German Championchip F3K - Page 3 - RC Groups
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Aug 20, 2006, 07:43 AM
Live for speed
GoFaster's Avatar
Originally Posted by Phil Barnes
OK, this is getting crazy: registrations are up to 92 pilots now! I flew day one of our 2 day HL contest today with a new model built for Laucha. I'll do a couple more hours of work modifying another model and I'll fly that one tomorrow. I leave for Germany on Wednesday.
Phil and Bruce, best of luck and have fun!

- Felix
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Aug 20, 2006, 08:00 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by GoFaster
Phil and Bruce, best of luck and have fun!
Phil and Bruce are well known in Europe.They are heartily welcome....
Aug 25, 2006, 01:12 PM
Gustavo Exel
gustabmo's Avatar
I see an interesting slope facing west right next to Laucha´s airport, where the contest will be held. Are there rules against catching slope lift?
Aug 27, 2006, 08:14 AM
Registered User
ifome's Avatar
How were conditions and who won?
Aug 27, 2006, 08:49 AM
tonym's Avatar
A little info on scores here
Aug 27, 2006, 09:05 PM
Easily bored
the official scores have to be posted somewhere.
Aug 28, 2006, 04:10 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by ifome
How were conditions and who won?
Base contest:

1) Ralph Mittelbach (GER)
2) Matthias Hammarskiöld(SWE)
3) Phil Barnes(USA)

Fly Off:

1) Martin Herrig (GER)
2) Jean-Bernard Verrier(FRA)
3) Richard Swindells(UK)
Aug 28, 2006, 11:46 AM
aka ben wilson
thelocust's Avatar
Here's a decent report of the flyoffs, etc:

Phil managed 11th place, and Bruce missed the cutoff for the flyoffs in 13th!

Some interesting tasks that we don't see here in the US - I'm sure Bruce and Phil will give us the lowdown once they get back stateside.
Aug 29, 2006, 12:51 AM
Registered User
Originally Posted by Wildewinds
the official scores have to be posted somewhere.

Aug 29, 2006, 06:09 AM
Registered User
Chris Gibbs's Avatar
I've just got back from Laucha and what has to be one of the toughest yet most enjoyable flying competitions I've ever attended. To say I learnt a lot about F3K flying at this contest is an understatment.

I've written a full report, please excuse the length and detail, but it may asssist other people who want to attend future German F3K championship comps.

Firstly the location. This years main German F3K championship contest was held on a airfield approx 2 miles from the Village of Laucha in what was once East Germany. The local area is a beautiful unspoilt rural part of Germany, with rolling farmland, wooded areas and limestone cliffs often topped with Vineyards, very similar looking to the Dordogne area of France. The region is known as Salle - Unstrut region after the two main rivers there. Although a tourist destination for some Germans, the region appears to be largely ignored by foreign tourists. I did not see any other non-Germans in the 10 days I was there and few people spoke English. Food, wine and beer were all of a good quality and The prices were very cheap compared to UK, with most goods being approx 2/3 of UK prices. I used a campsite in Naumberg for our base during my stay (I combined attending Laucha with a familly holiday) but good hotel rooms were available for 29 Euros (approx 20 UK pounds, or 36 US dollar). In short I would strongly recommend this area for anyone considering a holiday in Germany.

I understand that the competition venue for 2007 will be decided in November of this year. We'll have to wait and see where it is in Germany next year.

Laucha airfield is a large general aviation field, with grass runways which sits attop of a large plateau. One boundary of the airfield is on a ridge (approx 300 feet?) on which paragliders, hang gliders and sailplanes fly using the slope lift. The site for the F3K contest was held at the far side of the airfield and as such was too far away to be able to use this lift or be affected by turbulance. The contest area was on a large flat grass area, mown especially for the contest. the boundary for the lauch/land area was marked out with a white line painted on the grass. Adjacent to this was a very large field of sunflowers which was a popular flying area for scratching around over, although some found out the hard way that having to walk 200 metres into a field of 6ft high sunflowers to search for a DLG model ain't much fun... At one point it looked like Phil Barnes was going to be Christened 'Sunflower' due to his models apparent magnetic attraction for this area, but he seemed to clean his act up and all was ok

Although I'd had a few days practice earlier in the week courtesy of a farmers hay field near my campsite in Naumberg, I arrived at Laucha on the Friday for the official practice day. I met up with Richard Swindells, Bruce Davidson, Phil Barnes and Radoslaw Pilski. The weather was perfect DLG weather with light winds and warm sunny weather. Approx 30 other pilots had arrived and there was some great practice sessions flown. Lift was fairly abundant with some long flights flown and a very enjoyable day all in all.

