Journey to Zurich

Journey to Zurich

Follow our team's progress in preparation for Zurich!  We will try to keep you up-to-date - and appreciate your thoughts and support!

Friday, 28 August 2015 06:53

Judges Retrospective

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Now that a week or so has passed since the end of the Swiss F3A World Championships I will have a go at putting down my thoughts.

This was my first stint as a judge although I have been to three previous World Champs as a spectator or team manager. No doubt this was the best run most professional event I have seen and with the digital scoring David Gibbs has mentioned previously, the most involving for the public. All I can say for the Swiss organizing committee headed up by Bernhard Schaden and Peter Germann is; fantastic event, fantastic organization, fantastic friendliness, and fantastic forethought and courage to introduce the technology and have it operate virtually perfectly for the whole event.

Matching the Swiss event will be very tough for whoever accepts the challenge of 2017 and there have been no offers as yet.

Like most followers of F3A I had my thoughts on judging at international events. From hindsight and with relatively poor information I thought the judging was too biased towards the known top fliers and too tough on everyone else. I didn't think this was necessarily conscious bias, more just the way things were.

Now that I have had my chance to look closely at the complete spectrum of fliers I am strongly of the opinion that the result was largely correct although it is always possible to argue a place or two. As well as great skill the top pilots exhibit a confidence that was not evident past about the top 25. I'm sure that most of the 100 competitors flew better at home where they felt confident and comfortable in their surroundings. This observation also applies to our team. I have seen all three of them fly very much better than they did in front of me at Dubendorf.  At home they looked like they were in charge of the situation but I did not think so at Dubendorf.

I tried really hard to give the same score for the same manouevre without regard for who was flying but in the end it is the sum of the individual scores in a flight that goes to deciding the order. Particularly with Christophe and Onda, every manouevre scored highly, any mistakes were very small. The big fast style is not my favorite but style has a small impact relative to pure geometry.

By the time of the finals the talent is very evident. There appears to be no lack of confidence, they just do their best and the results will take care of themselves.

When there are 100 plus competitors the "middle 50" (25 to 75) is a tough gig with very few points making a very big difference. 40 normalised points separated Bill from 30th place and a chance in the semi final. With the severity of judging, 40 points was not much more than a couple of wing wobbles.

I must commend very highly what David Gibbs has done with our team. He has introduced method, discipline and analysis to what in the past has largely been an individual undertaking. This was helped by the fact that this team was all from Victoria. I must say though, I don't think just practicing more will help make the leap necessary. I think that if our teams are ever to have real success they will need to join the European circuit like Russell Edwards has done so that they will know what their capacity actually is. By definition our team is, or is very close to, the best in Australia but they need to compete against a larger skill pool. This is tough and probably too tough for most who aspire to F3A World Champs glory. A larger pool of top F3A pilots in Australia would help immensely.

Before I close a few words on models. Contra or no Contra that is the big question. At these championships it seemed to me that the contra flyers that did well flew their models essentially flat out, there were very few models flown in the slow, constant speed way. The three blade propellors that have been popular for the last 6 - 9 months seem to give most of the advantages of contra and none of the disadvantages. In the F schedule and the unknowns the contra flyers particularly were worried about running down the clock. All made it but there was some close shaves.

There were still a few four strokes but apart from Christophe, Onda and Brett Wickizer I didn't notice them. I think they gave Christophe and Onda a small advantage, I don't think it helped or hindered anyone else. All the models seemed to fly pretty well although there was quite a bit of tail down. The monoplanes impressed me with their ability to do the knife edge vertical turns required in F and unknowns. The definite surprise of the championship in my view was Joseph Szczur the U.S. Junior who flew a standard Pegasus with a contra. Joseph flew this model into 12th place and he and it flew beautifully. Who needs a Biplane or a big canalizer?

Tom Bloodworth

Sunday, 23 August 2015 00:34

Home Again

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The World Championships are over for 2015 and we all made it home safely.  One misplaced bag got delayed 24 hours for Bill, and some damage to GlennO's model box (but not model) seem to have been the only minor casualties.

Some of us got together briefly to draw the second raffle on Thursday evening, but other than that we have been settling back in.

The full team report on the expeience can be found HERE

Friday, 14 August 2015 19:11

A New Journey Starts

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As we await the finals tomorrow, a few reflections on behalf of the team.

