National Free Flight Society

SEN 3132

  1. World Senior and Euro Junior Champs 2023
  2. Allard and Elephant 2
  3. I gave Sevak a Model when he was nine.

World Senior and Euro Junior Champs 2023

The Champs are over and we left 3 elephants wandering the pastures of Nouvelle Aquitaine

Great contest, 41 countries, 400 participants, good weather, huge challenges for the organizer who stepped up to meet them, some elephants in the corner that the CIAM needs to address.
Having the Junior Euro Champs at the same as the World helped to catch up after Covid delays but it did make the event longer making it more expensive especially for people outside of Europe.
The weather was good, too good sometimes because it was at times very hot.

The participants found accommodation spread out of the area surrounding Moncontour and St Jean de Sauves.  The organizers used the internet based WhatsApp communication program to communicate with all the Team Manager. This was a good choice and WhatsApp works with most modern devices and mobile phone plans.  Most managers were good at keeping up with the communication and the organizer was very responsive.  Some complained a bit, not sure what they wanted, semaphore, morse code telegraph or a face to face meeting twice a day ? WhatsApp was good use of modern technology that served  us well.
There were some complaints, often from people who have never run a World Champs, there were some rapidly changing condition and the organizer dealt with them.  41 countries, some more organized than others, hot changing weather, almost 20 local land owners, 2 town councils, 400 meter flight line, 140 timekeepers, … what could go wrong.  I have helped in the running  3 World Champs. I always remember what Bill Hartill, the CD of 1993 World Champs at Lost Hills said at first organizer meeting ” Remember this event is for the contestants and your job is to make sure they have the best opportunity to do well.” .  The people running this event General Director: Benoit JACQUEMIN and Contest Director: Myriam MORANDINI did that and that’s what matters.

Thanks also,  have to go to Ian Kaynes and the other jury members for giving the organizers and contestants the benefit of their experience.

Now the elephants in the corner.  These are outstanding issues with our sporting code that the collective we are having difficulty in handling.

Elephant 1 – In a big contest it is not possible to time F1C motor run accurately, especially when many fly together. This is made worse by the very short 4 second motor run.   A proposal was made for a scheme for doing a pre-flight test of the timer on the aircraft. This was initially approved by the organizer, teams and jury. But subsequently abandoned  after some teams tested it and found it not to be not accurate enough.  I’m deliberately not explaining what the idea was but no doubt the FFTSC will work on this.

There was, however, an interesting incident in the contest that is illustrative of the sometimes unintended consequences. One well known contestant’s model went way off pattern and was saved by the use of RDT, but the flight time was over the 20 second attempt and he would have a score of just under 30 seconds. BUT the timekeeper failed to push the lap button on the stop watch that is used for registering the motor run. So that the time timekeeper had to give  the contestant a time of 27 seconds for both the flight and engine run. So this flight was an overrun not 27 second flight. He was able to make a second attempt that went a whole lot better. This shows one of the ‘other’ issues in timing F1C.

Elephant 2. The second item is using an altimeter to validate or contest the flight time in a flyoff.
There is quite a lot of confusion around this including it is not really using the altimeter function other than to determine when the flight ended.  It is not an altimeter fly off that is elephant number 3.
Most of our  altimeters have clocks as well as altimeter sensor, this is so they can plot a graph of altitude against time.  Our rules have a provision for a certified altimeter. This rule requires that the ‘altimeter’ can be uniquely identified and that it has an accurate clock.

So this means that it identify when the flight starts and finishes, so the flight time.  It does require examination by a contest official.  It can “time” a flight that is out of sight.
So the collective “we” figured that the altimeter could be used an onboard stop watch to time the flight.  Why did “we” do this, perhaps because some of use when to World Cup contests where the standard of timekeeping was not as high as a World Champs and could be hard to contest with no Team Manager.

Note that a model can go out of sight for many different reasons, the most obvious are behind an obstacle or because the timekeeper can no longer see it because it is too far away or the timekeeper was distracted.
Requesting that an altimeter time be checked is kind of a protest. At the World Champs the Team Manager  is required to sign the timecard to say they are OK with the time provided by the timekeeper. At the World Cup event preceding the Champs there was some confusion around this and this was resolved by the Team Manager or Sportsman marking Altimeters on the time card. At the Champs not all Team Manager knew to do this, at the F1A fly off most did not do this so they were disallowed. It cost the sportsman I was helping about 20 seconds. He was Ok with that.  For F1B and F1C the Team Managers were told that if they wanted the altimeter checked that had to mark it on the time card.
Note that there is special case of non-certified I have left out of this discussion to simplifiy things a bit
There are some objections to this. The first is the traditionalist. The second is time taken to get the result because the model has to be brought back to read the altimeter means it can take a time to see if the sportsman can go on to the next fly off. A third reason could be cost.

