Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Flying F3K Contest - RC Discus Launch

Almost two weeks have past now since I competed in a F3K radio control glider contest. This is for gliders that are limited to 60” wingspan and are launched by swinging the glider by one wingtip and releasing. In many years past the same size gliders were thrown with an overhand throw which was more work and didn’t get the glider as high. At that time many of the gliders were just rudder and elevator control, now most all the gliders have huge ailerons that also function as flaps. The cost of a really competitive glider has really gone up as well. I flew a Hyper DL which does have ailerons but not setup for flaps, it is rather heavy also.

The smaller gliders that you launch without using a hi-start or winch lend to a different type of competition. It is now possible to catch the glider and throw it again very quickly. With each of the different rounds of the competition different tasks are flown.  These tasks require that you combine flying skills with strategy and time management because the total time allotted is limited and the number of throws you are allowed can be also.  Some tasks you need to reach a target time, if you do not reach this time and make additional launches to reach the target time those flights are subtracting from the total time available. 

To increase the time aloft first it really helps to launch the glider as high as possible; the launch goes pretty much straight up and quickly flattens out at the top of the launch. With higher altitude it should take longer to come down and increase the chance of catching a thermal air current strong enough to climb in.  Another big challenge is created because there is wind and the glider must land within the boundaries specified as the field or you lose points.  Thermal air currents normally drift with the wind so you keep your glider circling downwind in the thermal but if the glider is not high enough downwind to penetrate the wind coming back to the field you will lose points and waste time retrieving your glider. If you can catch a thermal upwind, that is ideal but that can be hard to do at times.

This might seem rather complicated but after you fly a couple of rounds it all starts to make sense. It really keeps you busy because you are either flying or timing for another pilot. As the timer you try to give clues where other gliders are finding thermals and update on the time situation. It is all very fun and teaches you so much about flying a radio control sailplane.

Bill Kuhl

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