Lets start with the key question - our performance.  Our thoughts fall in two buckets. 

On one hand we have done a lot of things right and can see the potential for Australia to be a top 10 contender as a country, and to have pilots in the top 30.  Two of Bill's flights were right up there, and a third of that calibre would have delivered a semi-final berth. While not packaged quite as well on the day, both Dennis and Glenn also put in strong performances with large sections competitve with this highly talented field - but the minor deviations were heavily penalised given the quality the judges were used to seeing, and anything less than stellar opening manouevres seemed to frame an expectation for the whole flight that was hard to shake.  As an example, Dennis's end stall turn in his last flight was a slight wingover that would have been downgraded mildly in Australia, was a unanimous zero here.  Overall our decisions on size, speed, models and powertrains, and what we practiced over the past 7 months were on target - and we are encouraged by that.

On the other hand we are disappointed.  We simply didn't turn our potential into demonstrated performance on the flight line on the day, and didn't meet our aspirations.  No excuses here - we fell short, didn't deliver, and didn't get the reward we wanted from our efforts (or for our supporters).  And we have had a good go at drowning these feelings!

Moving on from that, I would have to say that the 'team' - Bill, Dennis, Glenn, Russell, Norm and I - that have been working together to shape our program since January feel we are on the right trajectory.  We are aware our shared Victorian base has made this easier, and indiviudal initiatives have broadened our experience base - including Glenn's US Nats trip last year, and Russell's Eurpoean sortie.  We wouldn't change our early forensic work on the schedule (thank you all for your help!), or our foray into some of the mental toughness thinking, or simulated competition pressure.  But they weren't enough to deliver a consistent performance this time around.

While it is impossible to pin-point any single factor, the common theme in our discussions so far has been that we simply didn't adapt to the conditions fast enough, and it kept catching us out. Some of this we can track back to root cause and address through modifications to our preparation and use of acclimatisation time here, other parts we are still debating.  We also look forward to closing the loop with Tom Bloodworth once his official judging duties are over.

So while it is still a bit raw, let us reassure you there is 'team' of seven who have an appetite to push through to a set of tangible take-outs and initiatives from our experience that should form the foundations for future campaigns.  These fall across a multitude of areas and I am sure will take us a few weeks to get into a coherent format - with thoughts ranging from how we judge in Australia, foundation skill development, through to innovations on a number of fronts.

Once we do have a coherent version, we look forward to sharing our thinking through the various forums available so we can capture and build on the momentum we have, advance our ideas and engage the broader F3A community around them, and continue on the development path we have started for future teams.

As a sidebar, from our many discussions with our colleagues from across the world, we should be encouraged that the systems we have in place in advanced in discussions on options and should be in a position to run a pilot competition over the next 2 to 3 months.

Thank you all for your support and see you all soon.




Monday, 10 August 2015 19:57

Models Seen

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Here is a first pass gallery of some of the models seen.  Given the two flight lines and staggered flight times there is no systematic way of doing this!

Will try to get some of the teams observations on models and flying styles once the preliminaries are over.


Monday, 10 August 2015 19:32

Day 10 - Round 2 Flights

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A tough day at the office - overall results a mix of nerves and failure to adapt rapidly to conditions (sun in box, wind).

Tomorrow we have Bill up first at 9:35, then Glenn just after 2:00, and Dennis last up at 6:15.  So an early night tonight ahead of a long day.

Sunday, 09 August 2015 20:11

Day 9 - Norm's View

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A helper’s view of F3A 2015 World Championships.

This is my first time at an overseas World Championship, and I give my feedback after one week of practice and the first official flight day.

If a score was posted for teamwork, then we would certainly be at the top.  David has excelled in his duty as team manager, and the hotel he selected is top-class. Plus his koala give-aways have been very popular. The teamwork was very evident all this year as we prepared for this event, and it even ramped-up further during the week of practice.

Russell had really set us up with a fantastic practice facility for the team, by making friends with local pilots during his 2 months of competing in European events. We were privileged to be invited to Modellfluggruppe Zürich, located 25 mins from our hotel. A large generator was supplied for charging many batteries, a coffee machine, a BBQ, and the all-day shade from the forest canopy (which was only 15m from the runway) made this an extremely pleasant club to visit. We stayed in the shade every day as the temperature was above 30 C. The club members were extremely friendly, and Russell’s friend Georg (oldest Swiss F3A pilot) and Heinz were fantastic, and we all became good friends. Wasps and large mosquitos were the only problem, but Heinz kept the wasps at bay with his wasp traps filled with his special brew. These traps were full by the end of each day, and needed to be emptied and refilled.

