Sunday, December 16, 2007

Drinking and Flying -- Paolo Ruzzier

After reading Vic's letter in the November 2007 SAMAA NEWS (Letters to the editor) I for one want to give my full support to his letter and statements.

Alcohol, as Vic says, is widely accepted around the world. However, South Africans somehow think they can do it better than anyone else; they don't drink alcohol for the taste, enjoyment or relaxing feeling it may give them. Refusing to have "just one" but drinking as much as they can until they fall over absolutely motherless - thinking everyone sees them as real heroes, believing whatever crap comes out of their mouths.

The next day they feel absolutely terrible; have hangovers yet STILL brag about how much they had to drink. Then it's "LET'S HAVE AN OTHER ONE - HAIR OF THE DOG THAT BIT YOU", after which they get into their cars, driving themselves and maybe even their families to shopping centers or flying fields still trying to prove to all and sundry what heroes they are; totally oblivious to the fact that everyone is looking at them thinking "What a stupid fool you are, is this what "Proudly South African means?

I don't even want to comment on the fools doing drugs; they are equally stupid to be involving themselves in such a practice. What's the matter; is there not enough information out there telling you what the effects are? Statistics have proven the damage caused over and over again telling of the great expense to the victims. It's spoken about on radio; television; the news papers but there are always those who know better.

Chaps, we can see when you've been drinking; if you are an alcoholic or under the influence of drugs. I for one don't enjoy your stupidity or foul language, every second word coming from your mouth being f---; a clear sign of ignorance and lack of vocabulary. Our children hear you; our wives and girlfriend hear you but you don't care. You are disgusting to be around but all you can say is "If you don't like it then don't join"!

The fact is we want you to get lost; get out of our environment, club and presence. There will of course always be some idiots hanging around you; scared that if they don't join in they'll be regarded as sissies and nurds " yet another sign of ignorance.

After 34 years in active service on our airline, I have seen the experts drinking and what it did to them through the years. They were the guys who didn't drink eight hours before flying; supposedly being "sober" when boarding the aircraft to do probably eight or more hours of flying, taking not just their own but the lives of others in their hands.

Slurred speech; slow hesitant thinking; inability to problem solve; looking old and haggard; bad body odour; bad breath; lack of balance; suffering from cancer and all sorts of other diseases; short miserable life spans...I can go on and on. Yes I know you tell everyone you don't drink that much and can stop any time; believe me now - YOU CAN'T; YOU NEED HELP!

I can safely say to you drunken bums out there (and you know who you are) that if any of my family, friends or anyone I know gets injured or killed through your drunken stupidity - be it on the road, flying field airport or wherever you will NEVER hear the end of it until your dying day. That is a promise and vow that many, in fact the greater majority of our community have made. Get the message, "We do not want to be associated with you in any way"!

If you really have to drink, do it at home; then you can drink as much as you like, fall over and make a complete "stupid ice hole" of yourself. Or, go to a pub and get someone to take you home afterwards. Give your car keys to someone responsible that you trust, telling them not to give them back to you until you are sober again,

For crying out loud; THINK! How will you feel if you wipe out a child or a family? What if it is a member of your own family or a friend? Now read my lips "OUR FLYING FIELDS OR CLUBS ARE NOT PUBS"!

I want to see responsible people enjoying a good day of expert flying; hoping even to learn and improve my flying and aeronautical skills without having to deal with idiots who refuse to abide by club rules just because it doesn't suit them. If you understand the statement which I have made here, I hope it will make the difference for you, however if you feel insulted about what I have said, then maybe this applies to you and you should take more notice! I feel very strongly about this matter, and I hope it will open at least someone's eyes out there.

Paolo Ruzzier; SAMAA Membership # 1542

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Paragliding / Slope Soaring Guinea Pig -- Sinjun Weston

The first question comes to mind, what the hell is a paragliding / slope soaring article doing in the SAMAA news??

Well this is my experience with both!!

+-300 Km's from Johannesburg, lies a beautiful valley. The Bambi Paragliding Club operates from a 220m high Slope and for all those Non-Power Peasants out there, the valley release is indescribable.

What is valley release you might ask?? Aha - I see you swing a prop from time to time. No, it's not some vintage wine of the 90's just waiting to be opened.
Come 15h00 in summer and 16h00 in winter, the 15 km long valley releases all the built up heat it's collected during the day. The heat flows out the sides of the valley in the form of waves of lift. Sometimes as much as 6m/s on a good day
The lift is like silk and usually extends sometimes as much as 500m away from the slope. Height gains of over a km can be attained but the average is about 300m

This is where the slope soaring Guiney pig came into his own. Usually on a good day, there would be around 10 paragliding pilots all kitted up and ready to roll. No-one of course would want to go off first, the reason being that if the valley release had not started or was still too weak, one would end up with a very long climb back to the top of the mountain. Usually with 20kg of equipment on ones back.
To top it all, one would miss out on some good flying in the process

At this point, my trusty old Aquila would be launched and within a matter of minutes, I would be able to 'paint' the sky with the lift patterns. On some days, I would get it wrong and the first PG pilot to take off would scratch and curse all the way down to landing. Ah well they didn't listen in class!!!!

By the time they got back up the slope, I'd be at 300m above ground level and soaring like an eagle.

Sinjun Weston

I'm sure the pilots visiting the Volksrust site have noticed the "Valley Release" effect.

Gliding postal scores for 2007 and comments for Nov from John Lightfoot

Scores here.
Comments here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Update on David Ndawonde -- Juan Pretorius

Here's an update on David's progress.

As you know David has been has been very committed turning up every weekend for his flying lessons . One of the club members was also kind enough to donate a PC to him last week on which he could install his flight sim. to practice during the week .
According to Roli , David's flying has really been coming along very well , to the extent that David was allowed to do his first take-off , which was very successful. ( Pictures attached )


Saturday, November 17, 2007

"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

I sent my view on the Manual of Operations to members of the management committee asking if anyone wanted to comment or put another view. Only Joe Coetzer and Tony Stockwell replied - about par for the course. I've added their remarks at the end.

It is my suggestion that we replace the present paper Manual of Operations with a shorter, simpler Internet document. Here are my reasons.

There are four central benefits of SAMAA membership.

Group insurance cover
Association with the FAI, and international competition
A voice in dealing with the authorities on airspace, frequency, field tenure and other matters
Access to advice and guidance on safety and other operating issues.

When Keith, on behalf of the committee, defended the manual at the AGM, he mentioned none of these. Instead, he seemed to concentrate on a bizarre Corporate Correctness. He used such expressions as; SAMAA did not have a manual for seventy years now it's time to move forward; or no business operates nowadays without a manual; or we need to do things properly now; and so forth.

The SAMAA is not a business corporation. It doesn't have to make profits for its shareholders. Its task is to do the best for its members. There may be some basic similarities to a business but these are few. Mainly they have to do with accounting to members for money spent.

I think it's a great shame that so much effort went into writing this manual. I doubt if anyone will read it. I doubt if anyone or any committee will observe it's labyrinthine procedures.

Then there's the affect on insurance. I quote two examples only;

Page 23...." It must be clearly stipulated and issued to the Association members that if they do not comply with certain basic Safety Rules and an accident occurs, they are solely liable for all costs and for the legal consequences which may follow."

Page 69..." If an (sic) SAMAA member or any Registered Clubs or Special Interest Groups of SAMAA normally covered by SAMAA Insurance Policies, participates in a display of Model Aircraft without the Display having a proper permit issued by SAMAA Management Committee it will invalidate their SAMAA Insurance Cover"

(There are other rigorous rules for display pilots.)

Insurance is one of the four central benefits. The manual gives carte blanche to the underwriters to repudiate claims. Safe flying is important but this is ridiculous. I attended the JOMAC Guy Fawkes celebrations recently. A number of JOMAC members flew aircraft - safely. Is this a display? From one point of view yes. Did the SAMAA Management committee issue a proper permit? I doubt it.

