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R/C Soaring

Permanent link to article for Sun., March 04, 2007.Sunday - March 04, 2007

R/C Soaring Frappr

I started the R/C Soaring Frappr when I first heard about Frappr, that would be over a year ago.  Since then over 170 pilots from around the world have added a photograph to the map, it sure is getting interesting to look at now...



Permanent link to article for Sat., April 29, 2006.Saturday - April 29, 2006

World Soaring Masters

World Soaring MastersIf you are into contest R/C Soaring this will be the must attend event of the year.  Registration opens May 1 so get ready to mail those entry forms in, this one should fill up rapidly.

Here is a link to the World Soaring Masters web site for further information.



Permanent link to article for Sun., June 26, 2005.Sunday - June 26, 2005

Chicago SOAR Northsider vs Southsider F3J Practice

The Chicago SOAR club held a "Northsider" vs "Southsider" F3J practice today.  This teams the guys that fly at the north Hampshire flying field against the guys that fly at the south sod farm field.  It really makes for a good practice session for all involved.  I was flying on team "Northsider" with "Boss" Jim McCarthy, Tom Kallevang, Jack Strother, and Steve Schneider.  Team "Southsider" consisted of Richard Burnoski, Bill Wingstedt, Karl Miller, Ben Roberto, and Robin Meek.

You wouldn't think putting a bunch of strong attitude alpha males on the same team would work, but it does for us.  We were all serious today for some F3J practice, that takes time to setup and arrange and we were here to make the most of it.  Everyone has their jobs and responsibilities on our team, McCarthy keeps it moving, it just works.  No yelling, confusion, arguing or debating rules on our side, we were launching on the horn and flying it all right to the tape.  Maybe an occasionally smile if we make a good move in the air, otherwise just some fist pounding on the hunskies. 

We started early and ended around noon so we didn't cook our towing team in the 100 degree afternoon sun.  It's always fun to fly with these guys, we know each others flying styles so well it's all automatic and smooth.  It's really nice to be on a team that works on that level, we all parted with a smile on our faces.

Jim McCarthy throws Tom Kallevang's F3J ICON "Big Red", Jack Strother is the timer.


Jim McCarthy throws Capn' Jack's ICON Lite, Steve Schneider timing.


TK keeps Capn' Jack advised on remaining flight time.


Capn' Jack on landing approach over the tape with his rare Cobra Lite 2, TK calls on the clock.


"Boss" asking Capn' Jack if  he is ready to fly yet.  Tequila Sunrise ICON Lite on the line.


Permanent link to article for Mon., June 20, 2005.Monday - June 20, 2005


There are just too many soaring events this month.  TK already told me he can't get away for the OVSS #3 weekend in St. Louis, and I completely understand.  We have been to Ft. Wayne, IN. and Montecello, IL. in the past two weekends, and to take another away weekend road trip is pushing the limits.  We have been pushing very hard at work too, I have not been sleeping much.  Getting away, concentrating on competing, and doing well has been keeping me energized during the weeks, I guess it's an intense balance.  I have two good OVSS contests in the bag, and I really can't afford to miss a contest this close to home.  Close being a relative term, it's about a 4 hour drive.

I accomplished a lot during the week, Friday was upon me, so why not, I'll go for it.  I loaded up Rae's Explorer which is the newer of the two that we own, figuring it would be the best for a road trip like this.  It's been a while since I have took a road trip by myself, I had a lot of time to think and unwind the week on my drive down to St. Louis that night.  I found my hotel, checked in and got a good nights sleep.

Flyin' Brian in the zone at OVSS #3

Flyin' Brian was in and wandering down the pits telling everyone that would listen that all he had was his AVA, just an RES ship against all our unlimited hardware.  I keep reminding him that I understand age, wisdom and treachery will over come youth and enthusiasm, especially on the soaring field and I would have my eyes on him. 

That's my green and magenta ICON lite in the forground, MVSA pits.

What a contest day.  The MVSA club did a fantastic job running the seeded MoM format for their first time.  We flew off the Emerald sod farms, a beautiful place to soar from.  The air was light and cycling in irregular patterns, it was separating the scores in rapid fashion.  Flyin' Brian was just playing poke and float, nose into the wind, while we all chased thermals.  I left one out late in the contest which ended my day, didn't make it back to the field.   Brian always seemed to have altitude with that AVA, I have to admit it got a bit frustrating at times.  I was really having to work hard tracking thermals, but I was learning this field rapidly.  Brian beat us all on Saturday, by a lot of points.  I will always remember the leap and scream of Brian's wife on the last landing of the day, it was wonderful.  They knew they had it right then, it was cool to see that.

Butch kept an eye on me while I was feeling ill at the field

I went out to a great BBQ shack Sat. night with a group of pilots and ended the day in style, or so I thought.  I woke up in the middle of the night completely sick and never got anymore sleep.  I made it out to the field, a red light appeared the dash as I drove on in the sod farm and I felt like a wreck.  I would have to remember to check that light later.  I built my model and laid down under Johnny's tent.  He laughed and asked if I had too much to drink last night.  I told him no, I was sick and Johnny being the friendly guy he is got me some Asprin for my head ache.  Johnny's dog Butch curled down next to me and we napped until the pilots meeting.  I think Butch could sense I was not well, he was hanging around me.  I really didn't know how I was going to get through this day, my head was pounding and I had very little energy.

It was windier today, the Flyin' Brian was going to have his hands full with that AVA.  Those ten minute task times were the only peace I had all day.  No time to think about being sick, that ten minutes of contest time is pure, focused decision making, and today if you chose unwisely you got spanked hard.  Jim Frickey and I dueled all day long, we had some nice conversations during our flights as we specked out and left the pack behind several times.  Cool thing was, we were doing in mostly in our own air on different ends of the field.  I think it split the flight group several times in spectacular fashion, although I am sure Jim was not intending that to happen, I wasn't.  The wind kept picking up, and the landing zone was very turbulent, we were driving them in hard on the turf.

Marty felt the pain of  a high speed landing in the turbulent wind.  Yes, that was an ICON wing.

I had made it into the money round on Sunday sick as a dog, but also top dog on the leader board.  In some ways I don't like that position, because it can make one fly defensive.  We all specked out in a spectacular thermal which just let us think about how important the upcoming landing was going to be.  That's all that my timer Steve Meyer was telling me, "It's a landing contest now, dude."

Richard Burnoski, the current OVSS champion nails a hunski line landing.

So we are all on approach, and Meyer is giving me the countdown and telling me guys are getting pounded and landing short. I adjust my speed and the turbulence is incredible.  The model is shifting several feet in altitude rapidly in the gusts, Meyer's countdown fades away as I concentrate on just making the landing tape.  My ICON races over the tape and I spike it in, I'll take that.  I turn to my left and watch Frickey make his approach which looked much like mine, the plane jumping all over the place and Jim expertly making a nice landing.  We shook each others hands, that was one heck of a contest that was going to be separated by a few inches on a landing tape in that last round.

It ends up that Jim Frickey had the better landing, he flew an excellent contest.  I rarely get to fly with the gentleman, it is always good.  Considering the condition I was in, 2nd place wasn't bad.  It's a shame to be that close to a win and not capture it though.

So we pack up, and a number of the guys from the SOAR club decide to caravan it home to Chicago.  That sounded great to me, we used the walkie talkies to communicate car to car, and that would keep me going on the way.  We also planned on stopping for a big steak dinner.  About 15 minutes down the road the temp. light comes on in the Explorer, so I turn off the A/C and the temp. goes down a bit, the light goes off, but I am baking in the car.   (It was over 100 on the field today).  Another 15 minutes and the temp. rises again so I turn on the heat!  I am really baking in the car, my shirt is soaked with sweat, I am even more sick than before, but the temp. goes down on the engine and we keep going down the road.  Finally I tell the guys over the radio I can't take the heat anymore and lets stop for that steak dinner, and then look at my car.  We all agreed and had a big dinner, man it was nice to get inside in some air conditioning and get some food.

After dinner my car had cooled down and we all had a look at it.  Luckily I was traveling with a bunch of guys who know cars, but we couldn't see anything obvious so we headed out.  We didn't get but a few miles down the road and my car was going to over heat for sure so we pulled along the highway.  It wasn't the safest place to be but my friends stuck with me, we let it cool down and then struck off for the next exit.  We made it on the verge of over heating again but we got off the highway, unfortunately in farmland USA with nothing at this exit but a small road.  We all decided the thermostat had crapped out so I back tracked with Robin Meek to last exit we were at, and went looking for anything we could at a Walmart that was there to fix the problem.  We couldn't find a thermostat, but we got the parts we needed to bypass it.  So we got back to my car, and Pat Crosby, Karl Miller and Ben Roberto had already got a good start on disassembling the parts to get to the hoses.  In short order we had the thermostat out and the car rigged to flow coolant in an unrestricted fashion.  We got back on the road and I hoped for the best.  The temp. shot up again and the light went on.  I told the guys on the radio that I was going to have to get off at the next exit and find a hotel and get it fixed on Monday, and I didn't want to hold them up any longer.  They agreed and said they would follow to make sure I could get the car somewhere safe.  Not a minute after that was said the temperature started cooling rapidly and I radioed back to keep going down the road, the car was cooling off.  The temperature returned to a normal level but I still never turned the A/C back on, I just wanted to get it home.  We all stayed in the caravan all the way home and talked on the radio, it's great to have friends like that, I could have really been stuck out there.

That was the hard way to get OVSS points, but I got another keeper... three contests without a drop and I am now in the lead for the series.

I got home, unpacked Rae's truck and went directly to bed.  Next week was going to be more busy than last, but I will be ready for it.

Here is a photo gallery of some of the better shots I took over the weekend.


Permanent link to article for Sun., June 12, 2005.Sunday - June 12, 2005


TK and I made the trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana on Friday after work, not really a long drive but we didn't want to do it early in the morning before the contest.  This month is just too busy with contests and events, but this is a contest that I need for OVSS and I like to fly with the LOFT guys.  This club understands how to do a good seeded man on man contest.


The conditions were light, and I was glad to be flying my ICON lite.  Many rounds were decided by the last man down, not the task time.  I like that.  I placed second on Saturday, behind a guy I never heard of before, Paul Sherman.  He also flew an ICON, but flew top of the line Futaba gear.

Now What? 


On Sunday Jimbo showed up, just to mix the results up a bit.  Jimbo barely beat Karl Miller and myself for a Chicago SOAR club sweep of the wood.  A good showing for Team JR as well.  That also gave me enough points to score overall weekend champion and two JR DS 368 servos, thanks JR!

This will be another strong weekend as far as OVSS points are concerned.  No throw outs yet.

Here is a photo gallery of shots I took over the weekend.


Permanent link to article for Sat., June 04, 2005.Saturday - June 04, 2005

JR Aerotow

TK, Jimbo, Capn. Jack and Karen and I traveled down to Montecello, IL. to the JR Aerotow this year.  This is an event we all have been trying to make for the last two seasons, but this year the dates worked out.  This has to be one of the most fun events I ever have been to, you just fly until you are tired of flying.  And when people are handing me the sticks to these big beautiful scale models, I don't get tired very rapidly.



Here's a music video I put together from video I shot during the event.

And here's a photo gallery of the pictures I shot during the event.


Permanent link to article for Sun., May 22, 2005.Sunday - May 22, 2005

OVSS #1 - CSS Memorial

TK picked me up Friday morning in his new Dodge Caravan, similar to his last one even in color, but this one has all the deluxe options.  I am certainly enjoying the new leather seats up front.  We will certainly be riding in style to Cincinnati.  This is the second time I have flown at the new CSS field at the Voice Of America park, it is a nice facility to fly from.  And the CSS club are always great hosts, and know how to put on a good seeded man on man contest.

It's always a great reunion going to the first big contest of the year, and this was no exception, everyone was there.  Including unlikely out-of-towners like my buddies JT and Bubba.  Two perfect weather days for soaring, and TK and I took advantage of them.  When it was all over, I placed 2nd on Saturday and TK placed 4th on Sunday, both of us bringing back wood to Chicago.  That's a decent start for the OVSS season, these scores will count.  Here is a link to a Photo Gallery of some of the better shots I took this weekend.

I shot the picture below from inside the van, somewhere in Indiana along route 65 on the way home, it was simply a beautiful sunset.


Permanent link to article for Fri., March 25, 2005.Friday - March 25, 2005

What a busy month, in fact this year has just been incredible.  I've been wrapped up in some interesting software development, time just flies when you are having fun.

I've had very little free time for some of my favorite diversions, basically R/C Soaring, but there isn't much of that going on in the winter in Chicago.  Not that we don't find other things to fly if we get a chance.  With all the advances in battery technology, (NiCad's are old fashioned, so are NiMH, LiPo is the rage now) micro electric indoor flying is becoming very popular.  One thing that has always interested me is helicopter flying, particularly micro helicopters, for instance the Pixelito or the Proxflyer.  Imagine being able to pilot an R/C Helicopter small enough to easily fly around inside your house.

Lately, my living room has been my "flying field" in the evenings.  I've been flying a commercial version of the Proxflyer known as the BladeRunner.  Although it is sold as a kids toy, (and it really is one including a low price), it is easy to find web sites and documents online where the average kids age is closer to mine and they are hacking and modding these models to improve their performance.  I have to say, it's a lot fun to take a five minute break with one of these.

Here are a couple of videos of me being silly and flying around inside my house.


Permanent link to article for Thu., January 20, 2005.Thursday - January 20, 2005

The 3rd annual International JR Aero Tow will be held June 2-5.  As Peter Goldsmith said at the last Nats that featured a weekend of scale aero tow cross country, he was also going to include a cross country task at his event.  I have to tell you, cross country with scale aero tow sailplanes is about some of the most fun I have ever had in the sport.  By all means, if you have an interest in R/C soaring you should check this one out.

I have put the flyer online for your downloading convenience. 

Click Here (Adobe Acrobat is needed to view this)


Permanent link to article for Thu., December 23, 2004.Thursday - December 23, 2004

I have been invited to join Team JR.  Looks like I will be a sponsored pilot in 2005.  This is the team I have really wanted to be a part of for some time now, excellent support for the R/C Soaring community, and a great bunch of people with the right attitude and skills.

I have been flying JR equipment for over 7 years now, and have always thought it was the best one could buy.  I can't see changing that anytime soon.


Permanent link to article for Mon., December 06, 2004.Monday - December 06, 2004

The Animal Planet web site has a feature on Bird Technology, where they have fitted some micro video cameras on the shoulders of an Eagle.  These are majestic soaring birds, I have had the opportunity to see them soar in person, I have shared thermals with them flying my R/C gliders, and to see them in these video clips was just fascinating.

Video camera on an Eagles shoulders


Permanent link to article for Sat., October 30, 2004.Saturday - October 30, 2004

My wifes older sister Ruth and a good friend of mine (and soaring buddy), Robin Meek were married today.

Congratulations to both of you!


Permanent link to article for Thu., October 21, 2004.Thursday - October 21, 2004

The 2004 Nats issue of Model Aviation has hit the streets.  Once again I wrote the annual Nats RC Soaring column, and was a photographer for the week of the RC Soaring National Championships.  I was also a competitor that took home 4 trophies, it was quite a week.  The whole activity wraps a bunch of things I like to do together for instance spending quality time with good friends, soaring, photography, and writing.


Permanent link to article for Fri., October 15, 2004.Friday - October 15, 2004

Click to enlargeI was in Dallas last weekend for the R/C Soaring TNT competition, and as you can see from the picture I have a big smile on my face.  I am the new TNT champion and the trophy comes back up to Chicago for the third year in a row now, Tom Kallevang and Jim McCarthy also of SOAR being previous champions.  The model I was flying was a 73 oz. ICON Lite with all JR digital servos, and the JR 10X transmitter.

Henry Bostick has been coming up to our SOAR Fred Fredrickson Memorial contest for years now and inviting us all down.  TK and Jim McCarthy have been going down to the TNT for about the same amount of times, telling us the stories of all the good times, and that must have rubbed off on Capn' Jack, Ron Kukral and myself as we all made the trip this year.  The contest is held at Southfork Ranch, that's where much of the TV show Dallas was filmed, JR's ranch. 

This was certainly a cool place for a contest.  Here is a link to a small Photo Gallery.

Capn' Jack and I timed for each other at the Nats this year and that was successful for both of us, we had the opportunity to do the same over the TNT weekend.  On Friday Henry lent me an OLY II so I could fly in the RES contest.  This was actually quite fun, the OLY II was a good flying model for the conditions at hand, and Jack and I got a chance to check out the winches and fields.  I think I placed 8th with that lil'OLY, and managed to place ahead of a bunch of high tech RES models. 

The SLNT club has 3 strong winches on trailers, with retrievers.  The fly an open window of 45 minutes to get a round in, you just go do it as soon as you can get your frequency pin.  Saturday morning was hazy, too much good food and drink, not enough sleep, rainy weather... ugh.  Jack and I drove to the field early in the morning, two large coffee's and a 4 pack of RedBull.  We patiently waited for the weather to clear,  I decided to take a nap in the rental car with my model placed under the car to keep it dry.  Half asleep I hear some guy say "hey that's a sweet ICON dude, can I take it".  I knew it was someone messing with me and I replied to the effect of "you better freekin' run fast".  I woke up to see it was my old friend Bruce Hobbs, he had driven in from Austin to watch us fly.