Only 4 other teams (South Africa, Israel, Taiwan and Colombia) used this field as well, but we mostly had the field to ourselves.

Official opening was a special moment I will remember. We were the first to lead the teams off, walking behind our national flag, out toward the public and returning back to form a V of all teams facing the public. A terrific airshow followed, mixing models with full sized aircraft. This is the 50th year since the first World Championships were held in 1965 for F3A, and these were at the same location: Dübendorf airfield, Switzerland.

Today’s official flight 1 saw the introduction of live scoring on a large screen on flight line 1. The scores could then be viewed on the internet, with actual judge’s scores given for each manoeuvre with judge ID. All 3 pilots flew on flight line 1, under varying conditions, and I was extremely proud of their performance. I give them my sincere best wishes for their remaining flights.

We now realise why obesity is not a problem in Switzerland: The cost of food is extremely high.

Norm Morrish

Sunday, 09 August 2015 18:50

Day 9 - First Preliminary Flights

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A good start for Australia - with scope to improve over the coming days.  Team spirit and morale is good.  With the different panels it is hard to make and true comparisons of where anyone stands after day 1.  The roughly inidcative ranking with no adjustment across lines has Bill around 15, and Glenn and Dennis at 60 and 63.  All pilots learnt from the experience today and have specific areas they will focus on tomorrow to improve their performances.  Flying conditions were similar for all (despite what I wrote on Facebook for Bill!) - the sky was a little overcast (a relief after the past few days), and winds low down (around normal baseline) were around 10-15kph but wiith a lot of chopiness off the grandstand; while higher they felt mre like a 25kph blow out.

Tomorrow will add another dimension to the experience with Dennis and Glenn flying in the morning while the sun is firmly in the box and a sunshield may be needed - and not just on the edge as a blinker, but in the flight path.  Neither the judges or the early pilots were very happy about it this morning.

As many of you will have noticed, the organisaing team have taken on a bold integration around the scoring system - with everything from real time adjustment to the pilot order and schedulee, tablet based data entry, real time display of scores by manoeuvre during flight, and almost instant posting of a pilots scores - including the judge!  And while they cannot run TBL yet, they are dropping the highest and lowest scores per manoeuvre to create their indicative reanking.  Despite a few minor teething problems it is pretty impressive.  For those who haven't seen it you can find it HERE.

Saturday, 08 August 2015 20:53

Day 8 - Bill's View

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Well things are about to heat up here at the world champs, today was official practice and everything went smoothly, so only the main dance remains. After a week of practice in great conditions, and with plenty of feedback the team is well prepared. That said the flying standard of P looks to be very high so small things are going to make a difference.

One of the surprises for me so far has been the distance that the top pilots are flying. Most appear to be around the 160-170 mark and flying quite quickly. There is a huge number of contra aircraft but most of them are being used in a conventional manner out at similar distance.

Both flight lines have the sun inside the box in the morning session. It starts at about 30 degrees off centre when flying commences at 8am and exits the box around 11am. This will be quite a challenge particularly for the first 10 flights in the morning.

The Aussie teams draw looks to be reasonable and we will only have to deal with the sun on one flight each. The facilities at the site are first class and its obvious the organisers have put a great deal of thought and effort into hosting the event. This was evident in the well planned opening ceremony and excellent air show that that included amazing full size and RC aircraft.

Saturday, 08 August 2015 20:47

Day 8 - Opening Ceremony

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Folowing processing and practice we moved on to the opening ceremony.  Some speeches from the organisers, a few bits of entertainment, and a parade of all the countries / entrants.  It was followed by an air show we might wrire about later - absolutely excellent!  They have made a big deal of this event in Switzerland so we would estimte they had around 5,000 people in attendance.  We will let the pictures fo te talking.

