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Flite Fest East: Narrow runways and large wingspans

b-29er

Well-known member
#1
So, i was recounting a bit of my flite fest experience today, and part of that experience was some of the larger scale flying, specifically the Spruce Goose. I was spotter at the time, and remember seeing very little indication of the aircraft going slow/into a stall from my position. So i did a little digging, and i noticed something from last year (i'm comparing this year's awesome event to the mudbog, this is going to be good). So here's a picture from FFE Last year.

Notice the landing options here, we have probably 60-80 feet of runway, and a grass area that, sure, is obscured by multiple signs and a five wacky arm-flailing inflatable tubemen, but gives a lot of options reguardless if you want to shoot an approach. And while i'm sure this isn't everyone's experience, it resembles my local flying club to a T in terms of layout, with a runway, grass overrun area, and then all the no-go zone.
MRCMC.png

Now lets take a look at a clip from this year's flite fest
2018-09-24 17_41_22-(142) FLITE FEST 2018 Aerial View of the Flite Fest Grounds and Flight lin...png

Things got pushed forward a little bit. The runway at show center doubled up, the grass went out an extra runway width, and thats it.

The reason i mention this is field of view. We had a good number of large projects this year, the usuals like Bob and Stan, the Ikea Table nutball (which attempted takeoffs in the grass), the Russian wonder i believe flew again, and of course, the Spruce Goose. Larger aircraft are going to need more room for their approach, they need larger areas to turn, more time to slow down, etc. Which is why i mention this runway layout. I don't want to call the runway width the only cause of issue here. The pilot was being videotaped and in front of a crowd, mistakes happened. But when i saw the tipstall, it struck me as a surprise. I didn't see a slowdown, and i believe that with the approach angle of the aircraft, and the narrow landing area, i didn't have a chance to see it, and neither did the pilot.

I know, it probably sounds super nitpicky, but here's my concern. Large aircraft are not going away anytime soon. Flite Fest is one of the few chances for pilots to express their creativity and engineering prowess among their peers, so saying we will see a decrease in large aircraft is probably misguided at best. The runway this year was plenty large for small aircraft, but as you get into larger stuff, the stuff that inevitably shows up on a long final at flite fest, lumbering over the FPV flightline, the lack of landing options may force on landing to give up their perception of speed and safety envelopes. And while runways in the past had extra obstacles, its still a much better alternative to have a pilot misjudge his distance and hit a flag than to tipstall and enter the pits. We saw that this year, and my concern would be what we see next year, with potentially more people, and inevitably more large aircraft.
 
#2
whew, that is a narrow strip, not something you usually take a giant bird off of, unless your in the Doolittle Raid taking off of short carriers. If Flite Test can talk with the City about coming where I am to create Flite Test, here is our airport
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#3
There have been pros and cons as the layout has evolved over the last 5 years. IMO, for the intent of the event, the setup this year was perfect. The event does NOT focus on large projects but the beginner pilot and general small aircraft fun flying. Being one of the Flight Crew members for the flight line this year I saw fist hand how having this more narrow runway was actually an ADVANTAGE for flight line safety. People landed closer to themselves and were able to get on/off the runway faster.

That being said, I did not get to fly even one of my big warbirds that I brought this year. I tried the dauntless but failed due to the fabric runway issues. While nicer for small airplanes, the gap between the ground and the fabric increases the rolling resistance on larger aircraft and tail draggers want to nose-over. Wilmracer faced this issue as well. It was something I noticed in the past on my large-scale P6-E Hawk but that was limited due to the wheel pants on that aircraft. The hard surface was nice but was not well-utilized due to unevenness and... the RAMPED ends of it. You really had to be a precision pilot to use it... something the vast majority of pilots in attendance were NOT, including myself.

Personally, I truly believe we will see things dramatically improve when the event moves to Edgewater. I cannot wait to see the higher-quality builds start to come to the event in droves because the runway will be much more friendly.
 

BS projects inc.

