Whew, quite a weekend of e-flying, starting with Saturday early morning with Johan and Paul at Umhlanga, then off to Gromor for some flight orientation for the pattern monthly at same on Sunday. Paul is enjoying his Bug-e electrified R75 foamy and coming along nicely with it, shown at max concentration in the first pic.
Did not start well for yours truly as it was evident that the Dualsky driven Diamante had lost some of it's awesome grunt, almost like dropping from four cells to three but could be any of the three components. A quick call to the LHS revealed no spare battery, so it was a simple case of pressing on as is or risk the title of "chicken"..... ;-)
Progress with the Diamante had been spotty as your truly just could not resolve tearing out the undercarriage with regular monotony, which had put a damper on regular practice. It look some well glued in doublers by Russ, coupled with four mini self tapping screws and a lightweight "soft" carbon undercarriage to finally resolve this a week or two ago. An otherwise excellent sport E craft.
Arrived at Gromor to find Robbie Rowe and his mate Rob about to pack up after some magic flying in the glorious weather. Also blast from the past Gys Wygers, in the pic with Big Stik plane and Rob. Also up there were Ian Morris and Speedy to do some practice, which was a boon as it gave a chance to correct any bad habits from our "blind leading the blind" practice at Umhlanga.
Both Ian and Speedy were most helpful and also helped out with some calling, after a couple of runs. It was clear that I was unused to being instructed by a caller, despite my best efforts to adapt. The other thing was that practice had been on the basis of "flowing" the sequence for best slope style momentum, after all the objective had been to brush up for slope aerobatics, given the iffy Kzn winds over the past couple of years.....
Speedy was armed with the Sebart 110 in the pics and a useful 4th from Nats, so I was starting to feel that maybe I had bitten off a bit too much with my parkie plane against this immaculate, well flown, plane. The weather was so magic, we only departed the field at 2:30pm!
Arrival at the field on Sunday revealed the almost blown off wind sock in the pics and lots of folk gathered around in jackets. Neil's accommodating style of hosting events was again shown in putting up the F3A boffs first in the hectic wind and leaving us Sportman folk till later, when the wind had abated.
I was very, very relieved so see that was in fact quite a cross section of "clubbie" planes and pilots in Sportsman - Gys with Big stick, Colin and Mike with Zeniths, Clive Gager with Cap, and so on. Neil was also chuffed to have a record entry of 16 pilots and a group of new judges to blood. It was also magic to meet up Bruce and Missus from the Kingsburgh club again.
Johan de Lange kindly accepted to call for me and I immediately felt at ease with his calm, non "instructing" style of calling and the first round was completed with some relief despite a hiccup on the roll and completely blowing the stall turn - something that had been anticipated. There were some useful 6's and 7's but zeros and bum scores really hurt the average, so 48% became the start average for my very first Sportsman comp. The second round was pretty more of the same and a marginal increase in average. Fred alias "FW" (not as in Fred Wittstock" ;-) was particularly sobering on the scoring and hammered my wandering out the left edge of the box.
Johan put in some good flights in Advanced and had to leave early, so Arthur Eggar stepped in to call the last round. It is ironic that the only time he bullied me in the whole flight was for the stall turn and it was my first successful stall turn. The stern "right rudder now!" was not to be argued with and worked a treat! Man, it was nice to tot up some scores with no zeros lurking on the sheet and rewarding to have a top judge score of about 62% and lowest of 52%, averaging out at 56%. Does not seem a lot but top dog Speedy and Sebart had managed 59% the first two rounds and only cracked over 60% in the last, so it is tough to break in to the 60's.
All the folk were most encouraging and friendly and I will definitely be back for more, Neil and his hard working team have really put together an excellent formula for what previously seemed an elitist discipline. I would encourage all newbies to add this to their learning curve and it was interesting see Dudley watching most of the event and will no doubt be giving it a whirl at some stage.
Apologies for the selfish personal blow by blow report , rather than the event itself, but it was very much a big first step for this glider guider in disguise....
Neil's more accurate scoring and report published here: