2018 USA F3J National Championship Event Coverage

Highlights of the F3J Team Competition at the 2018 NATS.

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F3J is No Joke!

Wow, F3J is no joke! I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this contest. I had heard some things like it was a team event and that the launches were crazy, but I didn't realize it would be non-stop all day action. At this years F3J NATS we had 16 pilots in 4 teams of 4. Each team were to supply their own winches and equipment except for the landing tape and the radio speaker which runs the contest.

The winches are a lot different than standard TD winches. They seemed to be more powerful, but also setup differently with the braking system. The big difference was in the line as F3J uses mono line (fishing line) which stretches and that is very important. See in F3J there is a countdown to the start of a round and all 4 pilots launch at the same time. As soon as the buzzer sounds, the 10 minute working window begins and your goal is to score as much flight time as possible and perform a spot landing. Here's the deal though, the longer you are on the winch line, the less time you are able to score. Since the thrower cannot launch the plane until after the buzzer and then you'll spend some time on the winch line, the most you could score would be somewhere around a 9:57 or so. Most flights I saw were around 9:55. There's some strategy involved there as you can choose how short or long to stay on the line. Go for a short tow and you won't get as much launch height and you better have a good read on where a thermal is to be able to make it up and out for 10 minutes. Go for a long tow and you'll lose seconds of score time, but you'll get a much higher launch. The line stretching acts as sort of sling shot rocketing the planes skyward as soon as they are launched. There's a lot more energy in these launches and I could see the wings flexing on my Supra going up the line.

The landing tape is much longer than a standard TD tape and the increments are pretty big for the bonus scores up to 100 points. It's pretty easy for most pilots to score a 90 or better. It takes some very good timing and practiced landing patterns to do this well as you do not want to go over time. In TD you can go over the 10 minutes with a 10:02 being the same score as a 9:58, but in F3J if you land after the 10 minute buzzer, you lose the landing points and take a 30 point penalty. The landings can also be tough due to traffic. All the pilots are usually coming in for the landing at the same time and it makes for some close calls, but we were lucky to not have any midairs in the landing zone.

Being on a 4 man team is fun as you are all working together for every flight. There is a pilot, a thrower who launches the plane, a winch operator to tap the pedal and a timer/air caller. To setup for the launch the thrower would hold the plane and walk out to the launch zone stretching out the monoline. He would ask the winch operator to tap the pedal a few times to build tension and then the thrower would walk backwards to release the tension while waiting for the buzzer. At about 10-15 seconds to launch, the thrower walks back up to the launch zone and holds the plane, bracing against the strong tension of the line. At about 1.5-2 seconds to launch, the winch operator mashes the pedal and builds up huge tension on the line and as soon as the buzzer sounds, the thrower launches the plane. It's a pretty violent launch with a lot of stress on the airplane wings. After a second or two on the line, the pilots dives down and pulls up abruptly to zoom hundreds of feet into the air. All the pilots are launching at the same time in F3J and that makes it even more exciting.

The team aspect also means you are busy doing something for every flight and with only 4 minutes in between groups, there isn't much time to rest. It's go go go all day long. I really like the format and found it interesting to learn about the strategy involved with launching, landing and calling air. I will definitely be attending more F3J competitions. I finished up in 11 place, but the top 4 pilots went on to a 4 round fly off with 15 minute flight windows instead of 10. After all 4 rounds, Amy Pool locked in the win, taking the championship in both Unlimited and F3J for the week. Congrats Amy! She is one heck of a pilot.

That concludes the Soaring NATS and it has been an amazing week of flying. Camping out with other pilots adds to the experience and really solidifies the "Glider Camp" feel. If you didn't make it this year, you really missed out on some good times and great flying. I can't wait until next year and I hope to see you at the 2019 AMA NATS!

Top 4 F3J Pilots

  • 1. Amy Pool
  • 2. Edward Dumas
  • 3. Randy Everly
  • 4. Richard Burnoski

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This thread is privately moderated by Jason Cole, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Jul 30, 2018, 12:58 PM
Registered User
GliderJim's Avatar
Nice write up Jason. Congrats to Amy!
Jul 30, 2018, 02:54 PM
Camber down and screw it up.
gdouglas's Avatar
Congratulations to Amy!

Jason, this was your first F3J contest? Pretty spectacular, isn't it ? Did you learn the 'Ka-Pow!' landing ?

