Well the season is finally underway, and we recently had our first go at (single plane) FAI combat down
in Middleboro. With seven entries, I think it was a pretty good kick-off for this event in New England. It
was apparent that everyone had been working with his equipment and was prepared for battle when the day began.
Although there were a few instances where guys struggled with flooded engines etc, for the most part everything
went pretty smoothly. Iím sure if you ask anyone who was there that day they will tell you how exciting it was.
One significant equipment-related issue that came up, though, was line lengths. In an earlier column I published
the FAI regulations for line length, and warned that the tolerance is very tight. However, during processing before
the first round we found that several contestants had lines that were either too long or too short. The reason for
this is that many people bought ready-made lines from GRS or other suppliers without giving enough information at the
time of purchase. While this is a very convenient way of getting lines, it is important to remember that there are
many variables that affect the desired length of lines for your setup. In particular, the length of your modelsí
leadouts, the shape/size of your handle, and the length of your handle leadouts all make a difference in the total length
of your control system. When buying lines, if you donít give careful instructions about the dimensions you need for your
setup, the default you get will be whatever is appropriate for the supplierís setup. Depending on what you have, this may
or may not work for you.
For convenience, Iíll reproduce the FAI line length regulations below:
52 ft 1 + 3/16 in. to 52 ft 4 + 5/16 in.
This distance is measured from the grip face of the handle to the longitudinal centerline (i.e. bellcrank axle, crankshaft)
of the model. Thereís nothing wrong with buying ready made lines, just always be sure to give clear and accurate instructions
about the dimensions you need or else you may end up with a bunch of lines that wonít pass inspection.
In terms of flying, it will still take some time for everyone to get used to the higher speeds relative to what the GX models are
doing. However, I saw good progress being made all around at the contest down in Middleboro. Even between the beginning of the
contest and the end, it appeared that the general comfort level was increasing. If everyone sticks with it and keeps practicing
Iím sure it will start to seem more natural and comfortable every day.
One thing that I did notice about flying and wanted to bring up in my column relates to body positioning in the circle. Because
of the low speed of GX models, the GX event is relatively forgiving in terms of getting into and out of awkward body positions.
With the quicker F2D models, such bad habits can quickly lead to messy situations. In particular, one thing that I noticed with
several pilots was a tendency to end up having to run around the back of an opponent to catch up with a model or to get in some sort
of attack position in the air. Although thereís nothing wrong with standing behind oneís opponent, on several occasions I saw this
situation lead to lines starting to get around the opponentís body. This is obviously a sticky situation, and led to frantic movements
by both pilots, line tangles, crashes, or penalties for stepping out of the pilotís circle. I think it would be really helpful for
everyone to spend some time pondering these issues, and flying mental matches. If you imagine flying the match in your head, you can
slow down or stop the action as needed and also spend some time reflecting on where your body is/should be relative to your opponents
to avoid getting into hairy situation. Another way to accomplish this is through ďshadow boxing,Ē where two pilots basically fly a
match with their bodies/arms but no models.
So far I think everyone is making good progress with this event. Iím looking forward to seeing more improvement at our next contest May
29, 30, 31 in Kingston. For those of you who havenít tried or seen F2D yet, I encourage you to come out to Kingston for at least one of
the days to check out what this event is all about. We will be flying strictly according to the FAI Sporting Code, which is the form of
combat flown by our friends throughout the rest of the world. We would also really appreciate any help we can get with judging/running
the contest, but there is no pressure to do so. Iíll be happy just to see a lot of faces out there and give everyone a chance to witness
this exciting event.