
14.56.20. Austin Guerrier had his worst round scoring a good 14.53.50
but dropping 30 landing points.
Round three decided the championships. The wind had become stormy, gusty
and far from predictable. Tempted into rash optimism by previous flights,
all the pilots were prepared to rush downwind chasing what had become
ephemeral patches of kinder air. The fields of corn and sunflowers
downwind became littered with models. Gangs of helpers dashed to recover
models among the high crops. Everyone bar one relaunched, few with the
same model. Only one pilot, Marko Salvigni, triumphed with 10.36.90 and
100 to make his 1,000 points.
But salvation was at hand. Thomas Fischer and Primoz Rizner had touched
each other minimally on launch and a reflight was called. Perhaps that
explains why the pilots who heard the call flew so recklessly. Ten of
the pilots claimed their refly scores in Round three, Sebastian Feigl
scoring 14.53.30 and 100 to claim his 1,000 points. He was down to
treetop height at around nine minutes, but then did some horizontal
DS-ing which sent him 500 metres downwind to pick up 10 metres height,
then slowed and flew out the slot - true champion style.
Round four was tame, only three pilots not managing to fly the slot out.
New European champion was Sebastian Feigl, boldest and riskiest of all
F3J flyers. Second place went to Tobi Lammlein who this year has
specialised in coming second in all his contests. Following in third was
Marko Salvigni, a worthy triumph which brought a huge smile to his face.
Had the third round refly not been granted, I suspect that Marko would
be the new champion.
Consistency also counts a lot, and Austin Guerrier proved that in coming
fifth, just behind Philip Kolb. Although he dropped 50 landing points
and 14.53.50 was his highest time, he became the highest placed British
pilot in an FAI championship ever. Congratulations!
Heartiest congratulations of the whole week should go to Lesley van der
Laan who is the new European Junior champion. He flew well enough to
show that he will soon be a force to be reckoned with at senior level
too. This young Dutchman always sports a laughing face and has competed
at European and World level for the last four years. His success is most
pleasing and well deserved.
Johannes Weber of Germany and Arijan Hucaljuk of Croatia claimed second
and third places, narrowly squeezing Giovanni and Filippo Gallizia
brothers from Italy into fourth and fifth places. Junior team results
saw Czech republic in first place, followed by Italy and then Slovenia.
How about predictions?
Now the reckoning. For flyoff places David Claeys of Belgium let me down
and only managed 33rd place. Adrian Lee from UK did slightly better with
20th place and I should have stuck with Austin in my predictions. Damir
Kmoch from Croatia managed 21st place and I was surprised that noone
from that keen country made the flyoff. Primoz Rizner rather than Primoz
Prhavc came fifth in the preliminaries, missed the third round of the
flyoff and came last.
My bets got better with the Germans because Sebastian Feigl, Tobias
Lammlein and Philip Kolb all made it. What I did not expect was that
Thomas Fischer would also win a place to make it four out of four.
Jan Kohout, who I saw as the repeat champion, came close to predictions;
he led the preliminaries up to Round seven only to be beaten into second
place by Philip Kolb by less than three points. In the flyoff he
suffered in the notorious third round dropping 325 points and down to
seventh place. Another Czech, Jaroslav Tupec, who pretends to be my
father, made the flyoff and repeated his promise to stop competing in
championships because he’s too old.
Massimo Verardi missed the flyoff by one place, but Marko Salvigni and
Marco Generali did make it. Frank van Melick shot his bolt early, but
Cor de Jong made it. Juraj Adamek from Slovakia made it, but team-mate
Jan Ivancik didn’t.