Saturday, 08 August 2015 20:41

Day 8 - Processing and Practice

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Day 8 started with our model processing at 10:35 and official practice flights at 11:25 on Line 2 (the one away from the main stadium).  Model processing was a very streamlined process and all 4 models were through in 15 minutes or so - and they were running early.  We registered Russell's MythoS and Bill's B Model just in case any of the pilots had a need for it, which we sincerely hope they don't.  Processing covers model labelling (including AUS numbers in greater than 25mm text), weighing and measuring, voltage check and noise check.  All passed cleanly.

Then it was off to Line 2 for our practice flights - also running early and went without any hitches.  Then time for a picture of the processed and practiced team.

Friday, 07 August 2015 21:23

Day 7 - The Draw

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Tis was our last formal practice opportunity - so we headed to the forrest again.  As many teams had model processing and official practice today we had the field almost to ourselves.  Chester Shlomi was with us for the first hour of so and then off.  Today we were practicing under simulated competition conditions, with ready and Start boxes, timer etc. so we could get used to it - including the callers / helpers.  And we learnt quite a bit to add to our checklists (including removal of mobile phones).

Just after lunch Bill, Dennis and David headed back to town to catch up on a few things and head off to the field to watch the USA Team's official practice - which led into the team Manager's meeting, and tehn teh draw and hand out of bibs and goodie bags.  There was a quite a bit of relaxed time through here so we got to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones.

One innovation this year is the electronic scoring system - which they are very proud of.  Seems to be well written and handles everything ffrom teh draw through to real time posting of results.  And it is all public - so you can find it on the World Championship web site here

Our draw is pretty good - all on the same line and only one morning (where the sun, if shining, will be right in the box). 

But before that we have model processing tomorrow, followed by official practice flights - and then the opening ceremony (flag ceremony) and air show.  This is a big public event they hope to get lots of the public to!

Thursday, 06 August 2015 18:17

Days 5 and 6 - Focus and Friendships

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Despite best attempts by all there is flying and eating to be done.  The pilots and helpers are both all working on some thoughts from their perspectives - but at 8:20pm they are still at the field and still to find their way back for (or via) dinner.  I escaped early to ensure we were on top of our schedule for the next few days - and now have a few minutes to update on what has been happening.

Yesterday we went back to our field in the forrest: Modelfuggruppe Zurich.  After a couple more 'forensic'' flights we moved to the next phase of preparation with each of the team members tailoring their program and flying to what is most important for them across the final flights.  Interestingly, they are also finding the simple presence of other teams a direct source of pressure when flying.  We flew lots of P Schedules, a few F Schedules, and focus on some specific manouevres that needed polish.  Dennis and Glenn also did some breaking in of new batteries, and Russell even put in a few flights (while we went into town for lunch). If there was an overall theme it is flying in very 'thin' air with little lift and / or traction for throttle and brake - as that is what we are finding.  More from the team on this later hopefully.  We got in 6-7 flights each, and sharing the field with the South African's, Schlomi Chester from Israel, and Taipei team.

We took a couple of hours out at lunch time to head into a nearby town to solve the SIM card problem - partly as GlennO struggles without continuous access, and partly as it is mandatory we can all get hold of each other when we get to the World Championship site and are spread across flight lines.  But unfortunately there is no short cut on process with Swisscom so that part alone chewed up an hour - and then there was eating!  I think we can now write the official guide book on getting a visitors SIM in Switzerland and teh many tricks and traps for the wary.  And when we returned teh local press had turned up and spent a while interviewing some of us and taking some shots for a spread in the local paper.  It was published today and our host, Heinz, is getting us a copy.

Across the week Heinz and Norm Morrish have struck up quite a relationship, and Heinz has educated Norm (and the rest of us) on all sorts of local habits, best sources of food etc.  So yesterday was special - first with Heinz's wife Martha bringing us lovely cakes for morning tea, and then Norm and Heinz sourcing the best Bratwurst in the area for our dinner (building on the taste we got for it at the pub back on our first night).  Tom and Jacquie Bloodworth had also arrived the day before so we invited them out to join us.  The pictures tell the story.  Scrumptious.

The evening closed with a brief team meeting - mainly discussing and refining the piece of work Russell has been helping us with on clearly setting out caller / helper responsibilities to fit with recent rule changes and make sure we minimise risk of any errors.

