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    • grj
      Bertrand Willmot wins Interglide 2018
      After several weeks of careful planning and negotiations with Richard Thomas, owner of Hamilton Farm Airstrip, caterers, food vendor, sponsors and the printing of stickers, registration packs and score cards, BARCS Interglide 2018 was finally upon us and the weather looked set fair for a long hot weekend. The event forms the British leg of the Eurotour series and so entry had proved very popular with the sixty places taken up within days of registration opening. The French contingent were also to use the event as part of their national team selection process.
      Driving on to the site early Thursday afternoon, we were surprised to be met by two Dutch pilots waiting to get their caravan onto the field and within minutes they were out testing the air with DLG’s. The need to get the early preparation work installing signage, decking out the marquee and other facilities would clearly need to be undertaken with the utmost haste. The farmer was instructed to cut the long grass and the huge one hundred and sixty metre, fourteen spot flight corridor planned to best suit what was expected to be the variable wind directions of the weekend. The landowner had agreed to remove a section of fencing used to keep the sheep off his long West-East runway. We had one other small request of him, being as there were a couple of interesting football matches to be played, a television was duly hung in the marquee.

      From 6.30am on the Friday morning we were greeted by a rapidly filling camp site and the first electric soarers being launched into the cool still early morning air. Indeed this scene was repeated every morning with models being tested at times when most British pilots were still dreaming of their Full English.  It was a busy day, not only for the organisers laying out the field but also competitors as a huge tented village started to appear along the edge of the flying area with ‘Coleman’s’ were erected to form a ‘pits’ area. The campsite itself was much improved on last year with a small toilet block and wash-up area, electric hook-ups and sectioned off pitches which lent themselves to forming the small national enclaves of British, German, French and Dutch. Practice continued all day apart from a couple of short delays as full size aircraft took off from the runway.
      Saturday morning dawned with a slightly sharp breeze and most competitors rigged more than one model to cover the conditions. Briefing started at 9am with CD Peter Allen welcoming our friends from across the channel and the further reaches of the UK. Nine rounds were to be flown, in three sessions of three, with a lunch break both days and a three round fly-off on the Sunday. With up to twelve pilots per slot, each round would take something around an hour and a quarter and at 9.30am, the first round was underway.
      Model wise, there was plenty of variety on show. From Optimus and Infinity through Xplorer and Explorer (see Acemodel.co.uk to note the difference), Shadows, Storks, Pike Perfections and Dynamics, plus one or two rarer planes El Nino, Nova and Satori. Very few v-tail these days, as lighter construction allows the use of the more stable cross-tail, although Julien Benz flew an Xplorer 3 v-tail to great effect. Good also to see one or two Claymore and Colin Paddon and Kevin Beale successfully campaigning the Proglide. 
      At this level, it is small differences that make for a winning flight. In good conditions, all F5J gliders are capable of a ten minute flight and landings are on the nail within seconds of the slot ending. The key is the launch height and good thermal detection. To aid this, many now carry poles with mylar strips to the flight line as wind drift indicators. Fred Simiand of France flying an Infinity, threw down the gauntlet early with a 66 metre launch for his first 1000pts. The rounds carried on in the improving conditions until 1pm, when as scheduled three had been completed. Dutch pilot Frank van Melick led the way with 2976pts, Simon Thornton UK flying Optimus placed second and Fred Simiand in third on 2944 pts. For those who didn’t want to cater for themselves, there was a cold buffet available in the marquee. The French contingent lived up to their deserved culinary reputation and dined in style on the campsite.
      Flying recommenced at 2pm and it seemed some may have left their ‘gliding heads’ back on the lunch table. Others however were newly refreshed and Simon Thornton took over top spot, with Steve Haley’s slot win taking him into second. Frank van Melick had a poor round and dropped back to eighth. But these were fine margins and with the fifth round flown and a drop score now applying, Frank soon found himself restored to top place. Given the style of flying, it seemed everyone had one poor flight, misjudging the lift and landing early, or outside the circle when trying to return from long downwind searches. The wind was constantly swinging throughout the afternoon resulting in the landing spots being moved from one side of the flight line to the other. Flying stopped at 6pm as scheduled with the completion of round six with Frank van Melick confirmed in top spot, Simon Thornton in second and Julian Benz from Germany in third.
      Saturday night is BBQ night on the camp with the grill and beers supplied by BARCS. There was football on the television in the marquee, the Brits laid on some music and there was a party atmosphere around the site as the warm evening closed in.
      Sunday saw lighter winds but with very strong lift and three rounds went ahead as scheduled. Everyone was now launching to around the sixty to eighty metre mark and mostly getting away, though one or two did choose the wrong part of the sky and would have to return to the spot and sit it out whilst others flew out the slot. Nine rounds completed, time for lunch (which conveniently coincided with England first half thrashing of Panama in the World Cup) whilst CD Peter Allen slaved over a hot computer to determine the fly off of twelve pilots. Interestingly there were several father/son teams with Frank and Geert van Melick of Holland, Steve and Simon Haley from UK and Bertrand and Tierry Wilmot from France in the fly off. Sadly neither Guillaume and Adrian Gallet, France, or Nils and Wilhelm Winkler, Germany, made it through. Julian Benz, Germany and Simon Thornton, UK were joined by other Brits Kevin Beale and Colin Paddon (Team Proglide), along with Fred Simiand, France and Pascal van Ool, Holland.
      The wind, what little there was, was now blowing along the flightline, so the CD asked the pilots to decide which side to put the spots and they were moved as requested and so the three fifteen minute round fly off was underway. Slot one and everyone got away and flew the slot out with Julian taking the 1000pts closely followed by Steve and Simon Haley. Simon decided to go for it in slot two and was unlucky not to contact but Steve did and took the slot with Julian very close behind. In slot three, everybody decided it was go low or go home. Steve and Julian immediately headed in the direction that the lift indicators suggested but failed to hook up and indeed Julian recorded a zero, landing out, with Steve just managing to make it back to the circle. Many others also landed early, leaving Bertrand Wilmot to take the slot and the fly off win to be closely followed by Frank van Melick and fellow Dutchman Patrick van Ool.
      Back to the marquee for the prize giving. We were very fortunate in receiving support with prizes this year, led by Flightech, who provided a HET/Reisenauer motor set as first prize, Samba Models supplied servos, West London Models batteries and glues and eSoaring gadgets a height limiter and other goodies. This generosity, along with items bought by BARCS built a prize haul of over £700.  And there were the Eurotour and Micro-Mold Trophies too and cups down to twelfth place and the best placed junior, Adrian Gallet from France.

