Jump to content
  • News and Information

    Latest news and information

    • Sydney Lenssen

      Final F3J Festival For Rules Mark 1

      By Sydney Lenssen, in F3J,

      BABENHAUSEN - 15/16 SEPTEMBER 2018
      What promises to be a “sweet and sour” weekend of Contest Eurotour flying before the new F3J rules allowing winch towing instead of two-man hand towing come into force - January 2019 - will take place weekend September 15/16 September in Babenhausen just a little way south of Frankfurt.
      Why sweet and sour?
      After the biggest set of rule changes by CIAM in Lausanne since the stake was banned, many dedicated pilots, with their deep tradition of friendship and fun, say that the winch and new rules spell the end. Entry numbers tell a similar tale. Contest Eurotour F3J entry numbers are down to less than 200 in total compared with more than 600 in previous years. In many countries F3J meetings are being cancelled. That is the “sour”.
      One compensation in this sad tale is that F5J is booming. Entry numbers have passed 500 and growing. Pilots who have resisted using propellers and electric motors to launch are expressing surprise at how exciting it is to learn new skills and strategies.
      When Philip Kolb heard about the rule changes, he hit upon the idea of encouraging F3J pilots old and new to get together for a final celebration of 21 years of FAI contests and FAI Championships under Mark 1 rules, a chance for everyone to enjoy a great reunion, keen competition with plenty of beer and stories old and new. Babenhausen is also the last contest in the 2018 Contest Eurotour series and the new champion will be crowned. That is the “sweet”!
      Philip’s call for an F3J farewell party did not go down well at the start: even his good friend Stephan Lammlein described his idea as nonsense. “We must make ourselves strong and press for better rules.” Darius Mahmoudi thought Philip’s idea was counterproductive at uncertain times for F3J.Philip backtracked a little. “Let’s call it a retro meeting for F3J and attract as many ex-F3J pilots to come - including me.” Babenhausen is a contest for the F3J family to get together again, and as Erel Cankan says, “if all of us in the family wants, we will find a way to put things back on track again!”
      At the time of writing 90+ pilots have entered for the two days. Let’s all hope that the weather is kind. The new flying site is planned to allow 120 pilots to compete, so there is still a chance to enter. Flying or spectating come along and help everyone celebrate in style and joy.
      Cheering our world champions

