Masters Class Soaring 2 DVD Review

Paul dug deep into his bag of qualified flyers to bring you four-time F3B world champ Daryl Perkins, Soaring Masters winner Mike Smith, Nats winner Tom Kiesling, the first ever F3B World Champion Skip Miller and the 2006 Jr. F3J winner Cody Remington to help you become a better soaring pilot!



Viewing Requirements:The DVD is an "All Region" DVD and should play on most current computers and DVD players.
Venue:North America
Media:High quality DVR
Format:DVD from digital master
Packaging:Standard DVD case with color artwork
Run time:1 hour, 50 minutes
Retail Price:$24.95
Available from:Radio Carbon Art

In this second DVD in the Masters Class series, the focus is on the nuances of thermal soaring, timing and landing. It is an actual soaring master class with several World Champions and Nationals winners at the very popular Southwest Classic held in Phoenix each February. The pilots and timers were equipped with microphones so you can hear everything they say during their flights, see and hear the communication between the pilot and his timer and learn that there is more than just reading the time on the stopwatch and conveying that information to the pilot.

Kit Contents

The DVD is nicely packaged with a full color label and standard DVD case.

Kit Contains

  • One standard DVR media disk


Titled Chapters include:

Make it Launch

  • In The Air
  • Hit Your Landing
  • Light Air Techniques
  • Contest Flying Live
  • Finding Lift
  • Time to Time
  • Prepare for Pop-offs
  • Cross Wind Launches

Included in the titled chapters, there are non-titled segments showing pilot and timer discussion strategy, thermal rate, landings and more.

Make It Launch

The DVD starts off with four time F3B world Champion Daryl Perkins discussing launching techniques on a new model. Daryl demonstrates with the new Icon 2, but the techniques apply to any model that launches from a winch. Daryl touches on things like line tension, launching from different winches, types of lines, different flying fields and more. Proper set up is always the goal, and Daryl explains you can’t reach 100%, but you need to strive for that. Launch camber, reflex, coupled flap and ailerons; all of these are taken into consideration when setting up for launch. Though not discussed in this chapter, you can learn a lot about how to properly zoom a model. Trust me, you can watch this video 10 times and learn something new each time.

In The Air

In this second chapter, Daryl continues his discussion on flight trimming. Coupling of surfaces, mix setup, working with models with different airfoil requirements (i.e. laminar vs. not-laminar) are discussed while he actively trims the Icon 2. Paul queues Daryl with questions, and the questions are included on screen since Paul is behind the microphone and his voice is muffled.

What do you do on practice day? Do you hook a thermal and ride it for 40 minutes or do you hop from thermal to thermal? Daryl discusses tactics to learn the maximum about the air at a certain field in the minimum amount of time. Optimization of time spent with the model is paramount. There is no wasting time once he finds a thermal. He explains what he does to optimize the time available with the model. Have you reached the top of the thermal? What do you do now? Daryl explains how to maximize your time with thermals that have expended their energies and how he continues his thermal search.

Hit Your Landing

Daryl pulls out his “Bungee from Hell” which allows roughly one minute flying time, but this minute is all one needs to practice landings. There are no magical answers to getting high landing points but there are a few basic things that most of us have known since Dave Thornburg’s soaring book. Daryl reiterates these same basic techniques and demonstrates how to deal with different landing conditions. Getting the most from his allotted time is paramount to get the plane to land properly each time, maximizing flap, camber, crow and other mixes. Utilizing picture within a picture, you can see what inputs are made at the transmitter and what effects they make on the model.

One item I’ve never heard discussed in thermal soaring strategy is the need to kill time before landing when the wind shifts or decreases. Daryl discusses one way to kill some time to make his landings closer to perfect.

Light Air Techniques

This is probably the most demanding job a soaring pilot faces. In light air, you have to maximize your air time by flying as smoothly as possible. Proper coupling of the surfaces allows the plane to fly at its minimum sink. You can’t be “mixing a cake” with the sticks.