      BARCS would like to thank all who attended and particularly those who helped with timing duties, flight line relocation and of course, Brian Austin and Syndey Lenssen who shared the duty of Jury Chair, which as it happens, proved to be fairly easy task as there were no protests. They did however have to award the ‘Unlucky B’ Spade, presented to the pilot who runs out of luck over the weekend. The recipient this year was Phil Brandreth, who having practiced on Friday only to have his transmitter fail before flying a slot in the actual competition. Despite this, Phil assisted the rest of his team with great humour and heart throughout the weekend.

      Indeed, that summed up the tone of the weekend, competitive but friendly, superb flying, great weather and all went very smoothly.
      A full breakdown of scores, further pictures and videos (thanks to Eamon Keating) can be found here.  There is also a gallery of additional shots
      Graham James
      Link to forum topic below
      https://www.barcs.co.uk/forums/topic/7846-interglide-f5j-2018/


       



    • For BARCS members, the late bank holiday weekend is synonymous with Radioglide, this being the 39th running of the event. Unfortunately bank holidays are also well known for poor weather and following a warm sunny week, it was almost inevitable that as we moved towards the weekend things would deteriorate. And so Saturday 26th May saw the BMFA National Flying Centre in Lincolnshire swathed in mist and low cloud with a stiff northerly breeze.
      The site is still developing but it has to be said has moved on a long way from the bare shell of things we saw last year. The camping field though flat and close mown, is still fairly basic offering cold running water and waste disposal but the flying area has matured well with a flat grass runway, a shelter and tables for model set up and other flying areas. There is a small toilet block in addition to the facilities within the conference building and the office and meeting rooms appear fully operational. I would recommend any member to visit and use the site, see http://nationalcentre.bmfa.org/ for more information.
      The venue is chosen to try and give a more central location to BARCS members and make it more attractive to competitors from a wider geographical area, a decision which seems to be vindicated given entries came from Scotland to Dorset. This year was to see a first, with no winch competitions scheduled, nonetheless there were to be four events, F5B, F3K, BARCS ELG and F5J. 
      The F5B competition, which by the way was also being run as the British Nationals, got underway fairly early on the Saturday as, at least for the speed and distance tasks it can operate with a lower cloudbase. Because of the multi task nature of F5B, they were located to take full advantage of the runway to set up their course and enjoy the pits area for charging etc. 
      BARCS ELG however is a standard duration event and so start was fairly leisurely as we waited for the improving conditions. Flown to 10 minute slots with a penalty applied for launches over 200 metres and a landing bonus, this makes for a fun, not too onerous competition, unless of course you are the CD and poor Pete Mitchell had more than his fair share of headaches with technology issues. Indeed, I think Pete was pleased to get to the lunch break so that some of the equipment could be swapped out and he had a chance to catch up with the scoring.
      For the competitors it was the blustery 20mph breeze blowing over the upwind line of trees which provided the challenge for the day. Lift was difficult to find and exploit and any hope of slope soaring the treeline was dashed by heavy turbulence. This then translated into a wicked rotor in the landing area causing planes to roll from wingtip to wingtip on approach and in many cases dumping the model in the long grass, well short of the ten metre tape. It was not a cold day and there was always the threat of sunshine throughout the day, though little actual evidence.
      Twenty one pilots participated, divided into four groups over the five rounds which allowed a drop score. Despite flying to these rules for the first time, eventual winner Steve Haley and son Simon, placed third, proving the adage that natural skill will out in the end. Equally gifted second placed Peter Allen was less than two points behind Steve. Despite the difficult conditions there wasn’t the carnage of models one might expect, a testament perhaps to the actual skill levels on show and the manoeuvrability of modern aileron/crow brake equipped machines.
      Unfortunately a deteriorating forecast persuaded the F3K contingent that their competition would be adversely affected and CD Mike Fantham took the difficult decision to cancel the event before too many had travelled. The night proved cold and wet with a heavy downpour in the small hours and flashes of lightening but the weather passed with little drama. Unlocking the gates to the site at 6.30am saw competitors for the F5J competition arriving with high expectation. In the event the conditions were similar to Saturday though the wind did increase and flying became increasingly unpleasant throughout the day.
      F5J is somewhat more demanding than the previous days ELG format, in that height limiters are not set for altitude, only motor run and penalties incurred for launches over 200 metres. This requires a level of experience that your scribe, for one, doesn’t have with my rounds having launch heights between 160 & 230 metres, I must do better.
      Peter Allen was our CD for this event and at briefing told us he was aiming at a ten round competition over two days with 6 rounds on Sunday and 4 more on Monday. The pilots from Saturday were joined by several more to give a field of 26. All the same challenges faced us regarding lack of lift, turbulence but of course made that much more interesting by having to guess at launch heights. Those that did catch lift were finding themselves downwind quite rapidly and then having to fight their way back with varying levels of success and many doing the walk of shame to retrieve models outside 75 metres. Flying continued till lunch when Peter used the break to compute the scores. As the afternoon session got underway conditions continued to deteriorate and some competitors consulted online forecasts which indicated that Monday would be much better and so a vote was taken to cut the competition to nine rounds and it was decided to complete five rounds and then fly four more on Monday starting at 9.30am. The distant rumble of thunder suggested that the right decision had been taken and indeed, later news reports of flash flooding around the country gave credence to the F3K group decision to cancel, though the rain never actually hit the field.
      The thunder continued throughout the evening and the small hours but when I went to open the gates in the morning the mist had once again descended and only lifted very slowly. Come 9.30, some people were ready to fly but launches into the clag were only recording heights to cloud base of 150 feet or less and given the contrast, overall visibility and topography of the site it was deemed unwise to fly. In the end the cloud didn’t really break until 11am and so flying didn’t commence until around 11.30am. But crucially the wind was far less strong and so the heavyweight models from the previous two days were retired and the lightweights were very much in evidence. By foregoing the pleasantry of a lunch break and speeding on through the rounds we were able to complete our schedule by a little after 3pm and then have a prize giving and clear the field.
      Most competitors now fly the same top quality models for all electric disciplines. One exception to this was Paul Wainwright who flew 2 metre in ELG and a Bitsa, flown to great effect and based around a very early F3J Corrado wing married to a T tail fus which performed so consistently that Paul took a very creditable third place in F5J. Always embarrassing for the CD but Peter Allen took top spot, flying his Tragi variants (one with an Optimus fus) with Steve Haley was in second (Pike Dynamic).
      So what models were flown during the weekend? 
      Well, as has been said it was windy and turbulent for the first two days so it was often older design converted F3J models, out on the flightline. Xplorers, Shadows, Storks, Optimus, Pikes and Maxas were all on show. However once the wind dropped Optimus were joined by Pike Dynamics and Explorers plus two very interesting designs, the Infinity NG available through Flightech and campaigned by Graham Wicks and Claymore designed, kitted and flown by Rick Lloyd, son Josh and several other pilots. The Infinity NG is unusual in being a smaller 3.5metre design. It was only its second outing for Graham and he was using the competition as shake down in preparation for the Euro Championships where he currently plans to fly the model. 
      Also, I believe, a Eurochamps model, is the Claymore designed by Rick Lloyd of Tracker fame. Sadly the Tracker is no more, following the loss of moulds in a fire at Rick workshop. Also lost were early incarnations of Claymore originally conceived as an F3J/F5J project but now configured as a totally dedicated F5J soarer. This hollow moulded airframe is beautifully constructed to a standard comparable with Eastern European produced machines. It has taken three or four years to develop but is now a very competitive and economically priced model, at around £1000 and has the distinction of being the only model, commercially designed and produced in the UK. More info available at www.liteflite.yolasite.uk.
      A full set of results for both competitions can be found on the forum page below
      One of the other advantages of using the BMFA facility is the large hall on site which allows us to run the AGM when there is already a large number of BARCS members assembled. These meetings are now little more than a formality with reports from the officers, accounts and elections of committee and none of the rule debates seen in earlier years. However, one very pleasant duty is the awarding of a Fellowship. This year the committee commended to the meeting that Pete Mitchell, our Membership Secretary, co-author of our GDPR and Compliance Manager be awarded the honour. Members will also know Peter for his CD duties and participation in numerous competitions. It was a pleasure to see the look of shock and then delight on Pete’s face.  A copy of his citation and draft minutes from the meeting will be published in the members section of the website in due course.
      We did also invite members to participate in a Bring and Buy but there appears to be little appetite for this idea.
      So overall, a very successful and pleasant flying weekend. It would be good if we could get back to the huge entries of the early days. For a number of factors well outside our control, that will never happen. But for the band of dedicated pilots, the fun, camaraderie and banter will continue to hold appeal. It was great to welcome an injection of northern grit, straight talking and wicked humour into the proceedings. It also gave BARCS the opportunity to present the BARCS ELG League trophy to Brian Johnson, along with certificates to other league winners and placed pilots.
      Get the date for 2019 into your diaries.