Well-known member
#4
Personally I would have like to have seen the runway a little farther away from the flight line. I know its good to get people off the runway faster but a lot of planes ended up in the crown because the wind was blowing towards the crowd and newbie pilots didn't get the room I think they needed to fly.
 

b-29er

Well-known member
#5
There have been pros and cons as the layout has evolved over the last 5 years. IMO, for the intent of the event, the setup this year was perfect. The event does NOT focus on large projects but the beginner pilot and general small aircraft fun flying. Being one of the Flight Crew members for the flight line this year I saw fist hand how having this more narrow runway was actually an ADVANTAGE for flight line safety. People landed closer to themselves and were able to get on/off the runway faster.

That being said, I did not get to fly even one of my big warbirds that I brought this year. I tried the dauntless but failed due to the fabric runway issues. While nicer for small airplanes, the gap between the ground and the fabric increases the rolling resistance on larger aircraft and tail draggers want to nose-over. Wilmracer faced this issue as well. It was something I noticed in the past on my large-scale P6-E Hawk but that was limited due to the wheel pants on that aircraft. The hard surface was nice but was not well-utilized due to unevenness and... the RAMPED ends of it. You really had to be a precision pilot to use it... something the vast majority of pilots in attendance were NOT, including myself.

Personally, I truly believe we will see things dramatically improve when the event moves to Edgewater. I cannot wait to see the higher-quality builds start to come to the event in droves because the runway will be much more friendly.
I know the focus here is not on large aircraft, but i'm focusing on them because they exist, they have more people watching, and i don't think its the same ball game to be hit with an apprentice on approach as it is a 10' twin engine aircraft on approach. I think we're confusing who we're being safe for. Yes, a narrower runway is easier for retrival. But for pilots in general, that lack of a green strip this year meant fewer landing options, and if you had to shoot a long approach, as had to be done with the goose, you are head-on with the aircraft and have no or nearly no perception of speed until its too late. I'll be honest, pilot safety is minimal to me here, and i love flying out here. With spotters and proper etiquette, like listening for people calling out landings or saying "on the field", there should be little risk, especially since people on field are going to be looking out for aircraft already. But one is going to spot for the people on the flight line, or in the fpv tent, or in the ez-up chill zone. Putting the runway so close to the spectators, and forcing a bad view angle on landing, is an issue. That's how you wind up with a tipstall sending an airplane into the fpv tent instead of a safe, controlled landing, that's part of how you wind up with aircraft with super aft CGs winding up in the EZ ups, or the DA-42 being hit by a jet. My concern isn't about the pilots, its about the crowd, the people not on the lookout for an airplane careening at them, the people who arent paying attention to the airhorn. And i think giving the pilots the option to land on the grass, where in previous years we had a green strip, is a good options.

I'm also hoping to see things improve at edgewater, there's already a lot more areas there for runways, and i think even if not a single thing was removed, i'd take the biggest planes i could imagine out there to fly without worrying about crowd safety. But i'm bringing this up because with the way the purchase option seems to be going, with Flite Test buying chunks at a time, its not a guarantee that FFE 2019 will mean Flite Fest Edgewater 2019, and i think its a worthwhile subject to bring up in general, before an issue happens that can't be glossed over.
 
#6
I know the focus here is not on large aircraft, but i'm focusing on them because they exist, they have more people watching, and i don't think its the same ball game to be hit with an apprentice on approach as it is a 10' twin engine aircraft on approach. I think we're confusing who we're being safe for. Yes, a narrower runway is easier for retrival. But for pilots in general, that lack of a green strip this year meant fewer landing options, and if you had to shoot a long approach, as had to be done with the goose, you are head-on with the aircraft and have no or nearly no perception of speed until its too late. I'll be honest, pilot safety is minimal to me here, and i love flying out here. With spotters and proper etiquette, like listening for people calling out landings or saying "on the field", there should be little risk, especially since people on field are going to be looking out for aircraft already. But one is going to spot for the people on the flight line, or in the fpv tent, or in the ez-up chill zone. Putting the runway so close to the spectators, and forcing a bad view angle on landing, is an issue. That's how you wind up with a tipstall sending an airplane into the fpv tent instead of a safe, controlled landing, that's part of how you wind up with aircraft with super aft CGs winding up in the EZ ups, or the DA-42 being hit by a jet. My concern isn't about the pilots, its about the crowd, the people not on the lookout for an airplane careening at them, the people who arent paying attention to the airhorn. And i think giving the pilots the option to land on the grass, where in previous years we had a green strip, is a good options.

