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Old Jul 01, 2012, 09:02 AM
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ALES Integrated Into a TD Event

Last weekend (June 23-24), SVSS held its annual 2-day TD contest, the SVSS Summer Soaring Challenge. With the increased interest in ALES that has occurred, and the regular participation in ALES (only) contests that SVSS has hosted, we decided to attempt to integrate an ALES class into the TD contest, right along side Unlimited, 2M, Nostalgia and RES.

The plan was to have the ALES ships launch in the same flight order sequence as the other classes, launch only in the same launch corridor as the winch-launched planes, and use the same landing task as the TD event.

The process involved the ALES plane getting in line to launch, then when called to launch they would step up and launch normally, straight up and straight out. No sideways or other variations, just a launch within the normal corridor.

The event went smoothly and the 9 pilots that participated in that class enjoyed it. One unexpected benefit of this addition was when the winch line(s) were down for a repair, snarl, etc. If there was an ALES plane in line to launch we could call them to the front and get them in the air, thereby recapturing some lost time.

I can safely say the experiment was a success and SVSS will likely include an ALES class in future TD events. This was never intended to replace the current MOM format, just to expand the utilization of ALES in normal use.

JT
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 09:30 AM
WINS - Winch In Nose Sailplane
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Bravo!!!
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 10:40 AM
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JT, to me this is an obvious evelution of ALES into TD, but I have sure had some folks tell me I was nuts. I thank you and the SVSS for giving it a try, the only way we can find out is in contest circumstances and you sound like you did it perfectly. I am sure that some will decry the end of soaring, but to me, the integration of ALES and TD can be done with proper research and efforts to work out the details.

Marc
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 11:24 AM
Good for what ALES you
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United States, CA, Novato
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JT,

First, kudos to you and the team for a great event.

I think that your last sentence hit the nail on the head. If you look at the ALES contest rules, it specifies a MOM format with launch altitudes controlled by use of a limiter. What we flew at SSC might be more accurately called a 'Limiter' class since it was flown in an open-winch format.

I think what we saw was how seamlessly and successfully winch and winch-in-the-nose can be integrated into a single event. The question I have been asking myself is how challenging it would be to integrate full MOM ALES and open-winch into a single event.

Here is what I observed at SSC. There were about 15 flight groups lettered A-O with 5-6 pilots in each group. The 9 pilots flying with limiters were mixed among the 15 flight groups.

To fly the 9 ALES pilots in MOM, they could be split into 3 flight groups, say A, F and K, and so when their round is called, all 3 pilots approach the launch corridor and launch simultaneously. The tricky part is that for MOM, the flight groups are shuffled between rounds so a different 3 pilots will be called out for those rounds each full cycle.

The next challenge is that MOM scoring is normalized for each flight group so a decision would need to be made whether a separate scoring system is used.

Another alternative might be to simply group more of the ALES pilots together and encourage them to launch simultaneously so everyone attending has an opportunity to see the MOM format in action.
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 11:57 AM
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Aric,
I don't think mixing MOM and standard flight order in a single contest is feasible without disrupting the event for all. If you are going to do MOM, you want the maximum number of pilots per group to yield the best test of pilot vs. pilot in the same air. Breaking it up into mini groups to accomodate fewer landing spots defeats this concept. The SSC experiment was valuable in that it showed that ALES launch and standard launch can successfully coexist.

My personal thought is that the MOM only restriction to current ALES events will end up being self-limiting and could actually have a negative effect in the long run. The more diverse types of flight tasks that ALES launched planes can participate in the more easily it will integrate into the mainstream of soaring competition, instead of being viewed as the ugly stepsister.

Another thing I would like to try at some point is to have a normal contest with ALES planes competing directly against winch launched planes. A 150M limited launch would be required, as the 150M limit would more closely mimic the height of a skilled pilot doing a winch launch.

JT
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 12:44 PM
Never left one up there yet...
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Kudos to you guys for trying this out!

I really don't see why ALES couldn't be treated as just another class. Shut down the winches and run ALES MOM for a 10 min task in the launch corridor with what ever landing is setup (spot or line). Scoring should be the same as TD, keeping it simple. Is my thinking out to lunch here?

I know I would be into bringing an ALES airframe to fly a second class.

