2008 HTL - BERG Report

“I could not have asked for more perfect conditions” I thought to myself as I drove westerly along the highway early on Sunday morning. I was on my way to the BERG field, just outside of Krugersdorp, and was presented with a gorgeous sunrise in my rearview mirror. Along the highway I also noticed a field absolutely covered in large white & black birds - surely a good omen? I simply could not count them but estimated them to be in the hundreds. A short while later I crossed the Jukskei river bridge & saw the early morning mist rising & enveloping the low lying areas, followed shortly afterwards by the ever lurking speed camera (a number of SMS’s were rapidly despatched after that). When I arrived at the field, Piet (“prepatation”) Rheeders was already there & we quickly laid out the start & turnaround lines – about 150 metres apart. Soon afterwards the bulk of pilots began arriving & at 09h10 we held the informal pilots briefing, starting approx 30 minutes late, but without too many complaints as I believe everyone was savouring the brilliant weather & the prospect of an excellent day’s competitive gliding ahead.

1 June saw the 4th event in the league for 2008, hosted at the BERG club. BERG is currently the dominant RC thermal gliding club in South Africa, with a great field & huge list of members. For this purpose, Trevor Austin (who is a legend for South African competitive RC gliding) agreed to donate his old winch to the BERG club, so that they could keep up their RC gliding development efforts. On behalf of the MGA & the BERG club, we thank Trevor for his generosity to the club & are indebted to his contributions to RC gliding in South Africa in general.

The format for this event was intended to provide the South African Senior & Junior F3J teams with some final “competitive” practice, hand-towed launches under “F3J-ish” rules. However to encourage participation 150 metre (to the turnarounds) winch launches were also permitted – interestingly of the 5 teams, 3 elected to hand-tow. To reduce the risk of broken models during the en-masse launch & landings, a more relaxed working time window of 12 minutes was applied. It was also agreed that the only penalty for overflying the 10 minutes (Open class) duration task would be loss of landing points only & the 30 point penalty normally associated with F3J was not applied. A severe penalty of losing the entire rounds points would have been applied for people landing within the safety zone – fortunately not the case. Less severe was contact with a grounded object would result in loss of landing points, which for some was the case.

The first slot started in ultra smooth morning air, with a gentle breeze (that maintained its direction for the entire 6 rounds) assisting the launches; most people were able to achieve good maxes during the first 3 rounds. From the end of round 4 though, the thermal gods became angered by the RC pilots pleasure & conditions deteriorated, with very few being able to max. the final slots as huge sections of sink set in across the area as far as the eye could see. During the early part of the day, the thermals were plentiful, and once hooked, most pilots enjoyed buoyant upper air rides, models screaming downwards for the good spot landings. During the first round, the ever familiar rhythm of competitive RC gliding emerged amongst the teams & the smooth transitions between slots was ably managed by the last-minute stand-in CD Charl Viviers (many thanks!). Scores were collected & captured by Celeste Rheeders, with Martie providing great food & drinks for the everyone.

1 Goodrum; Craig 4999.42 (100.0 %) Pike Perfect
2 Carnall; Paul 4993.27 (99.9 %) Mibo Shadow/X-Pro
3 Rheeders; Piet 4904.67 (98.1 %) Tsosti 2.5m
4 Goodrum; Rodney 4840.98 (96.8 %) Mibo Shadow
5 Brink; Lionel 4824.52 (96.5 %) Mibo X-Pro
6 Tladi; Simon 4805.02 (96.1 %) Mibo X-Pro
7 Liebenberg; Dion 4802.84 (96.1 %) (?)
8 Marusich; Derek 4763.87 (95.3 %) Sagitta 600
9 Goodrum; Michelle 4747.05 (95.0 %) Pike Perfect
10 Klintworth; Conrad 4593.35 (91.9 %) Pike Perfect
11 Weber; Herman 4505.65 (90.1 %) Mibo Shadow/X-Pro
12 Lessem; Ian 4328.45 (86.6 %) Supra
13 Davies; Robert 3579.39 (71.6 %) Shongololo
14 Engelman; Rudolf 2151.36 (43.0 %) Spirit 100 (?)
15 Bruwer; Johan 863.20 (17.3 %) Pike Perfect

The results speak for themselves – the top 2/3's of pilots all within 90% of the winning score suggests a close competition. In fact, this competition saw one of the closest fought I have ever witnessed regarding landings – spot landings were virtually the order of the day amongst all teams, with disappointment reflecting on those dreaded 2m or more scores.

The first casualty of the day was Johan Bruwer. His Pike Perfect cruised around to line up for final approach for landing, but did not leave the bank & smote the ground with a hard “whack”, damaging the wing tip & fuselage collecting in the process. Johan is not sure what the cause was, but it looked suspiciously like a lock-out?

Rodney’s Shadow picked up a problem with the left aileron/flaps just before a launch (we discovered a bent pin on the d-connector), and a little later he found a tree that required decoration & landed his model into it. I must admit that Rodney is becoming rather accomplished at this & we may soon begin calling him Rodney “Tree-fellow”. Fortunately the model was recovered with what looked like very little damage.

Rudolf’s balsa built-up Spirit (?) took a bit of a hammering on the landings into the hard ground, and eventually the nose split apart & sadly preventing him from finishing the final round.

The most amazing thing was that after 6 rounds everyone was keen to fly more, and even though the conditions were less than optimal, whilst the scores were being audited, more than a handful of models were flying in the air.

To me this was most perfect HTL ever. The people were friendly, the competition was close, the field was perfect, the weather was brilliant. This is really the stuff of RC gliding dreams & what makes us want to come back for more again & again. Thank you to everyone once again, BERG, Charl, Celeste, Trevor, Martie, helpers Johan Jnr & Volney, and all the pilots that enjoyed their HTL on Sunday, 1 June 2008.

As I drove back along the highway, with the sun setting in my rearview mirror, I corrected myself; “I could not have asked for more perfect competition”.