SEN 2336 - USA Team Report

SEN 2336 – Table of Contents


  1. 2017 USA FAI Free Flight Team Manager Report. Aug 18, 2017
  2. electronic engine timing - *** technically interesting *** attention geeks
  3. C cut off Comment
  4. Last man
  5. Solving the flight time keeper problem.
  6. Last man standing 2


2017 USA FAI Free Flight Team Manager Report. Aug 18, 2017



Jim Parker,   Manager 

Randy Secor, Assistant Manager

Jace Pivonka, Jr Assistant Manager


F1A: Rene Limberger, Mike McKeever, Brain Van Nest

F1B: Alex Andriukov, Blake Jensen, Charlie Jones

F1C; Ed Carroll, Richard (Fast) Mathis, Faust Parker



After months of model development, test flying, fund raising, T-shirt design and fabrication, along with the team uniforms, entry forms, airline and rental cars and motel reservations, the USA FAI FF team members started to depart late July- early August for Szentes, Hungary for the World Championships.


All model boxes arrived on time and in good shape less some repairable damage to Brian Van Nest’s (F1A) fuselage. Alex Andriukov was the first to arrive and test flew at the World Championship (WC) field before it was officially opened. The flying field was a European Union (EU) preservation area and so the WC organizer had set rigorous field access and use requirements. The field was initially believed to be very good by European standards, in fact it was large, mostly flat with short grass but with surrounding sunflower and corn fields which, in parts, were being harvested. However, the flight line was set up within 500 meters of a meandering water-filled canal too wide to jump across. Also nearby was a swampy area with nearly impassable reeds. This became an issue for many, although we were relatively fortunate with only one model (Alex’s) landing in a canal with several close misses and Blake’s one retrieval from the swamp. We quickly utilized the provided maps that showed the location of the existing bridges. The organizer also constructed a floating bridge that was located in what was said to be the dominate chase direction. Parts of the field were very rough from hardened cattle hoof prints and cracked surface.


F1A and B flyers started practicing on Tuesday and Wednesday and F1C on Thursday after we secured fuel, thanks to the Israeli team for loaning us some fuel. Weather report was for 20-year high temperatures over the next few days, and hot it was! Friday practice went well. 


Saturday was the Budapest Cup and we were met with 4-5 meter per second (m/s) wind toward the corn and sunflowers.  First round was 5 minute max…we were surprised it was not changed to 4 minutes due to the wind and chase direction. Many dropped like myself. Those that made the 5 minutes landed deep in the sunflower and corn. At the end most agreed it was one of the toughest 5 rounds we’ve ever flown with feel-like temp of 109 degree F. The only USA flyer max-outs were Alex and Jace in F1B. Alex made the first fly off (FO) round and Jace dropped some.  Alex won the contest but we were unable to find his model in the sunflower field despite looking until 9:00 pm. He found the model the next day in good shape.


It was clear from the Budapest Cup that approximately ¾ of the timers were inexperienced. They came from a local high school and were paid 4 euro a day. This was unlike Mongolia that used young, non-modelers who received detailed instruction in a class-like setting, practiced timing flights, and became proficient timers.  Many of the young Hungarian timers were at a loss and depended on the flyer’s timer. Only one timer had a tripod and all but two refused to use our binoculars on tripods. The many of the WC timer’s binoculars, while meeting the FAI requirements, were old and beat up. The inexperienced timers would become a factor for us and many other teams.


About half the USA team rested on Sunday and half did a short practice. The 6 pm Opening Ceremony was simple and short. It did enable all to get back for dinner at one of many wonderful restaurants. And then it rained.


Similar to Lost Hills, the road to the field became a muddy mess and the field was closed on Monday.  That evening Randy and I attended the manager meeting where, in addition to the usual business, the organizers committed to work on the road to make it passable by 8:00 am Tues the next morning.  


