Pilots soar in competition + video

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COMING IN: Richard Thompson lands his aircraft at Edgecumbe Domain.
Photos Adyn Ogle D5544-064

WATCHING the birds can play a big part in discus launch glider competition.

The second round of the North Island F3K discus launch glider series was held at Edgecumbe Domain at the weekend and 10 competitors made the most of the calm conditions on Sunday. The radio controlled, hand-launched model gliders have a 1.5-metre wingspan and competitors use a discus-like rotation to launch the aircraft. The average pilot can launch a glider to an altitude of more than 40m and the better pilots will exceed 60m.

The fringe sport drew plenty of quizzical onlookers on Sunday as pilots spun and launched their aircraft to soar high in the air. What followed was a demonstration of the precision the sport requires.

Competing in a large square, the pilots are trying to achieve tasks within the 10-minute limit that each round has. The tasks range from estimating flight time to trying to squeeze lengthy flights into the time frame. Reading the wind and finding thermals, which is where the birds can be helpful, is key to achieving the tasks, as is being able to catch and relaunch the aircraft.

The weekend’s event include visiting and Eastern Bay competitors and the New Zealand F3K team.

New Zealand team pilot Joe Wurtz said the sport offered something for a range of people.

“The cool part is there is no motor, you just throw the airplane up and you are looking for thermals to keep it up. You are at one with nature.

Some people do it for fun and relaxation – the Sunday fliers just come out and fly around. Other people get their fun via competition.”

He said competing at Edgecumbe suited them well and he enjoyed the competition. “There are a couple of really keen fliers here and it is good to fly with them and it was a good to meet in Edgecumbe as we have a team member in Auckland and one in the Hawke’s Bay.”

Wurtz, Kevin Botherway and Neal Moss will represent New Zealand at next month’s F3K World Championships.

“There is going to be 34 countries at the world champs this year in the Ukraine. New Zealand are the world champs so we are going back to defend that title.”

Botherway won the competition at Edgecumbe with Wurtz the runner-up and Peter Williams placing third.

adyn.ogle@whakatanebeacon.co.nz

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