Today we really wanted to try another field - just to fly one of two flights ' first-up', under competition conditions, in an unfamilar environment.  So we headed off to a field 50kms south east of our hotel where the Canadians have been practicing.  It is in the foothills of the Alps - pictures speak for themselves.  It is more east-west than north-south (30 - 12 for the pilots as you can see on the piano keys) so OK for morning flying, but for afternoon the pilot needs to fly perpendicular to the strip. The strip would also be quite challenging in many winds as it is quite small, and rolling from tarmac to grass isn't really an option if you like your wheel pants.  For the first round of flights we had the wind down the strip, and virtually no wind for the second round.  One of the biggest challenges on the first flights was finding a baseline against the mountainous back drop.  Chad also noted it was daunting flying the triangle in F-Schedule towards the mountain - as even though you know you are miles away, your brain still thinks the model is going to hit it.

It was great to meet / catch up with all the Canadian team (Chad and Agnes, Dave and Kelly,  Ethan and Colin, Michi and Will) and we rapidly covered a wide range of subjects! 

Flying at this field has to stop bewteen 11:30 and 1:30 - so we opted to move on as it was getting a bit warm, and the Hungarian team had also turned up.  Bill, Dennis, Glenn and Russell headed off to the forrest, while Norm and I headed to the competition venue for registration.

Registration went to plan - we handed over the team's FAI licences, the flag and national anthem, and met a few of the names we have seen on emails over the past months.  We also got a chance to take a first look at the two competition flight lines and the horizon. The horizon looks good - and we look forward to confirmation of our understanding of how the revised rules around the Ready and Start box work, now noise checks are part of model processing.  And based on the Christian Eagle we saw taxiing around the air show on Saturday could be good.  Team managers meeting and pilot / flight draw is tomorrow evening.

Back in the forrest the guys had returned to find the South African's, along with Wolfgang Matt giving them a few pointers.  His flying was keenly watched. 

We have been confident for a while that the final phase of preparation had the potential to add a further few points to our scores - and the more we do the more little (a slightly bigger) opportunities we find.  Hence another long day exploring opportunities. 

One more practice day tomorrow before model processing and official practice flights on Saturday. 


Thursday, 06 August 2015 17:35

Day 4 - The Interuptions

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One thing we are learning about Zurich is the weather is almost as changeable asMelbourne - and the weather forecasts (at least the ones we have found) are all contradictory.  So when faced with the heavy winds we didn't go home, instead we went on two little tours in hope the wind would subside.

The first was over the hill near the flying field, and back down into the town of Eglisau that we drive through every morning on our way to 'work' at the Modelfluggruppe Zurich flying field.  We had admired it from the river crossing, but not gone into it.  We haven't amalgamated photos yet, so this gallery may grow, but here is a start.

We went back to field after lunch to find the wind still blowing.  Our never tiring host, Heinz Polster, then offered to take us to the Rhine Falls - not quite Niagara Falls, but still very impressive to walk around.   Here are some starting shots of what we saw.

Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:58

Day 4 - Interupted Practice

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Our plan today was to move from lots of familisarisation flying, to fewer flights with 'forensic' feedback as we did back in the early stages of practice.  We succeeded with 6 flights each (3 under forensic conditions) - but the path wasn't quite as planned.

We started driving to a different field for variety.  Unfortunately not quite as expected witha difficult horizon and a bit cramped.  So we drove back to the field we have been at for the last 3 days - arriving around 9ish.  After set up we got in one flight each under competition conditions before the wind became a little cyclonic and landing a little hairy.  The forecasts varied from calming conditions to impending thunderstorms - so we opted for a break with the aim of returning later.  We left the firsl for teh South African's who had just arrived - but we understand they didn't fly.  The Canadians had headed for a different field for the day.  The farmer who owns the property allowed us to store our models in his shed - and we embarked on a short trip around the local area to explore a couple of villages and the mighty Rhine.  Simply gorgeous (pictures will be in a separate blog post). 

We returned to the field after lunch and again decided it was too hairy so we went on another adventure, this time to the Rhine Falls - not quite Niagra Falls, but still quite special (pictures later).  When we got back to the field at 4 the conditions had indeed settled, and we flew through to around 7pm in excellent conditions.  And teh good news is all pilots have their mojo, are feeling good, and the feedback sessions today were very useful.  Feedback will continue tomorrow, and then focus shifts to final preparation ahead of formal practice flights on Saturday, and competition start on Sunday.