As a technologist I see the current approach an only a first step. These days no competitive sport is timed by hand there are just too many human variables. Such as reaction time for the F1C motor run or person’s eyesight or quality of binoculars for the flight time.  Looking back we changed the way we timed free  flight event from a series of unlimited flights to rounds with maxes. Encouraging quality and consistency over luck (and eyesight)

The main thing the current use of the onboard timing device (known to some as altimeter) is missing it the requirement to radio back the results.  If we look at some of the other devices we use such as the Neurone family, they radio back the GPS and altitude results to the sportsman. They use a ISM band. Not all that hard to radio back to the organizer the sportsman’s FAI ID, flight time  and even if he was within the limits of the round. Note that as with motor sports it is still necessary to have an observer/timer because of things like mid-air or parts falling of model etc.
On the cost side we could require this just for Champ or World Cups but with volume to cost should go down.  I understand that there are issues but we can address them.  How can we encourage we encourage youth to take part if their technology inspired effort is handicapped or disallowed by a geezer’s slow reactions or poor eyesight  (I can use the word geezer because I qualify for a Kiwi Grand Master award in Fab Feb)

Elephant 3 . The performance of our models out flies our flying sites and timekeepers. We change the model spec? or use altimeter fly off or automated timing what ? Lose flying fields be we encroach on places we should not and annoy our   neighbors. Contestants lose their model so participation diminished.

Allard and Elephant 2

Picture on the FB
From :Allard van Wallene
Allard posted a picture on FB showing .. ·
Maarten van Dijk in World Champs fly off showing his All-Tee altimeter to the timekeepers.
Allard is the maker of the All-Tee certified   Altimeter aka onboard flight timer. This drew quite a lot of comment some are here.

Comments in French, kindly translated by Mr Google in to English

*  Palo Polonec
This is altimeter competition?

Allard van Wallene
Palo Polonec No, altimeters are used for flight time only in champs.

*  Pierre Chaussebourg
This is not acceptable : completely in conflict with the rule in the case of a model which disappears from the timekeeper’s sight !
The international tribunal of sports would not accept this !

Gauthier Brière
Tout a fait d’accord avec toi Pierre, il est urgent de tout faire pour abolir cette règle stupide qui n’aurait jamais dû voir le jour !

Totally agree with you Pierre, it is urgent to do everything to abolish this stupid rule which should never have seen the light of day!

*  Mi?a Tica
Pierre Chaussebourg Flight consists of take-off, flight and landing. The altimeter is stupid for defining the winner like this. And it doesn’t work

*  Arno Hacken
Pierre Chaussebourg agree 100%

*  Michal Švehla
Pierre Chaussebourg
I absolutely agree

 *  Cesare Gianni
I couldn’t agree more.

*  Can Tezcan
I am sorry to express it in that way, however I feel the necessity. With your old fashion ideas and having the thinking “we made it 50 years like this, and we must do it 50 more years” you are only harming this sport. You can get older, but you must keep your ideas young and fresh.
A flight is as someone expressed above “Starting, flying and landing” if the timekeeper can not see it, than you can determine it with electronic.
In all sports the usage of electronic devices are getting involved. In paragliding, you don’t need to make pcitures in the air and bring it to the jury to prove that you flew 200 km. You bring now your GPS record.
Before someone answers!!! keep in mind, I am only speaking about determining the time with electronics, I am not speaking about long discussed “altimeter flyoff”

I was in World Champ and Junior European Champ in France. There were many times time corrections in Fly Offs with the electronic and “THE REAL WINNER” get his medals not the one who’s model can be seen the most on the timekeeper.

I remember a fly off in 90ies in an eastern country that 2 person was in flyoff a Swiss guy and a person from the same country where the competition was. Magically, the timekeepers could not see the flight of the Swiss guy until the end, but magically until the end of their own landsman.

If you have electronic, this would never happens.

In the last 500 years, everyone who tried to be against the flow of technology, vanished from the earth. I don’t want that free flight also vanishes. So, if you are against technology and improvements, stop doing this sport and let it do young people, who likes technological improvements.
Not every improvement is evil or bad.