    • Can F3J survive the treatment meant to save it
      What are the new rules?
      Two weeks ago the RC Soaring Technical Meeting in Lausanne took the bull by the horns and introduced new rules aimed at saving F3J glider contests from sliding off the world and continental championship schedules - the death of what for many soaring pilots is the most popular of silent flight competitions.
      Joe Wurts, the first F3J World Champion in 1998 at Upton-upon Severn, UK. Twenty years later with the latest F3J WC about to take place in Romania, many soarers are fearing that this could be the last.

      THE NEW RULES
      From next year pilots can use electric winches - either/or hand held winches - for launching their models. The models must have a maximum surface area of 150 dm2 and a minimum loading of at least 20 gm/dm2. There will be no dropped round in fly-offs, and no reflights for mid-air collisions after 60 seconds into the slot.
      CIAM, the world ruling body for this class is hoping that its new rules will halt the massive fall in numbers of F3J pilots wishing to compete, sixty per cent over the past five years and still falling, and restore its popularity.
      But among many F3J pilots, the bull is still shaking its horns. There has been an extraordinary shock reaction: hundreds of pilots from all over the world have reacted on social media, protesting, angry and forecasting the end of this class. Many pilots are concerned, ranging from previous finalists and champions to your typical enthusiast who enjoys travelling across country and continental boundaries to participate in their friendly sport. Only a few can see the logic and reasoning and are prepared to wait and see how the changes work in practice. More than a few want CIAM to think again!
      In all fairness, while not condoning some of the rude remarks, I still have severe doubts that F3J will survive. What I hope to write here is a sober report on F3J problems and why I believe that rules revision is vital. I remain hopeful that CIAM’s approved changes prove to be a step in the right direction.
      WHY CHANGE MUST HAPPEN
      How many pilots and helpers do you need to run an F3J competition?
      Last summer I was shocked when speaking to Arijan Hucaljuk, world and european F3J champion in 2016 and 2017, to find that he had flown only one new F3J model that year. In Croatia there had been so few pilots wanting to qualify for Slovakia. He now has more F5J models and flew in this class more often than not.
      In Britain, a survey was made of committed and earlier regular F3J pilots, asking their intentions for 2017. With great regret BARCS came to the conclusion that the F3J league to determine the national team could not be run. In previous years half a dozen or so qualifying rounds were contested. So GBR team 2017 was scrubbed and for the first time ever we had no team entered. Same applies this year for the Romanian world championship.
      The BARCS committee reckoned that to run a typical one day low-key friendly contest you need to attract at least 16 pilots, and that would only give you four pilots per slot. Any last minute absentees would render the day scarcely possible. The days have gone when winning a place in the national team was the pride and joy of keen F3J pilots.
      The numbers problem is not limited at national level. Despite the high entry fees payable to FAI championships for pilots, helpers and team managers, reduced entries increase the financial risk of running a championship. Until recently, opening and award ceremonies found the whole host town gathering in the main squares, sharing and enjoying the sight and excitement of pilots from so many countries. But they cost money.
      The vital point is that to survive F3J must attract more pilots.
      Why are numbers falling around the world? Main reasons are that as pilots grow older they cannot find the energy, ability and will to tow, and feel uneasy about not sharing the effort. The cost of models - competitive ones - has reached a level that deters all but the richest and keenest of youngsters and dads. When you do find a “youngster” - somebody no older than say 30 - he finds that he is trying to make friends with people 20 and sometimes 50 years older. The chance of an immediate meeting of minds and enjoyment are slim.
      To survive as a class, F3J needs to go back to square one, the era in the 1980s when pilots from Holland, France, Germany and England found that they could meet to compete two or three times each summer, the birth of Eurotouring. The gliders they flew were often rudder/elevator. Single man tows were in order and the two-man variety was still 10 years away. Why was it popular? The participants were keen to see and watch F3B pilots, but that was a difficult sport taking greater skills, distance, speed and duration, three separate tasks. 
      Why can’t we compete with something much simpler they would ask: simple duration with a 10 minute slot time, plenty of time to natter and swap experiences, and most pilots did not even launch on the buzzer - you waited until somebody bold enough found what looked like good lift.  
      OK, that is oozing nostalgia and we are never to see such times again. But the lesson is that we need to find something much simpler and cheaper if we want to attract new people join the fun. F3J was born to be a simple thermal soaring contest, easy for anyone to join.
      A look at the new rules
      In March the CIAM 2018 agenda was published and Uncle Sydney’s Gossip column was revived to comment, and I made a mistake in concentrating on the proposal to allow winches for F3J launching. The main emphasis should have been given to the changes in the model’s specification, size weight and wing loading.
      The Slovakian proposal for the meeting was that the weight of the model should be at maximum 1.7 kg, a very strange idea aimed at reducing costs. But as most delegates agreed, this did not address the issues.