The weather during my previous 7 days holiday had been very variable, with some very strong winds, thunderstorms, cold and wet weather, so I hoped that the weather had now changed for the better and that we'd see some nice warm weather over the weekend, more akin to what the weather normally is in Germany during August... how wrong I was ;-)

Saturday morning dawned to start the contest, with 96 pilots entered and some 88 pilots starting the contest. As the organisers announced during the pilots briefing, this high level of support for F3K at a major contest could have very positive ramifications for F3K with the FAI and also in general terms. I believe this was an approx 25% increase in entries compared to 2005 (?).

The weather on Saturday morning was cold (around 15 deg C), calm, misty and totally overcast with a low cloudbase. Not really August weather or condusive to decent DLG flights.

There were a wide range of DLG models there with many pilots flying Aspirin (moulded German DLG) as well as a selection of Turbo, Kisals, some own designs, a few Super Gees, a few XP4's and a Taboo. (see my notes/views later on model performance).

The competition on Saturday started with Task B, last flight, unlimited launches with a 5 minute max. I went out to fly thinking there was virtually no lift around, so to get a couple of minutes or so would possibly win the slot. I flew for approx 2min 25secs and was pretty happy with this time, considering the conditions and my past competition experiences. I was pretty certain I'd get a 900 or mayby 800 at worst - Walking back to the scoring tent I heard someone had maxed the round with a 5 minute flight!! I got a 497. I just couldn't believe it.

That set the tone for the whole day. With 11 people flying in each slot and with the very high standard of flying, in nearly every round someone maxed the score. This meant a few people got high scores in each slot, but most other pilots ended up with sub 700 scores (see for more details).

It was incredible to see 11 people launch in very poor weather conditions and for someone in the slot get away and hammer everone elses score. As Saturday progressed the weather got worse with a strong breeze and the competition being paused three times whilst heavy rain showers moved through. Several slots were flown in light rain. There were a few slots later in the day when some more pronounced lift came through but generally the air was very challenging. The standard of flying was very high, with few 'sport' pilots flying and most people there to win.

The pilots who maxed, tended to be the ones who moved around the sky, found an area of 'non-sink' (I won't use the word lift) and followed it downwind, circling very carefully until they slowly gained altitude way, way downwind. I don't know whether it was a case that they found thermals which were in the process of developing, meaning that they were there in the middle of them when they popped, but this tactic worked time and again for the top pilots. The only issue was this meant 'balls of steel' were necessary as you had to go a long, long way downwind at a low altitude to stand any chance of gaining height and flying a task out. Many pilots fell foul of the lift
weakening or finding sink on the way back and having to land out way downwind with the resulting walk of shame ;-) The airfield was very flat with few nearby objects to help gauge distance, so it was quite hard to judge exactly how far a model actually was away. Many pilots followed weak lift downwind only to turn back to the field and realise to ther horror just how far away they actually were. Later in the day strong gusts of wind compounded this situation, as pilots half way back home but still hundreds of metres away, found their models struggling to make any headway in the wind. In a strange way the overall flying style at the contest was similar to F3J with many flights being conducted a long way downwind and little action upwind or to the side.

From my perspective the whole competition was incredibly educational. Launching and just hanging into wind was not really an option and just resulted in a very low score. You had to move around imediately and find something and whats more then disapear downwind with it, or you would be hammered. Watching the top pilots, it was puzzling at times to understand why they were circling in air which didn't look like lift,disapearing way downwind at a dangerously low height, only to slowly but surely wind the model up as if by magic a long, long way away.

Because pilots were flying most of the tasks fully, launching didn't really seem to play a big part in the contest. It was more down to flying skill and definately down to being able to read the air. I went to Laucha expecting to see an amazing display of launching and the resulting task success, but this just didn't happen. Sure, there were some good launchers there and it was interesting to see how it should be done, but there was nothing amazing being shown.

A word about the organisation. In typical German style the contest was very well organsied. A transmitter impound was used for the whole duration of the contest and a PA system announced the task, competitors and task countdowns, starts and ends. Camping and toilets were available on site, with many people taking advantage of this. During the competition itself, coffee, beer, soft drinks, cakes, hot food and deserts were available to buy.

On the Saurday evening a meal was held in a marquee, were everyone got to talk, meet and discuss the days flying.

Sunday dawned with weather very similar to Saturday's. The only difference being it didn't rain at all until late in the afternoon. There was slightly more lift about as the afternoon progressed.

We flew 8 rounds in all with one round's score being dropped to give the final results. There was a vote whether to fly 7 or 8 rounds due to impending rain, as a compromise the 8th round was shortened to a 5 min working time. This enabled the flyoffs to happen before the worst of the rain.

