Saturday, May 29, 2010

SEZIMOVO USTI 2010 - Allard van Wallene

Ivo Kreetz, Kevin Lamers and I left early, about 1 hour earlier than last year, in an attempt to beat the rush hour in Prague. The plan would have worked if it weren’t for a malfunctioning traffic light system at one of the main road crossings in Prague! Nevertheless we arrived shortly after 4 pm and headed straight for the field as the weather forecast for the next day was pretty bad with rain in the morning and fierce winds in the afternoon. Once on the field it was overcast but with only 2.5 m/s average wind speed. We unpacked our models and did some testing.

Figure 1 Allard preparing his Smoo11-airfoil flapper
Kevin’s F1B models were being transported by Gerard Willemse so he practiced some mini RC DLG for the fun of it. Later the wind picked up slightly so we headed for our hotel to check in, which is always a bit of a hassle unpacking all the stuff and bikes from the car and transporting it to our room one floor up. After these formalities we left for the restaurant. No weather to sit outside on the terrace this time and on top of this, they ran out of beef as well! Humm, not a good start so far. The next day started wet, cold and windy. We decided to play tourist and went for Tabor city centre for a coffee and a visit to the tourist office. I found a brochure about a cave system in Ch├Żnov, only some 10 km east of Tabor. A perfect site for a visit, where the weather could not spoil our fun. Before heading east, we visited a small museum, dedicated to the find of a 16th century treasure in the floor of a Tabor house, which was renovated in 2001. When lowering the floor level, two jars were discovered with over 4000 silver coins. Everything was on display together with lengthy explanations about the monetary system and average price levels in those days.

Figure 2 Kevin and Ivo look in awe, half of the treasure on display.
After a short but pleasant stroll through the old part of town, the rain had finally seized and we headed for the caves. These were in fact some 50 meters deep and not too big in size, but the coloring of the eroded marble was breathtaking.

Figure 3 The caves
Ivo brought his tripod to make some stunning pictures. After the guided tour we left for the field at Vsechov to check out the action if any, but the fierce winds kept all models in the boxes. Only Kevin’s DLG model was aired, but it could not cope with the wind, even when doing a 45 degrees dive the ground speed was close to zero!

Figure 4 Keven launches and Ivo at the sticks, zero ground speed!
We headed back to the hotel for a power nap, well more than that as we woke up some two hours later. Perfect timing for dinner! This time the restaurant on Tabor square was our choice. The Brazilian steaks they served last year was still on the menu and quality still high. Topping it off with good coffee and the by now traditional ‘Palatschinken’ (pancakes Czech style with whipped cream and ice cream) gave us a good caloric buffer for the next day.
After good nigh sleep (apart from Kevin, who tried to local disco), the day dawned with clear skies and no wind to speak of. We had a quick breakfast and headed for the field. A light overcast and about 2 m/s wind made it a perfect start. Soon the flare went up for the first round. Air picking was relatively easy with docile thermals and hardly any real downdrafts. A good launching sequence organization despite 6 flyers on our pole resulted in a smooth running all day. I managed to snap my towline in round two. In round three I lost my RDT keyfob in the high grass. After making another max, a long search followed, but the keyfob remained well hidden in the high grass. Rounds 4 and 5 were merely a formality as thermals were pretty predictable, although good air took sometimes up to 20 minutes to build up. In round 6 I towed for 15 minutes when a nice build up of air started. A long warm period with the model pulling high but circling low, then some turbulence followed by a few high circles. Go! I launched to good height and the model was circling higher and higher heading for a safe max. Then, after having rolled up my towline, the model DT’d. A quickly looked at my watch, little over 90 seconds. I discussed in length what could have happened. I retrieved the model and checked the timer, sure enough it was set a 3 minutes. Then Ivo suggested I should check at the lost and found. My keyfob had in fact been found, and someone pushed some buttons before handing it in when my model was flying. Bummer! Air picking was by no means easy at times, judging a low flight from Koglot and two sub maxes by Jan Vosejkpa Senior who usually scores well in this event.

