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Nick Jackson

Analysing performance

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Nick Jackson

For 2019, I'm intending to log all my electric glider flights on an Excel spreadsheet to check out my performance (yes, I know it'a going to be depressingly bad but I'm quite used to that). I use a 10 min timer on practice flights so I can include them as well as flights in competition. Useful parameters are likely to include model, duration, landing points, launch height, ballast, wind, lift, venue.  Useful points of comparison would include between models, and whether there is any improvement over the year (please!) or after any changes in set-up. I'm an infrequent and unsophisticated Excel user but can usually batter it into submission and have some expert friends available for when it's winning.

I'm keen not to re-invent any wheels here and to get an effective set-up before starting to enter data.  Other people may have done something similar and/or have suggestions? 

(Or let me know if you'd like a blank copy of the spreadsheet / tables / charts for your own use when it's completed).

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Gary B

Could be tricky Nick as there are so many variables. My line of work is performance testing, one of the keys is repeatable conditions, airspeed, temperature etc.

I am often lucky enough to practice with a very wily pilot, if he is staying up and I'm not then I'm doing something wrong!

There are so many variables in F5J, launch height being one of them. Missing from the competition environment is the chance of being bailed out by other  gliders circling.

What I do is identify a weak area or fault and work on it (launching too high/too low, missing weak lift, not following thermals downwind enough, landing too early or late and missing the '50 point' zone of the tape. In truth I probably don't have one weak area but have to work on all these things together.

Helmut Reichmann was a World Champion glider pilot, he wrote a very good book about cross-country soaring, he suggests some exercises including thermalling in different directions (left or right turns because we often have a preferred direction) and one that I use a lot with models is to leave a strong thermal at a good height, descend to just above circuit height and then try to find the thermal again.

I practise landing with a circular ring Frisbee or a sun hat as a marker.  I've used a talking timer for a long time but found it clumsy to use, I now have a 10 min 30 sec audio timer set up in my transmitter, it is the GliderScore timer with extra five second intervals between one minute and 30 seconds left. The extra 30 seconds is a countdown to the slot start.

You can closely analyse height limiter traces and in dead air they can show fairly accurate minimum sink descent rates. I had one glider very obviously unstable in pitch when thermalling, every thermal was shown as a sine wave on the trace, half the circle it was going up the other half it was going down! Spent some time on the setup and it is much better now.

What you could do with Excel is plot your overall score percentage that is given on every score sheet, I have been thinking of doing that just for fun and to prove to myself that I am improving even if it only 0.5% every comp!

  Cheers

      Gary

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Eamon

I just look at my final position in the comps and annual ratings and hope I am going up the list 😉 

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Gary B

My main aim is not to come last!

Even comp percentages don't always tell the truth, I came fifth in the 100S at the Nationals last year with 4,800 something points out of a possible 5,000.  It was very close at the top.

I guess we could have handicap ratings like golfers, not sure why they do that, probably so that they can compete in fair groups. In full size glider competitions the glider type has a handicap, my glider had a rating of 107, scored against a standard '100' glider my distance flown  would be decreased by 7% if I didn't make it back or my time to complete a closed circuit would be increased by 7%.

 

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Nick Jackson

Thanks Gary and Eamon - some interesting thoughts.  I'm sure you're right that recording and analysing flights will give information of only limited utility. And that attempting 10 mins in practice as well as competition should not detract from practice and experimentation. And clearly right that other sources of information are useful too - like AMRT records ...

... and how others are doing?   Dunno. What I'm interested in is enjoying myself by working to improve and perform to my best. If that moves me up competition or league rankings that's grand but I suspect other people (a treacherous lot) are improving faster than me rather than having the good grace to stand still and provide a fixed point of comparison. Competition percentage may be a bit more useful.

I've enough handicaps without inventing more.

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Gary B

My wife often says if I've had a poor competition (not uncommon!) that 'it's the taking part that counts'. Bless!

I often practise until I'm fed up with it, people like Daryl Perkins take a beaten up old glider and a short bungee out into the desert and do 100 circuits and landings against the timer.

 

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Gary B

I have a two minute countdown timer on the transmitter as well, if I am messing around flying for fun or flying longer flights (15/20 minutes or more) and then decide to make the last part of that flight a competition slot flight then I can just flick the timer on. This sort of fits with Helmut Reichmann's mantra of setting a goal for each flight, i.e. don't just wander about aimlessly waiting for the ground to come up and meet you!

Having a spotter/timer at comps is another variable, I have had excellent spotters who have encouraged me to keep thermalling at lamp post height a field away which I wouldn't dream of doing at my practise field. I am getting braver and using the motor restart function which I disable  at comps where it is allowed.

 

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Nick Jackson
20 minutes ago, Gary B said:

people like Daryl Perkins take a beaten up old glider and a short bungee out into the desert and do 100 circuits and landings against the timer.

Damn - until recently I could have done this within forty miles of home. But in 2015 the Met Office refuted the belief that Dungeness is a desert. They just don't want me to do well.

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wixy

Unfortunately in the UK we have some good pilots but not great ones .

in Europe a timekeeper / spotter  would often be referred to as a coach .

Anyone who saw young Julian Benz flying in the UK last year could see he had been Coached to a high standard  .

His model set up was far superior to most off ours .

For me to improve I would need to be coached by someone who could recognise my mistakes and help me to correct them.

I suspect it’s not an excel sheet you need .

But a Joe Wurts or Thomas Rößner (shouting in your ear )

 

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Richard Swindells

I suspect the excel sheet will just show that you get better at spotting lift, the more you practice. 

Most pilots who score the top places, spend more time going away from the gaggle and using their own intuition to find lift. Quite often you will see a few models circling in sink, simply because of the hysteria of seeing other pilots circling and all of them convincing themselves that there MUST be lift about because everyone else is circling. 

Spotting sink and being the first to decide to run away, is just as important a skill as finding lift!

At the last F3K WC's whenever I could, I'd stand downwing of Joe W and observe him for a slot(we don't have to worry about standing downwind of the flight line so much in 'K'). Due to the fact there are normally 3/4/5 launches in an f3k slot, its surprisingly easy to learn how to 2nd guess which way he's direction hes going to head, before he even launches. The skill he has above most other people, is being able to do this in the heat of competition AND to stick to his convictions.

Back to analyzing figures, the only time I have found altimeters to be really useful in extracting performance, is to set an alarm on the telementry to trigger bleep if the model goes over a certain sink rate. Lowing this value and trying to keep the alarm from sounding is great for trimming flaps & elevator to min-sink settings for really still conditions.... however as soon as there is any breeze, these min-sink settings are useless as they leave the model too close to the stall. 

My "Coach" cant even fly. However she's great at keeping her eye on how everyone else is doing and is not shy to tell me when I need to move somewhere, and she gets very #p#ss#d off with me if I do something stupid. Having someone annoyed with you for being stupid is a better incentive not to make mistakes, than with someone who you can joke about being an 'idiot' with - after the event!

 

 

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Mr_SMO
On 03/01/2019 at 12:25, Gary B said:

My main aim is not to come last!

 

Does it matter if you do come last. I still thoroughly enjoy myself, and the banter too. 

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