*  Laurent Dupriez
En tant qu’organisateur du trophée belge et du poitou il m’est impossible de respecter cette règle. Quand je fais un fly-off à 20h45 je ne peux pas attendre que tous les concurrents rentrent pour décider si je fais un deuxième fly-off et si le fly-off se fait le matin à 6h45 je ne peux attendre non plus pour démarrer la nouvelle journée de compétition. Donc c’est une règle qu’il faut abolir

As the organizer of the Belgian and Poitou trophies, it is impossible for me to respect this rule. When I do a fly-off at 8.45 p.m. I can’t wait for all the competitors to come in to decide if I do a second fly-off and if the fly-off is in the morning at 6.45 a.m. I can’t wait to start the race either. new day of competition. So it’s a rule that should be abolished

Can Tezcan
Laurent Dupriez so, for you to give a trophy to someone who did not deserve it is ok, because you don’t want to spend more time, instead of giving the trophy to someone who really deserved it. Interesting attitude as organizer. Good to know.

*  Bernard Bruins
Laurent Dupriez if a few people challenge the time that they maxed or not, just do a second FO with them. The later on sort out the times. I believe there are parts in the code that mention just something like that. You can always drop them if they are not correct but you won’t loose time. It is looking for a solution that should be the focus not just claiming rules are not ok because people cannot handle them…

*  Bernard Bruins
Laurent Dupriez here it states really clear what to do. Should be easy for you as a organizer just to have a second or even third FO and then later on make up the final scores. Like I said we should be looking for solutions not creating problems that are not there…

*  Laurent Dupriez
Ce n’est pas la question de choisir altimètre ou non je dis simplement que cette règle n’a pas pris en compte les contraintes d’organisation. En l’état elle n’est pas applicable. Peut être qu’il faut laisser le choix aux organisateurs de l’utiliser ou pas.
It is not the question to choose altimeter or not I simply say that this rule did not take into account the constraints of organization. As it stands, it is not applicable. Maybe we should leave the choice to the organizers to use it or not.

*  Can Tezcan
I am sorry but don’t agree. You, as organizer can not even supply enough timekeepers for a competition and than deny the possibility to keep the time automatically with electronic? It is strange for me. Especially You must be happy about this rule because you can make a competition without any timekeepers.

*  David Ackery
For myself I like to see the model fly.
If is in the box I will not see it fly. If I lend the model to someone in another town, and they fly it, and I don’t see it, then it means nothing to me. If I fly it, and it flies in plain sight for one minute, then flies in clouds and out of my sight for a further 10 minutes then that time has no meaning for me, because I cannot see it flying. It is the pleasure that I get from seeing the model fly that has significance, and matters to me.
And that is the way it has always been for Free Flight. And I understand and accept that before I start.
If time flown out of sight is to be counted as official time on the scoreboard, then this just like a computer game, and it is not real. And I do not want that. I do not play computer games, they have no interest me.
So perhaps you want call me old fashioned, (perhaps as an insult ?), then that is just your opinion , and I have my opinion.

Can Tezcan
David Ackery we are speaking here “competition flying” not fun flying. People are working hard 2 years long for winning and than the timekeeper just looses it from visibility because we have “very high capacity models against the 20 years old ones that many here used to have”

On Sunday for fun flying I don’t need altimeter.

In the last 3 weeks I was on 3 World Cups, one Senior World Championship and one Junior European Championship. I watched may be some couple of hundred flights. I don’t want to mention how many timekeepers I saw, that they were intending as they are looking (without seeing anything)
All these can be solved with electronic time keeping.
This also prevents many cheatings happening today on the field.

*  Frederic Nikitenko
I just agree with David Ackery. I can understand what Can Tezcan said, but we do not play anymore the same game :
– To read an electronic device to know if a model is still flying is one thing.
– To look at a model when it flies is a pleasure of a different quality.
In fact, I cannot understand where is the true interest of timekeeping a model when you cannot see it anymore.
It becomes surrealistic !

Can Tezcan
Frederic Nikitenko for fun flying you are right, but what about working 2 years very hard to win a World Championship and timekeeper just looses your model

*  Frederic Nikitenko
Can Tezcan Can my dear friend,
You know I respect your point of view. But now, mine is different.
As time went by, things have changed and, on my opinion, the real FUN is gone because the data of the problem are now different : the models are somebody else’s models, they are very expensive (whatever you buy or build), they are 7 minutes worth, the fields you can easily go are not big enough, and so on.
I do not have the solution , sorry, and I prefer to think back to the roots, in order to perform frequently a nice Sunday picnic with short DTs ! Duration should not be the only criteria
But I still am very interested by all your research, on a theorical approach.
And, of course, I still love you more and more !
Please say Hello to Lara

