2012 Team Blog

July 28th 2012
My secret weapon
Not long ago I receive a new super light fuselage and tails for my four meter Explorer. This brought the weight down from about 65 ounces to around 58 ounces. It took a little getting used to, but I’m really loving it for light air. I find myself running the 8 degree joiners most of the time for ease of handling and smooth flying in extreme light lift. Today I got away in a couple small low light pre 8:00 am thermals that I would have thought impossible before.

Although I consider this a specialty plane for myself at the Worlds and do not plan to use it in the wind, my next step after I get off the computer is to run out and buy some rectangular steel and make some ballast bars just in case. In my special light fuse the tray is such that you cannot use the standard round ballast: It does not have a valley for the ballast to lay in at the rear but is instead just flat leaving minimum space between it and the wing bolt blocks.

Great plane. Enjoy the pics.


July 16th 2012
Tristan, myself and Tom Kiesling have been working hard to produce the refinement and skill necessary for Gold. With just a few weeks remaining we are really excited to compete at Worlds which for Tristan will be his first. I am really proud to be working close with the Team and can tell you that the camaraderie that we are having is awesome!

We are continuing to put the polish on our game and expect to have great fun and success at Worlds.

I know the rest of the Team is also hard at work to make this the most competitive group to ever represent America at Worlds…

Thanks again for all the support from all the great people that make this possible!

Paul Sherman

July 12th 2012
The most significant landing practice session we have ever had with Dillon this afternoon. Jody and I have been working on his approach speed for weeks (he often gets too slow because he is early) and today he finally got it right – arriving at the spot with consistent energy and as a result his directional control was fabulous every single time. The result was simply an awesome session where he scored 100’s for more than half of his 29 landings. That’s 15 hundreds from 29 attempts. Amazing! As his coach I am well satisfied we are on the right track. Go Dillon.

July 2nd 2012.

Tristan flew his new 3.5 meter x1 explorer this weekend and really liked the feel of the plane.

He is really excited about the landing characteristics of the plane and we see great advantage in the light weight of his model!

Tomorrow, mom will take him to the local field for more landing practice and setup Gerald with his x1.

We are in the home stretch and pushing hard to make it all automatic.
Paul Sherman

PS – Update July 9th. Tristan had a maiden flight with his X2 3.5 meter last night. He is LOVIN it!

July 1st 2012

As some of you may know, I lost an I2 due to my stupidity at J in the Rockies. This was my only model at the time, and was a real shame as it was pretty dialed in, super stiff and light – an excellent primary. (I’m having a very strange year with regards to models, contest luck and karma) Oh well…. After talking to Don, it was going to take a few weeks to replace it, and get moving on my 3 models for the WC’s. I contacted Bob at SUSA to buy, (yes buy) a 4M Sploder. He didn’t have any white ones, just orange or red, so I had him ship me an orange one. ( Red models are for “mo’s”…) It showed up that Saturday, and I worked until 2:00 am that night getting it flyable, so I could fly it that Sunday morning. The model goes together quite nicely, maybe about 5 hours pretty easy work if you get the prewired harness, without it, probably about 8 months. Everything I had read online was to CG it in the 120 ish range… yeah, I don’t think so. I put it at 133 cuz… well… that’s where it ended up since I only had ½ ounce chunk of wheel weight. The plane finished out at 67.5 ounces. Flew it the following day in weird, blustery, very lifty/sinky conditions… and 133 was certainly flyable, but a bit unpleasant in the weird air of the day (I can’t even explain how weird the air was.) I had some spare change (I think 2 quarters and nickel) between the seats of the SUV/vagina repellent, stuffed it in the model, and it became more pleasant to fly, but still hard to tell in the strange air of the day. Next flight was the following weekend at a contest in Delaware, an 8:45 am 12 minute. Ok… it floats, just don’t try to get anywhere. All in all, probably a viable dead air morning solution.

