Sunday, July 27, 2008

The South African Control Line team preparations.-- Percy Attfield

The Control Line team left earlier this month to compete in the World Championships at Landres in France.
For a variety of reasons the Aerobatic team was reduced to a single entry being Keith Renecle. Part of his preparation for the worlds was to arrange to compete at an international event in Germany two weeks before the Landres contest. The Geilenkirchen competition was held in the Dusselforf area and it expected to draw competitors from Netherlands , Belgium, France , Germany and other European countries.
Keith had also made the decision to compete in Germany and France with an electric plane which he designed and developed over the past year. He designed the plane around a MVVS electric motor and a controller that ensures a consistent full power run that ends within the allowed 7 minutes flight time. Electric power is still very new to control line and the limited information that is available is contained in pockets within a few people in Europe, Canada and the USA.
Initially the plane came out heavier than expected, this resulted in all the wing and stab painted covering being removed and replaces with plastic heatshrink covering, This reduced the weight to a more acceptable level and the first test flights could be started. It was immediately clear that the motor produced all the power that was required and that the plane flew very well. After some more trimming the decision was made to leave the backup Diesel engine plane behind, this would reduced the luggage weight to inside the allowed airlines weight limit.
I copy edited emails received from Keith below.
This was the first mail on Saturday evening:
"We had the first 2 rounds of the Geilenkirchen competition today in horrendous conditions. Strong, gusty wind with rain for the whole day. I only flew the one round, and it started raining halfway through the flight. The wind increased as well and it was just a matter of survival. The Electron handled the conditions better than any of my previous models, including the diesel. Later in the afternoon, the conditions became even worse, so I decided not to fly the round, much to Bokkie's relief. I was in 5th place out of 21 entries after round 1. Uwe Degner is leading.
We have one more round tomorrow, I will see if I can at least get in a little flying in half-decent conditions. There is just one other electric model flying stunt here, and I am getting lots of questions from all. "
This is the second mail Sunday evening:
Well, we got through the 3 rounds. Today my last flight was in less wind, but raining steadily.
Uwe Degner (Germany), first; Clamer Meltzer (Norway), second; Keith Renecle (South Africa), third; Uwe Kehnen (Germany), fourth. Christoph Holtermann is most impressed with my Electron, and how little "fuel" it uses. Even here at close to sea level, it uses maximum 2200mAh for a 5:30 flight. I have even had a request from Clamer Meltzer for the plans."

So now I will go to Landres a little more confident. We will head down the Mosel valley for some sightseeing on the way to France. It is indeed a rough life.
In addition to the Aerobatics entry South Africa will also enter the team race event. This is the first such entry since we were allowed back into these events in 1994.
The team consists of Dirk Meyer as pilot and Conrad Cloete as pitman. They have a 3 event, 6 year strategy planned. To participate at this event and gain international experience and to be exposed to the latest team race technology, engines and planes. They plan to participate at the 2010 Worlds in Hungary as a competitive team and aim for the finals in 2012.
This strategy required that a large amount of money be set aside by both competitors. Since Conrad lives in Cape Town and Dirk lives in Durban all their South African practise sessions require extensive travel. In addition they have been attending a team race contest in Gauteng every month since October 2007. They have also invested heavily in training engines and planes. The latest was imported from Australia.
They also left early with the intention of being observers at a European team race championship event in France as back ground to what can be expected at Landres.
When we attended this competition at the same venue in 2000 it rained continuously with strong winds. I trust that the weather will be more conducive to competition flying this year.

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