ALES Is Now an AMA Provisional Event - Page 3 - RC Groups
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Oct 09, 2012, 09:20 PM
Registered User
I can't hit a 3M diameter bulls eye. It is very hard for me to keep my Super AVA on a straight line and stay within two or three feet of a runway. Especially in a cross wind.

I can get inside the 5M tape once in a while so I am thinking that the joy of scoring landing points will be gone for me.
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Oct 09, 2012, 09:31 PM
Registered User
Mac, just for fun when we get together again, I will bring some chalk and make a round spot and I will also draw a runway center line and bring a tape measure. Let's see how we both like either landing, bring your Radian or you can use mine.
Oct 09, 2012, 09:51 PM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Originally Posted by Larry Jolly
Marc and JC,
I really want to see this event grow. I don't think We have do anything controversial or radical to keep ALES evolving. I think that if the CD and contest planners think about bringin changes that keep the contest fair and interesting it could do good things for Soaring. Particularly in the urban envoirments where space is at a premium. The main thing is to offer a program that gives the newbie a chance to perform and grow his skills, and offer the experienced guys a challenge. The landing deal just makes sense as a spot rewards a guy who may take chances with how hard he impacts the ground. A runway offers a safe landing and also a chance to get a point spread on a single point basis. As far as the motor run is concerned get them low enough so some soaring technique is required and rewarded. What about a stud or bolt type arrestor?? I am encouraged by the positive feedback. Thanks Larry
I agree with your suggestion for the runway, more because it provides scoring in one point increments than the dorking problem. I don't think the current 10 meter tape is really going to result in the need for much dorking -- at least for guys with your skills flying Aspires, Tragis and Maxas. The current suggested LZ provides everyone who can end up inside an 80 inch circle with the same reward. And only penalizes guys who end up inside a 13 foot circle by 5 points. At the last Polecat the LZ was reduced by 50 percent and the better pilots were not having difficulties with 45's and 50's with no drama. I am still looking at the results from this year's F5J Intertour and 45's and 50's are pretty common. I think the runway might be a more appropriate challenge -- at least for your open class.

One observation I would make here that pertains to both spot and runway landings is that our current unfamiliarity with power systems in this application is resulting in substantially underestimating their toughness. I would readily acknowledge that I am pretty much of a crap flyer, but I have channelled my interest in altitude limited flying for the last three years to figuring out how some of this stuff works. Among other things, I have intentionally and accidentally tested the sturdiness of the drives we commonly use. I discovered early on the benefit of your reinforcing washer. I have some spinners which have proven very hardy and some which have not. The one kind of failure I have not been able to induce has been a shaft or gearbox failure -- even with a catastrophic nearly straight in under power crash with my Supra from a launch collision. What I am saying is that landings WILL probably evolve as pilots become more familiar with their gear. I AM NOT ADVOCATING HARD LANDINGS -- JUST MAKING AN OBSERVATION.

While we are discussing safety items, I would offer two for consideration. First, that planes be rendered inert except when they are in their respective launch/landing area. In my opinion, the most likely accidents will result from accidentally hitting a transmitter switch or lever away from the launch area. Second, keep a reasonable size fire extinguisher in the competition area. A crash or thrown blade can shake up a power system and short a lipo -- not a good outcome.

Happy Landings,

Oct 09, 2012, 11:17 PM
Registered User
Larry Jolly's Avatar
I actually am not worried about the motor or mount integrity, I know how to mount a motor. But I am worried about an undetected cracked propellor lug.
I witnessed an accident at Visalia that could have been very serious. I am also concerned that a competitor may attempt to fly a damaged prop, gambling that it is not so bad that he can't get through that last round. Please remember I am blue skying here and trying to get an idea of the direction this event will trend. What is obvious to me is what I have said all along. 200 meters is too high it takes the soaring skills out of the equation. But it would be useful to get the 2 function class high enough to make a contest out of it. My best Regards Larry
Oct 10, 2012, 08:38 AM
Flying = Falling (Slowly)
dharban's Avatar
Originally Posted by Larry Jolly
I actually am not worried about the motor or mount integrity, I know how to mount a motor. But I am worried about an undetected cracked propellor lug.
I witnessed an accident at Visalia that could have been very serious. I am also concerned that a competitor may attempt to fly a damaged prop, gambling that it is not so bad that he can't get through that last round. Please remember I am blue skying here and trying to get an idea of the direction this event will trend. What is obvious to me is what I have said all along. 200 meters is too high it takes the soaring skills out of the equation. But it would be useful to get the 2 function class high enough to make a contest out of it. My best Regards Larry

