National Free Flight Society

SEN 1957

Table of Contents – SEN 1957

  1. From Bernard – who Launched the FB discussion
  2. Cost
  3. Haggis F1B Motors
  4. Truth of ?
  5. Alan Jack’s POC
  7. Nick’s Tech Sport Article – Joyner
  8. Electronic Timing Conversation from FB
  9. Changes to FAI Rules – Edmonson
  10. John Cuthbert’s Perspective

Dave Edmonson’s piece is of interest because he illustrates the people have lots of different reasons for non longer particpating in the (USA) FAI program, that really has nothing to do with any of the rules under “discussion”. But more to do with the particular situation in a given country – USA in this case. Maybe this would be covered by Nick Bosdet’s Marketing ? Refer to Louis Joyner’s summary of Nick’s previous work.

From Bernard Guest – who launched the FB Discussion
There has been much discussion in recent days regarding drastic measures suggested by various groups to limit the level of technology, performance and cost of modern FAI free flight aircraft. Some of the proposals (e.g. UK proposal) argue for rule changes that will set FAI free flight back 30 to 40 years, or at the very least, drastically change the nature of the competition and the aircraft flown in the competition. The thinking behind these proposals is that FAI free flight has gotten too difficult and sophisticated for the average modeller and by removing sophistication and cost we will see an influx of newcomers to the sport. Additional justifications include the general lack of large flying fields, and excessive performance in the current FAI airplanes. The UK contingent also argues that their phased 5 year plan is a “long-term” solution.

I am writing as one of a small group of FAI free flight competitors in Canada. My particular class is F1B. What follows are my opinions on the future of free flight and the current issues with the FAI free flight rules, as well as some simple solutions to perceived problems. These opinions are based on my limited experience with FAI free flight (I shifted to FAI free flight from SAM, scale, and AMA free flight in 2010 and have been flying free flight all my life). I am a younger competitor at 42 years of age.

Future of Free Flight: The future of free flight lies with the youth of today and not with folks who are already in their sixties and seventies. It seems obvious to me that engaging youngsters or younger flyers in FAI free flight requires that the sport remain at least as exciting and spectacular as it presently is and that leading edge technologies should be continuously embraced and incorporated. Also, the free flight community needs to engage the general public, and should make a concerted effort to expose the public and youth to free flight events. We need to increase our exposure, and, when we do expose free flight to new comers, it should be a spectacle that makes people say “wow, cool, I wanna do that!!”. Anything that diminishes the “wow, cool” factor should be avoided completely because this will drive younger flyers like myself away from FAI events and limit the appeal of these events to the new tech savvy generations that have not yet been exposed to free flight. In my opinion there is very little “wow, cool factor” in a two handed launch of a small single function fixed pitch rubber powered model airplane. It sounds like something an old man or a little kid might like to play with.

Issues with modern FAI events:

1. Field size – there is an argument that it is difficult to find fields that can support modern FAI models. I think this is inaccurate. A more accurate statement is that it is difficult to find fields large enough for free flight in general regardless of the class. As such, limiting the aircraft is not a solution. A heavier smaller FAI model in a thermal will still outfly the boundaries of a small field. This problem cannot be fixed with model parameters. This problem can be fixed with timing and tracking technology and with a better effort at securing larger flying fields, and more importantly securing good relations with land owners downwind of smaller flying fields so that routine model retrieval is not a problem.

2. Performance – performance of modern FAI aircraft is an issue when: a. the aircraft all perform so well that it is difficult to find a winner at a contest because everyone with a high performance airplane can make it into the final flyoff rounds. Or b. the aircraft get so high that it takes a 10 minute flyoff and a 9.5 minute flight to win. An airplane that is in the air for nine minutes goes far and is difficult to see and time. Only F1C has this problem. The models get very high, can all do well over 9 minutes and the best models can do over 10 minutes and go out of sight. The simple solution is to limit motor runs to 4 seconds. F1B does NOT have a performance issue. The best models barely get to 130 meters with most getting to 100 m and the max fly off times are in the 7 minute range which is not a problem at the present time. F1A has somewhat of a performance issue but winners are still consistently identified in the 9 minute round and many flyers are eliminated in the 7 minute round so this class is sustainable for a few years yet. The timer problem can be solved with technology that tracks the model’s forward velocity and records the flight time. The FAI should come up with a standard flight timer that all competitors have to attach to their models. This could eliminate the need for large numbers of timers at contests, thereby making contest logistic far easier. If each model has an onboard timer, then flying out of sight is no longer an issue. The competitor simply returns with his or her model and shows the timer result to an official to register a score.

