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 F3X.com. 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 Skipmillermodels.com. 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 Kleindjklein@ucsd.edu
Just to let you have some thoughts on the aircraft. Comments as always are welcome.