2023 World Championships Roundup
Australian F3d & F3e Team Manager’s Report
The Aussies at the somewhat saturated opening ceremony
The event was held at Drachten Airfield, a single runway general aviation field approximately 60km east of the North Sea and 120km northeast of Amsterdam. The airfield has some historic significance as it was developed in the 1950’s by the Phillips electronics company to support their major factory in Drachten.
The competition course used for the duration of the contest was west facing course due to the prevailing westerly and north-north westerly winds.
A second practise course (only F3e aircraft were allowed due to shorter required sideline clearances) was provided for ‘free training days, allowing the F3d competitors to solely use the competition course during this period.
Winds up to 35kph (with 55kph gusts) and many intermittent rain showers occurred throughout the duration of the event, however there was sufficient ‘dry’ periods to allow the event to be completed on time.
Due to the limited width of the airfield, only judging officials could be located on the north side of the course, hence the competitor’s pits marque and spectator area was placed to the east of the course so the view of racing was limited to looking at the base turns.
The light and timing system was a new system developed by the host country and featured a range of features not used/ available on Australian systems, including pylon 1 light operating duration, enabling callers to get a feel of how long the aircraft was past the pylon and the recorded duration appeared on the pilot’s flight score sheets.
The three days of free training were affected by rain periods which shortened preparation time for some competitors.
Upon commencement of the contest, no test flights were allowed.
Official practise on Tuesday 1st August was also affected by rain periods, hence was completed by midday on Wednesday 2nd August.
All Australian competitor’s aircraft passed processing without any issues.
Racing commenced each day at 9am and concluded at 6pm, with alternating rounds of F3d (approx. 1.25hrs for 11 heats) and F3e (35 minutes for 7 heats) flown, however in some instances rounds were doubled up to make good use of the time slot.
Team manager’s meetings were held prior to contest commencement and then at the end of each contest day at 6:15pm.
A total of 53 competitors (F3d – 33, F3e – 20) from 15 countries (F3d – 13, F3e – 8) competed in the contest.
A total of 12 rounds were flown for each class, equating to 216 races being held with 636 aircraft race flights plus re-runs. No ‘super finals were held due to time constraint and that they are not required for the official world championships.
Final competitor and country scores utilise the 9 best scores from the 12 rounds of competition. (Drop 3 highest scores)
Race judging was carried out by teams of helpers, either experienced pylon racers or aeromodellers from the host country and surrounding countries.
Race scores were manually written up on a whiteboard in the pit marque and electronically on a local Wi-Fi network and regular updates made on the official competition website. https://www.wchf3de2023.nl/
During initial races it was found that the timing system was not reporting the correct duration of lap one for competitors in lanes two and three (not subtracting the 1 second start delay between lanes). This was discussed with team managers and the official jury who concurred that the initial race scores would be accepted with appropriate amendments. The timing system software was revised to report correct scoring by the start of day 3 of the contest.
Nil official protests were submitted to the organisers, as a range of requests by various teams were resolved between the Contest Director and the individual team managers.
A short report and results have been posted on the official FAI website. Results of 2023 FAI F3DE World Championships for Pylon Racing Model Aircraft | World Air Sports Federation
The Australian F3D team were all very experienced at this level with each member team having competed previously at multiple WC events. The teams’ pre departure preparations were good, and all planes and equipment arrived intact and in time for the event with some minor disruption and extra cost for Murphy/Arapakis with a blockage at German customs in transit.
The Aircraft used by our team were all Australian designed and produced. Murphy and Arapakis used the Faster Master designed by Barry Murphy and Mees used the Vector from A1 Composites. All the Aussies are using the MB engine from Rob Metkamayer, Netherlands. Across the rest of the field several teams were using either the A1 Composites Vector or the Czech designed and produced No-Name. And then there were a few with airframes (VooDoo & Dominator) from Ultimate composites (also from Aus). Engines were either MB or the Italian designed and produced DKT.