      The best and most convenient method of reducing the flight performance of F3J, as spelled out by Philip Kolb two years ago, is to limit the span and insist on a minimum wing loading.
      What CIAM has decided is to go for a minimum surface loading, 20gm/dm2 and maximum surface area. I am told that other simpler options were debated, higher loading up to 23/25 gm/dm2, or a far easier, simpler to process requiring weight to be divided by the wing span with a minimum weight of say 0.6 kg per metre span.
      Don’t be surprised if all these numbers in the rules are changed after trial runs in the years to come.
      I don’t see that the new rules will necessitate many pilots to buy new models. It will be easy if necessary to simply add ballast. It will be interesting if the manufacturers find it necessary to develop new approaches to optimise performance. I have not seen so far any computer simulations to estimate the increase in sinking speeds and consequent loss of flight time.
      What I understand is that in straight flight the higher wing loading will hardly affect sinking speeds. But flight times will reduce markedly in circular flight when to you fly into a patch of weak lift and you seek to centre the thermal. My own rough guess was to recognise that 150 dm2 max. area at 20 gm/dm2 equals 3 kg which I often ballast to in typical  UK winds. Unballasted my two current Supras weigh in at 2.1 and 2.3 kg.
      Most experienced F3J pilots appreciate the excellent development work over the last 20 years put in by the main designers, producers and their dealers, in aerodynamics and materials and building techniques. CIAM’s new rules appear to protect producers from requiring to retool drastically, although some may not agree with that!
      When the CIAM agenda was sent out before the meeting the proposal to allow winch launching gave little or no detail or rules to determine the specification of the winch and battery, and how winches would be used in the competition. It was indicated that the same specifications would be used as in F3B and that seems to have been followed in the issued minutes.
      The minutes also say that for world and continental championships a maximum of six winches and six batteries may be used at any time on the winch line by each working team. Interchanging among winches and batteries…is totally  the responsibility of the competitor.
      This appears to hint at what the rule makers mean to happen. Critics have wanted to know if winches and batteries are to be allowed to stay in place in the safety corridor, and how would the launching spots be arranged along the corridor? For any one round, the three man team will fly from one spot, with its six winches plus batteries. These are then cleared away to be laid out again in the next round at a different launching point along the line. 
      There has also been speculation that if the number of teams competing exceeds the number of flight lines available, then two teams could occupy each launch point and the matrix could ensure that only one pilot would need to fly in that slot. That means two lots of six winches and batteries on the spot.
      FAI championships progress at a leisurely pace and swapping positions along the line will even out fairness. 
      It all sounds complicated but also feasible. What is not clear at present is what happens if hand towing is taking place also somewhere along the line, a potentially dangerous situation can easily occur. A few pilots I have spoken to feel that it won’t take long for winches to dominate and hand towing to disappear.
      HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE MEDIA
      The following section contains a selection of edited entries from Facebook, RC Groups and BARCS websites which give a flavour of what the world’s pilots thinking.
      Darius Mahmoudi: was among the earliest inviting comments on CIAM decisions made by people not wanting us to keep F3J and its quality, or simply don’t understand what we do.
      Jo Grini: F3K and F5J classes have rocketed sky high, possibly making F3B and F3J smaller. We should have come up with solutions that make it easier for new pilots and younger to enter.
      Dominik Prestele: That rules are ****. We maybe gain 10 people and lose 100.
      Massimo Verardi:  The new rules are not enough to change something but enough to make a lot of confusion.
      Thomas Schoenbucher: Better decision would be to allow bungee. The funny fact is, I have enough old planes in the basement.
      Marco Generali: In many countries the national championships already use winches, a small disadvantage while travelling, but less trouble than bringing a full team of towers. The 20gm/dm2 wing loading is a big limitation given the 1500 gm planes seen in recent years, but only the small amount of dead condition flights will be affected.
      Marco Juznic: Keep the rules like they are, people who like F3J will continue to fly and help each other. Sooner or later people from F5J will come back because F5J will be overcrowded.
      Tuomo Kokkonen:  In many countries winches are needed otherwise running a 10 pilot competition is not possible. But that does not mean that international F3J rules have to be changed. Eurotour flying as we know it will stop, and there is a danger F3J will die in Europe.
      Joe Wurts: The conception of F3J was to bring back the “good old days” where stick and tissue open frame aircraft could have a world championship event. Prior to the first WCs I forecast that the event would evolve  to very high technology carbon fibre airframes with even higher strength/weight ratios than the F3B planes. It took a while, but this outcome eventually happened.
      Conny Ulvestaf:  Not all pilots can get the super duper light models, now with the 20gm limit all will have the same equipment. F3J has had fantastic development in the last 5 years. Will this stop now? Probably. Is this good? Probably not.