Fast forward a week… rec’d a new Spread Tow Icon 2 from Don. Fit and finish… yeah, not so good compared to the Sploder, but better than I2’s used to be. Is it light? Well, yeah, but, no. Not as light as my brain fart model finished out at 64.5, but without a ballast tube. Got the model done in maybe 7 hours of work. Does anyone remember when we had to actually build a model? Anyway… flew it last Sunday, and WOW! It was like reconnecting with an old friend. Shot about 4 million landings next to Neal Huffman, with the recording of Jojo’s countdown blaring in the back. Neal and I were both on fire. He’s preparing for the Nats, so we’re both somewhat driven, competitive, focused, and…well… neurotic. The I2 flies and tracks so well, and lands like it’s on rails. I had a blast.

I’m working hard to get ready. I have a windy weather I2 showing up maybe tomorrow. Then Don has already started my ultra lightweight 45 gram ST model. That one should finish out around 58 ounces. I expect that in 2 weeks.

I would guess we’ll be seeing some team pilots with 50 ounce-ish smaller models. (Supra’s, Maxa’s (3.5), and new style Sploders). I wouldn’t worry though… we can take ‘em.

Having fun flying again… on grass.

D from Virginia

June 27th 2012. Shipping box for models!

Dillon and his Dad John spent time on the past weekend constructing a large shipping box for the shipping of Dillons models to South Africa. It looks huge. I hope the airlines will be happy to take it. 🙂 They used some reinforcing plywood and longerons to strengthen a corplas structure that looks like it could handle a hurricane and keep the precious Xplorers safe.

June 20th 2012. The Paul Sherman Report!

Tristan is back at it today!
He will be shooting landings and practicing low flight thermal catching this afternoon. We are also planning on meeting with Tom this weekend for a fairly early 7:00 arrival time on Saturday. Tom and Tristan really work well together and they are pushing hard to make 10 minute flights with every launch.

It is really exciting for me as this is the first worlds that I will be attending. As for me, I am doing a lot of exercise and weight lifting in case someone needs me to throw a model with great tension on the line!

Paul Sherman-

June 18th 2012. Tristan, Paul, and Tom got some practice in at the Perris field this Saturday.

Except for the altitude and temperature, the Perris field is very similar to the South African field in terms of open space, flatness, and humidity. It is a great place for us to prepare for the World Championships! Tristan had some fantastic flights. With a little encouragement from Paul and myself, he was able to hook up a thermal from about 100 feet of altitude and 3/8th’s of a mile downwind at a less than a minute into the flight. He took that thermal up to around 2500 feet and around 1.25 miles downwind. The thermal changed directions many times under the influence of nearby thermals and various moving air-masses in the area. There was a wildfire in the distance that added enough smoke in the air to make some of the air movement visible. It was interesting to watch the complexity of the air movement that is not uncommon in such a wide open space. Tristan is getting to be quite a pro at reading his model and keeping it cored in the thermal even though the thermal may be doing unexpected things! We plan on practicing every Saturday together until we leave. We will both be getting out individually during the week to shoot landings. We both need a little work on making our landings automatic, but by the time the Worlds come, I think we will be in pretty good shape and have our thermalling, launching, and landing pretty well polished.

We each got in at least a half dozen 10 minute flights. We also shot bunch of landings.

For me, I finally got around to knocking the weight out of the nose of my 4 meter Xplorer. I moved the CG back from 120 mm to 131 ish. I am pretty happy with the change. Across the board the performance has improved – more responsive, indicates lift better, and has less trim drag. I just need to make the change with my other 4.0 and I’ll be in pretty good shape model wise for the World Championships.

I hope everyone else is having fun getting ready!


June 17th 2012 – Dillon practices with his new 4.0 X and gets serious about landing the 3.5.

