2009 HTL #5 - SGC report

Unseasonal rain brought the 5th HTL event of 2009 to a unexpected early finish. However, these challenging weather conditions provided an ideal grounding for the F3J team trials to be held later in 2009.

The majority of top Gauteng RC soaring pilots were in evidence at the 5th Highveld Thermal League competition hosted at Silverton Glider Club, just east of Pretoria, South Africa. Accustomed to dry winters, the competition ended before the 6 rounds scheduled could be completed due to rain & concerns about safety (visibility & electronic equipment were adversely affected ). This was most unusual, as the last 4-5 years of HTL have only been interrupted by inclement weather once before (MMS, 2006 - I think). However, based on the MGA's guidelines regarding scoring of competitions that are not completed, it was still possible to enter the scores of fully completed rounds (more than 67% of flights had been completed).

The pilots briefing started a "little" later than advertised - unforeseen heavy traffic caused a number of late arrivals. However, once it started, our esteemed CD, the honorable Mr Gordon Brown made sure we stuck to the programme like clockwork. Just for the record, our Mr Brown was rather more popular on the field than that other chap from No. 10 Downing Street. He had not flown RC for some time, so to assist, a jury of pilots was nominated & accepted to deal with any protests - the good spirit of HTL (and non-refundable R250 protest fee) eliminated any potentially contentious incidents.

Keeping us fed & watered, & dry, the inimitable Martie's Travelling Diner was a welcome respite from the rigors (?) of RC Soaring. She had breakfast ready before the pilots briefing, lunch was served after round 3, and snacks/drinks were available the entire day. Most welcome was her gazebo during the numerous rain storms - although it was rather standing room only. We were also pleasently surprised by a number of spectators who just "came to see" our RC Soaring competition.

Most exiting is that we had 2 development pilots attending the HTL for the first time. Tsepo, who must still Solo, was keen to get his hands on the sticks & under the exciting tuition of Lightning (Simon) Tladi, they were seen running around & all over the field with a Multiplex EasyGlider almost all day long! Bhopelo, who has solo'd on a power RC aircraft through the Cornerstone College development programme, was able to succesfully fly a Tsotsi (locally designed & built) 2m class glider. During one of the early rounds he hooked a thermal & soon had the glider to absolute speck height. I am sure his caller was as enthuisastic about this sterling performance, but unfortunately the dour weather put paid to any notions of extended exposure (to RC flying that is). It was also challenging for Bophelo, as this was a) the first time he had ever seen an RC glider & b) the first time he had flown Mode 1. Next time around we will try for a mode 2 Tx, with a buddy chord, to give him more freedom as the majority of instructors appear to be mode 1.

A number of Nan Model Explorer's were flying, together with usual Pike Perfect's, Nan X-Pro's & Shadow's, Supra's, & a home built (Stephane's stealth F3B), as well as the National F3B teams Ceres/Ceres Lift models. The good weather at the start of the day made for easy thermalling & landings cleary dominated the earlier scores. However, as the lift reduced & the conditions started to resemble a somewhat soggy diaper, the lighter loaded models were able to hold on for those few crucial seconds more. Big launches became essential & spot landings essential to minimise score damage. We just managed to complete the 3 slot of the 4th round when the marginal lift turned into 100% sink & it started to rain. We waited out almost 30 minutes before it cleared & then snuck in a further 2 slots of round 5. Unfortunately, slot 3 was washed out in the downpoar that started before the end of round 5 slot 2, and as this continued unabated for some time, the assembled pilots decided to call it a day, to prevent water damage to both model & person.

Round by round results are attached below.

Overall results are below - these incredibly close scores do not necessarily reveal just how tough the event was the top half of the field all within 10% of the winning score! Congratulations to "the Crig" for an outstanding result with his F3B Ceres model, pipping Paul (X-Pro/Explorer) , and Alan in 3rd (Supra/Xpro) in the open class. Special notice for Derek flying his Sagitta 600 into 6th place in Open class! Jason Weber was the first junior home.

Results not shown are Derek Marusich first RES100 & first 2M. Juanita Smith & Johan Geldenhuys were 2nd & 3rd respectfully in both these classes.

The HTL circuit will return after the August F3B World Championships & F3J Team Qualifiers.

Images courtesy of Justin Honaker, scoring by F3JScore

Fly Safely.