*  Can Tezcan
Frederic Nikitenko I like the retro also. As far as I know in USA there are many events for retro models. But the discussion here is about performing models. A World Championship. The game is different. I remember the time, you have been Team Manager for F1B, however these models are now in Musee (literally) and the models today are making 10 minutes on a fly off at about 8pm. (look the 2 World Cup contests in France) For this kind of high capacity contests, we need high capacity electronic measurements. That is what I am saying. On a world championship you can not go back to the roots. For going to the roots, you need another category

*  Aram Schlosberg
We have to admit that the quality of human fliers is rather w-e-a-k. In my recent flyoffs with three timers it’s almost inevitable that one or two timers loose sight of the model in the air before the max. Fortunately my altimeter can prove if the model has maxed or not and I accept the jury’s call.
Our rules are FINE and should not be tinkered with! Gone are the days when models barely maxed and the timers average age was in the 20s.
Altimeters also account for flying time beyond hills and buildings. The line of sight only accounts for the direct sight. But since this advantage is offered to ALL competitors, it is fair across the board.

*  Can Tezcan
If I read the discussion here, I remember the days, that the 100 meter run contests decided by eyes.

As soon as the federation decided to use polaroid fotofinish device many retired atlethes were shocked and angry that there will be no “eyes” to look who passed the finish line.
I am curious if these retired oldies could manage to prevent the usage “modern photofinish devices” who could decide the races of Usain Bolt

*  Pierre Chaussebourg
The problem is that at these championships we used the old rule together with the new one. I mean that some competitors had altimeters and others no.
If altimeters timing is used, all models must have one!

Allard van Wallene
It is in the rule book for some years now. If a competitor choses not to use one, then he has to face the consequences. Its like coming to the champs without towlines or without rubber. Knowing the rules and preparing for the champs is all part of becoming a champion.


I gave Sevak a Model when he was nine

From Editor
Apologies to Sevak, Taron, George and Benoit, I did not talk with any of you about this. And it is not really about you anyway

At the closing of the recent World Champs one of the speakers addressed a number of issues facing Free Flight today. One in particular was that of attracting juniors flyers. He is concerned that increasing technology and especially the cost is an issue.

Most of you who were at the Champs would have seen Sevak and Taron Malkhasyan. Sevak is the one with the hair and flys F1B. Taron is the 2019 F1C World Champ. Their father George grew up in Soviet Armenia and took part in the Soviet model flying program. He moved to the USA. When his boys got old enough he introduced them to Free Flight, something he had loved in his youth.   They flew a number of events appropriate for their age. HLG developed the air picking skills we see today.  I saw them of the flying field. When Sevak was about 9 I gave him one of my carbon Vivchar F1Bs, heaven forbid it probably even has a Black Magic electronic timer.  It was last year’s model or maybe even older than that!   He got pretty good at flying it. Later  I was out at the “local” Perris field near Riverside CA one day and Taron was flying a F1P that he and dad had worked on. It too had a Magic timer.  One of the AMA power flyers came over and chatted. This guy is an engine expert. He was horrified that they had and electronic timer on and told them they were out of their mind.  They stayed out of their mind and kept the electronic timer.

Over time they progressed in their modelling, learned more stuff, got better, got on the USA junior team and went to a number of Junior World  Champs.  They aged out of the Junior program went to University, kept on flying and the out of his mind Taron became World F1C Champ on a model with an electronic timer.  From time to time I would chat with Sevak on how things were going after all he is a F1B guy like me. Sevak said that they were very grateful with all the support that had got from other flyers. He said he want to pay back by helping the Junior program, which he has done. He said that he thought he was better to do it than some older people, who while they had the best motives did not always understand the younger flyers and what they needed and how to talk to them. Sevak continues to help the USA Junior team and came with them to the last Junior World Champs as the assistant Team Manager with good team results.

I look in my model work shop and see a number of F1Bs that are OK,  just not this years model. Now days the modern carbon dbox model does not wear out like an older balsa mode so there are plenty of us that have “last year’s model” that’s very good for a young person starting.  Remember when you are help the young person, that they need encouragement to fly today with the current rules if that want to go to a World Champs. Don’t tell them that in the good old days every was great not like today when the FAI, AMA and whoever is messed up and latest rules nonsense and you would not touch them.

Sevak has expressed some frustration in being able to communicate with some of the high up in our collective world and feels they don’t know how to work with the young.

I think this issue is not technology or cost but rather how to make FF relevant to their world.  I was encouraged in France to see young people from a number of countries  just beyond the Junior age talking with each other. That kind of thing will encourage them to come back.