Members of the public watch the Hermanus Slope Event. Is this a display? Does it need a permit? Who knows? And yet, the manual is specific. Pilots at Hermanus could lose insurance cover.

So what next?

I suggest that we re-think the process.

First, what should be in a manual, second, how should it be presented?

Here are some ideas on how it should be presented.

The simpler and shorter we can keep the manual the better. A long document will just attract dust. If it is to be useful, if it is to be read, it must be easy to read. A manual of hundred pages is too long.

A conventional hard copy document is out-of-date as soon as it is published. This manual is no exception. For instance, the section on 2,4Ghz sets is out of date. It can be brought up-to-date but to do this for every member will not be a trivial process. (It will be neither trivial nor low cost to get initial copies of the manual to members). If members are not kept up-to-date, the purpose of the manual is defeated.

The Internet with its hyperlinks can assist with both these matters.
Develop the manual as an Internet document from the word go.
Where content for the manual exists, (and this is so in many cases already), link to it rather that duplicate it. Updating the document will be simple too - all members will see the new information immediately.

There is a drawback to this. I estimate that only 20% of our members have regular access to the Internet. But this number will grow with time. It may be better for 20% of members to use an up-to date version than for all to use an old one.

What should be in the manual?

I suggest it should hold:
How the association works
How the association delivers the four central benefits listed above.

The working of the association is set out in its constitution, the workings of SIGS in founding statements. The constitution exists as an Internet document, founding statements likewise. The manual should contain a link to the constitution and to an example of a founding statement. I see no need for pages and pages of detail on the working of committees, sub-committees and other groups. The sub-committee structure is flexible and changes all the time. It is often ad hoc and transient. Let it operate without a bureaucratic millstone around its neck.

There should be a clear statement on insurance. - What is covered, what the exclusions are if any, how to report incidents and how to claim. (The statements we have had up to now have raised more questions than they answered. We have No-fault public liability cover while flying. Yet, we constantly seek to erode our cover. I'm not sure why). Incident reporting and claim procedures exist as Internet documents. Cover and exclusions are surrounded in mystery and contradictory statements. There is a good example on how to present the insurance issue on page 8 of the 2007 BMFA handbook. We would do well to study it.

There are Internet documents dealing with our relation with the FAI. These have to do with team selection and approval, team funding, team managers' duties, planning overseas travel, liaison with FAI Technical Committees and the like. It's my perception that this information is a little fragmented now. Perhaps the SIGs could work together to revise it and draw it into a simple concise set of Internet documents for a manual.

There are Internet documents on aspects of dealing with the authorities. These include, how to set-up and register a flying site, guidelines for Public Air Shows and Displays, incident reporting and confidential aviation hazard reporting. There have been a number of notes on liaison with ICASA. Most of the information is available now. Some new policies may have to be written, some existing ones revised.

There are Internet documents giving advice and guidance on safety and operations. These include Team Managers' checklists, judges' remuneration guidelines, proficiency tests, club safety guidelines, frequency control, TX fail-safe guidelines, SIG safety codes and many more.

Bring all this together into a short, simple, linked document.

Tony said. "Hi John,
Some bureaucracies are here to stay. CAA is going nowhere. CYA neither!
It is never any Insurance company's intention to cover gross negligence. So the requirements of the P&P (or MoO) are no different to that required by any reasonable Insurance arrangement.
For CAA to be comfortable with our mandate of guarding the interests of Aeromodellers the "normal " behaviour of our members must be proscribed in a document that is approved by the "Authorities". Get real John - even you drive on the right side of the road (mostly!)

Keith has simply put all the "links" together in a format acceptable to those who require it. The Regional workshops will initiate the Regional Associations where the P&P will be properly dissected for Club consumption (and debate no doubt).

Those Ancients among us, steeped in the nostalgia of "Free Flight", should take cognisance of the technological advances that have made the risks greater than the rubber band brigade were used to. Plus the proximity of civilisation has made disaster imminent and expensive. This means keeping our collective noses clean so that we can fly in peace.

If we have to eat the elephant let's cut it up into small pieces rather than send such bounty back to the kitchen!

What say you?

Joe said. ".........The more I re-read the so-called MOP the more upset I get."

Friday, November 16, 2007

November 2007 issue of SAMAA News

You can get this from the web site.
About 10 M in three parts in pdf format.

F3A World Champs update -- Marc Wolffe

Well guys, the prelims are over, and now for the top 27 pilots, the fun begins! Unfortunately, none of the South Africans made the fly-off, although at one stage it looked possible that I could make it. No excuses, but the weather conditions were, to say the very least, atrocious, with 90 degree cross winds blowing at 10.5 meters per second during my last round flight. the cut-off for calling the competition off is 12 meters per second! The wind did ease up a bit (not very much though) during the course of the day,and the scores started to improve as the judges started to get used to the strange attitude that the model would present to try and maintain a level and even path.

One thing is for sure, the top guys are masters of the art and it almost looks like the wind is not blowing when they fly, although they are working very hard at this illusion! From a technological point of view, there is nothing really ground breaking to report on that has appeared on the scene since France in 2005. Only 2 biplanes were flown in the prelims, one by QQ and the other by the Chinese youngster... we have yet to see what Onda son will be flying in the F schedules, might also be a bipe. The only other "new" item to break cover was the contra rotating propeller, which was flown in the prelims by Frederick from Singapore. Having watched his flight, it appears that this unit makes a lot of noise (although it did clear the noise test) and was rather under powered. Sabastiono Silvestri from Italy also had a contra equipped Angel's Shadow, although rumours were that he didn't fly it because the power output was less than the standard prop equipped model and the wind was too strong for the less powerful model. These two models, although similar, were very different, with Sebastiano opting for a single Hacker motor driving the two props through a gearbox, while Frederick was using two smaller motors, one driving through the other.

Other than that, most of the models were either from Oxai, Extreme Composites, or CA Models, with a very small minority being scratch built. I do not have the official stats, but at a guess, I would say that the ratio of Four stroke to Electric is about 50 :50, and the two stroke is dead in the water! The flying style is close... very close, although, when the heavy cross wind was blowing in, they did push it out to about 150m and flew relatively fast, so as to minimize the "skew weathercock" look that the plane assumes when flying cross wind.
Today has been a rest day, hence the relatively lengthy report, but tomorrow the first two rounds of the finals begin with the top 27 pilots, who will each fly two rounds of the much more difficult F schedule. after that, the field will be further reduced to the top 10, who will then each fly another two rounds of UNKNOWN manoeuvres that will be given to them the night before. They will then be required to fly this schedule twice on Saturday before the scores are tallied and the world champion is announced at a gala banquet on Saturday night.

Team positions, which are determined by the prelim flights only, are now official...Team France are the World Champions, followed closely by the USA and Japan. South Africa came in at 14th ... up 1 position from the previous champs in 2005.

That's it for now, I hope to report back on what went down at the finals tomorrow...

Carel, Ian and Marc.

Team F3A South Africa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

F3A World Champs update -- Marc Wolffe

Hi all...
The latest news in now that the results are out for round 2

The conditions have been extremely hard with Cape style winds, and the flight line has been set up 90 degrees to the wind! so you can pick to fly from the left or the right! Landings are also interesting, as the approach from the one side comes in behind a big tent and suddenly there is no wind and the plane drops out of the sky. Watching the "big guns" is awe inspiring... almost as if the wind has been switched off... CPLR, Onda, Wolgang Matt (still!), and the Yanks.
After the 2nd round, RSA is lying 12th in the team standings, just behind Australia and Canada and well ahead of Great Britain!

In the individual standings, Carel and Ian are lying in 47th and 48 place respectively, with a difference of 0,4 points on the raw scores. I am currently lying in 27th place, having dropped 1 place since the first round, but still in the cut for the fly - off!

All the results can be seen on the official website...
This web site is very up to date and the results are available by dinner time (in Argentina) and should be available after midnight (SA time) for you to check on our progress!

