Thursday, 13 August 2015

Skipsoaring, the business

After much soul searching I have decided that I am no longer going to attempt to make a business from my hobby. I don't want to take the enjoyment away. I still want to create some planes, I just won't be commercialising them. Fortunately, I hadn't even started or invested any real money into it!! Back to just blogging about my gliding adventures then!! The Willow2 had it's first competitive outing at the North of England Open and performed really well! I took a gamble in the last round aiming for a top10 spot and dropped from 14th to 19th. A lot yet to learn about ballasting!!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Willow 2 is ready to rock!!

It took me far too long.......... I am the master of procrastination!

Yesterday I finally completed the build of my Willow 2 and took her for her test flight at Mickeys on the Bwlch. 

I bumped into Paul (keeps the Sussex Slope Soarers blog) flying his Omega. It was nice to have some company and encouragement. He also took some video which I will add here when he uploads it.

The Willow flew really nicely straight out of my hand, only requiring a little bit of up trim on the elevator. I played with the snapflap which it seemed to like (in those conditions) and was purring along nicely. I flew it empty as the conditions were a 'bit' marginal and am looking forward to seeing how she goes with a bit more weight in her belly. I've got 1.67kgs of tungsten just waiting to crawl in!

I've set the CG at 110mm from the leading edge which seemed nice and twitchy with elevator throw of +-5mm. The Flaps for landing are just short of 90deg and she stops really, really well! It was slow enough on a crow-through for me to pluck it from the air if I was brave enough! (I wasn't).

Hopefully get some more testing and fettling flight in before I drive to Scotland for the next BMFA F3F event in June!

If you want one, the Willow 2 is available from Rich and Dave at T9 Hobbysports! Really impressed with this model!

As promised, here are two flights. Both are uncut! The first one was the maiden and the second one was after re-setting the elevator neutral.

2015 BMFA F3F Nationals, Bwlch. 16-17 May 2015

The weather looked really quite good for day one of the 2015 edition of the BMFA F3F Nats, the mountain weather forecast for the Brecon Beacons was estimating winds of 25 -35mph from the NW which is awesome for the Icecream Slope at the Bwlch. Unfortunately the Bwlch is quite a way from the Brecons and the wind speed and direction were more like the forecast for Bridgend which was 10-15mph form the WNW which is a bit pants for the Bwlch. A challenging first day was in order in beautiful sunshine and no need for coats, scarves and Bobble-Hats!

It was fantastic to be able to take part in a competition on my home slopes whilst not filling an official role. As league co-ordinator (event organiser), Martin got us underway with a welcome and handed us over to our overall CD John Philips. John was assisted by Jon Edison and Pete Burgess. Stuart Wallace volunteered for the un-envied task of Buzzer Supremo and we also had a jury in place consisting of Mark Redsell, Peter Gunning and John Treble. The organisation and running of the entire event was brilliant.

I’d really like to organise a competition overlooking Blaengarw. It would be fantastic when the wind is W to WNW, but that is a discussion for another time….. Day one was to begin on the Icecream Slope.

The first five rounds were flown in varying conditions with thermals effecting the wind direction, strength and buoyancy. Some pilots coped better than others. I flew like a trollop.

Tony Livingston, Stuart Wallace, Martin Newnham, Mike Shellim and Joel West took the first five rounds, making the most of the air they received. Mike’s 37.68 with his Sting was a highlight for me from our time at the Icecream slope.

The conditions had become a bit too variable and the decision was made to move to the Westerly Mickeys slope at around 3.30pm. The move was extremely slick and enabled us to get two more rounds in before a suitably exhausted and well-spent group of pilots made their way off the slope.

Rounds 6 and 7 were won by Martin Newnham and Mark Redsell. I flew a little bit better but must have been standing with a limp because I couldn’t hit the right hand base with any confidence and nearly cut on every flight.

Most of the lads went out for a meal on the Saturday night to sample the unique delights Bridgend has to offer. I was half way through a cleanse/detox so stayed at home and missed the eye-opening fun and frivolity!

Day 2 saw us set up the course on Mickeys Westerly slope and get underway sharpish with Paul Stubley leading the way and Mark Redsell taking the round.
I had received some tungsten on Saturday and really wanted to play with my new ‘toys’ so consequently flew too heavy for the conditions all day and my times suffered. I was ‘all in’ and flying at the legal FAI weight limit of 75g/dm2! This I only realised when I got home and weighed everything! I was gambling on having at least one flight in buoyant air.

That gamble was about to pay off in the final round of the day. My pumps were gaining some significant height and energy and as I zoomed of course with my eyes wide in anticipation the shattering words “you have to re-fly” filled my ears and brought me back to earth with a thud………. I felt a bit deflated after that and found out the the SWSA timing gear had let me down. My reflight was in less inspiring air and that completed the 15th round.

The other thing that let me down all weekend was a combination of failing to decisively hit base B and in the wise words of JP, “Fannying around on the bases”. I don’t think there was a flight where I didn’t run straight out along the sight line and have to make a correction to cross it and I had a massive, proper CUT too!
I had the pleasure of flying directly after Mark Redsell and Simon Thornton. Although they have different styles of flying, they both do two things extremely well. They make sure they aren’t going to cut and they manage the energy they accumulate very well. I’ve been learning a lot from them both and will hopefully be able to put it into practice soon!

The conditions were quite variable on Sunday which lead to some very exciting flights! Keith Wood managed to score the fastest time of competition with a fantastic 33.48 and then followed it up two rounds later with another round win and 33.64! John Phillips was a bit dejected with his 33.73 in the same round after that! 
John had a fantastic second day of the Nats and rocketed through the field from his overnight position of 11th to finish the comp in a very well deserved 4th!
 Martin Newnham with his Freestyler made the most of every bit of air (good or bad) and took the first podium step from the very consistent Simon Thornton who steered his Shinto expertly around the course all weekend. Simon almost took the top spot from our overall winner and I think he might have taken the title if we had flown one less round and only had one discard!
That wasn’t to be and our National champion of 2015 is Mark Redsell! Massive congrats! A brilliant display with his Freestyler all weekend.

 Keith Wood took the previously mentioned fastest time of the comp and also took the Senior National championship in a high quality battle with Mike Shellim and John Treble who both won a round each.


Joel West F3F Nats 2015 from Clayton Landells on Vimeo.

Graeme Mahoney. F3F Nats 2015 from Clayton Landells on Vimeo.

After having named my markers as Tony, Graeme and Martin, I was suitable obliterated by all of them and am really looking forward to seeing how I go in Scotland in June for the next leg of the F3F circus with my newly completed and maidened Willow2.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Exciting news!

I won't flood my blog with info about my business Skipsoaring, I promise!

I just want to let you know that is now selling the Rotmilan, Rotmilan Midi and Wizard Compact in the UK. The Website has been updated so check it out if you like. Skipsoaring also has a facebook page where I will keep you up to date with updates. Like it if you like!

This Weekend is the BMFA F3F National Championships and will be held at the Bwlch. Two days of furious competition coming up!! I'm going to make a concerted effort to get some pics and vids this weekend. Can't wait!!

I've got the rest of today and all day tomorrow to get the Willow 2 completed to hopefully maiden at the NATS. Wish me luck!

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!