SEN 2189

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Table of Contents – SEN 2189

  1. Help at the USA TEam Selection Event
  2. Dawn and Dusk Flyoff Shootouts?
  3. A response to John Carter
  4. Gorilla Glider
  5. Altimeter timing.
  6. NFFS Used Books – Update
  7. F1 Performance
  8. Have we learned nothing from J

Help at the USA TEam Selection Event

If you are interested in helping out for the upcoming USA Outdoor FAI Team Selection contest (Oct 6 to 9) please contact Bill Booth or Charlie Jones (   We are looking for volunteers to help in the administration of the contest and become part of the timing pool.  Those who fill the role of timer for the entire day will receive $100 cash for each day of timing duties.
Charlie Jones
Chairman TSC

Dawn and Dusk Flyoff Shootouts?

Flyoffs are essential in world championships, as maxed out teams are ranked by the (lowest) sum of their flyoff rankings. And of course, to place well individually, one has to reach the last flyoff.
Moving the clock back to our Finals. Our Finals comprise of two contests, assuring that those who rank well (and the eventual team member) fly at least in one flyoff each day. So dropping a second during the regular rounds eliminates one from the flyoffs that day.
Flyoffs with incremental maxes are an excellent way to select winners, but problematic in selecting teams. Today, a 5-minute flyoff is attainable by any reasonable B flier. A 7-minute flyoff can be maxed consistently by a few B fliers – the so called “95% rule”. (The corresponding maxes for A and C are about 6 minutes.) But a 10-minute flyoff is decided by the thermal queen. In fact, she selected our last B team members in 10-minute flyoffs at Boulder City.
The pure performance of a B flier can only be evaluated with repeated 7-minute flights (hence capped flyoffs), flown early and late each day with everyone participating (hence mandatory flyoffs). To get more observations points, a flier would fly one model, not retrieve it, and another 15 minutes later and then retrieve both. (A suggestion by Alex.) This will evaluate the ‘depth’ of a flyer’s box in terms of their performance models.
Mandatory flyoffs are actually an old idea. In the 70s, the Finals at Bong Wisconsin had 5 and a 7-minute mandatory flyoffs. At that time, a 5-minute flyoff satisfied the 95% rule. But the flyoffs were held during the day and the thermal queen played her hand. Another approach was to increase the first round max to 5-minutes at Finals held at Taft.
Ideally, a Finals with mandatory capped flyoffs would have two flyoff flights in the early morning, two in the late evening. Missed flyoffs could be made up in the reserve day. The total time of the 8 capped flyoffs would determine the final ranking. (Here, there is no need of ranking.) Adding the regular 5 thermal flights during the day would have a minor impact, as dropping say 30 seconds in the regular rounds would easily be made up in the capped flyoffs. (Actually, our regular rounds with a dedicated timer are really disguised 3 and 4-minute mandatory capped flyoffs.)

Our geography dictates a single Finals every two year cycle. A Finals with mandatory capped flyoffs would consistently select the best performing teams. But if only 4-5 fliers make the teams over time then the average fliers would probably drop out. On the other hand, the thermal queen plays an important role in our current Finals’ format.

(I was told that publishing this after the Finals would be considered sour grapes.)

A response to John Carter

From: Bernard Guest

Hi All,
I have read the exchanges relating to timing and timing tech with some interest. In the recent SEN (2188) John Carter makes several interesting points that I think need addressing and clarification.
First John points out that sometimes sh*t happens (not a quote) and one flies behind a tree or goes out of sight  and gets clocked off. John rightly points out that this is merely part of the game. My problem with this part of Johns critique of the “e timer” idea is that he seems to be missing part/most of the point.
I think the real problems with ape-based timing are as follows:
1. It is hard to find timers at big contests making them hard to organize and ensuring that fewer and fewer folks are willing to put up with the hassle. Fewer contests equals dying sport (nothing to do with tech).
2. Disputes over times and who got what, and who won, and who cheated with the help of the timers etc., are becoming a problem of late (see ridiculous F1A shenanigans by certain top competitors at some major contests in the recent past; you know who you are).
3. Timers can be, and often are, intimidated by competitors. This is especially true when one of the big guns loom over the fresh young person who is simply terrified of clocking the big kahuna off. This sort of thing happens more frequently that any of us would care to admit. Some of us, even seasoned adults, have felt the pressure. Some of us feel a powerful urge to avoid conflict. Need I say more? Apes are imperfect.
4. Timers routinely time the wrong model (I have done it more than once and I try hard not to). This occurs even when the models are well within sight, and has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with lots of models in the air and tired arms and that fly that chose the perfect moment to inspect the interior of your right nostril (so please resist trotting that argument out again).
5. Timing by apes is inherently imprecise. e.g. F1C engine runs. No ape can do a truly decent job of timing a 4 second motor run, not even and experienced ape. A fraction of a second of power in F1C now makes a significant difference to the altitude achieved and apes suck at precision timing to fractions of a second (hence no human timers in track and field sports or any other sports for that matter).

Getting clocked off due to excess performance is not all that common on larger fields. Cant speak to what it is like on small, windy, English fields. Sure it is terrible. alt-e-timers would solve al lot of the issues. But yes you will have to invest in one if you wanted to enjoy the benefits it provides. If you don’t want to I am sure a contingency plan involving a fellow ape could be arranged.

