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Posted - 11/14/2009 :  11:19:23 AM  Show Profile

Eastern Soaring League Newsletter – October/November 2009


President – Ed Anderson
Secretary/Treasurer – David Beach
Scorekeeper – Luis Bustamante & Anker Berg-Sonne
Contest Coordinator - Jose Bruzual
Web Master and Publisher – Jose Bruzual
Quartermaster – Steve Lucke
Newsletter Editor – Ed Anderson
ESL Historian - Anker Berg
Hand Launch Director – Doug Harnish


The 2009 ESL season has drawn to a close and what a great season it was. We had 16 hand launched contest days scheduled and 18 thermal duration contest days scheduled. That is one heck of an amazing schedule. I have looked around at other leagues and I have not been able to find ANY that even approaches our schedule.

Since this was my first year as President, I was interested to know about the trend of participation we have seen over recent years. Are we getting more pilot participation or are we trending down? I keep hearing that interest in soaring is on the decline and that people just aren’t interested in soaring contests anymore. So I asked our score keeper, Luis Bustamante, if we kept participation records over the years, and it seems we do.

In 2009 we had 99 pilots who participated in our thermal duration contest series, not including Novices. Based on the registration reports, in terms of total pilot registrations, we had been on a steep decline from 2000 to 2005. However over the last 4 years registrations have been on an upswing. Even in this year of a tough economy our numbers are up, year over year, for the last 5 years.

In 2009 we had 77 pilots who participated in our hand launched contest series, not including Novices. For hand launch we only have 5 years of registration records. Doing the HL analysis was a little harder because, in 2009 we changed how we counted Polecat registrations. So I took Polecat out of the numbers. And what I saw is that the hand launch division is doing great! In fact, if the HL EOS contest had not been rained out, 2009 would have been the ESL’s best year in the last 5 years. I think that is an outstanding record!

Who says that interest in contest soaring is dying? It seems to be doing quite well on the East Coast of the United States.

October 3rd, 2009

The annual meeting of the Eastern Soaring League was called to order by President Ed Anderson on October 3rd, 2009 at the Daniel Boone Homestead field in Birdsboro, PA. Approximately 40 members were in attendance.

Welcome - Ed started by thanking everyone involved for a terrific 2009 season. Both the number of contests and the number of pilots attending have increased this season due to the volunteer efforts of a majority of league members.

Ed summarized a report provided by Luis Bustamante that reported the trend for our TD contest registrations. In terms of total pilot registrations, the ESL had been on a steep decline from 2000 to 2005 but a turn around has occurred and we have been on an upswing over the past 4 years.

Officer and Staff Reports

Secretary’s report – A motion was made to accept the 2008 minutes as published on the ESL web site. The motion passed.

Treasurer’s report by David Beach – An estimated calendar year summary was presented as follows:
Actual Starting Balance: $5,092.01
Expenses: $2,209.97
Income: $3,200.12
Net change: $990.15 surplus
Final Balance: $6,082.16

It was noted that the single biggest factor in the surplus was the success of the two ‘ESL run’ TD contests this year. In the previous two years the League had run at a deficit.

Scorekeeper’s report by Luis Bustamante – Luis thanked all the CD’s and scorekeepers for prompt reporting of scores this year. Luis also reported that there an investigation was underway to see if the ELS scoring program needed updating. Ed asked if it could be enhanced to record up to 10 round from the current 8. Luis said there was a way to make that work with the current software but some enhancement might be beneficial.

Quartermaster’s report by Steve Lucke – A request was made for someone to investigate the repair of the ‘ESL Pole’, Pete Schlitzkus offered to take care of it. Steve reported that the batteries are OK. Some off-season work will be done on the turnarounds to prevent line snags. Additional line will need to be purchased for 2010, and Steve suggested the need for a Public Address system. Further discussion on the PA system was deferred until after the staff reports.

Winchmaster’s report by Tony Guide – Two replacement armatures was used this year. All the winches will be inspected and repaired during the off season. Additional armatures, brushes, insulators will be purchased as needed. The possibility of purchasing a fifth winch was discussed. Several options were brought up, Ed requested someone investigate potential options and make a recommendation. Tony Guide agreed to do the investigation, but welcomed input from other members who might have information on other sources of parts and/or motors.