I spent a day with Dillon at Cocoa with a 12 to 18mph wind and just a bungee to work with. It was a great workout for the kid (the first since Denver.) The best part was we did an “international contest” against Jody who is in Canada at the moment. We decided on 3 flights with simple rules. Bungee Launch, 3 flights consecutive launches with F3J landings, (Can’t be late), and 10min for 1st, 10mins for 2nd and 15 mins for 3rd. Dillons first was pretty easy with an easy read and a long, slow haul back upwind in killer air after the initial d/wind ride to score a beautiful 9:58 and a 99 landing.
2nd flight wasn’t so easy with a 6 minute ride far downwind and then losing it all back upwind to the treeline with 4 minutes still to get. It was the most significant flight for Dillon though as I coached him back and forth for 3 1/2 minutes 20 to 30 feet above the trees to surf out the final 4 minutes and then make it back to the LZ for a “Harrier” landing for 9:59 and 99. The final flight was all Dillon as he made a good initial read, took it out and then took multiple thermals downwind to fairly easily make the 15 minutes. I was seriously proud of his efforts because it wasn’t that easy with the wind over 15mph often and him flying his 3.5 Xplorer with no ballast. His final score was 14:59 with a 100. He made Jody (who was flying a rainy day in Canada) and I (who couldn’t make any of my times this day) look pretty ordinary. Congrats on a fine effort when you were challenged Dillon! We spent the remainder of the day doing landing practice and Dillon also used up some excess energy hand throwing his model and mine. I told him at one point that I would record the next 10 landings and post them on this blog. Here is a video of his first attempt.

We were doing a bungee launch for a 2.00 min max to an F3J landing tape 1.5m long. (The tape being short reads only to 95 points.)
Here are his scores for those 10 landings.
1:58 – 100, 1:59 – 0 (about 1.6M away), 1:59 – 100, 1:59 – 99, 1:57 – 98, 1:57 – 95, 1:58 – 100, 1:58 – 98, 1:59 – 97, 1:59 – 95
He has lots of room for improvement but he doubtless can average above 98 if he can learn to consistently maintain speed to the tape. (He often gets too slow during the last 5 seconds waiting on the clock and misses the target. When he is “on time” rather than early, the result is usually a 99 or a 100.)

An unfortunate bungee break occurred during the afternoon with Dillon stretching it beyond its limit to suddenly receive half the rubber at his backside at a high rate of speed. I have seen the bungee break in the past but this one wreaked the most havoc. I must give Dillon credit for not dropping my plane, but as the pain set in he started to yell and hop around like he just got the stick from the headmaster at school. It wasn’t very funny at the time but there were a few grins later. I think Dillon will be a little less stretchy with bungees in the future. 🙂
In all it was a great day and we look forward to more of the same next weekend.

June 12th 2012 – Team USA F3J has a Face Book Page.

To make uploading photos and info easier for the entire Team we now have an official FaceBook Page at:
From now on and up to the Worlds you can go to the FaceBook page and become a fan by clicking the “like” button and post messages, photos and anything else that is relevant right on our page.

Nice Account of Denver contest by Bob.McGowan » Tue May 29, 2012

I’m back from Denver. We had two days of team practice and two days of the “F3J in the Rockies” contest. It blew all 4 days so it was not really possible to fine tune planes which is one of the things we had hoped to do on the practice days. The wind did make the contest days “interesting”.

I got off to a bad start in round 1 when the pilot from the adjacent lane came into mine. I tried to avoid and we were then both swerving back and forth. His line actually got over my wing at one point and left some minor marks. I could not zoom for fear of hitting him so stayed on the line very long. I did a false ping at one point and the towers then stopped running thinking I was off but I was still on the line so I ended up not getting much of a zoom although they tried to start back up. We were laughing and talking about the excitement and not focusing on the flight. We were overconfident that we would find lift as the prior group had. But then after a couple minutes I got serious after I found myself getting low fast. I went towards a light wind shift Tom K. felt and it was lift, but very light. I rode it down wind and gained a little, but then after it got beyond a rise in terrain, it turned to just maintaining but getting further away. This was before 8:00 am and the thermal activity was just too light to climb out and I got too far away to get home and landing further than 75 meters away results in a zero score. There is my throwout round so no more mistakes could be afforded.

Round 2 was uneventful and a good score. Round 3 was a light down/cross wind launch and I got into what felt like OK air right over the flight line. I saw a plane going up, he was down wind, and I ran for him. In hindsight maybe I should have stayed. I went up with this other plane but got further and further down wind. I’m afraid I did not climb enough to overcome the drift so I could not make it back to the field again. Now I’m officially out of it.