That's all for now... we're off to fly round 3

Carel, Ian and Marc
Team South Africa

Monday, November 12, 2007

Management Committee - who says?

The agm is done, the 10% have spoken, the cast is cast and the rest of us players look forward to a new script. Can we move past the structure and set some ambitious goals? Say 25% of the members to vote in two years time?

Perhaps we can make it a lot easier for the general modeller to vote regularly on issues close to his heart?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

F3A World Champs update -- Marc Wolffe

We have now finished with the practicing and set up of our models and everything is going well.

We were located at a full size Glider club in a small town called Diamante, about 65km outside Sante Fe (1 1/2 hour drive!) During the course of the 4 days practice, the whole team, along with helpers were offered a trip in both a glider and a beautifully original Piper J3 Cub.

On the last day of practice, both Carel and Ian had some motor problems with Ian's motor coming loose on his #1 aircraft, and Carel having a loose magnet in his motor. Carel's motor was quickly replaced , but our helpers, Gerrie and Johan quickly got stuck int Ian's plane and got it sorted out.

We have just come from the official registration, and model processing where we have all been successful. Carel made the 5kg weight limit easily with his ultra light battery pack,while Ian also got through with a couple of grams to spare. O n the other hand we got quite a shock when both my models scraped through on 5,000kg each!

Team South Africa's official 1/2 hour practice session at the Sauce Viejo Airfield had to be forfeited however, as it began raining, and continued for about two hours. (Four other teams were also affected) We will wait and see if we get an opportunity tomorrow.

More news to follow shortly...

Carel, Ian and Marc.

Team F3A South Africa

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A little bit of history taken from SARFLY

On 09 Nov 2007, at 12:12 AM, Christo van der Merwe wrote:

Here is a very interesting Wiki about "the first flying machine".

Apparently, a South African - a Zulu from Natal by the name of Goodman Household, flew his glider in 1871 for over 100m. Interestingly, this took place 20 years before Otto Lilienthal's hang gliding experiments in 1891. Although a lot of controversial claims are being listed, it's still an interesting read.

On 09 Nov 2007, at 9:08 AM, Neil wrote:

He was not the first in the world to fly - George Cayley's coachman probably was. However they had no controls (steering)

Household had the first CONTROLLED flight in the world. He steered the hanglider in a turn, and flew over gum trees 100 feet high and landed.

It is actually incredible. In Durban there lives today Harold Strachan, who writes for the newspapers (he is about 80)
When he was a boy of 12 he cycled out to see Karkloof where the flight happened.
There he met an ancient Zulu man, who remembered the flight very well - he saw it happen, and described it! Thus we have a unique chain of evidence, and really someone should make a documentary. We can interview Harold live, who can describe what the witness to the flight saw. There is no closer "chain of evidence" for other early flights. For example Cayley's flight is only vaguely referred to in books - there is no handed down verbal evidence.

Any film makers interested?


Thursday, November 08, 2007

2007 F3A World Champs update -- Marc Wolffe

Just a short note to let everyone know that the SA team has arrived safely in Sante Fe, Argentina with models unscathed!

We have had 2 good days of practice and look forward to another 2 days befor the "official" practice at the contest site.

More news to follow shortly...

Carel, Ian and Marc.

Team F3A South Africa

The official web site is here.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hermanus 2007 -- Andrew Basson

Hermanus Pre-Registration will be closing on Friday 16th November.

Pilots can either register online at or they can phone me on 082 901 9259 with their SAMAA number.

The AFC website has an update on what to expect.

We also have an online forum on the site which we are still getting to grips with.
Under the classified section of the forum there are a number of planes for sale too.

See you all on the 23rd November.

Cheers, Andrew
AFC Secretary

Thursday, November 01, 2007

AGM 2007

I was at the AGM on Wednesday evening. What follow are my personal impressions. I'll comment on the election of the committee first, them on some of the other things discussed.

Election of Committee

The committee was elected unchanged. About ten percent of members voted. Compare this with about thirty percent for the last election.
It's not clear what the low voting percentage means, if anything.
Some representative members changed.

The committee is:
Dirk Meyer - elected member
Dave Armitage - elected member
Ludwig Steyn - elected member
Keith Nichols - elected member
Marietjie Skinner - elected member
Tim Blackman - dealer representative
Vic de Vries - club representative
Tony Stockwell - regional representative
Joe Coetzer - outgoing chairman

I took some photos with my cell phone. You can see them here.
The committee is largely unchanged so I expect it to operate in a similar manner as before.

SAMAA ARO status

It turns out that the Act makes no provision for a Model Aircraft Organization to have ARO status. You can see a copy of Neil de Lange's note to this effect here. What the SAMAA has is a special arrangement with the Aero Club and the CAA to represent Aeromodelling in SA. This is important. It allows, for example, the SAMAA to negotiate with the CAA for an increase in operating height above SAMAA registered flying field. In terms of 96.06.11 (i) no model aircraft may fly more than 150 feet above the surface.
Just what else the special arrangement means is not clear. The new committee will follow-up on this and in particular its legal status.
What the special arrangement does need though is approval of a Manual of Operation, which brings me to...

Manual of Operations

The meeting accepted the controversial Manual of Operations "in principle" with the proviso that it should be reviewed within the next few months. "In Principle" is one of those weasel phrases that mean nothing. The manual has been accepted. Until it is changed we are stuck with it.
I did raise my concern over the possible impact on insurance claims but this fell upon stony ground.

We clearly need a Manual of Operation in terms of the special arrangement. But not, I suggest, this one without amendment.

Park Flying

The meeting accepted the guidelines for Park Flying as set out in SAMAA News dated May 2007.

Drinking and flying

Some incidents of drinking and flying had come to the attention of the committee. The meeting supported the committee in its view that this never had been, nor ever would be, acceptable behaviour.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Keeping track of battery usage -- Andre Kilian

Andre posted on the SARFY list this elegant and simple way of tracking battery usage:

I have seen several spread sheets/log books for keeping track of lipos, but my experience is that it is not everybody that has the self- discipline to keep it up to date (myself included!)

What works for me is just to use a black permanent marker to make a dot on the pack every time you charge it, so I know how many cycles the batteries have done. You will be surprised to see how quickly the number of cycles accumulate!

Also keep in mind that the application in which you use them also impacts on battery life. Applications like helis are murder on most lipos, as you run at about full throttle most of the time to achieve constant head speed.



Friday, October 19, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

† In Memoriam Sieger Lampen -- Joe Coetzer

I was advised this afternoon of Sieger Lampen's demise.
Sieger was a dedicated glider pilot for many years and will always be remembered for his dedication to soaring.
He assisted with the running of the first ever F3B world championship, held in South Africa, many moons ago.
The newer generation will not have had the privilege of having known him, but those of us, the older generation, who knew Sieger, will have him in our memories for ever.
Our condolences go out to his wife, Mienie and family.
SAMAA is poorer for having lost another stalwart.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

White Hills Electric Fly In October 2007

Some of the many electric aircraft that were there.

Lionel laying down the law at the pilots' briefing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

David Ndawonde

It's Saturday morning in early spring. The usual Saturday morning Staffel are out at JOMAC - Juan Pretorius, Louis Volschenk, Roly Hill, there are others. They see a figure approach up the slope from the valley.

It is David Ndawonde. He is smartly dressed. He carries a model aeroplane. It's unlike anything at JOMAC, but it is beautifully built.

David explains. He lives in Diepsloot. He has built the model over a period of five years. He has saved money from the occasional job he gets to buy the components. Now the aeroplane is finished and he wants help in getting it to fly.

The Staffel pilots examine the aeroplane. They conclude that although it is well made it will be difficult to get it airborne. What to do? Here is a true aeromodeller.

They decide to put together a trainer. Someone donates the airframe, another the radio, another the engine.

