Uncle Sydney’s gossip column - August 2008


Miles and Storks mean Smiles and Turkey



Lucky enough to be in Istanbul two weeks ago, Murat Esibatir and Philip Kolb  kindly invited me to their local two-metre competition. The club’s field is about an hour out of the city and almost under the flight path of the city’s second airport on the Asian side of the Bosporus. No surprise, the field is also a few minutes away from the new fineworx factory where “Miles”, the new two-metre competition glider, is coming off the production line, first of a series of models planned to be manufactured by this dynamic duo.



 Philip Kolb with a characteristic overarm launch, this time from a bungee with the new cool “Miles”, the all-wooden 2 metre competition glider from fineworx, the new model manufacturer in Turkey.



What a fantastic fun day was enjoyed by all, about 24 pilots, friends, girlfriends, children and helpers, in weather which ranged from 30 to 35 degree Centigrade, scarcely a cloud in the sky, thermals aplenty and a vital need to drink as much water as possible.


First an outline of of Turkey’s two metre rules. The model must be all wood and no composites, only rudder and elevator/v-tail and two servos, launch is by bungee - 30 metres of cotton covered rubber to limit extension to roughly twice   normal length - and 100 metres of line. Pilots fly man-on-man in 9 minute slots with a maximum allowable flight time of six minutes. A standard F3J landing tape is used to score landings and overflights are penalised by deducting the number of seconds over, up to a 30 second maximum. Pilots can launch as often as they wish, the last flight and landing counts as the score.


Toughest part of the contest is to land accurately and close to the 6 minute target. With only two controls, it is not easy to get the glider down out of a thermal and slow it down to a pace which allows you to land on the spot without damaging your model. From what I hear, the United States has a two-metre class, still popular for club contests, and there a third servo is permitted and used to control a spoiler. The option of a spoiler will become part of Turkey’s rules for next year’s competitions.


 A clutch of Miles, the new two metre class glider produced by Murat Esibatir and Philip Kolb, and already a hit with the Turks. Kits for what has been described as a “small F3J model dressed in sheep’s clothing” are available in the US from Kennedy Composites.




Many F3J pilots have visited Turkey in recent years to compete at Riva on the Black Sea coast and at Adapazari where the world championships were held this summer. They will vouch for the high standard of organisation and facilities which the Turks lay on. While not quite as grand for this club competition, everybody on the field mucked in to make sure that the event ran smoothly.


Every pilot in the three slots per round had an independent timekeeper and scorecards, the computer churned out results, when the timing system broke down, a loudhailer was used to start and finish slots and check that all pilots were ready. Regular breaks were called to eat and drink. Pilots went out to the line with two helpers, one to act as spotter and  count down the six minutes, and one to retrieve the bungee in case a second or third launch was necessary and sort out any crossed lines.


The standards of flying was very mixed. Everyone knew that Philip and Murat were international standard, several others were well experienced while others were at various stages in the learning process. Each slot had mixed abilities, rivalries were intense and ribbing and joking went all down the line.


 A few of the happy band of two-metre pilots at the end of the day, with the jet overhead on its approach to Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of Istanbul.



A number of the pilots had yet to be indoctrinated into Dave Thornburg’s “River of Air” guidelines. They persisted in pushing upwind where they were confident that the factory roofs were going to lift them to the clouds. Ozgur Vural is an experienced model helicopter and power flyer, but thermal flying is different. He had yet to be convinced that it is worth following a thermal downwind. But after flying out his 6 minutes in three consecutive rounds, with his spotter shouting “fly downwind”, he was convinced and his smile was almost two metres wide!


But highlight of my day were the flocks of storks.  At one point there were five separate darkish clouds of the majestic birds spread across the sky from north to south, storks returning to Africa across the Bosphorous from northern Europe. Each cloud paused almost stationary in the sky, a thousand or more storks thermalling and gaining height before breaking away to catch the next batch of lift. How do they all circle so closely, seemingly in random turmoil, certainly not all in the same direction, without any collision?


But whether it’s one stork or a thousand, when they circle it means lift! Several of the two-metre models went up to join them, and again, even when models were in the thick of the flock and hard to distinguish and keep your eyes on, there were no collisions. 


When Philip launched almost into the base of the flock, he cried: “I hope their radar is good,” and amazingly half a minute later, I saw Philip’s model flying above the flock and to one side. I hope that a reader somewhere will explain this phenomenon.


It appears that a well trimmed model glider will climb faster than the typical stork in the same thermal.  I am confident that Nature has blessed the stork with super thermal reading skills and fine-feathered aerofoils. If the stork is not climbing as fast as the model, then either the bird did not want to climb fast in the lift or its wing loading was higher than the model.


Whatever the explanation, the storks were a wonderful sight to see and provided a wonderful bonus to super contest.


 One of what was at one time five flocks of storks thermalling over Istanbul’s two metre class thermal glider contest, and not one collision. See if you can spot either of the two gliders in that lot!


 This time the model is easy to spot as it breaks away from the flock. The storks seem to be just as good at avoiding man-made objects as their own kith and kin!

Sydney Lenssen  E-mail sydney.lenssen(at)ntlworld.com

See earlier gossip HERE