Figure 5 Vsychov (with F1A!) assists starting a reluctant engine
Meanwhile rumours were spreading that some F1B models were being stolen near the main road to Pisek. I decided not to risk anything and did not fly round 7. At least 4 models were being reported missing in action. All landed close to the road, where the retriever had good radio signal which then suddenly disappeared from the airwaves. Pim Ruyter’s model landed in the first fly off at 169 seconds. A few minutes later, he was at the landing spot with a good strong beacon signal. He could not find the model. He went back to get some help, but arriving at the same spot again the radio signal was no longer there, leading Pim to believe the model had been hidden in an open concrete drain pipe and taken the moment he left for help. This ‘trick’ had been tried before in previous years. A long search in the nearby villages drew blank, no beacon signal to be found. A couple of days later he received a message from one of the local flyers, that someone had contacted him to return the model for a ‘finders’ fee of 15 Euro. The beacon was however lost and fin and stabilizer damaged. Wilhelm Tesinger suffered from exactly the same sequence of events.
At 5.30 PM, the first fly off started in F1A. Some 20 flyers made it, among which Ivo and Maarten. I helped Ivo on the starting line and model retrieval. After Ivo prepared three of his ships, we went to the starting line with two models. When he hooked up the monofilament bunt cable of his ‘big’ model, it snapped. As he wanted to fly his Baldrick anyway he continued preparing this model. Nevertheless, he requested for me to go fetch his third back up model. I jumped on my bike and rushed to the car, picked up the model and raced back. On the downwind side of the starting poles I suddenly encountered a tow line in front of my face. In a reflex I squeezed the brake and the front wheel locked. I was catapulted over the steering bar with model on the tarmac. It took me some time to get to my senses again. Ivo’s model was damaged and so was I. First aid of the organizers was soon present to treat the minor scrapes. I was very lucky as this could have ended a lot worse. I feared a total loss of Ivo’s model, but closer inspection also revealed only minor damage. After the adrenaline had faded I realized I had a bruised rib as well.

Figure 6 Ivo prepares for fly off
Meanwhile a massive thermal passed over the starting line and many launched to max the five minutes. Ivo and I jumped on our bikes to get his model, which had landed in a paddock just after the village of Vsechov. We were back well in time to repair the broken cable which Ivo fixed just in time before the second fly off. Soon everyone was up on tow. Upwind a model launched, and although the height gain was not spectacular it held nicely. Many flyers were in doubt whether to join it or not. Some did, which was a wise decision as that patch of air kept developing progressively while moving downwind. Only Ragot , Ryz and Mezihorakova managed to make the 7 minutes. The rest who joined later could not make use of the air for the full 420 seconds with Kosonoshkin being closest for 4th place. Both Ivo and Koglot, who was flying his all white M&K flapper, towed up to the last minute but the air was just not there. Roland made one of his spectacularly high launches, doing well over 4 minutes. Ivo also did a nice launch but had to settle for 3 min 20.
Up to the second fly off, the air was cooling down rapidly as some cloud fields obstructed the sun and the wind had picked up a bit too. First Ragot was up on tow, after a few circles he launched. The air did not look like anything special and the model circled downwind while flashing its strobe leds. After 3 minutes the model disappeared behind a row of trees, but the strobes were still visible so timing continued. Then the model disappeared behind the houses of the town of Vsechov. Then Ryz launched and although the model kept high on the line, the air was similar to Ragot’s. It would be tight! After the model landed, I asked around who had won. Ryz by 10 seconds, said the contest director. Later we heard there was a dispute between Ragots timekeepers, the times were averaged, enough to beat Ryz’s time by one second! Ms. Jana Mezihorakova made 132 for third place.

Figure 7 Koglot's flapper being launched for the 7 minute fly off
Also in the F1B and F1C fly offs, good air was scarce and the models with the best climb, transition and glides had the edge.
During the prize giving the contest organizer expressed his concerns about the models, which had disappeared. Earlier that day, he requested the police to supervise the downwind area close to the road. This was in fact done, albeit for only an hour or so, after which the thieves continued their activities to increase their ‘score’. They must have acted in a rather well prepared way, as no one actually saw the models being taken and they managed to remove the homing beacons quite effectively. Theft of models can never be prevented and this competition has rather unfavorable statistics in this sense. The organizers declared they will take extra measures next year to reduce this risk.

Figure 8 Thunderstorm developing

Figure 9 Gerard Willemsen still smiling

Figure 10 Tabor centre

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Editor Added To Team

Allard van Wallene, F1A specialist, whom you will have met in the Free Flight Quarterly pages and  blog, has accepted the  invitation of Sergio Montes to be a part of the Free Flight Quarterly editorial board. Allard brings a very considerable experience in this glider category, as well as in electronics, today a fundamental part of many FAI classes and equipment.  

Allard is a mechanical engineer, lives in Driebergen, Netherlands and works in the International Patent Office in The Hague.

We look forward to his input and guidance in these topics and his help with contacts, stories and references in the very active world of the European contest scene.

Welcome, Allard!