Cheers

Murray Johnson
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by mdjohnson View Post
Kudos to you guys for trying this out!

I really don't see why ALES couldn't be treated as just another class. Shut down the winches and run ALES MOM for a 10 min task in the launch corridor with what ever landing is setup (spot or line). Scoring should be the same as TD, keeping it simple. Is my thinking out to lunch here?

I know I would be into bringing an ALES airframe to fly a second class.

Cheers

Murray Johnson
Murray,
The need to shut down the winch line for any reason would unnecessarily penalize the winch-launch guys. This is what I want to avoid along with the perception that ALES requires special consideration.

If the basic contest format is MOM, then an ALES only flight group is really no different than a non-ALES group, and it becomes a no-brainer.

If the basic contest is open winch (or call up, doesn't really matter), then stopping the contest to do an ALES only round becomes the issue.

JT
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jtlsf5 View Post
Aric,

Another thing I would like to try at some point is to have a normal contest with ALES planes competing directly against winch launched planes. A 150M limited launch would be required, as the 150M limit would more closely mimic the height of a skilled pilot doing a winch launch.

JT
JT,

head to head, ALES and TD, I think the ALES planes would suffer in the landing zone since they have no skegs and cannot dork it in with the same effectiveness.
Incorporating ALES as a seperate class in our SSC worked well as they were only competing against other ALES pilots and all had the same landing handicap.

We have enough pure MoM ALES events in SVSS now with the nine monthly contests and the fall 2 day event to satisfy all ALES enthusiasts I think.

definately should incorporate ALES into future SSC events as it went really well this time. I flew ALES and Open and probably a third of my ALES launches occurred when winch lines were down.

Steve
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by awilmunder View Post
I think that your last sentence hit the nail on the head. If you look at the ALES contest rules, it specifies a MOM format with launch altitudes controlled by use of a limiter. What we flew at SSC might be more accurately called a 'Limiter' class since it was flown in an open-winch format.

I think what we saw was how seamlessly and successfully winch and winch-in-the-nose can be integrated into a single event. The question I have been asking myself is how challenging it would be to integrate full MOM ALES and open-winch into a single event.

Aric, IMO, you are coming at this like some of the TD guys are coming at ALES style aircraft. In my book, we need to stop thinking that there is only "one" way to fly an ALES ship. The punchline is winch in the nose sailplane, not ALES, not TD, but all sailplanes. Who says that ALES airframes can be flown in other formats and scoring options (non MOM) and just like TD, there are many ways to split the hair.

Yes, ALES ships may be at a bit of a disadvantage in the landing circle for some, but if you like your ALES ships and could fly against TD guys in whatever format, why not? Thinking bigger is where I am headed with this, integrating all TD/ALES type soaring is good and strengthens the hobby.

Marc
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by jtlsf5 View Post
Another thing I would like to try at some point is to have a normal contest with ALES planes competing directly against winch launched planes. A 150M limited launch would be required, as the 150M limit would more closely mimic the height of a skilled pilot doing a winch launch.
JT
I would draw the line here and say "no" to direct ALES+TD plane competition i.e. all scored as being in the same class. Here's the reason: it's already impossible to verify a correct launch altitude that a malfunctioning or mis-programmed CAM could cause. How often do you think a CAM that is supposed to be set at 150m would be set to 200m instead? I would bet money it would happen often. How many sets of official eyes would it take to try and catch this?

And this doesn't even address the issue of e-planes that are built with the ability to power zoom way above the launch "limit."

Fact is, e-planes are simply too different to fairly combine them into a single TD contest class. Non-e gliders offer a rare opportunity for pure competition (assuming their timer is honest, which the vast majority are). Keep the classes separate.

Chris B.
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 03:35 PM
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I've flown in a local contest against TD pilots off of a winch. I let them talk me into setting 150m as my cutoff alt. While I did launch higher than some there were also some that were launching about a hundred feet higher than my 150m cutoff. No biggie though. Even if everyone used a winch there would still be pilots launching higher than the rest. Practice, plane setup and type of plane all make for a big difference in launch height when flying off a winch.

As for having the wrong setting in a CAM I can assure you that there is a noticeable difference in 150m and 200m and it does not take a trained eye to spot someone not using the right cutoff alt. As for the light weight ships with big power systems zooming through the cutoff alt they are also easy to spot.