I'm also hoping to see things improve at edgewater, there's already a lot more areas there for runways, and i think even if not a single thing was removed, i'd take the biggest planes i could imagine out there to fly without worrying about crowd safety. But i'm bringing this up because with the way the purchase option seems to be going, with Flite Test buying chunks at a time, its not a guarantee that FFE 2019 will mean Flite Fest Edgewater 2019, and i think its a worthwhile subject to bring up in general, before an issue happens that can't be glossed over.
Well, I won't be able to get to Edgewater, but my B-52 is 10 feet long fuselage, with 12 foot main swift wing and secondary swift wing of 6 feet. what runway would I need? To test fly this sucker, might have to find a flat spot in the pasture where a cow hasn't left a hoof hole.
 

CrashRecovery

I'm a care bear...Really?
Mentor
#7
I know the focus here is not on large aircraft, but i'm focusing on them because they exist, they have more people watching, and i don't think its the same ball game to be hit with an apprentice on approach as it is a 10' twin engine aircraft on approach. I think we're confusing who we're being safe for. Yes, a narrower runway is easier for retrival. But for pilots in general, that lack of a green strip this year meant fewer landing options, and if you had to shoot a long approach, as had to be done with the goose, you are head-on with the aircraft and have no or nearly no perception of speed until its too late. I'll be honest, pilot safety is minimal to me here, and i love flying out here. With spotters and proper etiquette, like listening for people calling out landings or saying "on the field", there should be little risk, especially since people on field are going to be looking out for aircraft already. But one is going to spot for the people on the flight line, or in the fpv tent, or in the ez-up chill zone. Putting the runway so close to the spectators, and forcing a bad view angle on landing, is an issue. That's how you wind up with a tipstall sending an airplane into the fpv tent instead of a safe, controlled landing, that's part of how you wind up with aircraft with super aft CGs winding up in the EZ ups, or the DA-42 being hit by a jet. My concern isn't about the pilots, its about the crowd, the people not on the lookout for an airplane careening at them, the people who arent paying attention to the airhorn. And i think giving the pilots the option to land on the grass, where in previous years we had a green strip, is a good options.

I'm also hoping to see things improve at edgewater, there's already a lot more areas there for runways, and i think even if not a single thing was removed, i'd take the biggest planes i could imagine out there to fly without worrying about crowd safety. But i'm bringing this up because with the way the purchase option seems to be going, with Flite Test buying chunks at a time, its not a guarantee that FFE 2019 will mean Flite Fest Edgewater 2019, and i think its a worthwhile subject to bring up in general, before an issue happens that can't be glossed over.
So let's break this down, and I look at things a bit different then most as my profession is based on safety.
The beans were a bit closer this year. That is because of two factors really. First is governmental regulations. Because the event has become so big the board of health stepped in. Not sure if they were part of a permit thing or word of mouth, but they have rules for camp site size and things like that. The number of people staying requires us to follow these rules and keeping the land owners happy, Mr. and Mrs. Furry. There are areas that are off limits so camping and the event tents have to be in certain areas, with the proper spacing.
Second part to that is the farmer could have plowed an extra row or two this year. Can't really control that. We do a good amount of damage to the crop when we go marching around looking for planes. The extra space you have seen in the past was reduced this year because of these two factors as I saw it.
I have to give Josh and Carl kudos for running the flight line this year. For the first two years I constantly harped about calling out pilot intentions, warnings for others on the field, yada yada yada. You get the drift. Trying to get everyone to use a pilot station has been a nightmare in the past and it finally worked this year. Now here is where I disagree with you and have some input for you to think about. Never should pilot safety be considered minimal, never never never ever. People still had a hard time remembering to use the flightline etiquette when they were flying and when they did not always were they loud enough to be heard a few stations away. I personally watched a few people start to walk into the incoming landing path and had to be either grabbed or hollered at to stay back. To address your comment about bad viewing angle being forced and all that, I ask why did you not say anything before the plane took off? If that was a concern it should have been considered. Second part to that is unless you have some type of control issue there should be no reason why you put the plane in a flight path that "forced a bad view angle on landing". Really the only way you are going to reduce the chance if planes escaping the flight line is to put up 75 foot tall poles with nets attached to them, like you see at driving ranges or batting cages. This method can be seen in a few videos from across the pond where spectators are behind a safety net. Not all but some have them.
Finally the whole giant plane thing. Here is how I see it and what has been done in the past. There is nothing stopping you from approaching the announcer, or one of the flight line staff and asking if you could have some free air to attempt to fly your creation. Its been done in the past and has always worked. You also get everyone's attention when you are the only thing flying, making you hard to miss. Should the goose have been flown like that? It would not have hurt anything. I did not see where you took off from but could a shift farther to the show center or towards the side of the field that the even entrance was on changed how the plane "landed", probably not but it could have changed how it was flown and maybe not have stalled.
There are going to be second guessing and should have done this or done that after everything we do in our lives. Easiest thing to do is to learn from the events that took place and move on. Just like we have continued to improve Flite Fest each year because of lessons learned. Safety is always a concern at any event, but people have to realize the "threat" exists at something like Flite Fest. Not picking on the new pilots or new builders but things never seem to be perfect for them and they do not always know how to handle emergencies like seasoned pilots do. They forget to chop the throttle, they bang the sticks to try and get control, or in the last option available they should aim it for the ground and turn it into a yard sale. I know it sucks to say that but it's the truth. As much as a person should be held accountable for their actions, people at events should always keep an ear open for yelling and be ready to perform the 5 Ds.... Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge.
I think that will be enough for now
 