I share your concern about propellers. My observations concerning hard landings, as I mentioned, were not an advocacy of them, just a prediction that we will see more of them as we get more familiar with this stuff. And to be sure, I don't foresee F3J type landings ever. But landings which come in fairly slowly at a foot and a half or so and "gently dump" at the end are adequate to stop inside an 80 inch circle.

I would be interested in knowing more of the particulars about the Visalia incident. In the course of my testing, I have had a number of occasions where props have come off and one particularly frightening occasion where a relatively new prop blew up on my test stand, embedding one blade deeply into the solid core door that was my bench top. I keep harping on propeller safety and hope some of this catches on before something bad happens.

At the simplest level, props which are attached to shafts with set screws should never, never, never use two diametrically opposed setscrews. These WILL come loose. Secondly, hubs which use setscrews should ALWAYS be attached to shafts which have a matching flat ground on to shaft. This should be done precisely and not with a hand file. In addition, I check the tightness of the hub each flying session (and after any hard landing) and change the set screw about once a month.

A little more insidious is the problem of ignoring the RPM ratings on our props. The prop I blew up on the bench was a fairly large Aeronaut and I was operating it well within the manufacturer's rating -- I thought. Aeronaut publishes its ratings on its website and it is important to note that they decrease very significantly as the propeller diameter increases. The prop I was testing was mounted on one of Vladimir's offset (not twisted) hubs. In corresponding with some of my friends in Europe, we determined that you have to derate the prop max RPM by about 25 percent when you use an offset hub. And it is likely that I was operating that prop in the danger zone. It turns out that even on regular hubs it is very easy to put together combinations, especially as Aeronaut props get to 17 inches and up which exceed the prop rating. In addition, the material used in the Aeronauts is a molded carbon infused composite which simply does not have the properties of laid up props like the RF. RF does not publish its max RPM ratings like Aeronaut, but they have furnished me, on occasion, ratings for the specific propellers that I have used. And, as one might expect, these are much more robust than the Aeronaut ratings. Empirically, I had a piece of paper get sucked into an RF on the test stand which promptly destroyed the prop. But comparing the stub that remained at the hub with the Aeronaut, and taking into account the much higher rating of similarly sized RF props, I doubt that landings short of full on F3J landings would do much damage to the RF's. I do not have the same trust for the Aeronauts.

Your point with respect to propeller damage is very well taken. But even more importantly, our guys need to become educated on the proper application of props to their power combinations.

Happy Landings,

Oct 10, 2012, 09:39 AM
I will make one statement on landing circles VS. runways. Having flown on runways many times at our club and one year at the NATS I do not think there is any difference w/r/t dorks. I have seen and done just as many dorks (not with electrics) on the runway as you still want to get the extra point or so. The ALES tape is much more forgiving of coming in a little crosswind or coming up on the end of the runway both of those conditions cause a dork situation. If you go over the 50 point circle on an ALES tape, you still get 45 points and the 50 point circle is really fairly big (too big in fact). So the one point per inch may cause more dorks than the style of runway.

Something to think about, it is the runway style or the points/inch that cause dorking to be considered?

Oct 10, 2012, 12:19 PM
Registered User

Weighing In

I am a relative newcomer to soaring, specifically ALES. It looks like some of the things that attracted me to it initially may change.

If you want to have a class just for the expensive, large span ships, have at it. I like the way it is now. Nothing warms my heart more than to see a $200.00 foamy beat a $3000.00 molded ship. It doesn't happen too often, but it happens. As has been mentioned several times previously, I too watched it happen at the Polecat this year.

I got into this event because you didn't have to be a person of means to compete. I have about $550.00 in my Oracle and about $400.00 in my WindDancer III. This is a considerable sum to me.

