Jump to content
  • Sign in to follow this  

    Can winch approval save F3J?


    Sydney Lenssen

    Rule changes to halt terminal decline
    Uncle Sydney’ Gossip column returns

    FAI’s Aeromodelling Commission meets next month, 27/28 April 2018 in Lausanne, Switzerland. For F3J pilots the main topic on the agenda is how to halt the decline in silent flight contests. What does CIAM want to change?  What chance for these changes to save terminal decline?

    Winches to be allowed.

    If this proposal goes through the “launch of the model aircraft will be by hand held towline or winch.” Ever since 1998 when the first F3J world championships were held at Upton on Severn, pressure has been on CIAM to bring in winch launching. At numerous team managers’ meetings held by Jury President Bartovsky during World and European championships, arguments for and against have raged. Many countries do not have enough people to give one or two man tows, so they run their qualifying comps to local rules using electric winches. I guess more than half of countries do this. When they turn up at FAI championships, their pulleys and hand winches are brought out. In the UK perhaps we had one or two practice sessions at home before leaving.

    Certainly there is a difference between a regulation F3B winch and a two man tows. The best pilots still gain the most height either way. The big difference is what you need to carry on your travels, especially by airline. Winches and batteries are bulky and heavy. So far all votes have been to stick with hand towing.

    In CIAM agendas, any rule amendment is followed by its reasoning. 

    The winch proposal stems from Slovakia and they say: “The majority of pilots are older persons who are no longer physically capable of towing models. ( Uncle’s note: I have not seen anyone on crutches yet!) 
    “Also smaller teams lack helpers capable of towing. There is also the problem that some pilots are unwilling to assist other pilots because of their physical condition. The winches are widely used in other categories and also at many F3J home competitions.”

    Allow me to remind overseas Gossip readers that the UK has used winch launching for many years. Two years ago BARCS surveyed F3J pilots asking whether or not they intended to continue competing for the next year. About 50 established pilots replied and only eight replied positively. With great regret the BARCS committee decided that contests could not be run with that number: running the qualifying league to select GBR national teams was impossible, and for the time being F3J contests would not be organised. Since then two invitations to resume and run an F3J comp have fallen on deaf ears.

    Returning to the supporting data prepared by Slovakia in the agenda document. “The number of pilots in F3J category is decreasing rapidly. In the last 2-3 years the number of pilots at World Cup or Eurotour competitions has decreased by circa 60%. People are switching to other categories, hence the rules should be designed in the way that motivates them to carry on flying.

    “In case the use of winches would be considered, we propose to apply same rules as the rules regulating the use of winches in F3B category, maximum starting current to be 510 Ah and cable length to be 150 m.”

    In my personal experience and I have attended several FAI championships in Slovakia over the last 15 years, and their organisation of contests is amongst the very best in the world. They are aware that the changes proposed are radical, and they have consulted widely with pilots and trainers from different countries. People agree that the change in F3J rules is inevitable to keep the category alive.

    Rarely have the arguments for change in FAI rules been put so strongly.

    I shall be surprised if the new rule is not adopted, but it is not a foregone conclusion. My query at this stage is that the proposal appears to allow winch towing alongside hand towing which could prove difficult if not dangerous and unsafe. The proposal is also not clear on the location of the winch’s turnaround pulley with respect to the launch line/safety corridor, line length or how long winches and batteries would be allowed to stay on the launch line.

    There are one or two other rule proposals. Australia thinks that the winners of fly-offs should be determined by the sum of all scores with no discards.

    Present rule states that if six or more fly-off rounds are flown, then each pilot’s lowest score can be discarded. 
    This proposal is so sensible and surely it must be approved. The reasoning? If no discards had been allowed, then the senior winners in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 F3J World Championships would have gone to different pilots; Joe Wurts in 2016, Joe Wurts in 2014 and in 2012 in South Africa, Jan Littva would have been champion.

    One other significant change, also submitted by Slovakia, deals with the characteristics of F3J gliders. The new suggested rule is that the minimum flying mass should 1.7 kg, with the added phrase, weight of models may be checked randomly immediately after landing during the contest. I don’t follow this change. The reasoning given does not help either. 

    “The price of models is very high and pilots, especially juniors, can no longer afford new models. As a result the number of pilots is decreasing rapidly. Instead of motivating juniors, the number of juniors is decreasing.” That statement is true, but how relevant is minimum weight?

    Will the rule changes save F3J?

    In July 2014 after the F3J World Championships in Martin, Slovakia, that I wrote a Gossip column entitled “F3J is in terminal decline”. It reported on the team managers’ technical meeting led by Tomas Bartovsky and several topics were discussed: models had become very expensive, fewer junior pilots, accurate timekeeping at glider release and landing, and the steady reduction in pilot numbers. 

    Several experienced pilots suggested way to make F3J more attractive, such as having a maximum wingspan and a minimum wing loading, because the available models produced by skilled manufacturers were now too good. In reasonable weather, in the summer months of the championship season, many pilots find flying 10 minutes is easy.

    The simplest and best summary of today’s falling number problems is that F3J is not the sort of competition which appeals to an ever larger number of aeromodellers. In the early 1990s, F3J set out to be the simple thermal glider competition, easy for anyone to join, contrasting with F3B which demands far greater expertise.

    This Gossip column produced a world-wide response, not only on the BARCS website  but also through RCSD and RC Groups in USA and around the world. More than 100 modellers wrote in, more than a few very critical of my words “terminal decline.” But it was encouraging that many well known pilots - Kolb, Wurts, Paddon and many others - responded with constructive ideas for future action to boost F3J popularity.