Last edited:

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#8
But for pilots in general, that lack of a green strip this year meant fewer landing options, and if you had to shoot a long approach, as had to be done with the goose, you are head-on with the aircraft and have no or nearly no perception of speed until its too late. I'll be honest, pilot safety is minimal to me here, and i love flying out here. With spotters and proper etiquette, like listening for people calling out landings or saying "on the field", there should be little risk, especially since people on field are going to be looking out for aircraft already. But one is going to spot for the people on the flight line, or in the fpv tent, or in the ez-up chill zone.
I get this view. I really do. The major issue in ALL of past FF events has been education in and encouragement of pilot etiquette. The etiquette has been virtually non-existent and I am so PROUD that the flightline did not draw blood this year! Getting pilots in CLOSER proximity strongly facilitates communication and reliance on inputs from other pilots. IMO, that was the focus this year. To change that mindset it was a necessary evil to constrict things a little. It is a proven layout by many major events like Joe Nall, SEFF, and Warbirds over DE. It was not my preference, but I did not complain. Safety of an aircraft starts with the person at the sticks, not the hosts of the event. If you do not have comfort in flying an airplane for fear of spectator safety, DO NOT FLY! It really is that simple.

A perfect case of this point was last year when I flew the Bugatti. Yeah, the weather was crap, but I was constantly monitoring the runway situation. I walked the runway at the start of each day to check the conditions and talked with Mr. Bixler about ideal locations to fly it. It is a DANGEROUS aircraft. The runway was not shut down for one airplane to fly because it was a super awesome mega build. I had legitimate safety concerns. Then, moving forward to the flight, I flew the airplane FAR into the field. I never once made a high-speed low pass, even while knowing full-well that the runway was clear. Then, when I shot my landing, I specifically targeted the far side of the canvas. The airplane weighs 5 pounds and knowing the probability of the nose to go over, there was a high risk of the airplane's nose digging into something (dirt, edge of canvas, or seam between canvas segments) and the airplane being thrown and tumbling. This meant that there was a possibility of a 4S 5000mAh pack being hurled in an unpredictable direction. Prior to ALL of this, I consulted MANY of my buddies there who are just as, if not more, experienced than me and discussed safety considerations. In the end, I felt it was safe enough to fly and confident that there was an environment that I could control well enough. Had anything been out of sorts, there would have only been a static display. Which is fine. That ended up being the case at SEFF this year for the Bugatti, though flight was attempted.
 

