European Championships 2017

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2017 by nicholasandrewray

European Championships 2017

by Simo-Pekka Reponen

The great Unirea Salt Mine in Slanic Prahova, Romania once again hosted the European Championships for the 2017 contest from March 14.-17.  This former salt mine has a fantastic 54 meter high underground hall – at present the best indoor free flight venue in the world.

The flying site was in the so called lower mine, with good roof lighting and – according to regulars –  “much cleaner toilets” compared with the former upper mine, that is nowadays closed because of elevator security issues.  Transportation to the mine 200m underground was by minibuses.

As usual, the Romanian fliers organized another competition, the Otto Hints Memorial in the preceding weekend. It offered a well-needed chance for practice and trimming for the most of us, who have no possibility to fly full-motor, full-power flights at home venues.   

Otto Hints Memorial was held during weekend, when the Mine was also in other use. Right next to the flying area there was a playground for children and teens: bouncy castle with compressor blowing air  and teens hurling around with pedal cars – just a few meters from flying area!  As you can guess, the air was not great at floor level, but far up near the ceiling it seemed OK.

In the beginning, many contestants had difficulties with high-power start trim. We saw many interesting stunt flight patterns – maybe we should have a new class for “F1D aeromusicals”?

Top fliers gave a hint of their performance already in Otto Hints.  Ivan Treger from Slovakia flew the best time 27:49 , but in total results he was left second after Romania’s  Corneliu Mangalea. Also Tony Hebb from UK flew over 26 minutes.

After a rest (and repair) day the European Championships began on Tuesday. Bouncy castle was deflated and pedal cars stowed away, and air was much better.  They program began with a full day trimming session, followed by a brief official opening ceremony. Speeches, fanfares, Romanian national anthem – but no folk dancers this time.

There were 28 contestants in senior class and 9 in juniors. Eight countries had a full senior team: Great Britain, Romania, Hungary, France, Russia, Poland, Lithuania and Czech Republic. Other countries represented were Slovakia (1), Finland (2), Germany (1). In the junior category Romania, Lithuania, Russia all had full junior teams.

New World Record

On Wednesday rounds 1 and 2 were flown. Air in the mine was OK, with just a minimal drift. During the second round Ivan Treger made an astonishing flight 29:43 and got well-deserved applause for the new World Record. Mangalea made 27:40, Hebb 24:02.  Other competitors were apparently still searching their best trim.

Second day on Thursday:  On round 3 Treger made his second best 27:26,  but Mangalea  topped with 27:46.  Ex-champion Zoltan Sukosd  was  also back in business with a 26:23 flight.  During the 4th round the top flyers did not make any improvement.

Friday, last day with round 5 & 6. Now it’s time to wind even harder – and most of contestants made their best times today.  Treger got a hangup on 5th round, Mangalea did not improve, but Tony Hebb flew  his best so far, 26:48.  Zoltan broke his model after an unsuccessful steer, UK’s Mark Benns got a 25:35.

On last round Treger and Mangalea did not improve, but Tony Hebb secured his 3rd place with a 27:42 flight. Zoltan’s last one was just 25:09, that kept him on 4th place. Germany’s only competitor Uwe Bundesen improved his times with every flight, and last one 25:19 secured him the 5th place.

In juniors the Romanian team was way above others, at least partly thanks to their active team manager Radu Foamete. He who took care of all model handling, measuring and even pre-winding the 5/99 rubbers – plus he instructed all team competitors in detail.

On the other hand, the Romanian junior competitors were no newbies: one told me he has flown F1D already 7 years – since the age of 10!   Best junior was Călin Bulau with 2 flights over 25 minutes.

Model trends 2017

Models with flat a stabilizer and a separate rudder fin seemed to gain popularity also among European fliers.  According to one convert, Tony Hebb, reason for this is the need to build completely straight and sturdy stabs plus the ease of separate rudder adjustment.  Also Treger had now chosen this construction.

Stabs seem to have grown in size, too. Ivan Treger used a fairly large, elliptical stab.

Carbon construction is gradually gaining popularity in F1D, too.  Two French fliers had carbon motor sticks, and carbon-balsa-carbon laminate spars and ribs were seen in several models. Carbon wing posts  were also a common sight, some carbon prop rims and carbon-capped ribs also.

Propellers were either full-spar or short spar – no overwhelming trend either way.  No VP mechanisms were used, but some fliers,  like Hungary’s Zoltan Sukosd, had freewheel mechanisms to improve glide in deadstick flights. However, some competitors said they had previously tried freewheel props but given up because of problems in loading the rubber reliably.  

Propeller sizes were modest, around 420 mm, so the era of wide-blade big props seems definitely past – at least  in high-ceiling venues like the Salt Mine.

Flight patterns varied. Ivan Treger had a textbook-climb in a nice fairly low angle – but all the way up to the top. Others showed steep, faster, sometimes straight initial climb.

A notable trend was the use of extremely thin rubber motors.  Typical 5/99 rubber sizes were 1,10-1,15 g/m.  They were wound hard, up to 1400-1500 turns.

The competition was well organized by the Romanian federation.  There were enough well-briefed timekeepers, and no time-keeping mistakes were heard.  The measuring tent, however was located in a narrow gate to the flying area and had a terrible manual scale with a loose counterweight arm. It destroyed at least one model by jumping off the rails.

In technical meeting there was discussion about marking models with FAI  ID-numbers – the rules change proposal that is supposed to be passed in April CIAM meeting.  The decision was made that junior models must be marked now – to prevent the use of same model by more than one competitors (as was suspected in 2016 World Championships).

For a F1D newbie like me the competition was both interesting and a great learning experience.  It remains to be seen, how many European fliers will attend the 2018 World Champs in West Baden. Many people were worried about the total cost of overseas travel and  attendance. On the other hand some top fliers were rumored to stay home this year from ECh to save money for West Baden 2018.

Next European Championships in 2019 are either in the Salt Mine or in a 17 meter high Cat II arena in Czech Republic. That would be interesting, too!

More pictures:

E.Ch-F1D-2017 copy.jpg

Click here to download a PDF of the results.


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