Juan and Roly working on the trainer

Now they can teach David to fly. And so they do. He is well on the way to becoming a solo pilot.

Instructor Roly Hill and David

Monday, October 08, 2007

SAMAA Manual of Operations

I've posted on the SAMAA web site the SAMAA Manual of Operations. Acceptance of this Manual is on the agenda for the AGM.

It's a large document, over one hundred pages long. Its author is to be congratulated on an amazing piece of work. It is a major step forward. However I believe it is fundamentally flawed in at least two ways. I would urge SAMAA members to delay acceptance until there has been more debate on it.

First. The Manual is meant to fulfil the documentary requirements for ARO status. These requirements are precisely defined. You can see more detail here. As far as I can see the Manual fulfils some, but not all of these. In particular the Quality Control System is not clear.

ARO status is important so we must ensure that we comply.

Second. The Manual may compromise member insurance cover. There is a clear statement that failure to operate within the code will invalidate insurance cover. At the moment members are covered against general third party liability arising from model flying. There are no if and buts about it.
Now, unless you operate within the ambit of a one hundred-page manual you are not covered.

I recognise and support fully the need for safe flying. But this is ridiculous. Furthermore it gives carte blanche to the underwriters to repudiate a claim on "failure to observe small-print".

The notion that only "solo" pilots are covered has risen again from the ashes in spite of denials by both Joe and Bob.

As I said above this is a major step forward but it needs more debate. Trying to rush it through against an arbitrary deadline is a mistake.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Notice of 2007 AGM

Notice is given of the Annual General Meeting of the South African Model Aircraft Association, to he held on Wednesday 31 October 2007 at 19:00, in the Board Room, Grand Central Airport, Midrand. All SAMAA members in good standing are invited to attend.
1. Welcome
2. Attendance
3. Minutes of the 2006 AGM
4. Chairman’s Report
5. Financial Report
6. General Manager’s Report
7. Acceptance of Manual of Operations
8. Additional voting for management committee members
9. Ratification of election results and announcement
10. General

Note 1. Any member wishing to raise any matter at the AGM under point 10. is required to submit notice of this to the chairperson at least seven (7) days before the meeting.
Note 2. The Manual of Operations (point 7) has been available on the website for discussion for 3 months.

PO Box 1961
Alberton 1450
Tel/fax 011-907-4652

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Oudtshoorn update -- Hekkie Fourie

Trophy Winners CFC Scale 2007:

Best Pre WW1 Model: Werner Mayer Bleriot
" " Marcus Weitzman Sopwith
" WW11 " Alex Kieczynski F W 190
" Civilian Model Juan Fourie Cessna
" Multi " Greg Donaldson Dakota
" Bi-plane Marcus Weitzman Stearman
" Lrg Scale Model Gerrit Swanepoel Cub
" Helicopter Michael Camons NH 90
" Glider Steve Filby K6
" Electric Powered:Marc Wolffe DH Comet
Most realistic Flight :Neville Wright Cessna 421
Realistic Turbine Flight Neville Wright L39 Albatros
Most enjoyable flying Marcus Weitzman
Most unusual model Mervyn Pannel Cessna 152 T/D
Best technical Achievement Ross Holing Harvard
Hard Luck Trophy Terry Hamilton
Pilots' Choice Neville Wright Cessna 421
Best Spirited Club BOMAC
Best Owner Builder Model Ross Holing Harvard
" ARF Wynand Swart CAP 232
Furthest Travelled Pilot Paul Botha Lydenburg

Best indoor electric flyer Ashley Ruth Rainbow E 3D
Winner indoor event Johan Van Zyl
Best Rubber Powered Model Garth Anderson Slow Flyer

We had a record number of entries this year = 147
and also a record number of scale models = 297
The Guinness record was broken and now is = 49 models
flying together for one minute.
At one stage we had 19 Cubs flying together. This may
also be a record.

Some Info gathered from the entry forms. Unfortunately
not all of the entry forms were completed properly.
Arfs 160
Built up models 92
Owner Builders 55
!.C. Models 139
Electric Models 31
Turbines 8

List of Models at Scale 2007

Cubs 32
Extras 17
Cessnas 17
Edges 9
Yaks 9
Ultimates 8
Caps 7
Tiger Moths 7
Spitfires 7
Mustangs 6
Thunderbolts 5
Fly Baby 5
Beavers 4
Tucanos 4
Dakotas 4
Sukois 4
Warhawks 4
Harvards 4
3 and less
various other models
too many to list here.


The story of an Acrobits -- Sinjun Weston

This story unfolded 27 years ago at the original NERF fly site in Midrand

It all started when my dad decided to build what looked like a very nice and stable biplane. The plan was originally seen in a UK based modeling magazine. I think it might have been Radio Modeler

In any case, the plan was purchased and we showed much excitement when it arrived by post. Hours were spent pouring over the technical drawing, which consisted of 2 sheets, one for the fuselage and one for the wings. Dad had built a few models in his time but I don't think he realized the complexity of this project. The plan was structurally fairly straight forward (if you build from a plan on a regular basis) but lacked any form of building booklet.
The modeler was left in the dark in such areas as choice of wood for the various components as well as useful tips for the construction of the model
I for one was new to the modeling scene, so was of little help

In any case, Dad proceeded to build "Acrobits".
The name by the way was from the designer who had if I remember correctly, had built several Biplanes, Crashed several Biplanes and found he had several Biplane components left over. So was born "Acrobits "

Well after some months of part time building, the basic fuselage was completed as well as two wings.
Covering was done in of all things, silk and then a layer or two of paint was sprayed over this (I'm not sure what dad was smoking, Solarfilm would have been just as good).
Acrobits was rolled off the bench with a Webra 60 upfront and I still remember thinking this model feels heavy. Well I did not want to upset my dad and the model did look good in yellow and red - didn't it!!

Dave Jenkins from Redleys (remember the Calton Center corner hookie) very kindly offered to test fly Acrobits (the poor Man) for us and so one winter's day found us at NERF with nerves slightly shot with the anticipated waiting.
After engine checks and radio checks were completed, Acrobits was sent down the runway at full throttle.
The picture of Acrobits lifting off, going into a steady climb, completing a full loop and a bone charring nose first smash into the concrete runway wont be forgotten in a long time
The CG, is that important ?? asked my dad. But its not shown on the plan !!


Well after some weeks of pondering over the wreckage and almost a kg of lead on the nose, Acrobits was ready again to "grace" the skies
This time all went well and although we were flying a kg of parasitic lead up front, the biplane flew fairly well but was a bit sluggish at the controls
(something about wing loading was mentioned... )

Some months after the maiden flight, again a sight I'll never forget.
While Acrobits was at an altitude of +- 200m, the top wing decided to part from the fuselage. The (bi)- plane rolled over onto its back and after exceeding VNE twice, completed a almost perfect pull out above terra firma

If only the donga had not got in the way .....

† In memorian Johan Fraser -- Bob Skinner

Long-time SAARF and SAMAA member, Johan Fraser, died on 27th September 2007, after a period of illness. Johan was the first owner of Frasers Hobbies, now owned and managed by his son Allen. Johan had a life-long relationship with Silverton Model Aircraft Club. He will be sorely missed by the Fraser family and all his friends and associates.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

SAMAA News September 2007

You can get hold of a pre-release copy here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

2,4 Ghz -- revision of the SAMAA advice on operation.

Since the first introduction of 2,4 Ghz equipment the technology has moved forward. Some SAMAA members now operate outside the scope of the advice given on the SAMAA web site --
Dave Greer asked questions about this on the MGSA list. I spoke to Joe Coetzer about revising the advice. Here is his response;

..........I agree with you, we need to revise our interim arrangement immediately.We are having our first Regional Workshop (Nortern Gauteng) tomorrow. I will feed it into the system and have it ratified by the Management Committee on 3rd October........

This is good news.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update from Fanie on the Oudtshoorn Guinness World Record Attempt

After the overwhelming support for our attempt at the Guinness record we would like to bring the following to your attention.

