2012 Team Selects

The Team Selection Contest was held at the Space Coast Aeromodeling Park at Cocoa Florida on October 28th, 29th and 30th. Well supported with a record number of junior entries the event was an excellent test of skills for the pilots with variable, wet and windy weather.
A discussion thread with full report on the contest is also available on RCGroups here.
See photos at bottom of this page.

Bob’s McGowan’s account of the Team Selects.

Hi guys, I need to start at the beginning so let me first reprint an article that I submitted to the South Bay Soaring Society newsletter right after I qualified for a spot on the team:

This is my story of how I earned a position on the USA F3J soaring team for the 2012 World Championships in South Africa. Or perhaps it should be called “how to trash thousands of dollars’ worth of sailplanes and end with a good result”.

I was not even planning to attend this year’s team selects (TS). You need a “team” for this type of competition and nobody else from NorCal was able to go. Frankly I was only moderately interested in it myself anyway. Then I got a call from Skip Miller from the Rocky Mountain Soaring Association and he explained that one of their regular team members could not make it and invited me to join them. He said all I had to do was show up in Florida with my airplanes as they already had the winches, line, rental car, hotel, etc all lined up. I’d be with a very strong team (Skip Miller, Cody Remington, and Mike Verzuh) which is critical to individual success. This was way too good of an opportunity to pass up so I booked my ticket to Florida.

About a week after that and just over a month away from the TS I crashed my only Icon 2 (I2) at an SVSS club contest due to a battery wire failure. I contacted Don Peters of Maple Leaf to see if there was any way to get a replacement I2 before the event. There was no time to get me a new one, but Don talked to Daryl Perkins and they came up with a plan. They explained to me that I did not need one I2, but the only reasonable option would be for me to buy TWO. I was a little (OK, a lot) shocked at that prospect, but the plan was for me to buy Daryl’s ultra-light one RTF, which did not have a ballast tube, and to also buy an un-built full carbon one for the wind that Daryl had in reserve. After a night to sleep on it I said OK, what the hell.

Building and practice was coming together but with no time to spare and then just two days before departure to the TS I made a zoom mistake with my carbon I2. At Los Paseos park I was I was trying to set up the plane for launch, first day on any winch, much less Sean’s powerful F3B winch. I had it set way too aggressive and tried to zoom in the middle of some crazy side to side stall pumping and I hooked the line which tore off the vertical and treed the airplane. STUPID! Back to the shop I had to quickly put my old repaired red fuselage under the new carbon wing to get a flyable windy weather ship to take. We are up to two crashes now if you are counting.

Fast forward to Florida about 10 minutes before the launch of the first group of the first round (which I was in) and we put up my light Icon 2. At this time of the day you want all the tow height you can get so I stayed on the line an extra-long time and the wing was flexing like crazy and POW, I lost a tip in the zoom. Note this tip had a previous repair. I managed to get her down with a good landing, but the failure had also cracked the rear of the fuselage and damaged the horizontal stab beyond further use. I had to put my heavy I2 up for this early morning float-off round but I came out of it with a max luckily.

I only brought two planes in my Sport tube so you think my light one is done right… wrong! My new friend from Colorado, Jon Padilla, had three I2s (the max number of planes you are allowed to check in) and some extra parts so before the contest he let me register a set of light wing tips and a horizontal stab under my name. I scrambled to get these parts out and ready my light I2 for round two. Hand launch during the 2 minute preparation time and all looked OK for the launch. OK it was not: The launch was crazy and the plane is flying awful. My spotters tell me to fly smoother (duh). I find myself needing to hold ½ up elevator just to keep her level and the pitch stability is awful. I manage to ride air just well enough to make my time and after landing on the 100 I start finding/counting the issues. The servo tray was broke lose so the elevator servo was moving all over the place. The borrowed stab was an earlier version and therefore was binding terribly with the V-mount causing extreme double centering and limited control throw. The stab was heavier than I thought so it took my CG setting from aggressive to insane. I worked on these issues throughout the day and by sunset had two good condition ships again and a good condition score card to boot.

I want to give you a visual of the field. We are on flat landfill property (not the landfill itself). The surface is mostly mowed weeds in sandy soil and while our winch stakes won’t hold, it is great for dorking. The field is surrounded on the downwind edge and the sides by dense forest swamp with alligators in thigh high smelly stagnant water. You do NOT want to land out at this site though many people did. I’d estimate around 10 planes that went down out there were retrieved by a local tree climbing service or pilots. I’d estimate at least another ½ dozen are lost forever. It rained off and on the first two days of this three day event and we had to keep flying in the drizzle. My feet were wet and pruned and I could not decide if my body was getting more wet from the drizzle or my own sweat when I wore my jacket. It was windy enough for ballast the first day and it kept getting stronger each day from there.

Going into day two I felt very lucky. The first two flights of day one should have been disasters ending my chances for a team spot but somehow they were not. I had this strange invincible feeling that nothing was going to stop me and I started flying better and better. It was not long after this that we had a terrible launch accident that left my heavy carbon I2 piled up 15 feet in front of the winch with a broken center section, broken stab, and a fuselage which was broken in FOUR places. Well, that is what throw-out rounds are for and it did not phase my mental state.

The wind was howling and with my carbon ship out, I had no choice but to put up my light 67 ounce I2 (with loaner parts) dry in the final flight of the day because it has no ballast tube. My time was made and another 100. Not even crash number four could interrupt my momentum or confidence. Finished the day with my score card still intact, planes less so.

Our official timer, Bob Whitney, offered to take me to his well-equipped shop that night to transform my specialized light weather I2 into a wind machine. We made it to Ace Hardware 10 minutes before it closed and purchased long steel rods in 3/8”, ½” and 5/8” diameters which would be used as ballast. We retrofitted the fuselage to hold and secure these ballast rods we created. We fitted my undamaged carbon tips to the already mixed part patient. We then blocked all four wing servos to the bottom skin with hardwood to insure no flexing and flutter in what was forecast to be the windiest day yet. Off to bed after midnight but feeling ready for anything with this Frankenstein ship.

On the final day we set up early enough for me to get a couple test launches in to fine tune the trims and check the need for ballast. I ended up going with the small 3/8” rod (9 ounces) for this one and put in my most damaging round of the contest (to my competitors this time!). I was the only one in my group to make the full 15 minutes and buried several of the pilots that had been neck and neck with me. After this I put in the ½” rod (19 ounces) for the final 3 flights as others switched to their F3B models. Scores were very tight as I climbed into 3rd place (just where you need to be when picking a 3 person team) and I held on to that spot until the end.

A big thanks to everyone who helped me prepare, practice, compete and ultimately succeed. Joining me in South Africa will be Cody Remington who finished first and Thomas Kiesling who finished 2nd. Our USA Junior team will be Tristan Sherman from SoCal, Dominick Lewis from Illinois , and Dillon Graves from Florida.

Friday Photo Gallery at team Selects.

Saturday Photo Gallery at team Selects.

Sunday Photo Gallery at team Selects.

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