Monday, July 30, 2007

F3B 2007 Report Back

Part 1

The journey to this year’s F3B World Championships was certainly an interesting one. Early in the year I received news that Brian ( a colleague at work) was scheduled to take leave at the same time as me and that one of us would have to give up their trip in favour of the grindstone. Who would it be? When I informed the team and spoke to Paul Carnall (reserve) about the problem life became rather traumatic. It would be difficult for Michelle to make the trip by herself and if Mathew stayed home with me the Goodrums (senior) would probably not go either.

After a week or two of uncertainty and a little intervention from Wolfgang with the boss the problem of overlapping leave was solved and Brian organized with his sailing buddies to shift their voyage forward. The end result of all this was that I would not be able to join Michelle and Dion in Salzburg for the week long practice session before the Worlds, the great news was that I would get to take part in the premier gliding event.

Preparation for this years’ team started well in advance. Michelle and I had decided to fly Estrellas two years ago she had two and I had three (I broke one and while it was being fixed purchased Peter Eagles one). Michelle obtained an Eagle from Jiri Tuma as her third model in April after we saw how well Rodney’s one flew. Dion also wanted to fly something better than an X21 and purchased an Eagle and a Crossfire. Disaster struck about two months before we left during a practice session, Dion had been making excellent progress with the Eagle – matching me on speed and often giving me something to aim for during practice – when he experienced a full lock out at the top of the zoom and the model make a short and unsuccessful attack on the Earth. There was nothing left! With no time to spare to get replacement models and transport them here Wolfy came up with a diabolical plan to get one of the Salzburgers (Matzi) to fit out a Crossfire over there, and Dion would pick this up when he arrived the week before the contest.

I was confronted with a slightly different problem, three weeks before leaving Rodney told me about the fantastic Ceres by Jiri Baudis. After a little investigation we found out that it would be possible to get a ready to fly model two days before the worlds, I would try it out and if it was as good as they said then that would be what I would fly. To do this I needed some money – time to sell one of the Esrellas (this is the one Derek Marusich bought).

Michelle, Dion and Wolfy left the Friday before us and for a week before I left I was getting SMS’s asking for CA, sight, socks, porridge, tools, soldering iron, jacket, Wellington (Gummi) boots (I didn’t get a chance to go to the shops and find these and to Michelle’s credit I still have not had an “I told you so!”).. the list just wouldn’t stop. While Michelle was typing these SMS’s I was trying to make ultra light model boxes, we had limited luggage allowance and a lot of luggage so weight was a big problem, using cardboard boxes and finding boots would have been time better spent. Our luggage was already much less than it could have been, Wolfy organised that we borrow equipment from the Salzburg F3B team, this was well organised equipment and we actually used two Ricky Mitchell winches (Ricky your winches have been used in a World Championships!). Wolfy also managed to get us two vans at hardly any cost and our accommodation price was unbeatable.

Eventually it was time for us (Shirley (Mathew’s partner in crime), Rodney (field team manager – possibly another SA colours issue, and I) to join the team and we left SA the Friday before the start of the competition. Wolfy collected us from the airport at 7am in the morning and off we went to find Emmen. On the Saturday we went the contest site, collected equipment and then it was off to the practice field. At the practice field the Belgians had been having some frequency problems, then we saw an F3A type model flying about a kilometre away. The frequency being used wasn’t the same as ours so we took a chance and flew. It was the first time I flew the Ceres and although the flying characteristics were great I found it impossible to launch. Hmmmm. Later discussion with Jiri and I had a plan for Sunday. Our second helper, George, arrived later on Saturday and on Sunday it was time to train him about his job while we practiced. Well that was the plan. Instead it started raining, eventually we just flew in the rain breaks and drizzle – very soggy. The good news was that the Ceres was launching better, it is not as easy a model to launch as an Estrella but the pace in speed is better from a slightly lower height. Decision made, this was the model I would fly, the Ceres had an advantage in the speed and distance tasks which are always difficult to win.

Dion has chosen his somewhat pink model and Michelle had chosen her yellow high modulus DP Estrella. It is always good to go into a competition with a favourite.

The Worlds

Need I say more?

