World Air Games - Alan's report

The proud South African WAG team; (l-r) Alan, Stephane & MarkOur first day of flying was Saturday the 6th of June, which was to be or only practice day before the competition started. We arrived bright and breezy to sort out our accreditation doc’s that would give us the access that we need to get into the various restricted areas. Although when we arrived there was a little confusion as to where we were to set up to fly….
Alan setting up his modelsWe soon had everything put together and were ready for the practice round.
Mark prepping his 'green machine'
After a short but successful practice, we were wipped off to a pilots briefing that was unfortunately put on hold after a few minutes due to a huge hail storm that blew through (with a lot of stressed modelers, as our models were all in open tents). Fortunately for us Richard Swindells skipped the briefing and ran back to the tents to secure all our planes…
The opening ceremony Straight after the briefing, we left to rush to the hotel to prepare for the opening ceremony. We arrived at the center of Turino at about 6pm and the whole ceremony lasted about 3 hours. It was really spectacular, with parachutists landing in the square with very little room to land… the flame lighting and full brass band.
Athletes waiting to for the opening ceremony On Sunday the 7th, the local DLG club had arranged a F3K competition for us. This was run like clock work.

F3K results
It was a beautiful day that was so clear that we were surrounded by the ice capped Alps, and the field that we had the competition in was a square of grass that was cut in the middle of wheat fields. It was a stunning setting to fly.

Flying near the Alps
On Tuesday morning the 8th, we arrived at the airfield to very overcast weather. The breeze was blowing straight onto the no fly area (grandstands and public areas). There was absolutely no way that we could follow the lift as we had been told that if we go anywhere near those areas we would be DQ’d. Unfortunately Mark, Steph and myself all flew without ballast. Everyone else flew very heavy and managed to push forward to the tree line……. And Mark and I got hammered, although Steph did manage to win one round and not do too badly in the second round. We were lucky that these scores were not taken into account at a later stage. These scored were used to put us all into groups for the Semi-finals.

On Wednesday morning the 9th, our slot was a little later in the morning and we were lucky enough to have great weather once again. We knew that this time there was no room for mistakes. We had to fly perfect rounds, as we were expecting most of the competitors to max there flights, in which case, they would have taken the previous rounds scores into account. The top 8 were only separated by 12 points.

Stephane waiting his turn to fly On Friday the 11th, we once again had really great weather. We knew that we had a limited time slot, but that we would have a couple of rounds, before we would be called to stop. With only 8 of us in the final and the weather being as good as it was, we once again thought that this would be a long long final. It turned out that someone came down in every round until it was just Max and myself. Tony from the UK was the first one out, followed by Oleg from the US, then Vitalijus from LTU, Ricardas from LTU and Richard from the UK. There were a number of close calls for a number of us but we were lucky enough to land just a few seconds after the first plane was down. Francesco from Italy landed next and secured himself the bronze medal. Max and I then flew about 4 rounds and maxed all 4 at times we were doing rolls and aerobatics around one another just to keep the round exciting…….. but unfortunately we ran out of time and we were stopped for that time slot.

We were then told to be back by 6pm, and that we would continue with the final. We were finally called at 7:30pm to start, and ooooooops……………… I landed first. To Max’s credit he found 2 or 3 little bubbles and worked them well. (Mike Stern from the UK/ ex-ZIM received credit from Max for half of the gold, as he was launching for Max in the final)

Bob Skinner, president of the Aeromodelling CIAM handing over Alan's medal

On Saturday the 13th, we had the awards ceremony, and this was a very special moment for me. It was a very proud moment for myself and Bob Skinner who was there to award the medals to us.
(l-r) Alan, Max & Mike(?)
All in all it was a great trip and we have learnt a lot. A special thanks to the organizers, although we had small issues, they were always sorted out. Thanks to our team for all the support and help throughout the competitions, as well as Lionel Brink and Bob Skinner for their assistance and help in the qualifying rounds.