The free practice days (Sat 29th through Mon 31st) were affected by intermittent rain periods and it was difficult for the F3D teams to get a good read on the conditions for their engine tuning/setup and prop selection. Arapakis damaged one aircraft hitting pylon three and luckily it was not a write off but would require workshop repairs back home. They still had 3 racers remaining for the comp. Apart from that the three teams were reasonably happy with the low number of set-up flights that they were able to make.
Tuesday 1st and the weather was worsening with more frequent and persistent showers which would affect our teams’ official practice flights (with timing). Consequently, there was little discernible information gained from this experience and at this point there was a serious concern (Teams and Organisers) that the weather may not allow for many official racing flights and indeed for enough rounds to satisfy the WC status. Following our official practice flights all F3D teams’ passed processing (3 racers each entered) with no issues.
For F3D, 2 rounds were flown on day 1 (Wed 2nd), 3 on day 2 (Thurs 3rd), 5 on day 3 (Fri 4th) and 2 on the final day (Sat 5th).
Throughout the 4 days of racing there were some rain delays but the major issue affecting all competitors was the large fluctuations in the atmospheric conditions (i.e., Barometric pressure, Humidity and ultimately the Density Altitude) which severely affected set up and performance to the point where average times over the first few days were unusually slow for this calibre of competition and there were many DNS/DNF 200’s. It is fair to say that our team struggled somewhat with set-up which put us down the order by the halfway point. From that point the team were able to consolidate putting in some very respectable times and to have the team sitting in Second place leading in to the final 2 rounds on day 4. Unfortunately, our earlier misfortunes would come back to haunt with a DNS 200 in the second last round meaning the team would now count a 200 which dropped us down to 6th place.
Some issues for the F3d team on race day/s:
Arapakis suffered an Aileron servo failure in his race but remarkably was able to shut down and guide it back on rudder for a rough landing with no other damage. DNF
Murphy’s flamed out on launch for a DNS 200
Mee’s flamed out on launch for a DNS 200
Round 3 – Mees’ flamed out in flight for a DNF 200
Round 4 – Mees’ flamed out on launch for a DNS 200
Round 5 – Arapakis lost a plane with a crash rounding pylon
Arapakis had midair resulting in damage to the tailplane. Remarkably again was able to shut down and guide it back for a landing with no other damage. Re-fly.
Mees’ flamed out on launch for a DNS 200
There were two re-fly’s for the F3d team, both for Arapakis’:
Round 9 – midair
Round 11 – timing system malfunctioned, and no scores were saved for the
Murphy’s set the fastest time for Day3 (Rd9 - 56.98) and this 6th placing adds to 6 top 10 ten finishes from 7 WC appearances.
Arapakis’ finished with a credible 14th place after overcoming some difficult issues / losing a couple of racers for the comp and blowing an engine in official practice.
Australian Team – 6th place Beau Murphy – 6th place Daniel Arapakis – 14th place Tyler Mees – 25th place
The Australian F3E team were all experienced at this level with each member team having competed previously at WC F3E events. (deChastel and Singleton – 5 each, Pearce -1, Wall – caller – 2 and for multiple pilots)
Pilot’s, deChastel and Singleton had an interrupted lead up to the event as during testing of the proposed energy limiters (new design) in the three weeks prior to the event found electromagnetic incompatibility of the limiter with the particular electronic speed controllers used. This also affected South African and the then current reigning world champion. The designer of the limiter and others derived a range of solutions which passed in workshop conditions prior to departure and flight tested on the first day of free training at the site.
Singleton had 1 damaged in transit. (4 remaining)
Australian team used the following aircraft and equipment:
- W3m designed and manufactured by Ultimate Composites and D019 designed and manufactured by Avionik Russia
- Leomotion, Het and Xnova motors
- MGM and APD ESCs
- Tattu batteries
- Ultimate Composites and bespoke direct drive single blade propellers
- Jeti and Futaba radios
Most competitors used the Avionik range of aircraft and gear drive/ folding propellers, however the notable exception was the German team where each pilot had his own design aircraft.
