National Free Flight Society

SEN 1935

Table of Contents – SEN 1935

  1. It’s the flying sites that are important
  2. Tom’s Pics
  3. Tom’s Pic and F1ABC performance
  4. P-30 Site
  5. Performance measuring from another POV
  6. E-36/F1S AR Survey

It’s the flying sites that are important.

F1ABC Performance

From: Didier Chevenard

Hi Roger

Just a comment on point 1 which could be misunderstood by our American friends. FAI rules are worldwide and must comply with situations which could be different in other countries.
In Europe we have not the chance to benefit of large areas for flying, and 10 min. flights are in most places impossible to organize. The pressure of civil authorities is more and more severe. The definition of our sport, the very one that we use for discussing on drones or immersion is: the model must remain at sight.
The problem cannot be reduced to the timekeepers issue! Rules have been created with a 3min flight target and we are far from that now.
Flying fields is as much important as the technology issue or the cost issue for limiting the access to our sport, unlike what is said by many.
This has to be taken in consideration as a rational for adjusting the rules!

Take care.


Editorial reply


Flying fields are just a big a problem in the USA as any where else. While some sites such as Lost Hills, Denver, El Dorado Dry Lake and probably some in Texas are quite large others like Muncie, Sacramemnto, Wawayanda and Pensacola are quite small.

There are all kinds of free flight competition, including some that can be flown on quite small sites. To the sportsman in the World Champs classes, American or not some of the proposed changes appear to be very arbitary and not well thought out. The people suggesting the changes are not appearing to consult those flying.

The days are past where the the national or international federations can seemingly arbitarily impose rule changes. It might work better if there was better communication with the sportsmen.

Feedback – Tom’s Pictures

WOW, I really appreciated Tom’s pictures. I even saw one of me launching
my “Snicker”!

Jim Trego

Feedback – F1ABC Performance and Tom’s Pictures

From: Steve Helmick

Still find the proposals to reduce performance interesting. I am still convinced that simply limiting wingspans on the ABC events would do wonders…reduce performance, while also encouraging models built of low tech materials…at home. I wouldn’t go back to mechanical timers, but certainly limited auto-functions is a fine idea, as are no-flaps, no folding wings…I would not go so far as to ban folding props for F1C…they reduce damage significantly, but may also not be efficient at small diameters.

Was very pleased to visit the website with Tom Hutchinson’s photos. I recognized a lot of peeps…Guntis Sietins, Jim Thornberry, Charlie and Keith Martin, Bruce Kimball, Ken Phair, Bob Stalick, Marylou(?) Hutchinson, Bruce Hannah, and others.
I didn’t see any pictures of me! Was that message from Walt Ghio? The ID on “posts” is a continuing frustration for me.

In case anybody missed the link:

Thermally, Steve (O’Bat) Helmick

Editors comment – the photo site is dome by Joe Mekina. the post was by Walt Ghio. It is our policy to include where practical and when we remember the full name of the author of posts. Sometimes we forget on editorial pieces and sometimes when people do not sign the article like you did we forget to derives the signature from the person e-mail address.

We do agree with you that identifing the author does give addtional credibility to the article, especially when you can relate it to present or past competition results.

Feedback – P-30 site

From: Derek McGuckin

Hi Roger,
Thanks for the plug for the P30 Page! A work in progress indeed. If anybody would like to contribute pictures, plans or information on their own P30’s please contact me using the contact form on the P30 Page homepage.

Performance measuring from another POV

From: Martin Gregorie


Here’s a bit more input to the F1ABC discussion, this time from soaring
wing of sport aviation.

In addition to Roger’s comments about motor racing, there are parallels
in the world of competitive glider flying too.

Gliding competitions are multi-day events, with all pilots in the same
class of glider flying the same task each flyable day. The task is set
to suit the weather for the day, so bigger tasks are set on better days.
There are different types of task, but the simplest is the Racing task,
a straight-forward race around three or four turnpoints from a starting
line to a finish line. Unlike yachting, there is no starting gun. Once
the gate is open pilots can start at will. The winner is the pilot who
completes the course in the shortest elapsed time or, if the task turned
out to be over-set for the day, pilots are scored on how far round the
task they got before landing out or, if they had an auxiliary engine on
board, how far they’d got when it was started.