2009 RC Soaring Nationals - call for proposals

Although the event has been postponed until the end of the year by the MGA, to date, no clubs have offered to host the 2009 RC Gliding Nationals. The cut-off date for hosting proposals is 30 June 2009, following which the MGA will award the hosting to the most eligible proposal.

These proposals will be evaluated based on the level of organisation & the also perceived ability of the organisers to ensure the safety of competitors, spectators & neighbours. For a full list of the evaluation criteria, please contact your MGA representative or refer to the MGASA forum for more details.

Fly safely

FAI & anti-doping

FAI sporting license holders may be tested at any time during FAI competitions. If you are selected for testing, then as for any other sport, you must comply with the instructions provided to you by the testing agency. A refusal to test is considered to be a failed test. It is unclear at this time if this will be delegated to CIAM's aeromodelling commission, nor is is clear if "helpers" will fall into the same category as competitors.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) publishes the list of prohibited substances on its website If you have been prescribed a medication by your doctor which is on the prohibited list, you require a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) form to be filled out by your doctor and send this to the FAI at least 21 days prior to the international event.

It should be noted that other prohibited substances are often found in over-the-counter medications that do not require prescription. It is therefore advisable to check the list prior to using these medications. Ultimately the competitor is responsible for what is in their system, with the possible punishment for a positive (or failed) test usually being a 2 year ban from the sport.

Refer to the FAI's anti-doping website as well as WADA for more information regarding this.

Podium finish for SA at inaugral 2009 WAG

The citizens of Turin were treated to the unrivalled spectacle of the FAI's World Air Games during June 2009. Particularly exciting is that Alan Smith of South Africa flew his DLG RC glider into 2nd place overall, following an intensely contested event that culminated in a second fly-off round to decide the positions. He unfortunately landed just 3 seconds earlier than the eventual winner, Massimiliano Sacchi from Italy to clinch his podium position. Mark Stockton and Stephane du Ponsel also represented South Africa proudly, all being invitated by the FAI organisers following almost a year of qualifications in South Africa.

Hand Launch Gliders (HLG), are small radio-controlled model-gliders with a maximum wing-span allowed by the F6D rules of 1.5 metres. Thanks to their relatively small weight and dimensions, these models can be launched by hand. To get a good flight, competitors must throw the glider as high as possible. Some years ago the competitors have thrown their models like a javelin, but today they prefer a discus-like throw (DLS) with which the skilled and trained competitors can reach a starting height above sixty metres.

The aim of the competitor is to keep his glider in the air longer than his competitor using the rising air contained in tshermals. These thermals are in fact bubbles or columns of warm air rising in the surrounding colder air. Finding these bubbles may not be easy, but the skilled pilots can use them to maximise their model's flight time. On sunny days the thermals can be very intense and good pilots are able to fly for several hours in these conditions.

In the F6D competition as hosted at the inaugral World Air Games, the flight time is limited; five minutes at qualification and three minutes at semi-final and final. A series of elimination rounds decide the finalists; in each round the pilot which lands first goes out. Sometimes the thermals are extended and easy to find, then if all competitors are able to stay in the air full three minutes the round must be repeated. At the beginning of the final round, eight pilots start at the same time within a window of three seconds. The pilot who flies for the shortest time is eliminated and the next round is contested by the remaining seven competitors. This knock-out system is repeated until only two are left. The winner of this head-to-head final round is then declared the World Air Games Champion.

Fly safely

2009 HTL #4 - BERG results

The long range weather prediction on Monday, 1 June 2009 suggested that the event would be washed out, if not frozen. Fortunately during the week a high pressure system moved inland & kept the yapping cold fronts at bay long enough for us to enjoy a good day's flying at BERG. A few of cars had already arrived at 08:15, and we soon had our launch line & winches setup.

