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Why don't more people compete in F3K events in the UK?


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I think the idea of flying hand launch gliders to task-based rules started in America late last century but the UK continued with pure duration events - Radioglide entries were an average of 33 during 1998-2004.  In those days, it was flown in ten minute slots with the best three of five launches to count and a three minute max.  The last launch had to be within the 10 minutes but the flight could continue thereafter giving almost 13 minutes to get finished if required.

The first ‘task-based’ Radioglide in 2005 had 25 entries but since then the average has been 11 with a maximum of 15 at last year’s event.  At the same time, there is now a full calendar for F3K events through the year - in the old days the mini-glider duration class was usually tagged onto other events.  But entries at the average F3K event are still only 12 or so.


Is it too complex now or have other classes (electric) taken the interest?


Do we need to bring back pure duration events?


I think the standard International F3K tasks make hand launched glider more interesting than flying to pure duration rules.


What do you think?


If your club/group would like a talk/demonstration of modern F3K flying please get in touch.  Also, look at this year’s F3K calendar – there may be an event near you.

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Why don't more people fly f3j, f3b or whatever.... Probably the same reasons.  Not least the fact that a lot people don't want to fly in contests or can't commit to a full day on a given date. 

You would think f3k would be more popular given the lack of equipment and space needed to fly dlgs.

I suspect it's a young man's game, which may not fit soaring demographics. But I think dlgs are becoming more popular so f3k should become more popular in theory.

The number of tasks in f3k does seem rather confusing from the outside tbh. Although surely if you can keep the model in the air for as long as possible you will stand a chance in any of the tasks.


I would not look to change the rules because no matter what you do you can't make people take part. E.g the 2m class even in the most popular f3x class in the uk - f3f - was a total failure. 

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Thanks for that.  I think your comment about DLGs becoming more popular is one of the things that prompted me to ask the question.  I'm surprised that, given the number of DLGs that are out there, more of them are not flown in competitions.  I think Hyperflight have sold a couple of hundred Blasters alone - one design, UK only.  5000+ Blasters are out there somewhere around the world and that's still just the one design.

I'm not trying to force people to compete - they may be very happy flying a high spec machine locally now and then - just for the simple pleasure it gives.  Perhaps they are even competing in simple Club events - my club has this - only 1 in 10 of us compete outside the club.


I'd like to know if there's anything we can do to make National contests more accessible/inviting/appealing.


It is a young man's game to some extent - I'm 64 and I don't win - but I do enjoy trying to maintain my position and perhaps improve a bit if I can.  And I do a lot better than my relative launch height would lead you to expect.


There are a lot of tasks but you are right that keeping the model in the air using thermals is a prime skill.  Add to that thinking on your feet, launching and landing accurately (time/position) and you have most of the skills required.  Beginners can expect expert assistance in their first contests while they learn the ropes.

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Anthony Murphy

I fly Slope, but funnily enough I'm looking to buy my first DLG. I've not even set eyes on a DLG, we don't seem to have any in our club. Are there any contests up around the North West, Manchester??

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.......Are there any contests up around the North West, Manchester??


Sadly no.  Most of the regular flyers are from the South and chat on FlyQuiet.  There must be people doing it up your way but I don't know them.


Come on North-Westers - give us a shout!



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Hi Mike,

As you know I flew comps in 2012 and none in 2013.

I may fly a few in 2014.

My thoughts.

Being 50 yrs old I will never be able to launch to 200 ft, and will therefore always be an also ran. The cost of a competitive model is quite high and due to their fragility novices are best off avoiding one . and you really need 2 as damage at f3k is par for the course.

However. ... on the positive side, the tasks are great fun, as well as being able to fly you also have to gamble astutely. With most comps having approx 8 rounds you will fly over an hour on the day.

But what I really wanted to say to anyone thinking of having a go is that the group of people flying f3k are a really friendly helpful bunch. You will be made most welcome.

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Thanks Andy,


Hope to see you at the comps.


On the 'fragility', newer designs have foam cored wings which are more robust than the older hollow shell variety.  Having said that, I have a hollow molded Twister that has had a few repairs but has done 99% of my flying for more than 2 seasons.



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I gave it a try.  Got a Kong Fu Viper.  I enjoyed chucking it in the air for a while and it impressed guys at my club with the height you could get at the lob.


Went into one competition at Twywell but failed miserably.  No chance of getting into a thermal on that day and the final launch to try to get more air time in the 10 minute slot saw me throw myself on the ground, the viper going straight up then down and javelining into the ground.  :(


That was its demise (v. difficult to repair) and my demise from F3K.  I really don't enjoy scratching around for a thermal.  I like the slopes.



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I really enjoy flying my DLG and do enjoy the challenge of thermal hunting and minimum sink. An openaltimeter has also been useful in optimising settings and improving launch technique. I was also really taken in by some of the videos from the world champs last year.


My problem with competition is that the nearest event is 350 miles south :(


So I will stick with travelling thousands of miles a year flying F3F for now and having fun in my lunch hours with my Blaster 3.

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I have fun with a gt taboo and have always enjoyed thermal hunting and working low lying lift. I did enter a comp a few years back and found that the day was more about understanding the rules and gambling. The day was very and very windy, not the kind of day that I had ever played with the dlg on, it needed lots of ballast.

It wasn't a great intro to competing and I never went back.

Just unlucky with the weather really, it didn't suit my experience or my expectations. I should try again on a better day. Although squeezing everything in is tricky and slope comes first.

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Hi Mike.


I wonder if people that were not in the F3K scene at the start, simply feel they have to try harder than they actually do. They feel they need to make an impression, and after a couple of attempts think they are not of a sufficient standard to get a great deal of fun out of the sport.