Finally the weather cleared up and we started to contest.  Soon as the opened I flew, landed and then we did Jack's flight, bang - bang.  It was good to fly and we nailed our flights.  We continued to jump up and fly our tasks as soon as Henry opened the round, we wanted to fly.  I remember the 9 minute round later in the day being difficult, really having to work hard for the last 3 minutes surfing on the other side of a treeline several hundred yards upwind of the landing zone, at about twice the tree height.  Capn' Jack got himself into the same situation on the next flight and out flew me, he lasted about 3 and half minutes over those trees!  That's the kinda stuff that happens when we fly together, we fly the same type of model, much the same style, and see and make rapid decisions with confidence. 

I was not really paying attention to the scores, we were flying rounds back to back very rapidly and generally speaking I knew we were doing OK, just like at Nats, a small mistake here or there but OK.  I was surprized to find out I won on Saturday, that was totally unexpected.  However I was not surprized to see so many SOAR pilots in the top five taking home some wood, we were flying strong:

1) Bacus, Jim  2) McCarthy, Jim  4) Strother, Jack  5) Kallevang, Tom  25) Richmond, Don  28) Kukral, Ron

Henry is an unbelievable host.  He has one of the most awesome BBQ's that I have ever seen.  Not only did we have fun flying, but the evenings were a blast too with extremely good food and drink.

Sunday the weather was even worse, overcast with a very low ceiling, maybe 500 foot.  At least it wasn't raining.  Henry wanted to get at least three rounds and the weather wasn't going to get any better so we went at it at high pace.  I backed off my first launch and still went completely invisible on the zoom.  I pushed forward and my ICON dove out of the clouds about where I expected, pulled back to regain altitude and went invisible again, and repeated this cycle about a half dozen times until the zoom energy was burnt off.  It was bouyant at cloud base, it was just a matter of keeping the model visible for the task time and nailing the landings.  My ICON was a shadow in the mist most of the time.  I think I was several seconds late to every landing on Sunday, I was flying conservatively making sure I got as much as the landing tape I could.  Despite this, Jack was killing me on the tape just jamming his ICON into the soft turf in a rude fashion that seems abusive to the model but the ICON is strong and can take it, so he does it.  I was keeping an eye on the SLNT guys feeling that they would be out flying strong on their home field today.  I could see that Jay Schultz, Henry, and  Mark "chia skeg" Willams were also really nailing the tape.  In the end it was a very close scoring contest with Sundays results from memory (I will link to official scores when I see them):

1) Schultz, Jay (SLNT),  2) Strother, Jack (SOAR),  3) Bostwick, Henry (SLNT) , 4) Williams, Mark (SLNT), 5) Bacus, Jim (SOAR)

I want to thank all of the SLNT club members for really putting on a fun contest, I will be back next year for sure.

P.S.  I finished up my LSF V win tasks, hoo yah!  8-)  Only two more tasks to complete the journey.


Permanent link to article for Mon., October 04, 2004.Monday - October 04, 2004

Congratulations to the SpaceShipOne team for winning the Ansari X Prize for private space travel today around 8 a.m.

This is so big on so many levels, it shows the world that American inventors and ingenuity are as strong as ever.  I really can appreciate guys who go out and solve problems that others claim are impossible.

Permanent link to article for Sat., September 25, 2004.Saturday - September 25, 2004

Jim McCarthy and I had our 9303's out at the SOAR Hampshire field today, Jim was setting up his Fazer and I was setting up an ICON lite.

Jim (yelling across the field): "How do you turn off Aileron-Flap mix in landing mode"
Me (yelling back): "I'm not sure"  (mine doesn't have it on)
Jim: "So what you are telling me is you are no help to me..."
Me: "I didn't say I couldn't help you..."  8-)

Looking over Jimbo's shoulder we enter the AIL->FLP M menu and I see he has CRU and BTF switched on, I tell him to turn off BTF and he has a big smile on his face.  We both range check our radios and walk out to the winch.

I get a normal launch, but I am more sensitive on the ailerons than I am used to and my landing mode is ballooning like crazy.  It doesn't help we are flying in gusty conditions with major helpings of schmeg.  Everyone is leaving their models in the tall grass, well, except for TK. 

The response of this radio seems a little quicker than my 10x, Jim thinks it's fast too, I am not sure why it seems like that.  I start dialing in my model, I appreciate the ease of use on the field with it.  I am trying out 100% diff in launch mode, a suggestion from Mike Lachowski.  Wow, that is different, I see the idea.  I also work my way up to 100% aileron rudder mix in that configuration so that the right stick is very effective.  Every landing I don't have to stretch my way home I dial in the landing compensation a little more.  Slowly but surely I am getting my new 9303 to feel like I expect it to with a known model.  I need some more time on it before I can confidently contest with it.

Craig, I intentionally left the 9303's LCD panel in the sun while I took a lunch break.  Came back out to fly and I had to dim the contrast a bit, it did get darker, but it was easily controlled.

Hans, the 10x is still a very capable radio.  I could probably make identical setups (scratching head), but it is just simpler on the 9303.  Flight Modes are not new, but I like the way they are implemented on the 9303.

It has been fun exchanging email about setups with everyone, I have been learning some new tricks, and it has been forcing me to try things on the radio I wouldn't have otherwise taken on so quickly.

I put 2:08 of flying in on the 9303 today, and had the opportunity to range check it pretty decently at altitude.

I am still liking this radio quite a bit.

Permanent link to article for Fri., September 24, 2004.Friday - September 24, 2004

A 2m ICON?

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(Click to enlarge)


Permanent link to article for Thu., September 23, 2004.Thursday - September 23, 2004

The new JR XP9303 sailplane computer radio, part 2

OK, I like this radio a lot.  I am going to lead off here with a really strong statement, I am going to switch all my competition ships over from the 10x to the 9303.  The 10x has served me so well I find it strange to say that.  There is nothing wrong with the 10x and I will continue to use it on my scale aerotow models where I can utilize the extra channel.

I had a full F3J/TD setup done for my ICON Lite, first use of the radio in about a hour and a half, and that includes getting snagged on the old version of the manual.  No custom program mixes used.  The only thing I don't have implemented is the way I had my butterfly setup on the 10x, 1st  one third of the landing(throttle) stick caused full trailing edge camber, at one half throttle stick my ailerons are neutral, and full deflection my ailerons crow.  I am going to try to figure that one out...

I keep finding all kinds of neat things about the software, how cool is MONITOR mode?    I really like the way this software is organized, this was well thought out.  By the way, here is a link to the user manual which is online.

OK, nothing is perfect, right?  I think the Launch, Cruise, Land switch is upside down, and I know how to fix that.  Cal convinced me I need a larger battery for my 8 hour slope, so I figure I would upgrade one of those 2100mah units eventually.

Also I would like to thank John Diniz, John Adams and Peter Goldsmith for the top notch customer support during my early learning curve on the 9303.  These guys reply to their emails quickly, and they always have an answer for me.

I can't wait to go fly this radio this weekend!

Permanent link to article for Wed., September 22, 2004.Wednesday - September 22, 2004

I would like to welcome JoJo Grini's Diary to my blog links on the left.  JoJo has some of the best pictures and writing on the subject of R/C soaring on the Internet.  Enjoy!

P.S.  Hey JoJo, you really could use an RSS feed my friend.

Permanent link to article for Tue., September 21, 2004.Tuesday - September 21, 2004

The new JR XP9303 sailplane computer radio

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(Click to enlarge)

I received the new JR XP9303 sailplane computer radio (9303) from Horizon Hobby yesterday, and got to start using it right after work.  My first impression is that I want to compare it to my 10x, which is only because that is what I fly now, I am sure it is not meant by JR to compete with this model of transmitter.  Just for history I own or have owned a JR Max, JR 783, JR 8103, JR 10sx (heli), JR 10x, and the JR 9303.  (Actually the 8103 is the only one I don't have anymore).

Before you jump in you have to consider some things, first off the servo mapping is different than previous JR models.  Actually what they did makes more sense, and allows 6 channel RX's to be used for 6 channel models.  But, more than likely this means you will have to change some servo plugs around at your RX if you are changing from another TX.  I turned on my 10x one more time, and marked my stab position with a pencil on the fuse so I could recenter it easily after I fired up the 9303.  In my case, I am moving an ICON Lite from the 10x to the 9303 and I had to pull the left aileron plug from Gear and move it to Throttle, I had to move right Flap from Aux 1 and move it to Gear, and I had to move left Flap from Aux 2 to Aux 1.  You have to give a little to get a lot, this is a template based programming system and the program expects these channels to be at those spots.   I thought about cross mixing the other channels so I could move back and forth from the 10x, but I don't want to mess with the simplicity of the 9303 programming at this time, so I chose to go with the flow of the design and not fight it.

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(Click to enlarge)

Shown above is the main menu, you can scroll through it with the thumb wheel on the right side and select by depressing the wheel.  This is really fast, blows the 10x numbered menu system away.  It sounds like a caffeinated cricket when rolling through choices.   This software is the best I have ever seen on a computer radio, it is easily navigated, and if you follow the template design of flight modes, you will get a very sophisticated setup without a lot of effort.  I flew through the setup last night until I tried to find the CAMBER ADJ and CAMBER MIX menus.  Hmm, not there.  Up to the computer and Tom Copp of had an email sitting in my inbox asking the same thing and if I was up.  "Ya, I am up, and doing the same thing as you are... give me a call."  So we talked about it a bit, both of us were stumped and fired off emails to John Diniz at JR.  John got back to us first thing this morning, it turns out the manuals need a revision to catch up with the new software on the TX, so instead of CAMBER MIX, use Flaprn MX, and instead of CAMBER ADJ, use FM Delay.  The same functionality is there, the names are just different. 

I just got the answer to that this morning, so I will have to finish my setup this evening.  I did see camber start to work, but I need more time to get it right.  I have not had to design a custom mix to this point, which is really impressive.  There is some fancy stuff I may try do to that I implemented on my 10x, but I want to get basic functionality first.  It looks to me that a full house sailplane can be setup with out using the additional program mixers, which in the end gives me more flexibility than my 10x.

Things that made me smile, general ease of use and ergonomics, Sub Trim adjustment with the thumb wheel, the new tones that the digital trims make, very easy to understand, the additional timer so I can run a countdown and a stopwatch from the TX, and the template design that really makes it simple to maintain the unique flight modes, and the flight screen has more information with a cleaner layout.

More on the 9303 later...

Permanent link to article for Thu., September 16, 2004.Thursday - September 16, 2004

Every now and then someone asks me what I am using as a skeg on my ICON, this time it was the WinchDoc and I knew it was time for a picture and a blog.  Here's a neat little setup I have been using for about one season now, easy to obtain, easy to make, easy to mount and remove (I fly F3J too), and is very effective.  I only use this nose skeg, I do not use a belly skeg.

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(Click to enlarge)

Start with a Tim McCann Tape On Skeg, shave off the post and cut down the blade as shown on the picture above.  I like to first attach the skeg with some wing tape (that won't pull off the paint on the nosecone), and then use strapping tape over that.  If you don't use strapping tape you will shear the skeg off on landing, thus shedding parts and not helping your landing score at all.  With a proper landing approach, this will stop my ICON dead in its tracks where ever I place the nose on the ground.

Permanent link to article for Sat., August 28, 2004.Saturday - August 28, 2004

My name finally came up on the Maple Leaf Design ICON build list, the day before I left for Nats.  I wasn't able to contact Don Peters until I returned home, but I had some new ideas about how I wanted my next laid up and painted.

After a pleasant conversation with Don, I decided to have my next ICON laid up as a F3J TD wing, not the light wing.  I have two light layup wings at the moment, I wanted to have a TD wing in the quiver that was a bit stiffer.

I still wanted a model that was lime green over magenta, I can see that color very well, and I have lots of ICON parts that are those colors.  But I wanted to modify the paint job on the wing tip, I wanted something that would really jump out and catch the eye and be highly visible.  So I thought about the paint fades that Don had been doing for guys, fired up PhotoShop and started coloring a picture I had of a green wing tip.  I put a mask line in the design so I could a high contrast of colors, and used two separate fades.  The ends of the tips are faded orange to red, and at the mask line is the darker forest green faded into the lime green to the root of the tip, just to make that orange jump off the wing even better.

I sent Don this computer image of what I wanted, and he said he could do it.

Initial tip paint design done in PhotoShop

Well, last night Don sent me an email and said a big box was ready to ship to me, and attached a digital picture of my new wing tip.

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The final design painted in the mold

The fades are a little more subtle than in my computer rendition, but I am still very pleased with the results.  (You can click on the image to enlarge it, the fades can be seen better that way).  I highly recommend working with Don Peters at Maple Leaf Designs.  I have bought a number of hand made sailplanes from his company, his products and customer support are the best in the industry.  

I can't wait to see it in person, with the entire model assembled.  And there is more to this story...  but that will be another blog entry in the future!


Permanent link to article for Sat., August 21, 2004.Saturday - August 21, 2004

3 LSF IV's do 2 hour TD, one new LSF V

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Two Hour Boys - Steve Meyer, Wayne Fredette, and Jim Bacus

That's right...
3 LSF IV's do the 2 hour TD task, one new LSF V after it's all said and done.  It happened at SOAR's Hampshire field today, just outside of Chicago.

Conditions were nice, the sky was completely blue, no clouds, big lift and big sink, had to get high and stay high, if possible.

Wayne Fredette, Steve Meyer and I successfully completed two hour thermal flights today, working towards our V.  For Wayne, this was the last task he needed to make level V.

CONGRATULATIONS to Wayne Fredette!!!  (I looked at his LSF V voucher card and he has dates going back to 1987)

Wayne flew a Chicago Style with a Picolario mounted in it today, and made two attempts, one for 1:15 in the morning, he recharged and went 2:05 on his second flight to make it, he was the last to land.

Steve flew an SBXC with an FMA copilot mounted on it and a Talking Telario inside it and cruised upwards of 1000m during his flight, he always seemed high through his entire flight.  Steve made it in one attempt, and was the first to land and accomplish the two hour TD today.

I flew my lightest ICON lite with a Picolario mounted in the ballast tube.  I made it on my third attempt, my first two flights went for about 3 minutes a piece, and I cursed at myself for flying so stupid.  On the third flight I got hammered at the start too, picked off a tight little thermal at 28' off a tree line and worked my way up to Meyer.  I ventured over 2,100' twice today, and had to save it once more from around 240' (thanks TK for the call to the barn) and worked it back out again.  2:01:01 and I was finished, about 45 minutes after Steve.  The 1250mah nicad battery pack in my ICON was at 5.5v at landing, my JR 10x was still at 9.8v.

It was a really cool day, I am beat up from flying that long but excited none the less.  I really enjoy knocking down those hard LSF task with my buddies, especially doing them together like that.

Thanks to TK, Don Smith, Wes Gibson, and Charley Schmitz for their help today.

Permanent link to article for Sat., July 31, 2004.Saturday - July 31, 2004

Nats 2004 - RES and Nostalgia class

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We woke up to rain again, I have never seen it rain so many days in Muncie during a Nats.  I stopped at drug store on the way out to the field; I needed some fresh rubber bands to mount the wing on my twenty something year old WindDrifter I intended on flying in Nostalgia and RES.  When I arrived at the field some people who had been in Muncie all week long were getting tired of waiting on rain and decided to just start their travels home a bit earlier.  But the AMA HQ was saying the weather was going to clear, and they were correct!

By about 10am I could tell we were going to fly, and the weather just kept getting better as the day progressed.  This was going to turn into the best weather day this event day has ever seen.  The winds were light, the thermals were abundant, and everyone who waited to fly was treated to one of those special "gas bag" days.  I specked my WindDrifter out twice today, I hadn't specked my ICON out in the past two days.  The pace was steady and laid back, but when we went to round 4, a place this event has never been before things started slowing down a bit as guys started getting tired.  Yet another day this week where despite the weather looking bad in the morning, we got a whole lot of flying in.

C.D. Tom Kallevang awarded the National Champion trophy in RES to Troy Lawicki, in second place was Brian Smith, and in third place was a very good junior pilot from Michigan, Kevin Steen.

In the Nostalgia event C.D. Mike McGowan awarded the National Champion trophy to Steve Siebenaler, in second place was Tom Scully, and in third place was Ed Wilson.  When Steve won this contest, he also completed his last task to complete his LSF level V.  This brought about massive cheers and celebration, as Steve has been looking for this win for some time.

It is a Nats tradition that a group of us celebrate the end of the week with a special dinner.  Usually this happens at Vincent's at the airport, but this year it was at a Sushi restaurant that JT found earlier in the week.  Steve's level V accomplishment was the spotlight of the evening, and we had enough people to fill two large tables.  They treated us like kings in this place, broke out some special Sake that the chefs mother home brews with ginseng in it, and the Sushi was surprisingly good.