Contest coordinator’s report by Jose Bruzual – The proposed 2010 contest calendar is as follows:

Dates Contest 2010

May 1/2 BASS (DLG)
May 8/6 Mother's Day weekend
May 15/16 Open to (DLG)
May 22/23 TMSS
May 29/30 Memorial Day weekend

June 5/6 ** Open ** (DLG)
June 12/13 SKSS
June 19/20 PoleCat (DLG)
June 26/27 LISF 1

July 3/4 Independence Day
July 10/11 DBSF
July 17/18 CRRC (DLG)
July 24/25 > NATS

August 1 NATS
August 7/8 LISF (DLG)
August 14/15 CRRC Soar-In
August 21/22 CASA (DLG)
August 28/29 ESL Mid Season

Sept. 4/5 Labor Day Weekend
Sept. 11/12 CASA
Sept. 18/19 SKSS (DLG)
Sept. 25/26 LISF 2

Oct. 2/3 East Cost Fest. (DLG)
Oct. 9/10 ESL EOS DBSF
Oct. 16/17 ESL EOS (DLG)

There was discussion of a potential contest at LASS. The only available dates would be in April. The LASS representative indicated that LASS would want the ESL to run the contest if it were held at the LASS field.

HLG Director’s report by Doug Harnish – Doug introduced himself and took the opportunity to thank everyone involved for a success 2009 season.

There was some discussion about Polecat and whether that contest should continue to be on the ESL calendar. Doug will raise this at the EOS hand launch contest, including a discussion about how registration and score reporting should be handled.

General recognition was given to the fact that the ESL is a league with two equally important divisions. Many of the pilots in attendance at the meeting fly in both divisions.

Doug reminded everyone that the EOS HLG contest would be held in two weeks in Hagerstown, MD. He was expecting a good turnout.

Newsletter Editor’s report by Ed Anderson – Ed appealed to the group for feedback and content contribution for the ESL newsletter. Those in attendance thanked Ed for his work with a round of applause.

Ed also opened an invitation to anyone who would like to help with the Newsletter and opened the door for someone else to take it next year if they are interested.

ESL Historian Report – No activity has occurred in the last year toward developing a history of the ESL.

Open Discussion

Hand launch Advancement – There was discussion regarding rules for hand launch advancement. A motion was made and carried to have the rules discussed and defined at the hand launch end of season meeting in two weeks.

Combined Award – Ed Anderson suggested the league recognize the top flyer in combined TD and HLG contests. The notion of an ESL Soar-Meister award was approved, further details are pending. The motion included authorization for the officers to determine the qualifications for this award.

Contest Rules – Standardization of contest rules was discussed. A recommendation was made to adopt an ESL standard of adding landing points as a bonus (post-normalization). Landing tapes were discussed with the conclusion that the landing task is at the discretion of the CD. It was also noted that AMA rules are to be followed with any deviations to be announced prior to the start of the contest.

Novice Program – All ESL CD’s are encouraged to promote novice participation. Novices are not charged registration fees, do not have their scores listed on the Website, and generally receive only certificate awards.

Ed emphasized that the Novice program is designed as an introduction to the League and is not in any way a statement about the qualifications of the pilot. An ESL Novice is new to the ESL, not necessarily to RC Soaring. He also made reference to the article on the ESL web site that discusses the Expert and Sportsman classes as well as the Novice Program.

TD Advancement to Expert – Recognition was given to the TD Sportsman pilots who had accumulated 20 or more advancement points. These pilots will be moving up to Expert for the 2010 Season. The advancing Pilots are Dave Wood, Stuart Strong, George Hill, Dan Siegel, and Jeff Newcum.

Public Address System – Discussion on the need for an ESL PA system took place. A motion was made to authorize a budget of up to $500. The motion carried.

Adjournment – A motion to adjourn was made and approved.

You can see the minutes in the ESL forum at:


The final 2009 standings are posted on the ESL Website.

