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Oct 22, 2019, 01:00 PM
turn, turn, turn.
Originally Posted by roydor
I come to challenge myself, otherwise what’s the difference between weekend flying and competing?

You can also try another tactic, climb higher than everyone else, wait a couple of minutes and join the guy in the best air. Who needs to learn to read air anyways?
Indeed...if winning isn't realistic, I'll set other goals for myself.

One time I went to a winch launch contest on a windy day with my Easy Glider, trying to get an LSF landing ...I did not get it.

I felt as terrible as I did when I got 2nd place in a contest I went to win.
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Oct 22, 2019, 01:21 PM
Time for me to Fly...
Mr. Wiz's Avatar
I never go to a contest to win. I go to fly my best and let the chips fall where they may. That’s been my most successful tactic. Otherwise, I end up too stressed to fly well. Many times I end up winning when I least expected to do well. The mind is a funny thing.
Latest blog entry: Something old is new again
Oct 22, 2019, 02:25 PM
Everything's A Compromise
Larrikin's Avatar
Originally Posted by Mr. Wiz
I never go to a contest to win. I go to fly my best and let the chips fall where they may. That’s been my most successful tactic. Otherwise, I end up too stressed to fly well. Many times I end up winning when I least expected to do well. The mind is a funny thing.
100% agree.
During an event, I avoid the scoring tent so that I don’t see how I’m going.
A couple of weeks ago we had a comp (24 starters) and after 6 or 7 rounds I thought I’d be mid-field, based on my interpretation of my performance.
Then it happened.
A fellow competitor said, “Gee, you’re doing well!”
Noooooooo .... I didn’t want to know that!
I was 3rd place for ≈9 of the total 12 rounds flown and I changed my plan, tried a “hero” flight or 2 and slipped back to 4th place.
Cest la vie.
Oct 22, 2019, 03:31 PM
In F3J size does matter!
roydor's Avatar
Another skill to master is “where NOT to go”.
Sometimes you don’t know where the good air is, but you know where it isn’t. For example, been blowing really strong and constant for a while and the thermal is WAY downwind. So downwind isn’t a good option as you will connect with the thermal at an “uncomfortable distance”. Another is when the wind has been dropping steadily for a long time so you know the thermal isn’t behind you but it seems it might be WAY upwind. Sometimes its a bird flapping like crazy on one side of the field indicating theres nasty sink on that side. In all these cases you avoid where it’s not and go where it might be, you may not know where it is but going to the other side of where it isn’t or pushing FAR as quickly as possible to where it might be and starting your search from there, highly improves your chances when conditions are nasty.

Another skill is assessing how strong is the air. This is especially important in F5J. In F5J, if you’ve maxed out early in the round, you’ve simply climbed too high!
The ideal climb is the one that’s just high enough to make you uncomfortable and uncertain that you’re going to make your time until the very last minute. In order to do this you need to have a good “feel” for the strength of the thermals in relation to the wind and sink around. This requires watching the flights of the groups before you, you need to “know” how the conditions are developing and changing. Remember, stepping onto the field with no prior knowledge of the conditions is not wise.
Oct 22, 2019, 03:43 PM
Time for me to Fly...
Mr. Wiz's Avatar
Absolutely, Roy. Once a long time ago, Gavin gave me that advice. Of course, this was in F3K but I believe the advice translates to F5J too. You have to pay attention before your flight and you need to have a plan before you let go of the plane. Of course, in F3K you have to develop that plan before you land and launch again. Quick thinking is important. I think that’s part of why hand launch pilots do well in other disciplines. We have had to study the air a lot more than in something like ALES. I’m looking forward to trying a real F5J contest this next season.
Latest blog entry: Something old is new again
Oct 22, 2019, 09:11 PM
Registered User
Daniel Z's Avatar
Thread OP
Last rounds have always more wind , I use a bigger battery and fly faster in longer lines than early morning , where I try to fly light and close. Sounds wright for you?
Oct 22, 2019, 11:12 PM
In F3J size does matter!
roydor's Avatar
Originally Posted by Daniel Z
Last rounds have always more wind , I use a bigger battery and fly faster in longer lines than early morning , where I try to fly light and close. Sounds wright for you?
Difficult to answer without knowing the conditions specific to the field. Usually when it gets windier you need a bit more altitude and you need to think about coming back so you optimize more for penetration than for min sink.

A thing to remember, F5J is usually a format where you have preliminary rounds then a flyoff. To reach the flyoff you need to be very good, not excellent, you don’t need to be with 1000 points on all flights. So you need to “manage the risks” you are taking which means you don’t have to be the lowest on every flight, just low enough to score high. Sometimes taking a smaller risk in tougher air will be the best choice as you will loose a few points to the “hero or zero pilot” but you will make your time. Managing this “risk vs reward” is not an easy thing and also requires a lot of experience, concentration and research (into the conditions and into how well your competitors are doing). A smart competitor knows when to take bigger risks which push you forward in the ranking and when to let others commit suicide while taking an easier flight.
Oct 23, 2019, 12:32 AM
launch low, fly high
I apologize in that I haven't read all of the last three pages, TL;DR...

I'm going to jump in here and say that Kenny is a product of his experiences. He is from the east coast, and likely flies from fields that are open fields that are surrounded by trees. A lot of trees...