Many pilots expressed concern for the safety of their scale planes during the record attempt. We have planned it very carefully in typical Oudshoorn Scale fashion to ensure the safety of all the planes, pilots and spectators. We will have 4 flight lines with 4 separate circuits which will host 15 planes each. This may sound like a lot but many of you will remember 2 years ago we had 17 Piper Cubs in one circuit so it can be done. There is a circuit for electric's as well.

After all the request the club decided last night that we are willing to make an exception to allow non scale planes to for the record attempt only. This was done for those who are afraid they might damage their scale planes and to ensure the maximum amount of entries seeing as everybody does'nt have a suitable scale plane. If you want to use a non scale plane in the Guinness attempt it may not be displayed during the course of the weekend or flown. As per tradition only scale planes will be displayed during the day and general flying.

Remember this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and each entrant will receive an official Guinness World Record Certificate so don't loose out.

Please forward this message to all interested parties that might be interested in the new developments as soon as possible as to enable us to allocate them their respective frequency spots. Spectrums welcome :-)

See you all in Oudtshoorn.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Model Aerobatic South African Team to participate in the World Championship in Argentina -- Scott Crescent

In this first article, I would like to introduce the selected members to represent South Africa at the world champs to be held in Argentina and give a brief overview of how they were selected.

Team Manager: Nico Erasmus

Pedigree: Nico aged 54, started his devotion to the radio controlled craze at the age of 16. Started flying aerobatics about twelve years ago and has won numerous competitions in Sportsman, Advanced classes. He is currently flying in the Expert class. He’s greatest achievement is becoming the S.A Masters Champion in the advanced class in 2006.

Nico was selected by the team members as Team Manager, he will organize all aspects of the coastal practices, promotion campaigns, air show and sponsorship requests and will be the “Public Relations Officer” of the South African Team whilst in Argentina. The World Champs runs from the 10/11/07 and ends on the 18/11/07.

The team selection was based on three qualifying competitions: Nationals 2006, Masters 2006 and the Nationals 2007.

The top two ranked pilots indicated very early on that they would not be interested in team participation therefore opening the door for the upcoming pilots in the F3a Class.

1st Team Member: Marc Wolffe
2006-2007 F3A team ranking: 3
Region: Western Cape
Age: 42

Pedigree: Marc started flying at the age of ten, won the Junior Thermal Championships (gliders) in 1979. 1980 started flying power aircraft for the first time, in 1981 started his aerobatic career and won his first Provincial Championships in the F3A class in 1987, he has been crowned National Fun Fly Champ five times and seven times winner of the Western Province Scale Championship, four times Border F3A champion and two times Eastern Province F3A Champion.

Goal: Marc has bought Marcello Columbo’s Genises and plans to do well at the world champs.

2nd F3A team member: Ian Wentzel
2006-2007 F3A Team Ranking: 4th
Region: North West
Age: 34

Ian started flying radio controlled gliders at the age of ten and power planes at the age of 14, this modest aeromodellar started flying aerobatics in 1998 and advanced to the F3A class in one year, he was also the National Champion in the Expert class the same year.

Goal: Would like to get some international exposure and up his standard of flying.

3rd F3A team member: Carel Germishuys
2006-2007 F3A Team Ranking: 5th
: Gauteng
Age: 36

Pedigree: Mr. Aviator, Carel is a former Military aviator and now a SAA pilot. He started flying model aeroplanes in 1987 and started flying aerobatics in 1997. He has won numerous provincial competitions in all classes. Carel enjoys wide variety of model aviation and actively takes part in Large-Scale and Electric disciplines.

Carel was team manager for the team that took part in 2005 and this time round will be flying.

The other members elected Carel Team Captain.

Goal: Would like too see what ranking he can achieve amongst the best of the best.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Antennas and batteries -- Piet le Roux

I am glad to see a lot of technical information and tips in the July issue of SAMAA News. There are however some points where I beg to differ and some points that I would like to ad.

Mr Armitage is a keen advocate of an "antenna outside" installation. I think that a secure antenna installation is important to secure reliability in the long run. To accomplish this you must place it inside the plane. If you bend any type of wire enough times it will break. A wire on the outside is vulnerable to damage and is constantly oscillating in the slipstream. If only a few of its wire strands break, it will cause the same type of noise as vibrating metal to metal contact points. You will be unaware of the deterioration of your antenna because it happens inside the insulation. Most RC pilots never replace their receiver antennas and install it from plane to plane on the outside. An accident waiting to happen! I normally use the inner of a thin cell-phone type coax as antenna wire. When I assemble the plane, depending on its size, I glue the end of the antenna under the vertical fin and keep all the battery and servo leads to one side of the fuselage and route my antenna on the opposite side, securing it with glue and cable ties. On the receiver I leave a short "pig tail" that I solder to the antenna and cover with heat-shrink after I have secured the antenna and receiver. Remember the total length of your antenna must be the same as the original (99cm for JR equipment). Wires and rods running along side the antenna will have little effect on its performance as long as they are not near a resonant length, for 35MHz this is about 2 meters. If it happens that you experience noise from you servo leads use ferrite filters on the leads. Just running the lead thru a ferrite ring will not do much; get the clip-on type that enables you to coil the lead around the ferrite.

If you have a portable transistor radio that covers the shortwave bands, you can utilize it as a noise detector. Tune it to a clear portion of the highest short wave frequency, some goes up to 22MHZ (13 meter band). The level of electrical noise decreases when you increase the frequency, so don't worry that your receiver is receiving below 35MHz; it will just be more sensitive to noise. By placing the antenna of this receiver next to your servos and then moving them you will be able to hear any electrical noise present. The same technique can be used to determent the noise level of a petrol engine's ignition system. Most petrol engine pilots would be shocked if they heard how much noise they generate! The fact of the matter is that any petrol engine plane will have less range with the same 35 or 50 MHZ equipment than a glow powered plane. The 50MHz equipment will be slightly better than the 35MHz equipment, but the best equipment to use with a petrol engine is 2.4 GHz equipment.

The article on batteries was interesting but I do not agree that nickel metal hydride batteries have a lower self discharge as nickel cadmium batteries. NiMH has a much higher self-discharge rate than NiCd. Its self-discharge is 5-10% on the first day, and stabilizes around 0.5-1% per day at room temperature.The rate is strongly affected by the temperature at which the batteries are stored with cooler storage temperatures leading to a slower discharge rate and longer battery life. So it is important that you charge your NiMh batteries the night before you go flying and not after you have been flying! A new type of nickel metal hydride battery was introduced in 2006 that claims to reduce self-discharge, and therefore lengthen shelf life. By using a new separator, manufacturers claim between 70 to 85% of capacity is retained after one year, when stored at 20 degrees Celsius . These cells are marketed as "ready-to-use" rechargeables, and are targeted towards the digital camera market, where the equipment is only used a few times a year. Users must be aware that a normal NiMh battery deteriorates during long time storage. This problem can be solved by charging and discharging the battery several times before use. One of our CRF members recently bought a new hi-capacity NiMh pack to replace his suspect pack. He then charged it only once with his "smart" Swallow charger. During his second flight of the day the PCM receiver went into safe-mode, due to low battery voltage while the plane was in a dive, his beautiful Genesis was demolished.

Lekker vlieg
Piet Le Roux, Bloemfontein.

(Originally posted on the SARFLY list)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Buddy Wright

The aeromodelling world is infinitely poorer with the untimely death of Buddy Wright. He departed for a better place on Friday 10th August.
Our sincere condolences to Neville and the rest of the Wright family.
Our thoughts are with you.