Bizzarely at the start of the flyoff the wind died down, the sun came out and the big lift moved in. Not to say the conditions became easy, but it made for a great spectacle as the top pilots battled it out in mega lift a long way downwind at high altitudes.

As this is my first year of F3K I'd set myself a personal target of finishing in the top half of the contest. As it was I just missed that goal coming 48th out of 88. In saying that my overall percentage was 75.14% of the winners and I did manage to win the 8th round of my group with a 1000, so I wasn't overally disapointed with my performance, especially as I now realise what I have to do to do better next time.

Richard Swindells flew very well with his Aspirin, to not only get in the flyoff but to come 3rd overall which considering the conditions and the very high standard of competition was a fantastic achievment. Richard was one of those who actively searched for good air and then used it by going downwind time and again. Congratulations Richard.

Phil Barnes flying a Taboo also did very well, making the flyoff with some impressive thermal seeking and long downwing flights at low altitudes. Phil suffered however when a return flight back to the field from way downwind in the first flyoff task resulted in him landing out. With the high level of competition, that was to end his chances of a top 3 place.

Bruce Davidson flying a XP4 also flew well posting some impressive flights and scores and only missed the flyoff by one place and 0.3%.

Radoslaw Pilski flying a self-built Super Gee also did amazingly well, making the flyoff (Rad told me this was his 5th ever DLG contest!!) and came 10th. Way to go Rad!

A few of my thoughts;

- Models; There were a large number of different models being used. I'd say about 75% of contestants were using moulded rather than bagged models. As well as Drela sections, there were quite a few other wing sections being flown (eg, Aspirins and the team FF guys' own design models). From my perspective the models made little or no difference to the results. it didn't matter if your model launched 5 metres higher than the next guys or whether it was 3% more efficient. What mattered was that when you launched you found some lift (or in many cases neutral air) and used it efficiently. I expected the models to have more impact, especially with the poor conditions, but it didn't apprear to be the case. That's not to say you could compete with a poor model, just that the slight differences between the top models din't win/loose the contest. For me it's a case of stop messing around thinking of ways to improve models and learn to fly better and better!

- Launching; A bad throw could mess up a round but as long as you got a decent launch what really mattered was the subsequent flying, not so much the launch itself. There was some good launching happening, but nothing amazing or spectacular of note. I need to work on my launch and keeping my arm straight... but I knew that before Laucha anyway ;-)

- Finding lift - This is what this contest came down to for most pilots. The pilots who could either read the sky just before launch and head to good air or those who could quickly find it and then use it. Due to the poor conditions it was very hard (at least for me) to recognise very weak lift from neutral air and then use it efficiently and effecively. This is a core area I'm going to be traing on over the coming months, I know if I can find lift I can normally do OK in a contest. My trouble at Laucha was I often just couldn't find lift, when others were.

Penetration - The models that could move around the sky quickly and make it back to the field from a long way downwind did well, but again this due to pilot skill as much as the model and no one design of model seemed to win here.

Ballasting - Some pilots were ballasting in the gusty conditions. I think (but don't know) that many were adding approx an ounce of weight in some rounds, but flying empty most of the time, even though the wind was quite powerful at times.

- Going downwind a long way at low level, even in weak lift - This also determined who was successful at Laucha. I watched many times as the top pilots found 'something' in terms of air at around 100ft height and went downwind with it, not really gaining any height. They would follow this way, way downwind until they would slowly gain height. Quite often they would eventually gain a significant height (>400ft) but that would not be acheived until they were a long way downwind. This required nerves of steel, confidence and skill. Many of the top pilots played risky strategies doing this in order to win. Sometimes it didn't pay off and landing out with a long walk was the result. Finding weak lift and going downwind with it a long way is again a core area I'm going to be training on over the coming months.

- Attitude - If you want to win you must be prepared to risk your model (and score) and fly with 'balls of steel'. Thre obviously needs to be a balance of risk, but if you are cautious you will not win.

In closing a big thanks to everyone who organised Laucha '06. Thanks to Phil and Bruce for sharing their thoughts and tips on F3K flying and being so open and helpful, I learnt a lot from you, thanks guys. Thanks to Rad, the team FF guys (see you next year at one of your comps too hopefully) and everyone else who were so friendly and made Laucha 06 such a great experience.

I'll post some photos in my next post.

...See you in Germany in 2007.


