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Can winch approval save F3J?

Sydney Lenssen

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I agree Richard, time is one of the big killers, and recently in the F3f world I have decided not to run the midland winter league. 

The plus's of local leagues are reduced travelling cost and time

In reality, 

More events  seems to lead to more reasons for pilots miss events.

More difficulty in achieving the increased number of day passes and more reasons why it's hard to remain competitive withing a years long league

The resultant fewer entries at each event mean weaker events and less draw to attract others.

Travelling time - if you have a day pass - and can get there and back in a day, it just comes down to travel cost. Few that compete are strapped for cash.They may choose to spend it elsewhere but being able to afford it is perhaps more of a choice than a physical restraint.


My conclusion was to remove the Midland events from the F3f calendar for next winter, hopefully competitors will take the reduced number of available dates as more reason to attend and other events will be better for it.  Some will find the  extra travelling a bind, some will make the effort time will tell if it rekindles enthusiasm.


IMO Competition is best as a highlight to those days spent practising and having fun. When it starts to become the only reason/time you fly its easy to question the cost.


Re Wixy,  at FAI Level winning is everything, but to reach that level of competition it has to be a pastime that you find enjoyable, or you will not put in the hours needed.

Hanging for a second longer when everyone has similar and latest technology is fair enough, but if your trying to do it in dead air with a 5 year old airframe you may get disillusioned.

I fully understand your points - but you need to view the options with an eye to attracting more flyers not with a its fine for me mentality.

minimum weight/reduced span would be a good start.




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Isoaritfirst ,

My comments in this thread are based on my experience from competing  in thermal soaring competitions .(39 seasons  ) 

Domestic and international  and many as CD /SFTC member etc .

Majority of the time its been very  enjoyable  .

I will say it again .

Unfortunately the proposed rule changes  FAI F3J  will not stop the terminal decline  off F3J .

Fortunately the development off small electric motors / gear box light weight batteries ( lipo)  has allowed the electri launch glider to flourish  and this is where the future lives for competative thermal duration classes .


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Honestly guys, drones are not the answer here, topic cleaned

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Forgive me commenting as an outsider but there are actually 3 options for launching a glider. The first two - winch and man power have already been discussed but why not revert back to middle aged technology and use a standard bungee launch - as is used on F3-RES - suitably scaled and using more modern technologies for a larger model and line length?

I am sure that I will be told that it is not feasible/practical etc, but it can be a one man operation - does not require expensive heavy winches, does not require high levels of fitness and may suit the CIAM ethos.

I do like Austins rule suggestions - one thing that always put me off thermal glider comps was the practice of impaling a model into hopefully soft ground.


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Reading through the debate above reminded me of the theory that I had some time ago. If radio control had existed as we now know it, would Free Flight models and Control line models evolved? I am pretty sure they would not. But you still have a die hard group who follow these sections of model flying.

Tom brings up cost, but some of the guys above pay £1.5K for a FF power model to compete at the high level needed in international events.

There are cheap motors,ESC's, batteries etc, that are available to use in electric models, as there is RC gear, if you want it.

I started into electric launched gliders(that is the only difference after all) in2005/6 after deciding that the flying of tow/winch launching was all to much effort, for the rewards on offer, plus broken lines that could rule you out was not great either.

At that time electric competition gliding was still in it's infancy, as 7 cell Ni Cads were the power source, which left a lot to be desired. This has now evolved into a group of competitions, that can put all competitors on an even start line IMHO.

This has left the earlier non electric classes behind and grown. But my own personal view is as some have stated that dwindling numbers, will see most of what we do now disappear in about 20 years max.

BTW building your own model is not cheap if you add man hours into the equation;)

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  • 4 weeks later...
Richard Swindells

Austins ideas on the previous page were great, had they been implemented 10-15 years ago. However the bird has already flown the nest for F3J

Home grown models are way way way more expensive than molded models. The investment in equipment, r&d costs (lots of practice with expensive materials until the results look good) and most significantly time. 100's (if not thousands) of hours go into the design, tooling, researching. (speaking from more than a few years experience myself).

Any competition, where the margin of difference between the top pilots is less than the margin of error of a manually operated stopwatch, is too easy. Of course its more difficult in the UK, our conditions for thermal soaring are some of the worst in the world. But in continental conditions is is clearly too easy, if the majority of thermal soaring competitions have the winner decided by launch speed and landing accuracy.

Models we are flying today launch higher, travel further and sink slower, compared to what we were flying 10 years ago. So although sink rate might not have halved, combined with the launch height and ability to hunt thermals I would say that overall performance is has at least doubled.

