You have read the plan. Follow Russell's sortie as it unfolds here!
When I first booked my trip, there was to be 2 World Cup competitions between San Marino and before the World Championships. But these 2 competitions were cancelled or rescheduled, leaving me 2 weekends without competitions.
A local pilot, Peter Albert, told me of a competition north of Frankfurt, on the first of these weekends, which I decided to attend.
It was additionally interesting because this competition was run by a different organisation, and was run differently to the previous competitions I had attended.
In Germany, there are 2 model flying organisations. The Deutscher Aero Club (DAEC) which is affiliated with the FAI, and the Deutscher Modellflieger Verband (DMFV) which is not. DAEC has about 25,000 members, and DMFV has about 100,000. But only members of DAEC can compete at the FAI events like the European Championships and World Championships.
The competition was scheduled for 1 round of P15, 1 Unknown round, then 1 round of P15. For the finals, the top 5 pilots would fly F15. The Unknown round was particularly interesting for me, as I had never flown an Unknown schedule before. The schedule was chosen so as to be not too difficult and the schedule had only 11 manoeuvres. I was told the main thing was not to zero a manoeuvre, which is easy to do when you’re unfamiliar with the schedule. Fortunately, I didn’t zero a manoeuvre.
But on the Sunday, unfortunately the weather turned bad, and prevented the 3rd round (P15) and the final round (F15) from being able to be flown.
Additionally, unlike other competitions I had been to, there were pilots in other classes, and pilots judging other pilots.
Again, there were a lot of people staying at the field, and meals were available at the field, which provided an active social evening after flying.
The winners of the Sportsclass (equalivent to Australian Expert)
The winners (L-R): Nils Brückner, Henning Wessels, Andre Bracht
Distance travelled: 9,700kms
Van Breakages: 10
The San Marino comp was held at a field atop a hill, looking over the magnificent Mediterranean countryside and the Adriatic Sea. Additionally, behind the field was another magnificent view of the Città di San Marino and it’s ancient fortifications.
The model flying field was also part of a full-size flying field, so there were occasional take-offs and landings of full-sized craft.
The weather was perfect for flying: Warm (a bit hot) with only light winds.
The comp had 24 pilots who flew 3 rounds of P15, following by the top 6 who flew F15. Once again, the flying standard was exceptionally high. During the mornings, sunshields were required.
I also had my first look at the new Prometheus model. Both mono and bi-plane. Looks very interesting, and flys very well.
Saturday night was a very enjoyable gala dinner.
The winners (L-R): Marco Mazzucchelli, Sebastiano Silvestri & Hannes Schenk
Following the comp, there was a brief general flying display with some very interesting models.
Distance travelled: 7,900kms
Van Breakages: 10
I had been told that Liechtenstein was “F3A Heaven”, and it certainly lived up to this reputation. Nestled amid the magnificent Swiss Alps, with majestic views in all directions, and adjacent to the Rhine, this club has it all. Superb facilities and superb hospitality, it was little wonder that the limited pilot positions for this completion filled very quickly, and had a waiting list.
Arthur and I arrived late Monday evening, and through to Friday, had perfect flying conditions and some fantastic practice sessions with the very talented local flyers. Many thanks to Wolfgang Matt, Stefan Kaiser and Lukas Schaltegger, plus Lassi Nurila (Finland).
Wolfgang Matt flying at Liechtenstein
The competition started early Saturday morning about 8am, and I was asked to fly the calibration flight. 47 pilots competed in the competition. Once again, the weather was perfect (although rather hot). Most pilots had 2 flights, with the remainder of the 2nd round to be finished Sunday. Saturday night, the club put on an excellent meal, and it was another wonderful evening.
Sunday saw the completion of the second round, plus the top 25 pilots flew a 3rd round of the F schedule.
After the comp was over, those remaining stayed for very fun social evening. The temperature had been about 30 Celsius all week, and Sunday was about 35 Celsius, so a few of us decided to cool off in the Rhine, which was wonderfully refreshing!
Swimming in the Rhine
Wolfgang Matt & Russ
Video of Liechtenstein
Distance travelled: 7,100kms
Van Breakages: 10
This competition was held at the Deelan Airforce base, which meant that access before the comp was a bit limited. Arthur and I were kindly invited to the Oss field, about 30kms from Deelan, where we spent a few terrific days training with Roy Oostema and Richard van Wÿk – many thanks to both these gentlemen.