      Cederic Duss:  We need to find a way to push people to come. A winch won’t help.
      Tobias Laemmlein:  Even worse than I was hoping. In a way we need to accept the new rules. I could live with the wing loading thing This will increase the level of competitive challenge and makes the pure thermal task more appealing. The leading edge in aeroplane development anyways has shifted towards F5J already. The winch will kill F3J, at least from the perspective that I, and let me guess many others too, the simplicity and the team.
      Thomas Kiesling: For those that travel by air, winches are far cheaper than bring dedicated towmen. I’m not sure winches will save the class, but I also don’t think they should be a reason to kill it. There still will be a team aspect. It will just be different. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.
      Graham Wicks: I have a nice Hollenbeck winch for sale. The 20 gm wing loading is like trying to take a step backwards. In the modern world you don’t reverse technology.
      Joe Wurts: Lots of heartfelt comments. I remember making similar proclamations  of doom when HLG transitioned to DLG nearly two decades ago. Then I flew some DLG and got on board with the concept and my negative thought went by the wayside. One of the reasons why I’m not attending this year’s F3J WC is that we could not sort out a full team with helpers.
      Tuomo Kokkonen: What do you think will happen to F3J Eurotours. Is there a practical way to continue despite the rule change?
      Darius Mahmoudi:  I just can speak for my Contest in Riesa. If we continue next year, there will be local rules to mitigate this. But my concern is that there won’t be a lot of pilots left to participate.
      Erik Dahl Christensen: It will always be valuable for subcommittee members to receive as much information and perspective as possible from  pilots with hands-on knowledge  from all classes. I know that Ralf Decker has made and tested a system to detect the exact release point and height. It was tested 2/3 years ago and can be used to make F3J look even more like F5J with more than time gain from  low launches. Is anybody interested?
      Daryl Perkins: I for one am good with the winch rule. In this country (US) we had to fly off winches to keep F3J from dying.  I do understand that many of you will be against winches. At some point you will have to face the fact that without new blood coming into soaring, the use of winches becomes a necessary evil. I am quite disappointed with the minimum loading rule. It accomplishes nothing but shifting optimum design for each given condition. What it has done is turn the clock back 10 years….I don’t like to see technology going backwards.
      Ryan Hollein:  It would be a pity if we change the rules and start with winches. We were flying in a German/Cyprus mix team (in Lviv) and had no problem getting our planes up. If we needed something there was always someone who offered us his help. This year I participated in 3 competitions flying with pilots from 7 different countries and we had lots of fun - and some problems understanding each other.
      Philip Kolb: A minimum weight limit has little or no meaning as long as it does not come along with a maximum span limit. To emphasise thermal flying skills my proposal would be to implement a “sporty” definition of minimum weight and maximum span - say 2 kg and 3 metres??? - FUN!
      Joe Wurts: 2kg and 3 metres kinda reminds me of the very first F3J planes!
      I like the span limitation concept, maybe even more than a minimum weight limit. My only concern is visibility. My eyes aren’t getting any younger!
      Jim Soars: Holy crap, winches are approved. I can’t wait to see the logistics of the flight line in a large competition.
      isoaritfirst: I would be looking for the thrill of a nice thermal or the fun of hanging onto a small one. I’m less interested in sticking my nose in the dirt. Flying gliders is an attractive and competitive game. Perhaps F3J has concentrated too much on the comp at the expense of the grace, which attracted most of us into flying gliders in the first place.
      Maria Freeman: If it is about “thermalling”, then reduce launch heights or increase slot times.
      Bob Dickenson: I guess that we all ought to just get on with enjoying our flying as much as we can, while we can.
      Austin:  If they are serious about saving F3J, then this comes to mind…
      Wing span max 3.1 m Minimum weight 2100g Maximum weight 2200g Nose radius should be fat to reduce dart board landings Single man tow with pulley and 130m line Line thickness max 1.15mm Pilots must use timer/launcher from opposing teams when not flying Pilots must not receive any advice or spotting from their timer/launcher unless it is a safety matter Bring back discard after six rounds flown I am taking models back in time I know, but wasn’t it great then?
      Richard Swindells: Austin’s ideas are great had they been implemented 10-15 years ago. However the bird has already flown the nest for F3J.
      Models we are flying today launch higher, travel further and sink slower compared to what we were flying 10 years ago. Although sink rates might not have halved, overall performance has at least doubled.
      WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
      There is still a long way to go to sort out a whole host of questions. It is fortunate that these new rules will not be required until 2019, but I hope that opportunities will be used to test any new systems. We do not want to see a real championship frustrated by having to stop and debate how to proceed.
      I think it would also be sensible to clarify the best way to continue with Eurotour events. It would be simple to just carry on with present existing and tested rules. There is a strong and important link between FAI and Contest Eurotour, and most of the Eurotour events carry the FAI symbol and flag. No reason to run championships and Eurotour with the same rules.
      Sydney Lenssen