b-29er

Well-known member
#9
So let's break this down, and I look at things a bit different then most as my profession is based on safety.
The beans were a bit closer this year. That is because of two factors really. First is governmental regulations. Because the event has become so big the board of health stepped in. Not sure if they were part of a permit thing or word of mouth, but they have rules for camp site size and things like that. The number of people staying requires us to follow these rules and keeping the land owners happy, Mr. and Mrs. Furry. There are areas that are off limits so camping and the event tents have to be in certain areas, with the proper spacing.
Second part to that is the farmer could have plowed an extra row or two this year. Can't really control that. We do a good amount of damage to the crop when we go marching around looking for planes. The extra space you have seen in the past was reduced this year because of these two factors as I saw it.
I have to give Josh and Carl kudos for running the flight line this year. For the first two years I constantly harped about calling out pilot intentions, warnings for others on the field, yada yada yada. You get the drift. Trying to get everyone to use a pilot station has been a nightmare in the past and it finally worked this year. Now here is where I disagree with you and have some input for you to think about. Never should pilot safety be considered minimal, never never never ever. People still had a hard time remembering to use the flightline etiquette when they were flying and when they did not always were they loud enough to be heard a few stations away. I personally watched a few people start to walk into the incoming landing path and had to be either grabbed or hollered at to stay back. To address your comment about bad viewing angle being forced and all that, I ask why did you not say anything before the plane took off? If that was a concern it should have been considered. Second part to that is unless you have some type of control issue there should be no reason why you put the plane in a flight path that "forced a bad view angle on landing". Really the only way you are going to reduce the chance if planes escaping the flight line is to put up 75 foot tall poles with nets attached to them, like you see at driving ranges or batting cages. This method can be seen in a few videos from across the pond where spectators are behind a safety net. Not all but some have them.
Finally the whole giant plane thing. Here is how I see it and what has been done in the past. There is nothing stopping you from approaching the announcer, or one of the flight line staff and asking if you could have some free air to attempt to fly your creation. Its been done in the past and has always worked. You also get everyone's attention when you are the only thing flying, making you hard to miss. Should the goose have been flown like that? It would not have hurt anything. I did not see where you took off from but could a shift farther to the show center or towards the side of the field that the even entrance was on changed how the plane "landed", probably not but it could have changed how it was flown and maybe not have stalled.
There are going to be second guessing and should have done this or done that after everything we do in our lives. Easiest thing to do is to learn from the events that took place and move on. Just like we have continued to improve Flite Fest each year because of lessons learned. Safety is always a concern at any event, but people have to realize the "threat" exists at something like Flite Fest. Not picking on the new pilots or new builders but things never seem to be perfect for them and they do not always know how to handle emergencies like seasoned pilots do. They forget to chop the throttle, they bang the sticks to try and get control, or in the last option available they should aim it for the ground and turn it into a yard sale. I know it sucks to say that but it's the truth. As much as a person should be held accountable for their actions, people at events should always keep an ear open for yelling and be ready to perform the 5 Ds.... Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge.
I think that will be enough for now
I get this view. I really do. The major issue in ALL of past FF events has been education in and encouragement of pilot etiquette. The etiquette has been virtually non-existent and I am so PROUD that the flightline did not draw blood this year! Getting pilots in CLOSER proximity strongly facilitates communication and reliance on inputs from other pilots. IMO, that was the focus this year. To change that mindset it was a necessary evil to constrict things a little. It is a proven layout by many major events like Joe Nall, SEFF, and Warbirds over DE. It was not my preference, but I did not complain. Safety of an aircraft starts with the person at the sticks, not the hosts of the event. If you do not have comfort in flying an airplane for fear of spectator safety, DO NOT FLY! It really is that simple.

