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.

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