The only natural phenomenon which I was missing during this weekend at F3B Kirchheim was – earthquake. We experienced everything else i.e. sunshine, black sky, no wind, storm, thunder storm, wind turn by 180° every 30 minutes, deadly sinks, deadly thermals, hail storm, rainbow. Well, I didn’t mention tsunami, but fortunately airfield at  Hulben is about 750m above see level, therefore question is what was going on down there…

Thanks to my limited English vocabulary I will talk only about some important moments from this year F3B Kirchheim.

  • Weather forecast for all three days was not optimistic, but could be even worse.
  • Some winches were checked during contest, good.
  • Jens Buchert flying first day 37 distance laps. Spectacular!
  • For the first time experienced controlling different model on duration task. Taking control back a few meters above ground. Jumping over tree wall and relaunching. People were allegedly applauding, I don’t remember that, my brain was perhaps still in fail-safe mode. Spectacular!
  • Since March with Martin Webershock we prepared cancan performance but no orchestra was presented this year, too bad. Next time.
  • After completed 3-rd round we losers started to pack all that F3B stuff. Fly-off speed started. I had to stop and just watch. Today in Europe anybody from 20 pilots can win such contest. Although the fastest man was Denis Duchesne (13,66) for me the most thrilling experience was speed of Andreas Kunz (14,15). Should be presented in every F3B nursery school. Impeccable trajectory and timing. Spectacular!
  • I’m proud that Czech pilots (J.Baudis, P. Fusek) and technology (Fosa) are top notch today.
  • Flying every speed more than 3 hours is boring. Fast changing weather from blue to steel sky, from no wind to fair breeze, from rain and no rain. I don’t think so these are fair conditions for all. No idea why not to split speed with more than 100 pilots to groups. Just only for illustration I remember two examples.
    Switzerland F3B WC 2007, I was going to fly speed. Heavy, really heavy rain. I was ordered to fly and I was flying. Nobody was taking care. Today I wouldn’t fly, it was stupid decision.
    Ivancice F3B WC 2009, with TM’s we agreed if there will be weather change (rain) we will split speed to groups. Joakim Stahl as last pilot in affected  speed task going to fly. He showed me 2-3 drops of rain on his hand. I split speed to groups even if some jury members were against this.
  • Don’t be fooled, Michael Seyfang, Ueli Trautwein, H.P. Goelz and theirs staff made huge work. Not easy to control such big contest. Thanks guys for hard work!
  • Udo, greetings to you and your wife. Looking forward to meet you next year.
  • As you can see from my limited photo gallery, as my results are worse and worse my object of interest goes slowly from models and ladies to meat and cakes. Take care.

    Mayday! Mayday! Stinger out off control. Just note jump over trees wall and landing bellow relative 0 m, while Kirchheim airfield is quite steep slope.

P.S. Just got idea! Imagine that my LOLO5 has built in vario (works only with JETI system). I can program it to buzz in any sink or rise interval. If I would select e.g. -20m/s it will start to warn pilot that there is something wrong, sure will be switched off for speed task. What you say? I know vario is not allowed, I agree. Wouldn’t have a sense to allow some fail safe technologies? Anyhow, once it will come.

By the way I had interesting talk to Tomas Bartovsky coming back from FAI Laussane. Speaking about all that today’s new technologies.  In F3B rules we started philosophy to enumerate what’s not allowed. My opinion is that this approach can’t last for ever, once we will go out of paper…

Results at MSC Kirchheim
Fabrice Estival photogallery
Gerhard Flixeder photogallery


4 comments to Earthquake

  • Regarding new technologies – I agree that the current approach of listing what is not allowed will be a never ending task. Perhaps it is easier to list what is allowed? I’m afraid there is no clean solution to this problem . . .


  • Hi Tom,
    maybe there is solution. Sounds crazy but I don’t think it’s so mad; let’s allow ANYTHING. BTW at Lausanne Swedish delegate brought this proposal on plenary meeting. Just few points to evaluate:

