Monday, 27 April 2015

2nd round of the BMFA F3F Summer League 2015. Whitesheet (VR Slope). 26 April

After much deliberation and consultation by our trusty League co-ordinator, the excellent decision was made to shift the 2nd round of the 2015 BMFA Summer League from an unflyable Whitesheet to the Bwlch in Wales. The forecast looked very promising with clear skies and a decent blow on the VR slope.

We were greeted at the Bwlch by drizzle and a very week breeze. Where did that come from?!?

Fortunately the drizzle didn’t stick around for long and 20 pilots got the competition underway in what we hoped were 'building' conditions. The first round was a bit pedestrian with only a handful of pilots carding times under 50 seconds with Mark Redsell making the best of the tricky conditions to take the round with a time of 48.28. The ground in the valley hadn’t warmed up yet, so a spread of 11 seconds across the 20 pilots was as close as the gap from first to last got. The thermic influence was yet to come!

When it came, it came with a BANG!! I’m not sure if I have seen such variability in a comp before. In most rounds, the gap from first to last was around 20 seconds but the biggest gap was 53 seconds.

Round 2 saw Simon Thornton take the honours from Graeme Mahoney with 41.05 and the ground was starting to warm up a little, giving us little ‘love puffs’ to play with and tease us with regards to ballast. I chose to leave mine in all day, except for one round, which was empty. The thing about CD-ing is, you just don’t get any time to adjust anything! I can’t remember which round it was, but I popped a flap servo out and Simon Thornton took my place in the centre to enable me to glue it back in and a massive thanks to him for that.

Mark Redsell took round 3 from a hard charging Ronnie Lampe. Both their Freestylers were looking fabulous all day. The Thermals still hadn’t really materialised and we were yet to see a sub 40 run with 41.39 taking the round.

The 4th round saw the first evidence of a proper thermal with Mark Redsell scoring a 36.74 to take the round from Simon, Graeme, Mark T and Martin Newnham. Martin had a bit of a day to forget really. He was in obvious discomfort with a sore back, didn’t get much luck with the thermal lottery and was stuck in the centre too! His Freestyler looked great though!

Round 5 saw Martin Drewett and his Pitbull take the win with a brilliant 36.41 run beating Neal Shead and his PB of 38.07. Andy Burgoyne had a fantastic run with his Drops 277 to take 3rd in that round. I think it was this round that I had a booming thermal and managed to cut about half way through the run and perform the world’s worst recovery to kill all the speed and ruin a potential PB by at least 10 seconds.

Round 6 started with Martin Drewett getting another blistering time and setting a 36.17 as the early benchmark. Tony Livingstone fell just short with a 37.42 then up stepped the irrepressible, undeterrable John Treble. I was walking back to the pits after another mid 40 run to see Johns Pitbull being sucked straight out of Mark’s hand into the stratosphere in the mother of all thermals. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the spec with fingers crossed in nervous anticipation as John slammed the Pitbull through its paces and scraped the bases for a beautifully flown 31.67 seconds of screaming ecstasy!! The cheer that erupted for John after that flight was immense and I won’t forget it for ages. That was the flight of the day for me. It must have ignited the afterburners under Mark Treble too.

No Son likes being beaten by their Dad. It’s a man thing. Mark bounced into the centre of the course as a juicy thermal arrived with fire in his eyes and set off in pursuit of a time better than 31.67. He came so close and squeezed what he could out of his Toxic and the thermal to card a personal best 33.31 and win the 7th round from Martin Newnham and Tony. Martin almost smiled after that flight! Graeme Mahoney had been having a stellar day at the races until this round. He had to use some antigravity magic to keep his Jedi Space Lift aloft for the 87 seconds it took to complete the 1km course.

Mark Treble tried again in the 8th round. He took the round win from Tony and Ronnie but 34.08 wasn’t fast enough for him. Tony and Ronnie were rocketing up the leader board with some excellent flights! Andy Burgoyne copped the brunt of the dead air before a thermal in this round.