John also takes the opportunity to opine the technology that is packed into our FAI ships. He is right, they are high tech, high performance, instruments of flight, that represent the very pinnacle of free flight design and innovation. Yes they are complex. Yes they are costly. But that is the whole point of FAI. It is interesting because it represent the pinnacle of innovation and technology. Sadly, innovation, design, and space aged materials and electronics costs money, but, as I have mentioned several times before, the cost of our ships is a fraction of the annual contest travel budget. That said, given all of the effort and money we put into design and innovation and the tens of thousands we spend as a group on contest travel, it is an utter scandal that upon arrival we fly some of the most sophisticated airplanes ever designed in contests timed by half blind apes with binoculars and stop watches. It is a pretty stupid thing we are doing given that we have the technology to solve the problem close at hand.

As to Johns argument that high tech is unpopular etc. etc. Well I can tell you that my kids like high tech. They like electronics and wireless technology. They think it is funny that we run around with stop watches and binos to time models that cost upwards of $1000. They would never sign up to fly low tech unsophisticated ships with clockwork timers etc. That idea is sooo last century.

Yes alt-e-timers would become the norm, just like carbon, kevlar, D-boxes, electronic timers, thermistors, high quality winders, half tubes, multi servo fuselages, electronic tow hooks, fading props, etc. etc. etc. etc.
The real issue is not performance as John would have us believe (fuse dt’ed, balsa models fly far in a big thermal too). Seeing the model land, is only a small part of the problem (see above).

The issue is that we are doing a bad job of using 19th century technology to evaluate performance in a 21st century sport.

Lastly, I get the sense from Johns comments that he is against innovation. That is the opposite of what FAI sport is about, and if we want to have a hope of attracting the youth of the 21st century to FAI free flight we need MORE innovation not less.

My two cents.
Bernard Guest

Gorilla Glider 

As usual, Ken has a good solution to a vexing problem.  I also had the same
problem with a purchased wing a few years ago due to CF-capped ribs
that had very soft balsa cores.   The ribs aft of the F!A spar were
reinforced with CF tow and epoxy on their sides for about 2 inches forward
of the TE.  Epoxy mixed with acetone was injected inside the D-box using a
syringe through a 1/32″ hole.  A bit of swishing made contact between the
ribs and D-Box and also coated the ribs for strength.  Total weight gain
was 3 grams.  The glider made it through the 2001 team selection finals
with 14 maxes and  a fly-off.  The only glider I had that was still flying
at the time.   If I hadn’t the experience of building, the wing would have
been discarded.

Chuck Markos

Altimeter timing.
From: Dino

Thermals and wind determine who goes out of sight, not the model technology more often than not. We are all use to chasing long distances, climbing over fences, up and down in gulleys, going over trees hoping the timer can see it. Nothing new..
But we now are getting close to an option. Altimeter timing makes even small fields workable. Yes the chase is harder, but the results will be fairer. No losing contest cause u went out of sight, because you went behind a tree, a hill, of tall corn. These are problems in free flight for decades. They are not new..
Don’t blame technology on that. Technology is close to a fix..
I have an idea. Let see if one of the cottage suppliers is interested in making up stand alone altimeters that they rent to contest organizers. Say $10 rental fee per unit used. All the same unit so scorekeeper can use one program to download flight time.. Just add to the entry fee.. All units calibrated so they are all the same.. Especially nice for EURO and WC…
Saves huge headache for CD and organizers to not have to chase down timers for flyoffs..
Technology can save the day..  I bet Massimo or M&K or Alex would be interested in producing enough to supply for contests..
Just a thought.

Thermals, michael

NFFS Used Books – Update

From: Bob Stalick

NFFS Used Books.
A new batch of used free flight books has recently arrived and I’ve posted an updated list on the NFFS website. Check them over, not only old Symposia, but a bunch of early to present day BMFA FF Forums, and other interesting publications.  $10 each plus postage. Contact Bob Stalick, <> Check the website <> for specific items and ordering instructions.

F1 Performance

From: Martin Dilly

Re.John Carter’s mention of the excessively high performance of the F1 classes, I would refer SEN readers to my posting on this in SEN # 2180. Take another look at that, specially the bit about no incidence or camber changes in horizontal flying surfaces. That will still allow the majority of F1A and F1B models to fly, albeit with some serious rethinks on trimming.

Have we learned nothing from J

From: Tom Ioerger

Hi Roger
I have been following the F1Q and E 36 discussing with dismay.  It seems that we have learned nothing from the death of F1J and the impending death of F1C.  Cutting the motor runs drove those models into higher and higher technology and cut the participation to very low numbers. If models are going off the field then cut the acceptable wind limit to 15 miles an hour.  If performance absolutely must be reduced then A better approach would be to eliminate the use of some gadgets while not making existing models obsolete.  For instance, geared motors could be outlawed in FiC and FiQ , or DPR , IPR, and variable pitch could be outlawed in F1B, and bunt could be outlawed in F1A.
If we allow technology to take its ever higher course we will soon have hand wound geared motors in F1Q with ceramic bearings and a $200 price tag.  In E-36 we are already seeing higher power motors.  If we cut the motor run for E-36, we will see even more powerful motors and the carbon airplanes needed to handle them.  This will cut participation for sure.  A better approach would be to require a specified low power low cost motor in E-36.
In any event, continuous rules changes will hold back participation in F1Q.  We need to have a three to five year moratorium on rules changes in F1Q so people can participate without fear that their models will be made useless by the next rules change.
Along these same lines, if we reduce the rubber motor weight allowed for F1B rather than eliminate gadgets then I for one will stop flying the event because you will have to wring every last drop of performance out of the technology and the rubber to be competitive which will likely mean you will need a flapper Wakefield and a computer driven rubber test system.


Roger Morrell