Thermal Festival – HTL #5 at SGC, September 2007

What a whopper Sunday 9 September 2007 turned out to be. The 5th HTL event for the year turned out to be an amazing flying day, SGC’s superb field East of Pretoria was made even more enjoyable with huge African thermals & a light breeze, the competitors & spectators were wonderful & supportive, and just about everyone had a whole lot of fun.

Starting at 09h00’sh, and run to F3J rules from winch launches the event was well attended by RC glider pilots from all over Gauteng. The predicted wind direction & strength was spot on (well done to the Weather Service) with thermals initially travelling NW to SE, but swinging around at lunchtime from SW to NE. Feeders formed by the hot conditions (over 30 degrees Celsius) over the farmlands created strong thermals, which generally sprawled across the field. Those that brought shade (gazebo’s & umbrella’s) were inundated with new friends as most sought solace from the first signs of our hot South African summer (even though it was officially one of the first days of Spring).

The glorious field allowed for more than enough space for all the teams (3 person teams, “matrixed” for the man-on-man event) who were spread evenly at clearly marked 15 metre intervals, thanks to the efficient setup by the SGC hosts. The turnaround spots were also clearly marked 150 metres away. The thermal activity prompted some very aggressive launching – 2 second launches were not uncommon, although most elected for hard 4-7 seconds to push high up into the lift layer. The trees did create a challenge for some of the pilots, as these were just past 100m from the landing zone – which really messed around with the pilots' depth perception. I counted at least 3 models being struck out of the sky by huge trees jumping into their path. Landings were equally aggressive – most electing for huge box like approaches permitted by the large field & smooth wind conditions, slowly dragging in until the very last moment before centering above the spot.

I created some confusion at the end – last minute changes to the flight order required some “behind the scenes” alterations to the scoring program, and naturally differences between our standard approach to scoring & the software, after such a loooong & intense day, created some challenges with the provisional scores. Prize-giving was based on these results after very generous donations from various LHS’s in the area. It is interesting that very few LHS’s actually stock the highly competitive competition RC gliders, yet by far the vast majority of pilots source components & others aspects of the hobby from the LHS, so the donations were not without some marketing merit.

The event again used the electronic timing system – this time with two speakers set “back-to-back” from the middle of the field. This really reduces the need for a dedicated time keeper, but electronic issues just after round 4 resulted in one of the speakers being shutdown. CD for the day, Volney, held the pilots briefing around 09h00 & we were quickly set into the automated matrix thereafter. No breaks for lunch, had the “spare” pilot running for food to the superb Martie & Derek travelling diner between slots. With the heat of the day, they sold out all their liquid refreshments around 15h30, which as always were ice cold.

The only issue of the day saw Peter Eagle & Peter Joffe attempting to disprove one of the basic laws of physics: two bodies cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Peter E. was bleeding off speed after a massive thermal took him to spec height, whilst Peter J. was ambling along to line up for the landing. At approx 100 metres, these two connected, with Peter J’s Shongololo wing cut in half, & Peter E’s Eagle breaking the main spar & ripping one of the Shongololo ’s servo’s & harness neatly around its remaining structure. The Shongololo unceremoniously split apart & spun into the ground, whilst the Eagle was landed somewhat hastily with the harness dangling from a huge gap in the leading edge.

I noted that just about everyone had camera’s & I reckon a huge amount of photographs were taken on the day – please forward them to me for the upcoming RCSD article.

Open class

  1. Anton Coetzee (MMS) 4,978

  2. Michelle Goodrum (MMS) 4,976

  3. Conrad Klintworth - Jnr (SGC) 4,970

  4. Joe Coetzer (SGC) 4,969

  5. John Monk (SGC) 4,958

  6. Volney Klintworth (SGC) 4,932

  7. Kurt Stockton - Jnr (BERG) 4,928

  8. Craig Baker (SGC) 4,915

  9. Herman Weber (ETB) 4,874

  10. Izak Theron (ETB) 4,832

  11. Lionel Brink (MMS) 4,823

  12. Evan Shaw (BERG) 4,802

  13. Mark Stockton (BERG) 4,788

  14. Hugh Edmunds (TMMGC) 4,648

  15. Ian Lessem (MMS) 4,598

  16. Johan Bruwer (SGC) 4,509

  17. Derek Marusich (BERG) 4,283

  18. Piet Rheeders (BERG) 4,278

  19. Peter Eagle (MMS) 4,136

  20. Peter Joffe (BERG) 4,123

  21. Peter Moore (ETB) 3,045

  22. Wolfgang Steffny (MMS) 917

Anton’s first place in the Open class, sees him return to competitive RC gliding with a vengeance! Michelle turned in yet another classy performance which bodes well for her upcoming F3J team trials. Yet again, young Conrad showed the moldie oldies how to fly with only 8 points separating him from first place. Conrad also had some of the highest scoring flights of the day with consistent 9:53 times & spot landings. Wolfgang's wooden spoon the result of a close encounter with a tree during the second round.

RES100 class

  1. Alan Smith (MMS) 3,718

Alan was the sole pilot in RES100, and interesting also flew in the 2M class to add some spice to his event

2M class

  1. Derek Marusich (BERG) 3,174

  2. Robert Davies (MMS) 3,021

  3. Rudi King (SGC) 2,956

  4. Allen de Klerk (SGC) 2,831

  5. Alan Smith (MMS) 2,466

  6. Daniel Ralefeta (SGC) 2,323

The 2m class saw and exciting tussle between Robert & Rudi, with Derek eventually snatching the win with some precision landings. Notably this was a first competitive event for Robert, Allen & Daniel – well done & we trust to see you on the circuit in the near future?

Club results

The club results are calculated from the top 3 scores per club, open class

  1. SGC 14,914

  2. MMS 14,747

  3. BERG 14,556

  4. ETB 10,572

  5. WHRF 4,832

  6. TMMGC 4,598

The clubs saw a massively consistent SGC (Conrad, Joe, John) dominate 3rd through 6th positions, taking away victory from the mighty MMS with their 1st & 2nd,(Anton, Michelle) but only a 11th from me. BERG’s assault was lead by Kurt (another junior – hmmm?), with Evan & Mark making up a very closely fought top 3. ETB performed equally well – with a credible score from Herman, Izak & Peter Moore.

The next HTL is scheduled for 7 October, at the WHRF field, just west of Centurion. The format will also be a 09h00 briefing, F3J from winch launch, with 5 rounds (all rounds to count) and a fly-off for the top 33%. Catering by Martie, timekeeping by Euro-voice. See you there.