Mulvihill/Unlimited Rubber flight times

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    I received an impassioned email from a top Mulvihill flyer who was complaining about an AMA rule proposal subitted by Dick Covalt.

    I think Dick’s point is well taken and the subject of max times and stringing out the number of flights by adding a minute each time is a little ridiculous.

    Most contests are held on reasonably sized fields. A 1/2 mile field allows for a 2 minute max with a 15 mph wind, but not 4 minutes, and certainly not 5, 6, and 7, etc.

    Our MMAC just held Spring contest started out with 5 mph winds with 15 forecast by 11:00 AM. Our enlightened contest director began the contest with 90 second maxes in all events but Mulvihill, and made that 2 minutes for all 3 flights. He was criticized for doing this, but it was the right decision. Our contests are not held in rounds, so you can’t change the flight times half way through the contest. By 1:00 PM, 90 second flights had reached the limits of the field, and I had 2 boomer flights that were more than a 1/2 mile off the field with DTs close to 1:45. Luckily the crops were not up yet, and spotting was easy, but later in the season the beans and the corn are model sucking, and we are lucky that we have smoozed the owners of the off site properties, and they are not standing at the edge of their fields with shotguns or the sheriff.

    So extending maxes and making people fly way past the limits of the field for flyoff maxes is just not right, as Dick Covalt pointed out.

    I would prefer to see all maxout flyers gather for a flyoff at the end of the contest, and let them all go for one unlimited flight to figure out a winner. In our case, 2 people did max out, one opted not to fly off after the first had launched for a 4 minute flight that went one mile off the field.

    I think fly offs are preferable to watching guys chase down their models all day long to find out who had 7 to 10 maxes of increasing duration. This should apply to all events.

    Dean McGinnes


    I agree with your comments about the marathon flyoffs. In the “old” days, of 5 minute maxes and much larger fields, the unlimited flyoff was the rule. While that did produce some long chases, it was for one flight only, and by that time of day, the air was settling down somewhat.

    It does make it a bit difficult for some super flyers who maxout in more than one event, but that is probably a rare occurrence.

    I don’t fly Mulvihill as yet, but do fly P-30. I would fly Coupe but I am not interested in flying in rounds.

    Bill Shailor

    Graduated maxes aren’t as standard as some may think. Mulvihill, once called Unlimited Rubber, had three minute maxes and you were done flying when you dropped one. I know this as I chased Phil Klintworth’s model at the 1971 Nats in Chicago when he won with 13 maxes. I chased them all on foot. George Perryman was a close second.
    Ahh, youth… 🙂


    3 maxws and one unlimited flyoff at the end of the day is a silly idea. The planes are still going to leave the field. Mulvihill fliers KNOW they are going off the field if they have any success. Please don’t ruin other events with the one flight at end of day nonsense. If this idea is to be taken seriously, why not eliminate the first 3 flights and simply go one flight, sack to the wall, At noon, in a thermal,see ya next year?
    Gas events reduce power to limit performance. Most rubber guys don’t want to do this. Taking mulvihill seriously means you’re not gonna fly much else that day. It is the nature of Unlimited Rubber. They seem to be OK with the situation.


    >3 maxws and one unlimited flyoff at the end of the day is a silly idea.

    It may be seen as a ‘silly idea’, Dan. but it’s been working very well that way in Britain – in virtually all classes other than FAI (and it used to be that way there, too, after 7 flights… way back …) for the past 50 years or so … and still is the accepted norm. I’d still rather go out into the countryside just once for an event rather than all through the day, but I guess that’s just what I was accustomed to. I never heard anyone complain that a contest was ‘ruined’ by this procedure.


    If the idea is to stop leaving the field then the objective has not been met by the unlimited flyoff. Lots of 2 day meets end at 2 or 3 in afternoon on Sunday. It would seem that the CD would need to call the mass launch flyoff into a big downer to keep the planes on the field.
    Whatever the serious rubber guys want is fine by me. I just don’t wish to see it spill over to other events.
    I fly some rubber. OK, P30 and a Gollywock. The Gollywock is fun to fly in Mulvihill, but I pick and choose when and where to fly it. A 1/2 mile field and 15 mph wind and it stays in the box. I won’t fly it on a 1/2 mile field in dead calm AM. I won’t fly it in Mulvihill at the NATS. It would take most of the day and I don’t wanta.