Finally Murat Esibatir, the quiet Turk, let me down. Among the leaders
up to Round four, he suffered the indignity of sloping the trees as
others had done before to spin out the slot. But then the lift stopped
leaving him too low to get back and he hit a tent - bang, off go 100
points to add to his zero. Ouch! He promises me it’ll be different next
So I named six of the 12 places in 14 guesses, about the same as last
year. I wonder how many gossipers try for themselves? I named the team
champions but hedged my bet with three options. One matter was a good
bet, and that is that every pilot and helper taking part enjoyed a good
This gossip column is not meant to dwell too much on results, but the
Trnava Cup was a testing contest with a super prize, a special edition
of his Supra presented by Vladimir Gavrylko. Philip Kolb won the flyoff,
and knowing that he only flies his own-design Samba Pike Perfects these
days in F3J competitions, I offered to buy his prize. That was refused
without hesitation. “Now I have the ideal opportunity to test Mark
Drela’s design for myself, and I am looking forward to it.” Philip sees
Supra in many respects as the father or mother of his Pike Perfect.
What surprised me was that the Trnava Cup flyoff had two pilots from
Ukraine and three from Russia and a Pole, which shows that competition
from former Eastern bloc countries is hotting up. Only the year before
in Martin, the Russians had found themselves floundering and confused:
they were new and had language difficulties. They have caught up fast
and deserve full credit. Watch out next year!
Ricardas Siumbrys from Lithuania, lying fourth after eight rounds, sadly
scored 443 points and dropped out of sight in 29th place. F3J can be
Overfly panic stations
This year for the first time digital camcorders are being used to record
landings and check overflying. Apparently this practice has become
commonplace in Germany to prevent disputes about when models land,
before or after the start of the long blast. Apparently one or two other
countries are considering adopting the same practice.
I think that Philip Kolb’s second flight in the Trnava Cup flyoff was an
overflight. It was certainly very close, but it was not penalised by the
timekeeper. Afterwards I was shown two movies of the landing and on both
you can hear the hooter before the nose hit the ground. Of course, there
is a problem because the sound could come from a loudspeaker closer to
the camera than the timekeeper. Problems caused by the differing
velocities of sound and light not simple to solve. When I tackled
Philip, he claimed that his landing was in time and on previous
occasions, movie evidence he’d seen was vulnerable to sound errors.
In the Eurochamps, Tomas Bartovsky set up a camera to check landings and
in one of the early rounds, a timekeeper - not the pilot - had appealed
to the jury to decide because he was unsure. That evening the jury spent
several hours viewing the evidence, calculating theoretical delays for
sound and sight effects, and generally chewing over the problems. The
flight was ruled as an overflight.
But before CIAM and F3J organisers get carried away on the trail of
erratic forensic evidence, let’s remember that we fly for fun. F3J is
supposed to be simple. The prospect of filming landings, then later
launches, and perhaps tow-line releases, is crazy.
My guess is that there are now 20-30 pilots who fly out 10 minutes every
time unless the weather is particularly nasty. These same pilots can
almost guarantee that they will land within one metre and during the
last second of the 10 or 15 minute slot. Next year, CIAM is likely to
adopt the rule which divides the last metre into 20 cm lengths and the
landing score could be 100, 99, 98 etc down to 95. The temptation to
land in the last split second before the signal will become greater.
But please do not go the way of filming.
The problem arises because the penalty for overflying is so severe, and
to win in good weather, top pilots become ruthless with themselves. The
answer lies in stopping the stopwatches at exactly ten minutes and
allowing the landing to count providing the nose is on the ground, not
at the start of the hooter but by the time the hooter sound finishes.
That allows at least one second margin of error before penalties apply.
As at present, the timekeeper’s judgement should count, and his decision
should be final.
Future outlook - 2008 and all that
Invitations have gone out for the 4th F3J Soarist Open in the middle of
October. The organisers in Istanbul want this contest to be the
“championship of champions” and hope that all the world’s top pilots
will be there next month. The contest will be held in Adapazari, about
100 km east of Istanbul, and the field is being tested for the first
time, and will be home for the World Championships in 2008.
Picture of new field at Adapazari, Turkey
Some of the 2008 team names have emerged in recent weeks.Team GBR will
have seniors Simon Jackson (if he can make it this time), Adrian Lee and
Brian Johnson. Sadly again there are no juniors in the UK league.
Team USA will be Daryl Perkins, Ben Clerx, Rich Burnoski with Skip
Miller as first reserve. Juniors will be A J McGowan, Brendon Beardsley
and Jeffrey Walter with Michael Knight and reserve. Cody Remington as
last year’s junior world champion will also fly in the 2008 F3J WC.