It is always a pleasure to observe the all volunteer crew, veterans and new people alike, work together as a team to produce one of the best soaring contests year after year.  Not enough can be said about volunteers that travel here just to help make this event happen, and work hard all week.  People like Marna and Larry Jefferies, Marna makes the impound run like clockwork, it dictates the flow of a contest, and Larry keeps all the winches and launch equipment running all week, both of these are thankless tasks.  People like Sheldon Smith who works the winch turn arounds and organizes the kids retrieving lines, and he makes sure everyone has fun while doing so.  And to the entire LSF board, who I know have put countless hours into the small details that need to be completed on schedule with an event of this magnitude.  To all the people that give time to pull this week of premiere contesting off, thank you.  The work you do makes this event so special to so many people each year, whether they had the opportunity to attend or not.


Permanent link to article for Fri., July 30, 2004.Friday - July 30, 2004

Nats 2004 - Unlimited class, day 2

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C.D. Dennis Adamisin wanted an early start today, so I set the alarm a half hour earlier and got on my way.  I think we were within 15 minutes of when he wanted to start, that wasn't too bad for such a large group of pilots.  The weather forecast was to have a mostly sunny day, which would cloud up towards the evening as another small front approached.  The wind was to gradually increase during the day as well.

Josh Glaab was tearing it up, he clearly was in the zone and nailing his task times and landings.  Daryl Perkins and Mike Smith were just one little landing bobble away in points, and through about 17th place pilots were maybe one to two mistakes away from the top.  And the weather was not making this a landing contest, in many rounds it was last man down.  There was a pretty consistent long cycle of conditions, from good to bad and back to good again. 

As the day progressed, it clouded over and conditions began to flatten out.  This was that late in the afternoon flying again, where the conditions tend to really soften.  It was time for a "lap around Muncie" as Joe Wurts would call it.  Basically that is flying about as smooth as you can and flying a huge box pattern to the limits of your vision, making just three 90 degree turns and back to land, unless you scored a little lift, wave or buoyant air to loiter upon along the way.  The last two rounds were fairly intense, and the names on the scoreboard were beginning to change positions quite a bit.  In the last round, Josh missed the landing costing him first place. The new National Champion in unlimited class sailplanes for 2004 is Mike Smith flying a Sharon, in second was Daryl Perkins' flying the Sheer Insanity of his design, and in third place was Josh Glaab flying a Tsunami.

Here is a link to the final results:  Final Results

The evening was capped by an enjoyable awards banquet.  There was a great raffle (thanks to everyone that donated) where everybody won something.  The Hi Johnson award which is given to the pilot with the highest combined score in 2m and unlimited class was awarded to Daryl Perkins.  The Dan Pruss team award which is given to the team of three pilots in the same club whose combined ranking in the results of 2m and unlimited class competition are added together, and the team with the lowest score wins.  The SOAR 1 team consisting of Tom Kallevang, Steve Meyer, and I were the first SOAR club team to ever win this award.  The prestigious Le Gray award was presented to Jim Thomas.

Permanent link to article for Thu., July 29, 2004.Thursday - July 29, 2004

Nats 2004 - Unlimited class, day 1

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One hundred and one pilots gathered for the pilots meeting early Thursday morning, C.D. Dennis Adamisin was ready to get things rolling.  The only brand new model I have seen is Daryl Perkins' new Sheer Insanity design, it's hard to miss it, it is so large.  The weather wasn't as nice as it was yesterday, it was cool out again, a bit overcast and a bit windy, it was going to be some interesting flying to be sure.

We started out with an 8 minute task again, and went directly to 10 minute tasks in later rounds.  There may have been a 12 minute thrown in there in one round.  In the forth round I happened to be flying with Mike Smith, (it seemed like I flew a lot of rounds with Mike Smith, which was fun) and Daryl was timing for him.  We were standing in the pilot staging area and Daryl has a long slow look at my lime green over magenta ICON lite and says, "Jim, you must be a pretty good pilot."  I looked at him and I knew something was coming but I just listened.  He continued, "I remember when I was surfing a lot, I would go down to the beach and there would be all these dudes hanging out with the fluorescent colored boards, and the fluorescent colored suits... and they couldn't surf at all.  So you must be pretty good to have a model colored like Barney."  We all busted out laughing.  Like I said, it is fun flying with these guys.

I have to say those 10 minute plus rounds after 5pm really get a pilots attention, it reminds me so much of F3J, and I don't think guys tend to practice much at that time of day.  Do I have to mention the scores are tight after the first day?

It was going to be a pizza on the veranda night at the Roberts Hotel, an appropriate choice for the day.  This is an occasion where most of the pilots that are staying there have a stack pizzas delivered and we devour them outside on the veranda.  Just as I started unloading the gear in the parking lot at the hotel, Marty rode up on his new black '04 Electra Glide with a huge smile on his face.  I said, "Marty, nice Hoosier eve for a ride, huh?"  He threw me the keys and I got to take a very pleasant putt around Muncie, what a treat.  Got back to the hotel for pizza, unpacked the truck much later on in the evening.  It was another very long but fun day.


Permanent link to article for Wed., July 28, 2004.Wednesday - July 28, 2004

Nats 2004 - 2m class, day 2

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The sun was out and bright today, the heat actually felt pleasant.  We usually get cooked by the heat of Muncie summer weather, but not this year.  Again, we started the day rolling with an 8 minute task, but flew 10 minute tasks most of the day.  Today the pace was rapid, and as far as competition goes it was all about making those landings and not making any mistakes with these smaller sailplanes.  There was some very skillful flying going on between Daryl Perkins, Troy Lawicki and Joe Wurts, their scores were so tight.  The top page of the score sheet was tight as well with lots of pilots flying very strong, as you would expect at a Nats.

We flew a long day today as the weather was the best most of us had seen all week, and we got in seven rounds.  We always seem to get a lot of rounds in during 2m competition, and I think it is great practice and mental preparation for the next two days of unlimited competition.

During the later part of the day, a new group of pilots start showing up at the field, the pilots that traveled in just for the unlimited competition.  So there is another reunion of pilots and friends going on, and the awards ceremony is just that much larger at the end of the day.  C.D. Jack Iafret awarded the National Championship trophy to Daryl Perkins who was flying a Laser 2MC, in second place was Troy Lawicki who was flying a 2m Duck of his design, and in third place was Joe Wurts flying an Image.

Here is a link to the final results:  Final Results

This is an evening where there is always a lot of action on the field after the contest.  Many guys want to put their unlimited models up in the air, re-adjust to the larger models, shoot some landings, fun fly, etc...  Jack and I put out TK's winch and flew our ICON lite models.  The landing zone felt much better with the larger model, Gordy and I shot a few landings side by side and Gordy decided we tied.  We were nailing the landing tape repeatedly.  Peter Goldsmith was also out, and watching me land.  He was impressed how my ICON was stopping right where I put my nose on the ground, and had to examine the nose of my model.  He exclaimed, "I need one of those Jabbers!"  I busted a gut laughing, I had never heard a skeg called a jabber but it certainly was appropriate.  I showed him how I modified a Tim McCann belly skeg to be a nose skeg, and to use strapping tape to hold it on.  We flew until dark, it was a very fun day.

Permanent link to article for Tue., July 27, 2004.Tuesday - July 27, 2004

Nats 2004 - 2m class, day 1

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The weather pushed through and it looked like we could fly with perhaps minimal if no rain delays today.  As usual at the start of a two day event, we start with a rather long pilots meeting.  For the second year in a row, the C.D. Jack Iafret decided to allow a throw out round in 2m competition, if we completed more than 12 rounds over the two days.  And today the pilots' meeting was even a little longer because they awarded the F3B trophies this morning as well.  Daryl Perkins was awarded the National Championship trophy for F3B, Tom Kiesling placed second and Joe Wurts placed in third.

The first round of the day started with 8 minutes, but we usually flew 10 minute rounds throughout the day.  The first thing that surprised me even though I inspected them is how deep the landing zone cones were.  In my first group, nobody maxed the 8 minute task, and as I scratched around the corner of the cone to make a legal entry, I didn't have enough altitude to get back to the landing tape and took a zero landing, and so did a bunch of guys in my group.  I wouldn't let that happen again for the rest of the week, and I felt no pity when pilots who were low on altitude cut the cones to make their tape, only to get zeroed on the landing by an official.  A landing zone like this is proper when there are so many models making landings simultaneously.  The last thing one wants is a model cutting across a number of pilots landing zones so he can make his tape, which is a recipe for a mid air.

Extremely variable weather, a little cooler and tougher than previous years and I think that was fun.  The pace of the contest started slow, but as everyone began to mesh together the pace rapidly picked up and we completed six rounds.  No rain today, the first dry day this week.  Joe Wurts put on an entertaining show of flying a toy R/C UFO under the main tent at lunch that Jack Strother brought out at an appropriate moment. 

(I have that on video, I need to put it online here)


Permanent link to article for Mon., July 26, 2004.Monday - July 26, 2004

Nats 2004 - HLG

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I really wanted to participate in the HLG event this season, but my work schedule at my business prevented me from getting any models built in time.  It was all I could do to make sure I had models for the two day events.  None the less, I was on the field timing for all of Steve Meyer's rounds, and taking pictures when I could.

For the last three years, the HLG contest always seems to get the worst weather.  It rained hard, it lightly rained, sometimes for a few minutes it stopped raining, but we were all soaked.  A couple of transmitters were damaged from the rain.  Guys were tipping their models tail downward after rounds to drain the water out.  Early in the contest Joe Wurts broke the tail boom on his Encore during a launch, that round was costly for Joe.  Bruce Davidson, another lefty, had a Photon II that he lent to Joe for the remainder of the contest.  Bruce flew strong the entire contest, I really like being around Bruce at contests, he really has a good attitude.  Mike Smith was really flying strong too, no surprise I guess, he really was flying well the other day when I was watching F3B.

C.D. Marc Gellart, used the entire day to slip rounds in between the rain as best as he could, we finished late but the pilots sure did look like they had a good time none the less.  Bruce Davidson wins the national championship flying an XP4, Mike Smith in second also flying an XP4, and Joe Wurts finished the day flying a Photon II to third place.

Here is a link to the final results:  Final Results


Permanent link to article for Sun., July 25, 2004.Sunday - July 25, 2004

Nats 2004 Winch and Scale Aerotow, F3B - day 2

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Woke up Sunday morning and it was raining.  No rush to get to the field, hit the drive thru at Mc D's and snagged a #3 with a large coffee, and drove out to the field.  The rain just got worse as I drove down Memorial drive.  When I arrived at the parking lot by the aerotow flightline everyone was either still in their vehicles or under the main tent, so I sat in my car and ate my breakfast.  After awhile Hartmut came by to visit and we talked about what he did for a living, a mechanical engineer by trade, working up in Michigan on automobile turbocharger projects.  He had worked on the new Corvette "Blue Devil" project, the new Z06, and obviously that got my attention.  CD Dennis Adamisin held a pilots meeting and said he was going to not call the contest, and was going to hold up because it was supposed to clear up in the afternoon.  Many people left, but I just hung around and talked to people, and went over and watched the F3B guys some more.

The F3B pilots took a break to eat lunch, so I joined them under the main tents.  As the afternoon approached you could see it was going to clear up, people started finishing up their lunches so the flying could begin.  I figured if the F3B folk were itching to fly, so would the aerotow guys so I headed back over there.

Sure enough, scale models were being assembled, some were already on the tarmac waiting to be launched.  Johnny was no where to be found at the moment, so Jack's and my tug was put into action, TK was tug pilot, I believe it was Skip that was up into the sky first.  Skip went right to work on the X/C closed course.  Capn' Jack put his Ventus up next, and I was about to fly my DG 800s when Peter Goldsmith came over and introduced himself and struck up a conversation with me.  I told him how excited I was with all this and really was impressed with the larger models Skip and he were flying.  Without hesitation he offered me a 1/3 ASK-18, and said, "you fly a 10x, right", yup.  He hooked his TX to mine with the DSC cable and transferred the ASK-18 program to my TX and said go have fun.  I must have had a blank look on my face, he said "you can't hurt it, it is simple to fly, besides, if you do it's not mine, you will have to deal with my wife."  I chuckled, and I think he was serious; he has a keen smile and accent.

The ASK-18 seemed very simple, rudder, elevator, spoilers, ailerons and tow release, that is it.  And it was much bigger than my model, this has to be good.  Johnny was back on the scene with his Pegasus and gave me a tow.  It was a very simple model to fly, heck it flew great, big slow and stable.  Shot a nice landing and asked Peter if he minds if I took it out on the X/C course, and he doesn't mind a bit.  I do and take the longest run I have all weekend, 3.4 miles.  Excellent, I am very happy with this.

Peter asks Sheldon and I if we could take him on course, his crew left in the morning thinking it would be a rain out.  Of course we are in, I am ready to take a break from flying and it was the least I could do to help crew for Peter.  Peter took a reasonable launch to about 2,500' and we got in the back of Sheldon's bright red Avalanche.  Let me tell you guys, this is the ultimate X/C vehicle.  Sheldon had two bean bag chairs in the back, great music pumped in, and a sunroof so he and a spotter could sit in the cab.  Peter kicked back into the bean bag chair, looked at me and said "Chillin' like a villain" and we were off down the road.  He flew a clean tight course, no thermal turns whatsoever, Sheldon and I just helped keep him just outside the course boundaries.  One of the cool things about the closed course was that other teams progress was evident.  You would pass a teams car, and they might pass you again.  The teams jeer at each other, and the pilots work harder.  You might even lap a team, we did when Skip stopped to work a thermal over the cemetery.  Thirty seven minutes later and countless laughs, we landed at 9.7 miles even though Sheldon was begging to drive around the corner to get 10.  It didn't even strike me that this team just won the event, I was having such a great time it wasn't even a contest, I wasn't paying attention to that at all.

We finished the day fun flying, I stuck the short wing tips on my DG-800s and was more aggressive than yesterday.  I had a couple of strange very high speed tucks at altitude so I took it back a notch, still enjoying large loops and rolls.  Other guys were tearing it up too, Skip and Dr. Dan look like they do this quite often.  People were wandering over for the awards ceremony, so we were getting an audience, the applause is always pleasant when you do something cool.

Dennis asked us to settle down and land so he could present the awards.  As I mentioned yesterday, it was Marc Gellart and team in first place in winch cross country, and Peter Goldsmith and team wins the first scale aerotow cross country at Nats.

The F3B results were not announced today, but when I spoke to Daryl later in the day and asked how he did he smiled and winked, and I knew the answer.

I think if you spoke to most of the guys that participated in the scale aerotow X/C event that they would agree that this was one of the most fun new formats that has happened in quite some time.  Peter has said that next years JR Aerotow event will also have a cross country contest, I will be there!

Here are the links to the final results:
Final Results Scale Aerotow X/C
Final ResultsWinch X/C

Permanent link to article for Sat., July 24, 2004.Saturday - July 24, 2004

Nats 2004 Winch and Scale Aerotow, F3B - day 1

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Any nervousness or contest anticipation was instantly eliminated as I drove on to the AMA grounds Saturday morning.  The place was a bee hive of R/C soaring activity, every R/C channel was going to be in use for the next two days, at three different flying sites on the same grounds.  The F3B guys were setting up their area, the winch cross country guys were setting up winches and test flying, and the scale aerotow cross country guys were assembling some gorgeous models.  Harry DeBoer drives by and slaps me a high five truck to truck, waving to everyone on the first field tour of the year.  You have to appreciate the size of the AMA flying fields, it is a large facility, and I like to cruise around and check out what is happening, shoot video, pictures and talk to people.

Check in at HQ, get my package, and bump into Sheldon.  Instantly we are on the same groove we were on a year ago, he is going to team with me today and tomorrow in the scale aerotow X/C, and is excited as I am.  We head over to the aerotow area and park the trucks, instantly it's a reunion of Nats friends.  I have a hard time assembling my 1/3.75 scale DG-800s before the pilots meeting, I am talking to too many people.  There is a huge group of people participating this weekend, good pilots from around the world.   A very nice gentleman is cracking jokes to me during the pilots meeting, as he starts to get me laughing I pay a little more attention to the back of his shirt and notice it is Dave Brown, I didn't even recognize him.  So I get to meet Dave for the first time in a very loose situation, how cool.

Dave is here to watch the new scale aerotow X/C event, I notice we have a lot of spectators.  They have our flight line set up on the back end of the grounds, where the Free Flight guys usually fly.  After two tows Dave talks to CD Dennis Adamisin and suggests he move the aerotow flight line to the R/C tarmac landing strip, he was worried about us possibly interfering with the adjacent airports landing approach.  Some people were grumbling, but I thought the change was great, I wanted to land on the tarmac instead of the grass.  Most guys carried their models in the back of their crew vehicles to the new location.  By the way, at the end of the day Dave Brown said that the new scale aerotow X/C event was one of the neatest events that he had ever seen, and was already considering an extension perimeter road around the AMA grounds to give us a bigger lap!

