The global financial meltdown appears to have finally affected SA: the slowdown in the building industry appears to have a knock-on affect regarding landscaping, a the resultant decline in "instant lawn" demand requiring a corresponding drastic cut in farming operations at GGGC - making the field unusable for the March HTL. Fortunately SGC (also based on a grass farm) did not appear to be affected & kindly offered the use of their field in the week preceding the competition. Although the heavy rains of previous months made the entrance road "challenging", the field was a glorious emerald green surface of smooth grass & soft (read as moist) ground. On behalf of all the pilots, we wish to thank the Silverton Glider Club for the use of their field & note that our envy was almost as green as their grass. Wow!
The typical 12 minute working 3 minute prep. format was loosely applied (2 delays were called without complaint due to line breaks & a lunch time was also used to replaced winch lines). 31 entries were received with only 1 last minute withdrawal, yielding 11 teams of approx. 3 pilots who started arriving from 07h30 , keen to fly & compete in this informal league. We started the pilots briefing approx 30 minutes after the advertised 08h30 & were only able to start the first slot at 9h45 after watching the early morning breeze swing 180 degrees from the North. This first slot saw a tight battle as just about everyone immediately swung right after launching almost immediately after working time was called. With all the pilots trying to occupy the same bit of sky simultaneously, a mid-air was inevitable: Johan's Pike Perfect & Gert's Supra were the unlucky models that clashed during this first slot with some damage to both models.
The rains mentioned previously & ongoing irrigation ensured that the ground was super soft & most models were landed up to the canopies without trying. Sadly, the ground was simply not soft enough for Don's X-Pro which appeared to suffer from a lock-out (note: this was a ppm receiver) when the model almost instantly snapped off the launch, whipped around behind the launch line & smashed itself to pieces into the ground just a metre from one of the pilots. Both tip panels suffered massive damage & the fuselage received multiple fractures & snapped in half midway between wing & fin. The battery was still connected after the flight & Don remarked that he simply did not receive any response form the model after launch. After a change of some , we continued with the round ... Don CD'ing for us (thank you Don).
The fact that the 2 metres gliders did so well, was largely due to the skill & expertise of these pilots, but the conditions were also generally favourable with abundant lift and relatively gentle breeze in what can be described as hot & relatively humid conditions. The lift was wide spread & fairly predictable, although occasionally sink did set through a slot with the resulting drops in flight time. Inevitably someone always maxed these challenging slots, resulting in huge point differentials from the normalisation. During the final round we did see some thunderclouds build up & experienced a few drops of rain, but this was over before the slot finished.
We repeated the trial of the first HTL with individuals flying 2 Metre & RES 100 models in open class & being "normalised to their respective sub-classes. This requires the pilot to compete to the full Open class 10 minute duration & the flight score is adjusted proportionally for the 8 minute RES 100 & 6 minute 2 Metre class tasks (landing points are maintained). This is then normalised as per the slot flown.
Paul Carnall simply dominated all his slots with his Nan Models v-tail X-Pro - his first round of 985 points was his throwaway, & he maxed the remaining 5 slots with very near perfect scores. Dion Liebenberg followed very (very!) closely in 2nd, with Johan Bruwer (Pike Perfect) throwing off his 1st slot midair & capturing 3rd place by an even closer margin, only a fraction of a point behind Dion! This was incredibly good flying. Craig Goodrum flying a 2 channel 2M (Tsotsi) was 4th overall flying to the Open Class rules - I can attest that he had to work for those points in a number of rounds, and this was a great example of superb flying too. 1st Junior was Jason Weber in 7th just beating his dad (hmm - who buys the models in this house?) - well done.The RES100 & 2M categories are also normalised per class & per slot, with Craig in 1st (Tsotsi) narrowly pipping Derek (Sagitta 600) in 2nd - all three flying a proportional score in Open class. Piet was the 3rd ranked pilot with his RES100 (stretched Tsotsi) model.
Craig (Tsotsi) grabbed 1st 2M class just ahead of Derek in 2nd (Sagitta 600) - all scored on the proportional scheme. In his second only event, Derrick Fish achieved 3rd position - well done!
Thank you again to SGC for their field, to Martie for the catering & to everyone who made this such an enjoyable day. I stayed at the field until 16h30 - enoying an ice cold beverage & chatting to everyone about gliding, the universe, etc. The HTL format is considered relaxing - the focus is on flying & not challenging the support team. It provides a means of assessing & improving you skill alongside some of the best RC pilots in SA in an informal setting. I have been impressed with the number of entries - up by almost 30% from 2007/2008 - largely due to the resurgance in interest in the 2M class.
I trust that the next event scheduled for 5 April wil achieve the same level of enjoyment.