The pilots briefing (with the emphasis on brief) highlighted only two frequency clashes for the field fo 23 pilots. Prior to the briefing, flying was performed using a peg-on system & the mobile frequency board to avoid incidents. Whilst the day was generally moderate & the breeze was not excessive, sink & changing wind direction (especially on landings) highlighted differences in ability & models.

It was also exciting to see 2 brand new Nan Model Xplorers (Paul & Jason). Both pilots commented favourably (raved!) about how well the models floated in zero lift conditions & how well they penetrated into the breeze. Obviously setups must still be tweaked, but the model seemd to launch very well too - maximising the use of the breeze. Also of interest were the SA F3B team, flying their Ceres models & more often than not achieving top scores against the specialist thermal duration models.

The first slot was simply horrid - some downwind launches & sink as far as the model could fly. Times were very, very short, but Paul managed to clinch this slot with a 7:55 & a spot landing. Slot 2 was a little more of what we are used to on the Highveld, & our champion junior, Jason, just pipped Michelle by 2 seconds to claim the max. Slot 3 was a draw between Craig & Chris who scored identically with stunning flights & landings.

Round 2 saw our wonderful conditions stretch the majority of flight times to the limit, Derek flying his Sagitta 600 being the notable slot 2 winner. Peter had a bit of an argument with a roof, but pilot & model appeared unscathed to fly again.

Round 3 witnessed an emerging pattern of pilots maxing, with some very closely contested results. Landings were the differentiating factor across this round - with everyone trying there best to centre the spot.

Round 4 was very closely contested, the rapidly changing wind direction creating havoc on landings. We broke for lunch during this round too.

Round 5 had large sections of sink interspersed with good lift - scores representing across both sides of the scale. Derrick Fish flying a 2M Fling, was unfortunate to launch into a strong thermal which snapped his model's wings.

Round 6 saw a huge section of sink set across the field & time fell dramatically as a result.

The final results (apologies for the fuzzy/size thing, but until I have figured out how to add tables to the BLOG, that's about as good as it gets - you should click on the table below to get a clear image of the final results). Craig narrowly clinching the title, just 4 points ahead of Chris. Paul was also a close 3rd. First Junior Jason flew very well into 8th position (dad would be pleased with his own 7th place). First 2M was Derrick Marusich in 10th - flying to the Open Class 10 minute task.

Thanks to everyone who attended, assisted, & had fun.

Fly safely

Event Organisation Guideline

To assists clubs to organise a National Gliding Event, the MGA has drawn up a set of guidelines (listed below) to help. This document is intended as a guildeline and was drawn up from report backs from various clubs that have hosted Nats in the past.
Should you need more information on rules and types of events, please contact the MGA directly.

Scoring system
A scoring system must be used that is tested and reliable.
It must be dry run before the event and all problems gone through and understood.

Scoring (Running scores)
An official scorer must be provided and all scores must be returned after each round/slot and the results published (made available) within a reasonable period after the round.

Score queries
To ensure correct scores, any queries regarding the score must be referred back to the respective time keeper before capture. It is the time keepers responsibility to ensure that the scores have been captured.

Scores published
The official scores should be published within 3 working days of the end of the event to the MGA, respective MGA Rep & MGASA forum. Provisional results should be published as soon as possible after the event for review purposes. Score sheets must be kept by the organisers until the final results are published in the event of any disputes.

An official photographer must be appointed and lots of photos taken with details of what is in the photo so captions can be added after the event.

Photo Shoot
Time must be provided for a group photo. Preferably near the beginning of the event so that all models and pilots are fresh.

Photo disc
Photos should be made available to pilots & competitors are at reasonable cost within a reasonable period of the event ending.

Report (Scribe)
Someone must be appointed to write a detailed report. They should take notes all the time. Get details of models and people and record events as they happen.

Report published
The formal report should be published by the time the official results are presented. The report should be sent to the MGA, respective MGA Rep & MGASA.

