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Ribs

Electric-Assisted Flying at Whitesheet

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Ribs

Dear flyers at Whitesheet and those who visit,

Please note that there has now been a rule change to the flying restrictions at Whitesheet Hill.

Many of you will have flown at this wonderful site in Wiltshire (and may be members of the club) and will know that for most of its life, the site has been for unpowered models only.

In 2009 a trial was started to allow electric power to be used for height gain only. Electric models in general terms were not permitted.

Following this successful trial period of many years, the club has now ratified changes to the club rules to allow this change permanently. The matter was voted on at the AGM, following discussions and work with both the BMFA and the National Trust, both of whom fully support the proposed changes.

With immediate effect, electric assist can be used at Whitesheet for height gain, with the following section added to the club handbook:

The following definitions have been agreed by the WSRFC committee and will serve to clarify amendments to the rules on powered model flying:

Glider A model sailplane with no form of propulsion system fitted. Any model designed to fly and climb solely by slope or thermal lift, falls into this category.
Self-Launching Glider A model sailplane whose primary flight mode is unpowered soaring. Such a model may have an electric propulsion system used to gain altitude, at the beginning of a flight, when slope lift is insufficient or is not working on one of the available slopes.
All other radio controlled aircraft This category is a cover-all for any flying model that does not fit into either the Glider or Self-Launching Glider definitions above.

 

Types of model that may fly
All forms of Glider as defined above may be flown from the Whitesheet hill, in the areas and slopes identified in the sections above.

New for 2017, Self-launching Gliders will be permitted to fly at Whitesheet, within the rules of the club.

It is vital that flying of such models be conducted with respect for the peace and beauty of the area and that the good reputation of the club, both with the National Trust and with the public, is maintained.

Only electric propulsion may be used to gain altitude. Internal combustion engines or gas turbine engines are not permitted, in order to ensure the least possible noise intrusion from the power phase of a flight.

Models that are designed to rely on the propulsion system for sustained flight are not permitted. This includes hotliners and other types of electric powered model that have not been designed to seek out and exploit lift.

Undoubtedly, there will be a period of adjustment, where the above rule changes will require review. In the event of justified negative feedback from the public, from the National Trust or from other flyers, the allowance of electric power for climb out may be revoked.

No model aircraft, other than those described as Gliders or Self-launching Gliders may be flown from Whitesheet hill. This includes (but is not limited to) multicopters, quadcopters and helicopters.

 

The hope is that more flying can take place at Whitesheet, more of the time. I also hope that these changes will encourage greater membership and better participation in future events at the hill, as our flyers will be encouraged to make the journey and meet up, knowing that the weather conditions have a lower impact on whether or not they will get some flying in.

If you have any questions relating to this change, please don't hesitate to contact me by PM or post here.

For more details about the club, please visit www.whitesheet.org.uk

best regards

Chris Lamming

Chairman, WSRFC
 

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oipigface

Well done, Chris. .... and all others involved in this negotiation.

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Ribs

Thanks John, it was a group effort and over many years in reality - this is just the final step so the club has a proper, up-to-date handbook again.

The great thing is that all seem very on board with it, with virtually no objection, so I guess we got the wording and sentiment about right. Let's hope we get the desired effect and spend more time at the hill flying, in whatever form it takes.

 

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oipigface

I was wondering if the wording that you've negotiated to apply locally to Whitesheet might not be used by BMFA in an approach to the NT to modify the national agreement.

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isoaritfirst

Can of worms John.

With open land such as the Mynd and many other NT sites we use, allowing electric could negate the need to fly from the designated locations.

I could see it being a real issue on open moorland like the Mynd.

Whitesheet is a small area that has few area where people may choose to fly.

 

Once electric is seen flying on open moor then others will follow and it would be impossible for me and the other members to police.

It is a little inconvenient that I can't fly my electric assist models occasionally off the hill, but that inconvenience is far less than the trouble that could be created by park fliers, picnickers, drones etc flying at all points without the need to head to the slope edge to be able to fly.

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Phil.Taylor

Whatever happened to "slope soaring"? - and the skills of flying in light thermic conditions?

how do you police this? - how long can a motor/gearbox/prop whine on for in "height gain"?

Phil.

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oipigface

I guess that suggestion doesn't meet with universal approval.

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Ribs
1 hour ago, Phil.Taylor said:

Whatever happened to "slope soaring"? - and the skills of flying in light thermic conditions?

how do you police this? - how long can a motor/gearbox/prop whine on for in "height gain"?

Phil.

Hi Phil,

Both very fair and valid questions, to which my response is this

1. Nothing has happened to slope soaring. The rule change does not stop people from enjoying the slopes in the same way that they always have. If they have always chosen to fly with no power, they can continue to do so under the new rules. Those (myself included) who like to run the risk of a land-out and try and seek lift in light conditions can still do this and still feel the satisfaction that it brings. A jaunt down to the cornfield is not a problem for me, which is lucky as anyone who sees my thermal flying will realise.

