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#1 dbeach Dec 01, 2012 06:44 PM

2013 NATS Cross Country Soaring
3 Attachment(s)
Who wants to compete in some fine cross country radio-controlled soaring next summer? I'm happy to let you know that I've been selected to CD the event next year.

The location will be the same as last year; the Monroe Central School complex at 1918 N 1000 W, Parker City, IN. See Skye's map at http://goo.gl/maps/tn3x. We got a lot of flying in from this site last year, it's a great location for safe and fun XC soaring.

The course is a valid LSF 10K goal and return, and we'll also have markers up for 1K and 2K. Several blue sheets got signed last year so be sure to bring yours.

Competition will take place on Saturday, June 29th and Sunday June 30th, 2013. We have also arranged a 'practice day' on Friday the 28th (all AMA / MAAC members are welcome on practice day).

This event is listed as AMA 446 - F3H Cross Country Soaring. It took some digging, but I did manage to find the FAI F3H provisional rules (see attachment). A formal document will be prepared that will address all the deviations from F3H rules, but I'll start here by proposing some general guidelines:

F3H rules we will follow:
  • Aircraft must be in direct control of the flier and in the flier's sight (FAI 4C - 1.1 - this means no FPV, no Autopilot, no gyros)
  • Any number of gliders.
  • Ballast must be internal.
  • Size and weight limitations (FAI 4C -
  • Winch launch, max distance to turnaround is 300 meters.

F3H rule deviations:
  • Task - longest distance flown over a closed course (2 points, multiple laps) - the best single flight each contest day will contribute to the team score.
  • Team event - any number of pilots allowed on a team with only one team plane flying at a time.
  • Skegs are OK

F3H rule interpretation/clarifications:
  • Telemetry - varios and other telemetry devices that provide information (but not control) are allowed. Interestingly, variometers are expressly forbidden in F3K and F3Q rules but not directly addressed in F3H.

New for 2013 - ALES class :eek:
  • ALES equipped planes will compete against each other in a separate class on the same course.
  • Must be limited to 200M max launch altitude.
  • No limit on motor restarts prior to entering the course.
  • Once 'on course' any motor restart disqualifies the flight (zero score).

AMA requirements:
  • NATS registration required to compete (one registration per team). All pilots must hold valid AMA or MAAC membership.
  • AMA Safety Code must be followed.
  • 2.4 GHz spread spectrum only.

Hopefully I'll see you in Muncie this summer,
David Beach
2013 CD XC Soaring

#2 thermal145 Dec 01, 2012 08:09 PM

David, thank you for serving as CD and for the early information. I really want to do this event next year, looking forward to it!

Nathan Miller

#3 dbeach Dec 02, 2012 08:30 AM

Nathan - I hope you can join us. XC is something I never would have done without the LSF Soaring Accomplishment Program, and now I'm hooked!

Guys, I've gotten some offline feedback regarding my proposed rule deviation allowing gyros. Rather than clutter up this thread I'd encourage you to check out the gyro discussion thread and post comments there.

#4 Ne-Aero Dec 03, 2012 08:52 PM


So this year will be Goal and Return style XC and not XC through multiple turn-points?

Take care,

#5 dbeach Dec 04, 2012 07:59 AM


Originally Posted by dbeach (Post 23437186)
The idea is that the 2013 contest will be based on cumulative distance by a team over a two point course with unlimited laps rather than the 'best single flight' approach used last time.

My hope is to encourage teams working on LSF XC tasks. For example, a team can have three (or more) guys wanting to complete some combination of 1K, 2K, and 10K goal and return tasks. Each time a team plane goes out on the course their distance traveled is recorded and counts towards the team's total.

My expectation is that teams working on LSF tasks will be at a competitive disadvantage because they will lose potential 'flying time' due to the LSF landing requirement. But at least their flights will count toward the team total.

Note (2/23/2013): The above idea was abandoned based on feedback from the group. The competition will be scored using the 'best single flight each day'

The pilot's meeting will be at 9AM Saturday and Sunday, with the flight window starting at the conclusion of the pilot's meeting and closing at 5PM. Any planes still flying at the close must record their distance based on their location at that time.


#6 rcbrust Dec 04, 2012 11:32 AM


Do you think that electric launch sailplanes will ever be allowed for the Nats XC competition, either flown along with the winch launch ships or as their own separate class?

I have a couple 4m Hyper e-AVAs that I'd love to give it a try with someday. I know they're not the ideal XC ship, but it would still be interesting to give it a shot.


#7 jtlsf5 Dec 04, 2012 12:58 PM


Originally Posted by rcbrust (Post 23438712)

Do you think that electric launch sailplanes will ever be allowed for the Nats XC competition, either flown along with the winch launch ships or as their own separate class?