    • Radioglide 2018 returns to the BMFA National Centre near Grantham over the late May Bank holiday 26th - 28th. With the centre facilities now maturing, this year’s event should prove to be one of the most exciting with four action packed competitions, the BARCS AGM and the return of the popular Soaring Market Swap Meet.
      Saturday 26th will see the running of the prestigious BMFA F5B National Championships, sharing the field with a BARCS ELG competition. The latter is open to BARCS members only and offers the opportunity to fly a double entry of Open and either 2 metre or electric 100” at a discounted rate. BARCS members who enter both the ELG and the subsequent F5J event benefit from a further £5 discount for the two £25 down from £30.
      Sunday sees the F3K DLG’s take to the field alongside day one of a 2 day F5J competition run to UK variation rules. In the evening, the formal side of proceedings take place in the conference hall with the AGM, as announced elsewhere, commencing at 6.00pm followed at around 7.00pm with the running of a free bring and buy swap meet for you to bring along your pre-loved soaring items to pass on to new homes and pass the time chatting to fellow enthusiasts.
      On Monday, the final rounds of the F5J competition will complete.
      The on field activities are subject of course to the weather.
      Those who wish may camp on the field, whilst those who prefer more comfort should find plenty of local accommodation to suit their pocket. See BMFA National Centre for more information.
      Entries can be made online HERE
      Alternatively enter by completing the form below as per instructions on the form (F5B entries to be via BMFA website at BMFA F5B Nats).
      RADIOGLIDE Entry Form 2018.docx
      RADIOGLIDE Entry Form 2018.pdf

    • Can winch approval save F3J?

