Monday, June 29, 2015

Watching the Super RC Sailplanes Saturday

Last Saturday June 27, 2015 the weather forecast looked very favorable for a radio control sailplane contest hosted by The Minnesota Radio Control Soaring Society so I decided to compete even though I did not have a very high performance sailplane available to compete with. It is always fun flying model aircraft with other people having a common interest and I wanted to take pictures with a new digital camera that I had recently purchased.  

The unlimited class of sailplanes in which the majority of the pilots flew; were very large model sailplanes constructed with the latest composite materials. There was also a RES class which stands for Rudder – Elevator – Spoilers most were partially built of balsa wood. I flew my trusty 2-meter wood Gentle Lady glider which has only rudder and elevator control, normally this glider flies well for me when the wind was light like on Saturday but after the very last flight I discovered the stabilizer of the glider was broken in several places.

Watching the sophisticated unlimited sailplanes was a big reason why I attended this contest. A typical sailplane of this type might have a wingspan of over 12 feet yet only weigh around 4 pounds.  The pilot pulls the glider up hundreds of feet high with an electric winch which puts a huge force on the center section of the wing.  For the contest the goal was a task of flying for 10 minutes from the launch and landing as close as possible to a spot marked with a landing tape.  In some of the rounds staying up with these efficient sailplanes was easy in thermal air currents for 10 minutes but at times it was difficult for everyone.  At times several airplanes could be seen circling in the same general area as that was where the thermal lift appeared to be. 

Following the pack was not always the best strategy as I remember on one round all the gliders had landed while Tim had found thermal lift in another section of the sky and continued to circle upwards.  In another round gliders were way downwind behind a tree line at a rather low altitude, it appeared Brad just barely cleared a tree in coming back to the landing area. The large size of these sailplanes makes it possible to see farther away which is a real advantage.  Larger airplanes are more efficient aerodynamically also.   

The sod field we flew from had some neighbors that were rather close who seemed really interested in what we were doing. At least a couple of the club members did a really good job of explaining just what the hobby is about when they came out to watch. 

Bill Kuhl


  1. Y do a very good job with your blog articles especially with your explinations regarding soaring events, etc. I hope you get your Gentle Lady back up and soaring as it is a good soaring aircraft. I have seen several up in the thermals in the past :o)

    Steve Gaiser

    1. Thank you I hope I was fairly accurate in the descriptions, I was happy to be able to get pictures of the gliders circling in thermals a good distance away. The Gentle Lady is almost repaired with a little carbon reinforcing in the tail. I have a Sig Riser 100 about ready to cover also.