I am a competition RC glider pilot. I fly club contests, the Long Island Silent Flyers,
. I also fly in a competition soaring league, the Eastern Soaring League.
. I fly two types of thermal duration glider contests. One is hand launched and one is winch launched. Let me tell you a little about glider contests.
Hand launched - these are gliders with a typical wing span of 50 to 60 inches. The particular type of hand launch I use is called a discus launch. There is a peg in the end of the wing. You hold the wing tip and spin around like an Olympic discus thrower. My launches are typically between 120 and 140 feet. The really good pilots can hit 160 to 200 feet. The goal is to find thermal lift to help you keep the glider in the air for a target period of time to accumulate points, one point per second, according to a variety of tasks. I am not a highly accomplished DLG pilot but I enjoy the competition just the same.
If you have never seen a discus launched glider being thrown, click on these links.
This is a more relaxed throw using a 2 channel Mountain Models DL50 DLG. This plane can also be simply side arm launched.
is a video of a DLG contest:
Typically there are 5-10 glider pilots in a flight group launching and working the air at the same time during a designated task window of about 7-10 minutes. During that window the pilot will likely make several launches in order to accomplish the tasks and score points.
Winch launched gliders - These gliders typically have wing spans of 70 to 150 inches. They have no motors, so we use a winch to tow them up using a motor on the ground. It is somewhat similar to how you get a kit up into the air but much faster and much more powerful. The line is typically 200 to 300 pound test and some of the competition gliders can break the line on the launch. A good winch launch will get you
500 to 700 feet in altitude.
Again the goal is to get the glider into thermal lift, keep it in the air then land exactly at the designated time on a designated spot. Points are awarded for time in the air and how close you come to the landing spot. Typical flight time would be 10 minutes and landing points would awarded to how close you get to the center of a 100 inch radius landing circle with the maximum score at the center of the circle.
If you have never seen a winch launched glider contest, this video is not a bad example. They show some typical gliders, then at about 1:45 they show some winch launches and around 3:00 you start to show some spot landings. The task is simple, like most sports. However being excellent at it takes time. In the video they are using one winch. In most of our major contests we will have 3-5 winches with pilots launching in flight groups of 3-5, being scored against each other.
It's a lot of fun.
Ed Anders> Are you a competition pilot? Doesn't have to be a big deal! If you