    Bob Owston, famous for designing and building his own models, wrote:
    “I am generally against limiting performance via design constraints such as wing loading and areas, there is a case for limiting the international class to a 2.4 metre (100 inch) span. This would reduce costs, particularly for youngsters, be more manageable and render the class competitive for homebuilders. Ailerons and flaps would be permitted.”

    In my view Philip Kolb came with the best solution: Limit the span, (a maximum span limit), and wing loading, (a minimum wing loading), both at the same time.

    Several contributors suggested more efforts to show friends and youngsters the magic of thermal soaring, use non-stretch tow line with one towman and no spotters. Keep everything simple! Whatever change you make, remember that climbing in a thermal is the main reason and attraction of  the sport, not launching or landing. 

    Uncle Sydney’s verdict

    I welcome that CIAM has recognised that unless changes are made, F3J is likely to disappear. I admire the efforts of the US pilots, for example, where over recent years Daryl Perkins and several other stalwarts have cajoled and encouraged enough pilots to travel thousands of miles over a fair spread of the continent in sufficient numbers to run a competitive league. 

    In other parts of the world - Canada, Australia, Japan, Argentina - fighting for a place in the country’s national team is far more difficult in terms of logistics than Europe with its Eurotour events. Survival of F3J depends massively on the efforts of pilots who were engaged from the start of the class and were often in the past amongst the more successful winners. Sadly we are all growing older and less able to cope with the rigours involved. They should now try to identify those who will follow. 

    Allowing winches is perhaps a start in the rehabilitation process, but by itself is not sufficient.  After next month’s meeting it will be two years before new rule changes are allowed. Let us hope that does not turn out to be too late. 
     

    Sign in to follow this  


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    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 .

    G

    • Like 3

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

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

    • Thanks 1

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    martynk

    Posted

    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.

     

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    EssexBOF

    Posted

    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;)

    • Like 2

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    Richard Swindells

    Posted

    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 !

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    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

    /Bernd

     

    • Like 1

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


  •  

  •  

  • Our picks

    • 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.
        • Thanks
        • Like
      • 0 replies
    • 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!



       
      • 12 replies
    • Rule changes to halt terminal decline
      Uncle Sydney’ Gossip column returns

      FAI’s Aeromodelling Commission meets next month, 27/28 April 2018 in Lausanne, Switzerland. For F3J pilots the main topic on the agenda is how to halt the decline in silent flight contests. What does CIAM want to change?  What chance for these changes to save terminal decline?

      Winches to be allowed.

      If this proposal goes through the “launch of the model aircraft will be by hand held towline or winch.” Ever since 1998 when the first F3J world championships were held at Upton on Severn, pressure has been on CIAM to bring in winch launching. At numerous team managers’ meetings held by Jury President Bartovsky during World and European championships, arguments for and against have raged. Many countries do not have enough people to give one or two man tows, so they run their qualifying comps to local rules using electric winches. I guess more than half of countries do this. When they turn up at FAI championships, their pulleys and hand winches are brought out. In the UK perhaps we had one or two practice sessions at home before leaving.

      Certainly there is a difference between a regulation F3B winch and a two man tows. The best pilots still gain the most height either way. The big difference is what you need to carry on your travels, especially by airline. Winches and batteries are bulky and heavy. So far all votes have been to stick with hand towing.

      In CIAM agendas, any rule amendment is followed by its reasoning. 

      The winch proposal stems from Slovakia and they say: “The majority of pilots are older persons who are no longer physically capable of towing models. ( Uncle’s note: I have not seen anyone on crutches yet!) .....


       
      • 27 replies
    • by Sydney Lenssen, BARCS President and Gary Binnie, BARCS Chairman

      We and the BARCS executive committee wish all members, and indeed everyone who enjoys model flying and thermal soaring, a very happy Christmas, and also a very special year ahead in 2018. May all your achievements, higher scores and hopes be realised.

      Year 2017 has been a mixed year, probably for everybody. The biggest triumph by far has been the successful opening of BMFA’s National Flying Centre at Buckminster. BARCS can be very proud that it was the first group of aeromodellers to utilise the facilities on offer by organising a successful Radioglide 2017 at the end of May. 

      There is still a long way to go until BMFA realises all its ambitious plans for the NFC. Very sensibly, they are taking a careful financial route. Many members will not have even seen the site so far. Don’t hesitate. Many other members are in the band of volunteers, regularly making the Centre bigger and better. Offer to help if you can!

      One of the prime movers to establish the National Flying Centre is Chris Moynihan as chairman of the BMFA and also a member of the BARCS executive committee. Many years ago, it was Chris who tackled the difficult job of persuading BARCS to grow closer to the BMFA. He then went on to become chairman of the BMFA with his dedicated drive and skill at bringing together proponents and opponents. Very sadly, due to health problems, Chris has stepped down from both the BMFA chairman role and the BARCS committee. We shall all miss his wise counselling. 

      All the very best - and plenty of thermals - for 2018!

      Sydney Lenssen, BARCS President
       
      • 0 replies
    • Interglide F5J 2017 Report and Results
      This year’s Interglide over the weekend 24-25 June run by BARCS saw a necessary change from F3J to the electric launch format of F5J which proved to be very popular.

      Cracking flying site. Forty-seven pilots booked in. Prizes acquired, particular thanks going to UK KST agents, Flightech and C & M Rapid (Model Glasses) Ltd. for their generosity. The previous week saw fantastic weather. So what could possibly go wrong at Interglide 2017. Well, being the UK in June it’s no surprise, the weather changed for the week. Full report in the link above
      • 0 replies
×

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.