Gossipers will know that Daryl Perkins has been F3B world champion at
least twice - maybe more. He was the one who bought a second-hand
Calypso Cobra from Steve Hailey and won the world champs with it. He has
been acknowledged by Joe Wurts as the all-time best F3B pilot. As Jose
Mourinho, ex-Chelsea manager, would say, he is a “special one,” which
left me astonished that he now wants to fly the far simpler sport of
Ben Clerx enlightened me, for it turns out Daryl enjoys F3J. “Daryl
hasn’t been able to make the team until now, although I don’t think he’s
participated in all the team selections. He had tried many of them and
always a little piece of bad luck has kept him out. His F3B schedule has
also prevented some entries. But we are fortunate to gain Daryl as we
lose Joe Wurts to the Kiwis.”
Again Ben speaking: “I’ve also competed in all the team selections and
haven’t been able to make the team since the first Worlds at Upton 1998.
Our team is based on a single three-day competition, so luck does play a
part. You have one shot to be well prepared and practiced, which is like
going to the world championships.”
For pilots in those countries where to win a team place you have to
enter several competitions, travel hundreds of kilometres in all
weathers over many months, it is tempting to go for the simple
“do-or-die” solution. In UK, I suspect we’d end up with the same pilots
The German league attracted 120 pilots for their five events, and 24 of
these flew in all five qualifiers. Two of the comps were in France and
Holland to ensure international experience. The three man team is Philip
Kolb, Tobias Lammlein and Benedikt Feigl. Junior team will be Johannes
Weber with Manuel and Christian Reinecke, after 23 juniors took part in
three contests to gain a place. The three will be under intense pressure
to regain junior top team place, having missed last two years.
South Africa will send the usual pairing of Craig and Michelle Goodrum (with
a two and a half year old budding child pilot) plus Chris Adrian and
Mark Stockton in reserve.
As current world champion, David Hobby will be returning again from
Australia - can he do it yet again? - and he will have Aussie team of
Mike O’Reilly, Theo Arvatakis and Mathew Partlett or Gregg Voak. If any
other countries would like to send me details of their teams, they’ll
have a mention in the next Gossip Column.
This column should have been posted at least two weeks ago, and there’s
more gossip that I should have included. I hope to catch up and report
from October’s “championship of champions” at Adapazari, including
details which will tempt supporters to attend next summer.
Uncle Sydney - sydney.lenssen (@) ntlworld.com
UNCLE SYDNEY'S GOSSIP COLUMN
Dateline: August 2007 Euro
Prospects In two weeks time, Hollandglide will be
over. Let us hope that the Dutch at Deelen know how to work the weather
miracle and avoid all rain and high winds. Then many of the competitors
will be making their way to Trnava for the European Championships and
the Trnava Cup. Time to do some forecasting, hopefully with more success
than last time.
The sixth European F3J championships in Trnava,
Slovakia has attracted 60 senior pilots and 37 juniors to compete for
the second most prestigious prizes, second only to the world champs. The
Trnava Cup which will be held 17, 18 and 19 August before the main event
and is open to all F3J pilots has attracted 156 entrants so far. That
will be a stern challenge too. The most remarkable feature in advance
for the championships is that 40 out of the 60 senior pilots from 20
countries were at the World Champs last year in Martin, and 24 from the
37 juniors - 16 countries - were pilots last year. As much as anything,
these FAI contests are an opportunity for the F3J enthusiasts to renew
friendships and compare latest ideas, models and techniques. F3J
contests are mostly tight to the finish with split seconds and five
landing points making all the difference between top places. It is
unlikely to be different this year.
