Gator Distance Practice
The weather really sucked this weekend. Yesterday we were rained out all day and today we were “socked” in with a ceiling around 500 feet. Since it was apparently even worse at the IRKS field Jody and I and Tony and Blaine hooked up with Ed White, Rich Kiburis and Alan Parsons at the Buzzards field in Oviedo for some fun. Ed had just completed building his new Supra Lite and was maidening it while Al was riding shotgun to test the ceiling for Ed. Al’s first launch lost the plane in the low cloud for 10 secs or so before Al got it back 50 yards downwind. Seemed the roof was at about 400 to 500 feet.
Jody and decided to go ahead and set up the 150M course and I can tell you that a 220M X 200M space surrounded by 80 foot trees is not ideal for F3B distance.
We were able to set the 150M course at a diagonal along with the winch. Luckily Mikes mono had arrived by Fedex so we strung 400M of mono onto my Ford long shaft and got ready to launch the Europhia for the first time. First launch of my new bird broke a ring on the chute setup so after repairs a quick relaunch saw the Europhia in cloud at the top. Amazing how quickly a sailplane disappears in soup like this. I made a few trim adjustments and reduction in mixes that I had set and we used the opportunity to show Tony how to call the turns so we could send him to Base B for some real practice. The Europhia seems like a nice flying bird so we got Tony set up with a radio at Base B to signal the turns.
The temp was hovering around the mid 50’s and with the breeze and misty conditions it was quite bloody cold. Jody indicated that he probably wouldn’t fly so we decided to practice a few launches with the Europhia and fly the course. Unfortunately walkie talkies are not the best devices for signalling and sometimes the first button press wasn’t heard, but it worked effectively enough to get some laps going. Blaine Miller who last flew F3B in the early 80’s commented on the fact that as I passed 12 laps the first time with plenty of altitude left, that would have been the 1000 points back in the day. That reminded me also of the days that we used to struggle sometimes just to get 12. My first attempt yielded 16 laps in the 4 minutes but I felt I could have done much better with many turns overshooting and some of them poor speed control slowing the model too much in the turn.
With the 5 to 7mph breeze she would slow a lot into the wind and seemed to need a fair amount of pushing to keep moving so I added 12oz of ballast for the second attempt and managed to stretch it out to 17 laps in the 4 minutes. It seemed to fly better with the added weight and the turns were smoother too. Staying up for 4 minutes did not seem to be the challenge but controlling the speed and flying in the best part of the air means there is lots happening in ones head. That’s what makes this challenge so much fun. What a great feeling to fly back and forth on the course and confidently improve the results each time. It was very hard to remain in the best air and fly a straight course. I found myself flying horrid angles wasting time to chase better air to find it wasn’t better when I got there. The third launch yielded 18 laps and that was the best we managed today. We did two more launches before the biting wind and the lure of wings, beer and footy at Flanagans got the better of us. The final two yielded 14 laps and 12.
Though it wasn’t quite the F3B practice we had hoped for – mother nature really gave us crap – but we did get to fly a little and some of the guys who have never seen an F3B course got a little glimpse of what it is all about.
For me I have tasted the challenge once again and I can’t wait to get out there to do this again.