I would like to highlight the top pilots in each division and class

TD – Expert
Michael Lachowski - 599.91 points

TD – Sportsman
Daniel Siegel - 598.52 points
( Dan will be moving up to Expert next year )

HL – Expert
Shane Spickler 500 points

HL – Sportsman
Ken Sharp 493.96 points
( I believe Ken will be moving up to Expert nest year)

End of season Thermal Duration Division trophies were handed out at the end of season ESL meeting. However the Hand Launched Division trophies have not yet been awarded as the EOS HL contest was canceled due to rain. The final standings are shown on the ESL web site. The trophies will be mailed out, by the end of November.


Robert Ashinsky, LISF, reports that there is a new way to time HL tasks using a Palm Pilot and a new application written for the Pam Pilot. The display shows the time remaining in the task and there is a second visible timer for the current time in the air, which when stopped, is added to a list of all air times for the task. You can read more about this timing option at this link:


Peter Schlitzkus, soarkraut@mchsi.com , has offered to organize a cell phone directory and call chain
for those of us that have to travel to contests. There have been many times when people need to contact the CD or someone from the local club about weather, detours, flat tiers or the like. A call to the right person, can really be helpful.

If you would like to participate in this effort, contact Peter with your cell phone number. Peter, my number is on the way! Thanks for offering to do this for the League.

The 2009 United States F3J R/C Soaring Team Selection
By Josh Glaab

The United States F3J R/C Soaring team selection competition was held in Denver, Colorado over the Labor Day Weekend at a gorgeous sod farm not far from Denver International Airport. I was fortunate enough to be able to compete in this event with an outstanding team and I can say it was a grand adventure, to say the least.

Going back to January of this year, things were indeed looking a little sketchy. For the last three or so team selections, which occur every other year, I have been privileged to be able to team with Tom Kiesling, Phil Barnes and Mike Lachowski. However, in January, Mike was caught-up in F3B World Championship preparations and said he was out, Phil was very much into DHLG (and dominating the world in the process), and Tom had recently been married and moved away to California. Things were indeed looking a little sketchy.

Things started to change in May/June. Tom became committed to the F3J team selection and was able to convince Phil to try flying unlimited again. Tom also came across a very talented yet un-spoken-for pilot in San Diego (Mario Scolari). By the time of the NATS (July), we had what a strong team and we were in the game for the F3J Team Selection.

To give a quick refresher, F3J is similar to, but a big notch up from, nominal thermal duration which we are accustomed to in the ESL. Intense wing-tip to wing-tip simultaneous mass launches using two-man tows on highly-stretchy monofilament line are one of the differences between F3J and nominal TD.

All teams provide their own launching equipment and tow men. Nominally, with some coordination and ads on Craig’s list, you can hire a team of tow-men for about $100 per day per tow-man. Another difference is that you can have 2 launches for each round and the objective is to fly as long as possible within a specified working time (10 or 15 minutes). Flyers that push the limits on both ends are rewarded with higher scores. Quicker launches (less than 5 seconds on tow) are highly valuable, and touching down with less than two seconds to go is key. If you launch before the window opens, you need to re-launch while losing critical working time. If you land after the window closes, they take away all of your landing scores, plus hit you with another 30 point penalty.

Scores are normalized by combining the flight times with the landing scores. We usually have about 10 flyers in each group. The flyer with the highest combined flight time and landing score gets a normalized score of 1000 pts. All other pilots are normalized by that score.

For the US F3J team selections, we fly two days of 10-minute tasks and the third day is dedicated to 15-minute tasks. On the plus side, there are throw-out rounds. There is one throw-out for the 10-minute rounds if we get more than 6 of them. Then, if we fly more than 5 15-minute rounds, we get another throw-out. The landing task is 100-pt FAI tapes with the inner two meters in 1 pt/20-cm resolution. F3J is a little lacking in that you can land inverted and completely blow the plane apart while still measuring and counting the landing. Scores are normalized and tenths of a second count.