Over recent years this Gossip column
has run through most of the team members and managers, with odd bits of
commentary. This year events have conspired to leave me with little
guidance on form. Models seem unlikely to have moved on much, according
to my information, but we shall soon see. So instead of having to plough
through lots of names, I shall pick out one or two highlights, with
predictions to guide the betting. The number of fly-off places will be
officially announced by contest director Milan Blazek at the start and
could be 12. These are likely to come from David Claeys, Belgium; Adrian
Lee from UK; Damir Kmoch from Croatia; Primoz Prhavc from Slovenia. (I
omit Primoz Rizner from Croatia this year because for the last two
years I have seen him as the top place winner and he has let me down. I
know it makes him even more nervous to be favourite!) Sebastian Feigl
and Tobias Lammlein from Germany seem set to make the last rounds and
they will likely be joined by Philip Kolb, flying this time as reigning
European champion and not part of the German team. In the last Gossip, I
reckoned he had already won the F3J Eurotour after five events. He is
certain winner having scored 103 again in Sofia last month. Jan Kohout,
another ex-champion, will join Jaroslav Tupec from the Czech Republic in
the fly-off. Jaroslav told me last year that he was too old for
international championships - I can give him more than ten years, but
I'll never fly like he can - and I'm pleased to see he changed his mind.
The Italians were magnificent last year in Martin and enjoyed noisy
support. This time Massimo Verardi will make the fly-off again. Frank
van Melick from Holland, one of the few to fly his own-design models is
a good fly-off bet. Incidentally, if you want the best restaurant in
Trnava, then follow the Dutch team led by manager Jos Kleuskens because
he will have booked the best table there. Host country Slovakia will win
two fly-off places I bet, Juraj Adamek and Jan Ivancik. To complete the
fly-off list I've dithered between the three Turkish team members. Many
neutral supporters in Trnava will want this team to do well since they
will be hosts for the 2008 world championships in Istanbul. My bet is
Murat Esibatir. Fourteen names for twelve places are my best guesses,
and I wish everyone, named or not, the best of luck, no unfortunate
mid-airs and enjoyable protest-free flying.
Who will be the new
champion? Favourite for me is Jan Kohout, for he will be trying
seriously hard this year. Team prize? My hope is Slovakia as hosts, but
equally likely are the Czechs or the Germans, who will have the youngest
senior team on the airfield.
Muddy tales UK's awful summer continues,
and so far we haven't had an F3J competition which has not been hampered
by showers, storms and winds. We live in hope that one day this year we
shall enjoy a thermal competition. We came close at Twywell last
weekend with most of the slots flown out, even the flyoff in the early
evening. It did manage to spatter a few drops of rain during two of the
slots, just to be perverse. But we flyers cannot moan: in England
thousands of houses have been flooded, 120,000 families have been
without running water for more than a week, 20,000 homes are without
electricity. Guesses on the causes include a southerly shift in the
Atlantic jet-stream, global warming of course, but in fairness most
continental Europeans expect the English summer to be wet.
The UK leg of the Eurotour, Interglide took
place June 23/24, and Tobias Lammlein from Markdorf in Germany flew over
to take part. Allow me to share some of the trials and tips. For those
who don't know Tobi, he was World Junior F3J champion in Lappenranta in
2002 and he will fly in the senior German team this summer in the
European championships at Trnava in August. He's a top pilot. He is in
his second year of a mechanical engineering degree in Switzerland, and
the weekend break to get to Interglide was at the end of term. Tobi
lives 15 minutes away from Friedrichshafen, from where you can fly with
Ryanair to Stansted in 90 minutes. Big snag was that his model box did
not arrive, and by 9.00 pm all hope of flying his three models was gone.