I have a couple 4m Hyper e-AVAs that I'd love to give it a try with someday. I know they're not the ideal XC ship, but it would still be interesting to give it a shot.


There is no reason this couldn't be done, but it won't happen until there is precedent and enough interest by a variety of persons to make it happen. The Nats events won't happen based on an unproven concept. I would suggest you put an event together, test the concept, refine as needed, then propose the event to LSF Nats management. Considering that ALES is only now becoming recognized as a legitimate event, it will take some considerable effort to make electric XC possible.


#8 Ne-Aero Dec 04, 2012 01:17 PM


Originally Posted by dbeach (Post 23437186)
The idea is that the 2013 contest will be based on cumulative distance by a team over a two point course with unlimited laps rather than the 'best single flight' approach used last time.

My hope is to encourage teams working on LSF XC tasks....<snip>


I understand your goal is to support the LSF-Style Goal and Return flights, but you're creating a multi-course event. Consider point 1 to be the start, Point 2 is 1K away, point 3 is 2k away, point 4 is 10k away. You're calling it a 2-point XC course but the reality is that if you count the 1->2->1 loop and the 1->3->1 loop and the 1->4->1 loop you really have multiple courses available to the pilots. Someone could interpret your guidelines as being able to cycle between points 1 and 2 all day long and rack up many kilometers of distance. If you stick to the 2-points as being 10K apart then those going a shorter distance and turning around (for the Return leg) are not competing on the prescribed course. You could conceivably count their forward motion but not the return flight (which makes it the same for everyone). Or you could create four classes: 1K G&R, 2k G&R, 10k G&R, and Open XC (either multiple loops of the 10K course or a multi-point course) Sort of like TD contests where there are Novice, Sportsman, Expert, and Masters classes each with their on competitions within an event. The problem stems from trying to accomplish two goals with a single event. In my opinion, the pilots going for an LSF G&R task are not concerned with the larger competition going on around them at the NATS until after they complete their G&R.

As for the ALES question posted earlier, why not allow ALES, with no possibility of a re-light, to get the sailplanes airborne and allow them to fly the course? The flights would not qualify for any LSF tasks or even the NATS event. However, it could give more people a taste of XC soaring and possibly expand XC participation and give new pilots access to XC pilots, expertise, and equipment?

The good news here is that there is time to work out the kinks before committing to a published contest format for the 2013 XC NATS.

Take Care,
Each day Begins with a whole new set of possibilities

#9 maxer Dec 04, 2012 04:21 PM

Nats Cross Country 2013
Hi David,

Thank you so much for volunteering to CD this years National Championship in Cross Country. Its great to see the interest high enough to make this be an annual event. Great stuff! I look forward to the competition.

Last years event seemed to go well, and the new course that is being flown will test all the skills necessary to select the National Champion for long time to come.
I do have some concern with your proposed " modified rules" you are suggesting and hope you will return to our historic and valuable rules that have been developed over a very long period of time and competitions.

The purpose of the National Championship is to select the National Champion. It is quite simply unlimited distance out and back to 1 turn point.(now in a straight line btw)
I of course totally support the LSF as an amazing organization, but disagree with changing the XC distance to accommodate LSF specific tasks.. What you are proposing actually makes the XC event an add em up: and a proficient team could win the event putting in a a huge number of 1 mile flights. This should NOT be allowed. XC racing and unlimited distance , with it's strong historical and accomplishment value is what we are testing. For example one year the National XC Champion won the event with only a 9 mile flight. . As you can imagine it would have been very easy to have multiple 2 mile add em up strategy. Please don't change the spirit of rules for unlimited distance for the National Championship. Leave it plain, simple and pure...the best form of competition soaring.
My second concern is the use of Gyros on any surface. This should simply NOT be allowed. Any good cross country design and pilot does not need a gyro on any surface. In this way all pilots are on a level playingl field. The rules are quite simple: 11lb limit, RC control ONLY, and the only device allowed is a vario. It is a very small step to cleverly have a gyro work as an auto pilot. We are trying to measure pilot skill, not varying degrees of autonomous AIDED aircraft. 20 years from now when new records are set and set again, they will compare to the rules just as we flew last year.

Certainly you can offer a best performance for" add em up" of the LSF tasks as a fringe award(SkipMillerModels would be happy to sponsor the award), but please don't dilute the National records of XC at the US Nationals with the changes you are proposing.

Sincerely and respectfully submitted

Skip Miller 2012 National XC Champion

#10 Joe W Dec 04, 2012 05:46 PM

Likely optimal strategy for the add-em-up task...