Thinking back to all the comps I entered (thirty or forty or so?) the only damage my models sustained which could not be fixed on the day, with a bit of cyano and some glass cloth/carbon, was on the one occasion that I was involved in a mid-air (despite having taken avoiding action). You really don't need two models, if you take things easy. The only other times I could not complete a comp with one model were due to radio problems, namely water in an altitude logger effectively shorting the rx battery and loss of memory in an old JR Tx because I had taken the battery off the Tx to charge it, and the memory retaining circuit went dead!


From what I remember, I never had a 'good' launch, as I only averaged 40-45 metres max, but concentrated instead on achieving optimum trim and flying conservatively and normally finished in the top four.


As for comments about being fifty, and therefore not young enough to be more than an also ran... All I can say is, my dad was discus launching until he was 74 years old.


Not sure this will help, and I do hope you can revitalise the UK's competitive DLGing.


Very best regards,


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Neil Harrison

Why don't people fly F3K?

I really enjoyed the couple of comps which I competed at and I plan to enter a whole lot more this year.

I asked this very same question at the Nationals while sitting in the long grass watching the F3J and F3K events at Cranwell, I think the answer is that there are too many diverse options and classes of event. I remember my dad taking me to watch the Nationals as a boy in the late 1980's and there were at least 100 people competing in the same event, looking across the airfield there were many people last year but all flying different classes!

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I was not being negative about f3k, I really enjoyed it. But i think my comments were fair.

I did only have the one model for the two comps I did and I did manage to complete all of the rounds with no more than a drop of cyano. My model was / is a Longshot 3. and I would recommend one to anyone wanting a first dlg.


I can just about launch to 40m. and ny thermalling / trimming skills are not up to standard so a top 4 finish for me with a LS3 only happens in my dreams. Having said that, I have looked at the results of last season and  senior fliers ,with their less than 60m launches do tend to end up as also rans, and their skills and ability are a lot better than mine. I do not think this is a problem though as they and I  always just tried to compete against those of a similar age.


I don't think I  tried to impress anyone. My target for the day was just to survive and to not finish last in every task.

Flying alongside others in a tight waterlogged box in turbulent conditions was a whole new experience.


I bought a higher spec dlg as I enjoyed the LS3 so much. It is a JJ Edge . I have not managed to improve my launch though and have found this model to be a bit delicate. landing on grass tends to cause the tail to become detached  or crease and this has been frustating.



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Sorry if my tone was taken as a bit abrasive. Your comments are fair, and yes I too remember developing camaraderie / nip and tuck battles with my peers, although the thing I loved with the F3K tasks, was the ability to score yourself against yourself over a series of events, and know when you have done really well (even if others have also 'got lucky' and beaten your score ;) ).


My Dad and I often had battles with other father and son teams, and I have often thought it would be really good for newbies if they could be paired off with one of the top eschalons, and for an 'official' two man team comp to take place within the comps. It probably all becomes too complicated to put into practice, but it would certainly handicap the 'top' boys - as they would be expected to time and be timed by their 'newbie'.


I am glad that you have laid to rest the myth that more than one model is virtually a requirement, as that would put me off if I was starting in the competitive side of the hobby.



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no offence taken. well, not much. lol.

What would be nice to happen were if new competitors could be guided through the day by a mentor. (when you do not know names and faces it is hard to ask a stranger to score for you you end up with newbies helping newbies. )

maybe not even top echelon.

I like the team idea but as I am not likely to compete much/ if at all this year my thoughts on this are not really relevant.

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Keep the ideas coming...


The down side here is that, if you are trying to make the GBR Team, you want to fly with your favourite helper. For non-selection events, I'd give it a try. Teams assigned by the CD on the day....

If you are new to the game, make yourself known to the CD, he will help you to find good help. If I'm running the event I try to describe each task as the flyers assemble for the slot.

Thanks all for your inputs.


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I realise that for Mike, Nick, Richard, Simon  etc. team selection is a priority. Also due to the nature of the start grid it is not possible to have one person allocated to a newbie.

However, I will put my head above the parapet and say ..maybe some of some of you guys who are not shooting for a podium finish could go out of your way to embrace new blood. Just a couple of rounds extra timekeeping  a day could mean the difference between a newbie coming back for more OR not.!

( In the 16 rounds I flew in 2013 I was probably only helped by a good flyer on 1 occasion, apart from Maria who helped a lot).

Please realise that this is/ was  MY observation, and is not a criticism. I really enjoyed my 2 comps.

Standing by for incoming!



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  • 2 months later...
Maria Freeman

Did I just hear my name mentioned :-)


Hi Andy….so this is where you have been hiding :-)



I enjoy the competitions because I know that there are people out there to beat…….even the best have bad days.


I expect to do badly …. and so anything extra is a result.


I have just started trying out the 2 metre electric class…….have done 2 comps…….and have just won my first bottle of wine 

( ever ) , by coming 3rd in the 2 metre class ( 9th overall ) at Hawling the other weekend.


I have booked off all the dates for this years f2k comps.


Any competition makes you a better flyer.  The more you do , the better you should become.


Don't be frightened off or intimidated by anyone. People are nice :-)


Help at competitions ? Yes , maybe people could do more , but it is easy to get distracted by helping others and mistakes can start to creep in to your own flying ( personal experience ) , like forgetting to do things to your model between rounds ….. or whatever.


I have to admit that I get as much enjoyment helping people as I do flying in the comps. Spotting good air and bad air is important in f3k ( et al ) and can make someones results hugely different. The timing is as much a part of the f3k competitions as is the flying.

A good timer can give you a good result……. to become one , you need to get out there and do it……..


Sorry rabbiting on 







ps… " Hi Tom "

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