3. Safety: Only F1C has a safety issue. F1Cs should have fail-safes put in place to ensure that aircraft do not impact at high speed in the vicinity of the crowded flight line.
Issues with cost:
You will hear from some corners that modern FAI aircraft are too expensive and that this is driving competitors away or discouraging new comers. First I would like to see the actual evidence. Are there data showing the competitors who have left due to cost? Are there data supporting the argument that new comers are discouraged? Seems more likely to me that the sport is simply invisible to the population at large and potential new comers are just not aware that free flight is a thing.
Also, the argument that the equipment costs are too high is really a red herring. The prospective FAI competitor has to accept that he or she needs an annual competition budget in the $10-15k range. 90% of this is to cover travel to contests, accommodations, transport and food. Factor that over ten years and a realistic FAI competition budget comes to between $100000 and $150000. A set of four top class airplanes and support equipment can be purchased for between $4000 and $15000 depending on the class. These aircraft can be competitive for at least 10 years based on previous results and experience. Based on this we can se that the models make up a mere 5% to 15% of an FAI budget. Even the cheapest traveler would need to set aside $5k per year for travel in which case the models are 10% to at most 30% of the total budget, and then the argument could be made that such a sportsperson is not truly competitive anyway because they are not traveling to enough competitions and so do not need the the most expensive aircraft and could make em last 15 years.

So in summary:
Declining interest in free flight will not be solved by making the FAI classes less sophisticated. I would guess that the reverse is more likely true; we should embrace technology and spectacular performance (wow factor) so that we can attract the tech savy younger generations. More importantly we should make a concerted effort to promote free flight to our communities and work to help new comers gain a toe hold in the sport by donating older airplanes and time.

The performance of the three classes is acceptable at the present time. The performance of aging hard to organize human timers is not. We need to use technology to redefine the way we time and score free flight competitions. The technology exists now to make a huge leap forward in this area. I could imagine having the airplanes transmit the flight time back to a base station so that scores are registered and tabulated on the internet in real time and automatically. This would completely eliminate the need for timers and make the issue of flying out of sight more or less irrelevant. In this case the remaining challenge will be for the flyer to make the retrieval, but this will be simplified by the fact that the flyer can move with the airplane during its flight and so will be able to see where it lands in most cases.

As noted above the cost issue is a red herring. Anyone contemplating FAI competition has to accept that they are going to incur tens of thousands in travel expenses over the course of a decade long contest campaign and that the cost of the equipment is a small fraction of the total budget.

I hope I have not bruised too many egos with my humble opinions and arguments and that FAI free flight is allowed to move forward unmolested into the future. For those that stubbornly insist that technology should be removed from free flight, know that if you get your way you might be alone on your flying field because the younger folks like me who like technology are going to shift to other sports (RC gliders for example). There is plenty to choose from, and FAI has to be exciting, awesome, and challenging to keep my attention and my dollars.

Happy 2015 to all, hope to see you all next month.
Bernard Guest

Cost of Models

(Re: SEN 1956)
From: Frédéric ABERLENC

Price of models
Some people explain that today’s model are too expensive. Could they explain me why, if changing rules, F1A or F1B model will be less expensive.
The time to build an LDA wing or a classical wing is the same.
Same for the Fuselage, stabs, rudder.
Electronic timer is a small amount of the price.
The only way to reduce the price of models is to stop Carbon, electronic, beacon and to stay at home… Very exiting!!!


There are rumours now circulating that clandestine imports of haggis secreted in F1B motor tubes are being used to circumvent the ban on Scottish Haggis in the USA in readiness for Burns Night Celebrations January 26

Certain top FIB fliers have found that the elastic properties of sheep’s stomach are superior to the usual rubber based materials. Some difficulties have been experienced in the spiralled cutting of the haggis for F1B motors, but a few glasses of Scottish Malt Whiskey seem to relax the operator sufficiently to achieve consistent 1/16 inch wide sections.