Minimum of three team members required, a good winch dedicated to the team, and likely an F3B plane (or a bigger plane if the pilot is worried about seeing the plane at 1km away).

1km distance isn't that far away, the pilot should be able to do the short goal/return without ever leaving the launch point.

First, put one team member on the 1km turnpoint and supply with a radio so that the turn caller can radio back to the pilot.

At the start of the event, launch and fly directly to the turnpoint. Do not thermal, do not loiter. Keep going until the turn caller says you made the 1km length. Turn around and come back. While the flight is underway, the 3rd team member is retrieving the winch line. He will have to be quick as the 1 km out/return should only take a couple of minutes. Unless you think you can climb faster than the average rate of climb from a winch launch, it is better to just glide and relaunch. Repeat...

If there is lift on the course, the pilot may even elect to do two circuits! The one thing that the pilot has to make sure that he doesn't do, is land out so most likely he should just do launch and run flights.

Caution, you may need to have multiple winch batteries, or on-field charging for this "XC" method as you may end up doing a launch every 2-4 minutes. A full day of this will be a bit of an enduro event.

#11 R.M. Gellart Dec 04, 2012 06:23 PM

Skip and Joe, appreciate guys like you chiming in. Keep the watch on this subject and keep giving your opinions and experienced guidance.


#12 thermal145 Dec 04, 2012 09:49 PM

Skip, thanks for chiming in, I agree with you 110%.


#13 dbeach Dec 05, 2012 07:53 AM

Discussed and decided - gyros are out!

First, thanks for the words of encouragement and expression of opinions regarding proposed rules for 2013. As John (Ne-Aero) pointed out, there "is time to work out the kinks", and hopefully that is just what we will do.

Based on all the feedback I've gotten (see the thread Gyro use in XC competition - Pro or Con ?), and a reminder of the discussion from last year (see Allowable Technology for XC racing ), I've decided to reverse my original position regarding gyro use.

Gyros (and/or any other device that is contrary to the FAI rule regarding "direct control of the flier") will NOT be allowed in the 2013 NATS XC event.

I'll be noting this change in the first post of this thread.


#14 dbeach Dec 05, 2012 11:42 AM

More discussion about the task is needed ...
Obviously, I "bumped the bee hive" with my proposed task definition, and changes are in order. While a 1K add-em-up sprint competition could be interesting, that is not my vision for this event.

As CD my goals for the event are to:
  • Run a 'good' contest by addressing rules, fairness, and safety
  • Encourage participation
  • Provide an opportunity to complete LSF XC tasks
  • Emphasize teamwork and fun!

While there is no doubt that F3H flight rules specify 'best flight each day', I think there is an opportunity to attract new participants by the potential adoption of a different format. Rest assured, I have no desire to dilute the value of the event and/or the significance of determining the national champion.

What about the idea of 'National XC Champion' being awarded to the best single flight over the two-day event? Additionally, recognition could be given to teams for accumulated distances. Maybe total up to six flights each day, or something along those lines.

I'll happily entertain ideas in this forum, or privately. I'm also seeking some feedback from the LSF Officers, NATS officials, and RC Soaring Team Selection Committee members.


#15 Ne-Aero Dec 05, 2012 02:21 PM


I'm going to toss this out there as a "what-if" just to see what people think about it. I will wear a flame-resistant suit after I hit "send". :eek:

Let me propose a 4-day XC event at the same site as last year's XC NATS. The first two days are Saturday and Sunday (6/29 and 6/30 as proposed by the AMA/LSF) for the traditional XC NATS distance contest. Nothing new or crazy here.

Now the 3rd and 4th day (7/1 and 7/2 scheduled for NOS/RES competition) we hold an LSF Goal and Return task "contest". This is in parallel to the NOS/RES contests on the AMA site. Since the new XC site is off-campus there is no space conflict. I know Dave would like to fly in the NOS/RES categories so I will volunteer to be the on-site CD for the 3rd and 4th days. If needed, I can call this its own contest at the new site and is separate from the NATS and can file the appropriate papers with the AMA/LSF -- but we can work out the semantics/details later.

This appears to me to cover both goals:
  1. To preserve the sanctity of the traditional XC NATS
  2. Support Growth of LSF Goal and Return tasks

Now since the 3rd and 4th days are a new contest, there will need to be some rules made up so that a fair determination of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners based on distance or 1K, 2K and 10K winners based on flight time. I can even kick in the plaques. We can also use this to test the waters for ALES launching for XC events.

OK. Flame-resistant suit is now "On" :popcorn:

Take Care,
Each day Begins with a whole new set of possibilities

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