The 9th round was to be our final round. The winning time was 40.18 by Simon followed closely by Martin Drewett and Mark Redsell. The air had died for the start of the 10th round and it was pretty uncomfortable watching Stuart Wallace fighting to stave off a dreaded land out and the unanimous decision to call it a day was made. I had no idea who had won overall as so many different pilots had good flights and bad flights.

It was awesome to see Vic Eldridge at an F3F comp. I hadn't seen Vic for ages and was chuffed to see him throwing his Elita about the place! It was also a shame to see him park it early on in the comp and sit the rest of the day out. A special mention goes to Neal Shead for popping his ‘Bwlch F3F’ cherry. He flew his Strega very well and went sub 40 for the first time with a new PB of 38.07! I’m sure he won’t forget this event for some time! Ian Falconer managed to caress his Jedi around the course in 42.94 in his second F3F outing to the Bwlch. Mark and John Trebles PB’s were a highlight for me and it was great to see a bit of family rivalry on display. The determination on Mark’s behalf to beat Dad was visible, and he came close too!

Massive thanks to Martin Newnham for organising and running the competition through the pain of a back in spasm. Thanks to John Treble for organising the buzzers, all pilots for buzzing when asked and a huge thanks to all the guys who tirelessly launched all day.

Congratulations to Simon Thornton on winning our first completed Summer League competition for 2015!! He flew his Shinto brilliantly all day and made the most of the air he was given.

Mark Treble got close at the end of the day but had to settle for a fantastic 2nd place in front of the superhuman Mark Redsell who managed to finish the day in a valiant 3rd place.

Looking forward to our next F3F event which will also be held in Wales in the middle of May. The BMFA F3F Nationals. Entries are open now, so get them in!

The final results from the second round of the BMFA F3F Summer league are below. The spreadsheet is available on the GBSRA website. Hopefully someone, somewhere, took some pictures or video as I didn't get a chance to.

S Thornton
M Treble
M Redsell
M Drewett
T Livingstone

R Lampe
G Mahoney
M Newnham
C Landells
S Wallace

M Abbotts
J Treble
A Burgoyne
I Falconer
N Shead

M Evans
F Hulton
M Shellim
P Burgess
V Eldridge


Mike Shellim took some fantastic photos and has let me show you some here! Thanks Mike!

Check out Mike's other photos in his Zenfolio albums here

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Willow2 not ready yet. ;-(

My aim was to try to get the Willow2 ready for competition by tomorrow, but unfortunately I have run out of time. Clare had surgery a week ago on her spine so I haven't been able to hibernate in the garage and have a long way to go to get it ready.

I have made a bit of progress though and I'm looking forward to putting it to the test!

This weeks BMFA competition was supposed to be held at Whitesheet in Mere, Wiltshire. However the weather has played havoc with that and due to the wind direction being unsuitable for Whitesheet, the Organisers have made the fantastic decision to move the competition to the Bwlch!! Yippeee!

Tomorrow I will be competing on the VR slope for Round 2 of the 2015 BMFA F3F summer League after round 1 was called off due to rain a fortnight ago. Wooohoooo! Excited.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A bit of Wrecker practice today

Had some free time today so headed to the Bwlch for a bit of fun and F3F practice. I chose to test out my tolerance to the cold and wore shorts, a t-shirt, thongs (flip-flops before you picture me in a g-banger! eeeeeeww!) and a hoodie. I popped a pair of socks in my pocket to wear my trainers just in case I got cold.

It was 3.5 degrees when I got to the Bwlch!! Epic wardrobe fail on my behalf!! Socks and shoes were on from the start!

While I was getting ready for the massive walk from the carpark to the slope (100 metres) Martin Newnham arrived. He had the same idea as me although must have had it earlier as he had a 4hr drive to endure.

As did John Philips who arrived next. Hallowed company indeed!

I was already shivering, I hadn't even got my planes to the slope edge!

Greg Dakin waltzed in at about 11 to maiden his Jedi Space Lift and try to rip the wings off his existing Jedi Space Lift too. I really love watching the ridiculous speeds Greg creates.

Here is a video of one of his early flights.