      By Sydney Lenssen, in F3J,

      Rule changes to halt terminal decline
      Uncle Sydney’ Gossip column returns
      FAI’s Aeromodelling Commission meets next month, 27/28 April 2018 in Lausanne, Switzerland. For F3J pilots the main topic on the agenda is how to halt the decline in silent flight contests. What does CIAM want to change?  What chance for these changes to save terminal decline?
      Winches to be allowed.
      If this proposal goes through the “launch of the model aircraft will be by hand held towline or winch.” Ever since 1998 when the first F3J world championships were held at Upton on Severn, pressure has been on CIAM to bring in winch launching. At numerous team managers’ meetings held by Jury President Bartovsky during World and European championships, arguments for and against have raged. Many countries do not have enough people to give one or two man tows, so they run their qualifying comps to local rules using electric winches. I guess more than half of countries do this. When they turn up at FAI championships, their pulleys and hand winches are brought out. In the UK perhaps we had one or two practice sessions at home before leaving.
      Certainly there is a difference between a regulation F3B winch and a two man tows. The best pilots still gain the most height either way. The big difference is what you need to carry on your travels, especially by airline. Winches and batteries are bulky and heavy. So far all votes have been to stick with hand towing.
      In CIAM agendas, any rule amendment is followed by its reasoning. 
      The winch proposal stems from Slovakia and they say: “The majority of pilots are older persons who are no longer physically capable of towing models. ( Uncle’s note: I have not seen anyone on crutches yet!) 
      “Also smaller teams lack helpers capable of towing. There is also the problem that some pilots are unwilling to assist other pilots because of their physical condition. The winches are widely used in other categories and also at many F3J home competitions.”
      Allow me to remind overseas Gossip readers that the UK has used winch launching for many years. Two years ago BARCS surveyed F3J pilots asking whether or not they intended to continue competing for the next year. About 50 established pilots replied and only eight replied positively. With great regret the BARCS committee decided that contests could not be run with that number: running the qualifying league to select GBR national teams was impossible, and for the time being F3J contests would not be organised. Since then two invitations to resume and run an F3J comp have fallen on deaf ears.
      Returning to the supporting data prepared by Slovakia in the agenda document. “The number of pilots in F3J category is decreasing rapidly. In the last 2-3 years the number of pilots at World Cup or Eurotour competitions has decreased by circa 60%. People are switching to other categories, hence the rules should be designed in the way that motivates them to carry on flying.
      “In case the use of winches would be considered, we propose to apply same rules as the rules regulating the use of winches in F3B category, maximum starting current to be 510 Ah and cable length to be 150 m.”
      In my personal experience and I have attended several FAI championships in Slovakia over the last 15 years, and their organisation of contests is amongst the very best in the world. They are aware that the changes proposed are radical, and they have consulted widely with pilots and trainers from different countries. People agree that the change in F3J rules is inevitable to keep the category alive.
      Rarely have the arguments for change in FAI rules been put so strongly.
      I shall be surprised if the new rule is not adopted, but it is not a foregone conclusion. My query at this stage is that the proposal appears to allow winch towing alongside hand towing which could prove difficult if not dangerous and unsafe. The proposal is also not clear on the location of the winch’s turnaround pulley with respect to the launch line/safety corridor, line length or how long winches and batteries would be allowed to stay on the launch line.
      There are one or two other rule proposals. Australia thinks that the winners of fly-offs should be determined by the sum of all scores with no discards.
      Present rule states that if six or more fly-off rounds are flown, then each pilot’s lowest score can be discarded. 
      This proposal is so sensible and surely it must be approved. The reasoning? If no discards had been allowed, then the senior winners in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 F3J World Championships would have gone to different pilots; Joe Wurts in 2016, Joe Wurts in 2014 and in 2012 in South Africa, Jan Littva would have been champion.
      One other significant change, also submitted by Slovakia, deals with the characteristics of F3J gliders. The new suggested rule is that the minimum flying mass should 1.7 kg, with the added phrase, weight of models may be checked randomly immediately after landing during the contest. I don’t follow this change. The reasoning given does not help either. 
      “The price of models is very high and pilots, especially juniors, can no longer afford new models. As a result the number of pilots is decreasing rapidly. Instead of motivating juniors, the number of juniors is decreasing.” That statement is true, but how relevant is minimum weight?
      Will the rule changes save F3J?
      In July 2014 after the F3J World Championships in Martin, Slovakia, that I wrote a Gossip column entitled “F3J is in terminal decline”. It reported on the team managers’ technical meeting led by Tomas Bartovsky and several topics were discussed: models had become very expensive, fewer junior pilots, accurate timekeeping at glider release and landing, and the steady reduction in pilot numbers. 
      Several experienced pilots suggested way to make F3J more attractive, such as having a maximum wingspan and a minimum wing loading, because the available models produced by skilled manufacturers were now too good. In reasonable weather, in the summer months of the championship season, many pilots find flying 10 minutes is easy.
      The simplest and best summary of today’s falling number problems is that F3J is not the sort of competition which appeals to an ever larger number of aeromodellers. In the early 1990s, F3J set out to be the simple thermal glider competition, easy for anyone to join, contrasting with F3B which demands far greater expertise.
      This Gossip column produced a world-wide response, not only on the BARCS website  but also through RCSD and RC Groups in USA and around the world. More than 100 modellers wrote in, more than a few very critical of my words “terminal decline.” But it was encouraging that many well known pilots - Kolb, Wurts, Paddon and many others - responded with constructive ideas for future action to boost F3J popularity.
      Bob Owston, famous for designing and building his own models, wrote:
      “I am generally against limiting performance via design constraints such as wing loading and areas, there is a case for limiting the international class to a 2.4 metre (100 inch) span. This would reduce costs, particularly for youngsters, be more manageable and render the class competitive for homebuilders. Ailerons and flaps would be permitted.”
      In my view Philip Kolb came with the best solution: Limit the span, (a maximum span limit), and wing loading, (a minimum wing loading), both at the same time.
      Several contributors suggested more efforts to show friends and youngsters the magic of thermal soaring, use non-stretch tow line with one towman and no spotters. Keep everything simple! Whatever change you make, remember that climbing in a thermal is the main reason and attraction of  the sport, not launching or landing. 
      Uncle Sydney’s verdict
      I welcome that CIAM has recognised that unless changes are made, F3J is likely to disappear. I admire the efforts of the US pilots, for example, where over recent years Daryl Perkins and several other stalwarts have cajoled and encouraged enough pilots to travel thousands of miles over a fair spread of the continent in sufficient numbers to run a competitive league. 
      In other parts of the world - Canada, Australia, Japan, Argentina - fighting for a place in the country’s national team is far more difficult in terms of logistics than Europe with its Eurotour events. Survival of F3J depends massively on the efforts of pilots who were engaged from the start of the class and were often in the past amongst the more successful winners. Sadly we are all growing older and less able to cope with the rigours involved. They should now try to identify those who will follow. 
      Allowing winches is perhaps a start in the rehabilitation process, but by itself is not sufficient.  After next month’s meeting it will be two years before new rule changes are allowed. Let us hope that does not turn out to be too late. 
       