One of the more questionable aspects of F3J is the re-flight. You can get a re-flight if you are impeded during your flight. You can be impeded in many ways. One way is to have a mid-air. Another way is to have your launch lines crossed by another competitor’s when you are trying to launch. If you convince the CD that you are entitled to a re-flight, you get put into a make-up group. At this year’s F3J TS, the CD decided that approximately 4-pilot flight groups would be composed of those who needed re-flights from several different rounds with some pilots chosen via a lottery method. The lottery method calls pilots at random and allows them to re-fly their flight for the given round and take the better of the two scores. This is a real get-out-of-jail-free card if you had a bad round. While this method is a reasonable manner to handle this, it was a little different from previous team selections that formed the re-flight groups at the end of each round using the lottery method. Overall, F3J has lots of strategy, lots of intense flying, and lots of logistics.

We got to Denver on Thursday and had a practice day on Friday. The weather was great for Friday and we flew our butts off. At the end of the day, the contest director (CD) processed all of the aircraft and we had a pilot’s meeting at the field. You could enter up to 3 aircraft and each piece of the aircraft had to get a sticker on it so it could be identified as one of the parts you entered. I brought 3 Supras (2 fiberglass Supra Pros and one Kevlar Supra) and flew about 6 flights on all of them during the practice day. Tom, Phil, and Mario also flew all of their aircraft. Tom was flying his home-built Supras that we all are familiar with in the ESL. While they were looking a little worn, they were still outstanding aircraft.

The collection of F3J and World Championship processing stickers on Tom’s Supras were testament to how great those planes can fly and how well Tom can fly them! Phil resurrected his two home-built Supras. One of Phil’s Supras was trashed pretty hard in the 2007 F3J TS and he did a great job rebuilding it. Mario was flying an Explorer and had two different tip panels for it. Mario also had an F3B plane to enter in case the wind got crazy. This year, we decided to spend extra on the tow people and have our tow-team there for the entire day Friday. That helped us a lot and gave us all day to practice actual F3J launches which improved our launching technique as well as dial-in the aircraft setups. What we were looking for was an aggressive climb without any excessive tip-stall by adjusting the tow-hook while making sure we could throw straight with 50+ lb. of tension on the aircraft.

Saturday was the first day of the competition and we were at the field at 6:30am. The pilot’s meeting was at 7:15 and we drew for lane assignments. There is a significant tactical advantage to flying from the end lanes to avoid air traffic during launch and landing. I was elected to be the team manager and I had the hot-hand and drew one of the outside lanes. However, when we started to setup, we noticed we had no room to run during launch due to mud. We had to talk to the CD and he made us quickly move to the end lane on the other side. Several competitors, including Daryl Perkins, Rich Bernowski, and Jeff and John Walters, helped us move our gear (i.e. 12 aircraft, coolers, chairs, tool boxes, etc.) from end of the line to the other (about 100 yards).

The competition started and things were going well. Tom was racking-up grannies (i.e. 1,000 pt rounds) for the first two rounds, I was in the game, and Phil and Mario were also doing well. However, in the 5th round, Tom had a short flight. Tom also had a very low-altitude mid-air in the 7th round. Mario had a flight where he was too high to hit the landing on final approach. He decided to try to circle one more time to lose altitude, but time ran out and he missed the landing. I finished the day with a couple of grannies and had 5 other strong scores to go with it.

Sunday’s conditions were cloudy, and the lift was very light for most of the day. Tom got a re-flight for his mid-air, but the line broke immediately after launch. F3J is a team sport much more so than nominal thermal duration. We were not on our F3J-game as a team at this point and Tom continued to “go for it” vs. taking a re-launch. Given the low numbers of pilots in the re-flight group (4), the tough conditions, and lack of top-rated talent in this particular group, the better decision would have been to re-launch immediately since the winning time was only 7+ minutes. Tom ended up with a very short flight and essentially ended his team selection there. At the end of the day on Sunday, I was in 4th and less than a point behind Cody Remington, Rich Bernowski was second, and Daryl Perkins was in first and we were in a very tight race. My Black and Yellow Supra Pro was indeed rocking the event in my opinion! Mario and Phil had some good flights but had given up some flight time and landing scores and were really hurting having more rounds that needed to be thrown-out than could be thrown-out.