Round 4 was fun. It was still a downwind launch, a little stronger now, but still manageable for hand towing. This was one of the strangest flights I’ve ever had. I hooked up lift immediately and climbed out fast and high. I noticed the thermal drift changed 180 degrees as I was climbing. As I reached my peak height of around 2,000 feet it had become dead calm where we stood. I started to come home and felt a huge headwind up high. Reflex with ballast and it was not making progress at all. It was still calm at our feet. I soon needed to push it on home to the clock with extra down elevator. Only after I got below about 500 feet did the ground speed jump up to what I would have expected by the calm we felt on our bodies. I finished setting up my landing approach and then on final the wind turns on like a switch, strong. I got off the flaps hit a fair landing in crazy turbulence and wind. It was my lowest landing score of the contest, but I was more proud of it than my highest. I won that round and got the 1000.

The forecasted heavy south winds had arrived and although we were now launching into the wind, it was blowing over 20mph. Tom Keisling who flew next on our team went to his F3B plane. They completed round 4 and then stopped the flying because wind had exceeded the FAI maximum of a steady 27mph at 6 meters above the ground.

Day 2 of the contest was to go much better for me. I won all my groups extending my string of 1000 point rounds seven long. Three of them were particularly memorable.

For my first favorite we had a light headwind in the morning and before launch a thermal had come through creating a very strong headwind (thermal feed). Enough time had passed that nobody else turned to run for it, but I did a short tow and dashed. It was a long way out but when I hit it, boy was it strong. The rest of the group were just poking into the wind and eventually all were forced to land in the horrible sink that followed my huge thermal so I got a full group bury.

The next one I remember was a super obvious nearby read. In the prep time Cody is saying to do a “speed tow” and telling me to launch in reflex. I was not sure as I had told myself no “short tows” in the prelems and now to take it one step further and do a “speed tow” seemed risky. I looked at Daryl and he said softly “shortest tow possible”. OK, what the hell, speed tow it is. It worked and I hooked up with ease in the thermal we all predicted.
The last memorable one was at the end of the day. By now the downwind launches had gone from hard to impossible. It must have been blowing around 20mph and there was simply no way our towmen, even with a pulley to double the line speed, could pull in line faster than the wind was blowing. Our only way to launch was a “speed tow” from pre-tension alone. Once the initial line stretch from pre tensioning was gone, you better be off the line because there was nothing but slack line in your future. We were only getting about 100 feet. I had 13 ounces of ballast in which I knew would hurt the launch height further, but without it, getting home in the 20mph wind would be near impossible. Luck was on my side and I saw some birds to the left indicating lift so I ran there as soon as off the speed tow and sure enough hooked a thermal. I had to climb/drift, return, repeat, several times but I did make my time along with just one other pilot.

That downwind launch thing ended up being fun (awful but fun) when it worked, but not realistic for World Champs practice as they will always change the launch direction there. In this contest it was not practical to change directions for a variety of reasons.

I did not win or even place, but I came away with a few important lessons from the weekend.

1) I need to learn to thermal smoother to make the very most out of weak lift and maximize my climb rate in windy conditions to improve my chances of getting home. My expert teammates made me realize I often “choke” my plane’s performance. I fly it too slow and it does mini stalls now and then. I see this tendency and now will practice to avoid it

2) I need to stay within reach of the pack. Going out alone can get you in trouble. Searching in a group, like a search party walking a grid, will result in someone popping and you need to be able to get to them when they do.

3) I need to keep my focus even when things such as that crazy round one launch happen. Get focused and stay focused until the 10 minutes is in the bag.

So, less landing practice for me and more thermaling practice especially in tough conditions and locations. Schoolyards are too easy with their downwind edge thermal trips and spoil us. Lift in the middle of the day is so good we get sloppy. I must be able to make 10 minutes or the best time of the group in all conditions.

May 28th 2012 – F3J in the Rockies Team Practice.