Bob and Marietjie

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Monday, July 09, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

35 MHz interference update -- Dave Armitage

ICASA have recently done a survey at Midrand Model Soarers field to ascertain what was causing some heavy interference on certain spots in the 35 Mhz band. It was found that ESKOM seemed to be causing the problem with arcing on some of their ultra high voltage power lines. I have requested a full report from ICASA. At present they state they have informed ESKOM of the problem. ICASA want to do another full test at the site before issuing a report. On receipt of that report then I will make it public.
Another site that seems to be experiencing some frequency related problems is JOMAC. This site is also near a heavy concentration of high voltage power cables. It could just be possible that the same sort of hassle could be happening there.
I am awaiting fault reports from pilots at JOMAC before initiating a survey there.
Dave Armitage

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

2007 F3K Nats -- Mark Stockton

More info here.

World Model Pylon Racing Championships -- Peter Eagle

Hey all pilots with any interest in our WC teams

You may know that SAMPRA as the pylon racing SIG of SAMAA currently has an official, 3 pilot South African team at the pylon racing world champs at AMA headquarters, Muncie, Indiana, USA.

The team of Trevor Budd, Andre Nortje and Russel van der Westhuizen as well as Wayne Wilcox and other helpers and supporters have spent huge amounts of time, money (their own) and effort to get to the world champs. The team has been at Muncie since late last week and have been using the time to practice and adjust their equipment to local conditions. (Elevation about 1000 feet or less, hot and humid climate at this time of year)

After official practise yesterday Trevor reports via SMS " Some times from today in Richards Bay like heat - Trevor 1:06 (66 seconds); Andre 1:09 (69 seconds) and Russel 1:12 (72 Seconds) Top 12 all running 57 to 60 seconds. Please let the guys know."

I then posed a question regarding reliability and repeatability as often the very fastest have issues getting in all their times and hence a slower but more reliable setup will make for better results in some cases. Trevor replied " We are getting there. Lots of broken pipes and engines in the beginning but we are now happy with the setup. A bit slower but reliable"

I trust that all pilots with the slightest interest in these amazingly fast, expensive and temperamental planes will wish our team all the best of luck.

I will post further updates as I receive them but the German team has a regular daily posting on

Update 27 June 2007 -- link to official web site here.

Peter E

Saturday, June 23, 2007

SAMAA Insurance Cover -- Piet le Roux

Piet makes some interesting comments here. I've asked Joe for a formal response from the SAMAA insurance broker but to date I have not had this. I'll post it when I get it. John

Like most of us I partake in this hobby for relaxation. Knowing that I am insured makes me more at ease while flying. But after reading INSURANCE SUMMERY in the March issue of SAMAA news and then reading the POLICY ON LODGING AND PROCESSING AN INSURANCE CLAIM issued by SAMAA I have a few questions about the policy.

The policy covers the association in respect of liability for injury or damage of property, arising out of the activities of the association and we are told that we are very fortunate to have this policy. I can appreciate that insurance in the aviation field is very expensive because of the high risk factor and the very expensive equipment involved. Most aircraft accidents also coincide with fatalities, very few people have been killed with model aircraft. To classify model flying as aviation in this case is nothing more than a sales pitch. The 10 million Rand cover sounds very impressive but the fact of the matter is that South African law does not allow for big liability claims like in the USA. To be successful with such a claim in the RSA you must first prove that the perpetrator could have foreseen the accident and did nothing to prevent it, or/and that he did not adhere to safety guide lines and therefore acted negligent. I would like to know what the biggest settlement claim in South Africa was when an accident occurred while nobody acted negligent? The problem is that the policy only covers the association if its members involved did not:

A) Fly reckless and dangerous.

B) Fly a model aircraft while under the influence of alcohol or judgment impairing drugs.

C) Operating a Model Aircraft which do not comply with the Manual of Procedures.

D) Intentionally fly over an active public thoroughfare, roads, over spectators or members of the public.

In other words did not act negligent.

So the 10 million cover now becomes a joke because there is absolutely no way that the association can be liable for that amount if no one acted negligent.

If the guidelines laid down by the association is found to be inadequate or the field registered by the association is found to be unsafe or/and there were not adequate signs to warn the public and as a result a liability claim against the association is successful, why should the member or members involved be responsible for payment of the excess amount? His club and the association are at fault and they should pay up. In any case remember it’s the association that’s insured and they are the policy holder so the association should pay the excess amount. If one takes in account the amount of member’s funds that was given to transformation in 2006-2007, it should be easy for the association to build up a reserve fund to pay any excess and assist members when an accident occurs.

The policy also does not cover the association against any accident involving a full size or manned aircraft because full-sized or manned aircraft have over riding right of way. This is unacceptable because any full-sized or manned aircraft that flies over a registered model airfield at a dangerous height is breaking the law. The model pilot have to keep his plane in sight at all times, if a full-size plane approaches from outside his field of view, he could react too late to avoid an accident. The plane could be a glider or had a dead stick, in which case he would not hear it coming. The model pilot could even be a deaf person.

The bottom line seems to be:

If an accident occurs while you were negligent or a court finds that you were negligent: you are not covered.

If the accident involves a full-size plane: you are not covered no matter what.

If you were not negligent: you are covered but you probably would not need it!

Piet Le Roux


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A proposal for Park Flyer regulations -- Alan Fraser

Preliminary thoughts on the Regulation and Control of Park flying in RSA.

1. Introduction:
Park flying is here to stay! The progress of technology in recent years in the areas of electric propultion, power sources, materials, construction methods and radio equipment, has made it possible to fly r/c models in much smaller spaces than we have been traditionally used to.
This has resulted in an ever increasing number of pilots flying their models from sports fields, open urban velt areas and even indoors in sports and school halls, from here the advent from "park" to "indoor" flying.

2. SAMAA and park/indoor flying:
SAMAA has the responsibility of regulating and controlling all r/c flying activities in the RSA. SAMAA has therefore started a process of looking onto the phenomena of park/indoor flying in an attempt to establish the ways and means for it`s members to participate legally in this fast growing dissipline of our hobby, in a safe and controlled manner at recognised flying sites with insurance cover and, without interfering with other RC flyers.
This regulation process obviously needs to be done in such a manner that the enthusiasm and growth of park/indoor flying is not dampened.

3. Definition of a park/indoor flyer:
"A small and light electric power driven aircraft that can be flown in a confined area such as sports fields or indoors in a hall".

4. Specification suggestions:
4.1. Aircraft:
Wingspan: 1,2m max.
Weight:1kg max including battery.
(Note: This specification will force a trade-off between the model type, size, mass, and the limits of the specification ie.: a glider type model will fit into the 1,2m wingspan, 1kg limit, but a power model might have a reduced wingspan for the same mass.)
4.2. Helicopters:
Main rotor diameter: 800mm total max.
Weight: 1kg max with battery.
4.3. Propulsion:
Electric power only
4.4. Flying sites:
"Field" size app. 100m x 50m (outdoor.) Hall size app. 35m x 20m (indoor.) ie.: Rugby, soccer type sports field.
*Park flying sites are to be at least 2,5km apart, and at least 5km from normal R/C flying sites.
4.5. Airspace:
All flying to be done within the perimeter of the field used, to a max. of 50m high.
*This is a very important restriction as it will ensure that the pilots fly the type, size and weight of aircraft that is within their proficiency and skill level, to stay within the boundaries of the field that they are using.

5. Management and control:
5.1. In time all park/indoor flying sites will have to be registered with SAMAA as such.
5.2. Each site will have to be under the control of a club committee or a responsible person.
5.3. Normal SAMAA safety rules are to apply, ie.: Frequency control, spectator lines, no-fly areas, pilot proficiencies, SAMAA membership, insurance cover etc.

6. Process:
6.1. Publish the draft suggestions in the SAMAA news and website for comment by members, refine the document to final publication.
6.2. Draw up a database of sites being used for park/indoor flying.
6.3. Register as many of these sites as possible with SAMAA.
6.4. Encourage as many people as possible to make use of these registered sites, and to stick to the aircraft specifications, through SAMAA news, website and distribution of a SAMAA park/indoor flying leaflet through the dealer network.