From: chris.edge

Dame SCAT,
I can confirm that Haggis was invented not as a food stuff but as a method of optimising the sheep’s stomach material for best flight performance. Needless to say the Scots independence vote was an attempt to keep this information within the country but Dave (our Prime Minister) and his mates managed to sway the vote with a few trinkets and beads .

Nick has let the entrails out the bag, so to speak; we now have runs on Haggis prior to the Fab Feb contests as flyers attempt to secrete the material in strange places to keep the USDA dogs off the scent.


Alan Jack’s POV
Dear Roger/SEN;

I have flown many World Cup contests all over the world and in many World and European Championships. Some of them have been on huge sites which often have very benign weather but I think virtually none of them are capable of flying 10min maxes and staying on the site in common weather. Lets take last years Kiwi World Cup F1C contest at Lost Hills as an example. It was hardly what one would call windy for the 10min flyoff in early morning that decided the contest. I did 6 mins odd to place nowhere. My model flew off the site, over the gypsum workings, over Holloway Road, over more gypsum waste hills and over the oil production site to land in a nut farm. The winner did the 10, of course he went much further. Now imagine that flyoff with the wind translated through 90deg. In that case the models would have been landing through or around the 46. That’s a busy road 24/7. What damage would a 750g F1C do gliding at 25mph into an oncoming car windscreen to make a combined speed of maybe 85mph? When the incident was investigated could the organisers say that it was “an unexpected result”? If the authorities asked how did the organisers plan to avoid this possibility what could they answer?

Surely around the world its getting harder and harder to find even half suitable sites and attitudes to “trespass” outside the site is getting more and more negative. To me its obvious; we must act to restrict performance. Its crazy to think that its OK to throw models miles into the hinterland. At the World Champs in France the World Cup contest on the World Champs/Moncontour field was windy and the crops had yet to be cut. An amazing effort by the local farmers to cut the crops near the launch site coupled with the beautiful weather for the Champs saved the day but we were so close to a major disaster. Even a 5 min flyoff in the weather that existed only a few days before at the World Cup would have seen models fly off the site, over the village and into uncut crops beyond; 40 models at once would have created quite a scene nes ce pas?

I agree with Gene Ulm writing in the last but one issue of SEN who noted that we have always acted to restrict performance in the FAI classes – we are not still flying F1C with tuned pipes and 10 sec engine runs. Surely it’s a fallacy however to think that imposing restrictions stifles innovation, probably the reverse is true. As developments bring back performance new rules will be necessary to counter in the same cycle we have always followed.

It also seems obvious to me that escalating complexity does no one any good. Take gears in F1C engines as an example, we can all have them if we choose, they nearly double the cost of the engine, how do we loose if they are outlawed? The ungeared engine still exists underneath, just take the gearbox off, that’s $400+ less to throw into the fields. The same goes for instance with pitch changing; dpr prop units in F1B.

Finally is it possible to discuss suggestions simply on the pros and cons of the suggestions? It only takes a couple of key strokes to find who the BMFA Tech Comm members are and if that is done it will be found that all of them are active flyers and more than half are very well known FAI flyers. I am not one of them but I applaud the directions they are suggesting.

alan jack


In Alan’s piece he talks about geared engines. While most current F1X participant agree that innovation is a key part of the events. Most would also agree that there some “track” that could have been / should have been shutdown soon. One example could/should be/been geared engines. The key question is how do we determine what tracks are”bad” soon enough and shut them down before people spend too much time and money working on them ?

Nick’s Tech Sport Article

Rick Bosdet’s article “Promoting a Technical Sport” was published in the 2006 British Free Flight Forum. Although written about Finn-class sailing, the article should be required reading for anyone interested in the preservation and growth of free flight.

In his article Bosdet summarizes with five ways to promote free flight:
* Promoting its friendly nature
* Making advice available at events
* Organizing training events
* Bringing in the outside world
* Directing new enthusiasts to products that are forgiving and fly

Bosdet also pointed out that with the sailboat racing example, the promoting group shifted emphasis from competition to weekend training events (classroom and sailing) to introduce people to the hobby.