The entire US Team gathered in Denver over the Memorial Day weekend for the F3J in the Rockies event. Jim Monaco and Hal Remington and his crew really know how to put on a great contest while making sure we all had a lot of fun. The weather was just amazingly hard to predict with each day stating off with light winds in our face at launch to gradually become variable and then eventually downright nasty downwind. For the US F3J Team and the Junior Team the downwind launches put us at a huge disadvantage with many launches using towmen being simply a quick throw and go with barely 100 foot achieved at times. The remaining teams in the contest were using winches, so they were often getting much better launches as the downwind component increased.
In spite of this the Team got a great workout and the Towers and Team Pilots were able to get their equipment, signalling and procedures figured out for the worlds. The Junior Team were also together flying as a Team for the first time and they did extremely well finishing 2nd in the contest. The Team uniforms were also revealed and are now for sale in the Team Store. A limited quantity of the extra Team Pit Shirts have been made and are available to the public for sale while stocks last. Grab one now if you really want one of these limited edition performance fabric Pit Shirts.

Dominic lines up a 100 pointer with the Supra

The Team lines up for a photo in their new Team uniform

Phil Barnes and Frankie Burnoski pulling hard

Apr 30 2012 – Daryl landing practice.

Daryl continues to fine-tune the Icon in readiness for the Worlds. Nice Vid here of one of Daryl’s practice approaches to a 100.

Dillon picking up some tips from mentor Jody Miller

Apr 28 2012 – F3J practice.

Dillon got a great workout on the weekend as Jody, Dillon and I ran a practice “F3J with winches” contest on Saturday to practice the other parts of the discipline like preparing the launch apparatus and models during working time, being ready with a plan every single flight and simply concentrating on the task without distractions. I am very impressed with Dillons improving throwing skills. He is starting to hold a lot of tension and is using a nice two handed grip which looks to be really safe as well. It was a good day with fantastic lift conditions and ultra short tows were more than adequate to get out every time.

Mar 30 2012 – F3J in the Rockies coming up.

The Team is preparing for a major practice opportunity at the end of May as the entire Team will gather at Denver for F3J in the Rockies. Jim Monaco has organized and run this first class event now for several years and it’s popularity has soared 🙂 with the introduction of F3J with winches.
The US senior Team will fly together as a Team including manager Jim and the Junior Team along with manager Gordon will also fly as a Team. The towers for the US Team will also be there to practice with the Team pilots.

This will also be the first opportunity for pilots to check out the new Team apparel and purchase a hat or one of the new Pit Jerseys we will have at the event. If you haven’t already registered to fly in the F3J in the Rockies event now would be a good time to grab a spot and join up with some other pilots to make a team. Go to F3XEvents.com by clicking this link.

Feb 19 2012 – Phoenix South West Classic.

The South West Classic in Phoenix AZ saw the US Team have it’s first opportunity to fly together at an F3J contest. Daryl, Tom, Bob and Jim Monaco teamed together, while junior Tristan was teamed in the adjacent lane with his Dad Paul and Gordon and Jody Miller. This allowed a lot of great interaction between the Team pilots and DP and Bob spent a lot of time with Tristan as he flew his rounds. Unfortunately Tristan was ill on the Wednesday and missed flying but he was feeling much better on Thursday and put in some great rounds. The conditions at the SWC were absolutely perfect for soaring with very light winds and mild temps making the task challenging enough.

Little bit of patriotic color here


Newest lightweight tails

Feb 9 2012 – Sneak Preview of Daryl’s latest giant killing ICON 2.

Daryl is now in Virginia and has put his latest Maple Leaf Designs I2 together. He says he is really impressed with the quality of the kit and it’s going together much nicer than his previous versions. This one is a full carbon version. It is DP’s practice workhorse in preparation for the worlds.

