Monday, 23 February 2015

West Lomond F3F Winter League Round 4

Only the second winter league event for us (we lost 2 to the weather in December and January) but conditions looked promising for a 20ish mph wind on West Lomond which is what we got after a bit of a wait for the wing to swing to the forecast direction at lunchtime.

Being stir crazy I was first in the air with my Precision to have a sport fly in the still crossed conditions before lunch. My model was going well and I enjoyed my first proper F3F sport fly since November however landing in the usual spot in the crossed conditions was a bit hairy and touchdown was sudden! A number of us had an exciting time flying through the bumpy rotor to make less than elegant landings. Mike had several “arrivals” with his new FS 4.3 and Ewan collected some vegetation with the wingtip of his Jedi! Ouch!  Once the wind swung straight on the hill Peter showed us all that the usual spot was now perfect for landing and anywhere else proved fraught!
View through the gate! Peter's winning Jedi streaks back onto the course
It was close between Mike and Peter all day and if it hadn't been for a delay during the last two rounds (Mikes fault) when conditions were deteriorating Mike could well have taken first place. Mike had to fly after his stoppage and the air was not so good.
Dave's Pitbull
Ewan had his new Jedi tuned in well and it was looking very fast as was Dave with his new Pitbull. Ian’s Ceres was very fast too and the final scores were extremely close. Less than 2 points between Dave and me from a total of 11700!
Mike digging his FS4.3 out of the hill. Again!
West Lomond is a great slope and considering the wind was only blowing about 20-25mph all day you still had to be pulling sub 40s to take the rounds. The lift there is awesome and on a big day….?

I flew ok but with much room for improvement. My feeble launch technique needs some work though. A lot of work. Sorry Ewan!

A good day out on the hill and plenty of the usual banter! Especially as Ewan had managed to keep his new Jedi a secret from Mike until he took it out of the bag on the hill! Much muttering of how Mike was letting Ewan walk home!!
By the time we all got back the cars we were knackered. It is about 2.3 miles to the West Lomond slope and I walk that distance at lunchtime most days in 35 minutes and think nothing of it. Carrying all our kit over the ups and downs of the track makes such a difference. I try to walk regularly to keep fit? Working well? Not!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Dunnichen Hill

The last time I had a decent sport fly was back in November and "things" kept getting in the way. A nice easterly forecast for Saturday looked promising but the day turned out hazy and misty and trips to Kilspindie in similar weather have proved most disappointing with the slope completely shrouded in cloud. It might have been clearer later in the day but I was needed elsewhere!

The forecast for Sunday was for a good south-south easterly but that misty clag was still blowing in from the North Sea and although the south corner of the hill is flyable at Kilspindie it isn’t great.

So, having spotted a potential hill only 20 minutes away I chucked my Weasel Evo in the car and headed over to Dunnichen Hill. (Apparently and long before Mel Gibson, in 685AD Dunnichen Hill was the site of a  decisive Pictish battle against the Northumbrian hordes).

Bonnie walk.
A nice easy walk up through some old woodland and past a couple of small fishing ponds saw me on the edge of a promising looking slope. The lift in a 25mph SSE wind is very good and my Weasel was scooting along really well. Yippeee! I was able to easily climb the model until it was a speck and dive straight down and along the edge for a couple of ballistic runs before it slowed to a more normal speed. Weasel lacks the momentum of a ballasted F3F model. It was brilliant to finally get some decent stick-time even if it was only a foamie.
Weasel Evo over the landing area which is tighter than it looks.
There is a stand of trees down the bottom of the hill which seemed to cause some turbulence but not too bad. However, the line of trees along the back of the slope is more of an issue. There is a smallish area in front of the trees for landing but it is tight! Having got my Weasel a bit close to the trees on several approaches I would be cautious about trying to get an F3F model down there. The three main parts of the Weasel are held together with magnets and the parts will separate if the ground is smote a little too firmly and this aspect was explored more than once!  My old Spark will be getting taken along next time though. I will need to coax it out of its hiding place in the shed after the last expedition we had together! There is a largish flat field behind those trees but the turbulence felt fierce near thre teees and fat calm farther back. I would be wary. If you walk about 200m west there is an area where there are no trees and there is a promising landing area to be tried next time ;)
Hazy out the front
It was great to get a good fly and I was well pleased. Smiled all the way home!

Postscript. One concern I had when I was walking up to the slope is I spotted several feeding stations for game birds (Don’t get me wrong, I do like a game bird). There were notices too, saying “No Fires” “No camping”. I kept an eye open for an irate gamekeeper turning up and chasing me off his land for scaring his pet pheasants. Sure enough, as I was walking back down the hill to where I left the car I heard the approach of what turned out to be a couple of quad-bikes ridden by a suitably attired gamekeeper and his son together with a mud caked spaniel. Here we go I thought! However, the chap could not have been nicer! He was interested to learn that I had success flying there and left with a cheery wave.   

Monday, 9 February 2015

Hole of Horcum Winter League

After the non-event in January I was looking forward to getting a competition in at last and I was at Peter’s house bright and early on Saturday morning. Well, maybe “bright” is pushing it a little but it certainly was early! A minor navigational error saw us take a detour via Livingstone and Ratho (don’t ask but you would think we would know the way by now especially with the satnav on!) we arrived at the Saltergate car-park pretty much on time.  

We headed over to the northwest slope trudging through patches of slushy snow on the way. Walking on the slushy snow proved quite tiring and also demonstrated the inaccurate description of many people’s walking boots as being waterproof!! Mine certainly were not and I had soaking wet feet all day and I don’t mean damp I mean WET! Yuk!! Cold too! Boots with a fabric section above ones toes let the melted snow in!! I was well wrapped up and with the rest of me quite warm my extremities were tolerable. Other people were less fortunate! Brrr… A few of us traveled home with no socks on! 

Moan over!

We got underway in very light conditions and it really was a day for accurate flying. A few of us (excuses) were unlucky and had to fly in some very light lift; I flew one round with too way much ballast which didn't help.

Peter launches Mark's Toxic
Peter got to grips with the light conditions right away as did Ronnie Lamp and when we stopped for lunch about 1 o’clock it was very close between them! After a longish break while the conditions dropped away and then picked up again we got going and Peter managed to hold onto his lead to the end. A convincing win for Peter and his FS3.

Mark and his Toxic
There was much of the usual Northern banter which kept our spirits up. A fair amount of hilarity followed the discovery that Jon’s wind-speed meter was set on “wind chill” and not wind-speed. It did explain why when the wind seemed to pick up the meter said it was dropping!! CD’s need a thick skin!

Disappointingly, I finished well down the field. Excuses? Round one was my first flight in 2 months and I flew the first few rounds like a beginner. I was second last in the flying order which meant I flew in dreadful air at the end of the morning session when conditions were dropping and I had the same issue in the last round. However, I was rubbish!!

I still had a grand day out though finished off with fish and chips from the Magpie in Whitby.