The Australian team’s aircraft were extremely competitive, however the single blade propellers appeared to suffer some performance loss in the heavy conditions. Our past
experiences indicated the gear drive/ folding propellers suffered performance loss in windy conditions.
Free practise days was significantly interrupted by rain events, shortening the time to optimise equipment. One of Singleton’s aircraft was damaged due to a launching error in adverse wind conditions, however was repaired but not required for the contest.
2 rounds were flown on day 1 of the contest, 3 on day 2, 6 on day 3 and 1 on day 4.
A request for a re-fly was accepted by the Contest Director for Trevor Pearce following an un- intentional collision between another pilot’s caller and Trevor early in race 2.
Fastest race times:
- deChastel – 58.83 sec
- Pearce - 61.25 sec
- Singleton – 62.88 sec
Fastest time of event – Sedláček 58.58 sec
deChastel incurred 1 cut on pylon 3 over the course of the contest, Pearce 1 cut at pylon 1 and Singleton 2 x P3 cut and 1 x SuperCut (short motor runtime in heavy conditions).
These penalties did not affect the total contest scores as the 3 highest scores for each competitor is discarded in the total. (Count 9 of 12 scores).
Australian Team – 2nd place Bruce deChastel – 4th place Trevor Pearce – 8th place Tony Singleton – 10th place
In summary, the Australian F3e team worked exceptionally well together, sharing observations and ideas for the common goal of the highest team placing as possible, and beating the Czech team who have been dominant for many years.
The disruption to deChastel and Singleton’s preparation was unfortunate however did not have a material impact on their performance, however the highly variable weather conditions did affect outcomes for all competitors.
2023 Free Flight World Championships Moncontour/Saint-Jean-de Sauues, France
By Gary Goodwin
The Free Flight World Championships has been run and won for another two years.
The French organizers did a commendable job, considering the venue constraints and large numbers in the fly-offs!
All of the Australian Team members were well prepared and practiced, so we were confident of some good results. With 42 countries competing, we saw flight lines in FIA and FIB of 44 and 48 pole positions respectively.
Pole positions in the FIA (Glider) event had to be reduced in spacings to fit the flight line on the available paddock. Even with this reduction, the line was over four hundred metres in length! Knowing that the flyoff conditions even at 8.30pm in the evening would be very buoyant, the organizers tried to be inclusive with regards to the available altimeter and timing software on most models. Even if systems were not FAI approved you still had the opportunity to utilize it in a flyoff situation.
This decision was decisive, as both the FIA and FIB winners were confirmed with altimeter and onboard timing systems. This was after a great number of flyoff flights went out of sight, in the fading evening light.
Although the Australian Team did not have any top ten individual placings in FI A, B, or C, our overall team results were excellent in all three classes. Our flyers flew consistently well on all three contest days and backed up with great retrieval efforts on the days they weren’t competing. With temperatures in the mid thirties and eighteen hour long days, we were all worn out by the end of the champs, both physically and mentally. Most retrievals were at least two kilometers into high sunflower crops, which surrounded the flying site. With only limited push bike use possible, our team covered a lot of kilometers after seven rounds and twenty one individual team flights on each contest day. I was proud of the effort that everyone put in, under difficult conditions.
All of this effort certainly paid off for Team Australia. Ian Haigh made it into the first FIA flyoff, all three of our FIB flyers made it into the six-minute flyoff and Roy Summersby and Gary Pope into the FIC six-minute flyoff. Both Gary Pope in FIC and Bruce Hao in FIB placed in the top twenty flyers after their respective eight-minute flyoffs; Gary being our highest individual placing at twelfth and Bruce at thirteenth respectively. Even more satisfying from my perspective as team manager was our bronze team medal in the FIB Class. All our FIB flyers flew exceptionally well, but the whole team effort, throughout the champs, ensured that models got back to the flight line on time and in one piece, which was a massive psychological advantage for all of our flyers. The rewards kept coming from all of these great efforts, with Australia placing sixth in the overall team point score for the championships, out of 42 competing countries. For a small country with a relatively small group of free flight flyers, who compete at international level, we certainly punched above our weight. The comradery within the team was excellent throughout the whole trip, and our results reflected this.