It is a full Carbon version RTF weights as follows:
Left Tip and joiner: 7.6 ounces
Right tip and joiner: 7.75 ounces
Center panel: 27.2 ounces
Fuse/stab/rudder: 21.9
AUW = 64.5 ounces…

This amazing model only took 19 grams to get it to CG thanks to Don Peter’s improvements at Maple Leaf Design. With amazing weather this time of year in Virginia, Daryl got out last weekend and flew the I2. He was fighting with it some on Saturday but after a few minor tweaks on Sunday with the setup the plane started to really dial in. He’ll have another half day on it before F3J in the Desert to get it even better, but he says it’s REAL close. He has installed a ballast system in the bird so I guess DP is expecting some wind in this models future…….

Daryl says, “These Drela sections are really perfect for super lightweight models. This model at 64 ounces launches so hard, and accelerates in the bucket so quickly it’s amazing. We’re already down to 64 full carbon, with a ballast tube, and we’re not even spread tow yet. Oh my….”

Jan 29 2012 – Dillon grows in confidence at low level.

Dillon has begun hand-throwing his Pike to explore low level lift and has quickly become very adept at getting a good start along with flying and turning the model confidently at low altitudes.

Jan 15, 2012 Began practice in Florida today launching Dillon with hand tow using the two man rig on mono. We had a bit of wind and were using 1.4 which was a little too strong for the conditions but in spite of that we had lots of good practice at signalling, throwing and towing and Dillon got to experience his first hand-tows from both ends. 🙂
Jody also showed plenty of “brute” as he and Dillon gave me a bunch of amazing launches.

Dec 26, 2011 Great soaring weather in Florida over the holidays so we took Dillon out on Christmas Day Holiday for a full day of practice. We set a goal to do 2 min and 4 min precision to the LZ tape all day off the bungees. WE flew two at a time with Kris and Dillon up and Jody and I at the same time. The thermals were “to die for” and the tree line was also working well. Dillon has become very much more relaxed at flying the treeline compared to even 3 weeks ago. We also started Dillon throwing an F3J plane for the first time. He was an eager student and in one day from very wobbly to very confident I had him throwing my X every time even in the blustery winds we had most of the day. Here’s a video of him towards the end of the day. Not bad huh for a little fella? We are making progress!

Dec 25, 2011. DP has relocated from Arizona to the East coast recently. This is good for us over here as we might get to see him at some of our East Coast contests (and that would be a good thing.) Welcome to hurricane country Darryl. Let’s see if we can entice him south for some Florida hospitality. 🙂

Dec 25, 2011. The Team will get it’s first opportunity to practice together at the Southwest Classic in Phoenix on Feb 15 and 16 2012. This event draws a large contingent of pilots from the West Coast as well as many from Central USA. This years event will see a “full house” of 13 X 4 and 5 man Teams duke it out in the Arizona winter. Watch this thread on RCG for details. Jim Monaco is also running the online scoring again for this event here. As Jody Miller and I are planning to attend this event I will also post a report on this page after the event.

Dec 23, 2011. Dillon Graves has been practicing hard in Florida since making the team and his coaches Jody Miller, Kris Van Nostran and I are making sure that he is out flying every week and practicing with a purpose. At the final 2011 Florida Soaring Series event last weekend Dillon took 3rd place on both days against many experienced pilots. We took Dillon to the RCACF field on Friday Dec 23 for an afternoon away from our usual haunts. After some landing practice and as the sun disappeared below the horizon we asked Dillon to work on his 15 minute float from a full launch. He only managed 9:10 on the first attempt, so we shortened his task to 10 minutes in air that was seriously calm. We were very proud to see him guide his Perfect around in big circles with minimal rudder movement to make the 10 min time with 50 feet of altitude to spare and bring her back to the LZ. This is a huge breakthrough as Dillon is a 3D pilot and it just isn’t him to leave the control surfaces alone. 🙂

Dec 6th 2011. Tristan Sherman was seen out with his Dad Paul practicing hard after the contest at the F3J in December in Phoenix on Dec 3 and 4. His Dad Paul showed a clean pair of heels to take the contest win and spent a lot of time with Tristan doing launch and landing practice. Tristan is a confident and solid junior pilot who will clearly represent USA with class. He also has the desire to excel and that is the drive our juniors need to reach the top.

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