Anyway I don't think that having TD compete with E ships is a big deal. It would probably work better on a local level than at the larger regional or national events. But I'm keeping an open mind about it.
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 03:53 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OVSS Boss View Post
Aric, IMO, you are coming at this like some of the TD guys are coming at ALES style aircraft. In my book, we need to stop thinking that there is only "one" way to fly an ALES ship. The punchline is winch in the nose sailplane, not ALES, not TD, but all sailplanes. Who says that ALES airframes can be flown in other formats and scoring options (non MOM) and just like TD, there are many ways to split the hair.

Yes, ALES ships may be at a bit of a disadvantage in the landing circle for some, but if you like your ALES ships and could fly against TD guys in whatever format, why not? Thinking bigger is where I am headed with this, integrating all TD/ALES type soaring is good and strengthens the hobby.

Marc
Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

Keeping open minds about ALES flying MAY take us to new and interesting places. It is useful to consider that bad ideas will sort themselves out when we try them. Closing our minds to new ideas will take us nowhere.

Happy Landings,

Don
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by SoaringDude View Post
I would draw the line here and say "no" to direct ALES+TD plane competition i.e. all scored as being in the same class. Here's the reason: it's already impossible to verify a correct launch altitude that a malfunctioning or mis-programmed CAM could cause. How often do you think a CAM that is supposed to be set at 150m would be set to 200m instead? I would bet money it would happen often. How many sets of official eyes would it take to try and catch this?

And this doesn't even address the issue of e-planes that are built with the ability to power zoom way above the launch "limit."

Fact is, e-planes are simply too different to fairly combine them into a single TD contest class. Non-e gliders offer a rare opportunity for pure competition (assuming their timer is honest, which the vast majority are). Keep the classes separate.

Chris B.

Chris,
Its actually pretty easy to verify the altitude limit that a CAM unit is set to. The start up beep sequence gives it away. After it sequences the initial ascending tones, the next tones you hear are what it is set to, ie one for 100M, two for 150M and three for 200M.

How do I know? I was out testing the CAM unit in my e-Supra to determine mA used per climb. Seemed like I wasn't getting to altitude, so when I landed I repowered up the airborne and sure enough, it was at 150M. Simple matter to reprogram to 200M and launches were as expected.

This could be a preflight check for this unit, though not sure what the other approved limiter units do, but it would be interesting to find out if they have an audible altitude set signal that could be checked.

Don, I know you have done a bunch of testing with various limiters, perhaps you could chime in on this.

JT
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 04:37 PM
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[QUOTEAnd this doesn't even address the issue of e-planes that are built with the ability to power zoom way above the launch "limit."
.[/QUOTE]

What about the hi-tech string launchers that gain 150' or more from a ZOOM launch when they have already left the line?
It would seem there are spurious arguments here because some see e-Soaring as a threat to 'string launch' soaring. But WHY?
Both can co-exist, and each will have its following. As for me, a 30 year plus 'string launcher', I am totally hooked on e-Soaring now.

Iain
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Old Jul 01, 2012, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rev.iain View Post
What about the hi-tech string launchers that gain 150' or more from a ZOOM launch when they have already left the line?
Certainly not all planes within a given class are created equal. Same is true for pilot skills. Both can be and are the reason for awesome zoom launches.

However, if the goal of a good contest is to provide competition that allows for a fair comparison of pilots and their skill levels, then you need to draw a realistic plane class line somewhere.

Quote:
It would seem there are spurious arguments here because some see e-Soaring as a threat to 'string launch' soaring.
I can only speak for myself when I say e-planes are no threat to anything. I own one and enjoy flying it. The issue is how can you level the playing field in competition so both e-gliders and non-e planes can fairly compete in a common class. While it's certainly possible to throw in any kind of plane into a single contest class, the number of (controllable) plane variables increases and thus makes it incrementally less about pilot skill. That's a problem unless you're just having a "fun fly" contest.

Using a winch in a contest is often a very good skills equalizer. I could describe a variety of weather, wind, and winch equipment conditions that would make it harder to "make altitude" on a winch than e-motoring up to altitude.

Combining e-gliders with non-e in contests, yes, awesome idea, our club proved it works. Flying in the same class, no.

Chris B.
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