Sailplanes vs. Electric - RC Groups
Thread Tools
Apr 06, 2002, 03:14 PM
Registered User
John Gallagher's Avatar

Sailplanes vs. Electric

Things have changed a great deal at the club I belong to. In the last two years the membership has gone from almost all sailplane to a majority of electric flyers. Everyone is pretty good about staying out of each others way, but the attitude of the electric guys towards the sailplane guys is pretty obvious. Understand I do have electrics but hand launch most of the time. In the past I've let a couple of the electric guys fly my 1-26hlg and my Phrophet (100"wingspan RES plane). They went back to steering their electrics back and forth across the field.
A few weeks ago we had an unusally nice winter day. The electrics were out in full force with their zagis, parkflyers, simple 400s, etc. I was the only one at the field flying a glider (Aspen Leaf HLG). I had just specked out during a 7 minute flight. I felt pretty good about the day until the 12 year old son of an electric flyer approached me and asked what I get out of gliding. I couldn't beleive it. It was obvious that the kid was just repeating what he had heard.

I guess you either get it or you don't!
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Apr 06, 2002, 04:37 PM
Registered User
BatteryJockey's Avatar
I know how you fell, I'm 1 of 7 that fly electric assisted gliders at the local field. The field is 98% glow fliers. We are treated as the redheaded step children. We fly off to the side where the helecopters are and get a visit from the glow boys every time we cross their patern. They have even given us grief when we fly 200 feet above their planes. Most of them are okay when you get them on a one on one situation, and we have even converted 2 of them to gliders. The rest of them just don't understand the challenge of trying to keep a plane in the are without the motor on. I think that they are just jealous that we sit in lawn chairs and fly for 20 - 30 minutes at a time.

Apr 06, 2002, 04:53 PM
Faded away
As much as I might want to get hot about such things, I also know I have to deal with reality and the means electrics (better than slimers!)

Lets face it, when starting out in electric, you get to go fast and do 'things' right away. In sailplanes we go up and come down. So, from one perspective, electrics can seem better. This is especially true with todays 'me' generation. Instant gratification is required or somethings wrong.

However, as time goes on, the things the electric guys (and the slimers) do in the air does not seem to change much. Fly here, fly there, loop, roll, etc, etc. That's why the love for going faster and faster is so prevalent. As time goes on for us, we come to realize that each flight is a challenge and totally unique. That's something they will never get and is the primary reason I fly sailplanes. How can you ever get bored of something that is different every time!

Trying to figure out where mother nature has hid here latest little bubble of energy makes it unique and I doubt I would have to remind anyone who has actually risen in a thermal just what a rush that is.

I have no idea how you make a youngster understand this. I wish I did.

One thing I have come to love is a blend of the 2. LMR ships are fantastic! No string histarts or winches and the launches are way higher than you get from either of those. I fly both (LMR and pure TD as well as DLG's) and love them all.

Good luck,
Apr 06, 2002, 06:23 PM
Registered User

Sailplanes vs. Powered Aircraft

I may duplicate some of my post in the Longest Flight topic but, here goes:

Power fliers will outnumber sailplaners more than 10 to one. People that fly both are an even a smaller minority. Our culture of power over nature and instant gratification reinforces these statistics.

People who want to harmonize with natural forces and use them in non-dominant ways are a small minority and likely to remain so. What you can't change is best accepted. For example: sailboaters are a small minority of all boaters. Patience is a virtue that is rapidly shrinking in our society. Fewer and fewer people are finding the time to build their own models from kits, fewer still scratch build and fewer yet design their own. In a like maner fewer are willing to take the time to learn the subtle clues that point to thermals and stalk the elusive things. There are satisfactions associated with meeting the difficult challange but, such challanges hold little appeal for those seeking instant gratification.

Most power clubs have much higher dues than sailplane clubs. It only takes five members to charter an AMA club. I have been happiest when I have associated with people of like interest. My formula for getting the most out of the hobby is to belong to a sailplane club. The overhead is a lot less. The administrative hassles are a lot less and the comraderie is a lot greater. You won't have to have regular scheduled club meetings. You can seek a flying site that is best suited to sailplanes and the site maintenance will be near zero.