Tuesday morning, Randy Secor, Ed, and I arrived at the field entrance at 5:30 to assess the access to the field. We found a Brit, coming from the field and reporting the road was blocked by a French car. After an hour or so, some with 4-wheel drive braved a path.  In the larger van we had, we decided to try an alternate route which got us to a suitable testing location.  I messaged the rest of the USA team and they left for the 30 minute drive.  The F1C guys and Alex chose to come to the test area where we were and others braved the muddy road and got to the WC field. Everyone completed testing around noon. That evening we went to registration and model processing that went without incident. Non-removable wrist bands were placed on all the flyers and supporters, part of the organizer’s field control plan.  These bands were uniquely numbered and were checked by the timers before each official flight.


F1C, Wednesday

First time in my 40 years of WC experience that the F1A, F1B, F1C flying order was not used. F1C was the first to fly.  Randy and Bob Piserchio were the air pickers. First round was cool, slight breeze with three, 4 minute maxes, although the height at 4 minutes was not as much as we would expect. Round 2 and 3 brought more USA maxes but the air was getting tricky. USA models and fliers were looking good. Faust and Richard maxed. Ed flew the third position, climbed slightly to the left but got a good recovery. It looked to be a max but the location over the canal had down air and the flight was about 30 seconds short.  An older, experienced timer then told me it was an overrun.  With electronic timers and knowing Ed had not made any changes, I was surprised with the over run. I took it as gift and got Ed ready to re-fly. At about 2.5 to 3.0 sec into the climb, Ed’s folder left wing unfolded, the engine cut and the right unfolded. We hoped the model would recover but it did not and spiraled down in about 12 sec. The timer came and told me this was an over run too. I decided not to contest / protest the over run. I did discuss this with one of the Jury members. The inexperienced timers were timing to the model’s bunt and not giving the flyer the “benefit of the doubt” when definitive motor run could not be determined due to other motors running nearby.  Ed joined the club that I’m in but no one wants to be a member: zero at the WC.  Fourth round, 3 USA maxes. Air was tricky, very few big thermals. In the new 5 round format, the 5th round is a 4 minute max. We had an advantageous pole position with the breeze almost straight down the line. Usually you’d expect models upwind to launch into air and to be followed by many models marking the air. This was not the case, only batches of 4-5 would go at a time. The ones with perfect patterns, recovery, and glide would stay high, while others clearly were dropping in the same air. We were 35 minutes into the round when good air came with many engines running when Faust launched. It was a great pattern, good recovery---timer says over run. I insisted they time the flight, easy 4 minutes. We grabbed the Jury member and via a verbal “contest” got the overrun reversed. Faust was in the FO.  Air went flat again. Minutes went by with two to fly. I considered changing the flying order but decided against it. Richard was given the go sign, pattern slightly left, again over the canal area, no positive air, and the model descended, clocked off at just over 3 minutes. Ed flew with 3 minutes left and maxed. There were 29 in the FO.


We had several hours of break before the FO. Many went to the nearby town to cool off.  The organizers decided to use the split-group FO method. This was controversial in that in previous WC, the organizers planned for roughly 30 to 35 poles with 3 timers, often getting experienced timers from each of the teams. Most of the flyers believe a 30 flyer FO is reasonable and the split FO should not have been used for the F1C FO.


Faust drew group 2. Group 1 flew at 5 pm, only 2 made the 6 minute max.  We had an advantageous pole position. Good air came and up wind models looked good. Faust unfortunately had a non-optimum launch and recovered lower than usual and not in the good air. He did 202 sec.  Seven out of group 2 made maxes so that resulted in Faust not getting seeded to the next FO. Three non-maxes were seeded from group 1 to the next FO. Alan Jack of Great Britain just missed getting seeded to the next FO by 1 sec in that he did not achieve the 75% of the top score of his group (i.e.  360 seconds x .75 = 270 seconds).  Faust placed 23rd. The Canadians celebrated that night with Yury Shvedenkov winning the next FO with a 398-sec flight.


