Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New responsibility; new thinking

In my mind there's no doubt that ARO status for the SAMAA will be of great benefit to our members.
It's a chance as well to show other Aero Club sections how it's done.
We now speak for all Aeromodellers in SA. We shall deliver certain CAA services.
We shall be judged on how well we fill this mandate.
The mandate applies to all who fly models whether they are SAMAA members or not. The only difference is that members "pay" for service in a different way.
Good old-fashioned service delivery is crucial. We must not fail here.
Sadly, I have to say that our record so far is not good.
We have not gone out of our way to help people. We have not tried to make model flying easy and pleasant. At times it seems we have done the opposite.
All Aeromodellers should want to deal with us. They should say, " Thank goodness for the SAMAA. It has really helped me".
I don't think all Aeromodellers say that now. I think some would join another association if there were one. If we had to compete to give service I think we might have done some things differently.
With hindsight, here are some of the things that I think we did wrong:
We "flew a kite", (ha ha), on the idea of restricting insurance cover to pilots who were solo registered. We gave a quick denial, but the clause did appear in all the Proficiency Documents. Which group would you join? One that gave the widest insurance cover, or one that restricted it?
We said that it would be illegal to fly if you were not a SAMAA member. Again we denied this but not before raising the ire of non-members.
We used the term "freeloaders" to describe non-members. If all pay for service in some way, who's the freeloader?
We hinted that Park Flyers were outside the pale. That if unchecked they posed a safety threat. I'm all in favour of safe flying but some of the comment verged on the paranoid.
What it boils down to is that our marketing was lousy. We have a golden opportunity to help all model flyers in the country. Let's make the most of it.

Helicopter National Championships at Xtreme R/C Academy -- Johan Sieling

Saturday 03 March 2007

Flying starts 08:00

Directions to Xtreme R/C Academy:

From JHB, take the N1 to Pietersburg

Just North of Pretoria take the Zambezi Drive Off ramp and pass thru the Toll Gate (R5.20)

After the Toll Gate - Keep right and turn right at robot to Cullinan.

At second robot +/- 1k from N1 take the slip road to your left to Moloto.

Travel in a Northerly direction on the Moloto road for 17.9 Km's.

At 17.9 km's turn left to Whallmannsthal (hidden turn off).

Travel in a westerly direction down the Whallmannsthal road for 3,5 km's and turn right into Xtreme RC Academy

Entry code at security gate is 1234#

See you there!

We have 20 entries, which is great.

F3C - 4 Entries
Class 3 - 3 Entries
Class 2 - 4 Entries
Class 1 - 9 Entries (one from Welkom in the Freestate)

F3C, Class 3 & Class 2 Judges: (Flight line 1)

Bossie Bosmann
Eric Theron
Freek Hennop
Danie Potgieter (Jnr.)
Johan Ehlers (Snr.)

Class 1 Judges, (Flight line 2 - Hovering only)

Andre' Cilliers
Piet van Rooyen
Deon Smit

CD - Mike Brews
Line Director - Boom Lindeboom

Jacques Meyer & Co.will do scoring for us on the new program - the programmer himself will be there to run the show.

Mike Welsh will do the Admin/Finances and make sure everyone is paid-up etc.

Mike Brews will assist me with the number draw and making up of the score sheets etc. Any one is welcome to come and assist, we will be at my offices on Tuesday evening from 17:30 onwards.

Andre' Cilliers and myself will make up the Pilot's envelopes etc. and also do the marking and layout of the field on Friday afternoon.

Andre' Cilliers will also make up the trophies etc. Andre' will also make the arrangements for transmitter control and frequency control.

Xtreme will have eats and drinks on sale throughout the event.

If you know of any helpers that are willing to help, please let us know.

Please bring chairs, umbrellas and gazebo's it is hot out there!

We are going to try and complete all three rounds on Saturday if possible.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New 2.4 GHz Spread Spectrum Developments -- Dave Armitage

Spektrum/JR have introduced the revolutionary new DX7 radio and the first impression is that it is very, very good. From my own testing, and observations it fits very well into the requirements for use in the 2.4 GHz band. The manufacturers have got around the previous DX units range problems as well. A ground range check proves beyond doubt that the DX7 range is more than adequate for any type of model aircraft.

The manufacturer claims that it will give interference free flying of just about any size of model aircraft, without frequency clashes. They also claim a peg board system is no longer needed, but SAMAA still requires using a peg on system on the frequency board to show that the band is in use. The general rule for 2.4GHz streamer colour overseas is black. Anyone using spots on the other legal frequency bands must still have the appropriate streamer attached to his/her aerial.