Late in the afternoon we were also exposed to an awesome exhibition of glider towing with a 1/3rd scale Swiss Trainer powered by a 4 cylnder ZDZ engine.

Monday, 03 August 2015 21:16

Day 3 - More Practice

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Our second practice day - another 8 flights for Dennis and Bill, and 6 for GlennO.  Great preparation - and only a 3 wasp sting day (even with all the wasp baits in the trees). 

We planned for practice at 2 sites today - but a combination of great conditions, some new company, and a little team attention required around GlennO's ESC set up meant we stayed at the same field all day.  A couple of photos today that show the scale of the forest relative to the actual flying site, and the awesome shade it provided as the temparature runs into the low 30's.  

As the day progressed we had added company.  First was Sergio from Colombia, and then Frederico (hi Fernando!).  And mid afternoon the familiar faces of Chad and Agnes Northeast turned up (and stayed, despite various attempts to persuade Agnes she wouldn't like the local wild life), along with Ethan and his dad Colin.  It was great to renew acquaintances.  And out of the 8 planes at the end of the day there were 5 Acuracy's - 3 biplanes and 2 mono planes.

We now have mobile internet so can do mid-day field updates on Facebook.  And despite trying to shift the focus to flying - the eating bias excelled at dinner with the steaks served on hot stones that allowed cooking to each of our liking.

Sunday, 02 August 2015 19:00

Day 2 - Practice Starts

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Today was first practice day - and judged a suucess with each pilot putting in 8 flights.

We started today with another positive for the hotel - a great breakfast spread.  Then packing the planes in the van and off to the field.  We don't have mobile internet yet, and our 'planned' route from hotel to the site wasn't quite right, so we did a lap of the airport and some other suburbs before getting on track.

Arriving at the practice site we were greeted by the very welcoming locals and a delightful area in the lea of a forrest.  Not a huge strip, and could be challenging in some winds - but today it was down the strip from the right.  Heinz, our host, gave us a full briefing on the facilities (note 10kva generator and coffee machine), and the local wild life.  And Norm is planning adinner on the bbq later this week.  In Australia we might have spiders and snakes - here we have ticks, wasps, and tiger mosquitos.  We aren't aware of any ticks getting hold yet, but did have two wasp stings that made us a bit nervous - so your call as to whether the picture is Norm winding GlennO up or chasing bugs (GlennO was wary after a wasp sting on the neck).

On the practice side the pilots just wanted to be in the air getting familiar with the conditions.  The extra warmth (25 degrees here today) suited the batteries and gave more oomph, while the aire itself was pretty bumpy.  We flew pretty much continuously from 11am to 5pm with a break for lunch before returning to our Hotel.  A quick meal at a local Chinese restaurant, and a Gelato capped the day before all started falling asleep around 9:00pm.

Tomorrow's plan is to start flying around 8 (and maybe try the sun shield if needed), and possibly explore a different field in the afternoon.

Saturday, 01 August 2015 15:15

Day 1 - A380's all the Way

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7 months of practice and preparation down, and we are on our way - and so far so good.  28 hours after leaving Melbourne we are safely settled into our hotel in Zurich, with models in tact.

GlennO started a bit earlier with his flight from Mildura to Melbourne - and we all met up Friday evening at Melbourne airport to start our journey.  No issues with model box weights - while Bill and Dennis were both over on their airline weight allowances, Emirates happily transferred their excess to other members of group who hadn't used all theirs - very useful.  Our only few minutes of nervousness were customs pulling us up on Lipo batteries and not quite being aligned with our Qantas exemption letter - we understood we were not limited on number of batteries under 100wh (that is how the exemption is worded - and 5S, 5,000mah are around 95wh), but customs weren't happy with that we had to rearrange batteries and spread what the pilots had across Norm and David to come close to the 2 packs per person rule for larger than 100wh. We made it through complete in the end.

GlennO then had to plead on bended knee to the lounge staff to fix a seat allocation error that put him in the middle of a middle row, and the scored the first quotable quote of the trip from the lady who kindly took the photo of us in the lounge - 'That is nice long stick you have [GlennO]', referring of course to his selfie stick.  The A380 to Dubai was good, if not long at 14 hours - with Glenn and Dennis loving the inflight WiFi as you can see on Facebook, while others preferred sleeping.  We had three hours in Dubai - taking a shower and enjoying airline lounge food as it should be - only debating whether Dennis did 2,000 or 3,000 calories in the time.  Dubai to Zurich was another 6 hours, again on an A380.