We set up and the tugs were active.  My first tow of the day was going to be with Johnny and his Pegasus.  Johnny is a great pilot, loves to tow and is a bit of a hot rodder with his tug.  I told Johnny I was new to this stuff, I only had learned last weekend, and to take it easy on me.  He smiled and agreed, and did just that, although it was steepest tow I had ever performed.  Due to the wind, (around 15 mph), a steep tow into the wind with no downwind leg is the safest approach.  Johnny's tug is powerful and we towed at about 80 degrees at a high rate of speed, it was almost like an extended winch launch!  I released at about 1800' and cruised around and just felt out my model in the wind.  It seemed hardly affected, hey this was fun!  I setup my first approach on the tarmac, set it down smoothly and tried to keep the tips from touching the ground as long as I could as the model rolled out.  Huge smiles, everyone was sporting one.

Peter Goldsmith, flying a 1/3 Nimbus 2B, and Skip Miller flying a 6m Nimbus 4, John Derstine with a 1/3 Ka6E and Antonio Quesada were attacking the traditional 10k X/C course.  Capn' Jack flying a 5m Ventus AX, Tom Kallevang flying a Discus and I felt staying on the course inside the property was going to be the most fun for our teams.

On my second tow of the day, again I asked Johnny to be careful and he was.  On the third tow I didn't think I had to mention it again, so I didn't, and he didn't take it easy.  As soon as we were climbing he started rolling the tug.  I thought, OK, just do what I normally do and it was working, people were cheering, and I hear Dr. Dan scream, "Bacus, roll it the other way".  Good idea, but I am too new to this and don't want to mess up my new model so I just ride it out to the top.  Johhny was chuckling, and so was I, that was pretty cool.

The earlier part of the day turned out to have the best weather of the weekend, although windy, at least some sun and no rain.  The only serious attempts on the 10k X/C course by the winch guys happened in this period of the day, and Marc Gellart with team mates Steve Siebenaler and Bubba Glover took Marc's LET Albatross 6.93 miles out on the course, which would end up being good enough for the win.  But the afternoon brought light rain which shut down the aerotow and winch flightlines and I went over to the F3B field to spectate.  They were still flying in between drizzles when they could.

These guys like the wind, they were getting huge launches with ballasted models on their F3B winches loaded with monofilament line.  As I walked the flightline the contest was in progress, I was getting a lot of nods and quick "hellos", but these guys were busy and I tried to stay out of their way.  I shielded the camera with my rain coat as best I could and snapped pictures.  Dave Hauch, also spectating saw what I was trying to do and helped me out by holding his big umbrella over top of us as I snapped as many shots as I could.  Daryl and Joe were teamed together with this new guy I had never heard of before, Mike Smith.  I watched Mike do a speed run and I instantly saw that he was very good, looks like he had spent some hours on the slope too.  I managed to catch his smooth run on video with Dave shielding the rain.  Well, that is an awesome team, and the South African F3B/F3J team was competing, Michelle and Craig Goodrum and Anton Coetzee, they decided to stop by on their travels to the world championships just a week later in Red Deer, Canada.  Went and spoke with the SOAR guys where Richard Burnoski and William Wingstedt were having a good time, and doing OK despite the weather conditions.  A couple guys asked what was up with the wild aerotow, I got to smile and say that was me on the end of the line, and Johnny was doing that on purpose.

The skies opened up again, and the scale aerotow flightline rapidly turned into an acro fun fly session.  Skip started it off with some high speed passes right down the landing strip, into smooth large rolls.  Dr. Dan tells me to get the video camera rolling, and Johnny towing Dr. Dan instantly takes the tug inverted as soon as it breaks ground, then into a series of rolls, and Dr. Dan rolls his sailplane the opposite direction.  If this wasn't enough, at this point they both continue the tow inverted.  Everyone cheers, (we have a lot of spectators now), and they keep it up until the line breaks, it was impressive, and I caught it on tape.  I put the short tip extensions on my DG 800 and took several flights doing some nice loops and rolls, a few howling passes and I love attempting to shoot those perfect landings on the tarmac, with the wind we could roll to a stop and still keep our wings from touching the ground.

Even "Ornery Jack" was having a great time! 
video link 1:02  5.3mb  QuickTime movie  Sony HC-40 miniDV  edited with iMac & iMovie

The evening ended with a famous Joe Dirr BBQ at the AMA campground serving some of the best food I had all week.  His grilled corn was just awesome, as well as everything else he had prepared.  We had music system with an iPod full of tunes, bonfire, marg sphere and a great group of friends enjoying the evening on the campgrounds.  What a fantastic ending to one of the best kick off days of Nats that I ever remember.



Permanent link to article for Sun., July 18, 2004.Sunday - July 18, 2004

My first scale aerotow on video

5:22  24.9mb  QuickTime movie  Sony DCR-HC40 miniDV edited on a Mac with iMovie

I thought it might be a good idea to learn how to aerotow my scale ship before we arrive at the Nationals in a week, and so did a group of SOAR club members.  We now have permission to fly aerotow at a farmers private grass strip, and it is a perfect site for this.  We all wanted to prepare a little better for the upcoming scale aerotow cross country event at the Nats, it will be a new event.

The first tow you see on the video is my very first scale aerotow launch and landing.  The launch and flight was uneventful, the landing was a little hard, the down comp. on my programming was a little much, and when I hit the flaps on final the down was a little more than expected.  I pulled back the stick rapidly, and even though the landing looked rough, no damage was done.  I flew it three or four more times that day.

Also, this was the first use of my new palm sized Sony miniDV camera.  As you will see, I have not mastered it yet but the image quality is much better than shooting mpeg video from my still camera.

Permanent link to article for Mon., July 05, 2004.Monday - July 05, 2004

The SOAR Fred Fredrickson memorial contest was held a few weeks ago, this is usually our biggest contest of the year, it is also a stop on the OVSS tour.  I usually photograph and write about this event, but I am getting into digital video a lot more lately.  Here is a video I put together of the event, shot in mpeg movie mode on my Sony DSC-P9 4 megapixel still camera, and edited with Window Movie Maker software.

SOAR Fred Fredrickson memorial contest video  -- 35mb, 13:42 .wmv

Permanent link to article for Tue., June 15, 2004.Tuesday - June 15, 2004

Dr. Dan in Colorado sent me a picture of his new ICON.  I think this is one of the best paint schemes I have seen on the ICON, outstanding!

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(click to enlarge)

Permanent link to article for Sun., February 01, 2004.Sunday - February 01, 2004

My friend Larry Jolly was recently involved with the new AOL commercials for the SuperBowl, and did some work with the guys from Orange County Choppers.

It appears that after working with the chopper guys Larry is now going through some kind of phase, he even wears his shades to bed now!

Larry is wearing the new 2004 long sleave USA F3J Team shirt, GordySoar Limited Edition.

Support our 2004 USA F3J team and buy a T Shirt at this web site!

Permanent link to article for Fri., January 23, 2004.Friday - January 23, 2004

Click to enlargeI've been asked many times how I built the linkage for the spoiler on my AVA, here it is...

The AVA is really a simple build, the only thing I put any thought into was the spoiler linkage.  The spoiler on this model is huge, and my first concern was spoiler deflection on launch, I did not want that barn door spoiler pulling away from the wing so I needed some kind of positive control in both directions, (many guys in the old days of RES would just rig linkage for deflection, and use magnets or rubberbands to hold the spoiler down when not deployed).  My next concern was how tight the working area was to pull this off.  I happened to be playing around with an R/C Helicopter when the solution came to me, dual ball links on an opposed 90 degree angle.

I went to the hobby shop and bought a couple Dubro ball links, cut down the threaded socket ends, cut a small piece of threaded control rod, and screwed the two ball link arms together making sure the ball link ends ended up at about 90 degrees off angle to each other.  The pictures below should make this process much clearer.

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View from the bottom of the center panel, Hitec HS-80 servo fits perfectly.


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View from the top of the center panel, spoiler fully deflected.


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More than enough!  I have this much potential travel, no slop all the way down to a positive closed position.

Click the above pictures to enlarge them if you need a closer look.


Permanent link to article for Wed., December 24, 2003.Wednesday - December 24, 2003

Capn' Jack and Karen stopped by last Sunday to exchange holiday gifts and to go out to dinner with Rae and I this evening, and they brought me the coolest gift.

When I went out to Jack's truck in the back was 3 pre assembled parts of a workbench, with a big red ribbon on it.

Jack made me a custom workbench that is basically a 8 x 3.5 surface that sits atop 6 4x4's on casters that I can roll around my huge basement shop.  I have always been very weak in the workbench dept. in my shop, and now I have a really nice one!
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A new surface to put a project on, I can't wait!

Permanent link to article for Wed., December 17, 2003.Wednesday - December 17, 2003

100 years ago today Orville and Wilbur Wright flew a powered aircraft for the first time.  It has been an amazing centennial, and the next 100 years of aviation appears to be just as promising.

Here are some links to celebrate this event...  Click Me   Click Me   Click Me

Permanent link to article for Sat., December 13, 2003.Saturday - December 13, 2003

Subject: [RCSE] Having a bad day (more photos)

More on DG 300 crash (more photos) 
It seems that this pilot was trying to "land out" on to a soccer field, but he overshot and went between 2 concrete pillars that held up the end of a cable car station (shown in jpeg 4). It seems that he did not hit these pillars with the wings at the same time, which accounts for the crazy angle and snapped fuse. This explains the sheared wings.

There were a fair number of people in the immediate vicinity; luckily no bystander was hit. The pilot was able to walk to the ambulance. The wreckage was cleared away within 30 minutes.

Eric Swenson thanks kenavo for the pics.

Permanent link to article for Fri., October 24, 2003.Friday - October 24, 2003

Click MeThe December issue of Model Aviation magazine contains the annual U.S. Nationals issue, one of my favorites.  I was offered the opportunity to cover the Nats soaring event again this year, to photograph and write the R/C Soaring column.  This is an event I enjoy participating in as a contestant, but it is also a favorite topic of mine to write about as well as photograph.

I like that tiled cover art design, and hey that's me holding TK's AstroJeff on the cover!

Should be on the magazine stands or in your mailbox if you are a subscriber very soon.

If you would like to see additional Nats pictures and video, click here.

(Did the 8pm Panther purchase at the local Apple store this evening, install in progress...)

Permanent link to article for Mon., September 15, 2003.Monday - September 15, 2003

I attended the annual LOFT Fall Round Up (FRU) contest last weekend, a contest that I have been going to as long as it's been a part of the Ohio Valley Soaring Series (OVSS).  TK and I took Friday off, and left in the morning so we could get some practice flying in at the AMA grounds.  It was one of the smoothest trips to Muncie that I can remember, we managed to miss traffic and we arrived in plenty of time to fly.  Upon arrival to the AMA, we drove out to the place where we normally fly sailplanes and nobody was there.  Strange to be the only ones out there, I asked TK to check his R/C frequency scanner, (AMA grounds are large, people could be flying somewhere else), and sure enough, we see someone on channel 60.  We drove around to the power field with the tarmac landing strips, and found other R/C modelers.  Cliff was out with a winch and some other guys with sailplanes, and were sharing a flight line with the power guys.  It has been a long time since I flew along side power models, there was no problem with cooperation, but it sure was different.  Don Smith arrived shortly after us, and not too long after that Martin Doney.  Marc Gellart showed up a little later, and flew other peoples planes (OPP).  We all flew until sunset approached, which was just about the right time to quit as the mosquitoes seemed to get quite active.  We all went over to Muncie Airport to Vincent's Restaurant and enjoyed an excellent meal and conversation, basically a great day and evening.

And then I got completely ill late that night.  Maybe it was something I ate, but ouch, I was sick.  Very little sleep as well, not the way to start off the contest weekend.

The weather on Saturday was beautiful, just great weather for a soaring contest.  I wish I felt better, but it was not going to hold me back from contesting.  Mike Remus was the contest director for today's contest, and I like the way he does seeded MoM.  He will call long rounds and lets you fly the model you want to anytime you want to, he runs a sportsman class along side the experts and it works.  He has a real good understanding of which rules work and which one don't, and that only comes from contesting all the time.  I don't know if Mike started this, but the last two OVSS contests they allowed the first round one line break just to test the lines.  I think this is a good idea, an even better idea is to restring your clubs winches with new line before a big contest as we do at SOAR OVSS Fred Fredrickson memorial, or as CSS does at their OVSS memorial contest.  A new idea Mike introduced at the FRU this year was a coned area that you had to land in to score a flight.  It was about the same area as the HLG guys use at the Nats, and the landing tapes were in this zone.  It really cut down the off field landings, tightens up a big field, I liked this idea a lot.

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Mike Remus pats himself on the back after awarding himself 2nd place on Saturday.

Thirty six pilots competed in four flight groups off of the AMA's real ball winches on the same field that we fly the Nats on.  I wish I could remember more about the days event, but I was just hanging on health wise.  At one point I nearly gave my timer my TX because I thought I was going to hurl, but I hung in there.  I do remember just getting buried by Mike Remus in round 4, he really pounded a bunch of us there.  Flying a very competitive round 5 where a couple of us pounded the group.  And then I got buried again in round 6 by Richard Burnoski, heck I was able to walk back, disassemble my ICON and put it in its bag, and he was still flying.  "That will leave a mark!"  That flight scored the win for Richard, I dropped into 6th place for the day.

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The top three places in Expert and Sportsman.

Expert: 1st - Richard Burnoski, 2nd - Mike Remus, 3rd - Ben Roberto

Sportsman: 1st - Greg Prater, 2nd - Jim Redden, 3rd - Robin Meek

It really was a good time, the flying was superb and the sportsmanship and attitudes on the field were just wonderful to be around.  After the contest Sieb whipped out this electric P-51 that he let me and TK rape the air with, all kinds of aerobatics with great snap rolls.  Another pilot flew an FAI contest type helicopter and was pulling off some cool 3D moves, Capn' Jack and I found that to be quite impressive.  We both liked the half pipe tail slides.

I went out to Cafe 909 with a group of SOAR guys and had an early dinner, and then it was off to bed to catch up on some sleep.

The weather for Sunday did not look so good, when we arrived at the field it was still raining, and a lot of guys out preparing to fly.  Tom Siler, CD for Sunday looked impatient to start this contest, and looked like he might even start with it raining.  He already called three 5 minute rounds just to get a contest in.  I didn't even have to ask TK if he was going to fly, I already knew the answer.  Don Smith looked at the weather and decided not to fly as well.  I still have no ink on my LSF level V voucher, and with unstable conditions like this I might have a strong chance for a win.  I asked TK if cared if I flew today, (I was driving with him), and I wanted a shot at a level V win.  He said, "Go for it...", and I smiled.  Robin, Cliff and Ben helped keep my wings dry in the rain so I could get some tape down and stuck to hold the panels together, and then helped me lay a tarp over my model.  Tom called the first flight group out, it was still raining... I was thinking I am glad I am not in group A, I wouldn't launch in this.  Then he thought better of the situation, and paused the contest until the rain stopped, which wasn't long.