--
Greg
Jul 30, 2018, 03:13 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Hi Greg,
Yep, first F3J contest! The Unlimited was only my 2nd TD contest too. Great fun!! Yeah I figured out pretty quickly you better be putting that nose on the ground at the 1, or else! Love the strategy involved and the team aspect of the event. Can't wait to do it again.
Jul 31, 2018, 11:29 AM
Forever Tinkering w/ Stuff
jimbo12's Avatar
Hey,
Looks like fun!
Does anyone know where to get the sailplane in image 38?

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/atta...entid=11118397
Jul 31, 2018, 11:33 AM
Registered User
ClayH's Avatar
Congrats Amy!
Last edited by ClayH; Jul 31, 2018 at 11:39 AM.
Jul 31, 2018, 12:14 PM
Camber down and screw it up.
gdouglas's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo12
Hey,
Looks like fun!
Does anyone know where to get the sailplane in image 38?
The Royale is (was?) designed and manufactured by Maple Leaf Design in Canada, obviously. I'm not sure about the status of Maple Leaf, but I don't have a good feeling about them. Their web site is expired. Don't know if they're actively producing models or not. Skip Miller Models may have distributed their planes at one time, but SMM is having some... issues... right now.

If you're not currently involved in winch launched RC soaring and want to stay there for some reason, you might consider the electric launched sailplanes. Most of the development and design seems to be moving that way. There are literally dozens of brand new, state of the art e-launch saiplanes, with more appearing weekly. The high end ones are mostly made in Eastern Europe.

--
Greg
Jul 31, 2018, 12:16 PM
Registered User
GliderJim's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbo12
Hey,
Looks like fun!
Does anyone know where to get the sailplane in image 38?

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/atta...entid=11118397
That was a kit available from Maple Leaf Design. I don't believe they are available anymore. Here's a link with some info about the model...

https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...sign-ROYALE-4m
Aug 01, 2018, 09:42 AM
DWA
DWA
1Corinthians 13:1-8
DWA's Avatar
Congrats Amy!
Latest blog entry: Flying Log Book
Aug 01, 2018, 01:23 PM
Registered User

Thank You!


Thank you to Jason and his teammates for allowing a couple of knuckleheads like me and Bruce to watch as he and his team worked. Make no mistake, these men were working - there is a lot to do, with very little time between rounds. We needed to make sure we stayed out of the way!

I learned so much watching this competition, I'm still trying to absorb all of it. It was my first time seeing a soaring event of this type, but it won't be my last. Practice, practice, practice. Maybe someday I'll actually be able to take part. Their ability to very quickly identify and put planes into thermals was something to behold.

You guys rock!
Aug 03, 2018, 10:03 AM
Bro
Bro
Registered User
Bro's Avatar

Icon-royale


Quote:
Originally Posted by gdouglas
The Royale is (was?) designed and manufactured by Maple Leaf Design in Canada, obviously. I'm not sure about the status of Maple Leaf, but I don't have a good feeling about them. Their web site is expired. Don't know if they're actively producing models or not. Skip Miller Models may have distributed their planes at one time, but SMM is having some... issues... right now.

If you're not currently involved in winch launched RC soaring and want to stay there for some reason, you might consider the electric launched sailplanes. Most of the development and design seems to be moving that way. There are literally dozens of brand new, state of the art e-launch saiplanes, with more appearing weekly. The high end ones are mostly made in Eastern Europe.

--
Greg
FYI.... Don Peters was making Icon's and Royales in Arizona...
Great guy, but another attempt at molded models in USA that did not work..

Best,
Bob
Latest blog entry: 2015
Aug 07, 2018, 11:15 AM
Sagitta Fanboy
Quote:
Originally Posted by gdouglas
The Royale is (was?) designed and manufactured by Maple Leaf Design in Canada, obviously. I'm not sure about the status of Maple Leaf, but I don't have a good feeling about them. Their web site is expired. Don't know if they're actively producing models or not. Skip Miller Models may have distributed their planes at one time, but SMM is having some... issues... right now.


--
Greg
Despite the name, Maple Leaf Design is/was US-based, not Canadian.
Oct 17, 2018, 12:20 AM
Detail Freak
target's Avatar
F3j winches are normally f3b winches, which typically have LESS power than a real TD winch.
The perceived power comes from the energy stored in the stretchy monofilament line.
Next up Jason, try f3b, where the distance to the turnaround is 200m vice 150m, and the entire line is mono, so 400m of rubber band.
Launches are spectacular to say the least!
I think you might enjoy it, lol.


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