We phoned my friend Andre Borowski at the hospital in Enfield and
borrowed his Sharon Pro for the weekend. Tobi started programming the
model into his Graupner MC24 at 11.00pm, added an extra 30 grams in
the nose, went to bed for a few hours before leaving at 6.30 am next
morning for Marsh Gibbon. Prospects were gloomy, plenty of rain forecast
for the next few days, but on reaching the field, the rain had stopped
leaving lots of mud. Walk within a metre of the ground sheet on which
models were assembled and the wings were splattered with mud, which
dried like cement within minutes. Tobi did a handlaunch to test his
settings, added another lump of weight in the nose, flew in the second
slot and scored a thousand with his first towed flight, then went on to
take second place in the fly-off. If ever proof was needed that it's the
pilot that counts, not the model, this was it. Interglide contest
director Graham Wicks (left), organiser Tony Vale and second place
winner Tobi Lammlein collecting his spoils courtesy of Ace Models and
Couple of highlights from his flying: in the second slot
Tobi was circling tight with three other models and came close to a
mid-air. I'd forgotten it isn't my model, as he broke away to look for
some lift in isolation. Then in the flyoff, flying really high, far
beyond my vision as spotter. I must be careful, he said, I'm close to
cloud. A minute later, It's in cloud. It seemed an age to emerge, and
I would never have found it with my eyes. The real treat for me was
having Tobi as my spotter. I gained tenth place, far higher than normal,
and that was 100% due to his bullying and guidance. Several times my
Supra flew far beyond my normal boundaries, not only for visibility but
also risking safe return. Each time Tobi was confident that lift would
be there - and it was. How can he know that lift is most probably
there? It's a hunch, is his explanation. How does he know which way to
fly after the zoom? He spends plenty of time following models flying
each slot, but in the 30 seconds before his own launch, he claims that
he remains unsure of which way to fly: Usually that decision is when
I'm in the air. For many seasons, Tobi's spotter - Germans call it
coach - has been Philip Kolb, especially in FAI championships, and
experience of each flight presumably rubs off. Is that how you learn to
read air? As a young boy his father Stephan Lammlein coached, but for
competitions the father/son relationship became too close for comfort
and Stephan stepped aside. I remember last year at Martin's World
Championships, Joe Wurts launched all three US juniors and did the
spotting. The pilots were excellent flyers, and Joe's guidance was terse:
I don't like that sky - better left. (Or similar) All the time Joe
was looking round, 360 degrees. When a move was needed, his direction
was ready. My problems with spotting are first vision, then spending too
much time watching my pilot's model, then advising too late that someone
has got reachable lift, and then persuading my pilot that he might try
for it. Most spotters I know spend most of the 10 minutes acting as
co-pilot, which is usually a waste * Spotter should rarely be co-pilot!
Biggest laugh I had timekeeping a couple of years ago in the Hollandglide fly-off, was when an ex-world F3J champion flew with a new
spotter; his usual mate also being in the fly-off. Half way through the
first 15 minutes, I overheard: Look, I don't mind if you don't say
anything. I don't really mind if you keep on talking. But whatever you
do, don't talk stupid! So drink a toast to all spotters, as vital to
success as any pilot. The same goes for the towmen! Wouldn't it be a
good idea of some of our best spotters spent a little time trying to
coach us mere mortals how to do the job better!
Interglide was the first time in my UK experience that the contest
director insisted that we flew some rounds in the rain - admittedly
light but continuous - to ensure that the event would be valid. Anyway
Tobi was due to fly in the next slot and asked if I'd got any XYZ
which I could not translate, for his wings. Turning to Adrian Lee, he
borrowed some washing-up liquid from his caravan, and wiped top and
bottom of the wing and tailplane surfaces, just the gentlest of smears
but leaving the wings sticky and slightly slippery. Tobi wanted the
liquid to disperse any wat er bubbles collecting on the surface as the
model flew, to minimise aerofoil degradation, presumably the green stuff
breaking surface tension. When the model landed at the end of the slot,
there were no bubbles, and the slot was won. To end
the saga, Tobi's three models in the box returned to Friedrichshafen one
and a half weeks later, apparently via Palma de Mallorca. He has still
to see his 50 Euro sporting luggage fare refunded. Ryanair told him
several times that they were a low-cost airline with no electronic label
facilities and they could only find the box when it turned up. Two days
after the box returned home, Ryanair phoned up asking if he had found
the box yet! At Stansted airport I discovered that if you inquire about
lost luggage, you cannot talk face to face with anyone, you can only
speak on one single phone at the far end of arrivals, and that phone is
usually engaged. But if it weren't for low cost air travel, many of us
wouldn't get to many Eurotour contests. So take it or leave it!