If I have to spend megabucks just to compete, I will go back to flying small power planes exclusively.

I suppose I don't fully understand the runway concept. Is it a set lead-in to the pin? If so, what happens if the orientation is wrong relative to the wind direction when it's time to land? Wouldn't more pilots be tempted to dork their landing to stay on the runway than to stay in a landing circle?

I agree with Don's assertion that all planes should be inert until they reach the launch point. I don't plug my battery in until I am at the launch point. For those who can't access their power connection easily, I suggest they find some other means of powering up on the field.

I don't agree with the requirement to lauch and then start the motor. I think all planes should be launched under power. Most, if not all, of the planes I've seen have the prop disc well out ahead of the contestant/timer. If one comes apart, it would be a non-event (other than a DQ) as long as people practice some common sense. I don't run a 1500-2000 watt power system and I don't dump my plane's nose into the ground just to make points, so it's unlikely I will have to worry about this happening. As with full scale flying, a thorough pre-flight inspection should be performed prior to the competition, or as Don mentioned, following a hard landing.

As far as skegs, bolts, or other devices, I say definitely not. If the grass is tall, short, wet, dry, etc., that's the current conditions at the field. You have to adapt to whatever cards you are dealt at the time. If you are landing a ship that weighs 80-90 ounces, you obviously have to land it differently than one weighing 30-40 ounces. If it slides more on the wet grass, you accont for that. Later in the day when the grass drys, you account for that as well.

No need for any kind of "arrresting" system, whether it be the aforementioned skeg or "balling or coiling up" the landing tape. I saw this being done at the Nats and was told, well, there's no rule against it. I suppose no rule really applies unless someone sees you violate it, either. I personally rely on integrity and self-disclosure when deciding what kind of contestant I'm going to be.

I always looked at ALES as an Everyman's competition due to its simplicity and cost of equipment. But the way it looks, the current tide is trying to change it into a rich man's sport, complicate the rules, and exclude many of us from competing.
Oct 10, 2012, 12:37 PM
Red Merle ALES VI
Curtis Suter's Avatar

I couldn't agree more. I have nine ALES contests under my belt this year alone. I won't reiterate your excellent post but I will add that I do not want a landing contest. Period. If it is made into a landing contest then the huge growth we've seen of new folks getting into soaring competition will quickly fade away.

I'm just speaking from experience of the folks I've met and spoken to this year.

I've seen so many enjoyable flights, simultaneous landings, Oly's beating everyone on the field and the pilot talking about it days afterwards, young kids flying in a thermal that's less than 100 feet off the deck for three minutes to make their time, and on and on and on. Those smiling faces range in age from young kids to folks much, much older than me!

Oct 10, 2012, 12:47 PM
Registered User
Thanks for your post. You said it much better than I could.
Oct 10, 2012, 03:01 PM
Registered User

Model Classes

The only way to divide the competition up is by the bottom line. Glider cost. Everything over $500 in the top class, the rest a free for all as it is now?
We have now been flying by the present rules for two years. This Sunday will be our 6th event this year, and the last one. So far I have heard no complaints from any of our contestants(all 10 of them) about the contests themselves. One open Class-'Run what ya Brung"- and the winner should be the best soarer?We plan on making no changes for next year, as far as I know. We shall no doubt be discussing next years events this winter.
Landings. So far we have seen very few fliers who score landing points every time.When they all start scoring 35+ every time, then we may talk of changes. Till then things stay as they are.
Larry Jolly, I am delighted that you have said such positive things about ALES Man on Man, and as you say, the format may be tweaked as the sport progresses. Let us hear from you and other top fliers in the near future.

Oct 10, 2012, 04:59 PM
There's Something in the Air
Ne-Aero's Avatar
Wow, less than 2 days old and this thread has had a lot of good commentary.

Now for the record I have not flown an electric sailplane under any ALES rules. I'm more of a traditional Soaring pilot who believes Soaring contests should be about soaring and not about slamming your $2000 Red Competition Sailplane into the ground for a landing. The runway landings suit me just fine.

