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Jul 19, 2019, 08:04 PM
F3B and F3K
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thoughts on contest flying


Due to a shoulder injury, I have not flown a single contest this year. I have looked in my records, I competed in my first F3J contest in 2004 and my first F3K contest in 2006. Since then I have flown every year multiple contests.

Thus this year is definitely an exception, and I feel that something is missing: flying in contests was giving me a well needed break from the daily routines and troubles at work. To add insult to injury, I was qualified for this years F3K worlds team. This is the third world championship for which I had qualified, but was then forced to resign for reasons such as work or now injury. Sometimes life throws big monkey wrenches...

However, despite being disappointed, the free time lets me reflect why I do compete with toyplanes. It has become the sole purpose why I build planes and fly them. I do not do leisure flying, it is either practice with a specific purpose (turnarounds, launching, etc) or it is contest flying. How could I become so focused on just contest flying?

It is an interesting question, for which I have no clear answer. What I do know is that I had some of the most fun I ever had with toyplanes when competing. Interestingly, I also had most fun at the first contests in a new category or country. I would say I had probably the most fun when I came to the US: I was unknown to everyone, but was able to kick some butt without feeling any pressure. The first major contest was at the "Bruce" in 2010, and I met some legends like Bruce Davidson, Paul Anderson, Mike Stern, George Morris, and others. I still remember that I was one time deep downwind with Paul, and he asked who is this other guy out there. I identified myself and he said: "not as good as me, but good for a foreigner." Since I considered him a legend, I felt humbled and it was a good laugh.
The second big contest was the IHLGF in 2010, nobody knew me on the Westcoast, but at the Pizza party, some people pointed at me (including Jun) and whispered something like who is that dude? Again, as I consider Jun a legend in the sport, I felt honored. Flying was in wild conditions and I had a blast. It resulted also in the first flyoffs participation for me (I missed the flyoffs at my first Bruce).

As I got more established, I had less fun. I felt more expectations were projected on me to do well, and I became more tense in my flying. I still had fun, but flying in a contest became (and still is) more stressful. Likely I put the biggest expectations on myself, and for a period, I could get quite worked up when I had a bad round or contest. It can still happen to me now, but I got better to control my emotions and not being a jerk.

From these considerations, rationally it would be best to fly something completely different once I am healed up. Flying in a discipline I have not flown much would likely be more enjoyable and I would have a steep learning curve. Improving in something can be very rewarding. I have not flown F3F for more than 10 years, so that would be a logical choice since I have a bunch of F3B planes. Triangle racing or cross country flying would also be on my bucket list.

So something to think about. What is for sure, I miss soaring and I miss the camaraderie. Life has gotten much more grey and boring without it.
Last edited by RetoF3X; Aug 12, 2019 at 09:59 AM.
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Jul 22, 2019, 01:35 PM
Barney Fife, Vigilante
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The soaring community misses you too buddy. As we get older, other things competing for our flying time have stronger voices than they did when we were younger.


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