We all struggled in somewhat damp varying conditions. I would put the difference down to launch height more than anything else as we normally landed in the second half of the field but there was always that elusive higher model that stayed up longer. At this point things did not look great, we were off to a bad start. My first duration became a reflight after tagged the line of my neighbouring launcher as he flicked and flew across my path, his line broke as it cut into my “orange juice” (Dion), the organizers also announced my name to fly in the next slot while I was still flying (No idea why). The refly duration with the Estrella gave a similar result

In distance we were quite consistent but just not good enough, our calling was not sharp enough on the base B prep and too much time and distance was lost in the turns at base A and B. I was Flying the Estrella and the run was actually looking good (I thought it was at least a 900 points if we didn’t win) but then …wack….and the tail was no longer attached to the model, things just were not going to be easy this year. I had a chance to fly all three of my models in one round but decided to go with the Ceres again but the result was poor. Before I got to fly though they had rescheduled me for the group after Michelle and we had to do a quick changeover, I spoke to the CD and asked for time and they agreed, however this was not to be. By the time we had exchanged radios and turned on we saw that the working time remaining was 6 minutes, the organisers had forgotten to wait for us. Their comment “can you not still fly in this group?” – I just turned around and walked off the field, mumbling something to Rodney as I walked off, he sorted out that they rescheduled me for the final group.

Well the first thought had to be, “what speed?”

The team was struggling to be positive and the mud bath on the flight line was becoming more and more difficult to deal with as the day passed

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Radical

Click on image to enlarge

Monday, July 23, 2007

Feedback comments from Dion

In a Matthew voice: “I want a leeetle thermal” - 5 min 51
In a more anxious voice “I want a beeeg thermal” – 10 min 01

Lucky break:
Dion steering a V-tail model on duration landing approach – found the correct one shortly afterwards.

Whats difficult:
10 models in a 50 – 100m diameter thermal, 7 are Crossfires which have exactly the same markings.
Flying up and down in straight lines.
Trying to make a model stay up when the heavens are beating it back down to the ground. (The earth sucks but heaven bats)

Waiting at a stop street just outside the field for a really hot chick passing on the cyclist path after a hard day at the field. Craig “Nice bike!” Dion “….and you just want to ride it” (You had to be there)

Bad luck:
Pulling an early slot in speed, 15 guys do similar times, the conditions change, and the last 15 do ave. 3 sec less
Craig flying his brand new model into a line cutting the wing to the spar. Having a midair on the same day, destroying a brand new fuselage and V-tail.

Swiss precision and organisational skill:
Is a myth.

Swiss cheese:
Doesn’t actually have holes in.

The Herrig brothers flying skills
Bartovski’s weather carts. Realtime radar images and charts which predict within 10 – 15 min accuracy windspeed & direction, precipitation, temperature, radiation levels, dewpoint, your next pee break.

Believe it or not:
The mud bath for 27 nations competing in a world championship could not be addressed by the farmer putting straw until his cow had finished calfing. The grass couldn’t be cut because the pig needed attention. The CD got fired. (not directly because of previous but I’m sure it contributed)

Essential equipment :
Battery cart (Because the winch system must have a resistance of 23 ohm or more and the current the motor can draw is limited, and R=V/I , if the battery goes flat the resistance drops below the legal. So you have to charge after every 2 launches. Dumb rule)

Model trends:
Absolutely no protrusions on the wings (servo or link fairings).
Lots of UHM carbon.
Small diameter fuselages
Thin wingsections. Probably limited by the servos at this stage, but Multiplex are making a new generation of thin servos with less depth. So if the servo is further away from the TE there’s another mm or two thickness available.

The hot models:
Radical, Ceres, Precious, Tool, Isabelle

The has beens:
Estrella, Europhia, Race Machine, Team GBR

Why didn’t we do better?
Match practice, awesome pilots, stupid mistakes, very different conditions, risky decisions which didn’t pay off.

How to do better next time:
When you see serious clouds gathering or a thunderstorm brewing, grab your model and go to the flying field. Wear wellies while practising.
Fly faster speedruns.

Would you do it again?
Oh Yeah, F3J is for girls


Sunday, July 22, 2007

New and Hot planes at last WC

Hello again F3B fans - I downloaded this from RC groups - David Klein. I have tried to include some photographs of the aircraft he refers to but will have to look for some more. I will publish them as I get them In the meantime check out his comments on the Evolution, Radical and Ceres. (in this header shot of the Swiss team aircraft there is a precious on the left, a Ceres in the middle and an Evolution on the right)

