Thursday, 21 February 2019

Welsh winter league for Feb 2019

17th Feb 2019 Welsh Winter League.

We arrived to flyable conditions on the back of the Wrecker and quickly set up the course with the hope of getting at least one round completed before the clouds dropped enough to make landing unsafe. We made it to the pilots briefing.....

The forecasts and met office radar suggested that we were looking to be clear just after lunch and that the wind direction would change to have us on Mickey's. So we decamped and went and waited out the rain and clag in our cars.

I actually enjoy these times a little, I'd obviously rather be flying, but it gives a great opportunity to catch up with your mates as when the competition is on we are flying or launching or on a base. Especially when there are only a small number of pilots.

We caught up with each other til around 1pm when the sky lifted and stopped dumping on us, set up the course in no time and were underway with Joel West leading from the front. I struggled to find my line, especially in the first couple of rounds, leading to messy and slow runs. 

Rachel's wise words were ringing in my ears all afternoon.... "you don't practice anywhere near enough..." as they rung true.

Joel had a spectacular day with his very neat and smooth reversals yielding 6 sub 36 second runs with a 30.61 run his fastest. He won the day while winning 4 of the 6 rounds we flew. Congrats Joel!

I actually got that run on video! My phone has been having a bit of a meltdown lately.... It started in focus..... Wind noise warning!!!

Graeme Mahoney had a solid day too! He managed to top the group of 6 pilots within a poofteenth of taking second place. His best time for the day was a blistering 32.52 which gave him the win in the 4th round after also winning the 3rd.

Mike Evans had a relatively consistent day with his Jazz and Shinto to take the third place. His slower runs coincided with Graeme's fastest once, costing him second place.

I was off to a very slow start as I eluded to earlier but managed to get faster during the day with 35's and 36's. This clawed me up to 4th place just beating Mike Shellim, Dave Rumble and Tony Livingston. 
I had a play with reversals and they seemed to work best on the day although my EM line did bear some fruit when it was low and away. I think in one run I managed to do all the available turn styles plus a new one that rolled towards the slope....
I was gutted to find in the spreadsheet that my fastest time of the day (35.32) was my discard as it was against Joels 30.61. Them's the breaks!
I finally tested out my Xmas present and the Big Blue Brolly worked a treat, thanks Rachel!

Chris Studley had a stand out day! He managed to go sub40 twice with his Needle124 and set his PB first to 38.69 and then to a staggering 36.51 with some very beautifully flown reversals. Well done Chris!

Tony (33.88) and Mike S (32.57) also set new personal best times. We had 15m\sec wind pretty much all afternoon with some of it warmer than others effecting the times a little, but not a great deal.

Massive thanks to everyone for mucking in to get the competition flown! 

Roll on March!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Winner Winner!

Southern Winter League at Whitesheet 27th Jan 2019.

Another post-nightshift competition opportunity for me presented itself this week with some blowy conditions forecast for Whitesheet Hills in Kilmington for January’s attempt at a Southern Winter League F3F competition. I had a sufficiently chilled nightshift and headed off armed with lots of caffeine, my trusty Pike Precision, Fx-32 tranny, lots of ballast and  the Needle 124 as a back-up.

I arrived safe and sound pretty much on time and 18 hopeful competitors made their way to the NW slope of Whitesheet Hill. I forgot to take my anemometer out to the slope so I didn’t get to measure the breeze, but it was WAAAAY more than just a stiff one. Our magnanimous CD for the the Day (Stu Wallace) took some measurements and I believe they ranged from a measly 7m/sec  to a whopping 48m/sec! I put most my ballast in the Precision at the start of the day and didn’t change it. I am only running brass in the Precision and could have put more in the front of the joiner. This changes my CoG quite a bit forward from my 107mm and I am a bit loathed to do that…

It was great to catch up with so many pilots I haven’t seen for ages and also meet a few for the first time. It was my first time flying with a couple of stalwarts from the heyday of F3F in Greg Lewis and Dave Woods and I hadn’t seen Tony Robertson for years so it was great to see him at a comp, no matter how briefly….