7. Conclusion:

We have to start somewhere. Please address your comments to: Allen Fraser, the Chairman of the special committee on Park Flying and the SAMAA Dealer Association
Tel:012-362 4925 • Fax:012-362 4926

for what it is worth my comment to Alan is here. John

Four Wheel Drive Club -- Dave Armitage

Hi Guys,
The SA 4 wheel drive club are being very considerate with their help and they are forwarding the info on their events to me. The latest event will be held in Ermelo over the weekend of the 30th June, 1st July. They will be starting at +/- 16h00 on the Friday to +/- 20h00 on the Saturday evening. Spots in use by them will be 35.225 Mhz and 35.250 Mhz. 35.300Mhz will only be used in an emergency situation. In the meantime it is still recommended that pilots stay off the two spots on either side of 35.225 i.e. 35.220 and 35.230Mhz, plus 35.250 and 35.300. This applies especially around the Ermelo area over that weekend
Dave Armitage

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Stick; or the Carrot?

There are many advantages of the SAMAA membership for Aeromodellers. I find it strange that the latest issue of the News persists with a heavy-handed approach. I'm not sure if comes from the editor or from the committee. I suspect the latter. Have a look at the insert on the last page. It's called "Why all Aeromodellers MUST belong to SAMAA". There are two statements that are patently wrong.

The first; "SAMAA membership is a requirement for YOU to legally participate in any aeromodelling flying activities (in terns of site, height and weight) which falls under the legal mandate of the CIVIL AVIATION ACT".
I don't know from where this extraordinary statement comes. I've asked the question but no one seems to be able to answer.
Here's my understanding of the matter, (and you can find the documents on the SAMAA web site here ).
The CAA has devolved certain of its administrative processes to the Aero Club. In turn the Aero Club has passed onto the SAMAA duties to administer all aeromodelling in SA. The SAMAA must do this for members and non-members alike. The difference being that non-members may be charged for service on a cost recovery basis. Nowhere is there any suggestion that it is illegal to fly if you are not a SAMAA member.
I suspect that the Big Stick approach is driven by the laudable objective of increasing SAMAA membership. There is evidence that it has the opposite effect.
Surely the best way to get more members is to show the benefit. It's the old story of Selling. To sell, you must expose your product to the risk of being sold. Show non-members benefit, help them, encourage them, and they will join. But whatever else you do, don't bully them.

The second; "SAMAA is responsible for the regulation and control of all RC radio frequencies, used for model flying purposes". The latest uproar over interference on the 35MHz band gives the lie to this. The SAMAA has no power to regulate and control frequencies.
What it does, and it is a vital role, is to act as liaison between Aeromodellers and ICASA.
Let's stop the wild talk of licensing, restrictions on who may buy radios and so on. What's needed is a helpful constructive approach. (And in this regard you may like to read again Piet le Roux's note).

For the SAMAA to deliver fully on the promise of its ARO status I suggest a little less hubris and a little more empathy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Electric not yet there -- Neil Allen

A month or so ago Burt Botha sent an email saying that all F4c Pattern fliers should go electric at once. I want to give my views, and maybe open a flame war or serious debate,

Burt said that pattern fuel needs 30% nitro methane and costs R25 a litre, then wonders why no fliers use four strokes. He just gave the answer, as two strokes run 10% nitro and cost only R8 per flight. S A Modellers tried four stroke motors, and I saw Chris Harris struggling with inadequate power at a Bloem Nats. The 0S 140 is the nicest motor ever built, with a lovely carb pickup, easy start, and reliable idle of 2,000 rpm These are universal in SA because they use cheap 10% fuel, and have plenty of surplus power at 5,000 feet. Hell, at 2,000 feet I restrict the throttle opening to 75 opening to keep the speed down, which I have never done to any engine before

We wont go four-stroke as the power is less, and the only advantage is an idle of 300 rpm slower, which really doesn't count. Tough luck if the judges overseas prefer them

As for electric, you glossed over the costs.
Already in my club I am considered the fat, rich, capitalist, as I can afford R7000 for the airframe, R3500 for motor, R800 for pipe, and a few digital servos, totaling R12 000. I get an OS140 plane, and I adore its flying characteristics (much nicer than those large scale Extra jobbies with petrol engines that cost R20,000)

Now Burt wants me to go to electric power. To get an afternoons practice of four flights I need 3 batteries at R4,000 each, for R12,000. I need two high rate fan cooled chargers for the field for a few thousand more rands. I need 2 of 12 volt deep discharge batteries to run these chargers (say R900). I am told that if you use the car, it will be too flat to drive home. If I use the car running with alternator it will burn that out for R5000 rands. So I go flying with three batteries, which I charge at home with, the 2 or 3 lead acid re-chargers.

I fly on one pack. The performance is inferior to a tank of glo fuel, as I usually do a pattern and three more minutes of practicing man oeuvres, even including hovering. But batteries get weaker throughout the flight, and cannot do this.

The total cost to go electric is maybe
Plane R9000 (covered)
Motor and controller R5000
Batteries R12000
12V Chargers? R3000
Field Chargers R4000
TOTAL (approx) R34000

R34000 is a LOT different from R12000. Maybe some factors are fudged, but that is more than I like spending on modelling. For that price I could get a scale turbine plane (not that I actually like turbines - 5 second motors lag is a total disaster!)

Then you take on a full time job of babying those cells. According to the Bob Violett site on electric ducted fans, they run pattern plane size cells and motors. They say that if it rains one weekend you must discharge all your cells to part charged to save their life. How many hours would it take to do this: -
Carry 12v lead acid batteries back from the car to the garage (don't forget they are strapped in to avoid smashing your car when you hit brakes)
Charge lead acid charger batteries (we haven't even included this cost yet)
On your explosion proof place you run down each pack in turn to 75% charge
Note that the instructions say that you may not leave them unattended, or do any charging while traveling in your car.
Next weekend you use your special balance charger to fill up all cells again (3 hours work). Top up the 12v batteries again
Load 2 X 12 v chargers into boot, using special straps

Come on, be serious, how many S A modellers will rush out saying "yeah sure "R34,000 is fine - give me one, and I am happy to take over babying those batteries"

Burt's electric F3A does fly very well, but not that much better. I can see that he is an "early adopter" who loves new technology, and in a few years we may follow him, but not yet, no thanks
Neil Allen

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

News of Oudtshoorn Scale -- Fanie Fourie

Oudtshoorn Scale 2007 is around the corner and we are in the final stages of planning and we have the great pleasure to invite all of you to come and join us at this great event from 20th to 24th of September 2007.

This year we will be attempting what some might say is impossible but that is the Cango Flying Club spirit. We have received permission from Guinness to attempt a world record for the Guinness Book of Records for the most Radio Controlled Scale planes in the air at once. We received confirmation two weeks ago and fear that we will not reach everybody in time through the July/August issue of SAMAA magazine.

We would like all of you that are willing to take part in this event to book your spot through Hekkie Fourie as soon as possible. We want to accommodate as many pilots as possible and want to allocate alternative spot/frequencies if necessary. The sooner you confirm with him the better your chance of securing your spot/frequency and also state the type of plane so we can plan the flight line groupings and circuits accordingly. If you are not interested in this attempt but know of someone who might be, please spread the word in you respective clubs, neighbourhood, town, city or nearest illegal park flyer site!! LOL

This attempt will only be possible with your assistance so please respond as soon as possible. Every pilot will receive a Guinness certificate stating his/her participation in this record attempt, this will be a once-off opportunity so act quickly. The attempt will take place right after the Sunday Church hour as not to interfere with the weekend's general flying!!!

To book your spot/frequency mail Hekkie Fourie at and any additional questions can be directed to Arenhold Hooper at or Fanie Fourie at

General entry forms for Oudtshoorn Scale will be available on our website from next week onwards:


Fanie Fourie

Monday, June 11, 2007

War Bird Day at Swartkop -- Photos by Rudi Venter

And here's another twenty eight pages of Rudi's pictures. That should keep people quiet for a bit.