A review of the planes flown at the 2007 F3b WCRDS- This is a feature that I have not previously seen on high performance F3b planes. Previously the airframes have been evolving towards bottom hinged, top driven linkages with short horns in order to hide as much of the linkage as possible. The Ceres is still done this way. The control horns are nearly flush with the surface, hiding 99% of the linkage. It seems that the Precious is done a little more conventionally, with bottom hinged flaps and top hinged ailerons, although Stephan Boehlan’s plane featured an RDS system. The Herrig brother’s planes took this a step further, their planes were not only RDS, but the system was installed before the molds were closed. There are no servo access doors, nor any linkages exposed. Once the molds were opened, wipers were installed, and the wings were finished. If I could order a wing this way, I would. The only disadvantage would be in the event of a servo failure, the servo would have to be cut out. The other most prominent evolution has been in the area of fuselage cross section. The planes fuses are shrinking in diameter, and the ballast is being moved to the wing. The reduction in fuselage diameter is in order to remove wetted area and thus parasitic drag. Sharp tail cones are also the order of the day. I like this, but would prefer to keep enough internal volume to have a small fuselage ballast tube. There isn’t a ballast system more desirable than the Estrella. It makes ballast changes possible inside your working time, lending an advantage to the pilot. I would like to note that the Herrig brothers had custom ballast tubes in their fuselages, not standard on a Radical.
Now onto the planes.
Listed in the order of desirability (at least to me)
Radical- This was the plane of the day. It took its hits in the duration department, but it blew the competition away during the speed task. As stated before the winning plane had some special modifications not available commercially. The plane had molded in servos with RDS, this allowed for an absolutely clean wing. It was also modified for fuselage ballast, but the Radical is standard with wing ballast. I would also note that the Herrig brothers carved very smooth sweeping turns; they did not pop the turns like some others. This may have been due to the light conditions and high wing loadings that they flew with. They definitely out launched most of the competition.
Ceres- This is my pic for my next round of purchases. This plane was flown by relatively few pilots due to its very recent release. Craig Goodrum of the Republic of South Africa got his during the Emmen Cup just days before the competition. He campaigned it well through the WC flying some fast speed runs and some even better distance laps. Jiri Baudis, the producer also displayed the planes strengths well, as did Francisco Pantano from Argentina. He compared it to his Freestyler 3 (the only one flown in the competition as having nearly identical flying characteristics and qualities. He flew the Ceres as primary, switching to the Freestyler 3 after some damage. Since this plane is available in the US through Soaring USA, it will be available really soon in two versions, F3F and F3b. The F3F version should come in built at 80 Oz and the F3b version should be 6-8 Oz lighter. For anyone purchasing this plane for slope racing, I highly recommend the heavier and more durable version; you will still be adding ballast anyway. For those buying the F3b version, get some mono and give me a call, I’ll show you how to fly it.
The Precious-Well the ever popular Furio got a even better in the next Bretta Model’s evolution, the Precious. This plane takes the cake for construction quality and cosmetics. It is absolutely flawless. The US team pilots took note as Stephan Boehlan launched his with great tension. This plane, like the others above features a great two piece removable v-tail system for ease of transportation. The fuselage has plenty of room for internal fuselage ballast, although I am not sure of the stock ballast arrangement. This plane is available in the US through Tom Copp at Give it a try, it is even better than the Furio.
Freestyler 3- I only saw one of these planes there. It looks just like a Radical, just a little smaller. Francisco Pantano of Argentina flew it after sustaining damage to his primary Ceres. He didn’t have a lot of time on this plane and commented that it was set up for slope flying. Andreas Herrig commented that the Freestyler 3 was better in distance than the Radical but slower in speed. It looks like a winner, but I haven’t seen enough of it to intelligently comment on it. Many California slope racers have ordered them, so we should see a lot of them really soon.
Evolution- The Evolution from Jiri Tuma, a sweet plane set up with RDS stock. I hope someone brings these to the US. Andreas Boehlen flew this plane for only one round, so I didn't get a good opportunity to evaluate its performance. But if the two time WC chose it for his quiver, it must be good.
Tool- This plane was very under represented at the 2007 F3b WC. Our Pilot Thomas Kiesling bought three from He liked the model, commenting that it was easier to fly fast than the Crossfire. My observations were that it pulled a lot of tension during launch. The plane was cleanly built and penetrated well. This plane has got a lot of recent interest from the Norcal Slope Racers, we will see how it proves in future competition.
Estrella and Estrella DP. Wow, this plane is really the benchmark for an F3b model. I think it was the most popular model in the hanger, with many pilots filling out their quiver with one, two, or three. Reinhart Leise of Germany showed everyone how to fly them with a great speed performance in round one of the Emmen cup. This plane is awesome but still very expensive, selling for 1500-1700 Euros used. I am glad I got one when I had the chance. These planes are only available directly from Fisher Models in Europe, so they are hard to come by in the US. I feel that for their price and lack of global distribution, this plane is a hard sell in the USThese planes are the real notables from the F3b WC this year. Please feel free to send me an email is you have any questions. David
Just to let you have some thoughts on the aircraft. Comments as always are welcome.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mike Smith's Report (USA Team)

Hello again F3B Fans

It seems there is renewed interest in F3B all over - I saw this post from Mike (Smith - I'm guessing -see photo of him and intensely patriotic Altus planes he flew in recent World Champs) Anyway Mike graciously allowed me to quote his report as it has some good ideas and comments for the development of the sport.