Radio revolution is here Only in the last two
weeks have I flown a model with synthesized transmitter and receiver,
with complete success thankfully. I remain suspicious. With a box of
crystals in my transmitter case worth far more than the transmitter
itself, I feel slightly done by. Also after three decades of relying
upon crystals to make my models work and avoid interfering with others
flying at the same time, crystals take on a spiritual importance, like
candles on an altar, and I'm loathe to abandon them. But I am told that
synthesized transmitters are now accepted by top pilots as 100% reliable
and convenient in use. I have heard some doubts about synthesized
receivers, vulnerable to mobile phones etc., by nobody I know has blamed
them for a crash or interference. Again the habit of changing and
checking crystals dies hard.
The world of serious model
radio-controlling is about the change again with 2.4 GHz transmission,
not the sets which have been selling for the last year or so with
limited range and only recommended for indoor and park-fly models, but Graupner's new Intelligent-Frequency-Select (iFS) system, due to become
available in August - any day now. Both the new transmitter modules -
you can continue to use your existing set - and receivers have a host of
features too long to list here. Extra special to my mind is that
Graupner says that up to 120 models can fly at the same time. The
receiver and transmitter talk to each other all the time, and your model
and trannie will change frequency as soon as interference is detected.
As pilot, you will not be aware of any change. Airborne sensors in the
model will send real-time information back to the transmitter on a four
line LCD screen, and you will be able to track battery voltage, height,
air speed, temperatures etc., and the feedback can be converted into
audio signals into your headphone. This part of the system is still
under development, say Graupner, and they reckon up to 256 sensors in
the model can be monitored. What can that number be useful for? Most
impo rtantly, the transmitter's output power can be adjusted between
10mW up to 100mW, because different countries have their own regulations
on what is permissible. The 8 and ten channel receivers which will be on
sale will have a range of 800 metres on the ground and 2 kilometres in
the air, if you can see that far. The transmitter aerial is about 12 cm
long, and the receiver has a tiny stub aerial too. For the technically
inclined, all this sounds pretty impressive. But for me, I wonder what
the reactions will be among the powers that be in FAI, what changes
might be triggered eventually in all the F3 class competitions. For the
moment it is quite simple. IFS will not be allowed in any F3J
competition because: 'Any device for the transmission of information from the model aircraft to the competitor is prohibited. But that can't
last for long. The whole approach to running competitions to date has
been the limit on the number of pilots who can fly at the same time.
Hence we have man-on-man rules, that is a number of rounds with several
groups (slots) in each round. The limiting factor in future could be how
many gliders can be flown and landed on targets reasonably safely at the
same time? - 20, 30 or even more. I suspect that we will not see 120
models up at one time, although that would make the model manufacturers
rub their hands in glee. With slightly modified rules and staggered
launches, you could certainly have two or three times as many flying in
each group on most contest sites. That could be fairer and more
exciting. The many and various options which IFS opens up, if it proves
as successful and reliable as promised, will certainly lead to some
healthy debates in the not so distant future. Tomas Bartovsky and the
folks in Lausanne are going to be busy! End of gossip for now!
UNCLE SYDNEY’S GOSSIP COLUMN
Dateline: Early June 2007
Weather rules: not OK!
Don’t talk about the English weather, far too boring and specifically
designed to frustrate soaring. End of May and we Brits haven’t had one
round yet. Meanwhile Contest Eurotour has had five competitions -
Istanbul in Turkey, Forli in Italy, Holic in Slovakia, Ludwigsfelde in
Germany and Osijek in Croatia. And it is already won for 2007 by - guess
who - Philip Kolb!
Still mathematically possible, just about, that someone could beat
Philip because the European league consists of 13 contests and each
pilot’s three best scores count. But Philip has already notched up
308.75 points after dropping his 102 scored in Istanbul. Sebastian Feigl
is in second place 3.58 points behind, with his brother Benedikt a
further three points behind in third place.
For those unfamiliar, how can any pilot score more than 100% in any
contest? If you win top place in a fly-off, then you score three extra
points to add to your total in the preliminary rounds, second place add
two extra points, etc etc. This system will be used here in the UK F3J
league for the first time this year, if and when we actually fly a
contest and fit in a fly-off! The idea is to reward top flyers who do
well in 15 minute slots, competing directly with the best of the bunch.