Stepping up to winch in round one, everything was wet.  I know the lines were going to be really heavy and weak due to the rain, so TK and I decided to take a real light tension launch.  I tapped the model up the line and *BAP*, the line broke.  I couldn't have been more careful but the CD was not going to allow any line breaks today.  "Fly it out!"  All I had was a stiff head wind and that little berm out by the road just beyond the parking lot.  I flew up wind and sloped the berm for 4:44 and got back to the inbounds box, no landing.  Not a great start, but heck, the first three rounds are 5's, the scores will be tight.  Mike Remus also broke a line in the first round, so in the second round we flew in group D with the sportsman, I am sure they just loved our company.  This time I only launched with a bit of camber, no launch mode, and was just as careful tapping my model up.  Now with the luxury of almost full launch height I explored up wind to see which treelines and ground structure was working.  I wandered around a bit and them came back with a decent landing approach, but wind and turbulence in the landing zone combined with a low and slow approach caused me to catch a wingtip just before the tape.  I couldn't believe it, TK and I just laughed it off.  I would be sure to make that approach much higher with much more authority for the rest of this contest.  Capn' Jack came by after that last flight and reminded me to keep focused, he had jumped up to second place and scores were really tight.  That last score was just enough to move me up into group C in round 3, and this time I finally felt like I was getting on track.  I took a very cautious launch, got as close to 5 as I could in the wind and nailed a 90 landing.  We marched through the three 5 minute rounds rapidly, the weather started improving and Tom decided to make this a flying contest, and called a 12 minute task for round 4.  I was talking to Jerry Shape and Mike Remus at the time and declared that no one would make a 12.  Jerry said with this group of pilots someone would max, and asked me if I wanted to bet him.  I thought about it for awhile, and decided against it, he was probably correct.  The first two flight groups didn't even make it half way, this was a last down contest now... I like this.  I moved up to group B from that last good round, and now I had some tough cookies to fly against.  Everyone here was hungry for group A, as was I.  I still took a cautious launch, and struck out left on my own upwind.  I asked TK, "Does it look like I am going up as I push out?", and he replied "I like your program".  Within a minute I am at cloud base and my bright green ICON Lite is graying out in the mist.  I slow the model down and TK reminds me we can stay at this level as long as I want, we were in this inversion layer at cloud base, we just need to keep the field position right in case I loose it into the clouds.  So I start playing this visibility threshold game, the model wants badly to climb into the cloud and disappear on me, yet I don't want to give altitude away.  At about five minutes in, TK tells me that some guys are really struggling.  Around 6 minutes it starts lightly raining and I hear models start landing.  My model is still strong at cloud base and full of energy.  Now it really starts to rain and TK pulls out his large umbrella and shields it against the wind to deflect the rain from my TX and face.  Only Marty and I are left in the sky around the 9 minute mark, Marty is flying a wave upwind of me in speed racer mode, working it for all it was worth.  I mentioned to TK he was really flying that well, he thought so too, but the rain was taking that all away.  Jerry Shape walked up to me at this point, and just put his face were I could see it.  I said, "I know Jerry, you would have won the bet", and he replied, "I know you wouldn't land early to win that bet either!".  8-)  Marty landed at around the 10 minute mark, and I flew the remaining two minutes alone in the rain.  TK was the ultimate timer in this situation, he moved the umbrella around, had a plastic bag over my TX and had his towel convenient to keep the TX dry. We set up for the landing, and such as things are, when you are applying the burial, all eyes are upon you at the landing zone.  I slid the landing a bit in the wet grass, but 60 points works.  The applause after a flight like that always makes one smile, that one felt good and everyone saw it.  Tom Siler pronounced that there would be one more round, another 12 minute task.  I awaited the clipboards to get displayed by flight groups, to see if I made it to group A.  The first three groups were hung up on the board, and I wasn't there so that was a good sign.  The first flight group went out to fly as the money round was displayed on flight group board, and I had closed the gap quite a bit being in a close third place to Karl Miller and Richard.  Karl and Richard were both concentrating very much on winning the OVSS season championship which was tightly scored between them at this point.  I pulled my clipboard down and put it in my jacket, I didn't need those guys to know I was that close at this point.  I went back over to the SOAR tents to have a Red Bull, and Richard came over to work the mind games on Karl before the last flight.  I let these guys talk their talk back and forth on each other while I took the picture below.

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Richard, Bill, Karl and Cindy check out the air before the last round.  Richard and Karl are "contest talking".

I grabbed my iPod out of the van and jammed out to Nicholas Tremulis "King of the Hill" while I watched the flight group ahead of ours.  Nobody maxes, everyone struggles, but the air still kind of looked good right where I took my last flight, the guys just didn't keep flying over the right spot.  So here it is, the last round of the OVSS season, the money round, and I have worked hard to get to fly in it.  As I walk out to the assigned winch, I tell TK that I want a full tension launch for this last flight, I want a big launch.  I have been holding back on my launches all day since my line break in round one, but not with this group.  Bill Wingstedt launches first and promptly breaks a line.  I look at TK and tell him I am still going for it, full launch.  I took a full launch and zoom and it felt great to get that much altitude.  About 20 seconds in I hear Richard and Karl arguing about who found a particular thermal, both hooked up in it and started dragging most of the pack downwind.  Marc Gellart and Jerry Shape fly upwind to the right out to the far tree line.  And I flew by myself back to the same spot as the previous flight, and right back up to cloud base.  TK kept me informed of everyones progress, and it was clear that many of us were going to max this round one way or another.  He said the downwind pack was flying well beyond the AMA building, almost invisible and trying to make their way back.  There was a good chance that Marc and Jerry had their maxes.  I heard Karl yelp and moan as he landed early, apparently it was wicked trying to make it back from that downwind run.  Sieb didn't make it back, and landed his Pike Superior way out, and it was lost.  About two minutes to go my air had deteriorated, as well as my much of my altitude.  I had to make a run for home, the schmeg demons were just yanking my stab to the ground.  TK was telling me it was going to be close, take any air I find on the way home and stretch.  I flew over the parking lot downwind on my way back and the ICON bumped.  I threw it on a wing tip and the wrap was neutral.  TK says "Kick it, kick that rudder".  I wish I had more energy but I can't take my hand off the stick at this moment to click in some down trim so I am pushing around the dish trying to get some speed, and I do kick that rudder.  Second dish I get some speed and we are going up, I quickly click a digital "beep" of down trim and get a faster dish going.  Next wrap add a little camber to taste and I have the ICON cored on that thermal, just cooking it.  Next thing I know I am setting up for a landing and it's windy.   Guys are missing their landings up and down the zone due to the wind gusts.  I carry a lot of energy in, not worrying a lot about the count down and stab the landing tape for 30.  As I turned around there was my good friends Capn' Jack and Karen standing behind me applauding, that was a special moment.  I gave that flight everything I had and it felt real good, I knew Karl landed short, and Richard missed his landing, the scores would be real close now.

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Tom Siler awards Robin Meek his first and last win in the Sportsman class.  Robin was flying an ICON Thermal in sportsman, is that like a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac? 

Tom Siler, CD awarded the sportsman trophies, and Robin Meek earned his first win in the sportsman class, now he will be flying in expert.  I remember when I did this, I didn't see wood for an entire season after that event. 8-)  Marc Gellart and Steve Siebenaler did a great job of a announcing the OVSS championship, here is a little mpeg video I shot of the event as it happened.  As it turns out that lousy 30 point landing was enough to edge Richard for first place, and I was awarded my first LSF level V win.

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Sportsman: 3rd - Jim Redden, 2nd - Bob Burson, 1st - Robin Meek

Expert: 3rd - Karl Miller, 1st - Jim Bacus, 2nd- Richard Burnoski (OVSS and weekend champion)


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Karl Miller - OVSS Champion 2000, Jim Bacus - OVSS Champion 2002, Richard Burnoski - OVSS Champion 2003

All three fly in the SOAR club and are proud to keep that eagle roosting in Chicago

Capn' Jack suggested to the SOAR guys that we stop at the Loon Lake Lodge on the drive back home for dinner.  It would be on the last exit on 69 before you take 465 around Indy, there would be a full size yellow aeroplane on the roof with floats.  We all managed to find it and arrive at approximately the same time, and were seated to a large table with plenty of room.  It was a pleasant way as a club to end the contest season and celebrate it with an awesome meal.  This spot is definitely a "keeper", we will be eating there on every Muncie trip now.

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The SOAR club dines together after OVSS FRU

Over dinner Sieb rings my cell and tells me he found his Pike.  Folks, let me tell you he out did Karl Miller's infamous leaving the Stork hanging on the high tension wires on the AMA grounds, I wish there were pictures.  His Pike was found on the roof of the new AMA building...  I about dropped my cell phone I was laughing so hard. 

Thanks once again to Mike Remus, Tom Siler, Marc Gellart, Steve Siebenaler, the LOFT club, AMA and everyone else involved with the OVSS and the Fall Round Up, it was a blast!

Permanent link to article for Tue., September 02, 2003.Tuesday - September 02, 2003

Click to enlargeI just got back from the USA F3J team selection contest which was hosted in Denver, Colorado by the RMSA club.  The contest was held over the labor day weekend, with practice and the pilots meeting on Friday, qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday, and the final rounds on Monday.

I jetted in on Thursday from O'Hare with Rae and met my team mates Jim McCarthy and Tom Kallevang who drove in with the models and equipment, and David McCarthy who arrived on a later flight.  The weather on Thursday was pleasant, only a few people were flying and we had a good time testing all our models out.

Friday was more of the same, good weather and many more pilots out practicing, cutting lines, catching up with friends and preparing.  Don Smith and Robin Meek, also from Chicago SOAR arrived today via driving bringing more equipment and help.  When the field slowed down a bit we practiced some two man tows, I towed all my models up.  Friday evening the pilots meeting was held at the Marriott Courtyard on Tower Rd., which also turned out to be a really nice place to stay.

Friday Photo Gallery

Saturday we only got in two rounds due to weather, the day degraded rapidly.  My first flight was strong (a nice start to the contest) and my second I thought was flown as about as well as I could in the weather, I wasn't the only one finding it difficult.  We got rained on for about four hours, thought we might be able to go again, switched the field and another front moved in and hit us again.  I didn't carry a camera because of the rain, so I took no pictures on Saturday.  We had to rapidly disassemble and pack everything in the rain, there were planes and parts in the wrong wing bags, in the wrong vehicles, all wet.  It took some time back at the hotel to dry everything out and get it back to the proper owners.

Sunday morning started off with rain but it eventually stopped and the contest rolled ahead.  The first round and the last round of Sunday probably had the toughest conditions of the weekend.  We only got a chance to fly 7 qualifying rounds, which made for a one throw out contest.  I really wish we could have flown more.

Sunday Photo Gallery

Monday morning still wasn't cooperating, with heavy fog that didn't clear for hours, it was going to be yet another late start.  When the fog cleared we had 3 rounds of seniors, 3 rounds of juniors, and finished up with 3 rounds of seniors again.  The sun came out and the whole sky was UP!  I am sure the guys in the final liked the sunshine, but wished the conditions were a little tougher as this became a rapid launch and precision landing game very quickly, with about 14 and a half minutes or more of cruising around in between.

Monday Photo Gallery

There was no doubt in my mind a contest with this many good pilots in attendance was going to produce a good USA F3J team.  And it did just that, with Joe Wurts in first, Tom Kiesling in second, and Larry Jolly in third with Josh Glaab in fourth as the team alternate.

MPEG movie of the 2004 US F3J Team announcement

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Josh Glaab - Alternate,  Tom Kiesling - 2nd,  Joe Wurts -1st,  Larry Jolly - 3rd

Memorable Moments

Larry Jolly making one of the most incredible saves I have ever seen on Sunday.  LJ popped off at about 100' and proceeded upwind to small cove of trees and started doing wide smooth circles, there must have been a thermal there but I didn't see it.  He actually walked out all the way to his towers as he concentrated on making his Eraser stay up.  I watched him fly at about 100' for over five minutes in this area, it looked at times it was all going to fall apart but he would reposition and keep the model barely off the ground.  Towards the end of the flight the thermal finally kicked off allowing him to get some altitude so he could walk all the way back to the landing tape and shoot the landing. It was an incredible show of persistence and just willing a model to stay up.

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Larry Jolly and 'Roo' the Aussie F3J Team Mascot

Later in the afternoon I was lucky enough to see my first bald eagle soaring amongst models.  Two local hawks decided to attack the bald eagle and performed dive attacks from above.  The eagle did the nicest series of rolls that I have ever seen a bird do, each time taking it's claws to the hawks diving at him from above.  I have to imagine the eagle heard us on the ground cheering him, because he treated us to this show several times and more and more pilots got to watching the show, and cheering louder.  The bald eagle is a majestic soaring "B" one "R" "D",  larger and faster than anything I have seen.

Joe Wurts entire set of flying was methodical, he never seemed to ever get into any position to harm himself.  Since I had a lot of time to watch him in the fly offs on Monday, I noticed things I hadn't before.  His strategies are well thought out, and executed equally well.  For instance, nobody gets off the line quicker than Joe (at least on purpose).

Tom Kiesling was flying as well as I have ever seen him do in a contest.  His landing precision was amazing, continually placing his Mantis on the 100 between the 1 second to go beep and the horn.  He left very little meat on the bone.  And his team mate Josh Glaab, I have heard of this guy but never seen him fly before, wow!  What nice guys to be around too.

If LJ's pop off and save wasn't good enough for everyone on Sunday, Jim McCarthy duplicated the deal in a 15 minute final round.  LJ was going to give one of his bionic high tension launches, (if you don't know what I mean, try towing a model that Larry is holding on to in preparation for launch), unfortunately Jimbo's model over accelerated and popped off really low.  LJ called for Jimbo and he flew most of that 15 minutes below 400'.  Jimbo took that round with a 14:56.57 and nailed the 100.  Incredible flying, just amazing.  Lesson to learn, never, never give up.

TK (Tom Kallevang) my close flying friend for the past several years made the finals with some very consistent flying.  In the finals he was flying more aggressively than I have ever seen him, and I have seen about every flight he has taken for years.  Nice to see new tricks from old dogs, I'm impressed, definitely took it up a notch.

And finally, my last memorable moment was LJ snapping a line just as he was tensioning to launch in the finals, the line hit him in the neck and drew blood.  The line break also somehow caused the boom on his Eraser to break.  If he were to change models it would have wasted valuable time needed to make the team, so he launched and flew a model with a completely broken boom, the only thing that may have been holding this model together were the push rods and shreaded glass.  The boom was drooping about ten degrees, but he had enough up trim to keep the model flying.  Ya baby, he maxed the remaining amount of time and nailed his landing.

It was a difficult weekend of soaring due to the weather, but in the end we have an awesome team to cheer for and support for the 2004 F3J world championships.  At the edge of the flying site I spotted this barn with a huge message on its roof, I think this picture gives a hint about our new F3J team.  (As usual on my web site, click any picture to enlarge it)

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Permanent link to article for Sat., July 26, 2003.Saturday - July 26, 2003

The final day of Nats, and Nostalgia and RES can make for a great way to spend it if the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, it was overcast and windy which makes it difficult to fly some of the older wooden Nostalgia models. Back again this year was Jack Iafret, CD of Nostalgia and Mike Fritz was the CD of the RES event. Both of these gentlemen did an excellent job.

In my opinion, Nostalgia brings out some of the most beautiful looking models in our hobby. And the pilots that brought them out today were determined to fly them. The wind was so strong at points that models were launched without tapping the winch peddle more than once or twice. I remember Steve Siebenaler with the help of Rob Glover launching Steve's Windfree in what seemed like what was going to be a disaster. But they didn't press the winch peddle, the model barely spooled out line as it climbed out on a successful launch. Sometimes we were on the line as long as 20 seconds. We parked our gas bags in the wind, and brought them down as safe as we could, hopefully on a landing tape.

Another flight I remember is Tom Scully popping off with his Challenger, hooking it up from low level in a thermal and maxing the round. In fact getting so hooked up that his talking timer beeped for over 40 seconds after he was supposed to be on the ground, it just didn't want to come down!

And the last flight memory I can share here was that Jim Deck got to compete in his first contest at the Nats in several years. The flight line literally broke out in applause after Jim landed his 3m Gnome in the last round of the contest on Saturday. It's moments like these that make coming to the Nats so special.

In the Nostalgia event, James Vanderzly placed first flying his Challenger, Ryan Woebkenberg placed second, and Tom Scully place third also flying a Challenger. In RES, Troy Lawicki is the new national champion, Mike Fritz placed second, and Don Richmond placed third.

The results of RES and Nostalgia can be seen here:  2003 RES and NOS  Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to article for Fri., July 25, 2003.Friday - July 25, 2003

The good weather continues, but somewhat cooler than what is typical for Muncie this time of year. Ed Wilson was the CD of the unlimited class thermal duration contest this year, and he ran an extremely smooth contest both days. Although there were rumors floating around the pits both days, there was no throw out round for the unlimited class contest.

As you might have guessed by now, all eyes are upon Joe Wurts as he has won every contest he has entered to this point. Joe chose his ICON Lite to fly for the next two days, I noticed that he always carried a pipe or two of ballast in his cargo shorts, and he frequently changed the amount he carried in his model right up to the point he had to launch.

The air for both days was typical Muncie, ever changing, sometimes great and sometimes down right awful. But at least when you fly Man on Man like we do at the Nats, all the pilots are scored in the same air, good or bad. Man on man flying with a group of pilots of this caliber means minimizing or making no mistakes for two days. The flying is solid and skills are honed at this point in the season. One little bobble can send you tumbling down the score sheets prominently displayed on the blue box by the "white whale" scoring trailer.

Early on Friday I saw Larry Jolly pop off on launch, that is not something that would normally happen to him. He instantly flew down wind rapidly towards the new control line tarmac, and guess what was waiting for him? He thermalled out from low altitude and made one of the best contest saves of the week that I witnessed.

Although the scores in the top ten were tight, by the last round in the contest Larry Jolly was keeping the pressure on. As contest luck would have it, Larry and Joe were lined up in the matrix to fly in the last round of the contest against each other. After what seemed like it was going to be a non event as all the pilots easily found air and achieved the task times, Joe missed his first landing in four days! And believe it or not, Larry missed his too.

Joe Wurts is now the new unlimited class national champion, and he swept every event he entered at the Nats with some very impressive flying. Larry Jolly placed second flying a Hera cross tail, and Dr. Dan Williams placed third flying a F3J ICON.

The evening was topped off with the traditional Friday night banquet out at the golf course.  Capn' Jack got the affair started on time, and it was a very pleasant evening.  It's always fun to share time off of the field over a good dinner, and always interesting to see all the pilots in street clothes with out their hats or sunglasses on.  It was such a nice evening I popped off the roof on the Vette and took a long drive home through Muncie.