I really wanted to get my DSL Skorp to fly as well as my F3B version so I spent the morning trying to improve the set up. I got it going a little bit better by shifting the CG forward a bit and was then trying out full ballast. It was better, but still a bit unruly!
I forgot that I had all the ballast in and made my 'empty plane' approach for landing and watched in horror as the brakes did almost nothing, except to remove the possibility of a go-around. She came in a 'bit' hot and dislodged a v-tail half and an aileron hinge.

Skorp F3B was a delight to fly and was fairly shifting too! I was practicing a few different turn styles (reversals [high and low], EM aiming at the turn point and EM bouncing off the centre. It's so hard to stop yourself from pulling too hard.

I had some fun doing some aeros too and managed a rolling circuit at one point, Yay me!

The conditions got a bit more lively in the afternoon, even though the measured wind speed on the edge stayed the same.

Martin had his Freestylers going really well and I managed to get no videos at all. Or photos for that matter.

John had a few different models screaming about the place and I only managed to get a video of him cranking out some turns with his Pike Perfection. It was honking!!

Greg was starting to get the hang of his new Jedi by the end of the day!! Video courtesy of Martin Newnham. hope he doesn't mind me sharing it with you!

I made it to 4pm and was proper chilled so I called it a day (A great day!) and moseyed on home!

I'm hoping Martin took some video of me and my plane. I'd like to see how it compared to the other guys! I thought it was going pretty good!

Here are a couple of pics: Sorry that there isn't much variety! I only took the camera out of its bag once!

Friday, 17 April 2015

My new weapon!!

Just received a lovely box of goodness from Willow Racing!

It's my new Willow 2 and I can't wait to thrash it around the F3F circuit!

She's going to surprise a few I reckon!

 Lovely bit of kit, very well made and almost all of the bits needed are supplied.

Just need to make up the linkages for the V-tail halves.

Better go and see what I can find at B&Q!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Round 1 of the BMFA Summer League

I was really looking forward to travelling up to the North York Moors for the first round of the BMFA F3F Summer League. Unfortunately the weather has other ideas and a bit of rain in the area has forced the organisers to call it off.
Probably a good thing from my point of view really as Clare is in hospital with a very sore back and I had organised for the Mother-in-Law to look after the kids. I'd have been 'in her pocket' forever!!

Can't wait for the kids to be old enough to enjoy a day out in the freezing cold to watch Dad play with his planes! Hoping they will be interested in flying too, but we'll see!

Here's hoping I can get the time off work for round 2 at Whitesheet in 2 weeks time!

Also hoping to have my Willow 2 by then and ready to rock and roll with some brand new slipperiness.

I've got most of the bits ready, just need an airframe!

See you in a bit!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Champion of Champions 2015 from Rhossili

The forecast leading up to this competition was indicating that we would be sitting in our cars for two days on Mickeys slope hiding from the cyclonic wind and staying dry out of the low cloud or CLAG!

Martin made the inspired decision to get permission from the National Trust to hold this years annual Winter League culmination on the dune slopes at Rhossili. What a fantastic call! The forecast was still looking decidedly damp and the direction of the substantial wind wasn't square on the slopes, but it was much better than sitting in our cars in the clouds!

Nearly 30 pilots met at the Sainsbury's car park at Macarthur Glen on Saturday morning and scooted west on the M4 to Swansea and then meandered through the Outstanding Gower Peninsular until we parked up at Rhossili. A quick check with the anemometer that the wind speed wasn't too high and we made our way down the hill to the beach. I can't vouch for everyone, but I was surprised at just how far we had to walk! I really didn't mind at all though because I was as excited as a kid in a Cadbury's outlet!! I haven't flown a low coastal site in years and it is one of my very favourite things to do in the universe!

I had preconceived ideas about the low slopes at Rhossili. I was expecting 10 - 15 foot dunes with a really narrow lift band. The dune/cliff was substantially higher than that. More like 50 foot plus and the edge was far more ripply than I was expecting also! It was definitely a learning experience though!