USA teamwork both at the line and with the downwind chase crew were exceptional. A special thanks to Jace Pivonka, our Jr Assistant Manager, who through the generous donations to the USA team was able to come with the team. Jace is a 2-time Jr team member, long distance high school runner, and all round great guy now starting his university studies. Equal thanks to Andrew Barron, the unseen downwind hero, who gave up 3 days of his time to solely help the USA team. The USA team thanks you all the more. Our other supporters were a big benefit as well with thanks to Tiffaney, Julie, Janna, Geralyn, Maryann, Tatiana, Amber, Ryan, Bob, Chuck and Siggy. I have to give accolades to Randy Secor who perfectly filled in my lacking F1C knowledge and experience and for the world class USA T-shirts and uniforms, along with Steve Galbreath for the team logo design and cards. Finally, thanks to all that donated to this team.


F1B, Thursday

The day started with 3-4 m/s breeze and was slightly overcast. Our pole was near the organizers camp with the breeze over the canal and trees.   Tiffaney O’Dell assisted the flyers with air picking. Alex flew first, great climb as usual, looked to be an easy 4 minute max, but the air again over the canal was bad and Alex’s model dropped. We had a more experienced timer who did the 10 second count when the model went behind a tree, and who restarted the 10 count when he saw the model reappear, just enough for the max.  Blake’s flight was a bit better, maxing before going below the tree line.  We heard an announcement that the first round was to be re-flown after a flight-line repositioning.  A protest had been accepted that the nearby trees presented an unfair situation to those on poles near the trees. We were not happy with two recorded maxes. The team managers gathered and demanded an explanation. Ian Kaynes, jurist, explained that the previous precedence from other WCs of keeping the max scores and allowing those that had not maxed to re-fly along with those that had not yet flown, was no longer valid. FAI rules had been clarified that allowed only a round to be cancelled, delayed, or re-flown. The jury decided the fairest was for the round to be re-flown and the max time changed from 4 minutes to 3 minutes. So Alex and Blake had to fly round 1 again. They maxed, as did our third flyer, Charlie.  Tony Mathews of Canada was hurt by this ruling in having made the 4 minute max but dropped the 3 minutes re-flight. Air continued to be tricky. Because of the breeze, very little flapping was seen under dropping models. USA was stringing up maxes. In the 4th round, Blake’s model power stalled twice due to the small, turbulent thermal. Worse was that the model was pointed upwind when the prop folded and the subsequent slow turn put the model out of the lift, resulting in a 31 second drop. The 5th round was a 4-minute max. Again, Alex climbed well but missed the small thermal, got pushed into down air, and unbelievably landed at 108 seconds. Charlie flew next and maxed to make the fly off. Blake changed models and made his last max.


Thirty nine made the FO, and so using the split flyoff made more sense. Charlie drew group 2. Group 1 had 19 flyers, 5 maxed.  In group 2, several models launched.  Charlie may have been 20-30 seconds late and did not get into the better air.  He did 321 seconds, a good score, perhaps enough to be seeded to the fly off.  Information was not readily available, so we waited.  There were 7 maxes in Charlie’s group 2 and only 5 in Group 1, so Charlie did not make it to the FO. Charlie place 16th.


The popular winner was Stepan Stepanchuk of the Ukraine with the next FO time of 401 seconds.


F1A, Friday

Forecast was more wind. The morning started with 3 to 4 m/s. Glider guys had a strong start, all maxes thru round 3. The wind came up. Mike towed well in the wind, went down wind, and was in control. My experience from the Budapest cup was that the thermals in the wind were much more difficult to determine than at Lost Hills. I believe Mike let a thermal through and the ensuing back fill was too much and Mike had to release the towline to save the model.  Brian was next, he waited on the ground, picked a lull, and attempted a straight up and off but did not have the speed for the LDA launch. The model bunted over and recovered at 40 meters. Brian used the RDT (allowed by the rules) and we held our breath--- 18 second, he got a re-flight. Rene towed well in the wind and maxes.  Mike was ready for re-flight. We waited for a lull.  As I launched him, the wind kicked in and pulled the model hard to the right.   Mike was unable to get the model back and I watched, reliving my similar experience at the 2011 Argentina WC of taking a zero. Another F1A World Champion, Mikhail Kochkarev, entered the WC zero club on this round as well. Now Brian re-flew. He changed to a short flapper because his short carbon model he had been flying had something loose in the fuselage.  He towed in a relatively calm, he circled twice and launched, not one of his best but into one of the best thermals of the day to max.  Round 5 was delayed an hour, the wind speed did drop some but the max time was reduced from 4 minutes to 3 minutes. All three maxed with Rene’s flight being one of the highest of the competition. USA had two in the FO, 28 total. Again the use of the split FO was questionable.