However, the new rules will also allow some to fly, for whom the risk of a land-out is a problem. I have received several emails or had discussions in person with those who could not physically make the walk to the bottom of the slope to retrieve a model, should it land out. Some of the more elderly fliers are an obvious group who will benefit, but perhaps also those with mobility difficulties of all ages can be considered too. If the rule changes mean that those people are now more likely to come and enjoy the hills, more of the time, this must surely be a good thing.

Allowing powered assisted flying will also enable people to fly who make long journeys to the slope, only to find the wind lacking or completely off the slope. Many of our members and visitors do this for scale events, for F3f competitions and for other social fly-ins. Unless it is raining continuously or blowing a gale, they should now definitely get some flying in.

2. I agree with your implied suggestion that this will be difficult to police. My honest feeling is that there will not suddenly be an insurgence of extreme electric powered machines to the hills of Whitesheet (or anywhere else, should the changes become more widespread). I also think that almost all flyers at places like Whitesheet go there because of the peaceful surroundings - I think it is unlikely that there will be a great issue with motor/gearbox/prop whining. In general terms, I believe it is worth the risk of the small number of occasions when someone may push the boundaries of the rules, in order to achieve greater participation and attendance at the slope the rest of the time.

We will have to see how things go. The rule changes we have made have been carefully written with input from various parties, the obvious ones being the BMFA and the NT, both of whom are happy with the type of model we are now allowing. As stated in the wording above, if it proves to cause a problem, with the public, with other members or with the NT, then the rules may be changed back. We will certainly review things again at next year's AGM.

best regards,

Chris

 

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oipigface

Chris's response makes some good points. Here is another one - at least, I think it is. One of the barriers to learning any skill is lack of confidence. In the case of slope soaring having a motor reduces the number of situations where a beginner has no option but to land. Start the motor, go round again, until you get it right. If you don't have a motor, you have to land - possibly down the hill, behind or in some trees. This causes more breakages, less confidence and more beginners giving up. Seems to me that allowing electric assist is likely to increase the number of slope soarers rather than reduce it.

Mike's point about the thin edge of the wedge is well taken, and I agree that there may be places where electric assist flying should be banned. But this does not mean that all other NT sites in the country have to be restricted in the same way. In fact, the current NT 'gliders only' rule does not apply always and everywhere. Local NT administrations are entitled to make additional restrictions. For instance, flying gliders is banned altogether on Lundy during nesting.

The national agreement has the advantage that it is a default position. If you go to a NT property you can be pretty sure what the rules are.

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isoaritfirst
15 minutes ago, oipigface said:

 One of the barriers to learning any skill is lack of confidence. In the case of slope soaring having a motor reduces the number of situations where a beginner has no option but to land. Start the motor, go round again, until you get it right. If you don't have a motor, you have to land - possibly down the hill, behind or in some trees. This causes more breakages, less confidence and more beginners giving up. Seems to me that allowing electric assist is likely to increase the number of slope soarers rather than reduce it.

I hope Whitesheet decision will favour its current members but I don't believe electric is the saviour of slope flying John.

 

Go into my local model shop and ask for a glider and they will sell you a motorised one.

Its a better sale for them and an easier sale to a new flier. On the face of it, it all makes a lot of sense. "You can fly it anywhere mate", "just gain height and wizz around then do it again" . "all much easier than having to work for it"

Generally they sell very few gliders and those that they do often seem to lead to fliers looking for more power.

Moving up to Hotliners , and then more flight performance as they look for something more challenging.

Its a good lead into power flying.

I would argue that it's not a good lead into glider flying.  Most of our new members seem to come from the power field, as they look for a better environment and more challenges.

In my view, Electric gliders make poor power models, they won't prop hang for example.

Gliding isn't about floating down - The fun is working the UP so that you can come down - to do it again.

The fun and the challenge and therefore to me the attraction is the occasional risk in having to push further away than you are comfortable with to find that lift, or working a small bubble down low.  That Buzz doesn't come from a motor.

I know very well that older or disabled fliers have a very different requirement and a land out is hard for them. As a generalisation they are not new fliers - more, old ones that go along to see their mates as much as they go to fly their models. I'm not denigrating that - Probably aspiring to it is closer to the truth, and if allowing electric for them gives them more days out then that's great.

But I can't see it as being the saviour of slope soaring by bringing in new fresh blood.

Quite the opposite.

Over the years I have known a few fliers that have left the slope to go flat field, as they find the slope just "boring". Possibly in the same way I find power flying boring. But if you dig deeper, often you find that they only ever visited the slope on "good" days, and were effectively flying in an abundance of lift, batting around as if flying power. Whilst on the flat field they go along on days where the day allows them the joy of working that little bubble of lift. They also don't fear the land out.

They find the challenge and the joy. 

The slope does have that same challenge, and that is what makes it enduring - provided that you fly on "poor" or "bad" days as well as the good ones.

Electric will remove that challenge and make the slope a  boring less enduring place to be.

 

 

 

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oipigface

I agree with much of what you say, Mike, but much of it seems of little relevance to the question at issue, which is whether it is desirable for NT to extend its nationally agreed permissions to (carefully defined) electrically assisted gliders. I was simply adding an extra argument to Chris's points about less mobile pilots, and those who, having travelled a long way might find the wind cocked off. Many potential pilots (I am talking about raw beginners here) are put off by the prospect of breaking, or losing their plane, and this can make their progress less sure than it otherwise might be. Electrical assist is one way of adding some extra security. That's all.