The radio has been type approved in The USA, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. ICASA Type approval for South Africa is also being undertaken and should happen within the next few weeks or so when all the necessary documentation is received from the manufacturers. Type approval is not automatic but with so many countries having already approved the system, there is no reason to believe that it will not be passed. The equipment fits in well with South African specifications.

SAMAA formally approved the DX6 radio about six months ago. The DX7 uses the identical transmitter module to the DX6 so SAMAA approval for the unit is basically in place. This will be finalized once the ICASA Type approval has been received.

The system operates in the 2.4 GHz band using technology utilised by NASA and the US Military. There are 79 channels on the 2.4GHz band and when switched on the transmitter scans for two unused channels. When it finds them, it locks onto them and will transmit on those channels until switched off. Each transmitter has a Global Unique Identification Code (GUID) built in. There are somewhere in the region of 4.3 Billion Guid codes universally so the chances of having two identical codes are extremely remote. The receiver is also "Bound" to the transmitter electronically before use and once "bound" will only respond to transmissions containing that code.

The transmitter aerial is short, about 15 cms long and the receiver aerials even shorter at 30 mm each. There are two separate receivers linked together by a 15cm. cable. Each receiver unit actually has two receiver chips giving a total of four on board and when installed correctly they give very good range coverage though the short Tx and Rx aerials do take some getting used to.

The system has what is called "modelmatch" on board. If the receiver detects that the wrong model memory is selected then it will not respond. Unless you have two identically set up aircraft one cannot use the " I had my transmitter on the wrong model" excuse ever again.

Other claimed advantages of the system are that the long lead interference problems do not occur. Quick test reports from overseas also state that it will work with the receivers totally enclosed on a carbon fibre fuselage. These will need further exploration though.

A check through many sites on the web show that the equipment reports are only good and in some case the claims for capabilities are quite extraordinary. The set is supplied with four digital servos and a 1100 Ma/H receiver pack. The transmitter also has a 1500 Ma/H NIMH pack installed.

ICASA state that although the 2.4 GHz band is licence free, they do want the equipment to be type approved, and incidents of interference will not be investigated by them.

This equipment is a major leap forward in Radio Control Technology and should make the flying of model aircraft very much safer.

It needs to be said that although many claims are made for this equipment it may not be the "Be All and End All" for Aeromodellers. SAMAA will keep a watchful eye on the use of the systems and will review the situation in about six months' time.

Finally it has been announced that 2.4Ghz Spread Spektrum modules for the larger radios of most makes will soon be available. Don't despair your JR 9X2 and JR10X will be compatible as will the Futaba 9CAP and even the 14 MZ

Large Scale Model Aerobatic Association -- 2006 Tournament of Champions

More photos here.

Thanks to Gavin Walton for the info.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Long Arm of the Law -- Burt Botha

There's been a flurry of posting on SARFLY today on "breaking the law" when you fly model aircraft. Some comment was serious other, well, less serious.
The previous BLOG entry sketches the regulatory landscape. Here Burt gives a view on possible Police intervention.
It all seems pretty clear to me.
Not professing to be any legal expert my understanding would be that Section 20 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Act states that the Police would only be in a position to confiscate an object without a search warrant that is "betrokke is by die pleging van of op redelike gronde vermoed word betrokke te wees by die pleging of vermeende pleging van 'n misdryf".

The crime in this regard would either be as stipulated as part of our common law or an act. In order for an act to be enforced it must have a section that states which contravention of a section is considered to be an offence and will normally have a penalty classification.

SAMAA only has rules and regulations and failure to comply with these rules, or for that matter any club rule, is not a criminal offence. The worst they can do is suspending your membership after due process has been complied with.

In order for the police to confiscate an object as referred to above they will have to proof that you are committing a crime in terms of an Act or some Municipal Regulation. It is of further importance to note that the object would be confiscated for evidentiary value. One would presume that they will also have to arrest you, charge you criminally or at least issue you with a summons of some sort. The forfeiture of the object will then have to be by either a Police Officer or the Presiding Officer at the completion of your criminal trial. The mere confiscation of your plane without further legal action might open them up to some damage claim of sorts

Flying over a busy road or residential suburb would probably not be cause enough, hey I can think of at least three SAMAA certified clubs where pilots fly over National Roads, councils roads and some houses. Disturbing the peace also no good as most Municipal Ordinances stipulate what they would consider to be a nuisance to the Public.

At the end of the day we all apply common sense knowing that the planes we fly have the potential of causing damage and harm. Not long from now you could be seeing a notice placed up in the local park prohibiting the flying of model planes should your local Municipal Council promulgate such an ordinance. I suggest you check your local Municipal Regulations and if in future if any person do decide to confiscate your plane the least they should do is to inform you under what legal authority it is done and in breach of what legislation.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The SAMAA as an Aviation Recreation Organization

Recently there has been some debate about the direction in which the SAMAA is heading. It's been difficult to separate matters of fact from opinions and rumor.
I spoke to Neil de Lange of the Aero Club to get more insight.
Here's my understanding.