Returning to Philip, he left it until the last competition in September
to win last year’s Eurotour in Bled, Slovenia. Quite unreasonably, he
has ruined this year’s league with less than half complete. For the
record, Philip has topped the Eurotour six times so far: 1999, 2001,
2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. “That’s enough,” I hear you say. “Give
somebody else a chance!”
This gossip column is not only about winners. My favourite competitor in
this year’s Eurotour is Esra Koc, daughter of Turkey’s F3J maestro
Mustafa Koc. Father is currently placed fifth in the Eurotour, while
Esra, competing seriously for the first time this year, she has flown in
four contests. Best score so far was 76.16 at Forli, and she is
currently 58th place in the league. Esra is 10 years old!
I first met Esra and her sister, who is four years younger, in Istanbul
when introduced by her mother four years ago. She wasn’t flying then,
but she was already dad’s keenest supporter. Now she tells me she’s
flying the Eva and a Space Pro - “I don’t build my own models, but when
my models break, if it’s not so bad, then I fix them myself. I want to
learn how to build models.”
Esra has already qualified for the Turkey’s junior team and will fly in
the European championships in Trnava this August. She also hopes to
compete next year in the World Championships - in Turkey, of course! I
shall follow her progress closely and I’m taking bets on how long it is
before she starts beating dad.
Kiwis attract globe trotters
Moving across the F3J world to both the United States of America and New
Zealand, RC Soaring Digest has carried reports of Joe Wurts
winning February’s Kiwi SoarFest in Matamata, two hours drive from
Auckland. Another F3J star, Carl Strautins from Australia, was also
there to hot up the competition, along with old friend Sven Zaalberg,
who flew for UK in Red Deer 2004 and has since returned home as a
captain with Air New Zealand.
It’s been an ill-kept secret for some years that Joe and his wife Jan
were keen to emigrate to New Zealand, a country they’ve learned to love
since their first visit in 1994. That was the year Joe had a
demonstration tour of the country, invited by keen F3B flyers who wanted
first hand experience of how the experts do it. Joe and Jan returned
several times and in 2004 applied for residents’ visas, a contorted and
testing process which was only completed this year. Joe retired early
from Lockheed and has set up his own engineering consultancy business
They’ve sold their house, and as soon as their new labrador puppy Lonnie
has all his permits and jabs, they’ll move in the summer.
What I have yet to discover is how long it will take before Joe is
eligible to fly for New Zealand, rumoured to be three years. My spies
tell me he will be invited to manage the Kiwi team in 2008. Confirmed is
that six senior pilots are competing for next year’s national team, one
of whom is Sven, to be decided in October.
Joe Wurts is the only thermal pilot I know with a record of success
which surpasses that of Philip Kolb. (I’m sure that Philip would be
first to go along with that!) America’s loss with Joe’s departure will
be more than compensated for by New Zealand’s gain.
What makes a good F3J model.
Everyone has their favourite model, often the latest “pride and joy”. We
also have our most nostalgic model, that sailplane which would still win
slots if only it still existed. Or the one which you took out late
summers’ evenings and it just refused to come down as the sun set.
The pace of development of F3J models seems to have slowed somewhat,
although none of today’s top frequent winners were around five years ago.
I’m thinking of the Pike Perfect, Xperience Pro or Shadow, Aspire,
Vision, Espada or Supra. The characteristics of top models have changed
too. All of them seem to zoom off the top of the line with more energy
to convert into height. Spans have increased typically by 0.5 metre.
Are they easier to fly? My answer to that is mixed. I’ve had about a
dozen flights with my new Supra in the past week and it really is the
easiest F3J model to fly that I remember. It nestles into thermal turns
and barely needs any correction - as close to flying itself as one would
wish. Whether that translates into better scores, we shall see.
My previous ‘new’ model, now well into its second year, an Espada, is
always full of surprises. I’ve flown it sometimes and been amazed by its
duration abilities. Yet other days, I could have happily given it away
as it came down in kind air twice as fast as anyone else. And I thought
I could trim!