The results of unlimited thermal duration can be seen here:  2003 Unlimited Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to article for Wed., July 23, 2003.Wednesday - July 23, 2003

Mike McGowan was the contest director for 2m this year, which was flown on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and he wanted to make it a "kinder, gentler" contest this year.  All the task times for both days were in the 7 to 9 minute range, and for the first time I can remember in the years I have been attending the Nats, we were going to get a throw out round in a thermal duration event.  I would have to say it was a very relaxed contest, his recipe worked.  Although I am not sure a throw out round is needed in a thermal duration event at the nationals.


This is the first event were we got to fly on the new landing zones and tapes, and I think they really improved the system from last year.  If there is anything left to iron out, it could only be minor.  These are challenging landings to make as a pilot, but quick and easy to score so the zones are cleared quickly.


The weather for both days was very pleasant, the thermals were there if you could get a big launch and make the right decisions.  After the first day, it was apparent that Joe Wurts was flying very strong again.  He was flying a molded V tail Image from Maple Leaf Designs, a model that he has had in a box for over three years and built just before coming to the Nats.  In fact the first flights were just after the HLG contest on Monday.  But you couldn't tell that by the way he was flying it.


On Wednesday it was simply a Joe show, he won every round he flew in, and scored landing points in each of those rounds as well.  Joe Wurts is the new national champion in the 2m class, Oleg Golovidov placed second with a model of his own design, and Larry Jolly placed third flying an Organic.


The results of 2m can be seen here:  2003 2m Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to article for Mon., July 21, 2003.Monday - July 21, 2003

I still had to be out at the field early today as I was fullfilling my obligation to help time and call for Steve Meyer in the HLG contest, but it was somewhat of a break for me as I was not competing.  Steve helped tow in F3J for me, and in return I help him in HLG, it's a good deal for both of us.  It's nice to have good help.

I don't know why these guys have all the bad luck, but the weather did not cooperate again this year for the HLG contest.  At least the rain for the most part missed us, just harassing us with a light sprinkle in the morning.  Overcast, cold, windy, but there were thermals moving through, sometimes rather quickly.  Marc Gellart was back again this year to CD the HLG contest, and his experience showed with starting the contest at the right time after the front moved through, and using the appropriate predetermined tasks for the current weather at hand.

Six rounds were flown, with a break for lunch mid way through the contest.  The pace of the contest was relaxed, but the flying once on the field was intense.  At times there were many strong small thermals rapidly passing through the flying area, and it was always a judgment call on how far you could take one up before you got too far downwind.  Steve Siebenaler flying an XP-3 and Larry Jolly flew very strong contests.  Joe Wurts was flying a Taboo designed by Oleg Golovidov with 5.5 oz. of ballast in it, and won every round except his first. 

Joe was really in my ear about getting back into contesting HLG, it sure looked like the guys were having fun.  It certainly got me thinking about it again.

The results of HLG can be seen here:  2003 HLG Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to article for Sun., July 20, 2003.Sunday - July 20, 2003

Waking up to that alarm buzzer again, feeling the effects of the previous day and evening.  My head hurts and I am down one model.  I checked out the weather on TV and drank the small pot of hotel room coffee, got my stuff together and met TK down in the lobby.  TK and I would end up driving together each morning, we always do that.

It was bright and sunny out, but a bit of dew on the ground early in the morning and that was going to take a while to burn off.   We did a drive thru at McDonalds so we ate breakfast at the field and built our models.  TK had the Best of the Beach Boys jamming from the Van, it was an appropriate set of music.

The air today really got challenging at times, other times it was quite easy, the cycles were long and the wind variable in speed.  The plan was to get 4 more qualifier rounds, take a lunch break, and then use the rest of the day for the fly off rounds.

There was some hero or zero flying going on, and some guys were not making it back to the landing zone, even worse, some even landing out.  Larry Jolly who was quite strong to this point took two zeroes in the difficult morning air, both were excellent flights, just not quite enough to make it back.  Dan Williams who also was flying strong lost his F3J ICON out in the corn.  I remember watching Joe Wurts flying fast through sink down wind that guys were bailing out of and limping home, way out over the corn fields, and instead of turning back he went faster and farther down wind, way past the point of no return.  And then just at the far end of the field probably less then 100 foot in altitude he finds a thermal and screws his ICON into the sky at an alarming rate of ascent. 

We took a break for lunch and scoring figured out who the top 10 fliers were going to be in the fly off.  TK and I were in the top 10 before they did the throw out scores, but shifted out after they did the throw out.  David McCarthy picked me to be one of the experienced towers, we had a strong  new guy with me, LJ would call for David. 

The plan was for five 15 minute rounds so there could be one throw out round.  The qualifying scores were not carried through, all the fly off pilots started with a clean slate.

The air continued to be unpredictable, there was some really incredible flying going on.  The turning point in the fly offs was in round 4.  There was one good thermal cycle moving downwind fast just before the launch horn, it was going to be the ride, hero or zero.  Right after the launch I saw two pilots go for it, David McCarthy and Joe Wurts.  I was towing for David McCarthy and after running back from towing I see Larry Jolly on one knee next to David looking towards the horizon.  Larry says, "Do you have David's plane", I quickly scan the sky and don't see it.  I say no, and Larry says, "DOWNWIND", and I spot it, just a little cross of a dust spec on the horizon.  I try not to say anything to alarm David, but I can't hold it back and an "oh shit"  spurts out any way.  So Larry and I keep an eye on it for over a minute, it's just silence between us all but David is squirming and leaning the TX around.  It's only Joe and David that are left flying but Joe is zipping by overhead and David has made very little progress getting back.  Larry says, "You are flying towards us aren't you?"  Oh man, I am biting my lips trying not to laugh.  David mumbles something at Larry, probably appropriate at the time... and then Larry says, "You don't have camber on do you?"  David makes this groaning noise and cleans up the wing.  The model starts getting closer, but it's clear it's going to be in the corn.  Several of us get a good spot on it as it goes in.

David proclaims "That was farther out than last year, BABY!!!"  He's got a good attitude, of course that flight scored a zero.  Unfortunately the model was never found.

The results of F3J can be seen here:  2003 F3J Nationals Scores

2003 Nationals Picture Gallery

Permanent link to article for Sat., July 19, 2003.Saturday - July 19, 2003

Up at 6:30am to the hotel alarm clock buzzer, this would be the normal routine for the week as we like to get out to the field early and take care of business before the contest starts.  Many of my friends were looking forward to the two days of F3J this year at Nats, as was I.  Two days of F3J flying also attracted some really great talent from California, namely Joe Wurts and Larry Jolly, both former US F3J team members.

My F3J team consisted of Tom Kallevang (pilot), Jack Strother (pilot) and Steve Meyer (experienced tower), but we had adjacent lanes with Jim and David McCarthy (father and son) and Steve "Sneidley" Schneider, all fellow SOAR members and guys I practice with.    So it's like we are one big happy team.  It turns out that this morning I learn that Larry Jolly will be flying with our teams as well, he is flying un teamed and solo.  Jim McCarthy and Larry are good friends, and know the F3J game.  If there was a way that Larry could be taken care of within our mix, they would figure it out with reasonable logistics.  I was wanting a chance to fly and talk with LJ during this week at Nats anyway, this was going to obviously provide an opportunity for that to happen.

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It took a while to get started this year, Phil Renaud, CD is usually quite punctual with an early morning start.  I think there were some timing equipment problems, but they got things straightened out and the contest proceeded.  We decided this year not to run a TX impound so that radios did not have to be shuttled back and forth to the pilots as has happened in previous years.  The morning air was not easy, the sky was a bit overcast and the winds were light.  My first two rounds were certainly nothing to write about, but no major mistakes either so I just keep trucking like I usually do in F3J, it's a long contest and anything can happen.  In my third round I maxed and hit a nice landing, just before the horn, or so we thought.  A strong way to finish before lunch break.  As I walked off the field Joe Wurts approached me and said, "Your last landing was late."  I said, "It was?"  He said, "Phil said it was late."  I said, "I guess it was late then" without emotion.  Joe continued to talk to me about how it is better to be early then cut it close as well as other strategies, but I was thinking to myself no official has told me I was late yet.  I also knew that once Phil had made a decision it was final, so there is no reason to even talk about it.  Still, kind of strange no one other than Joe has mentioned anything to me so I decide to sit at the picnic table with Phil for lunch.  No mention of the late landing call, but we had a very pleasant lunch and conversation.

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Back out on the field for round 4, mid way through the round I hear a rumour passed down the flight line that Joe spotted an error on my score card and pointed it out to the CD for correction.  I haven't even received my card yet, but I guess someone forgot to tell scoring about my late landing.   The only thing that upsets me about this moment is that these guys might think I am cheating or trying to pull a fast one.  Up to this point, I have been passive about the situation.  I now approached Phil, told him no one told us we were late, we thought we were in and scored it on the score card.  If he calls it late, it's late, the CD has the final call and I knew I was close.  I was on an end lane at distance, there is the issue of when each of us actually heard the horn, but the lesson to be learned here is not to cut it so close. 

So my head is now clear of those issues, it is my turn to fly in round 4.  I hook up my trusty old friend, the green meanie ICON lite, TK says kick on one, this means we have beaucoup tension.  I kick, we rip a launch with a great ping and I get all of it.  I start drifting to the left and my model is non-responsive.  I yell those sick four words, "I DON'T HAVE IT".  Within seconds, the model is whistling in a straight dive towards the ground.  I don't watch it hit the ground, I can't.  I am already setting the TX up to the memory model of my back up F3B ICON lite, I can hear my tow guys in high gear resetting the lines for a relight.  Jack and TK are in my face yelling at me to focus on the flight, forget about what just happened.  I am doing it, probably slow because the multitude of thoughts that are racing through my mind, but this is all a routine for me now and I get set.  TX is OK, got the model, everything wiggles, hook it up... man, my tow guys are on it, kick, nail a launch and right into a pack of guys already in good air.  Continually being coached by good friends to keep focused on the flight, right to a 100 point landing.  I actually scored a pretty good flight, but I was emotionally so low now.  That was my number one model, a model I was very successful with over the past season and a half, now it is history.  Jack tells me what happened, he accidentally left his TX on after the last flight, he is feeling lower than me and that makes me feel bad too. 

That left me with two models to complete the F3J contest with, a F3B ICON lite that was better suited to windy weather, and my new AVA , a 39oz. RES model that has a similar design of the Mark Drela Bubble Dancer, but has the construction of a Vladimir model, i.e. like an Organic or Graphite.  The AVA was only a few weeks old, but I think it could make an excellent dead air tool.  I hadn't even done an F3J tow with this model yet, but the conditions towards the end of the day were pointing to using this model, so I was going to go for it.  Joe came down to our lane for it's maiden flight, he even offered to help tow it which he did with Steve Meyer.  I told them to take it easy as this was the first time, and they did, so it was a gentle launch.  I basically maxed the round (I left about 10 seconds on the table) not used to the landing approach of this model but I did get a 90 on the landing.  I also flew it in the last round of the day, this time taking a full launch zooming as high as the rest of the models, maxed the round and shot a 100 landing.  Not a bad debut for a 3 channel polyhedral model in a national level F3J contest.

The evening was to end with an excellent BBQ and bonfire with a close group of F3J fliers and friends.  Rae had made it down safely, and wisely avoided me after the model crash until the party started.  Joe Dirr was doing his BBQ chef thing, and it was all on.  Thanks once again, Mr. Dirr, and to everyone else that contributed to the BBQ.  The food was so deluxe, the best of everything you could have at a BBQ was out.  He had a smoker going out there with his special rib recipe, there were steaks, chicken, potato salad, fresh sweet corn cooked on the bonfire, and plenty of good things to drink.  What a party, things just kept getting wilder, it was a late night after a long hard day.

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Permanent link to article for Fri., July 18, 2003.Friday - July 18, 2003

I had been preparing for the Nationals for the better part of the month, but the last two evenings I burned the midnight oil.  I tried to finish my new ICON Lite, but it wasn't to be.  At least I finished the fuse, and I could use it mated to my light F3B wings, an interesting combination.  An unfinished ICON Lite wing left at home safe in the box would be good insurance.

I had the Vette all packed (to the limit), and Rae's Explorer too, she was going to meet me down in Muncie a day later so she didn't have to take the day off of work.  My business wasn't letting go of me so easy in the morning, but I took care of the issues and got on the road by 1:30pm.

The traffic out of Chicago on 80/94 just sucked, I spent two hours in what should take about 35-40 minutes of driving.  I will never take that route out of Chicago again, I am sick of it.  Stop and go traffic with a stick shift Vette wallows in lameness.  After I got into Indiana and started south on 65 everything opened up and I followed a bumblebee yellow Nissan R big cannon exhaust rod for a long time, made up some good time.  I like getting the Vette out on the open road, it drives so nice.  Traffic around Indianapolis was light, they call that feeder into 465, 865 now.  The ride back northeast into Muncie was relaxing, but laced with anticipation to see all my friends.  I wish I was able to leave earlier, it was such nice weather driving down, I bet the guys got some good practicing in today.

The sun had not set by the time I had made it to the Roberts and checked in, many were still out at the field.  I unpacked the car, the parking lot was full, this hotel was packed.  Got all my stuff up the elevators and into the room, cranked up the A/C and ventured down to Flappers to see who was hanging out at the bar.

No surprise to bump into Jack and Karen, they had just finished dinner at the bar, and I was going to do the same as they were staying awhile.  Jack recommended a BLT sandwich, sounded good to me so that's what I had.  Followed by a few drinks with Jack, Karen, and the steady stream of Nats contestants that kept popping in.  Jack and I are on the same F3J team and we knew this Nats was going to start early and likely be intense, so we called it an early evening.  I went back up to the room and fell right asleep and had a full nights sleep, a rare thing at Nats in Muncie.

Permanent link to article for Tue., July 15, 2003.Tuesday - July 15, 2003

I've been quite busy developing software and preparing for the R/C Soaring Nationals, working hard and playing hard.

Most of the pictures on this web site are photographed by myself, but I often get great photos sent to me by guys who enjoy my web site or pictures, and want to share something back but they don't have their own web site.  I am going to start sharing some of these photos, it seems a shame for them to dead end in my attachment folder.

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Karl Miller snapped this shot of me at the SOAR Fred Fredrickson Memorial contest earlier this year.  I was smiling and shrugging off an average attempt in very light air with my SchpotDorker, and he caught that and the V tail model on landing approach above my left shoulder.  I like this shot, thank you Karl for sending to me.

Permanent link to article for Thu., July 03, 2003.Thursday - July 03, 2003

I am listed on the LSF Upgrades page!  I am one of four guys who made it to level IV this month, and one out of 680 ever that have made it this far.

Karl Miller sent me this photograph of the SOAR club members that were down at the Mid South contest last weekend.  Congratulations to Karl Miller for a win in expert on Saturday and a second in expert on Sunday to take home the Louisville slugger weekend champion (bat / wood).  Congratulations to Richard Burnoski for a win on Sunday in expert, both Karl and Richard are local SOAR club members.  Remember me saying long ago the OVSS series was going to be tight this year?

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Richard Burnoski, Karl Miller, Steve Meyer, Ben Roberto, Robin Meek

Last weekend I was with three other SOAR club members in Denver, Colorado at the F3J in the Rockies contest.  Jim McCarthy, his son David, Capn' Jack Strother and I, with Jim's brother Tom as a dedicated tower which formed our team.  This contest was held by the club that will host the USA F3J team selection contest, on the field that they intend to use for that contest.

I put together a simple web gallery of some of my best pictures that I snapped while I was there.

Permanent link to article for Mon., June 23, 2003.Monday - June 23, 2003

Last Friday, June 20th, was a practice day for the SOAR Fred contest, but some of us planned to do some LSF tasks that day because there was going to be a good group of guys in town.  The original plan was to get Capn' Jack his 10 K goal an return so he could finish his last LSF task and become a level V.  Jack took two attempts on Friday, one with his ICON that made it half way through the course, and one with an Aquila XL, that he flew for about two hours on course, and painfully came up about 1.5 miles short. 

Barry Andersen, Steve Meyer and I all completed the LSF level IV goal and returns, and we all graduated to level IV on the same day.  The LSF level IV goal and return task is 2 kilometers in distance, you can just about get it done from one decent speck out, and being careful on course.  I logged my entire flight with the ALTi2, and you will see that is exactly what I did.  I finished comfortably at over 1200 feet, and landed directly afterwards.

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ALTi2 Chart of my LSF Level IV Goal and Return

Barry also had to complete a one hour thermal duration flight on that day too to get level IV, we all helped him achieve that task as well.

Holding my completed LSF IV form

These LSF tasks are all about getting together with pilots, and helping each other coordinating the tasks.  We had a large group of guys out there in support of this, and I want to thank all of you and special thanks to Jim McCarthy and Tom Kallevang, both level V pilots who took me on the X/C course today and helped me knock that task down with style.  I topped out at 2,430.8 feet in altitude during that task.

On Saturday Jim Deck, the current secretary of the LSF drove up to the SOAR Fred Fredrickson memorial contest and presented all three of us our level V packets so we could start working on those tasks, and in doing so, graduated all three of us to level IV that day.  This day will definitely hold some special memories for me.