Is 35MHz safe? Piet le Roux

Is 35MHz safe? Is any radio communication 100% safe: no. But is it safe enough: yes. Even 2.4 GHZ could have problems when we move into the next solar peak (2010 to 2013).The 35MHZ can also experience interference from very far away stations during peak solar activity, hams have communicated around the world on 100mW during high solar activity. Although a solar flair are more likely to strike during the peak period of a solar cycle it can happen at any time and it does generate a lot of noise on 2.4GHz.

But I have only once experienced interference on 35MHz and that was when a novice switched on his TX without checking. Luckily his antenna was not out and I still managed to land.

The problem with scanners is that they are made to receive over a very wide frequency range and there for can not have very good front end filtering. So if it receives an unwanted signal in the 35MHz band it could be an "image" that it's seeing of signals on other channels and there maybe nothing there.

Cheers Piet le Roux

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

53 Mhz -- Dave Armitage

This has always been a band for model control from way back and it was mentioned in the 1997 project Sabre. (I was also involved with this too) I have taken this up with ICASA and it seems "it was missed out by them" It is available for our use. It is actually part of the ham band, but they have always regarded it as a model control band. I was involved in the negotiations with them to secure the 50 KHz spots a long time ago. In the US of A a ham licence is required but here it is not because of the low power outputs we use, typically 100 milliwatts.

The band starts at 53.300 MHz and goes up to 53.900 in 50 KHz steps
Dave Armitage

Monday, May 28, 2007

35Mhz -- update from Dave Armitage

Hi All,
Just a further update on the Four Wheel Drive Club problem we are experiencing. ICASA are becoming a lot more communicative at present. They are talking to the Four Wheel Drive Club and are intent on migrating them up into the 39 MHz band. This will take time but I have been assured again that the licences issued for their 35 MHz activity will not be re-issed when they expire in December. I have not had a reaction from the 4WDC as yet, but I expect to talk to them during the coming week. I have however spoken to one of the Senior Managers there and he is horrified as to what has happened. He has also initiated an investigation to ascertain if any other "users" might have slipped through the net on 35 MHz.
Dave Armitage

Friday, May 25, 2007

Radio Frequencies: what happened? -- Piet le Roux

At this stage our the 35MHz band, is unreliable because it is also being used illegally by two- way radio channels which were issued by the old Department of Communications. The 53.3 to 53.9 MHz band (channel 31 to 43) has just disappeared without anyone noticing it!

In 1997 the old Department of Communication started to implement project SABRE, this mainly impacted on the 60 MHz users and they had to be migrated. Foot note 3.32 in this report said the following:
South Africa currently uses the frequency band 60.1375 - 60.375 MHz for the control of model aircraft, which differs from bands used elsewhere in the world. In order to allow the model aircraft community to benefit from international economies of scale, to facilitate international competitions, etc, it is proposed that the model aircraft control band will be moved to be in line with the European band at 35 - 35.25 MHz.

The existing model aircraft control band could be released in the medium term. It should be noted that the new band will not be available immediately for use for model aircraft control, as existing users will need to be migrated out.”

So it acknowledged that there were users between 35 and 35.25 MHz and that they had to be moved but it makes no provision for the users between 35.25 to 35.5 MHz because at this stage they wanted our band to be the same as Europe (35 to 35.25)

But there were two 60 MHz bands 60.1375 to 60.375 (for aircraft) and 60.025 to 60.125 MHz (for model control).We were given 35 to 35.25 for the 60.1375 to 60.375 band but after 2000 when ICASA took over, they realized that they needed the whole 60 MHz band, so the gave us 35.25 to 35.5 MHz for the 60.025 to 60.125 band .But 60.025 to 60.125 was for model control, meaning everyone, so the 35.25 to 35.5 should have been for general use. This was done without checking that the users on 35 to 35.25 had been migrated and without making any provision to migrate the users on 35.25 to 35.5 MHz. At the end the whole 35 to 35 .5 MHZ band were given to model aircraft control. This was not a well thought thru plan because such a big band will cause problems with receivers using a 455 KHz intermediate frequency.

ON the 24th of March 2004 all changes were published in the government gazette and became law. For some unknown reason the 53.3 to 53.9 MHz band were not published in the government gazette. It looks to me like they just forgot because nowhere in any document is it mentioned that that band would be taken away. Nevertheless they way that the South African Table of Frequency Allocations reads at this time is that 50 to 54 MHz is for ham radio use and they would share 53 to 54 MHz with Wireless microphone use. The only 50 MHz frequency for model control is 54.45 to 54.55 MHz. If you want to use 53.3 to 53.9 you would have to get a class A radio amateur license.

The Two-way radios currently using 35 to 35.5 MHz can not be simply moved to above 35.5 MHz because that band is reserved for the base station leg of a repeater setup. The nearest single frequency mobile bands available are 33.25 to 33.5 MHz or 36.825 - 38.5 MHz. The 36 to 38 MHz band is the nearest but is mostly still used by the government.

Safe Flying

Piet Le Roux

Monday, May 21, 2007

Use of 35Mhz by Four Wheel Drive Club -- update from Dave Armitage

I have been watching the various postings etc to do with this topic and I must say that some inputs are sensible, Others are really living on cloud nine, however, the situation at present is as follows. We have discovered that the 4 wheel drive club are licenced by ICASA to use 35.225, 35.250 and 35.300MHz. The licences go back to 1989 and the 4 wheel drive club pay annually to be able to use those frequencies.
They use 35.225 for normal day to day communications during the times they are rallying or racing. They also use it to communicate when marshalling the competitions. They could also use it on there way to and from a competition. The 35.250 spot is used as a standby if 35.225 is cluttered. 35.300 is used purely as a distress, emergency or medical request frequency. Why ICASA have let these slip through the net is anybody's guess, but it has happened and at present we must live with it until these guys are migrated off. I have spoken many times to ICASA trying to sort this hassle out, but now I am getting reports from them that many other people have also had a go at them telephonically, some very abusively, and it is not HELPING OUR CAUSE. Please guys do not do it.
I have also spoken to the 4 wheel Drive club also. They are being very amicable and will change frequencies if we can get ICASA to allow it. From what I understand from their radio guy, it is just a question of re-programming the on board E-Proms. This they will do quickly if it is sanctioned by ICASA. They have also promised to cut down any idle chatter on those frequencies.
We have therefore formulated a proposal to ICASA that they allow the 4 wheel drive club to operate above 35.600 MHz. Since presenting the proposal ICASA have gone a bit quiet and are difficult to communicate with. I suspect much of this is due to other members also trying to get through and attack them. Our next tack is to go up the chain to the senior managers and arrange a meeting with him during the coming week. In the meantime the recommendations not to use 35.220,35.230, 35.250 and 35.300 are still in force.
The 4 wheel drive club's next competition is to take place from the 12th-18th June, but is will be in Botswana. Well away from us but that is not to say they will be using either of their first two channels to communicate whilst on route or return.
There have also been reports of interference on 35.140 and 35.150MHz.
I have forwarded what reports I have but as yet I have nothing to substantiate them.

Dave Armitage

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews


Web site terms and conditions

Copyright of material on all the pages of this site is vested in the SAMAA or the original authors. You may use the material in terms of the Creative Commons license for non-commercial purposes on the condition that you acknowledge its origin.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

The views expressed on this web site, or on any directly or indirectly linked site, are not necessarily those of the SAMAA Committee, or the web editor. The information provided on this site is provided for recreational purposes only. The SAMAA and the authors of presented content assume no liability whatsoever on the use of information contained in this site. The information on this site is provided on an "as-is" basis, without warrantee of any kind. Links provided on this site will let you leave the SAMAA web site. The linked sites are not under the control of the SAMAA, and the SAMAA is not responsible for the contents of any linked site, or any link contained within a linked site, or updates to such sites.