Up until GPS technology became available, times were measured on
stopwatches by observers at the start and finish lines. Pilots
photographed turnpoints as they rounded them with a film camera that was
sealed to the glider. The uncut film was developed and examined after
the pilot and glider got back to base to prove they had actually gone
round all the turnpoints. Landout points were measured as well as
possible from maps. As you might guess, scoring was time consuming and
labour-intensive. As far as I know there have always been penalties for
infringing controlled airspace and, as you might imagine, applying these
penalties would have been almost impossible unless the organisers got
called by controllers in the infringed airspace and they’d got the
glider registration.

About the same time that GPS started to be used as a FF retrieval aid,
the first dedicated flight recorders appeared on gliders. These soon
became mandatory for competition use. They record a 3-D flight log
during the task by registering a fix in position and time at 1 to 4
second intervals. Currently scoring is only done from the flight log.
Special purpose programs are used that can examine a competitor’s flight
log and read off elapsed times for finishers, verify that turnpoints
were rounded correctly, pinpoint landout positions and calculate
airspace infringement penalties. Gliders with auxiliary engines use
flight recorders with a microphone or vibration sensor (known as an
Engine Noise Listener, ENL) that mark the log to show if, when and where
an engine start ocurred.

Flight recorders are also used for non-competition achievement badges
such as height gains, distances covered and time spent in the air. For
this type of flight the flight is considered to start on release from
aero tow or from the winch. This is marked by ‘cutting a notch’ in the
log, i.e. to mark the fact that you’ve released you rapidly loose 100 ft
or so to put an obvious kink on the log. The end of the flight is also
obvious: when the glider has landed and stops moving.

But, enough about glider racing: hopefully that shows that quite a
simple, and much lighter and smaller, flight recorder could be used for
scoring FF competitions. The end of all flights can be quite easily read
off a GPS log: when motion stops the model has landed. Similarly, the
start of any flight except F1AH is fairly obvious: it is when the model
starts to accelerate upwards. I think the equivalent of an ENL could be
used by F1ACHJPQ to mark motor shut-down on the flight log, with the
usual processing, jury or a referee doing random spot checks to keep the
engine stop mechanism honest. The mark could be triggered by a
microswitch on a towhook or mechanical timer or by a signal from an
electronic timer for any class that carries one, both to indicate the
start of the timed flight for gliders or the end of the engine run for
power and electric classes.

There are only two outstanding issues that must be solved before flight
recorders can be used in FF competitions:

– sub-second timing for F1CJQ engine runs needs a non-GPS timer. This is
because a GPS is at least as accurate a timer as a stopwatch but it
only works in whole seconds. The other is organisational.

– how can we score a flight if the model is a flyaway, is lost or stolen
or gets damaged so badly, e.g. by D/Ting on a power line, that the
flight recorder is destroyed before it can be read by the


Some thought needs to be given to limiting performance in F1ABC for a
reason that nobody seems to be considering, or at least discussing: the
distance that models are now routinely covering in flyoffs and windy
contests are steadily increasing while the available flying fields are
shrinking in both size and availability. This is something that needs
attention sooner rather than later or one day we’ll wake up and find
there are no usable fields for running competitions on, and by then it
will be too late to fix the problem.

Just sayin’…..
Martin Gregorie

E-36/F1S Auto Rudder Survey

Following up on the endless discussion on FB around the proposal to fiddle with the E-36 airframe rules when creating F1S by permitting the addition of an auto rudder. Don Deloach has initiated a survey that was mentioned on FB except that a number of the links seem to have been removed so here it is.

In Don’s words.

Please visit the following link to participate in a survey about a proposed small electric FAI event. It takes less than a minute of your time.

The response deadline is December 15.

–Don DeLoach, NFFS Editor

P.S. please spread the word about this survey to your friends.

Text of the poll:

A proposal has been submitted to the CIAM-FAI for a small electric FF event very similar to USA E-36. The basic model specifications (36″ max span, 120g minimum weight, 2 cells Lipo maximum) would be retained, but the proposal seeks to allow an auto-rudder (AR) as the only in-flight movement besides DT. Variable geometry on wings and stabs would still be prohibited. This would mean that all USA E-36s with fixed rudders would be legal for F1S, but not necessarily the other way around.

[] I am a current or prospective electric flyer flyer who supports an F1S event that permits auto-rudder (AR).

[] I am a current or prospective electric flyer who supports an F1S event that prohibits auto-rudder (AR).

Don’s plan is to provide the feed back to Chuck Etherington, the USA person on the CIAM FFTSC and the Free Flight advisor to the AMA president for voting at the CIAM meetings

Roger Morrell