We got the course set up in almost record time (I obviously wasn't the only one excited!) and then sat around and waited for the wind to turn towards the slope and bring the direction within 45 degrees and into the 'legal for competition' range. This was a bit boring for everyone............ except one lucky sod. This lucky sod had left his transmitter in the hotel. The same hotel that he had just driven over an hour from to get to Rhossili. Lucky? not normally! On this occasion though, he managed to get back to his hotel, collect his transmitter and return to the slope in time for his first flight! That is why I reckon he is lucky!!

While we were waiting for Pe.. the wind to square a bit, we were all taking in the beauty of the amazing surroundings and quietly staining our underwear brown thinking about how we would manage to fly on a low coastal slope with a severely crossed and reasonably strong wind. And we also took a group photo (courtesy of Martin Newnham) before any planes were lost or broken!!

We drew a number out of the hat for the first pilot and Simon Thornton was first to go. I'm not sure of the time of day, but it was well into the afternoon. It didn't matter though because we were off and running! Simon's flight showed us two things. 1) it was crossed......duh! and 2) you could fly 10 laps and land safely after walking beyond the holiday letting. 

Simon's time was a very respectable 58.02 and was only beaten by 4 pilots! The times in round one ranged from 92 seconds (not the slowest of the comp!) to 53 seconds by Mark Redsell with the vast majority of pilots recording times well over a minute. It was definitely a learning experience! Rich Bago just pipped me to second place in that round with 56.47 and I was 3 tenths behind him. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself after that flight! Maybe too pleased? Mark Abbotts was the 4th pilot to beat Simons time with a 57.97. 

I was really impressed with everyone's ability to learn and develop in what were very challenging conditions on a new slope. There were a couple of landing issues and no-one destroyed their plane on the slope (on day one)........ Result!

Round 2 saw the beginnings of the usual few cementing their leads and showing us all how to fly and manage the conditions. Mark Abbotts took the honours for the round with an excellent 52.55 and Ewan Maxwell flew a fantastic 55.8 to claim the 4th place! Greg Dakin and Simon Thornton were in 2nd and 3rd. I was dead last in this round with the slowest time of the weekend. It was actually one of my most rewarding flights I have ever had in a competition! The conditions were trying to make me crash or land on the beach and for 97 seconds I coaxed my fully ballasted Skorpion around each base and squeezed every last poofteenth of lift under her wings to stay aloft and finish the course! I rocketed through the leader board from 3rd to 18th in that round! The slope had just put me back in my place.

The conditions were still very marginal with a severely crossed wind for round 3 and Tony Livingstone took the win with a very smooth 53.14 and Ronnie Lampe pushing hard for 2nd with a great 55.83. I couldn't believe we hadn't had any rain by now! I love it when the forecasters get it wrong in our favour! Looking at the timing sheet I think I can see that the slight variability in conditions made a significant difference in the achievable times. If the wind was bouncing around the legal limit of skewiffness the times were pretty dramatically effected. If they were bouncing around just inside the afore mentioned legal limit, and flown very well, mid to low 50's were achievable. 

These couple of F3F runs by Joel West and Mark Abbotts should give you an idea of the conditions!
Unfortunately I didn't get many runs on Video. I was too busy flying, launching, talking and enjoying the spectacle!

Round 4 saw the wind drop a little and swing around towards the west and square up a bit. There was still some variability but the improvement in times overall was significant with times in the 40's now achievable!
The Top 5 times were all sub 50 and saw Pete Gunning take the round with a 46.15, Joel West in 2nd with 47.50, Daniel Schneider all the way from Germany in 3rd with his Polish Repect and a time of 48.58, Mark Redsell in 4th with 49.11 and Mark Treble in 5th with his Toxic and 49.17.