Recent questions from a friend who shall be nameless raised fresh
thoughts in my mind. He’s been flying an Esprit for many years, often
with success, and he’s wondering what to buy and fly next. “Nothing too
slippery,” he says. For instance, he finds a Starlight 3000 he’s tried
tricky. He wants to go back to the SD 7037 aerofoil and is willing to
trade competitiveness for handling comfort.
Time was when you could get a reasonable guide from model magazine
reviews. Nowadays, you get a few pics and words on what’s been fitted
and how long it took to assemble: little more.What really irks me is
when the reviewer has an F3J duration machine and he details his
experiences flying it on a slope. Or you see pics on how he’s linked his
servos and you know you stopped that years ago because they were too
My friend wants help and he’s right that there is little available
guidance. So drop a line to the Soarer or post your comments and
opinions of your latest winner, good and bad, on the new Barcs web-site.
In praise of Elapor
With the scarcity of gossip so far this year, let me sing the
praises of Multiplex and what they are doing with Elapor, their fancy
name for EPP. Many pilots will remember the fun they had with Twinstar a
few years ago. This chunky electric airliner with a 400 motor on each
wing could fly almost anywhere, control-line races without lines, combat
with or without streamers, and fitted with lights you could fly it after
midnight around campsites.
Nearly three years ago Multiplex launched the EasyGlider, 1.8 metre
span, pure glider or 400 electric, advertised as a recruiting tool to
persuade power modellers to take up thermal soaring. I bought one early
on, carried everywhere, and flew it whenever the opportunity cropped up.
It was almost uncrashable and I didn’t hesitate to let anyone around
have a go. No model has given more fun per Euro than that. And another
clubmate is flying it today.
Two months ago, Multiplex went one step better and launched Cularis,
again pure glider or electric, this time with a span of 2.61 metres.
Again it is quite chunky due to the nature of the Elapor, but it looks
semi-scale and it has a four servo wing with crow-braking. It flies well
if a little fast and again is easy fun.
But what sold me and fascinates me is how the Multiplex designers have
coped with the structural problems of achieving a high aspect ratio wing
out of what is simply uncovered plastic foam.
The kit costs £110 from West London Models and is full of innovative and
intricate white nylon components, plus foam jig to assemble the wing
panels. The two-piece wing, each with two mini servos for flap and
aileron, plugs straight into the fuselage and a moulded fitting holds
the wing joiners and the servo leads, plus a catch to lock each wing in
place. The all-moving tailplane has a special fitting which also locks
the two halves in place on each side of the fin. Assembly and
dismantling takes seconds.
If Multiplex continue to develop this material and approach to gliding,
it will not be long before they have high performance gliders at low
cost which will surely help to entice tyro pilots to fly competitively.
Elapor leaves a few queries. For example, I wonder whether or not to
spend a couple of hours using wet and dry paper to sand off the little
bobbles on the moulded surfaces, part of the production process. The
trailing edges of the flying surfaces are 3-4 mm thick rather than the
knife-edge which we’re used to with glass-fibre models. Typically I
spend £30-40 each for wing servos, but Cularis has the cheaper £6-8 mini
servos. How much difference does that make? Not a lot apparently.
I’ve no way of accurately measuring glide angles and sinking speeds, but
I do know that the previous EasyGlider had a rate of descent about twice
that of my F3J machines. That simply meant that you had to find stronger
thermals to go up, and it was all the more obvious when you found one in
marginal conditions. Cularis has not flown much so far, but I guess that
its still-air sinking speed is about two-thirds that of a normal F3J
model, 0.5-0.6 metres/second.
The EasyGlider fitted with a 2000 mAh two-cell Lipo had a power run of
30 minutes and it was easy enough to fly for 90 minutes if you chose,
more likely several flights over a long afternoon. With a 1500 mAh
three-cell Lipo in the Cularis, you get about six power runs up to 200
metre height. It thermals fast and well, but watch for tip stalls if you
set the CG back.
Multiplex plus Elapor are more than likely to boost the popularity of
thermal flying and deserve high praise.
End of gossip for now!