Turns out that in these circumstances, the usual best choice is to launch and immediately go downwind, as the best thermal generator around is the open field that you are standing in. I remember meeting Tom Kiesling way back in the Mantis days, and all he ever did was launch and immediately turn downwind. After observing this for a while I asked him why he did this. All he knew about and practiced was flying from fields that were surrounded by trees and the treeline downwind of the field was where the action was. It took him a while to break that habit when he started flying at fields that were not surrounded by miles of trees...

For fields that are surrounded by forest, the best answer for much of the day is to head downwind of the field, lacking better information. For other fields, well, you may find that other options may be better if you didn't get a read on a passing thermal.
Oct 23, 2019, 08:09 AM
Time for me to Fly...
Mr. Wiz's Avatar
Absolutely, Joe. That’s what I said when this part of the thread started. The only time all the lift is down wind of you is when you’re standing on the thermal generator. My home field is somewhat like that but even there, we have fields on the other side of the tree rows. They are thermal generators too and we don’t always go down wind, especially when the thermal cycles are long.
Latest blog entry: Something old is new again
Oct 23, 2019, 09:56 AM
Registered User
Thermal flying is an art so debating on where to fly is like arguing whose art is better

Here is one bit of advice to offer for a novice 5J. Because we can choose our launch height, as a novice, launch higher than the rest of the field and use other planes to mark your air. Have your timer or helper look at the other planes and not at yours then fly to the positive air. Try that for a while, make your times, hit your landings. Think about what happened and improve your tactics from there.

With due respect to the folks in this thread just going down wind isn't really a strategy. You should be launching to where you think the most positive air is or where the most negative air is not. Yes often times in a tree lined field down wind areas kick off thermal activity, but if you don't have a tree line down wind what are you chasing exactly?
Oct 23, 2019, 12:50 PM
turn, turn, turn.
Tree line or not, a very real reason why people don't go downwind, is because they are afraid they won't get back to the field.

But of course I won't argue that a lot of my experience comes from flying in open fields surrounded by trees.
But even when I was flying in Poway, there are trees... And the majority of the lift is downwind.
Oct 23, 2019, 12:51 PM
Registered User
At the risk of going against popular opinion, I am going to defend Kenny's position a bit here. I fly predominantly downwind (I am talking the prevailing wind direction and not local wind shift due to transient lift). One reason, as previously mentioned, is that you can feel the air pass through before it gets to your plane, thereby giving you an idea of where the lift will be. However, the other and much bigger reason for me, is that I can read the plane better downwind.

If the plane is upwind, I am often tricked into thinking it is going up because the angle increases to the plane as it drifts towards you. I have fallen for the bait countless times and I see it time and again from other pilots. The illusion can be very powerful and often times people do not realize it until it's too late.

Flying downwind, if the plane stays level or goes up a little, it is definitely is going up. If I am flying overhead or slightly upwind (don't know how I got there!), I will sometimes even walk upwind just to look downwind on my plane so I can read it better.

Now, I don't think only thermals exist downwind. However, I have a very difficult time reading the plane when it is upwind. I do notice some people (Amy Pool and Josh Glaab for example) seem to have a special talent for reading their planes upwind. Becoming better at reading my plane upwind is something I am trying to add to my bag of tricks...but generally I don't trust going upwind very much on heavier days. On light days, the plane does not drift as much and the visual illusion is not as powerful.

I think part of the answer to reading the plane upwind is focusing on the energy of the plane instead of its visual position in the sky. Or maybe just focusing on what the plane does during a portion of the turn like the upwind segment

So in the meantime, my general rule is to fly downwind unless there is an obvious read upwind or the prevailing wind has stopped or significantly decreased in intensity. Maybe some of the distinguished flyers that have commented or are lurking in this thread can help pass on some tricks or techniques? I don't know about Kenny, but I am open to new ideas

-Randy E.
Oct 23, 2019, 01:05 PM
turn, turn, turn.
Another decision to win, comes from the question of whether or not you really want to win.

One answer to that, is to practice in the wind as much as possible...When other people don't fly, make sure you're out there flying.

PS. I'm always learning and have an open mind, and that's why I'm always getting better.
Oct 23, 2019, 02:26 PM
Time for me to Fly...
Mr. Wiz's Avatar
Clearly, thermals never move upwind so with that in mind, never leave a thermal moving down wind unless the plane is getting too far away to see it or it's time to come home. That last part can be a bit tricky to figure out.

What generally follows lift.... sink, right? So at any given point in time, if all of the lift went that way so did all of the sink. There are times when going downwind is completely the wrong thing to do. So what do you suggest to a pilot that's about to launch, has been paying attention and he knows all the lift behind him is too far to reach? Well, if he has been really paying attention, you might tell him to push somewhat far upwind and scan across the field watching his plane for signs that there is a new thermal coming in. If you know the field well enough, you might tell him other places outside the perimeter that have been known to produce lift and that he may want to try there. What I know for certain is that lift isn't always downwind or at least it's not always within reach.
Latest blog entry: Something old is new again
Oct 23, 2019, 02:32 PM
Duane, LSF IV
Wazmo's Avatar
Originally Posted by Mr. Wiz
Clearly, thermals never move upwind
While this is generally true, there are certainly cases, which I have seen, where a larger thermal upwind can suck up the smaller feeder in which you're flying. In that case, the correct move is upwind.

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