Silent Flight at the Nationals.
Although model flyers now have an almost unlimited number of radio frequencies available, it is impossible to fly all classes together on one site at the Main Nationals, as the available airspace would be far too crowded for safety. For this reason, the Silent Flight Nationals has for many years been run at a second site during the Bank Holiday weekend. This year we are very happy to have the use of the new BMFA National Flying Site, at Sewstern NG33 5RW, about 25 mins from Barkston. Visitors are welcome to watch the various Silent Flight competitions which will be taking place over the 3 days of the holiday weekend.
“Silent Flight” is a term which covers competition ns where, although an electric motor is used to gain height in most categories, the vast majority of the flight is done in gliding mode and is therefore silent. Originally model gliders were towed aloft using a line, very much like a kite, then released to fly as a glider and while “towline glider” as a class still exists, most models are electric launched. Recent improvements in battery and motor technology have resulted in models as large as 4metres wingspan being launched to 200metres by a motor/battery/controller package weighing as little as 250gr.
The contests themselves take place on the same 3 days as the Main Nationals and comprise some 7 events. Usually 2 per day, flown simultaneously so there should always be something to watch and talk to the competitors about.
Saturday has 3 competitions scheduled.
F5B (“F” prefix indicates a class is being flown to International rules) is flown all day with pilots attempting to perform as many gliding laps as possible, up and down a 150m course, using as many as 10 very high power motor burns. Following this task they immediately do a 10 minute duration flight and a precision landing.
100S Glider. This is a towline glider competition with span restricted to 100 inches and launch by means of an electric winch. After launch the models will try to seek out thermals in an attempt to achieve the maximum required flight time before making a precision landing for extra points. In this and most classes the winner gets a score of 1000points; the remainder proportionally less, this irons out the vagaries of the weather! This competition will finish by about 1pm, to be followed by…
2metre Electric Soaring. This competition starts about 1pm and is for 2m span models flying to 200m height under electric power for a maximum of 30seconds, then gliding for a total of 10 minutes before doing a precision landing. The models involved often weigh only 600gr and are used by many people as an introductory class for eSoaring.
Sunday – 2 competitions both involving gliders up to 4 metres span
Open Thermal Soaring is a single event where various classes of winched towline glider may be used for launch before completing a 10 minute thermal flight.
Open eSoaring is also an event where models attempt to do a 10 min flight, this time after an electric launch to 200 metres.
Monday – 2 more events. One electric launched and one hand launched.
F3K is the hand launched class where pilots are required to do a number of different flight tasks during several rounds of competition. Launch is by hand in a discus-like fashion and is good to watch.
F5J is the newest of the classes for large electric gliders and require pilots to choose their own launch height to try do a 10 minute flight. The launch height is deducted from the time scored and the landing points, so a tminimum height is the Holy Grail for a good score but it can be difficult for thermal detection!
Do please try and visit the Silent Flight Nats!