On Monday, the conditions looked great and we started flying at about 8am. Thermals were very light and the 15-minute rounds were very challenging. In the first round, we had the match-up we wanted and Tom was dueling with Cody Remington. The hope was that Tom could take out Cody and help me get into the top 3. An outstanding down-wind brawl broke out and we were one thermal hit away from burying Cody. However, the conditions went flat and both pilots squeaked in for excellent landings. I was doing well early and found some solid lift in the early round. In the second round however, I had the save of my life. At about 10 ft (not kidding here) and 3 minutes in to a 15 minute flight, I found a thermal and rode it out. I was in 3rd place for a couple of rounds, but had some mediocre 96/97 pt landings and could not hold on down the stretch. In the 17th round, I ended up with an 11 minute flight, which was a good throw-out, but I needed to throw-out a 96 pt landing on round 15 (hard to believe). Tom got his groove going and was putting on a demonstration of how to blast his group with extremely short launches. He finished the contest with several 1 to 2 second launches, finding very low lift very far away and skying his plane out at Kiesling distances (i.e., 1 mile out). Cody Remington was able to get on a roll and rack-up a string of grannies. He passed Rich and Daryl and ended up 1st.

When it was all over we flew a total of 18 rounds (13 10-minute and 5 15-minute). In the end, I was about 16 points off the leader and missed 3rd place by 6 points out of about 16,000 and I’m very encouraged for the 2011 team selection. Tom ended up with 6 grannies, which was the second most of all, and tied with Daryl. Phil had a couple of grannies but had trouble working very light lift and missed some time. Mario was doing very well too, but he missed some time and landings.

Overall, this was a grand adventure and I am very grateful to have been able to participate in this event. The Supra Pro was a great aircraft and one of the best on the field in my opinion. Working with Tom, Phil, and Mario truly was great experience. Hooking-up the Supra for launch and having Tom ready to throw it for me, time, call lift and spot the competition was outstanding. Flying and practicing with Phil was very enjoyable and we need to thank Frank Thompson, Skip Schow, Tony Cassada, Neal Huffman and Geryl Taylor, for helping us with a practice session in August. I must have put up 30 flights that day and it really helped. I also need to thank Luis Bustamante, Steve Lucky and Neal Huffman for teaming with me for F3J at the NATS in July. If you are interested in trying F3J, the NATS is a good way to get a taste of this style of competition. It is run every other year at the Nats on the same year as the F3J Team Selection.


Some of you may recall that David Beach set up an ESL logo site a couple of years ago. The host site is on Cafepress. They have t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs and mouse pads. So if you would like to show off the League logo, you can order whatever you like. There is no minimum order. T-shirts start at $9 and sweatshirts start at $33.

Thanks to David Beach for setting this up for us.


If you found a great little Motel near one of our contests, please let the rest of the League know about it. There is a section on the ESL forums where you can post information. Naturally we can all find the national chains, but the single location local places are harder to find. Some offer excellent value. Most ESL members are just looking for a clean place and a low price.

If you would really like to reduce travel costs, offer to exchange a room. Offer to house a friend when the contest is near you, and you stay with them when the contest is in their area. The savings can be quite large and you can talk flying all night. #61514;


RC Soaring Digest is a must read for anyone who loves soaring. Bill & Bunny Kuhlman do a terrific job of publishing it each month for our enjoyment. RC Soaring Digest is free. All you have to do is download the file. And consider making a donation to help support the magazine.


At the ESL TD End of Season Contest, Luis Bustimante, our beloved score keeper, showed us all how to land a Pike Perfect, inverted, without the aid of elevator or ailerons. This aerobatic feat was quite exciting, but the final landing was in the trees. Before Luis could get to the tree to attempt a rescue, Phil was up the branches, chatting up the birds, and getting the plane.

Photo by Dawn Huffman

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Here is the story, as told by Luis. “As some of you may have noticed, I did my best again to destroy my Pike Perfect on launch. A “somewhat aggressive” launch broke the stab joiner in half and fluttered both ailerons and 1 flap servo loose. Flying a Perfect with only rudder and 1 flap is a bit challenging and the best I could do was steer the plane away from the tents, turn into the wind, inverted, and close my eyes. The plane landed about 20 feet up a tree surrounded by thorny bushes in the swampy area just north of the field. The last I saw of the stab, half of it was drifting downwind beyond the far tree line. This all happened during the last round of the day so I had to leave the plane where it was and return to the scoring tent to wrap up the EOS contest results and prepare the season championship standings for the upcoming pilots meeting.