Although we did not achieve high individual results in each class, I feel that the overall team performance confirms that we are more than competitive on the world stage. Unfortunately at this high level of competition, luck is certainly a factor when it comes to large flyoff numbers and very long flight lines. With only seven minutes to launch in a flyoff, and a 400 plus metre long line, you had to be in a lucky spot to get good air. Or, in the case of glider, no line tangles or interference from other flyers. Circle towing was certainly risky with the numbers of competitors and the site restrictions.
It was a pleasure to manage such a talented group of flyers that were the Australian Free Flight Team.
We have cemented our position as one of the best nations in the World, at international FI Free Flight Flying. Well done men and women.
f3a Team Managers Report
By Richard Hirst
For the first time in 32 years, Australia hosted the F3A World Championships. This was extremely well organised and full credit goes to James, Simon, and Brian along with all the helpers.
Having watched the other pilots throughout the competition and particularly in the finals, it was clear how far behind we are in terms of ability and getting higher scores. This may be because we are isolated from the European competitions and the World Cup events it is hard to work out what flying trends are the ‘in thing’. Some pilots were able to adopt their style to match, others found it harder, and the results show this.
I also noticed that some of our team members did not ‘get along’ with others and outside conflicts carried over into the event. Do not wish to go into details as we all have our own story. However, this was also evident in other teams as well.
So, for the next event I feel the team should work better together and if possible, train together. Having a dedicated caller is a must, which most top pilots did, and you could see the difference.
It was a great experience and hope all team members continued to improve with the knowledge and experience from this event.
There has been offers of overseas training before the next event in 2025. I am sure young Macklin will take the offers up as he was so keen.
We all would like to thank everyone who supported this event, and words of encouragement via Facebook posts etc.
The formal banquet was held at the local RSL which was a great time to relax and welcome the new World Champion.
Many pilots stayed in country for the remaining week to see many other areas of Australia.
Team trails held in March / September of 2022 produced the members for the Australian Team and allowed many months of practice before the event.
As this event was held in Australia, we did not have to book flights, hotels and car hire making the arrangements a lot easier.
Admin task involved.
Handling the preliminary registration forms.
FAI license cards. Joe Finocchiaro was very helpful. Team photos, biographical and models details.
Technical Equipment Regulation Compliance declarations. (2.4 GHz and 920MHz) Australian Flag and National Anthem from the MAAA. Rhyll McCormack was very helpful. Team Meetings and Message group.
With help from Steve Johnson, Marina, and Peter Pennisi we created the Team Uniforms design which turned out to be a great success. We made them for the team and supporters but also many of the APA members, this was to help support the team funds for the next event in 2025.
The week before the official practice and during the event the organisers had arranged many local flying clubs to allow the teams to practice. Special thanks to Warwick and Toowoomba Model Clubs, which seemed to be the most popular.
The Preliminary rounds were flown over 4 days, each pilot having 4 flights. After this the team members where placed:
#19 Aaron Garle
#32 John Tonks
#41 Peter Pennisi
#50 Macklin Dodd
The top 30 then flew in the Semi Finals, John Tonks was offered the demo flights for the F25. Aaron qualified for the semi and flew 2 rounds of F23, he remained at #19.
Top 10 advanced to the Finals on the Saturday, this was an F23 and 2 Unknown schedules. Aaron was also offered the demo flights for the Unknowns, which he was delighted to fly.
As a Team we finished 9th overall.
