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May 26, 2014, 11:38 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar

Notes on windy flying

If you want to explore windy flying techniques you can check out this F3X thread. It includes solid advice from several serious contesters including Joe Wurts.

Windy contest flying outline

How to use ballast
The upsides and downsides of adding ballast
When to start ballasting
Amount of ballast to use
Wind-specific TX settings
By flight mode
Consider creating separate TX "model" for windy conditions
Launches in wind
Self launching versus your timer holding your plane
Launch camber changes in wind
Dealing with gusts on launch
Winch pedal-to-the-metal versus tap-tap-tap, which should you use?
Finding lift in wind
Search strategies in high winds
Upwind versus downwind searches
Working lift in wind
Thermal versus wave techniques
Thermal turns in high winds versus surfing
How far downwind should you follow a thermal?
Landings in wind
Changes to landing pattern
Changes to use of flaps
.....What happens if you use too much flap?
Ballast and damage on harder "off axis" landings
Last edited by SoaringDude; May 29, 2014 at 12:21 PM.
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May 31, 2014, 04:04 PM
Registered User
RPinCA's Avatar
Three weeks ago, Dudley canceled the scheduled TD contest due to high winds. On that day, my good friend Toby Strauch took his new cigarette boat on Folsom Lake. Many of you saw his empty boat on the evening news. Toby was a highly experienced, safety-first, weather savvy skipper. He has had four cigarette boats. I have ridden with him in SF Bay at high speed, noting his concentration, knowledge of wave patterns, and careful control of the boat. Despite his skills and judgment, on the day of our canceled contest he was killed on Folsom Lake by the winds, along with his brother and two friends.

I just returned from their memorial service. With tears in my eyes, I am driven to write this by words spoken at the service, which many of us know from a song: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven... a time to keep silence, and a time to speak..." Until today, I have kept silence.

The wind speeds Chris spoke of (20/25) are unsafe for flying an RC sailplane. In another forum, a 100-hour pilot posted a question regarding the safety of flying a Cessna 172 in 16 knot winds gusting to 24. The 172 flies at weights of 2000-2300 pounds, with a stall speed of 47 knots (54 mph). The pilot was supported by the group for his caution and use of good judgment.

The 16 knot wind speed was in the range noted in Chris's original post, and the gust speed is just slightly higher. We fly sailplanes that weigh just a few pounds, with stall speeds in the 14-18mph range. We approach landings just 3-4 mph above stall speed. Ron Kucera noted the winds that day were 12 gusting to 22 - a 10 mph difference in speed. It is shockingly easy to suddenly find your plane stalled on approach during a drop in wind speed, or have a sudden gust come from a quartering angle and cartwheel your precious plane. No amount of skill can overcome the occasional surprises of nature.

Toby's boat was rated for 150mph. Toby's skill level was the highest of anyone I have ever met, attested to by one of his friends who spoke at today's service. Despite his equipment, skill and experience, Toby, his brother, and two friends were killed by the wind that day.

I strongly object to the contention that the general SVSS pilot can be taught to fly safely in winds up to 20mph with gusts to 25mph. These speeds were in the original post, but, as Chris is moderator of this forum, he has modified the post in the interim without noting the change. I sincerely hope that the typical SVSS pilot is like Ron regarding 12/22 winds: "Who would want to fly in this kind of wind?" I urge everyone to recall the original post, in which Chris said he had been learning to fly in high winds, and understand that its takes years and years of experience to gain the skills necessary for high winds - and even then, you may end up with a broken sailplane.

I close with another thought expressed at the memorial: "If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ... If I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, but do not have love, I am nothing."

Fellow pilots, take care of your planes, fly within your limits, do not believe your skills can overcome the hand of nature, and remember that we fly our models for pleasure and fulfillment. Fly safely... fly again.


PS... I sincerely hope this post is not modified. I am disappointed to find the original post modified without notice, removing key elements such as those I referred to. I am keeping a copy of this post in my files.
May 31, 2014, 09:54 PM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar

My original offer-of-help post was modified as a direct result of a private exchange between Mart and myself. Because your post is airing a form of (mild) internal club conflict I am guessing Mart (and others) might want it removed but per your request I'm happy to keep it intact until someone with more club authority asks.

The rest of your points re: my offer to help club members are best addressed one on one.

Jun 01, 2014, 09:07 AM
Registered User
RPinCA's Avatar
First: in no forum should anyone be allowed to erase their past remarks. You have made dozens of e-mails and other posts appear unfounded and out-of-context. The proper response was to make a post retracting your statements. Your actions as moderator are inappropriate and self-serving. You should not have this privilege.

Second: to quote you, "This sounds like a good time for someone to start an open RC Groups club discussion on how we deal with contests and windy forecasts." It appears you only want a club discussion that supports your point of view.

I very much doubt Marty will find anything I posted offensive or inappropriate. If someone has an objection, let them post a rebuttal. But you have no right to "change the past" and remove the context for subsequent remarks and discussions.
Jun 01, 2014, 09:59 AM
Team Hello Kitty
SoaringDude's Avatar

RC Groups empowers you the same as I to edit your own past posts and it's used all the time. My edit on this thread changed it to just informational and not an open offer of help.

To the point of a club discussion on windy flying and contests I still think that's a very good idea. Based on member feedback over the past few days I think the best way to do this is at the next club meeting, not in this forum. I look forward to a good discussion whenever it makes it on the club agenda.

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