2023 World Championships Roundup

 2023 Free Flight World Championships Moncontour/Saint-Jean-de Sauues, France

By Gary Goodwin

Team Manager

team photo

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 phoeo


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

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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.

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