The Civil Aviation Authority, (CAA), is changing the way it deals with recreational flying. It is doing this through the Aero Club. The plan is to move more of the responsibility for operations to the Aero Club. In turn the Aero Club will do likewise for its sections.
The mechanism is the Aviation Recreation Organization, (ARO).
To be approved as an ARO a flying discipline must have:
1. A Manual of Procedure, (MoP), that defines how it will operate, and
2. A Quality Control System to ensure adherence to the MoP.
The MoP complements the CAA regulations. Together they define the rules under which the discipline operates. The focus is on national safety. Flying, and this includes model flying, is potentially dangerous. The rules map the landscape of safe flying for every one involved in the discipline.
All interaction with the CAA for recreational flying will be via the Aero Club and the ARO. This means the ARO must provide services fairly to both its members and others. It is permitted to charge non-members on a cost recovery basis. Or alternatively give members the same services at a discount. An ARO may not deny services to non-members.
The CAA may approve more than one ARO in any flying discipline.
At first AROs are approved for two years. The status may be extended for another three years and thereafter for five years at a time. Extensions will depend on how effective the ARO is.
The SAMAA has been approved as an ARO for model flying. As of now it is the only approved ARO for model flying.
What does this mean?
The SAMAA is now a quasi-governmental body. It has legal status and the power to make rules for model flying. These rules apply to all model-flying whether by SAMAA members or not. (The CAA regulations and the SAMAA MoP define these rules).
It does not mean that it is illegal to fly models if you are not a SAMAA member.
But if you are not you must still fly according to SAMAA's rules.
All aeromodellers whether SAMAA members or not can deal with the CAA only via the SAMAA. The SAMAA is obliged to handle these interactions.
You may for example request a service given to SAMAA members. The SAMAA may not refuse to provide the service but you may be charged for it. An example might be a "non-SAMAA" club applying for the registration of a flying site. At this stage it's not clear how the costs of such a service would be calculated.
ARO status gives the SAMAA more clout than before with the CAA. At the moment the SAMAA is negotiating successfully for the relaxation of some height restrictions for SAMAA registered fields.
All this adds greatly to the value of SAMAA membership.
That's why the recent heavy-handed bludgeoning of Aeromodellers to become SAMAA members puzzles me. There was the rhetoric of "free-loaders" and the threat of being "illegal" if you were not a member. SAMAA membership numbers increase steadily all the time. The value is clear. There is no need for Groot Krokodil scare tactics.
Is there a downside?
Well perhaps in theory; but not I suspect in practice.
Section 2 of the SAMAA MoP restricts model flying to registered sites. What about those who fly on farms, isolated slopes, beaches, even in parks?
South African Law recognizes the doctrine of the Reasonable Man.
Assess the risk and fly with care and consideration. In the event of an incident the law will ask how a reasonable man would view your actions.
There is a good example of this:
The chairman boasts of flying from Swartvlei Lake. Is that a SAMAA Site? I don't think so. He even flew at night in contravention of regulation 94.05.1. (What an awful example for young members.) He assessed the risk and flew with care and consideration.
Lastly there is the intriguing thought of a second model-flying ARO. It's not likely but it's possible.
If a model flying group felt that its MoP was sufficiently different from the SAMAA one it might apply.
A second ARO would be part of the Aero Club and hence the FAI. Think about it. The threat of a little competition often works wonders.

More info on the SAMAA MoP here

Monday, February 19, 2007

Park Flyers and the SAMAA

Here is an exchange of email between Aragon Gouvier and Joe Coetzer on this subject.
Quite interesting.
The most recent messages are at the top...

Thanks Aragon, The letter I sent you will be on the Web/Blog shortly. I am copying John Godwin, he is the Web Master. By the way are you a SAMAA member? I am also copying Alan, since your comments will be of interest to his Committee. Kind regards, Joe

-----Original Message-----
From: Aragon Gouveia
Sent: 19 February:07
To: Johann Coetzer
Cc: Bob Skinner; Dirk Meyer
Subject: Re: Parkflyers

Hi Joe,

Thanks for clearing that up. However...

I highly recommend publishing something along the lines of what you just told me. People are up in arms about being called "Freeloaders" and threatened with police action against their Parkflying activities. In case you hadn't noticed, some people (myself included) have voiced some strong opinions on the matter in the SAMAA Blog and other online resources. Why do we never seem to see official SAMAA commitee members speaking on the SAMAA Blog?

