SEN issue 1131 - 1 September 2007

Table of Contents - SEN issue 1131 - 1 September 2007

  1. Sierra Cup
  2. Comments f rom Ken
  3. Thoughts on MacCreadt
  4. MacCready and the Sympo
  5. Looking for a Tracker

Sierra Cup Update
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A couple of "things" for the Sierra Cup. First, if you don't have an entry, let me know and I'll send you one electronically. Second, I goofed on the entry form and didn't ask for your E-mail. Please put your E-mail on the form (no problem if you have already entered) so I can get back to you on your needs, desires and questions. Last, get those entries in so I can get the poles set, make up some fair teams and perhaps facilitate a motorcycle on your pole, just in case. Thanks and look forward to seeing you all again, seems like a long break!


Comments from Ken - Jens B, Paul MacCready and vibes on the line
Ken Bauer

First a correction.  A short time back I wrote about GPS Chasing and referred to it as the "Henning Method" in reference to our good friend Henning Nyhegn who first demonstrated the method to me and enjoys preaching the virtues of this method to the free flight world.  However Danish authorities have indicated to me that credit should be given to the true inventor of the method who is JENS B KRISTENSEN who developed this method in 2000 - 2001.  Of course there may have been others involved who have done similar things with GPS, but proper credit should be given to Jens.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Paul MacCready but I will remember him for his great creative thinking and ability to persevere and solve problems.  My Dad knew Paul and was fortunate enough to be in close contact with him during the development of the Gossamer Condor during the days leading up to that very first successful flight which won the first Kremer prize.  I was about 16 at the time and remember that my Dad was talking to Paul every day for the week or two prior to this flight.  My Dad would give me the status every day with stories like "Paul thinks it will happen any day now...  they crashed the airplane but fixed it... they got over the first pole... they had it going good then a wind gust hit it... etc.."  Finally my Dad got the call where Paul said, "I think we will do it tomorrow.  We had a flight where we went the whole distance but were just a few feet short of the final altitude requirement, so come to the airport."  So my Dad and I drove to Shafter airport that night and brought our cameras and slept in sleeping bags on the airport runway.  At dawn they brought the Gossamer Condor out of the hanger and got ready for the flight.  It was perfect free flight weather that morning, nice and calm, and perfect for the flight.  Bryan Allen got in and took off and cleared the first altitude hurdle.  I remember that the thing flew so slow that there was a crowd of guys running along with it the whole flight.  Sure enough, just as Paul had predicted, it turned out to be the prize winning flight as Bryan put everything he had in it at the end and cleared the final hurdle.  I still have the pictures that I took and I think my Dad has an 8mm movie film of it.  During about this same time I remember Paul calling me on the phone one day to ask about trimming free flight hand launch gliders that he was working on with his sons.  What an honor!  I guess my Dad had told him about my indoor glider flying during that time at the Tustin hangers.  I'll always have good memories of those events.

Finally on that note about creative development of ideas I'd like to challenge anyone out there to come up with a better way of controlling F1A gliders on tow in light of the recent discussion.  I've been there and it isn't easy.  About 10 years ago I put a lot of thought into new revolutionary ways to control a glider given the power of modern electronics.  I was using the basic stamp at the time and realized that there may not be any need to follow the old pattern of the moving hook controlling the rudder and the spring latch mechanism, etc..  I wanted a solution where the model would always tow straight when you wanted straight tow, regardless of the line tension, for towing in the wind, and then I wanted to be able to tell it when to start and stop turning to have full control in all conditions, sort of like RC but through the towline.  I thought of all kinds of ways to send messages up the towline using vibrations or pulses.  Using my very first strain gage towhook I made a system where the hook did not move, but the timer would detect various tugs or jerks on the line.  One of the basic schemes was that one jerk would put the model in straight tow mode, and another would put it in circle mode.  So you could staight tow and kite in the wind and let the line go slack without worry of it going into the circle too soon.  It did not work very well and anyone around at the time may remember some crazy towing events with me running all over the field trying to control the glider.  I tried many variations of pulls, jerks, delays, etc to try and make the system work but it was very difficult.  After a long time of fooling with what would otherwise have been a good model, I finally converted it to a more normal system and I can still remember thinking when flying it in that mode something like "wow, this is great, the old system really works good and is hard to beat."

So if anyone out there wants to experiment I'd love to watch it and I'll be glad to give away all my old basic stamp code which has previously been published.  I still sit around thinking sometimes of a better way to connect the line to the model and release it exactly when wanted and how to perfect the other weaknesses of the present system in wind, but I've concluded that our present system is pretty darned good and I try to resist the temptation.  Personally I've made the choice to practice with and fine tune my present system to fly as competitively as I can because I've realized that it is very hard to be both an innovator and developer at the same time that you are trying to win contests.  Some people can do it, but for me there are development modes where crazy things can happen, and then there are flying modes where you want only proven tried and true stuff.

Thermals, Ken

Dr Paul Mac Cready
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Thanks for printing the obituary of Dr Paul MacCready. He will be sorely
missed and fondly remembered in the aviation community. It would be
interesting to see his modeling accomplishments researched and printed.
Unfortunately my memory bank did not start that early.

Rod Mogle

Paul Mac Cready Remembered
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Dear Roger,
I am very sad to hear about the death of Paul Mac Cready.

I was at High School, and already building model airplanes when in 1956 Paul Mac Cready won the World Championship in Glider. That was in St Yan, France. I think he flew a Breguet, and later on he flew the Edelweiss with much success. That glider was one of the very first glider built in fiber glass, and had a V tail.

In 1967, I started flying full size gliders, and for years and years, I have been using his device which was on board of all French gliders, and which gave me the opportunity to make super nice distance flights and prevented me to make bad landings in the country...

You know that I also got some "health" problems.... I am OK now, they cleaned my heart "pipes" and I am now equiped with an "electronic timer" which works perfectly!

Best wishes and many thanks to all those who sent me messages, or signed post cards, mainly at Poitou contest!

Pierre Chaussbourg

Sympo and MacCready
From: Rex Hinson

Hi Roger,
Paul MacCready wrote an article for the just released 40th anniversary NFFS Symposium.

Receiver wanted
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I'm looking for a used but in a good working condition receiver and if available transmitter for F1A models. If you have one, or know of someone who might be looking to sell his, please contact me at 917-723-7004 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thanks, Ranan


Roger Morrell