My personal opinion is that a soaring contest should be able to support both launch types in the same launch groups. Your name gets called and you are assigned Winch #2 and you stand behind the winch and when it is your turn to launch you toss your sailplane and turn on the motor and let it rip (yes I prefer toss then motor start as with my other electrics). It is up to the CD to decide how high an average winch launch is getting to and then set the ALES limiters to that altitude and launch time.

Yes, combining ALES and Winch launching methods in a single contest is a radical thought. However, when the ALES parameters and Winch parameters are set properly so that the launch method used is equal, then it is a soaring contest with a runway landing. And in my area we might just get up to a 20 pilot contest by combining groups.

Hey, this is just my opinion and I know I'm weighing in late in the argument but I thought I'd toss it out there to see if anyone takes the high road and helps to figure out how to make it work.

Take Care,
Each day Begins with a whole new set of possibilities
Oct 10, 2012, 05:18 PM
Registered User
banjo328's Avatar
Having competed in a couple of ALES contests , so far, I'd say eliminate the "dork' landings by having the clock run until the plane stops moving. That's the way we do it here and it encourages smooth, flat landing approaches and negates any skegs or bolts. Also, 200 meters is about right for max motor run. With a 10 minute soaring window and the usual variable conditions, making your 10 minutes from 200 meters is not a guaranteed thing and is not done the majority of the time, at least not around here.
Oct 10, 2012, 05:47 PM
Registered User
If you make a tape or runway landing for a tie breaker beyond the timed aspect of the flight time points we will figure it out as soon as possible.

Since I have the first hand knowledge of what took place during the thrown prop incident at Visalia there is no one data point to have a discussion on with my situation. The prop was an RF. It was not beat into submission on a landing yet could have been compromised in its shortened life. It would be nice to have some real data to work with but I cannot see any RF data on the web to use.
Oct 10, 2012, 06:06 PM
Registered User
R.M. Gellart's Avatar
After reading Dave's and Ken's posts, a couple of comments:

Dave, after reading your post, I am guessig that in eccense, you are saying that you are gone if the moldies come out in force? You have actually opened the Pandora's Box with concern to ALES as an event and it's future. My reasoning is, I have been asked why I was even getting involved in ALES, because my friends all said that guys of your opinion and others flying less expensive airframes, would leave the scene the minute that the top end airframes showed up. Your general sentiment seems to back that up, and from what I heard, you were not happy at the Nats because there were high dollar airframes doing well in the competition. The same issues can be seen as I have watched TD in the last ten or so years with guys that basically went home looking like Charlie Brown draggin his kite because some bad guy bought a nice sailplane and they automatically felt that they were beat irregaurdless of their talent and knowledge. It can be seen at about any TD contest that a guy flying a moldie is no gaurentee of success, but in the hands of LJ, TK, Randy, Walt,, they allow these guys to utilize every possible chance to beat the competition because they have put in their time and effort to become skilled thermal fliers and that is what guys seem to miss in that equation. They could win with Radians, but they like flying moldies and that is what they got.

ALES is a relatively a simple extension of string launch TD for any TD guy that has some electric ship knowledge and a little time thinking it out. I hope that your attitude does not spread, but it could and if it does, ALES basically dies of envy and that would be a bad thing. More TD guys are coming so I hope your thoughts do not become the majority view.

Ken, you made a comment about landings and what happens when someone makes 35's or better every round. At the Nats, one guy averaged nearly 44, he had one 35 and the rest were 40 or better. As the number of more experienced fliers come out, landing scores will increase (and that is why a more graduated tape would be nice to split up the standings), no matter what the rules are.

ALES is a great event and has such promise, but if folks decide that equipment issue will be a go/no go switch they use to attend events, then ALES is in trouble already. I hope not!

Oct 10, 2012, 06:10 PM
Dragons, WindMills, all Same
jcstalls's Avatar
I am liking the runways landing suggestion better now with more thought and some experience back in recent SC2, plus the newer suggestion of stopping the clock when the plan stops. Makes sense.
I did not make it into the modern LMR with these new fangled electronic items now ALES, this year. Next Year.
The number one pet pea that I have with current USA ALES, is the ultra precise landing required that can damage ships.

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