Another discover was that sailing experience was more important then the latest gear in competition. “…skill levels were the key to winning, not who had the fattest wallet.”

Louis Joyner

Electronic Timing Conversation from FB


Ross Jahnke Timing is 70% of the problem, flying sites are 30%, models are 0%. GPS or altimeter tracking can supply, or back up flight times, and make the chase easier, solving the timing problem and improving the flying site problem to a small degree.

Tapio Linkosalo Electronic devices do not readily solve the timing problem, or at least some critical and non-trivial rules need to be laid to facilitate electronic timing. The major issues I find are: 1) how to objectively and conclusively decide the moment of flight…See More

Allard van Wallene -in the (rare) case the altimeter readout is inconclusive, the time of the time keeper counts. So when is the graph inconclusive: if the altimeter didn’t work, if the moment of launch could not be detected (e.g. float off line, does anyone know a a Wor…See More

Allard van Wallene Here is a rough framework: -single type / brand of altimeter to be used e.g. Hobbyking works well and is low priced, has bluetooth interface for easy read out)
-altimeters must be purchased by competitor, which will be the owner (no financial impact on organiser)
-altimeters must be marked with a name/numbers
-altimeters must be handed-in at registration. Contest organiser is now responsible for loss/theft
-organiser can check the altimeters and clear their memory (no pre-stored maxes possible, no tampering)
-shortly before the first fly-off, the sportsman will receive their altimeter(s) from the organiser to be placed in the model(s)
-all participants with altimeters mounted in (reserve) models, should position their model/reserve model at a designated spot. The participant will have to lift the model from the ground and hold it over their head a number of times (a random number of times to be decided by contest organisers). This will create a ‘signature’ in the altimeter graph and reset the zero altitude: equal for all flyers.
-fly off is flown
1-if time as recorded by timekeeper agreed by competitor, situation will be as per current fly off system
2-in case of dispute, the competitor automatically can proceed to the next fly off round (he might not be back in time for the altimeter reading to be processed or can use his reserve model)

-1 and 2 can be repeated if necessary
-all disputes are to be marked on the score card
-altimeter is handed-in to contest organiser if a mark on the score card is present
-organiser will check the signature in the graph, reset the zero altitude and measure the flight time (in the future possibly also the altitude)
-the flight time will be recorded for the final result
-the altitude graphs will be stored and can be published later with the results
-the result list will have an “*” behind the scores to indicate where the altimeter has been used
-in case of protest, the altitude graphs must be made available for those who want to check
-all altimeters will be returned to their respective owners.
-in case of a malfunction of the altimeter, the time as recorded by the timekeeper is to be used

Tapio Linkosalo But, you also need to define precise, objective criteria how to determine when the altimeter readout is inconclusive… I do not claim that it cannot be done, but I claim that it is not straightforward! (and I dare you write a proposal, how to define i…See More

Bernard Guest Ok so we use a system that compares three readings: Pitot tube, altitude and GPS. Perhaps the system sends data back to the flight line in real time and the timer monitors the data stream?

Tapio Linkosalo A few years ago in a similar discussion as this but nationally, such real-time system was also suggested. However the proponents could not show the details of the system, would it be based in WiFi (in which case, who provides the WiFi network covering …See More

Allard van Wallene Such multi-sensor systems already exist. But we have to start simple and not overly complicate things. A simple and cheap altimeter is all that is needed for now. If in the future price and miniaturisation develop in a direction where also other types …See More

Teppo Sarpila Timekeeping is no problem, if change our minds and some rules. GPS-and Altimeter-based timekeeping is more precice than eye-based. We should immediatly use electronical-devices side by side eye-timekeeping to help the poor timekeeper!

Chris Edge ” if the moment of launch could not be detected (e.g. float off line, does anyone know a a World Cup or championship fly off flight where this actually happened?) ” Yes, I do. You need to link the model release with the start of timing and I th…See More

Teppo Sarpila Lets keep F1ABC-models as they are! We should use one tool and reduce the energy what models can get. For me 25g rubber is no problem. There are much advantages ( I can get my models to 230 g weight!!).

Teppo Sarpila We should concentrate to classes F1H,F1G and F1P. Lets make and keep them as Low-Tech-models! The spans are about the same like in British proposal in 2020 for F1ABC?

