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FTFF East 2017 International Air Races: Rules and Registration


Maneuvering With Purpose
I have gone over the rules and I have a question about the "spotter".

According to the rules the spotter will hand launch a random airplane and thereafter will function essentially as a race official. Throwing "penalty flags" for cuts and so forth while acting as a safety officer.

Here is the question: In addition to the spotter, may a pilot have the customary benefit of a personal "caller" to help said pilot race around the course?


Builder Extraordinare
The races are designed to encourage first-time participants and have a good time doing it, pitting pilot against pilot. The reason for a randomly selected spotter is to level the field a little more for the pilots. In short, no, your spotter will be assigned at random like everyone else to ensure the race is as fair as possible.


Maneuvering With Purpose
OK. I am trying to visualize how this will actually play out. If I am understanding this correctly, once the plane is in the air, the pilot will be navigating on his own? Is this correct? Or is the spotter supposed to navigate?


Builder Extraordinare
Yes, for the most part. The spotter is responsible to make the pilot aware of other aircraft (to stay in the air) and proper rounding of pylons (to prevent disqualification). Both of these responsibilities infer a level of in-flight safety management. This is in addition to the pre-flight inspection. As the spotters are likely to be new to this type of event they will not be highly skilled to know when to call the turns. The focus should remain on safety.


Builder Extraordinare
This just in:

Austin confirmed that he will be integrating the races into the schedule. Nothing final right now as they are currently in FFWest mode right now. More to come but the ball it rolling.

It was brought to my attention that the models in the design-off do not necessarily conform the the basic beginner. To address this, it was proposed that the FT Racer be the sole exception to aircraft entry outside of the design off. It uses only FT build techniques and can be a viable option for folks who only learn about the race at Flite Fest and they can pick one up at the FT store. This would be the only exception to the registration cutoff date as well. As you can imagine, this would probably not be much of a threat to these streamlined designs but would help boost the participation. If you have an objection to this, please speak up.
For the purposes of participation and community-openness, which is kinda the core of FT, I think allowing the FT-Racer for beginners/last-minute entrants is perfectly appropriate. However...

My main concern is that the race itself, at least the "Furey Cup", isn't particularly beginner friendly ... So I wonder if it's wise from a safety standpoint to actually encourage more "basic beginners". Granted, an experienced pilot could be a beginner at foamboard-building (and vice-versa), but it gives me pause. Thoughts on that?


Maneuvering With Purpose
And please try to understand what I think is an important distinction. In conventional racing there is a dedicated caller who's sole job, other than launching, is to be the pilot's eyes relative to the course and to actively coach the pilot. They are a team. This is how you get around the limitations of line of sight. The poor pilot will have his hands full just trying to keep the airplane in the air and make turns.

This is not a small distinction. I'm still unclear if this is a conscious choice for extra thrills or something else? I do know it is marked departure from racing format.

Hehehe. As to the general idea of racing Racers (or Mustangs for that matter.) I think that's an exceptionally good idea. Unfortunately, within the same race, it would end up commoditizing these hand-crafted beauties, and subject them to even greater risk.
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Builder Extraordinare
I get where you are coming from. You have to also see that you are taking this much more seriously than any other person. I've made it clear that this is primarily a safety thing. I do not how to make it more clear. I'm not putting another person on the field that does not need to be there to make this a fun race... not the most competitive one.

I do understand that this is rather UNconventional. That is its intent. If you were to want to try formula 1 racing would you buy a car and go to a professional race? NO! You would want a controlled area with a focus on safety but being with others in the same situation builds new friendships while being exposed to the thrill of the race.


Maneuvering With Purpose
It's quite possible I am more serious. I know how difficult it is. But I can't help but think I am failing to make myself understood.

Let me try it this way. When you fly, what do you look at? I look at MY plane (hopefully) to the exclusion of pretty much everything else. I am peripherally aware of other things nearby. I don't however, look at things like pylons. And so here, instead of having somebody trying to help me get around the course, I have a guy who's eyes are dedicated, in a way that I could never hope to compete with, looking to call a cut? Am I missing something?

With that kind of cavalier flying and the "fun racing" goal, might it be better to abandon the pretense of actual racing and just go tearing around the course like at a go-kart track? Maybe "cheat" a little? Cut calls from out of position spotters are bound to be somewhat arbitrary anyways. Just keeping track of the overall race status would likely be challenging. We could just go tearing around the course, maybe Stefan or somebody could call the race. A panel of judges could make a subjective declaration of the winner from the finishers.

By way of explanation: A racing turn (at turn 1) is analogous to a blind man with his seeing-eye dog at a crosswalk. The seeing eye-dog (caller) waits for the light to change. The light (friendly flagger) lights up indicating that the plane has passed the pylon. Dog/Caller leads Blind Man (pilot) through the turn. And beyond......

Now, if you are willing to forego accuracy at turn 1 you can easily get rid of the flaggers. No problem whatsoever. You cannot, however, get rid of the seeing eye dogs and have any semblance of safety. Nor should you even consider it.

The pilot/caller is the fundamental, basic and ESSENTIAL unit of racing. Fun, friendly or cutthroat for big bucks, racing starts with team-building. I think that the rules should foster the pilot/caller team first and foremost.

Edit: Aside: Consideration and Care of Psychological Trauma to the "Spotter"

Imagine the following scenario: Bob Goodguy is assigned to Rockyboy as his spotter. He goes over to meet Rockyboy and go over everything with him. Rockyboy smiles and is thinking to himself, "I hope this guy doesn't throw my plane into the ground." They talk for a while and build up a little camaraderie. Bob's feeling pretty good about being on Team Rockyboy and starts pulling for a win!