    This is why AMA has field catagories. CAT.1, CAT.2, CAT.3 ect. With varing maxes according to field size. You determine the maxes by your field catagory. No need for rule change…………………….Thom



    We are all crazy and spoiled from the “open-space” days of yesteryear or of the wide open spaces that still exist here and there.
    Who do we think we are tramping around on other people’s property just to retrieve our precious models? When was the last time you could play your golf ball back to the fairway from someone’s back yard – Not in this century! Could you imagine a dirt bike race that needed a few extra yards to make a corner of the track/trail so they just routed it through some rural person’s front yard? Oh, but FFers don’t destroy property like that would? Oh, really – to some property owners, making their dog bark 150 times during Wakefield day at Muncie is just as painful as the ripped up sod in their front yard from the dirt bikes would be. Every sport has it’s boundaries that must be obeyed. Why is it hard for us to acknowledge this? Does someone need to get SHOT for trespassing before we wake up to how our activity appears to non-modelers?

    NO COMPETITOR should HAVE to fly their model off of the confines of the pre-defined contest field to compete in and win an event – PERIOD. Any model flight that does LAND off of the pre-defined contest field should be given a ZERO – no reflight. Whether it’s regulated/enforced via the “Honor system” or “let the timer ride along in a golf cart” or “a rotating shift of flyers stationed downwind” – I care not which.

    KEEP IT ON THE FIELD is the answer. We have to begin to think alternatively, to modify some events from the way they once were on some fields. Mulvihill is obviously one of them. It appears Mulvihill fliers do not want to slowly reduce motor sizes or motor run for each extra flight like other categories. Don’t limit this event by maximum time, let the field size, weather, flyer’s savvy automatically limit it for us. For Cat III, let the old max rule stand: 120, 120, 120, 180, 240, 300, 360…, but any flight landing off the field is a ZERO. On a perfect FF day, you could really watch ’em fly to their potential, as the original event rules intended, even on moderate fields. On windy days, it would be a totally different game on small and moderate fields, based on the flyer’s knowledge of wind speed and direction, weather forecast, their model’s flight characteristics, field parameters, etc…

    Several options may be employed by the fliers in this event:
    A. Fly a conventional drift down wind model and set D/T time as close as you dare to field’s edge – think of all the new factors that brings in to play! Catch too strong of a thermal and you might get too much drift during DT. Chicken out with too short of a DT setting, don’t get much lift and you come down prematurely, loosing seconds that will count.

    B. Redesign flight patterns – Power that bugger straight into the wind, up wind for as far as you dare, flip an autorudder or reduce rudder size that was allowing weather vane climb and let it drift back onto the field for D/T.

    C. Redesign D/T – “nose it down” into the wind gaining ground towards flight line or at least not drifting as far downwind which would allow for a longer DT setting and hence longer flight. Get the thing down faster in a more predictable manner like a pop-off wing P-30 – Heck my P-30s have not left the field at Muncie in 8 years including several 4 minute D/T flights, but 2 minute F1G D/Ts routinely take 5-6 extra minutes to come down!

    I hope you can see that there will be no long flyoffs/extended flights on windy days. One zero for the “long” fliers will be all it takes to stop them from trespassing next contest/next event. This can free us up to fly more than one event on one day. Benefits abound, on some days the event would be about the model’s capabilities, and other’s it would be about the flier’s nerve and savvy and not very dependent upon the model.

    Yes – It would add some logistics to contest day – Every field would need to have plenty of copies available to contestants that define the field perimeter/boundaries. Use the honor system and crank them up.

    Sure there are negatives about this proposal that we can pick on, but it does provide a consistent set of rules for all fields that does not need to be unnecessarily “tweaked” on contest day by every Contest Director. It is better than simply eliminating Mulvihill or not flying it unless weather/field is perfect.


    Jim Mosley is correct when he says that UK contests are decided by a single flyoff in all classes (excluding FAI team selection events). Models do go out of the field but by careful negotiation and understanding of the farmer’s needs (ie launch points moved so you don’t land in crops) it works even at events such as our National Championships when upto 800 rounds flights are flown over 3 days of competition. This takes a lot of effort on the part of a few individuals but it does work, so much so that we still have almost all of the same venues we have had since I started flying in the 70s.

    Of course we have no motorised retrieval so there isn’t the problem with the few who would drive across cropped fields (I’ve seen it in the US !). This limitation means that a 13 max contest et al is not practical in the UK whilst a long single flyoff flight is.

    A couple of years back two guys did almost 1.5 hours each in a rubber flyoff. Not only was this a great spectical and a testiment to model design, flying and thermal picking but they both got them back without farmer problems.

    In conclusion, it’s horses for courses. To suggest the UK method is “silly” suggest a lack of understanding by the author of how these events work.


    A short note about awringlien’s field limit suggestion.

    Up in British Columbia we are VERY field limited, and we have been experimenting occasionally with this concept. Too early to claim much success, and we are very few in number, but we have done away with all other restrictions, engine run, towline length (no towline fliers anyway) and rubber weight etc. Also no maxes. You fly what you’ve got – flying in rounds is the only restriction.

    Will post further news.

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