Oss Training (L-R). Front: Johan Zegers, Russell Edwards, Richard van Wÿk. Back: Roy Oostema, Arthur Silsby
Sam Bimbergen arriving at the Oss field with his 125 Size MythoS (baby brother of mine).
We also met a lot of other wonderful people at Oss, and because there was to be a warbirds fly-in on the weekend, we saw some superb models.
P-61_Black_Widow (Jan Hermkens)
My home city of Melbourne is known for it’s changeable weather, and Deelan showed it could do the same. Overall we had excellent weather, but it was also sunny (including in the box, without a sun shield), cloudy, calm, very windy and light rain while flying continued.
The format was similar to other World Cup events: 3 rounds of P15 for all pilots, followed by 2 rounds of F15 for the top ten. The standard was extremely high, and it was great to watch so many very skilled pilots across different flying conditions.
I also saw the excellent scoring system developed by Winfried de Vries in use which collects scores using tablets and then automatically uploads to the scoring software. Scores are available even before the pilot has landed.
Netherlands pilots & supporters
Richard van Wÿk & Russ
Cor Vrolijk & Russ
Saturday evening we met for dinner. The evening was very special for me thanks to Adrian Mansell (UK) who related to the group a brief history of the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ashes). And then in a mock re-enactment, presented me with a replica of the Ashes cup with the burnt remains of an F3A trophy!
Adrian Mansell & Russ
Distance travelled: 6,300kms
Van Breakages: 7
The fabulous, world-famous, wine-making region of Bordeaux proved to be as beautiful and charming as it’s reputation, and we were very privileged to be invited to fly on a field in the winery owned by the Sartorius family.
The competition was run over 3 days with 5 flights for all pilots. First, 3 rounds of P15 for all pilots. Then the top 10 flew the last 2 rounds as F15, while the rest flew an additional 2 rounds of P15.
After a short delay for low clouds, the competition started about 10am on Friday, and we were treated to perfect, warm days with little wind.
The flight-order board
The competition was exceptionally well run (as they all have been). A nice touch was the flight-order board which made it easy to see how long until your flight. After each pilot completed their last manoeuvre, they moved away from the pilot box, and the next pilot would take off, before the previous pilot would land. This worked very well, and ensured that the competition moved along at a steady pace.
The winners (L-R): Loic Burbaud (FRA), Christophe Paysant Le Roux (FRA), Cedric Carayon (FRA)
Saturday night dinner
Saturday night wine. How good is this???
Our host and CD – Damien Sartorius
Also: Have a look at the photos on the Facebook page of Caliz Aeromodelismo HERE
Distance travelled: 4,900kms
While driving to the Modellflug Schaerding club, I saw place names like München (Munich), Regensberg, Straubing, Passau, Linz and Wien (Vienna) and I remembered very fond memories of a trip I had in this beautiful region 2 years ago, when I cycled with friends from Regensberg to Vienna along the Danube river.
The club is located just south of Passau and the Danube and is surrounded by low rolling hills and beautiful countryside.
Flags – including Australia
It was a 2 day competition with 38 pilots who flew 3 rounds each, followed by the top 20% (8 pilots) who flew 1 round of F15. The field faces south-east which means towards the sun in the morning, which then climbs overhead and hence sun shields must be used. This adds to the challenge and the model often appears as a dark silhouette.
The pilots in the competition include some of the world’s best, so it was a pleasure and an inspiration to watch them fly.
Scoring results are displayed “real time” as scores are entered and rankings calculated.
Once again, I have been very privileged to receive exceptional hospitality from the club and it’s members, but a special thanks to Gerald Schmeidbauer, Georg Carduff, Wolfgang & Yvonne Matt, and the gafahrlich Mann for the pine schnapps.
Lunch – Austrian Style
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
I’ve been lucky to travel to Europe a number of times, and have always loved the history, culture, and found the people to be exceptionally friendly. But language can be difficult. Fortunately, English has become a defacto international language, so it is not usually too difficult to communicate, as has been this case on this trip, where most people speak at least some English, and many exceptionally good English.
Nonetheless, I wanted to be able to communicate better, so 9 months before the trip, I started learning German, which has been a very interesting and rewarding challenge.