      What are our reminiscences? Let’s start with F3J world champions, Starting with 1998 at Upton upon Severn, the winner was Joe Wurts, still flying today in various classes, and still standing on podiums and revered worldwide, always ready to give expert advice. The start of World Championships as opposed to European friendships.Two years later the championships were on the island of Corfu, troubled a little by smoking forest fires and won by Jan Kohout from the Czech Republic. He plays a lovely guitar repertoire but was tempted out of thermal flying a few years later by mountaineering.
      Next stop was Finland in Lappeenranta where a worthy winner was Arend Borst from Canada who almost won in 1998, and appropriate since the next world championships were already booked for Canada. 2004 Red Deer was a chance for teams to experience the Rockies and compete on a sod farm. The week was almost marred by a typhoon which managed to uproot one of two giant marquees held down by three metre scaffold tubes which were just ripped out of the ground as the cover blew nearly 200 metres and almost onto the main highway. Winner this time was David Hobby from Australia flying in his first F3J contest with no track record in this class. In his job he did fly remote-controlled drones across the Atlantic, a true professional.
      Back into Europe for the 2006 worlds and flying in Martin, Slovakia one of the worlds most beautiful model flying sites. What happened? David Hobby won again, and not only that, in the fly offs he had a mid-air which increased the dihedral on the port tip by 20 degrees and tore the surfaces but he still flew some 400 metres to land safely near the landing spot. he was so far ahead by this point that he didn’t even need his reflight to become champion again.
      One country, Turkey, had been F3J keen from the start and had set new standards in how well contests could be organised and managed. The reward was being chosen for the 2008 world championships and again flew on a pristine sod farm at Adazapari. The winner was Benedikt Feigl, younger brother of Sebastian Feigl who had won a team world medal two years before, and son of Peter Feigl who flew models and full-size gliders. The three man Feigl team was and still is a notable force to be reckoned with.
      The next world event was in France in Dole Jura, 2010, and although the flying site was not ideal, the food, wine and activities were great. Daryl Perkins who had been world champion some four times in the F3B class became world champion in F3J, much to his delight and my surprise. I had always reckoned mistakenly that Daryl did not have the same keenness for J as B. US teams are selected after one trial contest, not a series or league, and Daryl until 2009 had never gained a team place. But his competitive spirit was not deterred. He came and conquered. Since then he has been
      the driver for F3J in the United States and encouraging to keep it alive and kicking.
      The world championships in 2012 moved to a new continent, held in South Africa at Kempton Park, still flown in mid summer and so that the weather was a testing mix of snow, wind and cold in the Southern Hemisphere. The event was well organised in an exciting country by Michelle and Craig Goodrum and yet another win for Benedikt Feigl. This was the first WCs that I missed, but I was lucky because I cannot take cold. Vladimir Gavrylko recounted that he looked forward to getting back to his hotel to thaw out, only to find that the bath taps were running cold too!
      In 2014 the world championships returned to Slovakia and Martin and a new young pilot with the widest of smiles, Jany Littva became world champion. He was to become one of the young pilots with skills that left the established oldies wondering what they could do to match the pilot skills and reactions. Slovenia has always held a strong reputation in the F3J circuit with its beautiful and unique flying site in Bovec, surrounded by a wide bowl of mountains. Sadly the sports airport there was lost to models when a new road widening scheme chopped off space. But the site at Vipava is almost
      as good, just as friendly and blessed with good wines. Champion of the world in 2016 was Arijan Hucaljuk from Croatia, another youngster with a shy smile, a man who seems to smell thermal lift that others cannot see, a man who stands with his feet forming a V-sign around the landing spot and 9 times out of 10 puts the nose down on the spot.
      And finally in 2018 the world championships moved to Romania, to Brasov where Arijan Hucaljuk won again, just one of a series of trophies in F5J and F3K which Arijan has won over the last few weeks over the summer. In his comments last week about the Dupnitsa F5J first European Championships, Graham Wicks reports that Arijan’s launch height was 14metres in one slot, he sank to 7 metres and then thermalled to fly out the slot. What a pilot, another win!
      Having reached the end of the list of F3J world champions, the feature which intrigues me is that there are three pilots who have won twice, David, Benedikt and Arijan which is remarkable considering the number of excellent highly skilled pilots from so many countries, any of whom could have triumphed, but these three have something extra. What?
      Who will be flying in Babenhausen’s F3J Festival? Not surprisingly most of the entries are from Germany, this year’s end of the Eurotour, and many of these pilots are not people I recognise to date. I hope they will excuse me if I stick to people I know, some going back to when F3J started. Dieter Rybold will be flying along with Knut Bundgen, one of the organisers, Robert Braune has a strong track record and I am pleased to see lady pilots Catharina Schmidtkunz and junior Carolin Weihe. Stefan Hollein will be flying the flag along with Ryan. A keen sponsor/pilot/guru is Thomas Rossner of Servorahmen fame who enjoys beer and seems to turn up at all the best competitions all over the world. Helmut Rohner is another pilot who flies everywhere, takes lots of photographs and make puzzles on Facebook, and always tells me off - “Sydney, du weiss ich spreche kein Englisch.”
      Next on the list of pilots is the inspiration for this Festival, Philip Kolb who sadly is transferring his loyalties to bigger and better classes of glider models. Karl Hinsch has flown with Philip for many a year. Stephan Lammlein will be there although at this point his son Tobi who now lives and flies for Switzerland, a former German junior world champion. I remember his mother Gabi going shopping in Lappeenranta because she could not put up with the stress of watching Tobi in the flyoffs.
      Jany Littva and his father Dr Jan Littva are entered, Cederic Duss a more recent star pilot, Jaroslav Vostrel of the Pike family, Martin Rajsner another star, Christian Keulerz, Felix and Willi Parsch, Christian and Manuel Reinecke and the keenly competitive Dominik Prestele. DariusMahmoudi will fly as well as report I suspect for Aufwind. We shall also be pleased to see Arijan Hucaljuk, no doubt keen to add to his 2018 prizes.
      I am also delighted that Erel Cankan and Salahi Tezel will be flying in from North Cyprus to fly the Turkish flag. Italy could not be left out and Marco and Giuseppe Generali along with the Gallizia family Giuseppe, Carlo and Marco. I am especially pleased to see Vladimir Gavrilko and Oleksandr Chekh from Ukraine, but there will not be time over the weekend to assemble the swimming pool. That’s the list as it stands at the time of writing. There could be and I hope there will be more to come. Apologies again to those pilots I don’t recognise.
      I do not know how Tomas Bartovsky found out that I was intending to attend Babenhausen, but he did ask me to pass on his best regards to the F3J family and all his friends. I do know that Tomas is a firm believer that F3J will survive and thrive, and will get over the rule changes. “There will always be those keen pilots who wish to become champions!”
      Finally I am sure that many of us will have lost friends who have passed away over the last 20 years, friends who shared the same enthusiasms and dedication to F3J. I should like to remember Mustafa Koc, Otto Barvels, Utz Giesa, and Hans Fischer, and if my memory was better, others too.
      Uncle Sydney - really gossiping for the last time. 2 September 2018