The final round for day 1 was the 5th round and we started 10 minutes before the last round in progress time of 1730. It was going to be a push to get back to Bridgend in time for our curry, but I reckon it was worth it! The conditions were nicer again with the WSW breeze creating plenty of lift to play in. The majority of the times for this round were under a minute with Simon Thornton grabbing the fastest time by a stretch with a 43.87 and snatching the day 1 lead from Mark Redsell. Joe Cubitt took second in the round with a very nice 49.96 with his Vampire (what a fantastic looking plane! Glider porn!) and Rich Bago took 3rd in the round with a 50.50. Pete Gunning Ended the day in 3rd pace after posting a 50.65 to take 4th in the round. Greg Dakin and Mark Abbotts finished day 1 in 4th and 5th place respectively with some excellent flying all day.

I had managed to claw my way into 14th place at the end of round 5 and was hoping to continue the trend on day two ....... if the weather played nice. It was looking wet! Could the forecasters be wrong two days in a row?!?!? Don't be ridiculous!

Who would take the trophy??

After a late curry at the Natraj in Bridgend and a quick nap, we met at Rhossili on Sunday morning at a very respectable 10am to get day 2 underway. Yes the forecasters were wrong again!

Due to the shift in the wind we set up the course a bit closer to the carpark end of the beach and were underway with round 6 sharpish!
Not much time for cuppas, socialising or photos! but I managed a few (they could have been from Saturday, who knows?)

Rich Bago was the lucky man to be first up in each round on Sunday. The Wind was pretty much square on with a few gusts from the WSW to give some inconsistency and the strength of the breeze was much less than predicted (as it was also on Saturday) so we were in for a pretty technical day.

Simon Thornton and Mark Redsell started as they meant to go on with both times in the 38 second bracket and Simon taking fastest time of the competition with a 38.33 for the round win and Mark in 2nd with 38.64. Daniel Schneider switched to his Radical Jazz for day two and got under way with a 3rd place and 40.15 with Greg Dakin and Peter Gunning right on his tail. I had a great start to the day with the first of my three 7th place rounds and a 45.43. I had decided on day 2 to force myself away from the edge a little and to aim to fly a little higher. So I stood right out on the edge and only had to duck a couple of times! It seemed to work for that slope quite well.

Round 7 saw Joel West take the honours with a 39.87 and his first attempt in a comp at EM style turns. He was saying that he was resisting using EM as he doesn't want to develop any bad habits when he is doing his very impressive and effective reversals. However he relented as he realised that reversals just weren't working at Rhossili in those conditions. It was an impressive flight to say the least! Mark Redsell claimed second spot with a 40.05 and Greg took third with 40.50. Rich Bago and Graeme Mahoney took 4th and 5th. Graeme Mahoney, Tony Livingstone, Martin Drewett and Andy Burgoyne are my current targets to beat in any competition. They always fly impeccably and are a great target to aim at (on the results table, not on the ground or in the air!). My second 7th placed round and my fastest time of the comp with a 43.29 had me in the mix again and on point for beating the crew and I was just behind Tony and Graeme.

Daniel Schneider took the 8th round with a time of 42.99 with Mark and Simon right behind him with 44.04 and 44.52. Mark Abbots, Graeme Mahoney and Greg Dakin were all within a second and Graeme had pulled further away from me compared to my 12th place (50.51).

Round 9 was won by Simon Thornton as the only pilot to go sub-40 with a 39.19, Greg (43.01) and Joel (43.51) were 2nd and 3rd with Mark R, Rich and Pete taking the next three places. I'm wanting to finish typing now and my memory is fading! I'd really like to mention everyone that took part as I'm sure everyone has something memorable to take from the comp. Sorry that I can't!

The Final round saw Rich Bago (43.64) take the round win with Simon Thornton (43.82) second, had he done enough to take the title? Pete Gunning (44.28) was third and Joel West (45.88) 4th with Mark Redsell (46.28) 5th, Greg Dakin (46.45) 6th and myself (47.59) in 7th. Who won? Did I beat Tony and Co.?

As the last pilot landed, we got the course down and lugged the gear back up to the carpark (Gets the heartrate WAAAAAY up!!) and waited for the results and trophy presentations.

We had much squarer conditions on Sunday and I was surprised to see that there were quite a few mishaps both on the slope and while landing. Due to the crossed wind on Saturday our brakes had more to bight into so landing was definitely easier, not sure what caused the issues for some on the slope though, maybe it was that we could fly faster? Maybe it was issues in the planes?