F3B World championship
By Stuart Hamilton
The 2023 F3B Glider World Championship commenced on Monday the 24th of July at the full-size gliding club Sonderjysk Flyveklub, Hellavadvej 28, Rodekro, in Denmark. The club was a fantastic field to host the World Championship as the grassed area was large and the trees surrounding were low. Thanks to Tim Kullack we had logistical support from team Germany with provision of winches, turnarounds, batteries and equipment. Tim also organized a helper Thomas Merzhauser whose vision, guidance, air calling, and support was invaluable to making Gav and my first World Championship experience and adventure something we will treasure for eternity. Gav's son Josh Tilson also came along to support his dad and the team. Josh worked tirelessly all week the same as Thomas to give John, Gav and I every chance to experience success. As a team we all worked very hard for each other with minimal mistakes and radiated a positive vibe which I feel other teams were envious they were not a part of. The local and surrounding F3B community were so nice, welcoming and supportive running a superb competition. The competitors from all countries were a pleasure to interact with, share the same passion and exercised great sportsmanship. The Danish food was amazing and mostly everyone spoke English which made it very easy. A big thankyou to the MAAA for their support too.
With the commencement of the competition, we were subject to windy and sometimes rainy conditions for the majority of the week. The father and son team of Gav and Josh Tilson were a well-oiled machine in the duration task with Josh supporting his dad via calling. I was super proud of the duo as Gav was always landing his glider on time and mostly in position which was not easy given the sometimes-gusty winds. John Skinners experience and competitive prowess shone through also in this task which was a pleasure to watch. For me I was super thankful to have Gav calling and guiding me which also brought me success in this task. Unfortunately, my ears are painted on sometimes and I do my own thing which seemed to meander me into the sink. I had to battle it out a few times with a landing seeming imminent where I got away or maintained just above the shrubs to achieve the time and make myself feel happy. It was a highlight of the competition for me to receive praise for my never say die efforts from some of the officials and competitors. On the last days of competition, the wind was light, and the sun was coming out which made it a pleasure to fly in better conditions.
The distance tasks were quite a battle amongst all competitors. The air was generally surprisingly good given the predominately windy, cold and wet conditions. John was the standout in this task for the Aussie team. His experience and drive saw him give the other competitors the best run for their money. For me I really focused my energy on this task and flew to the end of the four-minute lap period but was always finishing with lap quantities in the middle of the group. Gav unfortunately felt pain in this task with a considerable amount of bad luck to start. He clawed some credibility back in the later rounds which was great to see as a team. I really enjoyed being a part of the team aspect constituting the desire to help a teammate achieve the most laps in the best parts of the sky.
The final speed tasks were quite tough to be consistent in the varying conditions. Due to the nature of this task, it was generally selected when the winds were up there. When the wind was up this made it quite tricky with severe turbulence from the shrubs on the edge of the strip. A few pilots crashed low and fast as a result. One of them was me was with my Pitbull 1 but it was in the latter light wind conditions where I came out of the second turn projecting down too much and proceeded to land flat at high speed into the longer grass. Surprisingly not much damage! Gav worked really hard in this task under the competitive pressure to bring his speed scores down to a respectable level. It was great to share this aspect with him! John flew fantastic in speed with most scores in the 16 second range. The speed task I found most interesting in regard to how much launch height some competitors were achieving and their different style of the downhill race which resulted with times in the 13 second range sometimes. Inspirational!
Although three F3B tasks constitute a round, there was the task of competing in the Erik Dahl Challenge on Wednesday afternoon which was a nice break from the main event. We were organized in groups of three to make three identical chuck gliders out of a few balsa sheets and skewers. On completion there would be a fly off and the first glider to land each time would result in elimination of the pilot. John Skinner ended up winning with his ribbed under cambered wing glider where he worked closely with Martin Herrig on the development. John won a crate of 30 beers which was promptly shared amongst the Aussie team in celebration of good times. More beers ensued at the completion of the competition on the Friday whilst packing up. Later that evening we shared some beers with the Austrian Team back at the hotel. This was also another highlight as the Austrians were right up there on the final results with Bernhard Flixeder becoming the F3B World Champion for 2023. The prize giving and following banquet with amazing food was a great way to finish off a fantastic week of competition.