In F3K, I've nominated "all-in" on every poker round at the last 2x world champs + pre event (thats probably about 8x rounds). Essentially that means you have to achieve 10 minutes from an approx 50m launch, or you score zero. I've managed it every time, just by following better pilots.. the majority of pilots at the events score 1000 for that round. If thermal soaring is that easy with a 1.5m model, then using a 4m model launched to 150m must be really really easy (in continental conditions of course)

We have similar performance gains in F3K, and similar arguments on how it can be addressed. (by restricting design or harder tasks). My personal view is that harder tasks just make the competition go on longer. My favorite suggestion is that the chord measurement 50cm from the wing-tip cannot be less than a given value and the wing must not have any decrease in chord towards the root.

If we announce this is the rule to be introduced for the 2021 world chaps cycle it gives manufacturers the chance to prepare (and sell lots of new models) and F3K models do not usually have a competitive lifespan of > 3 years, so pilots will naturally have to replace models by then anyway!

Children will not be attracted to thermal soaring. 30 years ago, there were only one or two juniors in the BARCS open leagues. The numbers are roughly the same now. Even with F5J, can anyone possibly think it is an attractive environment for a teenager? Zero social media presence, and bunch of grumpy old jobsworths arguing about politics (I am describing myself too :) ) , and a league setup that is beyond ridiculous. £3-4000 for a competitive setup (2x models) for competition is not really going to please Santa either.

I know there are literally hundreds of jnr soaring pilots in China, my understanding that is in at least one province, the state sponsors F3K in schools! Marry that to several larger than life "youtubers" who are driving the initiative (and the fact they appear to feed beer to jnr pilots :) ) and then you get some interest.  That will never happen here as we prefer to keep our children out of harms way, by giving them an iphone so they lock themselves away and learn about 'sexting'.

Not a bad rant, considering I've not had a drink !

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here in Germany we were facing the situation that you have to enter the large "contest" F3J contests when you want to compete. There were no smaller competition you could  enter.

This was the reason to setup our "Sommerliga" ("summer league") in 2017.  Small contests for up to 30 participants, All you need is your F3J plane , no team! The launch equipment is owned by the Sommerliga. It´s a strong rubber highstart. The acceptance is pretty good. 60% of experienced F3J pilots and 40% newbies! 129 registered pilots.  The effort is minimized, but lainch heights as well. So its a real challenge for everyone.  For me the key is, that every active Pilot is an attracting point for New ones. Be an inspiration! 

Few more informations and also some videos: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?2835724-New-ideas-for-F3J



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  • 2 years later...
Marc RC pilot

Interesting read and points of view on a subject I have no experience with.

Forgive me, but I've cringed on many occasions watching some pilots use there pride and joy like dart and board on landings...Intricacies and nuances aside, doesn't this type of forced landing/crash ;) cause damage? Excuse my ignorance on the subject, but it looks so wrong landing like that. 

There is something special/exciting using bungies.

Hope things work out

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pete beadle

Hi Marc RC pilot

To (hopefully) answer your questions - 

Bungees are too inconsistent, you can't guarantee the consistency of each one's pull, and you can't guarantee the level of power each one contains. Two different bungees bought at the same time and made from the same batch of bungee rubber are hardly ever exactly the same in terms of performance

Sport flyers know that "kiting" on the line increases final launch height. Competition flyers haven't got the time to kite, because it eats away at the available  slot time

"Lawn-darting" is the answer to getting the very last second of flight time and the exact centre of the landing spot

Yes, it can damage the model but only if you don't do it right. Personally, I HATE lawn-darting BUT, if you look at the result sheets of international competitions, these days, every point counts, and 99% is now, no longer good enough

Hope this helps



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Marc RC pilot

Thanks for the heads up Pete. Makes sense what you say.

99% are very tight margins and I guess it shows how good/consistent these flyers are.






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13 hours ago, Marc RC pilot said:

Interesting read and points of view on a subject I have no experience with.

Forgive me, but I've cringed on many occasions watching some pilots use there pride and joy like dart and board on landings...Intricacies and nuances aside, doesn't this type of forced landing/crash ;) cause damage? Excuse my ignorance on the subject, but it looks so wrong landing like that. 

There is something special/exciting using bungies.

Hope things work out

Well you wanna try landing to a 20cm target without being able to go over by any time. Very very difficult.

Of course you can damage the model landing but they are designed with it in mind. Having flown quite a lot of f3b I can tell you models get damaged more when you've got ballast in than spot Landings for duration flying. You'll see plenty of models get damaged in f3f Landings and landing isn't even part of it.

The model is under most stress during the launch phase.

Don't think winches did save f3j.

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pete beadle

Hi Tom and Marc

What it comes down to, in the end, is natural skill and practice, practice, practice:thumbsup:

I remember the days when a "Skeg" was used in F3B, originating from the USA, it was the only thing that would slow you and finally stop you in a "normal" landing/arrival

It used to be heart-breaking to see the UK and European flyers refusing to use a skeg, and sliding through and out of the centre spot :(

None of my (old) models would survive a lawn-dart finish, but then, I do more damage to them with "hangar-rash" and/or trying to launch them one-handed in a gusty breeze on the hill:yes:




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