Catering on the field must be well organised and well presented and not too expensive. (Remember diabetic’s & coffee)

Catering facilities should be within a reasonable distance from the flying field. Reasonable shade and seating should be provided. Bathroom facilities should be provided.

A jury panel (3 or more people) must be appointed and someone must be responsible to record events as they happen. i.e. When a protest is lodged then that person must have the facts available so that a proper decision can be made. The jury must not delay proceedings, unless no alternative is possible. The jury should meet & a decision reached within a reasonable period of the formal complaint being lodged.

Some basic rules must be published in the program for the event. The detailed competition event rules must be available should they be required at the event. Each member of the jury should have a separate copy of the rules.

Public Address system
Someone must man the PA to provide commentary so as to keep the interest up for non-flyers & spectators. Like F3B speed times and how the thermals are developing etc.

Frequency Control
Frequency control must be manned at all times. Strict discipline must be enforced.

Prizes must be sorted out in good time before the prize giving (if prizes are possible). Certificates must be presented.

A banquet can be organised. The woman’s touch is needed. Flowers etc. Self catering is not desirable.

First Aid
Proper first aid facilities and venue. Emergency services should be notified of the event & contact numbers handy should these be required.


A foolproof matrixing system must be designed and tested before the event. As few pilots as possible must fly against each other in different rounds so as to give a proper mix.


Safety/ Crowd control
A clearly marked public area must be provided and someone must be responsible for control at all times. Don’t allow spectators into the flying areas. Provide direction signs.


A clearly marked car park must be provided. No vehicles should be allowed onto the field during flying except for emergencies.


The fire department should be informed of the event and contact numbers at hand should they be needed.


Lots of colourful banners, bunting and flags.


Field Marking
Properly laid out Winch and Turn-around lines, with alternative wind directions.


Start Times
Strict control on start time. Latecomers don’t get to fly in the round if they are late. Emphasize this in pre comp publications.


Someone must be nominated to co-ordinate sponsorship & to formally thank them afterwards. Their names must also be mentioned in the report.


Donation of prizes that can be raffled during the event, and someone to co-ordinate. Make this early in the event so that people still have money. Don’t make the tickets too expensive. Publicize the raffle in the program.


Print just enough programs for the competitors and sponsors.
Include raffles, adds, score-sheets, rules, matrix, etc.


Decide times for events and stick to them. Refer 18 above.


Events - F3B & Open or F3J
Have F3B duration and open together. Schedule some rounds during light lift conditions so pilots are made to work for lift.
Try for 6 or 7 rounds, but a minimum of 5. Over 5 rounds allows for a throwaway.
Pre-mark field for speed sights.


Events – RES & 2 Meter
Must be further encouraged to promote youngsters and to get them involved in competitions.


Events – HLG
Have time for HLG but not during lunch. Have some challenging times scheduled. Early morning and late afternoon when lift is light and the pilots have to work to get lift.


Events – Electric
Make time for electric slots. Have some challenging times scheduled so that pilots need to work to optimise lift.


Pre-Event advertising
Pre-event marketing is essential. Use e-mail and set up web pages. Publish Entry forms in SAMAA & South Easter at least 2 months before (NB SAMAA cut-off dates)


Web Page
A web page should be set up or use the clubs.

Two-way Radio
Provide Two-way radios for officials and base B.

Sound travels far slower than light – the start of working time must be signalled by means of a flag being raised or lowered (noted in pilots briefing) as well as an audible signal.

Have dedicated CD’s for each event or one for all events. Don’t allow their other duties to interfere with being CD. The CD also needs a break so try and have more that one.

Entry Forms
Get it out early. Start at least 2 months before the event.

Try and observe wind direction a year before for the month of the event and get history of weather conditions, so you have some idea of prevailing wind directions. Provide a spare day in case of rain.

Nice and big. Reasonable distance between the field & obstructions.

Field preparation
Cut fields grass at least a month before the event. (6 weeks is better). Mow winch and Turn-around lines 1 week before the event.