And to our relief - as we came out of customs to baggage claim there were the three model boxes 99% in tact - one small dint in Bill's, but no damage to the model.  Russell was waiting for us!  Construction works at the airport meant it took us 30 minutes to track down the van delivery man - but we now have a Renault van that easliy fits the three models, and a left hand drive manual Golf that is an unfamiliar experience. 

The hotel was only five minutes drive from the airport, and our rooms rapidly got transformed into model assembly workshops.  So we were all sorted by 6pm and headed of for our first dinner in Switzerland at a great pub just around the corner from the hotel.  It didn't take long for Dennis to take an interest in the grill!  We were joined by Jess, Russell's daughter, who is currently visiting him. 

Today is Switzerland's National Day - celebrating the foundation of Swiss Confederacy - so we have been greeted with Church Bells and Fireworks.

So off to sleep now - ready for breakfast at 8am and target arrival at our practice filed at 10am.  We aren't wired with mobile internet yet so updates probably not until tomorrow evening our time.



Saturday, 25 July 2015 06:59

Final Touches

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This time next week we will be well on our way to Zurich.  A lot of practice, a few set-backs, and now final preparations before we head off.  We have the Australian flag, and we have just about worked out who is taking what batteries, chargers, power supplies, souveniers etc. (clearer after last nights planning dinner!)

A big thank you to all of those who have contributed to our team preparation - whether through use of their field (especially P&DARCs), spending time on the 'forensic' judging line, or helping us financially.  And thank you to GlennO for a great job on uniforms.  We would like to think we are as well prepared as we can be (our pilots have certainly put in a big effort) and will be competitive - but the proof will be in the results.

Our schedule looks like roughly like this:

  • Arrive in Zurich on Saturday, August 1 - and are looking forward to catching up with our advance party in Russell Edwards
  • Six days for finding our feet, recovering from jet lag, practice, practice and more practice (and a little official stuff)
  • Our official practice time is near the end of the allocated times at 10:10 on Saturday the 8th, immediately before our model processing / registration, then the opening ceremony, air show and welcome drinks.  The airbase where the event is being held was the site of the very first F3A Wolrd Championships in 1960 - so we expect a trip down memory lane!
  • Then the four rounds of preliminary flights are across Sunday the 9th through to Wednesday the 12th, before a rest / reserve day
  • Semi-finals are on the 14th, and finals on Saturday the 15th.

It is not too late to buy raffle tickets!

The official event site is F3A World Championshipe 2015 and we will keep you up-to-date here and on Facebook: Talking F3A Australia.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015 11:33

25 Weeks Down – 6 To Go

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How time flies! Back in January we started planning and, more importantly, practicing for the World Championships in Zurich in early August. And what a journey it has been.

The first phase, taking us to the Master’s in Pittown, was loosely referred to as Big Data meets Forensic analysis. The big data part referred to taking our various approaches to tracking our competition results and pulling them together into a ‘heat map’ format that clearly highlighted the biggest opportunities to improve, and our trends over time. Quite revealing – and really put focus into our early efforts. The forensic part was our intense, Arresti based, review and feedback sessions many of you may have seen (groups of 4 to 6 of us observing flights and reviewing with the pilots) – using all the tools available to us to critique and refine our geometry, centring, base and top lines and many other things. Only the final result will really tell, but we have seen distinct improvements in all the team’s performance.

The second phase moved more towards simulating the environment of the World Championships and our ability to perform under pressure. There has been much talk about this over the years, so we thought it worth some concerted effort to see what we could learn and improve. You might have heard us joking about pink marker pens and other anecdotes – but overall we found some very relevant inputs around ‘mental toughness’ to work with. It is fair to say that different things help each of the team – some found specific exercises and preparation valuable, others pre-flight routines, and all the most flights possible under scrutiny of multiple judges or observers. One of the most visible gains here is clear in the team’s scores – the ability to perform on the first competition flight of the day (as we only get one a day at the World Champs).

And with these foundations in place, we have also been working on simply being relaxed and having fun at competitions, getting comfortable calling for each other, and letting the skills we have practiced shine through.

