This past weekend I went to a two day radio controlled glider contest in Visalia, CA. This sport actually gets really, really competitive, with many models going for $2,000 or more. I don't have any of those. What I was flying was a $60 kit built Gentle Lady and a discontinued kit built Spirit Elite, the plane that I tie dyed. It was a hit!
There are over 200 planes registered. I'm not sure how many pilots; we were allowed up to two planes per class. I'd guess at around 50-75 pilots. I was the ONLY female pilot participating in the contest, though I did meet two other lady glider guiders there.
I was doing OK, at least both planes came back home in one piece (more or less). I was having trouble with distances there-- I am used to flying near buildings and trees in small spaces. Those big, wide open spaces were messing with me, and I kept landing outside the landing field. Sometimes WAY out. I got to be friends with the 4-wheeler drivers.
Friday night sky show:
Random contest shots:
The whole point of it is to launch, and then find warm, rising air, go up as high as you can, and stay up for as long as you can. There are guys that can stay aloft for hours. My best flatland time is 36 minutes. In contrast, a plane like mine takes about two minutes to come down after launch without finding any lift. At the contest location, lift was surprisingly easy to spot, because it was sucking up all the dust and making a very visible plume. Dust devils often form at the base of good, strong thermals. Find the whirlwind, find the lift. Just keep out of the whirlwind.
Two or three times a dust devil would come right through the line of resting planes, and everyone would scramble to hold everything down, lest one gets picked up and thrown.
Heading right down the line of planes:
When your plane gets too close to the sun, it is usually best to turn and go somewhere else. Sometimes, especially in a contest (or a really good thermal period), people choose to stay by the sun. What else to use as a sun-block, but your own transmitter? Here's a cute picture:
Team Futaba had a modified Gnome that I liked. They put the winglets on it.
My two planes, and some back lit shots of the Spirit Elite:
Here's a red velvet ant I caught. They're actually solitary wasps. Don't let one sting you, it hurts. I put this guy on the wing of the Spirit just to slow him down a little, and it worked. He was too busy being perplexed to use those long legs of his. Poor bug must have gotten into a fight, he's missing a wing. I'm pretty sure it's a male, because of the wings. I usually don't see winged velvet ants.
As I said, I wasn't doing too good with the landings. Here is the view back on my worst out landing. Two levees, half a corn field, and a dry pond between me and a nice, cold drink of water and my chair. Phew! I'm leaving this one full-size so you can see the buildings in the distance. Follow the link to view.
Saving the best part for last. I have a little gizmo in the purple Gentle Lady. It's a lost plane alarm, and this one is programmable with different sounds. Just assign the device to a particular switch in the radio, and whenever you flip the switch, the alarm goes off. The alarm also sounds if the receiver looses the signal. Apparently, levees don't transmit radio too well. Gee, who would have thought it? The second gizmo on the plane is a tiny video camera, which happened to capture the funniest landing I have ever filmed. I did NOT hit the switch when the plane landed, it must have lost signal behind all that dirt. Enjoy!