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satinet

It seems a counter-productive to me given the public perception of the drone menace - whiring props don't invite the same good feelings as quiet gliders.

The rules seem impossible to enforce as they are entirely down to individual perception. 

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pete beadle

Hi all

In these days of tight personal budgets, an ageing population, falling numbers in almost all clubs and especially new, younger members going power flying rather than gliding, flat field or slope, I believe we should be removing every and all obstacles to new flyers entering our sport.

I am proud to champion disabled members getting exercise, getting out in the fresh air and belonging to clubs, any sort of clubs, especially those that encourage the social side of what they offer to their members. In my experience, I find it comforting to know I have the "get out of jail card"  of a motor that can be used in an emergency to avoid the long walk down the slope and back that most of us simply can't do..... and I know that fellow disabled members simply wouldn't break the rules and "whine away into the distance" to prolong their flights and risk irritating the NT or anyone else allowing to fly on their land

I'm sorry to say, you get the "difficult few" in all hobbies and sports and it's up to the majority of the club membership to ensure they don't lose the rest of us our facilities, especially our flying sites

I welcome what White Sheet has done and hope they can be held up as an example to other clubs who may be considering using electric motors on silent flight sites purely as emergency options as being a GOOD THING

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702 

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Phil.Taylor

To Chris & the Whitesheet club - good luck with this - and I hope that you do indeed get more flyers flying more

What I have got from this discussion is that the underlying problem is actually the dwindling number of slope flyers - and that the reasons for that are wider and more complex than just wanting to avoid landing out. Personally, I don't believe that "electric assist" is the right answer to that problem - and brings other problems of its own - but I'm not the one making the rules.

To me, "electric assist slope soaring" is about as irrelevant as "electric mountain biking" - but people are buying them

Phil.

 

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isoaritfirst

Off original topic about whitesheet buton the one about attracting new fliers, they have never had it so easy.

cheap and easily repaired gliders like the radian or the EG and then wild things and now alulas and hand launch. 

All can be flown on very light or very rough crossed conditions and unceremoniously dumped at your feet if the lift goes. 

But it's the people who buy breakable models that I see keep coming back year after year. 

Is that because they enjoy the clenching of buttocks. 

Aeromodelling is not supposed to be easy. Would it have attracted and held your attention if it was dumbed down. 

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EssexBOF
On 22/11/2016 at 16:16, pete beadle said:

Hi all

In these days of tight personal budgets, an ageing population, falling numbers in almost all clubs and especially new, younger members going power flying rather than gliding, flat field or slope, I believe we should be removing every and all obstacles to new flyers entering our sport.

I am proud to champion disabled members getting exercise, getting out in the fresh air and belonging to clubs, any sort of clubs, especially those that encourage the social side of what they offer to their members. In my experience, I find it comforting to know I have the "get out of jail card"  of a motor that can be used in an emergency to avoid the long walk down the slope and back that most of us simply can't do..... and I know that fellow disabled members simply wouldn't break the rules and "whine away into the distance" to prolong their flights and risk irritating the NT or anyone else allowing to fly on their land

I'm sorry to say, you get the "difficult few" in all hobbies and sports and it's up to the majority of the club membership to ensure they don't lose the rest of us our facilities, especially our flying sites

I welcome what White Sheet has done and hope they can be held up as an example to other clubs who may be considering using electric motors on silent flight sites purely as emergency options as being a GOOD THING

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702 

Well said Pete, Thermal soaring as was practiced 10-20 years ago would be dead now without electric motors for launch purposes. Would the modern drone flyer climb a hill to fly one, I have my doubts, but what a boon not to have to retrieve it from the bottom of a slope, even from the sea in some cases.

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Steve J
30 minutes ago, EssexBOF said:

Would the modern drone flyer climb a hill to fly one, I have my doubts

Looking at the 400ft Britain photos, the aerial photography people seem to go to all sorts of places.

Steve

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pete beadle

Hi SteveJ

I think Brian was very careful in his choice of words, when he said "the modern drone flyer" and wasn't referring to professional photographers using a quadcopter in their work - he was referring to a VERY different type of flyer requiring his drone for recreational purposes only

Regards

Pete

BARCS1702

 

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oipigface
On 22/11/2016 at 16:16, pete beadle said:

 

I welcome what White Sheet has done and hope they can be held up as an example to other clubs who may be considering using electric motors on silent flight sites purely as emergency options as being a GOOD THING.

They have provided not only an example, but a form of words acceptable both to the club and to the NT. This should make ie easier for other clubs to negotiate a similar deal where it is appropriate....

.... but I still think that opting out (with additional restrictions where needed) from a more permissive national agreement is preferable to piecemeal negotiation of additional local permissions.

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satinet

I think we are better off confirming with the NT that the rules for silent flight are still in place than trying to add in more stuff in the current environment:

 

worms.jpg

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