Allard van Wallene Chris, which fly off and flyer are you referring to? Was the flight good enough to go out of sight of the time keeper? And you haven’t read my proposal properly. All altimeters are switched on and the models placed in a designated area to create the ze…See More

Chris Edge Does it matter when, where, who it was who floated a model off the line to win a WC event ? The fact that it happened at least once is something any ‘system’ needs to take care off. The current ‘system’ (humans) can do this as they see the penant drop …See More

Allard van Wallene So you can’t substantiate your claim. OK, sorted. Then you mention you can float a model off the line without any change in altitude? I’m mildly surprised your model appears to have the on board system not to bunt at your feet. And even if it would, th…See More

Tapio Linkosalo My gliders can be floated off the line. I have done that on a few occasions (not in World Champs though), when I have tripped over during the acceleration, just hang on to the line until the timeout for excessive acceleration is met, and then the timer…See More

Allard van Wallene We should ask ourselves another question. How many times do we see in the current system times clocked short of the real flight time? And how many times will we witness a float-off line launch combined with a dispute in the future if altimeters are use…See More

Chris Edge But we can make it closer to 100% perfect ! I suspect there is no problem getting a system to monitor the hook and determine when the line has fallen away. What’s the problem, anyone ? The thermal that takes the model out of sight of the timekeepers d…See More

Allard van Wallene Chris, no just you mentioning the event and competitor’s name will do. Of course it has to be a flight after the bunt launch was introduced, not Rudi Lindner with his Spinne

Chris Edge Poitou 1989. CHE

Allard van Wallene I meant after introduction of bunt launches. Tchop flew it at the 89 World Champs in Argentina but not in competition yet. First bunters were used in 1990 (Stamov, Rumpp) So please give us an example in the last 10 years. Again, I rest my case….

Roger Morrell Allard maybe the CIAM FFTSC could suggest a voluntary program to be run at at World Cup contests to collect information to see how it worked or what issues etc ? Both Frédéric Aberlenc and I as makers of embedded electronic used in Free Flight have offered to help/work with people on this kind of effort and I’m sure that other would too.

Allard van Wallene That is the whole idea Roger!

??Changes to the FAI free flight events??

Opinions by Dave Edmonson, January 16, 2015

Why change the events that have reached perfection for intense model aviation free flight competition? There is no valid reason to change the events to make them more popular. The only reason that they don’t fit the flying fields anymore is that there is this need to determine a winner! So eventually fly off rounds are needed to determine the last flyer to grab a piece of good air, and head off over the countryside in pursuit of a 10 minute flight. An alternative would be to say, you are the co-winners, good job, shake hands, smile, and tell yourself that you had a good time at the event!

So I have pushed for the FAI team trials to be moved around the country, and the excuse always comes back that Lost Hills, California is the only site that is good enough (or flying on the hard desert in Boulder City, Nevada like the last finals). That says the extreme competitors are not satisfied unless they have a 10 minute field in the wind!

The last time that I competed in the FAI program was in 2008. I flew competitively from 2004 to 2008, made many trips to Lost Hills by air, risking my models every time. I made several traveling boxes for shipment of models. Had the models lost by the airlines once, requiring a trip back to the LA airport to retrieve them after they were located. In 2008, I traveled 2000 miles by car with tent trailer to spend two weeks in the desert, only to come in 6th place because of one flight out of fourteen that only did 3:20 caused by a mid-air change in the wind direction, causing a slightly bad launch on my F1A. Was an alternate in 2006 coming in 4th.

I don’t know why the FAI team selection was so poorly attended in Boulder. But I suspect that it did not seem glamorous to make a trip to the World Champs to the steppes of Mongolia, who may have the last field in the world suitable for a WC? Or maybe the guys were objecting to fly on the concrete basin in Boulder?

Reasons for dumbing down the events to make them more popular:

1. We just don’t have enough events or models to fly anymore!

2. The guys in Russia and the Ukraine need a design challenge and good reasons to retool (throw away existing expensive tooling) and make new toys for model airplane users. Note: We used to be called modelers, but now are just bodies who compete with purchased toys.