    -We will solve that never ending story what to forbid next time.
    -Talking about money and access to hitech technology only for reach people is fake argument. How much do you spend at F3B a year? These technologies are just fraction of all expenses.
    -Maybe the most evident is help of vario. I don’t think so it’s so huge advantage over experienced pilot or helper. I would say these two mentioned persons are better than any vario. Vario has no overview about whole situation on the sky, no feeling on the sticks. On distance and speed use of vario is perhaps limited.
    -Pilots will perhaps start to use HUD (Head Up Display). I was using that already three years ago (smile). You can have plenty information there, starting from IAS (Indicated Air Speed), Altitude, Vario, WT, LapTime and hundered others. Why not. Will not help you too much if you have bad glider, bad setup, bad pilot. Very soon you will find you are overwhelmed by all these infos.
    -Today is vario forbidden. If I will have in my pocket vibrating receiver I can have info about sink/rise. Correct, it’s cheating, but…
    -Imagine small device permanently collecting vario, AOA, speed (IAS), 3D angles etc. I can have them on board (it’s not fobidden-no info going down), but it will try to keep optimum AOA of my wing automatically. Actually I will set up on my transmitter only optimum sink for duration dead air. Elevator and TE of wing will be controlled by system on board. It will keep optimum bank angle etc. Some kind of autopilot, sure always your input is allowed and can have many modes. I think you can have it even today; no info down. Shell we forbid this possibility of “intelligent” systems on board?
    -Just imagine “all allowed” FAI rule mode for year, just as trial. I can imagine, the best one will be still the best ones and losers will stay losers…
    -We will push F3B again forward. We are at 21-st century, aren’t we?
    -I admit everything above sounds mad, crazy, unacceptable and vandalizing original spirit of silent flight. Let’s have a beer.

    BTW Your iPod Nano headphones were nearly forbidden also, but German proposal was not accepted. Now talking about F3J and F3F, while F3B rule change for this year is stopped.

  • I agree that opening things up for a year to see what happens would be interesting. I also agree that the best guys would still be on top and be able to parse the useful information out of all the data collected better than others. In fact they may elect not to do anything differently than they do today and still win.

    Regarding autopilot, this is actually not allowed in the general section: “For the whole flight, a radio-controlled model aircraft shall be in the direct control of the flier, via a transmitter, and in the flier’s sight other than for momentary periods.” However, I’m not sure that this explicitly would prohibit an automated AOA hold system. Clearly gyros are allowed in helicopters – is an AOA hold system that much different? I’m not sure. . .

    I do know that allowing autopilots/autonomous systems would not be good. It has already been demonstrated that autonomous systems perform better than people in Cross Country events. I could easily see this type of system being adapted for F3B duration and distance tasks and perform better than a human pilot. It may even be useful for speed. With a precise GPS system with a high enough refresh rate, you would no longer need to guess where base B is. Or you could develop an optical tracking system to control the model. I think with enough money (maybe 10 million dollars?) you could come up with technology that could competitively fly an F3B contest for you. So (even though it is not an argument I was considering) with all technology allowed, I think cost would become the determining factor.

    For now, I’m happy with the restrictions that are in place, even though they are a bit wordy and some extra reading is required 🙂


  • Regarding “autopilot” I’m also not sure. Necessary to say that model aircraft will be in direct control of flier for the whole flight. As you say, same as gyro in helicopter. Sure I can imagine that somebody will have different opinion. We are again at core problem, how to treat new possibilities, new technologies.

    Regarding GPS. I was testing GPS logger already two years ago. So far useless for F3B. Slow, inacurate, generating false positions, not talking about altitude values-nonsense. Good for weekend fliers to present some scribble at pub. Sure can be changed/improved in future, why not. Today experienced pilot/helper/navigator at B or C task is far more precise and faster. Not talking about USAF UAV technologies. Looks as our budget is a bit smaller.

    Regarding 10 million dollar system. Sure when talking about “allow anything” I had in mind mainly telemetry and similar systems. No virtual flying from chair at home. No only computer driven flying. That general rule “For the whole flight, a radio-controlled model aircraft shall be in the direct control of the flier,…” should be fulfilled. I was even thinking about simple limit like reasonable dimensions (10″ maximum), must be handheld (no stationary systems) etc.

    I have also no problem with todays restrictions. We are not going to change rule tomorrow, it’s clear. Let’s think about it, let’s talk about it. Maybe we feel that we are slowly approaching limits of rules designed half century ago. Make your own opinion and have ready arguments either for yes or no.

    Just for fun. I’m using Mag+ switch which has a few infos to display, voltage drop, max current and capacity used from on board battery. I made small window in nose cone to see it and really not to remove nose cone at all (only for battery charging). I can imagine that somebody will come and will blame me that I’m sending e.g. vario signals from display(?) No info from model down to pilot instead of allowed in rules (voltage and signal strenght)? Nice air-born weekend.