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May 04, 2009, 07:41 PM
Ricky Windsock
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5. - Nov 2008 - Jan 2009 - Rip Van Winkle wakes up

It's Nov 2008. I have been living in USA for 9 1/2 years after moving from Australia in 1999. I have just stumbled across the Orlando Buzzards flying site with my son. It is 23 years since I held a transmitter in my hands and the words moldie and sailplane had never been used in the same sentence. I was re entering a world which had changed completely. The sailplanes I flew were now in a special class called Nostalgia! But I knew two things the minute I saw my first Pike Perfect and spoke to the pilot.....It was a thing of incredible precision and beauty that I had never imagined and I was going to get started flying right where I had left off 23 years ago.
I did not know anything about the aircraft people were flying. I didn't know anything about the radios either. There was much to learn. I was specifically intrigued by the idea that you could actually hand launch sailplanes into thermals consistently enough to have contests doing it. I had to see that. I began to research RC sailplanes on the Internet and within days I had a handle on this board and RCUniverse (aussief3b.) I had searches set up on EBay for radios and planes and I was furiously listing a garage full of old car parts for sale on EBay to finance the new/old hobby. I visited the Buzzards flying field two more times to watch and learn about the hobby. I couldn't wait to get flying.
My first purchase was a used Blaster HLG on this forum and I bought a used JR9303 radio on the RCU forum. Jim McLean at the buzzards had offered some helpful advice as to the best radio and had also let me fly his Ava for a minute or two just to make sure that I WAS hooked. The Ava was amazing. Incredible craftsmanship and I couldn't believe that you could actually buy something like that already built. This was an entirely New World.
The Blaster became my first RC Sailplane experience on my return to flying and the incredible thing was I managed to hook a thermal on my first day out with it. What an absolute blast indeed!
My quest to return to F3B contest sailplane flying had me negotiate the purchase of a used Espada R from Rich Burnoski for a very reasonable price. The aircraft needed Volz servos which I also purchased on the RCG forum and I now had my first molded ship to go fly. The used Volz servos had too much slop so I requested help on the forum to discover that a member GordySoar would repair them for nothing more than the cost of the parts. $25.00 and 2 weeks later I had good servos and had made a new friend. I told Gordy about my experience and my desire to fly F3B. He said "Who with?" He pointed out that if I wanted to fly contests in Florida I would have to forget about my old passion of F3B and concentrate on Thermal Duration instead as no one flys F3B contests or otherwise on the East coast. I was to discover that he was right - but not before I had already purchased a beautiful Europhia 2V for F3B. My thoughts were to fly the Espada R until I had the skills and then compete with the Europhia.
Gordy emailed me many tutorials over the next few weeks and links to internet information about Thermal Duration contests, radio setups, aircraft trim and everything else he had on his computer I think. I have always been an avid reader so this sort of personalized assistance was nothing short of spectacular from my point of view. I have also been forever competitive at anything I do. I told Gordy I was and he promised to "give me as much help as I was prepared to give back to the hobby in effort." Gordy happened to be working in Florida on the same weekend that I was ready to maiden my old Espada R so he was at the Buzzards on the big day for my return to "real" sailplane flying. Gordy helped me trim the aircraft with multiple hand tosses and this was my first real lesson in the new school of thought regarding CG and trim. I was rather amazed that the plane even flew with such a rearward CG. But fly it did and incredibly well. My third winch launch Gordy had me learning to use full span camber and then zoom off the top of the launch. The Espada launch height is nothing short of phenomenal. It's zoom just goes and goes. And what a beautiful ship to thermal as well. I had never flown anything near as good as this. That first day at the Buzzards with my own plane was a blur of excitement and fun - better than I could possibly imagine. (It's amazing how boring your life can become when you are not following that which you have a real passion for.) It is also a very humbling experience to realize that those helping you are unselfishly giving much time to assist you. I was amazed at how helpful most people were. If so many people I had met in the last 2 months were really genuine about helping me to be get started and become good at contest flying than I had better knuckle down and be sure I succeeded. The first contest on the local calendar happened to be a DLG competiton in Gainesville. I decided to make this my first sailplane contest and told Gordy that I was committed to go there. He said he would try to make it there also if he could. I began practising for the event with Ed White of the Buzzards and during the week leading up to the event I agreed to purchase a Vixen (Tabooish) from Dave Forbes in Gainesville. (Dave would deliver the plane to me at the contest the day before the event.) It was with great excitement I drove to Gainesville to fly my 1st contest in 23 years with just 3 sessions of practice under my belt and a 13.5oz Blaster. I had absolutely no idea how good I would be compared to the other competitors, but I was to quickly find out.
Last edited by aussief3b; Sep 22, 2009 at 06:48 PM.
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