National Free Flight Society

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  1. The Swiss F1E Team Elimination Final
  2. Just some remarks on the ongoing altimeter discussion
  3. Editorial Disclaimer Plus

The Swiss F1E Team Elimination Final

From:William Damerell
Hallo Roger,
Greetings frpm a rather cold and foggy Autumnal Alps.
Could you kindly publish the following- Many Thanks!

The Swiss F1E Team Elimination Final will be held this coming Sunday ( 17.10.21 ) in Wikartswil, Bern Oberland, Switzerland. Wish good weather, good competition and good luck to all participating.

Kind Regards, In Free Flight,
William Damerell.


Just some remarks on the ongoing altimeter discussion


For me it was remarkable that some sportsmen arrived at World Cup events being unaware of the sporting code. Some did know the new altimeter fly-off rule, yet had decided not to bother. Then when being faced with a contest organizer announcing an altimeter fly off, the panic kicked in. Unprepared and/or unaware, some coped by borrowing an altimeter from fellow sportsmen then being faced with an empty battery resulting in a zero meters readout as final result. Of course the frustration kicks in, but instead of closely analyzing the cause of failure, starting a crusade on social media why the new altimeter rule sucks. One argument was closely followed by a new one. A small summary of arguments I’d like to present below with some comments from my side.

-“Altimeters were not available”
As each altimeter is tested and branded with a unique number (typically the user’s FAI ID), altimeters cannot be sold on the field like hot buns. It takes some preparation. Altimeters were in stock up to the two Polish World Cups. Now they are out of stock and upcoming World Cups should now refrain from using altimeter fly offs unless all participants have one on their model.

My altimeter did not work and the fly off result should be canceled”
From the results there were three kinds of ‘zero results’. Sportsmen without altimeter, altimeter malfunction due to an empty battery /altimeter failure due to reverse polarity connection of battery and altimeter malfunction (one case). As said, sportsmen arrived at the competition either fully prepared with altimeter ready to use and tested, with an altimeter but never used before without any power source and those without altimeter all together. It is noted that the proper functioning of the altimeter is defined in the sporting code as being the responsibility of the user.

“There should be more than one source of certified altimeters
Some objected to the fact that currently only one certified altimeter is available. CIAM has tried to find altimeter manufacturers to produce these devices according to the list of requirements drawn up (e.g. an unique ID being the biggest hurdle). None of the manufacturer were interested. In order to get things moving I used the Covid break to develop the All-Tee altimeter in compliance with the EDIC rules. It took lots of time and resources.
I can’t understand sportsmen objecting to only one single source of altimeter hardware when they are perfectly fine with one source or rubber or F1C engine.

“The altimeter is way too big to fit in my model”
I tried to keep the physical size to an absolute minimum at a weight of less than one gram. I even got a remark All-Tee is too small and easily lost (jokingly of course).

“This rule disqualifies sportsmen flying mechanical timers”
Even models with a fuse can be flown with an altimeter. The altimeter graph will tell you how high you are at the max time even if you DT well past the max (or don’t DT at all).

“All-Tee is too expensive”
Well, this is a not so objective assessment. Compare the price of 59 Euro (one time) to the multiple entry fees, traveling costs, price of a model and other materials (e.g. rubber).

“We were not allowed enough time to prepare”
The altimeter fly off rule has been in the sporting code for two years to get away with the DT-fly off system (now outlawed) and the altimeter has been available since early spring this year. The first altimeter fly off was flown in August.

“The altimeter fly off sucks and should be removed from the sporting code”
This rule has been voted democratically some time ago. Why complain two years after and say nothing when the rule was up for proposal and vote over two years ago? What are the alternatives if weather / field does not allow a regular fly off? Put your precious models in the nearest village, woods or power lines? Let the models go out of sight from time keepers (if this is your preferred way of winning a competition I can understand your beef with the new rule). Or flying a DT fly off again (I believe the majority agreed that this was no fair way to end a competition).

-“Contest organisers have reverted to altimeter fly offs too easy”
To date, a total of three altimeter fly offs have been flown:

-Eifel Pokal: only in F1C the two competitors with a full score decided themselves to fly an altimeter fly off due to the harsh weather conditions (rain, visibility, high wind speeds, downwind factory etc.). In F1A and B the contest director decided not to use the altimeter fly off rule. All participants tied for first place although a DT fly off was flown. Wind speeds were well over 9 m/s and downwind factory only 1.4 km away.
-West Bohemian World Cup: wind direction from the north-east. Distance to downwind forest 1.2 km. Distance to road 600 meters. Wind speed 5 m/s. Contestants were presented two options as daylight allowed only a single fly off: either a 10 minute max or altimeter fly off. Both in F1A and F1B the majority voted for the latter.
-Pieter de Boer Memorial: the fly off was postponed to the next morning. The next morning the contest director was faced by wind from the north-east at 4 m/s. Distance to downwind corn field 1.3 km, distance to city of Kietzr 2.2 km. Contest director decided on an altimeter fly off with a max of 5 minutes.
-Antoon van Eldik Memorial: as a 10 minute fly off at the time of decision (again, only daylight time for a single fly off) would result with models landing in hostile terrain, it was decided to perform an altimeter fly-off with a max of 8 minutes. As no one made the 8 minutes, the altimeter results were not used. The flight times decided the winners.

-“All altimeters should be allowed to be used even uncertified ones”
Altimeter certification is there for a reason: to create an equal playing field to all participants in competition. We know for a fact that altimeter of brand A can show several meters more (or less) than others. If a certified device is used we can be sure of an objective outcome and to avoid discussions along the lines of ‘software / hardware doping’.

-“The manufacturer of All-Tee is using his own product in competition”
I am not sure what this argument is implying but I can have an educated guess. I invite any fellow competitor to swap his altimeter with mine in a fly off. In fact, why don’t we make it a rule to mix altimeters between competitors?
And then we have F1B sportsmen (man) selling rubber, F1C sportsmen (man) selling F1C engines, why no protests there? Should we have more than 1 source of rubber and stop flying F1B until we do?


Editorial Disclaimer Plus

Disclaimer –  I do have an All-Tee altimeter  BUT I did pay full price for it.
IMHO – the All-Tee is good value for money and as timer etc maker Kudos to Allard get it as small as it is.

A while back talking to some other timer factory guys, none were planning on going to the EDIC  altimeter certification process, but again in the spirit of full disclosure, I did not talk to all.
Because of the above I did have an idea, perhaps one of those GPS find-your-model guys could add the certified altimeter function to their device – why?  firstly it will give them brownie and public-spiritedness point for creating a second sources and secondly because when it comes to making an EDICable a time the engine run and the whole flight devices they already have the radio transmitter to send the results back and finally because they are already in service the add-on functions can be trialed the field so no one will be surprised when that timing function ends up in the Sporting Code.