    • BARCS AGM 2018

      By Nick Jackson, in BARCS,

      BARCS 2018 Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm 27 May, Buckminster Lodge, Sewstern, Grantham. NG33 5RW
      Venue is the BMFA National Centre and timing is the Sunday evening of Radioglide. The AGM will be followed at 7pm by a glider swap meet. (Swap Meet details tba).
      Nominations for officers or member of the Committee should be sent to me by 28 March.
      (I need to know the proposer and seconder and to have the agreement of the nominee. Please PM me - ‘Nick Jackson’ - or email jackson272894@yahoo.com with any nominations or queries.)
      Proposals for the AGM should be sent to me by 27 April
      (I need to know the proposer and seconder. In some cases (as indicated in the Constitution) more than one seconder is required. Please PM me - ‘Nick Jackson’ - or email jackson272894@yahoo.com with any proposals or queries.)
      Please do attend the AGM if at all possible and have your say there. Please also consider joining the Committee, which is keen to have additional members.
      Nick Jackson, BARCS Hon. Sec.

    • Tribute to Chris Moynihan

      By Sydney Lenssen, in BARCS,

      CHRIS MOYNIHAN - November 1945-February 2018
      Recently chairman of both BMFA and BARCS
      Always looking for lift: Chris Moynihan on the visit of the Barcs committee to Buckminster Lodge, the BMFA’s National Flying Centre, in preparation for RADIOGLIDE 2017. The event was the first major competition to be held at the Centre.
      From the left, Gary Binnie, Barcs Chairman; Chris, already ill although few knew it at the time; Manny Williamson, BMFA’s key leader in NFC’s development and side view of Peter Allen, now Barcs treasurer.

      Farewell to the best friend of all British aeromodellers
      The death this week of Chris Moynihan is very sad. He will be sorely missed. Graham James who has known Chris, flown in the same club together and worked together for BARCS over many years, has written an worthy tribute. I would like to add a few words. He was a good friend and such a hero.
      A few years ago, the UK F3J world was in a turmoil because of arguments over the lack of rules for winches. Some pilots had more powerful winches than others - seen as an unfair advantage. All winches and batteries must be certified as in F3B contests said some pilots, others reckoned the extra burden of testing would deter recruits with pilot numbers already dropping. A majority of the existing league competitors were not bothered one way or other.
      A ruling had to be made by SFTC, the silent flight technical committee of BMFA, Britain’s body responsible for FAI soaring affairs. Although I was not on this committee I was invited to attend the meeting to help resolve the impasse which had arisen. Only a few SFTC members flew F3J, but they were all eager to make their ruling.
      After a couple of hours of stalemate, Chris said that he would review what had been argued, and picked his way carefully and accurately through all the arguments. He patiently demonstrated that we were not at loggerheads but indeed very close to agreeing a solution. He was masterly at resolving a vexatious issue. For me it was a lesson and technique that I had not been conscious of before. He would certainly help the current Brexit shambles.
      At BARCS committee, Chris kept us up to date with relevant BMFA developments, especially the new National Flying Centre. He always seemed to have simple solutions which would help progress matters to everyone’s advantage. He was always able to name people who had expertise and could help. He seemed to know every flying site across the country.
      I shall miss his expertise, humour, common sense and intellect. Aeromodellers in this country are the poorer without him.
      Sydney Lenssen, February 2018

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