Lacking a seperate club and flying site, you can fly when the power guys don't
Apr 08, 2002, 12:45 AM
RCGroups Author
SoarNeck's Avatar
Unfortunately, the onus (sp?) seems to be on sailplane pilots to appeal to our electric and gas flying cousins. Our club has found that aerotowing and speed/slope flying seem to be the best way to "bridge the gap", so to speak.

At a gas fun fly last fall, we were invited to bring a winch out and show the folks what glider flying was all about. Little did I know that that entailed flying off of an adjoining field barely within view of the main field.

Sooo...after flying all on my lonesome for a little while, I launched my Hera, themalled out, and started walking back towards the gas pilots stands. Getting through the barbed wire fence was a trick, but no harm done. I duly took my spot on a station, called out my intention to land, and came screaming down from up high in full-reflex mode - remember to save this for when there are no other noisemakers up, and stay over the runway. If that didn't wake the pits up, the flaps out, walking pace hand catch afterwards sure did (half the Extra or CAP fliers end up in the weeds after rolling off the runway, I notice). From then on, the gas guys were a little more interested! You just have to learn to speak their language a little bit.
Apr 11, 2002, 11:43 PM
Registered User
pval3's Avatar

Props are for boats!

Ok, I fly E and e sailplanes with props, the task of finding a field big enough to lay out the high start without getting folks mad for interfereing with their runway was getting tough.

I started flying the E birds and have not gone back to noisemakers since!

I do endorse the use of an electric motor (ballast) as long as the prop does fold up and hides when I dont need it, there is nothing more frustrating than looking at that thing killing a speed run when it is not doing something for me!

Beats the heck out of spending 20 minutes of my flying day dragging out the rubber band and string as my kid calls it!
Apr 12, 2002, 11:37 AM
Registered User
I went pure E-boosted years ago. There is nothing I miss about using a hi-start or winch. It's the ultimate freedom! I'm always at least ten minutes into a thermal, while others are still going through the hassle of setting up there launchers.

Apr 12, 2002, 12:10 PM
Visitor from Reality
Yes, what do you lot get out of gliders?

I actually started with shooting gliders off a bungee (and crashing them shortly after) until I wised up, got a real trainer model and an instructor. For the next few years, I learned aerobatics with power, competed with hand-towed open gliders and decided that while slope soaring was kinda fun, freezing your parts off atop a windswept hill was not actually fun in total.

Eventually figured out how to make an electric act like a model aircraft and thought I'd found next door to heaven with a site for electric and glider use only in the middle of a local town - the local wet power club's patch, lost to noise and much later regained for quiet flight.

Save you muttering - my favourite electric is a 60" CAP 232 and it flies 6 mins. Every time. It catches up on straight and level in the pits mostly.

Nice deal - if you can put up with people who have no flying discipline, think that wandering around the runway is fine and dandy, and that flying from wherever on the site is acceptable. At least trees stand still - HLG pilots can't even do that.

After a couple of years, I've gone back mainstream and am staying off that site until the glider club dies out or goes away, and it gets safe to fly there again.

Neither's "right", but mostly they don't mix. When I flew gliders at a wet power site, I accepted that I'd better be able to launch and land off the runway, not leave string all over it, and when I got into their flight pattern area, play ball and not wander around in circles and in the way.

I feel happier with flying pattern rules, safety barriers and pilot stations. If a glider pilot feels happier standing in the middle of the runway - which one local explained is how it is done in comps - fine. I don't want to be around that behaviour.

Promise not to drop back through this way again - I followed the link off the zone front page. Doubt if you will appreciate an 'outsider' view (not that I discount a return to more boring models when old age catches up ), but this is how others might see you.
Apr 12, 2002, 01:09 PM
RCGroups Author
SoarNeck's Avatar
Well, I guess it's nice to see the other side of the issue...I suppose. Like Ollie said, I think it's basically the kind of issue where you get it or you don't. It always seems to me like a question of patience - there's always a LOT more swearing at a power field than at a glider site.