Permanent link to article for Wed., June 18, 2003.Wednesday - June 18, 2003

Yesterday there were 1060 different visitors to this web site that looked at one or more pages.  That's a pretty good day for this site, I usually get several hundred visitors a day.

Lots of people looking at last years Nats pictures, probably thinking about this years event.  Here's a little news on that end, Bob Hunt, the editor of Model Aviation magazine  invited me to do the Nats R/C Soaring Column again this year, and I accepted.  I will be a photographer as well, so expect another gallery of the weeks event.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my web site.

Permanent link to article for Sat., June 14, 2003.Saturday - June 14, 2003

I have owned the Alti at (1.0sec, 2.0sec sample rate), the LoLo at (0.1sec, 1.0sec sample rate) and now the new Alti2 (0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 6.0sec sample rate).  All of these devices are great and have taught me much, but the new Alti2 and software just makes it more convenient and easier.  Sheldon at YNT uDesign has hooked me up with all these electronic devices, he is a distributor for the Alti2, check out his web site for all the cool stuff he sells. 

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The Alti2 I ordered from YNT uDesign

The Alti2 comes with an interface cable, and the new software that doesn't require Excel.  I don't have Excel on my small notebook computer, but now with this custom software I can install it on a computer I can take to the field.  This now allows me to have instant feedback between flights, a huge difference.

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ICON lite with Alti2 interfaced to a Sony VAIO notebook computer via a USB serial adaptor

Installing the Alti2 is easy, just plug it in to an empty servo connection on your receiver.  It is so small, I just push it down the ballast tube on my ICON.  One of the nice things about the Alti2 is that is can be controlled from the TX, you can start it out of stand by mode, you can place markers in flight on the log, and you can stop recording in flight.

Out at Hampshire field today we were restringing and testing winches for the big SOAR contest next weekend.  Although the lines were not set out too long, we were launching at high tension to test the line so we were getting all of what we had in the wind. 

I took this opportunity to put my new Alti2 to a field test.  It was a windy day in Chicagoland, so I wanted to do some launch comparisons with my ICON by using a F3B wing and a F3J lite wing on the same model, and doing several launches.  I wanted to see if sampling at 0.1 second intervals would have enough resolution to profile the launch / ping / zoom of a competition launch.  After the first flight, we downloaded the data into the new software which seems quicker, and it was clear that this was going to be good.  Interesting enough, I was not the only one with a Alti2 out, Sneidley had one in his NYX and was stopping by between flights to download his logs. We instantly started having an informal launch height contest. I posted long ago on RCSE about the idea of a future contest format that will involve just logging flight data instead of using a stop watch to measure our flights.  I am sure this will happen one day.

Back home this evening analyzing the days data, this new software is really interesting.  Much easier to use than the Excel macros, and so many new features.  I like the ability to overlay different flights for comparison, and the flexibility to zoom in on graph data.  Below are screen shots of the new Alti Logger software, the graph on the left is the entire flight data, while the graph on the right is a zoomed in portion of the data that just represents the launch.  I chose four flights to view in these graphs from the treeview on the left of the screen, this is an easy way to navigate and data mine the logger data. Two good launches on the F3B wing and two on the F3J lite wing.  I wish I could say I had more flight time on the F3B wing, but it was only my second day with it so my launches are no where near as smooth as with using the F3J lite wing.  For instance, the B wing launch that is represented by the green line went way too deep in the bucket, but resulted in a high launch.

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It is very clear that you can see the entire launch profile on the graph on the right, (you can click on these graphs to enlarge them).  Which wing did you think was going to have a launch advantage?  Without a way to measure you may never know, I like the ability to have quantitative results.

Permanent link to article for Wed., June 11, 2003.Wednesday - June 11, 2003

Recently I asked Don Peters of Maple Leaf Design to build me an ICON Lite better than the green one I currently own, if that was even possible.  The model I have now is awesome, contest hard and proven.  I fly it all the time just for fun, and have completed many LSF tasks with it as well.   It would be hard to make something better, but lighter would be nice for all that Rocky Mtn. soaring I will be doing later this season.  Incredibly, he out did himself...  there is a good chance this model will end up sub 70 oz's. after the build.

If you have ever opened a box from Maple Leaf Design you know the feeling.  An old Supertramp song came on the radio in the hangar as I started removing pieces from the carefully packed box, ah the smell of a model fresh out of the molds.  Directly to checking out the wing tips, then the fuse, I kid you not, I got chills from inspecting this model.  I've received several new ICON's before this one, so it is easy for me to get more critical than excited this time around.  But this is the best one I have seen yet, it is so stiff and light.

Many of you have commented how sexy my color scheme is on my current model so I had the new one painted the same.  It going to be hard to tell which one or combination I am flying, and oh yeah, I have the thinner F3B wing in the same color scheme too.  This is the first ICON I have owned where the rudder is not taped on to the fuse, there is an internal hinge, it is very clean looking.  (That might make it a Mk II, Paul...   )

Permanent link to article for Sun., June 08, 2003.Sunday - June 08, 2003

Contest Report - LOFT Bob Steele Memorial 2003 - OVSS #2 (Saturday)

I had a long week which I have been finishing up a major software project, the midnight oil had been spent and Friday at 5pm one of my companies servers went haywire, the work week just wouldn't end.  I solved the problem at about midnight and tried to get a few hours sleep.  TK was picking me up at 5am and we were going to do a one day trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana for some contest flying.  It turned out TK had a tough week too, but nothing was going to stop us from getting a second OVSS series contest in the bag.  The 3.5 hour drive was uneventful and we arrived in plenty of time, the LOFT field is very easy to find.  The weather was just gorgeous, and the prevailing winds allowed them to set up 6 winches in the longest direction on their field, so the lines were long.

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Pilots meeting

The contest format was seeded MoM flown on 5 winches with one back up winch, all with a generator backed batteries, so there was no winch fade all day.  The tasks were 10, 12, 12, 12, an 14 on a 100 point landing tape, expert and sportsman classes flying together but scored separately, otherwise normal rules but the LOFT guys just like the SOAR guys allow model changing.  In other words, this is a contest format I really enjoy.

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SOAR club members Ben Roberto, Karl Miller and Tom Kallevang chill in the pits between rounds

Round one was fairly routine, although I do remember Ben Roberto working a bit harder than anyone else in that round, he had some nice patience and slowly worked himself out of a bad situation to a max.  Karl Miller flew his new Eraser Xtreme in a somewhat difficult round for himself, but went back to his Victory C for the remainder of the contest, which proved to be a good move for him.  In round two I was in the last group with the big boys, and we got handed some very interesting conditions.  Richard, Ben Roberto, Mike Remus, TK, Don Harris and I flew into absolute smeg air after all the previous flight groups had easily maxed.  The guys in that group all tend to fly their own air, so no one covered anybody at launch and everyone went there own way.  Siebenaler was calling for me, information was coming at me fast... guys in every quadrant of the sky, and everyone was getting hammered, and Sieb had lost sight of Richard.  I don't think Richard had a very good launch, and took a very direct route over the road to the left of the winch lines.  I played a strategy to fly a upwind treeline that paid off for me in round one, only to just get hammered on the way out and back, Ben was working some buoyant air over the field so I floated over to try use some of it, hardly enough to do anything, but better than nothing.  We flew opposing circles in this light air with our big ICON's, I don't think either of us wanted to change direction because of the energy and height loss we would suffer for the effort, so we dealt with it.  I've flown with Ben before, I knew he would fly smooth and we could cooperate.  Mike, TK and Don had landed, and Sieb finally picked up Richard coming back to the field low.  His entire flight must have been at extremely low altitude.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Richard's Space Pro limbo between a stack of power lines that edged the field, successfully.  Couldn't dwell on that, had to concentrate on the air.  I thought I felt the air feed to the back of the field, so I separated from Ben and circled back to the tree line.  That didn't play out for more than 20 or 30 seconds and I bailed and shot a landing.  Ben won that round with a 5:21, but left some on the table because his stretch left him in a bad position to get a landing which he didn't make.  All that happened so fast, and every second is so important...  I wish I had been a little more patient and stuck with Ben.  Needless to say, that scattered the flight groups.

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Will Sears launches as Ben Roberto executes the zoom on his launch

Round three sets me back two flight groups, to fly against three of the guys that were just in the top group with me last round.  I am thinking to myself, man is this a tough group of pilots to be two groups back, and I need to get back into this contest with a max and a landing.  And we all did in that flight group, but the group ahead of us got a nasty cycle of air which scattered a bunch of us again for round 4.  In round 5 I moved forward one flight group, but did not max (nor did anyone in my flight group, but I did not win the group either and dropped valuable time), another cycle of smeg air and I did not get up and away.

Marty's X tail Hera alongside Cliff, TK and my ICON

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Karl Miller, Marc Gellart, Richard Burnoski, Tom Kallevang and Steve Siebenaler casually chat and watch the current group of models flying

In round 6 I got to fly with the Team JR guys with 14 minutes of all you could eat air, we all specked out, chatted and finished the contest right.  I remember hitting 14:00 straight up with a 95 landing, and I was happy with a strong finish.

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Bill Friend and his highly modified Sailaire.  Notice that he flies with a vario.

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An inflight picture of Bill's Sailaire

The contest flow was exceptional, Will Sears had the scoring under control and there never seemed to be a pause between rounds.  The LOFT guys brought out a gas grill and a cooler, cooked up hot dogs and provided ice cold beverages for a lunch donation.  Smiles were abundant and everyone was having a real good time.

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Martin Doney prepares for his next flight

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Bob Steele's son presents Karl Miller with the first place trophy on Saturday

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Saturday's winners.  Left to Right, Richard Burnoski 3rd, Marc Gellart 2nd, Karl Miller 1st Expert.  Shannon Uhl 1st, Greg Prater 2nd, and John Gospodarek 3rd in Sportsman.

As I have previously mentioned, the LOFT club was all over the details of this contest, and already have the official results online here.  Impressive, this is just hours after the contest was finished.

Permanent link to article for Tue., June 03, 2003.Tuesday - June 03, 2003

Steve Meyer told me he put up some maps to the upcoming 6th Annual Fred Fredrickson Memorial Contest, OVSS #3.  Here is a link to the maps.

Permanent link to article for Wed., May 28, 2003.Wednesday - May 28, 2003

Dynamic Soaring is probably one of the most fascinating forms of r/c soaring.  I actually got a taste of it for a few days at the legendary Parker Mtn. where Joe Wurts introduced the soaring community to this technique.  It's very addicting, you just want to minutely adjust your circles to go a little faster, it always seems like there is more there.

There are some guys that are really going fast now, and the 200 mph limit has just been broken by a few guys last weekend.  A new record has been set by Dave Reese taking it to 206.6 mph.  Want to see what 206.6 mph looks like on an r/c glider? (remember, no engine on this model for you non-modelers, it's a glider, and no, the video is not speeded up.)

Permanent link to article for Tue., May 27, 2003.Tuesday - May 27, 2003

Tom Kallevang just sent me the updated 6th annual Fred Fredrickson Memorial Contest document with directions and hotel information.  

Mark your calendars and update your PDA's, this contest is to be held on June 21 - 22.  If you have ever considered traveling to Chicago to go to a classic SOAR club contest, this is the one, you don't want to miss it.  This year we will be flying from the same facility and field that we used to host the F3J team selections a couple of years ago in Crystal Lake.  It's a great place to fly, and easy to get to.  The format is seeded man on man, no skegs on a FAI landing tape, model changing is permitted and you can count on long task times.  This contest is also on the OVSS series, and draws the best pilots from across the Midwest.

Permanent link to article for Wed., May 21, 2003.Wednesday - May 21, 2003

Contest Report - CSS Memorial 2003 - OVSS #1

Rae, Tom Kallevang and I took off last Friday and drove to Cincinnati to see our friends and stay with the Strothers.  Soon after arriving Karen Strother had reservations made at a fine steak restaurant in the city, and we drank and dined for hours in our own booth, it was a very relaxing way to end the week and unwind after the drive.

We woke up Saturday morning to light rain, but we packed up and made it out to the Voice Of America (VOA) field.  The VOA field is an old long wave transmission base which apparently at one time was a immense jungle of large antennae.  The antennae are now gone, and there is a huge piece of property the government now lets the general public use.  The CSS guys had a good setup out, and the turnout was exceptional considering it was still raining, like 30 guys or so.  It was fun catching up with friends, but the rain continued.  Steve Siebenaler was the CD on Saturday, and he called a pilots meeting in the light rain and asked everyone to sign up and get ready if the rain stopped we would go.  Even though the first round in seeded MoM is random, I just had this gut feeling I would be up in the first group.  As predicted, I was and I put together my lime green ICON in the light rain.  TK still hadn't built a model, and Team JR pulled the plug and left for the weekend, they decided not to fly.  The first group was called up, I finished gulping a Red Bull and was checking out the treelines upwind, ready to contest on this new field.  I was working through my first flight in my head, neck strap on, ready to go, and then they called off the contest for Saturday.  I took a towel to my ICON and quickly put it away with TK as he chuckled at me, his ICON was bone dry.  At least 4 other pilots walked out to the winches and launched and flew in the light rain.  I would have gone if the group went out to contest, but in retrospect it was the right thing to call it off on Saturday, it was not going to be a fun day.

So we made our own fun on Saturday, and went out to Dave & Busters and had food, drinks and games.  I know they have been around for awhile but I have never gone to one before, it wasn't what I expected, we had fun.  I even got Rae and Karen to try racing on the ski machines!  Before we knew it we had to get back to Jack and Karen's for a small party they were having.  Joe Dirr had some ribs cooking all day long, and his rice and beans were just awesome.  The gals made up a great salad.  Marty and Reece did up some huge T-bones on the grill, and Sieb came over with a beer cooler recharge.  We snuck a surprise birthday cake on Jack, the guys got him a cake with a plane crashed in it, really cool!  Oh, and the Strother sphere of margs, ever so dangerous.  The one thing I learned that evening was nothing gets Marty fired up more than to consume a bottle of Jack, hit the sphere pretty good, and then talk about the Nats landing zones.  Heh Heh Heh...  Many opinionated pilots pontificating and debating that evening, sometimes the discussions were heated, it was great.  The rain continued and we all wished it would stop.

Sunday morning and the rain had stopped by Jack's house.  The weather forecasts were constantly changing, the only way to tell what the weather was going to be like was to go up to the field.  No rain at the field, but less guys compared to Saturdays turnout.  I guess many pilots probably thought that Sunday would be a rain out too, but it actually turned out to be good contest weather, i.e. challenging.  Today, John Measamer was our CD, and we flew a seeded MoM format, on a standard 100 point AMA tape.  There were six rounds flown, the task times were 7, 9, 11, 11, 11, and 13.  That's 62 minutes of total flight time folks, I'm fairly impressed when a contest can pull off over an hour of flight time for the day. 

Through the first three rounds, Siebenaler held on tight to first place.  I mentioned to him it would be fitting that he would win on a day that doesn't have enough pilots for a level V contest.  But in the third round, Cliff Bryan flying his new ICON light, buried group 1, took the lead and received a round of applause from the pits after he landed.  In round four I slipped by Cliff into first place and stayed there for the rest of the day flying my trusty green meanie ICON light.  I would like to see the official final scores, there was a lot of good flying going on, and a few hero or zero moves that went either way to promote all the shuffling of the pilots scores.

Below are just a few of the pictures I snapped on Sunday, you can click on them to enlarge them.

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CD John Measamer in front of a flock of models ready to contest 

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Everybody has a landing stance, this is Marc Gellart's  

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Jerry Shape's Fusion ready to strike the tape, Don Harris' Mantis on approach in the background   

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Tom Kallevang accepts the 5th place wood, was in the third group in the previous round!   

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Capn' Jack was swept off his feet to accept 4th place wood   

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Barry Andersen displays 3rd place wood, the only guy in the top five not flying an ICON   

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Cliff Bryan displays 2nd place wood, flew a brand new naked yellow ICON lite   

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CD's John Measamer and Steve Siebenaler present the first place trophy to me   

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Post contest toast with Capn' Jack and TK at the high-life lodge (Jack's shop)  

Permanent link to article for Tue., May 20, 2003.Tuesday - May 20, 2003

Back from a fun packed weekend in Cincinnati.  Trying to catch up on everything but I will post a contest report here soon with pictures.

Since both the SOAR club web site and RCSE seem to be down at the moment, I'll announce the 6th annual Fred Fredrickson Memorial contest to be held on June 21 - 22 from my web site for right now.  If you have ever considered traveling to Chicago to go to a classic SOAR club contest, this is the one, you don't want to miss it.  This year we will be flying from the same facility and field that we used to host the F3J team selections a couple of years ago in Crystal Lake.  It's a great place to fly, and easy to get to.  The format is seeded man on man, no skegs on a FAI landing tape, model changing is permitted and you can count on long task times.  This contest is also on the OVSS series, and draws the best pilots from across the Midwest.