Rene drew group 1, Brian drew group 2.

Rene towed at the start of the round and went down wind. He was side by side with Per Findahl, two time WC and excellent windy condition flyer. Some models launched up wind and looked great.  Rene launched, followed by Per maybe 20 sec later. Per missed the air. Rene’s model fought to ride the thermal, going in and out, sometimes stalling a bit. He looked as if he would just make the 6 minutes, when the model fell off to the side and disappeared behind a distant tree line, 20 seconds short but well of above the 75% time requirement for possible seeding to the next FO.


We were able to repair Brian’s model so he went back to his previous model.  Brian waited on the ground when the FO started. The air got better.  He wanted to go but another model was towing just in front.  That model launched, then Brian towed. He did two circles and got a good launch but the delay resulted in not getting into the lift. He did 273 seconds, just making the 75% of the top time for a possible FO position.


Then we waited. In this situation with our two flyers in separate groups and not maxed, only one would maybe go to the next FO. It all depended on the times of the other flyers. If you do not max and you are in the group with the most maxes, you do not go to the FO.

That was the case for Brian. Still hopeful for Rene, a big USA cheer went up when Rene’s name was announced for the next fly off.


Rene got out his long, all-carbon flapper and put in two test flights. First was a good launch, with a bit of “over the top” at bunt. We agreed he could add a bit more cruise time. Next test was spectacular, 118 meters. He was ready.


The wind dropped as the FO start neared. Rene had the most upwind pole. At the start, he towed up wind and was free of traffic. Wind continued to drop, a lull perhaps. Rene set up higher than expected for the lower wind speed and did not generate the speed he had earlier.  He missed the launch, recovering at a disappointing 70 to 80 meters. About then several models at the other end of the line (100 meters) launched and appeared to have some air. Rene’s 232 second flight placed him 9th.  Igor Bombek of Croatia won with a flight time of 433 seconds. Previous world Champion, Robert Lesko of Croatia, was second.


And just like that, the 2017 FA FF World Championship flying was over. Out of the 9 USA team members, 5 have had the joyful experience of being on previous WC podiums receiving their awards. Not this year. The following days were spent thinking of “that one bad thermal pick, bad launch, should have flown model X, etc”. That’s free flight, the highs are splendid and lows are painful. This is what makes every team unique, talented individuals coming together for two weeks to measure their metal against the best of the world. 


Next day Jace and I went to the field and made two flights each. It was rather windy, it was surreal….. Just hours before that the best FAI FF flyers covered the field, but then all but one tent was gone. I picked up some parts from my friends Sergey and Mikhail and had a time to chat. This never gets old.


We gathered and went to the banquet and awards ceremony that evening.  It ranked low of the many WCs I’ve attended, most agreed.  I did have the opportunity to hand out USA -Lost Hills stickers promoting the USA 2019 FAI FF WC.  The feedback was enthusiastic. At the end of the evening, I had the privilege along with Chuck Etherington, USA Team Selection Chairman and USA CIAM representative, to accept the FAI Flag from the Hungarian Organizers.  


A small group has started the initial planning for the USA 2019 WC. One of the key elements of a successful WC is qualified, experienced time keepers. Please consider reserving the time around the 2019 Columbus Day October holiday to come and be part of this great experience. We are hoping that many of the 60 or so ex-USA Jr Team members will want to come and time at the WC, perhaps even introducing their kids to this wonderful sport they excelled at in their teenage days.