Last edited by Chris Gibbs; Aug 29, 2006 at 06:19 AM.
Aug 29, 2006, 06:36 AM
Registered User

Thanks a million for the most excellent and detailed report! From your thoughts on the contest and what you took from it it is obvious to me that you took the most possible from your experience and that is what matters much more than the hardware!
Aug 29, 2006, 11:12 AM
jrerickson's Avatar
Originally Posted by dennymaize

Thanks a million for the most excellent and detailed report! From your thoughts on the contest and what you took from it it is obvious to me that you took the most possible from your experience and that is what matters much more than the hardware!

I'll echo Denny's sentiments. Excellent report! Your observations mirror my feelings when I'm flying at Poway. We spend hours and hours discussing the fine details of plane construction and design hoping for some "silver bullet" but the reality is the guy who can read and work lift the best, who is willing to gamble and in some cases, has some luck, is the one who will win. It often comes down to one flight.

Thanks again! Congrats to Phil and Bruce; they may have traveled the furthest to get to the contest?

Aug 29, 2006, 12:59 PM
Registered User

Getting There

Bruce and I flew into Berlin on Thursday on different flights. Bruce had an almost infinite number of airline miles which he used for a free ticket but he was required to use Northwest Airlines and their partner KLM for the flights. He ended up departing from Louisville, KY on Wednesday for Detroit, MI and then on to Amsterdam and finally arriving in Berlin around noon on Thursday. I flew from Washington, Dulles airport to New York's JFK and then to Berlin. I arrived two or three hours ahead of Bruce so I was able to get the rental car paperwork taken of and meet Bruce at his arrival gate.

The Berlin Tegel airport is small by international airport standards. It also has an unusual layout that makes it somewhat more convenient to use than other international airports I've been through. All of the services that are needed for international airport travel are located right at each gate. You depart the aircraft, walk through the gangway and the first thing you see once inside the building is a small booth with a border control officer to check your passport. You step away from that booth into a baggage carousel area and wait a short time for the bags to arrive. It doesn't take long since the airplane you just flew in on is parked right outside the window. Oversize bags (and model boxes) emerge from the elevator right next to the baggage carrousel. After picking up the luggage you depart through a small room where customs officers may ask what is inside your large box and are those things for personal use, etc. They only wish to determine whether you are bringing in goods for sale or not. You then emerge from the gate area into the airport terminal. This is where I met up with Bruce. This entire area is so small that I could stand outside the gate area and see Bruce (through the window) as he waited for his luggage. I could even see his plane parked on the ramp outside the gate area.

I had reserved an "Estate wagon" class of car through a car rental agent and was pleasantly surprised to find that I got exactly what I reserved. Our Opal Vectra wagon was perfect for the two of us with model boxes and was in great condition with low miles. In the US, I find that I never get the car that I reserve and am lucky if the car I get is big enough to comfortably handle the model boxes. I had not driven a car with a manual transmission for about 15 years but found that it is something that is easily re-learned just like riding a bike.

The drive from Berlin to Naumburg where our hotel was located took about 2 1/2 hours. Much of the drive was on the Autobahn and much of that had no speed limit. I found myself cruising at speeds up to 160 km/hr (100mph) and made occasional forrays into higher speeds. What you have heard is true; when cruising at high speed in the left lane of the auotobahn, you better keep your eye on the rear view mirror because there will always be someone who wants to go even faster. It is also true that nobody ever passes on the right. The auotobahn is so smooth that you would never know how fast you were going unless you looked at the speedometer. Going 100mph or faster felt just like doing 60mph on one of our highways.

We checked into our hotel in Naumburg before heading out to the flying field. I booked the hotel through a UK based hotel booking service and the hotel, the rooms amd the prices were exactly as advertised. Bruce and I each got our own separate room for 29 Euros per night. The prices were per person, not per room so we decided to take two rooms since the price would be the same as if we shared a room. The rooms were clean and looked new. We eventually discovered that Radoslaw Pilski from Poland and the entire team of four from Sweden were also staying at this hotel.

The drive from the hotel in Naumburg to the flying field, close to a little town called Gleina took about 20 minutes. This drive was on smaller roads that wound through some farm country and past numerous old castles. We arrived at the flying site late in the afternoon or early in the evening on Thursday. No one was flying at that time and the weather was pretty crappy looking but Bruce and I were anxious to fly some models so we began putting our models together. We met a few people at this time. Most were contest workers who were simply there setting things up for the weekend. I think we met Richard Swindells for the first time also who was camping on the field with his wife. Soon the friendly people we had met offered that we might want to put the models in the big bus that was parked on the field to "protect them". Bruce and I had been so focused on model assembly that we had not noticed the approaching rain until the first drops began falling on us. The locals all gathered in the bus while Bruce and I put the models in the car and just sat in the car to see if the rain would stop. After a while we decided to give up on flying and headed back to the hotel.

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