Pylon Racing

There’s so much to see and do at the Nats, where do you start?  Well, if you are interested in R/C racing, Pylon is the one area you must visit.

Pylon racing can be described simply as “fly fast, tight and turn left”.  All pylon disciplines use radio controlled models and fly anti-clockwise around a triangular course for ten laps as fast as possible beginning with a standing start. 

The course is marked by three pylon flag poles, and any “cuts” (i.e. turning inside a pylon) are penalised by having 10% added to the final heat time time. Receiving two cuts or not finishing, results in a disqualification from that heat and a massive 200 second penalty awarded for that heat.  The BMFA Nationals presents the best opportunity to watch this fast, furious and exciting racing in all its forms.

There are several disciplines spanning both electric and IC power, which together cater for all standards of model building, pilot skill, technical development and flying speeds so that all interests and abilities can be accommodated.  Regular race meetings are held throughout the year, at various venues around the country that cater for all disciplines and the BMFA Nationals is the premier event which determines the BMFA National’s Champion.

Club 2000/E2k is recognised as the entry point into this exciting sport.  It is competitive, economical and great fun!  Members of our Association range in experience from 6 months to 30 years and all will make you most welcome.  Club 2000 models are hand launched and use popular, quiet IC engines of .25cu inch capacity.  The electric E2k class uses a budget 3536, 1450kV out-runner motor and a 4S 2200 LiPo. All motor ESCs are programmed to have a fixed, maximum RPM, so that racing is dependent on pilot skill and not specialized equipment.  The aircraft are relatively low cost whether ARTF, kit or built from a plan.  They handle very well and, as noise levels are comparable with the average sport model, they can be flown at your club field.  Around eight race meetings a year at approximately monthly intervals between March and October.  If you get the urge to have a go at this simplest form of throttle bending, you will find a helpful, friendly bunch of modelers, willing to assist.  Speak to any of us, (preferably when we’re not flying!) and we will gladly give you all the information you need.  Club 2000/E2k is friendly, competitive and guaranteed to improve your flying! 

A step up from this .25 size IC motor class is the recently FAI-sanctioned F3T class which is based on the popular American class Q40.  This uses .40 size motors (6.5cc swept volume) with fuel which contains 15% Nitromethane.  Although the engines and propellers are built specifically for racing, they are readily available and the rules forbid any modification to either by competitors.  The sleek airframes are made from composite materials and again are available from various vendors.  This results in higher performance but equal equipment with higher speeds without the need for highly technical, specialist expertise and is ideal for those who wish to fly fast but who do not wish to get too involved with the technical side of the pylon racing. This class is very popular and will be flown at this year’s BMFA Nationals.

The pinnacle of international IC pylon racing is the FAI-F3D class which also runs under FAI international rules.  This is the highly technical end of the sport.  The models are invariably made from composite materials (for which there are a number of kit manufacturers) to withstand the 45g acceleration forces experienced when turning at full speed around a pylon.  Although any .40 size engine is allowed the vast majority of teams use the MB-Profi 40 engine which develops in excess of 4.3HP at 31,500rpm on straight methanol and castor oil fuel.  These engines have a rear exhaust with full length tuned-pipe and use propellers made from carbon fibre.  The high aspect-ratio wing and sleek fuselage profiles of these models make them very distinctive in the sky.  The photo below shows the very latest top end F3D racer built from Carbon and Kevlar composite materials.  Typical speeds attained are 350km/hour.  The class gives a great opportunity for those who are technically able in high performance engine tuning and model and propeller design.

Last, but by no means least, is the international FAI-F5D discipline which represents the cutting edge in electric pylon models.  Again using composite models and high performance electric power plants, this is a specialist class which is highly competitive and provides fast racing.  FAI rules dictate that a power limiter has to be used which restricts the maximum total-electrical-energy that can be supplied to the motor during a race.  This means that pilots have to choose the optimum performance parameters for their particular flying style in order to trade off speed and electrical consumption to achieve the best result. 

If you are interested in any of these RC disciplines, please consult the program timetable to see when each of disciplines are flying, and feel free to talk to any of us at the flight line.  You will also find a wealth of information on the websites for Club 2000/E2k, and race and contact information for F3D, F3T and F5D on  Please come and watch the racing.  Also look out for the latest articles in the BMFA magazine.