3. With simpler events, all of the kids will be showing up with throngs of spectators to watch, magically causing everything to be wonderful again!

4. The modelers are getting so old, that they can’t successfully handle the complex new models, and anyone new trying it needs a long period of training.

We already have classes of models that will work to provide satisfaction for every modeler. For example FAI major events such as F1A we have NFFS Classic Towline. For F1B we have either P-30 or F1G (F1G is a really great size and beautiful to fly at any field). F1C we have Nostalgia FAI power or AMA power. The alternate events require only 3 or 5 flights and are actually fun to fly. Then there are the FAI mini events, F1H, F1G, and F1J. Poor F1J has been killed by the 5 second engine run, and only gets 3 entrants at the AMA NATS. F1G is probably the most popular FAI event in the country. F1H gets a fair entry, but is more difficult to fly. F1P is a real joke created by the FAI rules geniouses, it gets one entrant at major events!

After 2008, I decided that the FAI program was no longer for me. I wanted to have fun at this countries only major contest, the AMA NATS. If I flew FAI events, it ruined my whole day. So it means that being able to fly events at will, not in rounds, is much more enjoyable. I also can build my own models and be competitive.

The FAI program here in the Midwest has disappeared. I think that I was the last of the serious competitors in our area to give it a try.

I must say that the cost of purchasing FAI models is very reasonable for what you get . I distributed models for 6 years under the GlideTEK website. I know all of the risks that the talented craftsmen in Russia and the Ukraine take to try and make a living to build these fabulous model airplanes. If you think that other model types such as RC electrics or RC sailplanes have come down in cost, you are probably right, but I have not seen anyone competing with a foamie free flight model.

I don’t know what the difficulties are now with the sanctions against Russia, or the Russia/Ukraine conflicts, or how the guys are doing to keep their businesses going? But from the numbers of FAI competitors dwindling, I can only guess that things are not good. Any major changes to the FAI events will probably kill the supply of models permanently. So I wish these industrious fellows “Good Luck”.

But for the few model airplane enthusiasts left, there are alternatives to the FAI events to make them happy. Those choosing to continue in the competitive FAI events, they have made their choice and no changes in the rules will ever FIX things……sorry about that, it was fun while it lasted!

PS: (spoof) The Minneapolis Model Aero Club (MMAC) would like to host the next team trials here in Minneapolis. We have this wonderful field first used in 1937 for our first major competition. The competition was highly advertised and we had throngs of spectators waiting to watch every flight take off and fly over the beautiful Minnesota or Mississippi river valley. It has easy access to our International airport, and the site is called Fort Snelling.

For those interested in finding out more about the history of the MMAC you can find it under the newsletters for the MMAC: October-December, 2014

The MMAC has 5 contests yearly at our beautiful field at North Branch Minnesota, and you can even fly your FAI models in our events if you are happy with only having to make 3 flights at your leisure! Our North Branch field is in a flat valley approximately 3 x 3 miles. But we are only offering the Fort Snelling site for any major FAI event.

If you would like to poison pen me, my email address is: dedmonson

John Cuthbert’s Perspective

I have been reading with interest the ongoing debate surrounding the perceived problem regarding the performance of modern FAI Free Flight models and therefore I have been giving it some serious thought. So here is my four penny worth (English saying) for what its worth.. I shall try to address the three areas of concern highlighted in the CIAM proposals for 2015 and try to avoid going of at a tangent or down blind allies.(slim chance)

It occurs to me that there are many contradictions in what is being addressed and what is the reality. For instance: “ the distance models fly is much larger than many flying fields” If the CIAM are genuinely serious about addressing this area WHY is there no mention of reducing the maximum wind speed we are asked to fly to. Currently 9 metres per second, measured in accordance with FAI guide lines. Those of us that have flown in these wind speeds will vouch that any maxing model, even if flown to a 150 second max, in lift, will be 21/2 kilometres away from the launch point. Significantly further away than any fly off flight that I have witnessed needed to win a competition. No tinkering with model specifications will address this issue. This rule contradicts and compromises all of the desired objectives.