I was really impressed by the turnout on Sunday, especially with the less-experienced racers. Winds that strong are a challenge to fly in and add to the stresses of being new to competing. I thought they all did an outstanding job!

Round 1 was a learning experience for me (actually, all the rounds were a learning experience for me!) as the hill shape and wind strength combination we were presented with isn’t one I have had before. The closest I can think of was Levisham way back in 2010-ish. Fortunately I found landing a LOT easier at Whitesheet! I posted a 40.2 for 4th in the round and Graeme Mahoney kicked off the comp in style with a blistering 36.75. Greg Lewis and Nigel Witchalls posted sub 40’s for 2nd and 3rd in the round. Allen Elliott flew his Needle 124 to his fastest time of the day of 44.01 also Stuart Wallace with his Needle 115 posted his fastest time of 46.74.

I managed to get some extra lift in round 2 which complimented my line and the flowing style I have been concentrating on to give me a 35.95 and my first round win. Greg and Nigel both went sub40 again to take 3rd and 2nd with Andy Burgoyne also in the 39’s for 4th. John Phillips broke his Pink Camo thing on landing and found a dead battery in his spare plane so was pubward bound from there. After missing round 1, Tony graced us briefly with his flying presence, then after a servo issue for one plane and a slight re-shuffle of composite material on another, he was off to the pub with JP.

I had some soggy air and over-flew the plane, trying to hurry it through the turns, resulting in a 50.08 and 10th in round 3. “that should be my discard” I stupidly thought… Mike Evans flew beautifully directly before me to take the round win with a 40.76. Closely followed by Dave Woods with his Pitbull2 and Nigel Witchalls who was having a stellar competition so far with his Pitbull. Graham Hill was performing admirably with his McMeekan Falcon for his first (?) F3F comp (Incredible conditions for number 1!) Very smooth and consistent all day.
I managed to win the 4th round with a 37.61 with Greg hot on my heals again. I only got to see brief parts of Greg’s flights as he was directly after me, kicking of each round. I had to land very efficiently to see him and when I did, he looked completely at ease and smack-bang on the bases all day. Graeme Mahoney and his Pitbull2 took third place in the round with a 40.74.

Ian Falconer flew his fastest time of the day with a 39.54 and 2nd in round 5 along with Mark Passingham who took the round win with a 37.71 with his Freestyler5 and Mike Evans 3rd with his Shinto and 39.54. I had some soggy air, but tried to fly smoother again and limited the damage to only a 43.99. Stu had been struggling with a bad neck all day and had to succumb to the pain and sit out the rest of the day from here. There isn’t much worse than being freezing cold and in pain. Hats off to Gromit for sticking it out to the end of the day!! Hope your neck gets better soon!

Round 6 was a memorable one for me. Halfway through the run I reckon I was on track for a run in the mid 40’s and then WHACK!!! The Precision took off like a Stabbed Rat or a Scolded Cat from base A and just kept getting faster each time it hit the thermal on base A! The thermal hadn’t hit base B and the wind direction difference was such that I wasn’t really turning against the wind and I had 4 legs of the fastest I have ever experienced a Radio Controlled Glider go! I ended up posting a 36.03 and won that round! I’m pretty sure I had just DS’d the edge of a thermal. Greg posted a 39.61 for 3rd and Mike Evans took 2nd just prior to my run with 39.26.

My Thermal created havoc with Round 7 and it was only the second round without a sub40. Greg took 1st with 40.25 closely followed in the order and time by Nigel Witchalls with a 40.81 and third was Andy Burgoyne with 40.87. Pete Burgess had his best time this round with his Pitbull2. The wind was extremely strong for this round and everyone had difficulty getting their planes to penetrate off the slope at all! Landing was a challenge and crow brakes or butterfly was NOT required! I managed a 48.96 this round and couldn’t get the Precision into a place where it would gain any energy. This still wasn’t my discard round though! Bruce Hudson was flying a plane I didn’t recognise but it can’t have had more than a 2m wingspan and weighed no more than a few feathers taped together. He had his second fastest flight of the comp in this round with a very respectable 52.94 (only topped in round 2 by 29 hundredths of a second)

