Year In Review 2016 - Part I
Author: Ian Emery | Date: June 2016
I just thought I would give you a quick update on everything that has happened over the winter and the Season so far. The beginning of the Year was a right-off with regards to flying helicopters as I had to go away with work for 4 months which couldn't have come at a worse time. When I returned at the beginning of May I had a shiny new JR Sylphide to try and get built and set up ready for the first F3C Competition. This is pretty much the same model as I flew last year except this one is fitted with the beautiful JR Super Gracy fuselage and a slightly different rotor head which has proved to be popular amongst other F3C pilots. This was going to be an important season for me but I couldn't help but feel frustrated that I had done so little flying with being away and I just wanted to look back and say that I had given it my all. To add to my workload I had 2 new schedules to learn which looked challenging to get right. On a positive note I now had 2 very capable helicopters and it was just the pilot that needed sorting out.
The month soon passed and it was time to travel up to Aberdeen for the Scottish Heli Nats and my first Competition of the 2016 Season. I was understandably a little nervous because I had done so little flying since the end of last season and I had a slight mishap following an auto-rotation during training where the helicopter tipped onto its side causing minor damage to the fuselage a week earlier. We were really lucky with the weather and managed to get 3 rounds completed along with plenty of training flights which all proved really useful in my work-up to the F3C World Cup competitions and European Championships. A lot of competition flying is physiological and for some reason I managed to make a mistake during the rolling manoeuvre which carried on into subsequent rounds, but I knew it was all in my head and Team manager, Mike Gilfillan was on hand to talk me out of it. I managed to finish 3rd which I was pleased with but felt like I had lost ground on Team mate and good friend Roger Mayo after some very close battles last year.
With no time to contemplate things the following week we made the journey to Almere in Holland. This was a fantastic venue for the first ever FAI F3C World Cup competition and forms part of the Euro Heli Series which is now in its 3rd year. We had a pretty good attendance with 14 pilots from 5 different countries. After 3 rounds of the preliminary schedule and 2 rounds of the Fly-off schedule I managed to finish 9th place and secured 6 valuable World Cup points. To explain a little bit, other FAI radio controlled disciplines have held World Cup's for several years and it involves countries from around the World hosting World Cup events, points are then awarded after each event depending where you finished for that competition. You then submit your best 3 results to form a World League table. For F3C this is the first World Cup season but I think it will gather momentum over the next few years but I was really happy to have been a part of the first ever F3C World Cup competition. We then had a 3 week break which I was hoping to get some much needed practice, unfortunately between work and the weather my opportunities to get out flying were extremely limited.
The second Euro Heli Series and World Cup competition was held in Haaltert in the heart of Belgium at the Little Wings club. In the 2 previous years we have had major problems with the Belgium competition due to rain, really strong winds or a combination of both. This year we had changed the date, changed the venue but we were not to be disappointed as it rained hard most of the weekend. Two weeks on and I think my boots are still drying out. We were also discussing ideas on how to fit floatation devices to the helicopters is was that wet. Surprisingly between the downpours we still managed to fit in 5 complete rounds over the weekend and I finished 9th again and another 6 World Cup points.
As I write this I only have a few days before I leave to go the European Championships in Poland, which will be my first major continental championship. More to follow soon.
Year In Review 2016 - Part II
Author: Ian Emery | Date: December 2016
Wow, what a rollercoaster of a Year it's been. A few days after I wrote my last blog, I set off on my biggest RC Helicopter adventure to date, which was to the FAI F3C European Championships. Being in a position to represent the British Team in a major Continental competition was a dream come true, a competition where I would be up against the best F3C pilots in Europe including European and former World Champion Ennio Graber. It was an early start to drive to Watford in order to meet up with the rest of the Team. To minimise costs we had arranged to travel together in one vehicle which was a challenge in itself. We had 4 people, 7 helicopters, 2 generators, 4 cases, 4 Transmitter cases, batteries, chargers and a good selection of spares thanks to the fantastic support of Macgregor Industries and JR. We just needed a kitchen sink, which as it was a Volkeswagon Shuttlebus I'm sure we could have had one fitted if we wanted to. After the 1100 mile journey to Wlocklawek in Poland we had a quiet night before getting down to business the following day. Our Team manager, Mike Gilfillan was fresh as a daisy after flying out to meet us. Positions of responsibility has its privileges I guess. First we went to the Airfield where the competition would be held and what an amazing venue it was. We then wandered over to one of the official practice sites and met up with the German and Swedish Teams. Still feeling a little rusty after missing so much practice time, I flew several flights and began to feel more comfortable and was really looking forward to what lay ahead. The following day we had Official model processing and Team registration. Whilst I was confident my model would be okay, I had never weighed it so was just hoping that it weighed less than the 6.5 KG limit. Thankfully we all passed the processing and the Team were officially registered into the competition. The following day was the Official practice day when each pilot was allocated a 10 minute window to fly at the main Competition site. It was much cloudier than we had experienced over the first few days and rather than flying a full schedule I just wanted to do a few runs up and down the flight line to try and get used to the site. At this point I was beginning to feel at ease so did a few of the aerobatic manoeuvres. Before I knew it my 10 minutes had passed and I had done all that I could. Round 1 awaited me after what I was hoping would be a good night's sleep.
The flight order had been released and I would have to wait until the end of the day for my flight with only reigning Champion Ennio Graber to fly straight after me. The day flew past and soon it was my turn to report to the start box. By this time I was feeling rather nervous, especially as Ennio was looking over my shoulder. I remember saying to him how nervous I was and he replied "me too" which I thought was a really nice gesture and it did help settle my nerves. The first flight went much better than I could have dreamed of but it was way too early to see how it was all going to turn out. The next 2 days went really well and I found myself lying in 25th place. A place in the final was out of my reach at this point but still wanted to put in a good round to try and climb a place or two. The fourth round score wasn't as good as my previous ones, but it was enough to climb one place and finish 24th which I was elated with as I finished ahead of some great pilots. This was without a doubt the highlight of my F3C career. I met some fantastic people and the memories will stay with me forever. I had done all that I could, so the remainder of the competition allowed me to watch the finals and cheer on my Team mate Steve Roberts who had made the cut. Steve managed to climb a few places but he had left himself a bit too much to do to reach the podium. All that was left was the closing ceremony, presentations and banquet before we set off on the 1100 mile trip back home.
The month of August was soon upon us and it was time for the Team trials for next year's Team. As always it was a very close battle between myself and good friend Roger Mayo. Unfortunately, Roger pipped me to the post and secured the third Team place for the 2017 World Championships with me relegated to Team reserve. Whilst I was bitterly disappointed, the practice time I had missed out on throughout the Year was evident.
There was one thing left to focus on now and that was the last World Cup competition of the season which was held near Abingdon. I was ready for this one and was determined to get over the disappointment of not making the team. After a prolonged period of torrential rain we finally had a break in the weather and got started. After 5 rounds I'm managed to finish in 6th place which I was really happy with. This also meant that along with the points I had gained in Holland and Belgium, I had managed to finish 7th overall in the first ever season of the F3C World Cup.
Now it's time to reflect on this year's high's and low's, perform some much needed maintenance on both Helicopters and work towards next Year's competitions . I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff at MacGregor Industries for their help and support throughout the Year. It has been a difficult year for the model industry with many changes around the corner I'm sure. I have fully embraced the JR product range and have never looked back. The superb quality of the Sylphide and Forza mechanics, the pure reliability of the Servos and Mini-Tags along with the faultless performance of the XG11 and various DMSS receivers I use have given me hundreds of trouble free flights over the past 2 seasons.