Let me now address the statement that “ MANY flying fields are too small for current models”. Not sure if this is accurate at all. I acknowledge that SOME fields leave something to be desired. The most recent being the World Champs in France in 2013. Now, those of us who fly in this area each year, at the Moncontour 2 minute contest and the Poitou F1A,B& C contest, which are held on two different sights, would have known that the field used for the 2 minute contest was too small for the FAI events. But this is what was chosen and used and the resulting problems that occurred with farmers, postponement and cancellation of the Champs (thankfully resolved) could and should have been avoided. Although, eventually a satisfactory extended fly off and result was achieved, the field was inadequate for FAI models and did not meet several of the site requirements as set out in the FAI’s own regulations. The decision to use this sight for the World Champs was a poor one and should not be used to influence decisions to change model specifications. Our governing body and decision makers have a duty of care to ensure that the sights chosen for major championships are fit for purpose and the VAST majority of them are. If you choose a inadequate sight then problems are bound to occur. THEREFORE NO NEED TO CHANGE MODEL SPECIFICATIONS.

Now, lets look at “number of flights needed to complete the competition.” The alternatives here are simple to analyse. Less flights will result in bigger fly off’s. More flights, result in smaller fly offs, or stay as we are. This certainly applies to major championships. Our competitions start early in the morning, say 7:00am so a five round competition will finish at 12:00 midday. A long wait for the first fly off (usually in lift) It has been suggested to be increased this flight to six minutes resulting in a longer distance flown. ANOTHER CONTRADICTION. I am not sure that many of us want more flights than the current seven. So seven seems about right. I accept that World Cup events with much less participation work well with five flights, but certainly not for major Championships. So to reduce the fly off numbers do we need to try and make the tasks more difficult with our existing models. Increased maxes. Remember that one of the stated aims is to reduce the distance models fly. Less working time per flight. Sounds feasible but has the potential to eliminate a competitor who has no control to change the situation he is faced with due to the imposed time constraints. Pity the poor soul who is given say a ten minute working time at the beginning of the second round when conditions have shown nothing but bad air is present until much later in that round. A sub max is guaranteed. We have all experienced this phenomena on several occasions. I for one, having spent the best part of 2000 euros to attend a championships being asked to sacrifice myself this way would think very hard before doing it again. This is why the existing, well tried rules work so well. Limiting performance of existing F1A models by possible towline length and line diameter, reduce weight of rubber for F1B, or engine run for F1C all seem to have some merit. But none of these proposals should to be adopted until thoroughly tested by the flyers.

And finally to the last aim. That is “ the timekeeper eyesight can be a limiting factor”. So, so easy to resolve. First and foremost, if a timekeepers eye sight is limited then he should not be time keeping. There are very good, legal Binoculars available these days that are more than adequate to time any model even if you have less than perfect eyesight. I have worn spectacles for 50 years and cannot see a thing without them but I am still regularly asked to time long flights here in England ie 15 to 20 minute fly offs with good binoculars and more importantly, good concentration. TIMEKEEPING IS A SKILL So why is timekeeper eyesight a limiting factor? Is it because the equipment supplied and used is of poor quality. The answer is certainly yes. I have witnessed some of the official equipment supplied at championships and frankly they are rubbish, NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE. No wonder timekeepers have limited eyesight. The FAI should ensure that the very best equipment is provided for what is the most important element of what we do: GETTING THE CORRECT TIME FOR EACH AND EVERY FLIGHT. So, is asking each and every FAI flyer to potentially scrap 20,000 euro/dollars of equipment and eventually replace it with sub standard gear the answer or is it just plain ridiculous. I think we all know the answer to that. To do so will only result in one outcome. A mass exodus from this sport and those fliers never to return, even if you realise your mistake and try to go back Just like the flyers who make every effort to provide themselves with the best equipment, the FAI should make every effort to supply the organisers with good quality equipment. PROBLEM SOLVED.

Anyone who doubts what I am saying should look at what has recently happened to FAI F2C Team Racing. The result of implementing ill conceived rule changes without full consultation and testing and then realising their mistake and implementing another rule has ripped the heart out of a great racing class with many teams giving up and never to return. So I implore the rule makers not to rip the heart out of FAI Free Flight. Almost no one wants it. THE SECURE FUTURE OF FREE FLIGHT IS IN YOUR HANDS.PLEASE DON’T BLOW IT.

Roger Morrell