Contest Flying Live

Daryl Perkins and his timer, Mike Smith, display how a timer and pilot should work together to allow the flyer to maximize his time and get 100 point landings. For the first task, an eight minute flight, Daryl searches for lift while his timer is searching the rest of the sky for signs of lift and sink. After the landing, Daryl and Mike discuss the flight and what went right and what went wrong.

Finding Lift

Soaring Masters Winner Mike Smith discusses reading the air by watching how the airplane reacts to the air in which it flies. With the use of the mini Pike shown in Masters Class 1 and clear, high quality graphics, Mike demonstrates how the plane would react to lift and sink. Wave flying is not discussed, however, which modelers in windy areas of the country are faced with just as much as thermal flying.

Mike and Daryl switch places for the next chapter with Mike as the pilot and Daryl timing. You’ll learn new west coast lingo such as “pounding,” “poppin’”, ”drilling,” “feeling love” and “getting the juju back!” Mike finds several large, powerful thermals and controls his altitude, not allowing himself to get too high and have to come screaming down from 1000 or more feet to set up for a landing.

I’d never heard of the difference between 2 and 3 panel wings in landing. Inertia in a 2 piece wing is much higher than a 3 piece wing and causes the wings to push forward when the nose of the plane hits the spot for landing. This is clearly seen in the slow motion sequence of Mike’s landing. I was quite surprised how much inertia was stored in the plane. When it hit, the wings were forced forward, and the boom shook violently from side to side. It clearly shows how much energy is actually stored in the plane at the point of touch down. If you are a scratch builder, you’ll see the need for proper fuselage design to handle this stress. Since most of today’s contest-designed, molded airplanes utilize either carbon, Kevlar, or a combination of carbon/Kevlar to keep the fuselage strong without making it too heavy.

Time for Time

Mike Smith discusses stop watches and timer duties. In his opinion, it basically comes down to the choice of 3 watches which you can purchase for roughly $100 each. I wish they would have had more information on what a timer really should do during flight besides count the time on the watch. But if you listen to each timer in the live sections, you’ll see and hear what a good timer does for his pilot.

Tom Kiesling, National Soaring Champion and timer Mike Seid are next up at the winch. They have a plan before they actually launch. Mike looks around the sky, explaining what other planes are doing and how the ground signs are showing lift and sink. Mike is a very professional timer and would be an asset to any flyer.

The amount of information passed between the timer and pilot was considerably more than I expected. While they were getting ready to fly and during the flight, you didn’t hear anyone talking about how their trip to Phoenix was, what the latest and greatest new sailplane is, if someone bought a new boat, etc. Once they were called to fly, the fun and games stopped, and it was all business. All the timers were professional in their manners, becoming forceful at times to help the pilot get his time.

Prepare for Pop Offs

Mike Smith explains the need to pay attention at the pilot’s meeting to learn how many, if any, pop offs are allowed during the contest. Equipment malfunction such as line breaks, pulling the turnaround out of the ground and retriever problems can be disconcerting to a pilot and break his concentration. The best way to handle these situations is discovered in this chapter.

Cross Wind Launches

2006 Junior F3J Champion Cody Remington and Skip Miller work as a team in the next segment. Cody deals with a number of launch issues yet remains focused. Skip helps by explaining the need to be focused on the task at hand regardless of the distractions that may occur. If you don’t learn anything else from this DVD, listen to what Skip says about moving the transmitter stick! Cody describes a rather unorthodox method of dealing with soaring in minimal sink and proper camber adjustment. This method is one of the gems in the Masters Class 2. Using a screen within a screen, you get to see in slow motion how a World Champion deals with a cross wind landing. Following the flight, Skip and Cody explain the how and why they did what they did in that particular flight and let us into the mind of World Class flyer and explain some of the nuances of RC soaring.