An honourable mention has to go to Les Wood. He had a torrid comp! he flew 3 rounds on Saturday and managed to de-commission his 2 gliders so sat out the rest of the competition. He came back on Sunday and manned the base A buzzer for ages and did heaps of launching. Thankyou very much Les! Mark Treble had a disgustingly horrible Sunday. His Toxic tried to bury itself in the face of the slope and his Needle tried to do a rolling landing (the rarest of all aerobatic manoeuvres!!) and finished with a very accurate impersonation of a Lawn Dart! Not a great day.

Martin Drewett did a fantastic job as buzzer supremo all weekend. Really appreciated it!

Joel's left arm must have been aching on Monday as he tirelessly flung model after model towards Ireland! Thanks mate! Great chucks!

Andy Burgoyne and Martin Newnham were splendid in the centre as our CD's and I'm sure everyone would agree with me that the organisation and running of the event was outstanding and a massive thanks goes to Martin Newnham for his effort, organisation and enthusiasm!

Big thanks to Peter Gunning and Adam Richardson for the trophies too, they look fantastic and can't wait to try to get my name on it next year!

I can't remember if it was Saturday or Sunday, but Keith had us all staring in awe and amazement at his impression of a 'crow-through' for a re-flight. Some would say senior moment, but this senior had the last laugh as he took the trophy for the first placed 60+ pilot! Congrats Keith!

Greg Dakin quietly had an outstanding competition to take third place. Congrats Greg!

Mark Redsell did all he could to take the title of Champion of Champions but had to settle for a very well deserved second place. Congrats Mark!!

Simon Thornton and his Shinto showed us all how it was meant to be done and was our well deserved Champion of Champions! CONGRATULATIONS SIMON!!!

I had a fantastic weekend. and finished the competition in a very pleasing 9th position! One place back from Graeme and ahead of Tony, Andy and Martin D. Andy (CD) and Mart (Buzzer Supremo) had some official duties to help distract them but I'm still pleased with myself!!

I also have some exciting news! I will be steering a Willow2 around the courses across the UK and Europe (German Open at Rugen) for the season!! I will hopefully have it ready for round 1 of the BMFA Summer League on the 12th of April at the Hole of Horcum, but it's more likely that I will have it ready for the second round at the end of April at Whitesheet.
From what I have seen of the second iteration of the Willow, it looks like it has some great potential and I can't wait to put it through its paces!! Thanks Ian!! They are available through T9 Hobbysports.

If you'd like to see the complete results for the Champion of Champions event, check out the GBSRA website under the results tab or email me and I'll flick you a copy.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Looking forward to two days flying this weekend!!!

The culmination of the frozen-fingered, snotty-nosed fun we call the F3F Winter Leagues is happening this weekend in Wales.

The Champion of Champions.

I've actually managed to qualify on merit through race results and available pilots filling the 5 available places per league! Thought I was going to have to beg!

The conditions are looking pretty epic provided we can get to some slopes with visibility.

Really can't wait. I'm so excited that I spent all last weekend painting my gliders' wings and each evening this week with T-cut to make them smooth(er than they were!) and shiny! Hope it makes a difference to their slipperiness! I ran out of green and found that I couldn't spray the 2K clear so I've done what I could with what I had. Should look OK at 50m or so!

I also replaced the V-tail half on the F3B Skorp and changed the v-tail servos on the DSL Skorp so have two angry beasts waiting to be blown around by some near cyclonic winds! I've also ordered some Tungsten Ballast to bring my all-up weight to just short of the FAI max loading of 75dm2. Unfortunately that won't be here for a month or so. I have managed to borrow some lead ballast for this weekend thanks to Dave Woods who has generously let me scab some from him. Stainless Steel is just too light!

Excited to see the other 30 blokes and see some epic flights and times!

One of the best bits of a two day comp is always the meal on the Saturday night. Look out Natraj!!

I'll let you know how it went next week!!