Throughout my trip, but especially in Austria, everyone has been very helpful and patient with my fumbling attempts to communicate in German.
Myself and Georg Carduff
Receiving a trophy for “pilot who travelled the furthest”
Schedules in German
Distance travelled: 2,900kms
The 2nd World Cup event I attended was held at Ashford, Kent in the UK. Ashford is south of London and only about an hour’s drive from the Chunnel / Ferry to Europe. This makes it very convenient for European pilots to attend, so the comp had pilots from 9 different countries, including many of the pilots and judges I had met at the previous events.
The Ashford area is lovely, lush and green with low rolling hills, and the comp is held at Woodchurch Airfield with the kind permission of Woodchurch Warbirds and on the property of Mr Robert W Davies, M.B.E., F.R.A.Ee.S. Additionally, Mr Davies treated us to some spectacular full-sized flying displays and aerobatics in his P51 Mustang, and Steerman.
Once again, the comp was exceptionally well-run, and all the people were friendly and hospitable. The comp had 32 pilots who flew 3 rounds of P15, then was split into the top 15 who flew 2 rounds of F15, while the remainder flew a further 2 rounds of P15.
Each day, flying started at 7:30am and finished at 6:30pm. One panel of 5 judges scored all flights.
Weather was spectacularly good, with mostly sunny skies and light winds for the entire comp plus 2 practice days before.
Distance travelled: 1800kms
For some reason, the blog "loses the plot" if I post more than 1 video within an article, so here's the video of Waddinxveen, Netherlands.
The video was taken in the relatively calm conditions (eg: very windy) on the morning of the competition.
Some additional photos from Waddinxveen
The Waddinxveen pilots
Russell & his MythoS
On a weekend that had no World Cup events, I was privileged to be invited to two local events. On Saturday at the GMVC club in Waddinxveen, Netherlands, and Sunday back to Belgium to the Michamps Club in Bastogne.
I also teamed up with Mr Arthur Sivry who hails from the Isle of Man. Each year since 2001, Arthur has travelled World Cup events in his campervan, and since we’re going to many of the same events, and Arthur knows the roads (etc) better, I’m following him.
Arthur & his Citrin
The Netherlands club is a superb club set in the Ringsvaade, which means it is surrounded by dykes, and is actually 10m below sea level. The weather was very windy, which (I’m told) is very common in the very flat countryside of the Netherlands.
Arthur and I were further privileged to receive exceptionally warm and friendly hospitality by the club, but especially by Messers Danny & Jan van Vliet and their families, for which I am very grateful.
Danny & Jan van Vliet training with sightboard
Club President (for 40 years), Mr Henny van Loon also went out of his way to make us very welcome, and asked me to say “hello” to Henry Hutchinson and Aaron Garle. And Ferry Meerkerk deserves a special mention for breakfast, and his humour.
The competition had 12 pilots and was flown as 1 round of P15, 1 of F15, and finishing with 1 round of P15, which is the most common format in Europe for local competitions. The wind was mostly moderate - compared to the prior 2 days.
The field faces towards the south – which is toward the sun in the northern hemisphere – and necessitated the use of a sun shield for some pilots.
The winners (L-R): Roy Oostema (3rd place), Derk van der Vecht (1st place), Danny van Vliet (2nd place)
P15 schedule in Dutch
Following the Saturday competition, Arthur and I then travelled to Bastogne, Belgium to participate in the competition at the Michamps club. This club is located overlooking a beautiful valley, with windmills behind. However, we didn’t fly towards the valley: Due to the sun (which never came out), we turned around and flew behind the club, cars and windmills which were on either side of the field. The windmills were especially worrisome, and take off and landings had to be made well clear of them, but they didn’t present a problem.
If we thought that the Netherlands were windy, Belgium stepped it up a notch, and additionally provided the most turbulent air I’ve flown in! Maybe that was caused by flying between two windmills :)
From behind the judges and pilots
The competition had 14 pilots. 13 flew 3 rounds being P15, F15 then P15, with one pilot being in C class. Europe’s F3A class system is:
A Equal to F3A in Australia
B Equal to Expert in Australia
C Equal to Sportsman in Australia
Distance travelled: 1400kms
My first European comp was in Belgium, in a beautiful and lush area 50km south of Brussels, and next to the border with France. The vibrant green of the landscape was a stark contrast to the predominate browns of the Australian countryside.