Mike Smith describes cross wind launching utilizing both the Mini Pike and actual aircraft. Getting the most out of a cross wind launch is one of the toughest tasks a modeler has to deal with. Do you use rudder only? Do you use aileron mixed with rudder? Do you launch the plane straight up toward the turn around or do you throw the plane in the direction of the cross wind? Mike explains the best way to maximize cross wind launches.

Next, Mike and Daryl are up for their third round of flying, and Mike launches into a boomer thermal. How big is the thermal? Where is the core? How far out can you fly and still be in lift? These are some of the tasks the pilot has to deal with on any flight. Daryl is constantly looking around the sky to see if there is something better.

When it comes within a minute and a half, Daryl is concerned about having an open lane in which his pilot can land. He’s checking with the other timers to insure they will be out of the way when Mike’s time for landing has arrived. A great timer will help the pilot settle down after launch. He should have already spotted lift and sink and conveyed that information to the pilot. If there are rough spots on the ground, electrical cords or other modelers that present a tripping hazard,he conveys this information to the pilot so he knows everything else in the sky or on the ground that the pilot can’t see because he’s watching his own airplane. The key is to provide information and allow the pilot to make his own decisions.

For the final chapter in Master Class 2, Cody and Skip are back for round four. Skip continues the discussion of a timer’s responsibility to the pilot. Cody describes his plan for this flight, which he has for every flight. He talks about having a plan and following the plan. If there are no signs of lift, he’ll fly minimum sink into the area from which he thinks the next thermal will come. He also discusses using necessary caution where there are many people in a thermal to prevent midair collisions.

Is the air you are working worth one turn or three turns? Cody flies in light air while Skip searches the sky to find better air. Skip constantly helps Cody by providing as much information as he can so Cody can make the decision of staying in the thermal he’s in or moving to another patch of air. As a team, they agree upon what area of the sky is best for that flight. There is no reason to be in a huge thermal if you only have a five minute task. Skip’s comment with 15 second left in the flight is one of the most important of the entire DVD: “The line is everything!” If you already have made your time, the last 30 seconds to one minute needs to be focused on the landing. The timer should relay to the pilot the wind condition, whether it’s crossing or if there is a stronger head wind than expected etc.


Each team of pilot and timer shown in this DVD are World Class. Just listening to them as they work a thermal and discuss strategy will be an eye-opener to many viewers. I’m convinced that you can watch this DVD 10 times and still find something new the 11th time you watch it.

Before turning this review in, someone asked me what I learned from the DVD. Was the information presented beneficial to me as an experienced pilot? Without a doubt, I learned a laundry list of little things, such as watching how long the pilots stayed on the line when the zoom started, how long they were in the bucket and how long they let it climb before pushing the nose over. It wasn’t discussed, but it was shown time and time again.

Don’t just put the DVD in the player and plop down in a chair with some popcorn. Listen to what the timers and pilots say not only to the camera, but to each other. Trust me; you will become a better pilot.

I’m looking forward the next installment of Masters Class. This DVD contains some of the best soaring information ever presented. Everyone from World Champion to the beginner can learn from it.

Last edited by Angela H; Jul 31, 2009 at 07:39 PM..
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Jul 31, 2009, 09:42 AM
Registered User
Very nice review George, you do a very nice job.

Jul 31, 2009, 03:07 PM
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gavoss's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks Scott. I try hard to give the manufacturer what they deserve for their hard work. Paul puts out the best DVD's in my book. I'm impatiently waiting for the HLG Master Class DVD for review! George
Jul 31, 2009, 07:03 PM
Registered User
Having written articles for e-zone and lift-zone I know how much work goes into these reviews.

Sep 14, 2009, 06:58 PM
Registered User
Paul Naton's Avatar
Here is a quick link to the Soaring Master Class 2 DVD info page:

You can view the trailer in a variety of video formats on this page as well.

Watch more preview clips and deleted scenes on the Radio Carbon Art YouTube channel:

Paul Naton
Oct 05, 2009, 05:54 AM
Congratulations, very nice pics!

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