For me, a lot of the appeal comes from getting back to nature a little bit. My most memorable evenings usually involve a DLG and an a quiet evening at the field with a couple of good friends. To paraphrase Dave Thornburg, "...if a fourth person shows up, and especially if they're on my frequency [and ESPECIALLY if they have one of those noisy Zagi 400X's!!], it's never a problem, because I was just leaving anyway..."

It takes a certain kind of personality to appreciate the challenges of unpowered flight, and it seems to carry over into other parts of life too. For example, I'm 22 and most of my male friends are heavily involved in their sports cars. Every week at the bar, the same discussion ALWAYS comes up: how many horsepower such and such gives you, how fast they got up to on a quiet backroad, how long they could hang the backend out in a powerslide etc etc. I can appreciate an issue of Road and Track as much as the next guy, but I bought a station wagon thanks, and the only horsepower I truely care about is in the Thoroughbred X I ride on the weekends.

Then there's the old landing issue. No offense, but the only reason you guys need a rigid pattern and active runway is because the average prop driver couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with a bazooka on landing. There can be 15 glider flyers at our club field, doing everything from hand towing to hand launching to winching, and nobody comes close to getting hit with a model. The nature of the game means that we sometimes have to put a 4 meter bird within 2" of a dot, on a time measured to the 1/10th of a second, with 5 or 6 others coming in on ajacent lines at the same that with a CAP.

Sailplane pilots, due to the requirement of always having to be aware of the air around them, seem to be MUCH more aware of their surroundings. At a power field, however, I've seen people do stupid things like insisting that they be able to fly alone simply because they have some whizbang 23% Extra or F3A machine. There are WAY more close calls there, too; maybe just because powered planes are considered "lightly loaded" at 20 oz/ft2, and just generally fly faster.

In the same way that you might see thermal flying as boring, I don't see the appeal of BORING holes in the sky every flight. I rapidly lose interest at power fields. Transcipt of me watching the average flight at a local power club:

"LOOK, A SPIN. NOW HE'S SPINNING UPSIDE DOWN...NOW ON A WINGTIP...NOW UPSIDE DOWN AGAIN. NOT EXACTLY AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO USE ALTITUDE, AND YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT TIPSTALL. ROLLING CICLE...NICE, BUT'S A COORDINATED TURN WOULD BE MORE EFFECIENT. WHAT, THE ENGINE JUST QUIT? STOP YELLING?...sorry, but my ears were still ringing from the racket. DEAD STICK MISSLE INCOMING!!!...I mean landing. Naw, I'm sure the weeds at the end of the runway will stop him...ooh, maybe not. You get the wheels from the end of the runway, I'll pick up the wing, and you get the fuselage from the other side of that fence over there..."
Last edited by SoarNeck; Apr 12, 2002 at 01:15 PM.
Apr 12, 2002, 01:30 PM
Registered User
Well said, SoarNeck!

Although I am a bit offended by your remark about the Zagi 400X. I actually thermal mine, and do outside loops..and knife edges...and point rolls and so on...and on.. and on... Ah maybe your right. They are kinda annoying. But then again, so am I(just ask my wife)

Apr 12, 2002, 02:47 PM
Sailplane Nut
NickW's Avatar
You know, threads like these truly disturb me. They just dont go anywhere, and they serve little purpose but to aggrevate the opposing sides. I usually stay away from these, but today I let it get to me so here goes....

The fact is this. There are disciplines of this hobby that just dont mix. Its a great hobby, and all disciplines should thrive and prosper, but they dont have to thrive at the same field! Us glider pilots do set up our fields in a unique way. But we do have some unwritten rules. We try not to fly over the winch launching area. We try to always land into the wind, so we are all approaching from the same direction. And we do try and be as safe as possible.

Power pilots have their own way of setting up a field that suits their needs as well. The fact is that both are different. And perhaps they shouldnt mix. If you find yourself flying strictly electric sport models at a sailplane feild and their layout bothers you, then simply go find another field you feel better at. You have the power to choose your flying site, so find one that makes you happy and keeps to the pattern you find safe.