It's time to race and Rockyboy is thinking, "Maybe this guy will be OK." The launch goes well! Rockyboy, charged with adrenaline, manages a brief smile to himself and charges off to Turn 1. And promptly cuts.

Bob Goodguy is stunned. He counts the cut. And then another. And another. Bob feels so horribly guilty. He's let Team Rockyboy down. Meanwhile, Rockyboy much to his own amazement (and that of the four other finishers) is down on the ground in one piece! Personally thrilled!

I don't think I could take that kind of pressure 8-^)
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Regarding the FT Racer idea, someone would need to provide hard hats (ie, sell on site) for the last minute entrants too.

I don't have very strong feelings about it, but I'm inclined to favor a second race for last minute entrants. That way they could get in on the action, but also keep the number of planes in the original race down a little. I do like the idea of having a way for folks to participate who don't keep up with the forum or podcasts. That was a great part of the world record attempt.

So, I would say two races (in advance and on site entrants ) if there is time, or just throw them all in together if there's not.


Fly Angry
Well... I have read all this as it has gone on and mid stream changes in any kind of event can quickly become problematic.

Since there has been approval for the official race and FT powers will be setting aside time for it. Maybe since it is this early and FF is a multi day event that more then one race can / should be scheduled. First and foremost the people who have been working on this project for nearly a year deserve their moment to shine for all the effort they have put into this and risk their planes for what they originally signed up to do.

I will suggest they get their race with just the original designers / builders. I think that much is owed to them. Then to mix in the FT community spirit and to give others a chance to get involved that separate heats be done. That way the new comers can either race amongst themselves but that the builders / designers have an option to race with them or not and risk their investments if they do not wish.

These heats can easily be pre organised depending on participation with non original designers. If the main race happens the first day then excitement can build so people who caught the race bug can build the second day and then run heats the third day. Yes I KNOW many can only be there one day and that is sad but you can not accommodate everyone and to try and do so just for the sake of doing it and will end up tanking the spirit of the project. There is the option to start builds now for those who wish to run the race. Maybe a second optional race after the real race can happen for pilots who can prebuild with any one of the original designers willing to run with that heat as an added bonus providing their craft survive the official race.

That's just my two cents as these guys are upper level builders and pilots and should not be forced to fly with pilots less skilled just in the name of letting everyone play in the sandbox. This is a specialty event after all. Those fancy heli pilots doing the insane flights with their gear do not fly with others on the field and I think these guys should not have to for the original planned event.


Maneuvering With Purpose
I will suggest they get their race with just the original designers / builders. I think that much is owed to them. Then to mix in the FT community spirit and to give others a chance to get involved that separate heats be done. That way the new comers can either race amongst themselves but that the builders / designers have an option to race with them or not and risk their investments if they do not wish.

These heats ......
Yes to all of this. I for one would rather volunteer in a support capacity to make their race special than put my fast Racer up in the fancy traffic.

And BTW, I defer to Nerdnic and others as far as speed goes, but it seems to me that a Racer with some Nerdnic style mods and a hot racing motor might move pretty fast.
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Skill Collector
I like PsyBorg's idea also for the aspect of all us on the 'pretty' race can volunteer our hats or time as spotters for the FT Racer event. :)


Free Flight Indoorist
Ok, I'm in...

Joshua Finn
Exhibition, Static Display, Bixler Trophy, Furey Cup
Folkerts SK-4
Spotter: TBD

Now to get my airplane flyable again...
I like PsyBorg's idea also for the aspect of all us on the 'pretty' race can volunteer our hats or time as spotters for the FT Racer event. :)
Agreed. Sounds like fun.

I'm debating whether to stick with the hard hat wilsonman linked to or get one shaped like a cowboy hat for $30.

Regarding pylons, I strapped some LEDs to a 2" PVC pole. Headed out this evening (if I stop typing and get myself home in time) to see how it looks in daylight and dark. I'll put the results in the thread that had that discussion in it already: http://forum.flitetest.com/showthread.php?29080-Flite-Fest-2017-International-Air-Races

If we leave them up, I can see some informal flying wing and other type racing going on throughout the weekend. Maybe a Radian pylon race. :)

The only problem with the FT Racer discussion is that now I kind of want to build one. Like I need another plane to try to finish before FliteFest.


Maneuvering With Purpose
I hate to have to be the one harping on this stuff, but I want to race and have a little fun. If these rules don't start becoming a lot more sensible real soon, there will be significant problems. I hope that some of this is starting to sink in, but I have not seen much indication of any racing experience.

Sadly I point out there is a another ginormus elephant in this room. Here are the Official AMA Pylon Racing Rules.

Rule 13.1.7. states in part ....
"No more than four aircraft per heat are allowed."

In the Note for Rule 14 Heat Matrix we find some helpful insight into the safety philosophy. It states, "Note: The following instructions assume that four plane heats will be flown. Two or three-plane heats may be a better choice in situations where there are not many entries, not enough racecourse workers, a narrow runway, or inexperienced pilots.

I cannot for the life of me figure out how in this particular event, heats with more than 4 planes are going to be allowed. I do know that characterizing it as "fun racing" or "friendly racing" does not make a damn's bit of difference. And with so many people watching, do you really want to go out with homemade rules and disregard 40+ years of racing procedures? Better check with legal. 15 rookies in the air? Ask ANY experienced racer how he feels about that.

Forearmed is forewarned. How sad it would have been to to have been surprised by safety and legal hurdles.


Hostage Taker of Quads

This has never been planned as an AMA sanctioned race, nor will it be.

You've voiced your opinions and suggestions about the rules, as have others, and where they've made sense the suggestions have been considered. These rules have not been created in a vacuum.

Like or dislike the rules, you're just as welcome to participate as not.