Indoor Aerobatics History - Carvin/FRA 2002
Let's re-visit an event which happened exactly 10 years ago ... and be stunned and amazed how far we have got in this model sport:
Trip Report - F3A Indoor Aerobatics at Carvin / France
From 23. - 24. November 2002 the second Indoor Aerobatics Competition i.a.w. the provisional F3A Indoor rules took place at Carvin/France. First time I read about this event was on the internet. Looking for “Indoor” and “Aerobatics” I found two reports at www.rcaerosport.com written by Serge Bordais and when I read that top RC pilots like Christophe Paysant-Le Roux (CPLR), his brother Benoît (BPLR) and other members of national F3A teams attend this meeting, it triggered my interest. After Martin Müller clearly won the second German Indoor Championship - Expert Class - again, it was time to put up a real challenge for him. The following report is written from the viewpoint of a German team who went to this meeting and focuses mainly on the competition part of it.
It was pretty clear from the beginning that Martin couldn’t drive for 9 hours from his home town Oberndorf to the meeting and still be in top condition to fly the same day. Instead Martin worked on Friday, rented a van and picked up Ralf Kiesewetter, DMFV (German Model Flying Association) Slow Fly representative, on the way up to my place near Cologne. On Saturday morning we were joined by Armin Mangelmann and his wife Manuela, and started the day with an English breakfast. We even managed to get all models into the Mercedes van and at 09:00 we headed off to Carvin. The weather was great and there was very little traffic on the roads. As I was stationed in SHAPE, Belgium for a few years, I know some really good restaurants there and we stopped at Nimy for lunch. From there it was only a good further hour until we reached the Parc Hotel in Carvin.
Carvin is a nice little village close to Lille and with six Indoor events since 1995 it appears to be quite popular within the French Indoor scene. As we found out later, almost all pilots who had to travel longer distances had chosen the Parc Hotel for their stay.
As part of a big sports complex, the hall in Carvin differs significantly from the usual sport halls in Germany. The flying area consists of two square fields of approx. 25x25m, with two concrete pillars supporting the roof structure. The actual flight area is therefore separated in three levels: In front, in between or behind the pillars. Additional roof structures reduce the available height of the hall and some aerobatic figures required the utmost precision to fit in between those supports.
16 pilots registered for the competition. As mentioned before, the list of participants not only included CPLR and BPLR, but also Pascal Nowik (member of the French F3A national team and partner of the well known ZN-Line range), Benoit Dierickx (Belgian participant at the European F3A Championship 2002) and this year also the German Indoor Aerobatics Champion, Martin Müller. Armin Mangelmann, who admits being very nervous during competitions, practised very hard on Saturday, but had to withdraw from the contest after his aileron servo gear failed.
Most participants used some kind of reduced size F3A models. Big control surfaces and massive throws are mandatory for Indoor aerobatics. You could see Depron/foam models as well as conventional balsa constructions. Although the majority still used brushed motors, the trend towards brushless drives became apparent amongst the top flyers. Some biplanes were flown as well. Lighter wing construction, low wing loading and increased drag are beneficial for Indoor, especially for the vertical downward sections of the figures.
The flying programme consists of eight figures, with coefficients ranging from 1 to 8, depending on difficulty/complexity. Take-Off (C=1), 360° Circle (C=1), Horizontal Eight (C=2) are mandatory. The next four figures can be chosen from a catalogue of 33 figures. That sounds an awful lot, but if you want to be competitive, the selection is more or less driven by the highest coefficients and the following figures become sort of mandatory: Rolling Circle with three rolls turning outside (C=8), “High Hat” with ¼ rolls (C=6) and 4-point roll (C=6). All that is left to chose from is one of the C=5 figures: 2-Point Roll, Double Immelmann or Inverted Square Loop. Compared to the German Indoor Championship, which is intended to be attractive for many Indoor pilots, this is a much more challenging programme.
Already during the free practise on Saturday, the high skill level of the pilots became obvious. Total silence reigned when the top pilots were flying. Martin used the opportunity to get himself accustomed to the hall with his Minsai III and Pitts S12 and started to practise the more difficult manoeuvres. Some of the referees were already present and got a first impression.
The first round of the competition was flown on Sunday morning. Martin had slot number five and showed a very smooth flight with his Minsai III. Only the 4-Point Roll was not perfectly straight. Announcing the figures to the judges in French (to Martin in German), combined with hints like: Inverted approach, big throws, small throws etc. was quite challenging too. The two Paysant-Le Roux brothers started at the end of the field. Here it became apparent that even a multiple F3A World Champion does not automatically get 10 points for manoeuvres like 360° Circle or Horizontal Eight, but on the more complicated figures the routine of these guys pays off. Smallest deviations from the intended flight path are immediately noticed and corrected.
All pilots got vouchers for a free lunch at the Leclerc cafeteria which was within walking distance of the sports complex.
The second round started after lunch. Martin has an almost perfect flight and after his Inverted Square Loop he got spontaneous applause by the spectators. He entered the Rolling Circle very low and lost some further height. Staying cool and completing the figure, with wingtips almost touching the ground during the knife-edge phases got him a further round of applause. Yet again Benoît with his Synergy (a reduced scale model of his brother’s Championship winning F3A model) has the better flight between the two brothers and wins the contest with 244 points. CPLR comes second with 239 points and Martin, as a “No-Name” achieves an excellent third place with 221 points - clearly ahead of several other F3A European Championship participants.
The „German Team“ was made very welcome in France. On Saturday we had plenty of time to practise. F3A superstars like Christophe and Benoît Paysant-Le Roux were very approachable and even announced figures for some other competitors. Top pilots can be a bit nervous during competition too - at the Freestyle flying afterwards they showed their true potential with some extraordinary performances. In between the aerobatic rounds, there were constantly smaller competitions like Precision Landing, Pylon- and Limbo Racing. Semi Scale and Experimental models also had their slot times.
It was quite a challenge to get all the details and information in order to participate in Carvin, but the friendly reception and the atmosphere during the meeting was definitely worth the trip. The „German Team“ was pretty successful too: Third Place F3A Indoor (Martin Müller - Minsai III), Second Place Semi-Scale (Jürgen Heilig - Concorde) and First Place Indoor Helicopter (Martin Müller - Piccolo Pro).
Several new contacts were established and invitations were handed out. Our tables were constantly surrounded by interested modellers and we were able to demonstrate the high standards of German Indoor flying. F3A top pilots like CPLR and others have recognized the advantages of Indoor flying – you can hone your skills here and having fun as well.
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I was German Champion Indoor Aerobatics Sport Class in 2001 and 2002 and "only" Vice Champion in 2003, because when you are organizing those events, you just don't really have the time to compete as well. I am still flying models of course, but just not so much any more at competitons.
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