    • Bidding farewell to the end of F3J Mark 1

      By Sydney Lenssen, in F3J,

      It was after the CIAM Meeting in Lausanne where the go-ahead was given for winch launching, that many F3J pilots, especially in Germany, expressed dismay that hand towing might disappear.
      Philip Kolb came up with idea of holding the last Contest Eurotour of 2018 in Babenhausen, 15/16 September, as a special farewell, a chance for pilots old and new, for champions and faithful heroes, for all who have loved F3J over the past 20 years, to get together under the old original rules.
      There are still 50 or so in the 120 places available. The attachment gives details in German and English.
      Ausschreibung-Babenhausen-_BadL-F3J-2018-deut-engl.pdf

    • New president for BARCS

      By Sydney Lenssen, in BARCS,

      by Sydney Lenssen, July 2018
      Brian Austin has been co-opted by the BARCS Executive Committee as the new President of BARCS. His three year term of office will be confirmed by the membership at the AGM 2019. I am confident that this announcement will be welcomed by all BARCS members. Many, if not all, members know Brian from his long record of achievements and activities in the silent flight field. He is especially known for his friendly cheerful manner, always at hand to help fellow modellers.

      Four years ago, Brian was awarded BARCS’ Eppler Trophy, in my opinion, the association’s the most prestigious award with a long list of distinguished aeromodellers such as Eppler himself.
      Graham James, BARCS President at that time, wrote the following citation: In the early years of BARCS, awarding was often a relatively straightforward decision as new construction methods, materials, wing sections, control methods and launch and landing requirements demanded continuous model development. Today, many of us have moved onto moulded ready builds and the skills of the true modeller are largely being lost.

      One person, Brian Austin, continues to lead the field in home design and build models. Responsible over the years for many familiar Open and 100s designs, his name is now better known in electric circles not only for his planes but also as a driving force behind competition rule progression. Names like Trilogy, Alacrity and more recently the Watts series of electric gliders, of which Watts New is the latest incarnation, will be familiar to us all. For many years, he has also been the responsible for running a very successful series of competitions in Essex.
      Although tempted by shiny plastic models too, he continues to fashion exquisitely beautiful soarers, built to standards that most of us can only
      aspire. They take the latest look and feel of moulded machines, but are built in more traditional ways. Brian pilots competition winning models.


    • 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

  •  

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.