On a different topic, I have a question/suggestion regarding SAMAA insurance. Now with SAMAA implementing pilot training and certification, what are the chances of the insurance covering members that are not flying from a certified field? I think SAMAA should aim to attract as many members as possible, and for many the insurance cover is the number one reason to join. If Parkflyers can get trained up and certified to a defined level of skill and responsibility, I really think they ought to be liable for insurance regardless of where they fly. What do you think?

I'll drop Alan a mail sometime and see how his investigations are going.


| By Johann Coetzer
| [:17 +0200 ]
Hi Aragon, There is a misunderstanding here, when I said that that model flyers have to join SAMAA in order to legalise their activities, I definitely did not single out Park Flyers or directed that statement to Parkflyers specifically. At the moment, anybody may LEGALLY fly a model aircraft up to a height of 150 feet, approx. 45 metres, without belonging to SAMAA or contravening the Civil Aviation Act. The whole complicated issue of Park Flyers is being investigated by a special committee of SAMAA under the Chairmanship of Alan Fraser, you are welcome to comment or advise Alan of your idees. His e-mail is His Committee's report will be considered once the investigation is completed. Some of the problems are related to size, weight, frequencies, insurance and locality of flying activities.Park flying is being sorted out at the moment. The bigger picture is captured in the attached letter, where it addresses the fact that SAMAA renders services to all modellers in the country, not only to its members. SAMAA is entitled to request these persons tp either join or to pay for the services, Joining is going to be cheaper! SAMAA is the ONLY body recognised to control model aviation in the interest and safety of all modellers. You are welcome to call me on if we need to discuss the matter in more detail. Kind regards, Joe

-----Original Message-----
From: Aragon Gouveia
Sent: 17 February:35
To: Joe Coetzer
Subject: Parkflyers

Hi Joe,

I write to you concerned over the recent Newsletter publications regarding Parkflyers. In the past few publications you state that SAMAA views non-member Parkflyers as "freeloaders" and illegal in the context of South African law.

My first question is, what law specifically are they breaking? And in ich authoritive CAA publication can I find this law? In the January issue you provide more information, but unfortunately you chose to publish this in Afrikaans so I can't understand it.

My second question, what incidents have transpired over the past 6-12 months that have prompted SAMAA to take this stance?


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bagging a Delta -- David Kleynhans

Hi Evan

I am just writing to thank you for your excellent series of articles on vacuum bagging foam wings. On Sunday, I maidened my own design delta, which was constructed using your techniques. The first flight ended up in a tree due to having excessive travel of the ailerons which made the damn thing almost uncontrollable, but the damage was limited to a dented leading edge. After reducing the rates and increasing the reflex a bit, it flew absolutely beautifully.

The wings are sparless and skinned with two layers of 49g cloth at 0 and 45 degrees, and the weight for the entire wing came out just over 200g (span is just over 900mm).

Because the plane is an “oily”, and I don’t like spraying poisonous paints, I painted the foam using water based acrylic craft paints instead of painting the mylars.

This was reasonably successful, but you can still see dirty fingerprints and smudges through the fibreglass. You can also see areas where the cloth was not fully saturated, and the weave of the cloth is visible. This is a cosmetic rather than structural defect, as there are no soft areas on the wings.

I also deviated from your instructions by joining the root and tip panels before skinning and surprisingly this worked very well. I cut the mylars as you would for separate panels, and then taped them together using masking tape on the outside surface only. The masking tape stretches just enough to allow the mylars to conform to the different plan forms of the panels. After curing, there is only a very small ridge of epoxy that needs to be removed.

Overall, I found the whole process worked very well and I enjoyed using the new construction technique. Your articles were published in the SAMAA News in 2004, and it has taken me until now to get my act together and build a plane, but as you can see they did inspire me to try something new.

Kind Regards,


Link to Evan's article here

Monday, February 05, 2007

A time for inspired leadership

There has been debate over the past week or so on the MGSA group and via comments in the SAMAA BLOG. It concerns the direction of the SAMAA into the future.
I hear that the government is reviewing all sporting aviation activities in South Africa. Model flying is included.
If this is so, now may be the time for SAMAA to act to protect the interests of its members. There is no suggestion of this, but pandering to the government of the day may be a mistake.
Governments come and go. The SAMAA has been around for nearly a quarter of a century.
Decisions by the SAMAA committee must be open and frank. Members must have every chance to comment.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Be on the lookout for stolen goods

Dagsê manne

Gister het rowers by ons ingebreek en my vliegtuigtrailer met van my large scale vliegtuie en toerusting gesteel. Die waarde hiervan beloop etlike duisende rande. Indien enige iemand die vliegtuie of trailer Regnr DDM 882 GP sou sien of daarvan te hore kom, kontak my asseblief. Hiers foto’s van 2 van die vliegtuie.


Faan Rossouw or

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