We all recognise this has only been possible with real commitment from the team – including to get to all possible competitions, and multiple trips by GlennO from Mildura to Melbourne (and Bendigo). It also hasn’t been without its set-backs – from Bill’s new biplane disintegrating in flight a week before the Masters, through GlennO’s undercarriage failure and minor car bingle, and Dennis being attacked by flying ants.

And there have been some quieter but equally valuable contributions to this journey. First has to be Norm Morrish and the team at P&DARCs. Norm for his dedicated efforts with GlennO – at P&DARCs (even sharing a caravan), and in Mildura; and P&DARCs for welcoming the team and actively supporting their practice sessions. And then there is Russell, our man on the ground in Europe, having fun and providing us some interesting observations on models and flying. So with 6 weeks to go we are excited – and will continue the commitment through to our preliminary flights on August 9th – 12th.

Watch this space for more updates.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 03:10

Quality is a habit . . . .

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My journey started in precision aerobatics / F3A about 8 years ago, in the sportsman class. In the last 12-18 months things have really gelled, finally achieving masters, and solid, consistent results are frequent. But we can always improve….

Internationally, Switzerland is my third F3A contest and my absolute focus is to better my results from the 2013 WC (South Africa) and 2014 AOC (Thailand) –in ranking and flight performance. I hope to finish well, and further that in ongoing international competition. I almost made the semi-finals at AOC (only missed by a few places); so getting to the semis is one objective.

“How do I move forward?” – I ask myself every day; most do. Competing against yourself is hard enough; and local competition right on your heels or just a step ahead, only increases challenge and pressure. Practice, assess, plan, execute, do it all again, and again, and don’t stop. Vary the locations and conditions, and add focused pressure by being judged and coached.

Motivation, commitment, process, and a goal is how I plan to “move forward”. Analyse every result and identify my missing elements of the complex F3A paradigm. And with much appreciated guidance from my ace caller, the rest of our team, and coaches…..fingers crossed.

In January a huge team training effort commenced and will progress until four, 8 minute windows in August will define how effective it’s been. Hopefully we’ll all be smiling………

I’m honoured to be on the team and driven to constantly improve – my target is clear. Thanks for dropping by and your support . .

It’s been 8 years since I attended the world championships, my last was Argentina in 2007 where Quique took outright honours but only won a single round, gives you some idea of how these things go down to the wire! If I’m correct it was the first time a Biplane was flown to win the event, and the first time a contra powered model was used. Since then the bipes have become mainstream and the dominance of YS has eroded to point where we see a wide range of power systems including glow, electric and contra options.

After attending my first world championship in 2003 and narrowly missing the semi-finals I was determined to make the semi finals cut. Unfortunately for me the 2005 world championships were a disaster and I missed the semi finals by about 20 normalised points. After 6 years of what seemed like endless practice in the freezing Melbourne winter I finally managed to make the semi finals in 2007.

In reflection the difference between my performances at each of these events was about 20 normalised points. This translated to around 8 places in the rankings between my best and worst world championship results. When you break that down further, 20 normalised points spread across 3 flights is equivalent to about a 1 point downgrade on a K4 manoeuvre in each flight. Had I been good enough to score an extra 50 normalised points across 3 flights or about 2 raw points on each flight I would have finished in the early 20’s.

Friday, 20 March 2015 09:44

Road to Zurich through GlennO’s eyes

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For me it’s all about redemption.The past two WC have rendered disappointing results for me personally, so I’m determined to give myself every opportunity to achieve a result that is A- achievable and B - rewarding.

It started with a new model. After spending time in the US and Canada with Chad Northeast, I soon realized that the Acuracy bi-plane was the plane to have. Not only is it a great P model but for flying F it just does all the knife-edge segments so much easier than a mono. So upon returning back home, I ordered the Acuracy and with the help and input from Chad, I had it flying really well very quickly.

The team made the decision early on to keep flying F at all the local competitions although P is our primary focus if we are to progress at the World Champs. David Gibbs, our Team Manager, has put together some great initiatives to prepare us over the coming months, which includes regular practice sessions in Melbourne in front of a panel of three to five F3A pilots who critique our flights using an arresti drawing to make notes, then do a personal debrief following our flights.. This has been particularly helpful for the team and I believe we have all benefited from the input which is designed to refine our somewhat weaker manoeuvres and find a method of improving on them.