Greg stood up after my 48 to kick off round 8 and had one of those flights I wish I had seen. He managed to set the slope record for the NW face of Whitesheet with a 33.85 run which must have looked absolutely stunning! I managed a 42.81 this round which wasn’t really too bad, but compared to a 33….. it became my discard. Rachel sent me a message asking how my day was going and I told her it was a tough but brilliant day and I’m doing pretty well but I think I might require some luck to win. I was right to assume I was in second place, but I didn’t know just how close it was at the top!! I only had 230-odd points to make up on Greg! Dave Woods took 2nd in the round with Graeme Mahoney 3rd (both with sub 40 flights) and Mike Evans set his best time of the day with a 38.28.

Round 9 was some of the ‘some luck’ I needed. I managed a very fast 35.89 run. I had found the place on the slope that was working best for me and obviously had some good conditions as although Greg came second, he was nearly 8 seconds behind me with a 43.69. Dave Woods kept his climb to the top on track posting the 3rd fastest time of 44.01 with Mike right on his Pitbull2’s heels with a 44.36.

Greg Lewis got us underway in the 10th and final round with a 47.57 while I was landing. 
I didn’t see his flight. 

I didn’t ask him how he went. 

I didn’t want to know. 

It didn’t matter. 

I just needed to fly my line as best I could. 

Jess Nichols was one of the newer F3F pilots at the comp and he had his best flight of the day with a 49.89 and Dave Woods also flew his best time of 37.55 for second in the round. Mike Evans secured 3rd in the round with 43.17.
I stepped up after Mike and the Precision let me put her on the same track as the previous round and I managed to coax her around for a fantastic 34.54!! It was all I could do. We just had to wait for the results to be published.



I finally won my first official event! SO pleased!

I forgot to take a camera so I don't have any pics or videos for you, sorry.

Andy Burgoyne took a video of my final flight. It looks so slow! A better first leg and maybe the fastest time of the day?

Bruce Hudson took a few vids too and for some reason they are a little steppy, but they give a little indication of the day. The first one is me, second is Mike Evans, third is Andy Burgoyne and I'm not sure about the 4th sorry. Possibly Ian Falconer?

I had an amazing day and want to say a huge thanks to Stu and the Whitesheet club for hosting the 4th attempt at a winter league and for welcoming me along. Thanks also to Pete Burgess, Allen Elliott and Graeme Mahoney for sharing the centre duties with Stu.

Can't wait for the next event!! I could get used to this winning thing!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Spring Cup 2019!

Annual leave is booked for the Spring Cup!

Rachel is coming along with me for a week away, including a long weekend of flying some F3F in the Three Cities area of Poland (Mechelinki)! So excited!

I've watched videos of the Spring Cup F3F countless times and can't wait to take part. Fingers crossed for some good F3F weather. I wonder what sacrifices work .... 🙏😜😇

Looking forward to a bit of exploring of the area too as Rachel and I will extend our break for the rest of the week 😊

Spring Cup 2011

Spring Cup 2012 

Spring Cup 2013

Spring Cup 2014

Spring Cup 2016

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Repairs are coming along :-)

Repairs page has had a couple of updates since the winter league comp.

Should be done soon (ish) 😂😂😆

Rachel has asked that I put some paint on it this time..... We'll see 😊

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Welsh Winter League Nov 2018

Finished work at 0730 and headed up through Nantymoel to the Wrecker car park to meet 19 other hardy and hopeful F3Ffers. Greeted by the Clag and armed with a promising forecast we wandered out to the Crest to set up the course and prepare ourselves for what would hopefully be a day to remember.

The fog was clearing as we set up the course (handy for aiming across the valley! ) and after a test flight by Greg Dakin to test the ceiling and landing area, a pilots briefing by our esteemed CD, coordinator and all round good guy Joel West, we were good to go!!! Les Wood had the dubious honour of kicking things off.