The field itself is also very nice with a well maintained runway and good facilities.
The club have a saying: “Competitors in the sky, friends on the ground”, and both were very true. The competition was extremely well run, and the people have been outstandingly friendly and welcoming. In fact, it has been almost overwhelming the sense of hospitality, fun, and camaraderie that the club and people have created here.
With travelling, setup, soldering, battery charging and many pilots wanting practice flights, I managed only 1 practice flight on the Friday before the comp.
Photo of flags flying at the comp, including Australia.
Many models are similar to those seen in Australia. The most interesting model was a self-designed and scratch-build model by Mr Peter Haase (Germany) and includes wing rudders for crow-braking and snaps. The model also has lights at the end of each wing, aiding orientation in poor visibility.
Peter Haase’s model
Weather was perfect for the practice day, and overcast for the start of the comp, with rain halting flying for about an hour late into the first day.
My first flight (recorded as flight 2) scored 379 and was a bit scrappy with both stall turns being quite poor. My second flight was much better, scoring 428. My third flight was also a bit rough scoring 386.
The comp had 47 pilots, including some very well-known names, and was run as one class. 5 judges and pencillers change over every 12 flights. To save time, pilots take-off between the previous pilot’s final manoeuvre and before they land. On the first day, flying began at 7:30am and finished at 9pm.
IC powered models represent about 25% of the models, and contra-electrics about 20%, leaving the remaining 55% as non-contra EP.
All pilots flew 3 rounds of P15, followed by 1 round of F15 for the top 5. Unfortunately CPLR had a dead-stick part-way through his F15 flight.
Most of the pilots are staying on-site, with most in campervans. There are also a large number of partners, engineers and callers accompanying the pilots.
Food on-site has also been exceptional with buffet-style meals. Saturday night dinner (see pic) is a tradition at the Belgium comp, and was a festive evening of fun and camaraderie.
Saturday night dinner
The Belgium club also kindly allowed me to stay after the comp, which I did for 2 days. Originally, my next comp was to be in Ashford (UK) in 2 weeks, but during the Belgium comp, I was invited to participate in 2 one-day comps in the Netherlands and then back to another field in Belgium.
A video of the beautiful Sivry field and surrounding area a couple of mornings after the comp, just before leaving to the Netherlands
Distance travelled: 500kms
Obviously I need a box to transport the model in for the flights over. Aside from the usual considerations of weight and strength, I’m very mindful of the fact that I’m travelling in a campervan with very little room. Unless I can store the box when I arrive and collect it at the end (unlikely and/or expensive), I need to be able to break the box down and store it flat within the campervan (probably under the bed).
At the Pitt Town Masters comp, Ross Craighead (NZ) showed me his model box made of corflute, which has the advantage of being strong yet light, and can be made to any size you need.
The new model, 4 sheets of 2400x1200x5mm corflute and some foam
Designs varied, and space limitations within the campervan dictated maximum lengths. After a couple of small-scale cardboard models, the build began.
Stage 1. With an old TRex 550 boom to provide lateral support through the wing tube, and the small-scale model (bottom left).
And now the finished box, with model, packed and ready to go. The basic model weighs about 3.5kgs and the box about 7kgs. With spares, foam, etc, total weight is 19.5kgs.
Carrying the box is definitely a 2 person job, plus I also have 3 other items of luggage. On departure Charlie (my missus) helped me move it around the airport, but on arrival in Frankfurt, I was on my own. The solution: I borrowed a plastic tray and used it as a sled, dragging the box behind while pushing the remaining luggage on a trolley.
The result: Mostly good, but unfortunately the canopy suffered some crushing damage. Fortunately only cosmetic. In retrospect, I could have packed it a bit differently and probably have avoided this.
Also, the campervan hire company offered to store the box for me. Which was great!
About 6 weeks before I’m due to depart, the wing failed in flight resulting in the rest of the model spearing into the ground. Result: A total write-off.
Obviously, I need a replacement model to take with me. I was lucky enough to purchase another second-hand 2m MythoS that was brand new (30 flights), and was superbly setup. There were a few differences: Colour and motor, lack of wing fences. All of which are trivial, and I’m back in the air with plenty of time to get used to any minor differences.
On the lighter side: The motor has more power, the model is lighter, and it could have happened closer to my departure date, or even worse, during my European trip!