A perfect case of this point was last year when I flew the Bugatti. Yeah, the weather was crap, but I was constantly monitoring the runway situation. I walked the runway at the start of each day to check the conditions and talked with Mr. Bixler about ideal locations to fly it. It is a DANGEROUS aircraft. The runway was not shut down for one airplane to fly because it was a super awesome mega build. I had legitimate safety concerns. Then, moving forward to the flight, I flew the airplane FAR into the field. I never once made a high-speed low pass, even while knowing full-well that the runway was clear. Then, when I shot my landing, I specifically targeted the far side of the canvas. The airplane weighs 5 pounds and knowing the probability of the nose to go over, there was a high risk of the airplane's nose digging into something (dirt, edge of canvas, or seam between canvas segments) and the airplane being thrown and tumbling. This meant that there was a possibility of a 4S 5000mAh pack being hurled in an unpredictable direction. Prior to ALL of this, I consulted MANY of my buddies there who are just as, if not more, experienced than me and discussed safety considerations. In the end, I felt it was safe enough to fly and confident that there was an environment that I could control well enough. Had anything been out of sorts, there would have only been a static display. Which is fine. That ended up being the case at SEFF this year for the Bugatti, though flight was attempted.
Well, i kicked a hornets nest, man, even got the mic drop on the end @CrashRecovery. So lets start specifically on your topic, i suppose i did not consider external factors, heck i didn't even realize the health department was involved this year. And you're right, its wholly possible that the furry's (is that how its spelled?) could have plowed a little farther over, even on accident. Its their property, FT just borrows, and we should be grateful about that.

On both accounts, you're both right. The pilot ultimately has the judgement call to make, whether it is to fly or not. If they need more airspace, ask the announcer. And if the aircraft is too big to fly safely, don't fly. I don't think anyone involved realised it on the goose, since it lacks flaps and any real way of slowing down effectively, and flying was done in a much more controlled environment.

I will say i was also impressed with the control made on the flight line itself. The air horn, once i figured out what it was for, was a great addition, and there seemed to be decent discipline on the flight line. My only qualm on this reguard was that i miss the little signs, but i might take the initiative and just CNC some at some point. Build season's coming...
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#10
The one Issue I tried to mitigate was proper designation of pilot stations. The rebar stakes I went out and purchased were a stop-gap as the old ones that FT had in past years were too far gone after FFFL. The stakes were not able to be driven particularly hard into the ground because it was dry and then people assuming it was something they could lean against or prop themselves upon. They fell over frequently and required the FL volunteers to shepherd people toward.

One further note is how impressed I was about pilot attendance to the meetings. They were held EACH day and the flight line was shut down. Key points were addressed (including the purpose of the air horns ;) ) and it was an efficient time of communication WITHOUT copious injections of sponsors. I've been to far too many events where 50-75% of the pilot meeting is a sales pitch only to be followed by a 60-90 minute demo in the middle of the day the the sponsors to demo their wares. Public flying events are for the public. With that said... the hardest people to USE THE PILOT stations were NOT the public attendees but the SPONSORS. I cannot tell you how many times I needed to tell ALL the sponsors to please find a pilot station upon their next flight... only to have it ignored. They set a bad example, plain and simple.
 
#11
The one Issue I tried to mitigate was proper designation of pilot stations. The rebar stakes I went out and purchased were a stop-gap as the old ones that FT had in past years were too far gone after FFFL. The stakes were not able to be driven particularly hard into the ground because it was dry and then people assuming it was something they could lean against or prop themselves upon. They fell over frequently and required the FL volunteers to shepherd people toward.

One further note is how impressed I was about pilot attendance to the meetings. They were held EACH day and the flight line was shut down. Key points were addressed (including the purpose of the air horns ;) ) and it was an efficient time of communication WITHOUT copious injections of sponsors. I've been to far too many events where 50-75% of the pilot meeting is a sales pitch only to be followed by a 60-90 minute demo in the middle of the day the the sponsors to demo their wares. Public flying events are for the public. With that said... the hardest people to USE THE PILOT stations were NOT the public attendees but the SPONSORS. I cannot tell you how many times I needed to tell ALL the sponsors to please find a pilot station upon their next flight... only to have it ignored. They set a bad example, plain and simple.
Sponsors should find the tent, Sponsors only, then the tent for Pilots' Meeting Only will be for Pilots. or if there is no tent for the Sponsors, put one up, direct them there, and keep them there. Way it sounds to me from reading this from the previous Flite Fests, I think it would be wise, runways for the small to medium birds, then runways clear for the big to giant birds.