Mike writes "

As far as the competition went... I came away from this event with a few choice nuggets. I agree that glider choice is important, but it was very clear that even if you had the winning glider, you weren't guaranteed a good result. F3B is very much a pilot skill, and preparedness test. He who spends the most time flying and competing with his gliders will be the best prepared, period. While the Herrigs were flying Radicals, they were executing their launches, and flights with great precision. It was obvious that their experience was the biggest reason that they won. I don't think there were any other Radicals in the top 10, but I am not sure about that. It is possible that Joroen Smits and John Skinner were flying Radicals, but again, I don't know for sure. I was flustered a bit by the delay in the horn from the timing system. The practice that Aaron and I did together got us very used to an instant confirmation of our crossing the line. If we didn't hear it in a fraction of a second, then we went around immediately. With this system, the delay is approximately 0.3 seconds, and is on top of any delay that might exist due to the turn by jury system. What was apparent was that we did indeed know where that turn was, but unfortunately, I didn't trust it enough and started back at least twice only to get the horn, and wiggle my way back down the line to the finish. Total cost was at least 2 seconds on one run and about 1.5 on another. The Altus is a competitive glider. My cut on the last speed run of the contest cost me 5th place, but wouldn't have helped out our team standings enough for second place.Smooth, round, carving corners were demonstrated by the Herrigs in their speed runs, and the results of knowing where the turn was, and keeping their model's energy up throughout the course is evident in their scores.Launch equipment was something we struggled a bit with. We were presented with batteries that had a remarkably low internal resistance. So much so that we spent two evenings modifying resistors on the winches, and adding resistor bars to the batteries to get above the 23 milliohm limit, with sufficient safety factor to survive a spot test on the line. I think our buffer was too high, but lack of experience with our own tester, and fine tuning the winches keeps me from knowing just how big an impact this had on our launches.All in all I think we did well. I know for sure that each of us is capable of performing better. As Tom mentioned, distance is so dependant on the team for air reading and stategy calls that lack of practice here hurt us for sure. And I agree that going to a contest in Europe would be a great way to get better prepared for the next WC's for anyone that makes the team. Personally, my opinion is that Tom, Aaron, and myself were/are top 10 pilots in the field for this WC. The results showed our lack of experience more than anything. This is without a doubt the Olympics of our sport. It has all the intensity, and level of competition of that caliber of event. Even though this was my second time going, I learned more this time than last time."

More importantly he ends with this which is just as applicable in SA "

"I am very encouraged to see that there is some more interest in flying F3B in the States (could be SA there are several people in building groups etc). Please get out there and fly the event. It will make you a better all around pilot, and it'll be a lot of fun too. Don't wait in line to buy the latest and greatest glider. Get anything that will hold up to the launces, and start flying. It is more about the experience of flying the event than it is getting the hot glider. Take my word for that.Thanks again,More later, Mike"

As always comments with names and sugestions welcomed.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

F3B League ideas

Hi All

As Evan mentioned he and I thought of ways to increase interest in F3B. If we could get new pilots involved in multitask flying it would improve their piloting skills, get a greater depth of talent in gliding and strengthen competition in South Africa.

Also as mentioned a league system is currently being devised where "A" League (persons who have flown F3B) compete with each other to strict FAI rules.

Persons who have not flown multitask but have competitive aircraft (all those Shongololo's from the building groups!!) will fly in the "B" League and be assisted by the more experienced folk. "B" league pilots fly against each other not the "A"league and fly to modified FAI rules to ease their learning curve.

All others who are interested in improving their skills by flying multitask but do not have multitask specific aircraft will compete in the "C" League - this is an "all comers" league with seriously revised rules to ease entry. Here the "a" and "B" league pilots would be expected to help.

As Evan mentioned this will only go into effect next year and as such there is a lot o time to fine tune the rules. Please provide comments and leave your name so I can get back to you.

Who knows - maybe the next "Herrig brothers" are out there waiting to be discovered (See header photo - F3B Meeting at Kassel in Germany - first airing of the Radical!)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New F3B Blog

Hi all

In the interests of promoting F3B in South Africa, we have created a Blog where we will be posting all future F3B stuff.

One of our first goals will be to create a league with regular F3B events. Peter Eagle and myself
have been discussing the idea of creating an A, B and C league.
Briefly, it will work something like below. Peter is working on a set of rules so this might change a whole lot but it give you some idea.

The A league will be for any pilots who has flown in an F3B event before.
The B league will be for pilots who would like to fly F3B and have the correct model, but feel they don't stand a chance against the "hot shot" pilots so don't ever enter any competitions.
And the C league will be for the all comers so to speak. Those that don't have an F3B glider but would like to try their hand at multitask gliding.

The idea is to host regular comps. Possibly one a month. A League pilots will not fly against the B league pilots, so will be your callers and timers. Helping you and showing you the ropes. The B league pilots will in turn help the C league pilots.

Anyway, more as we develop this. So if any of you have any suggestions please make comments. Be sure to leave your name.

Until later!