North America takes a step onto the world stage
2008-06-21 Think you’re a decent pilot? Here’s a chance to show your stuff to the public while spending time with other pilots who enjoy excellence. Even if you’d just like to improve, this is your perfect opportunity. There’s no need to consider yourself top dog and, in fact, if past comps are any indication, many recreational pilots are much better than they think.
This event is a qualifier for FAI’s World Air Games in 2009. It’s also just a fun time to spend with fellow pilots and see what competition is all about. Never competed? No sweat. If you can consistently launch on the first try, land within 25 feet of a target most times and have at least 25 flights, than you’re qualified.
Thanks to Roy Beisswenger who is organizing the event. I (Jeff Goin) plan on participating and will gladly help anyone whose interested in improving. It’s fun. I don’t have anywhere to practice myself so use techniques mentioned in the PPG Bible to improve/maintain skills. That involves picking natural points on land that I fly to practice precision turning. And you can practice spot landings anywhere.
Rules for this event are way different than any that have been flown before.
Rules: Download FAI 2008 Rulebook (PDF 180k, updated 7/7/2008).
Dates: July 25 – 27.
Location: Greenville, IL airport.
Pilot Qualifications: USPPA members will not have to pay any additional fees over the registration price, such as the NAA sporting license and USUA membership. Stay tuned for any changes in the registration requirements but you should be able to sign up for what you need on Friday afternoon. There will be a cutoff time, probably Friday, where new entrants cannot be accepted.
Prizes: Fame and fortune. Would you expect anything less? Babes will flock, the public will cheer and athletes from all disciplines will say “cool.” OK, back down to earth now, the prize will be bragging rites and a cool plaque/trophy. Plus, you’ll be scored with other pilots worldwide. Many of those pilots are recreational flyers like most of us so don’t be intimidated.
Cost: $50 if you register early. Go to USPPA to register.
Launch well, fly consistently and merely do the course properly, and you’ll probably be surprised at how well you do. Plus it’s a great opportunity to learn.
A lot of people can fly steeply—this is about flying steeply and precisely. Actually, flying steeply won’t even mean much if it’s not done precisely.
There are only three tasks and all require precision maneuvering with clean takeoffs.
Note: The official rules are on FAI’s website and, since documents can change, I suggest downloading the originals if you decide to compete. This commentary hopes to clarify what will be taking place July 25-27 in Greenville, IL and help pilots decide whether to participate. Even for the casual competitor it will be a fun time. It’s as serious as you want to make it.
I (and others) will be offering suggestions to anyone who wants it during practice and before the tasks are flown. We’ll walk through the flight paths and discuss strategy for getting the best score given various wind conditions.
Wanna give this thing a dry run? Wanna practice? Come to Greenville on July 5 (Sat) where Roy will be setting up the tasks to make sure everything will run according to plan. There’s no cost and, in fact, you don’t even need to be registered. He’s gonna be running a stopwatch and seeing what issues arise. I’ll publicize the results here afterwards if weather allows the dry run.
There must have been a desire to simplify the scoring since it’s nearly brainless. Everything is boiled down to a time in seconds that it takes to complete each task. Penalties are applied in seconds against your task times.
Leadership will determine penalties, always in seconds, for various infractions such as being late for your designated time at the takeoff area. These penalties will be briefed.
Points will count towards your standing in the USPPA competition. If this is the only competition flown for the year (it is the only one scheduled at present) then the winner will become the USPPA champion. Points will be normalized to how the competition would be scored in the USPPA system. That is, if there are 15 pilots, it will be worth 1000 points. The winner will be awarded 1000 points and everyone else will get an appropriate percentage.
Be on time and don’t blow it. A failed launch (false start) will penalize you up to two minutes. So if you flew the task in 4 minutes after blowing a launch, your time will be scored as 6 minutes. Ouch!
A takeoff is considered failed if the wing gets completely off the ground then comes back down again, specifically within 10 seconds of the wing first leaving the ground. So you can build a wall as long as some wing fabric remains touching the ground.
You’re not allowed to have help getting the wing laid out.
Landing must be on the pilot’s feet with no ground contact of the cage. You can go to one knee without penalty but touching ground with two knees or the cage is disqualifying. The goal is to kick (touch) a soccer ball as the first point of contact. Move the soccer ball before touching the ground, and you’re a bullseye.
It is the first point of contact that counts and there’s no penalty for running out the landing. In fact, the FAI precision landing is much easier than the USPPA’s because the pilot gets maximum points by merely touching the ball first.
Unlike other FAI tasks, the landing score affects only time of the task after which it is flown. So spot landing is nowhere near as important as in events past. Too bad, that’s my strong point! You’re penalized one second for every meter away from the spot.
Flying the Tasks
Hit the sticks with your feet or paramotor and don’t hit the ground or pylons. The verbiage, as best I can see, doesn’t actually penalize the pilot for touching a pylon but it could be inferred. Marshals will have to clarify that one. I’d suggest a 15 second penalty for touching a pylon with your body or paramotor but nothing if wing or lines touch them. A well-flown turn will have the wing inside the pylon as the pilot’s body swings outside.
Don’t fly over the crowds or violate any no-fly areas.
No maximum heights are mentioned but going high on any of these tasks (except the required spot landing climb) will only hurt your score.
A pleasant affect of the rules is that they really don’t favor a super fast wing. Yes, speed matters, but there aren’t any straight lines long enough to give great advantage to the fastest wings. Certainly, with most of the tasks being timed, don’t want to be lollygagging.
There is no efficiency task so big motors won’t hurt, either. I’d say the best equipment will be a maneuverable reflex-type wing being flown by a sufficiently powerful motor to propel it through a sustained steep bank.
Should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!