Round one was a nervy one for me and after watching lots of flights in the mid 30's I was disappointed to card a 40.32 second flight. I took out a little bit of ballast before the next round as I felt a teeny bit heavy (playing mind games with myself more likely!). I was flying the Pike Precision.

I couldn't believe how quick all the planes were going on the Crest today! The noise as they ripped through the compression was beautiful! Here is a run by Greg Dakin as exhibit A for the noise!

I had been practicing a more flowing style of turn for a while now, it paid off in round 2 as I broke my long standing PB of 36.18 with a 34.06, with a cut on Base B...!!!
I didn't feel like I made the most of the air at all. More to come! 
Graeme Mahoney took the round win with a very rapid 32.14
This isn't that flight, but it IS Graeme 😊

Round 3 was a better flight for me with the same style and less errors to record a lower PB of 32.66! Getting better!

Round 4 was 32.88. Joel was so close to going sub 30, this is one of his flights in the 31 or 32 second bracket.

Round 5 had a massive cut, bunt, recovery that cost me quite a few seconds for a 35.29. Joel set the fastest time of the day with a 29.75 in this round for his 4th round win and 3 in a row to here. Again this is Joel, but not the fastest flight sorry. I missed filming that one.

Round 6 was my best flight of the day with a 30.05!!!! So close to going sub 30! ! and it was a round win for me. I'm not sure which round it was in, but one of the highlights of the day was the extra 90 degrees turn Mark Passingham inexplicably added on his 9th turn! It made for an exciting finish to his run! I did manage to catch that one on film! Sorry (not sorry!) Mark 😁

Round 7 I tried too hard and flew my worst flight (still a 33.xx tho!). I couldn't get the plane to exit my turns the way I wanted it to and I think it was due  to trying too hard to get under 30. We don't get the opportunity that often 😁. Greg Dakin took the honours in the 7th round with his fastest of the day at 31.80

Andy Burgoyne was in the centre for most of my flights and couldn't believe how easy my flights looked! He described them as metronomic 😊, I have to say that is a massive difference to the way most people would have previously described my flights 😂

I made a mistake on my landing after my last flight and now have some repairs to do on the Precision which performed incredibly well!

I have to say a massive thanks to Stefan! We went for a fly together on Friday afternoon and he helped me to come to the settings I ended up with for this comp. It was great to see him make the trip over from Zurich again and fly so aggressively so well!

It's a shame landing takes so long on the Crest, I only got to see 2/3 of the flights and I didn't get anywhere near enough on video. The ones I have are embedded in here and in a playlist on youtube

Now to the results! Joel took a commanding win.
I finished Second!!!!!!! And Stefan Bertschi was 3rd.

There were so many PB's set today! It was fun to watch Dave Rumble get so close so many times, beat it by 0.2 and then finally beat it by a couple of seconds.
It was awesome to see Chris Studley at an f3f comp again, and great to catch up with everyone and meet a few new faces.

I was borrowing Rachel's fantastic little camera for this event and it took me a while to suss it out so I haven't got many photos and the vids are a little grainy. I'll try to get them better for next time.
In the meantime I am sure Mike Shellim has taken some pics and done a report too at

here are a few more pics tho 😊

Looking forward to next months one now! Hopefully it'll be as exciting as this one 😎

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Futaba FX-32 transmitter

After a bit of frustration with the Taranis and an opportunity to get some extra funds by letting go of a plane, I bit the bullet on purchasing myself a 'new' transmitter and on Sunday I managed to organise picking it up.
I have always trusted Futaba transmitters and the FX-32 came up for sale on the BARCS forum for a reasonable price, so I snapped it up. 

Rachel was working nights early this week, so I had some 'nerd time' on Sunday and Monday night where I was able to change my Needle 124 and Pike Precision over to the Futaba S-FHSS protocol. I chose that as the receivers for that system, the FX-32 does FASST, FASSTest and S-FHSS, were significantly cheaper than the FASSTest and I actually don't care about telemetry in my F3F planes. I do now, however, have telemetry if I ever decide to fly jets or large scale stuff.