Jim Parker


electronic engine timing



It's hard to imagine F1C ever making a meaningful comeback with the current manual engine timing system, especially now with only a 4 I thought I was onto something when recently I tried mounting an electronic sound pick-up (spy bug) next to the exhaust of my engine and then with a transcender operating a clock at the launch site. I was ecstatic -- it worked!! It triggered the clock on engine sound, the click of the VIT, the flaps dropping, the wings deploying, the creak of the wing joiner, etc. I was overwhelmed. Maybe a magnetic pick-up rather than sound pick-up is the answer.   


 Gil Morris


Editors Comment – Gil’s posting is very interesting because is shows that there is a non-intrusive way of electronically measuring when the engine stops


C cut off Comment


From: Eddie Carroll



Regarding Antony Koerbin's Comment on FC Timing

A flasher at engine shutoff would be best. Electronic timers have this capability.  In my experience Fora and Babenko engines will not shut off unless the entire fuel bladder excess is forced into the intake as the brake is applied.  Therefore, there is no fuel spurt to see and time as a measure of engine shutoff.

I come back to the point I have already made:  if we are allowed 4 seconds, then make a new rule, which allows demonstration of the electronic setting to the timer.  An LED flash at shutoff would be another option.  Then forego further engine timing.  F1A and F1B get the full limit of their "propulsion energy", let F1C get the same.


Eddie Carroll

2017 USA F1C Team Member



Last man


From:Bernard scott



re  "Last Man Standing"


Dave Hipperson  ….   BRAVO SIR !!!


Solving the flight time keeper problem.

From: Matt Gewain


A couple of years ago I suggested to some people that our F1C timers should

have an accelerometer included.  Using that sensor the timer would be able

to measure and record the actual motor run and flight time.  When the model

was returned to the flight line this data would be down loaded and used by

the flyer.  With some changes to the Sporting Code this information could

be used to protest a bad time keeper performance.  Or perhaps we could

eliminate the need for time keepers at contests.   The current method used

to time F1C motor runs has been a major problem for many years, now the

technology exists to eliminate this problem.


Matt Gewain



Last man standing 2


From:Urs Schaller


We cannot boil down to the abolition of the BoM rule all what happened during the last 20 years. It may have had its influence, but as always, it is just part of the game.


Model building/flying is not a standalone sport, hobby or pastime. As everything it is part of a society and there general behaviour. Now it is since about 20 years that we are told every day, every hour through the TV, newspaper and internet …buy, buy, buy. Do not make anything yourself, just buy it, it’s cheap and fast and you help your nation increasing the gross domestic product. With these premises and the daily hammering, no wonder that who can will tend to buy models. Fast, cheap if compared to other sports – ever bought a fishing pole in carbon?


Now BoM was a wonderful ethic rule I really liked for myself, but I am still convinced you cannot write a watertight text to control and impose it. Remember, also in the old days a few could afford to have their models build by someone else and nobody would question it because it could not be proved. So nothing really new under the sun.


What I know is that we will not turn back to the “good, old days”, it never happened and we have to live with our times. Remember the famous article from 40 years ago “The last generation”? How true!


Maybe you have noticed that there was never a WC with more countries and competitors as the one in Hungary a few days ago. Not with home build models as you and I would like, but then…..

Urs Schaller



From:Martin Dilly


Far be it from me to insert anything as inconvenient as a fact to a full-blown Hipperson rant, but as the person who helped to organise the fund in the UK to get model flying going again in the wrecked city of Mostar in Bosnia perhaps I might be permitted to make a minor clarification. The money that was collected was spent entirely on several hundred BMFA Dart kits (Mike Colling, who produced them, confirms this) which were sent to the Mostar Aero Club; their younger members had till then been using de-laminated ply from wrecked houses to make chuck gliders. No money was sent and indeed in the chaotic economic situation that pertained there I'm not at all sure it ever could have been.


The Bosnian F1B team at Maniago were, I recall, all from Visoko where the late Kenan Jusufbasi? was the driving force,  not from Mostar.


Martin Dilly