And that, my friends, is where the quality of the ESL gang once again made itself apparent. While I was busy playing with the numbers, Anker Berg-Sonne showed up with the missing stab. A few minutes later Phil Barnes and a few others showed up with the rest of my airplane!

THANK YOU Phil, Anker and the others who help retrieve my plane. I was not looking forward to dealing with that issue after the contest. Your help was very much appreciated!”

That is Phil Barnes in the tree in the photo above. Phil is a great guy who frequents the hand launch contests, and sometimes shares his talent with the TD crowd too. In case you didn’t know, Phil made the wings for a lot of the planes that are flown by our members. Phil used to make wings for Northeast Sailplanes, Polecat Aero and other companies. I have his wings on my Thermal Dancer. Phil makes nice wings.

However it seems Phil is good at climbing trees. While Phil may compete in the HL and TD events, some suspect he is just hanging out, looking for an opportunity to scurry up a tree.

John Jenks sent in these photos. It seems that Phil has done this before.

According to John, “This is Phil's MO, (Mr. helper). One of the best guys around and always looking to promote the hobby and good will. He never was asked to climb he just felt it was an opportunity to help a fellow competitor/friend.

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Phil in 2006 and 2007 at SJSF DLG contest. Not sure who's plane in 2006 but I think it's Doug's in 2007. Not sure if you can tell from this cropped picture but there wasn't a branch that was bigger than 3" in a place where our 50' linesman's pole couldn't reach.”

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While we have Phil “up a tree” in these photos, each of these rescues probably involved the help of several people. In the midst of competition, it seems there is still time to help a friend.


EPP DLG - It is heavy compared to the competition ships but if you value rugged over light, this might be something to consider, perhaps as a trainer. Or it might be a good choice for slope soaring.

DX6i SERVICE ALERT - October 20, 2009

If you own a DX6i transmitter that has Product Identification Codes (PIDs) HA906X and HA907X, then please read the following advisory. Product Identification (PID) code may be found on the inside of the battery compartment of the DX6i transmitter.

Service centers in the US, UK, and Germany have received several reports of short circuits occurring in the DX6i, melting some interior components. The cause for this issue is an incorrect trainer jack used in the assembly. Use of these incorrect trainer jacks by either a buddy cable or a flight simulator cable can create a short circuit, causing energy from batteries to be released in the form of heat inside the transmitter. All transmitters with these two PIDs should be returned to Horizon for inspection and, if needed, repair. Please complete the on-line request form here.


The Radian e-glider has proven very popular. However the original prop was prone to breakage. Horizon Hobby has announced a replacement prop program. If you are an early Radian owner, you fill out a form and they will send you a replacement. I have already received mine.

The location of the form is found under the Support tab. You can email or
snail mail it to them. Details at horizon can be found here:

You can also email horizon at: hhps@horizonhobby.com
Put 'ParkZone Radian Propeller Request' as the subject of your email.
Include your shipping address, email and daytime phone number in the email.
( I already received confirmation they are sending me one. )


An example of one of the tips contained in this newsletter: Using Kitchen Appliances

I used to soak pieces of balsa in a pungent mix of ammonia and water in order to bend them around wing tip forms, or other compound curves, like a cowling form. Now I use the microwave.

Soak the balsa (or even plywood) in water for a few minutes, then zap it in the microwave. It comes out limp as a noodle, and ready to form into complex shapes.



I hope you have enjoyed the ESL Newsletter. This will likely be the last Newsletter for 2009. I will accumulate items for the spring edition, so if you have something to contribute, please send it to me. It won’t get lost. Send your notes, photos, compliments or complaints to Ed Anderson, ESL Newsletter Editor, at aeajr@optonline.net

If anyone would like to become involved in the Newsletter please let me know. I wouldn’t mind an assistant Editor. Or, if you are a graphics or format Guru and would like to spice up the appearance, I would welcome the assistance.

Best regards,
Ed Anderson
Long Island Silent Flyers

Edited by - aeajr on 11/25/2009 11:01:21 AM
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