The setting up of the planes took me about 4 hours each over the two nights and is relatively simple although somewhat different to the Taranis and the FF9 I had previously. If I just wanted to get them flying, I reckon I could have done them in under an hour. I like to have different conditions (flight modes) and snap flap and differential and other performance-improving stuff, so it takes a little longer.

Today was the first opportunity to test out the new radio so I went up to the Bwlch after finishing work at 1300 hrs to fly on a crossed Icecream slope. I knew the forecast was WNW and figured that I could get some 'marginal conditions' practise and set-ups done.

The conditions were as I expected. Quite crossed from the west (left) with the occasional straightening and also getting worse from time to time as the very weak thermals had their effect.

I was very glad to have the M+M TransMitt cannibalised to fit the FX-32 as it was quite chilly up on the slopes today. It was a beautiful afternoon though and I was very pleased to have had a trouble-free set-up session. Obviously both planes will need more tweaking, but I can go and enter a comp with confidence now.

Speaking of comps. Winter is now upon us! It's time for the winter Leagues to kick in and I am hoping to take part in the Welsh Winter League events. The first one is on Saturday 17th November. I can't wait!!!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

6 P's

Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Rachel and I intended to walk up Pen Y Fan yesterday from the Lower Neuadd Reservoir near Pontsiscill.
Dogs packed, Precision packed, boots, coats, hats etc, all packed for our 'no more than 4 hour' walk.
We headed off armed with a picture card/map with some quite detailed directions.
The only vague direction was how to get to the start point. 'Follow the small lane north from Pontsiscill to the car park near the reservoir'.
Anyway, the map suggested using an OS map, gave the reference for the suggested map, and I ignored it.

We parked up at the reservoir, donned our walking boots, popped our packs on and headed off, following the very clear directions up the bank on our left to the escarpment.... (1330 hrs)

The first 4 or 5 km's of our supposedly 11km round trip were spent discovering that we were never going to find the magical escarpment and we headed for Corn Du and Pen Y Fan in the distance.
We found some lovely places about. We even thought we might have found where we should have started our walk from...

It was challenging terrain, long grass over wet, boggy marshland type stuff. The Yorky (Fred) needed carrying through some of the worst parts.

At about 9 Km's into the walk, the map came into chrystal-clear view and it's accuracy was shown to be precise! We could see the start point below us as we stood on top of the magical Escarpment.
I was so chuffed that I had to have a quick flight in the very light conditions, but awesomely beautiful scenery.

Now the actual walk could start properly (1600 hrs).
One of the first top spots we got to would be incredible for DS! NE or SW winds, just for fun though. SW will nearly always bring hill fog. NE is chilly!!

Next peak was Corn Du. Those steps up the face were hard yesterday! The boys were chuffed for a break.

Got to the top of Pen Y Fan at 1800hrs. It's such a beautiful place to be, in most conditions, and yesterday was no different. I'd forgotten about the Upper Neuadd Reservoir ever having water in it. It has beed drained to protect the Grade 2 listed Dam Wall and probably wont be filled again. We could still see it and where it should be. It would be a lovely walk from there.

Downhill time and a race to the well marked roady-path before we couldn't see any more.

Discretion won over valour as we decided to leave Cribyn for next time. It is STEEEEEEP! and it was already pretty dark as we reached our decision point for ascent or not (1825).

Luckily, Rachel and I are pretty fit (on a global scale.....) and what we lack in fitness, we make up for in stubbornness and pig-headed determination.

We dragged our sorry limbs for the next three hours passed the suggested start point. Passed the suggested car park. Passed a massive reservoir and along another reservoir through a pine forest and finally back to the car (21xx hrs, I forgot to look). Fortunately it was all on an actual road once we got down to the Lower Neuadd Reservoir.

I printed out a series of OS maps to figure out our route. I still can't quite figure the part in the bottom left, reckon it was further. Next time I'll print the maps before doing the walk. What a Pillock!
A crude measurement of our route comes in at 23km's. No wonder I'm a bit tender today! Hopefully you can see our route in pen on the maps. 

We love an adventure!!!