We also fly electrics at our field, but the electrics tend to launch off to one side of the field away from the sailplane activity. They know that since we are a sailplane field that the sailplanes have the right of way as thats the primary use of the field. I dont pull out my hotliner style ship untill the soaring activity has died down and I know I will have the sky almost to myself. I dont have a problem with that, as I accept that the sailplanes have the right of way.

As much as it would upset me, if my glider club became an electric majority, then I think I would find another field more suited to my use. I would be saddened by it, but I wouldnt complain about it, and I would move on to search for another field or club.

Nick Wisdom
Orlando, FL
Last edited by NickW; Apr 15, 2002 at 05:03 PM.
Apr 12, 2002, 04:09 PM
[intentionally blank]
fprintf's Avatar

Sailors and Powerboaters never got along either

I have been sailing since I was 8 (I am now 34 going on 12) and I can tell you in all that time it was only rarely that sailors and powerboaters really got along. There was too much competition for the same space, and the powerboaters never really *got* sailing either as it was too slow, boring, quiet and restrictive (6 foot draft will do that to ya). Sailors never got powerboating as it was too noisy, hurried, uncomfortable and smelly.

This is exactly the same situation, and despite my initial reaction which was much worse than SoarNeck's, I decided that the only course for such a thread was way downhill and responding wouldn't really accomplish that much. I prefer gliding for the same reasons I prefer sailing. I am sure the power guys prefer their part of the sport for similar, if opposite, reasons but this is not the place to bicker over that.

Meet me at the bar or coffee house and I'd be glad to discuss the merits of various aspects of our hobby (heck, there is even an argument to be made about sport vs. hobby!)

No flamethrowers or flame resistant suits needed on this forum, please lets keep it that way.
Apr 12, 2002, 04:23 PM
RCGroups Author
SoarNeck's Avatar
Sorry Randy, I just call them as I see them

It isn't the aerobatic capability of the 400X that bugs me, it's the SOUND!!! Our field has recently had a rash of the things develop, with one especially noisy day hosting 6 at once. It was like soaring in a beehive!

One gent tried replacing the Gunther prop with an APC, and that quietened it some, but not to my liking. A Zagi is about 10X as noisy as my electrified MPX Lucky, at about 1/10th the power. Oh well, there's room for all sorts
Apr 12, 2002, 04:36 PM
Registered User

I have succeeded in quiting my 400X down quite a bit.

Anyway, back to the original subject. I truly enjoy all aspects of the hobby and hanging out with other aviophiles. I kid my pure sailplane buddies about not being able to find a thermal to save their lives. They in turn, rib me about conveniently finding all those "throttle thermals". I tell them that I have an instrument onboard that emits a kinda whooshy-gearey sound whenever the sailplane flies into lift.

Apr 12, 2002, 04:48 PM
Visitor from Reality
Feel free to feel anything you like - I aren't getting paid here.

Last year, I nearly lost a big brushless powered ship to a glider pilot flying across the far side of the patch - he had the wrong crystal in, which put him on my frequency, which I had the right peg to. If he'd been flying where a real site would have had him - yards from me - we'd have sorted it out and his glider wouldn't have gotten sadly bent. Good luck allowed me to get mine down, much as anything else.

The glider lobby got me later with the same model - a guy wandered out into the middle of the field while I was flying in one patch of sky. The shock of overflying someone in what was an empty patch of grass five minutes earlier - and the middle of field - was enough for me to end up with a bent model.

If that's what you glider guys think is safe, I'm staying out of it. Some things cannot be legislated against. Have fun, try and fly safe.

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Question Electric Vs. Glow Props On electric Planes dhable Electric Plane Talk 5 Dec 20, 2016 04:57 PM
Sold New Northeast Sailplanes NSP Symphony E electric sailplane Aeronut Aircraft - Sailplanes (FS/W) 7 Oct 28, 2016 02:10 PM
Discussion It was only a matter of time: 1000 posts on nitro vs. gas vs. electric kuroguy Engines 126 Jul 30, 2016 08:42 AM
Sold Skip Miller Electric Speedo 1.2m electric sailplane ddavis72 Aircraft - Sailplanes (FS/W) 2 Apr 19, 2016 02:55 AM