Permanent link to article for Wed., May 14, 2003.Wednesday - May 14, 2003

Don Harris, Mike Remus, Karl Miller, Paul Siegel and Jim Bacus, what do these guys all have in common?  They all like to contest r/c sailplanes and have all had a chance to display the Ohio Valley Soaring Series (OVSS) season champion perpetual glass eagle in their trophy displays for an entire year.  I am currently enjoying this privilege at the moment, and it is on display in the Bacus household.  The picture below shows the 2002 season wood pile leading to the glass eagle, and my two "Wood Tools". 

OVSS Champions Click to enlarge the picture

  • 1998 - Don Harris
  • 1999 - Mike Remus
  • 2000 - Karl Miller
  • 2001 - Paul Siegel
  • 2002 - Jim Bacus

What else do these guys have in common?  They were all in the top 10 in the OVSS standings for 2002.  And none of them have been able to pull off the championship twice, yet...

And there are still some very good midwest pilots that have been in the running for many seasons now, just look closely how tight those season total scores are.  You probably see a wider point spread at a single local club contest, and this was a best of four out of seven series contest.  That's a lot of rounds of flying, on a lot of different terrain, and in a variety of weather conditions.

The OVSS is intense, yet probably the most fun contests I participate in during the season.  Most of the contests in the series are in Man on Man (MoM) format, many are seeded MoM, my favorite.  The pilots that fly in this series enjoy that format, and are very good at it.  MoM means we launch and fly a group of guys at the same time, in the same air.  Seeded MoM means the best fly against the best after the first round.  This leads to some very strategic flying, and it also means that it mixes up timing partners, which is great for the learning curve of upcoming pilots, and sharing techniques. 

I have been flying in the OVSS since it began, I really didn't know what it was about in '98, but I was sure having a great time meeting all the nice people I can call friends today.  Marc Gellart is the guy responsible for organizing the OVSS, and he has done a great job growing it into what it is today.  Over the past five seasons, I have seen the rules get refined in the seeded MoM contest format by the guys who really fly in these contests, and not at just one club, but by clubs over several midwestern states.  I have seen the popularity of this format rise each season, and there are so many reasons.  It's fun and about the fairest format then can be created within the reasonable parameters we have to contest with.  And when I say fun, I mean the entire package.  This format is as much fun to fly in as it is to be a spectator.  Watching guys fly against each other is entertaining, it's usually pretty easy to see who wins each group (like a mini-contest in it's own right), and the cheering/howling from the pits can be loud and funny!  It can stack the best pilots from around the midwest against each other, flying some of the latest hardware head to head.  It can stack a group of sport flying friends together, where a guy with the right moves will bury a bunch of moldies with gentle lady.  Everyone who has flown this circuit over the years has improved and honed their skills to new heights, each year offers tougher competition, and tighter results as the season progresses.  Last season the championship was decided in the last contest, and I will predict here today that it will be the same for this season, but perhaps between 3 or 4 pilots.

Next weekend starts the 2003 OVSS series in Cincinnati, I am ready and I look forward to it.


Permanent link to article for Sat., May 03, 2003.Saturday - May 03, 2003

Spring time at Hampshire Field and all the new models are out being tested.  Ever see a NYX, ICON lite, Artemis X tail, Eraser Xtrem, Eraser V, and Tragi 705's in the same picture? 
Spring time brings out the new models
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With all these wicked models in the pits I had to snap a few pictures, let alone get my hands on the sticks.  McCarthy was letting TK and I sample his new toys, and they were flying sweet.  And we did a lot of flying today, nobody was in a rush to leave and the air was incredibly good.  I tapped the battery down in my ICON to a point where I won't fly it anymore, and that is close to two hours. 

Four by SOAR
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Instead of charging I just built the Dorker and flew it for awhile, and this doesn't count the time we put on McCarthy's models.

I shot landings on my LSF cap on every arrival (well, except for those hand catches...  8-) ).  Although I pierced the hat once, I am still rusty and need to practice more.  The first contest in the OVSS series, the CSS Memorial is in just two weeks and I know the turnout just from the SOAR club is going to be strong.


This is the second season for my green ICON lite,

The Mean Green Machine
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I have over 35 hours on it as of today.  It should have "Wood Tool" wing art on it because it has certainly been a virtual chain saw in my hands.  With over 70 hours on my yellow F3J ICON, I have accumulated well over 100 hours of flying time on the ICON model now.  Although I would love to own every model in the above two pictures, I am still on the game plan of flying the same model all the time these days.


Permanent link to article for Tue., April 29, 2003.Tuesday - April 29, 2003

What a nice weekend to be outside in Chicago land.  I managed to get out and do a little soaring on both Saturday up at Hampshire Field and Sunday out at Central Sod farm, in fact on Sunday the SOAR club had its first club contest of the season. 
My two favorite composite ships to fly
My two favorite composite ships to fly - Click to Enlarge

The weather was about mid 70's 12-18 mph winds.

Robin Meeks, current club president CD'ed the contest, and asked for a club vote before the contest... open winch or seeded man on man?  Overwhelming majority vote for man on man.  We had 4 winches out, and were doing 10 minute rounds all day on a 6' in or out tape for 25 points, fly anything you bring.  Interesting side fact, the top 5 or 6 guys were not using skegs, although they were permitted.  Just something I noticed, nobody discussed it.  This is getting to be a very popular contest format in Chicago, and great practice for the upcoming OVSS season.

A subtle Windy City ground marker of thermal activity
A subtle Windy City ground marker of thermal activity - Click to Enlarge
After a long winter like we had this year I thought some of the guys might be a bit rusty, but Richard Burnoski (Space Pro's) and Jim McCarthy (NYX) were putting on a freekin' show this early in the year, and with the wind.  Bill Wingstedt (Tragi), Tom Tock (Escape) and Karl Miller (Eraser) were flying a very good contest as well.  I worked with McCarthy most of the day, we both flew un ballasted in the very low 70 oz range.  Jimbo had that NYX flying right, it really retained energy in the wind for such a light model.  I was able to work upwind with ICON farther than most without any ballast, and this was one of my light ships!  Good experiment to fly this model in the wind, I was going to fly my heavier yellow one.  I really need to try the matching F3B wing for this model in the wind.  In retrospect, I had my moments in this contest, but was not as smooth and aggressive as I would have liked to have flown.  I'm knocking the cob web's out from the long winter and it was a fun day for sure.

At the end of the day Karl and I were fun flying in the strong thermals and wind, and I challenged him to a first down contest from about 1000'. 
Karl Miller
Karl Miller - Click to Enlarge
I went directly vertical and pulled out at about 20' foot at the edge of the sod field, green ICON full head of steam.  From across the field McCarthy yelled LOOP, and I pulled the stick into my gut.  I have to say I pulled the lowest, fastest and tightest loop I have ever pulled with any model...  8-)  it was quite cool, and a bit surprising. 

Oh ya, I landed first too.

Two days of flying in row, and a MoM contest to boot, life is good...

Permanent link to article for Sun., April 13, 2003.Sunday - April 13, 2003

First soaring session of the year today, it's been a long gray winter.  We had significant snow on the ground just last Monday, but the weather is starting to feel more like spring now.  Today it was in the mid 60's with 12-15mph winds.  I had the Vette packed and ready to go Saturday night, SchpotDorker Lite, ICON Lite, my TX case and toolbox, and a hosemonster bungee.  This morning arrived, only a few business issues to resolve via e-mail and I was on the Red Bull express for Hampshire field, the SOAR clubs north field. 

Hampshire Field, Spring 2003
Hampshire Field, Spring 2003
By the time I arrived, the rest of the gang was there, TK, Don Smith, Sneidley, George, Steve Meyer, Rick, and even a couple of new faces.  Steve and George were heading out to whirl XP-3's into the sky, and they were hooking up and taking 'em downwind.  No winch was up yet, so I took out the hosemonster bungee I bought from Mark Mech last year and finally got to use it, nice bungee!!!  I figured I would fly my old friend the SchpotDorker first, this is the same Dorker that Pat McCleave built for me what, going on 3 years ago now? 
My 57oz SchpotDorker Lite
My 57oz Schpot Dorker Lite
Still looks like brand new.  I was shooting the Dorker up with just full camber, the 12mph wind made it fun and zippy.  Hooked on my first ride and rode it downwind as far as I dared, then just kept coming back to this treeline to reacquire the next cycle, tricky but fun.  The Dorker was kind of light for the conditions being about 57oz, but I was making the best of it.  TK had brought his SchpotDorker to the field too, and after watching my first ride he went back to the van and assembled his.  He popped off on the bungee, but grabbed a little air off to the left and rode it out, too cool.  I launched again and we had a flight together patrolling for lift.  Meyer put down the DLG, and grabbed his SuperV, and shot up the bungee and rode one out as well.

I landed, took a break for some peppered beef jerky and a Red Bull, and I noticed the rest of the crew was assembling moldies.  Sneidley had enough of this watching stuff and was going to put a winch out.  I finished another piece of jerky and put the Dorker back in the jim bagg, it's ICON time!  I waited for all the guys who hadn't had a flight yet to get a winch launch, then I hooked up the green machine and pounded out a heavy metal high tension launch into the wind, over did it a bit but it's not like I am going to break this model.  Slapped off a zoom, and the ICON came to life...  I am so in touch with this model, every move is like instinct.  I walked out and flew with George and his Artemis for awhile, we patrolled and worked the spotty and fast moving Hampshire lift together for at least a 20-25 minute ride at one point in the day.

It's great to be back in the saddle again!

Permanent link to article for Sat., April 05, 2003.Saturday - April 05, 2003

Here is a link to Air Extreme, a gallery of extreme aviation pictures.

Permanent link to article for Sun., March 23, 2003.Sunday - March 23, 2003

SOAR tents, AMA / LSF Nationals 2000
SOAR tents, AMA / LSF Nationals 2000

I found this photograph in my study last week while looking for something else.  Steve Meyer shot this photo and gave me a print, I really like it.  After finding it again, I decided to scan it so I could preserve it and share it.  This is an interesting picture because this is a very dedicated group of pilots that you will rarely see sharing the same scrap of shade together.  These kinds of things just happen at the Nats.  I know everyone in this picture, it was taken in Muncie, Indiana on the AMA flying fields.  Probably taken towards the end of the day, just before digging into the coolers for the ice cold "screamers".

From left to right:  Daryl Perkins (4 time world champion), Jim McCarthy (national champion and USA F3J team manager), Karl Miller (OVSS 2000 champion), Ron Kukral, Don Smith, David McCarthy (junior USA F3J team member), Steve "Sneidley" Schneider, Jim Bacus (OVSS 2002 champion, model in hand), Richard Burnoski (back to back F3J national champion), and Martin Doney from the middle of nowhere.

The model I am holding was an Agate, one of three in the states at the time, and only the second one left as Daryl had blown one of them up on launch.  I bought it second hand from someone on the west coast for more money than I had ever spent on a model before.  Was it worth it?  You bet, my first nationals trophy placing 5th in F3J.

Considering going to nationals this year?  click here

Permanent link to article for Thu., March 20, 2003.Thursday - March 20, 2003

Here are the pictures of the new AVA RES model that everyone is looking for.  You may click on the images below to see a larger version.


Here is the recent post by Pat McCleave that brought this model to my attention:

From: <>
Subject: [RCSE] New AVA RES
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 11:40:30 -0500

Hi Guys,

I just received my new AVA RES from Kennedy Composites and Vladmir or Graphite and Organic Fame.  The Glider is an absolute work of art and weighs almost nothing.  Thanks to my brother Randy letting me in on this little secret, I was able to get one of the first few planes to come into the U.S. so I am not sure about how quick they are going to be readily available.  For more information you can contact Barry Kennedy at or by phone at 972-602-3144.  To be honest I am not sure of the span and area of the plane but it is in the 3M range and should weigh under 40 oz.  When I saw my first pictures of the plane I just knew I would have to have one.  I can say this much this ain't your dads old Gentle Lady.  I will give more reports as soon as the radio gear is installed and first flights are taken.

See Ya,

Pat McCleave

Wichita, KS

Permanent link to article for Mon., March 17, 2003.Monday - March 17, 2003

Try your hand at Flight Club, a soaring simulator.  This is a very basic simulation, but it is entertaining in a simple sort of way.  I guess I got a bigger kick that it is presented as a Java applet, something I have a deep appreciation for lately.  I've played/tested it on the iMac and on Windows and it is virtually identical.  The author is developing this simulator as open source, and his source code is well documented.  Ok, I admit it, I found reading the source code more interesting than playing the simulation, but it was close.

Permanent link to article for Thu., March 06, 2003.Thursday - March 06, 2003

The USA F3B Soaring Team has a new web site up at www.usaf3b.comThere is huge amount of talent on this team, visit the site and check out the team members bios.  Buy a T-Shirt and support them if you can.

Permanent link to article for Sun., February 16, 2003.Sunday - February 16, 2003

We were getting nostalgic on RCSE last week, which prompted me to take a picture of my first R/C transmitter next to my current R/C transmitter. 

Milestone - my first R/C tx from the 70's next to my current tx.

The Kraft transmitter on the left is from the early 70's and could control 3 channels, basically all a sailplane needed in the 70's, control for rudder, elevator and spoilers.  The JR 10x transmitter on the right is a state of the art system with touch screen LCD display, computer controlled with a variety of ways of programming in mixes to the 9 channels it supports.  A modern full house R/C sailplane these days typically has six servos in it, controlling rudder, elevator, ailerons and flaps.  These surfaces are computer mixed for various applications and flight modes.

Permanent link to article for Mon., February 10, 2003.Monday - February 10, 2003

It is common when I discuss R/C Soaring to someone who is not that familiar with it, their first idea of it is typically of fragile hand built balsa wood models that fly slow because they have no engine.  Check out this 13.5mb video of a camera mounted on the wing of a modern composite hollow molded R/C sailplane.  Too much fun!

Permanent link to article for Tue., December 10, 2002.Tuesday - December 10, 2002

I just backed up all my model settings in my JR 10x R/C transmitter, not only is it the right time of the season for that but it turns out I can help some others out.  I offered to send my settings to a person on RCSE, and of course a half dozen other people wanted them as well after they read the post.  It will be easier for me just to put them online for everyone to share instead of sending multiple individual copies out.

I have been using the JR 10x for about 2 and a half contest seasons now, it's performed flawlessly and it's by far the best radio I have ever owned.  One of the features I bought it for was the computer interface called DataSafe.  This allows the program for each model to be backed up to or restored from a Windows based computer via an RS-232 port.  The operation is very simple, I don't need to detail it here, but it is similar to transferring programs between two transmitters.  The data files are small, so it's easy to store many models and it's also easy to e-mail or share them on the Internet like I am going to do here.

A little overview on what knobs do what on the TX with my setup loaded.  This is mostly a collection of what I have learned over many years from some very savvy F3J / TD contest pilots, it probably has a local Chicago SOAR club influence to it as well.  The guys I fly with use all brands, but we generally put the controls in the same locations so we can fly each others models with minimal surprise factor.  A picture is worth a thousand words in this instance...Click on the image for a full size view (you can click on the picture on the right for a full size view).

My Launch Mode switch is known as the Flap Mode switch on the JR 10x.  On my setup pulling the switch to the bottom position engages launch mode, the upper two positions turn it off.  I use the Snap Roll button for Reflex, since this switch is momentary there is no chance of accidentally leaving it on.  The AUX 2 switch must be in the upper position for the Reflex button to be engaged.  I have setup full trailing edge camber on what is called the Flap Lever on the 10x, a little goes a long way on my setup, I only bring it down 5 or 6 clicks on my ICON for camber.  It's setup so you can use more for hi start launching without using the Launch Mode switch.  The Throttle Stick becomes the Landing Mode Stick, when the Stick is in the up most position the Landing mode is clean, and as you pull it down it progressively brakes harder.  You will notice some very personal mixing on my Landing Mode setup, I like the entire trailing edge to come down slightly first to a point, and then the ailerons go to neutral and then butterfly.  Of course there is some elevator mixing going into this as well.

The whole point of putting Camber on the left slide lever and Landing Mode on the throttle stick is NOT to have two separate modes on the throttle stick.  Sharing the throttle stick for Camber and Landing mode is a bad idea, and will eventually lead to a missed landing points, shin prints in the leading edge of your wing, etc...

The AUX 4 and AUX 5 knobs are deactivated, I don't use the Gear switch for TD setups either.  I don't use dual (triple) rates on my setups, minimizes on the number of important switches for volunteers in the impound to accidentally switch. 

I am currently flying a F3J ICON Lite, a F3J ICON, a F3J Cobra, a Schpot Dorker and an Organic on the JR 10x.  I've put the setups to all the competition models in my quiver in one zip file which you can download here.

When you un-zip them they need to go into the folder named C:\DataSafe\JR\10X\AIRPLANE

I would suggest that you try these setups on flight pack that is located outside of your model and sitting on your workbench, with all the servos taped to the table in their respective locations so you can see how everything operates.  If you must try it in your model I suggest that you unhook all the linkages first.

By the way, my radio setups are backed up and online on a server, are your precious setups backed up?  8-)

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