I had the pleasure of attending the International Hand Launch Glider Festival (IHLGF) arranged by the Torrey Pines Gulls (TPG) RC club of San Diego. TPG is one of the oldest AMA chartered RC Soaring clubs in the nation and the IHLGF is recognized as the granddaddy of Discus Launch Glider (DLG) events.
This year was the 21st annual competition at TPG’s Poway Flight Center. Seventy two pilots from at least seven nations registered for the event, some from as far away as Brazil, China, and New Zealand. The contest itself is a series of 10 rounds of different tasks over two days of competition. The top 10 pilots then compete in four flyoff rounds to determine the overall champion.
If you aren’t familiar with DLG, it is a fascinating aspect of RC Soaring. Pilots use a discus-style throw to literally spin and launch their RC sailplanes high into the sky and then search for thermals to stay aloft the required duration. Typically a landing for these lightweight sailplanes is a hand catch or a catch on the wingtip to an immediate spin and relaunch in order to minimize time on the ground during a competition round.
When the contest started in the morning, the ground was barely hot enough to generate thermals. However, somehow using some incredible skill or magic, pilots were able to keep their RC sailplanes aloft repeatedly for 2-minute heats, circling in incredibly light lift.
As the day progressed, the thermals got stronger and the winds picked up, requiring a completely different skill set to be able to climb to altitude and know how to make a specific time window without going over (a penalty) and also requires that the airplanes can penetrate some pretty strong winds, drift downwind with the thermals, and make it back without landing off the field (also a penalty). The skill required for this style of Soaring is significant and impressive to watch.
Local pilot Paul Anderson led the pack going into the flyoffs, with Mario Sergio de Lucca close behind him in second. Toby Herrera, relatively new to the sport of DLG was third with some amazing high launches. However during the 10-pilot flyoff, Joe Wurts from New Zealand managed to ace nearly every round in difficult conditions.
Joe won the IHLGF for the ninth time (most of any competitor in event history), followed by Toby Herrera and Oleg Golovidov. Mario Sergio de Lucca placed eighth overall, but placed first in the 18-and-under category. Mark Chung won the 55-and-over category, while newcomer John Blaske took the Sportsman category.
The IHLGF also is a great fundraiser for teams representing the US in FAI RC Soaring competition. TPG accomplishes this through a raffle of amazing equipment donated by sponsors such as Team Horizon, Soaring USA, JR, Hobby People, Validol, Skip Miller Models, MKS servos, Radio Carbon Art, The Composites Store, Atlanta Hobby, and Mercury Adhesives. With the proceeds of this event, the Torrey Pines Gulls were able to make a donation of $2,000 to the USA F3K team. Well done TPG!
For more information about the event, visit www.ihlgf.com, and for more information on the Torrey Pines Gulls check out www.torreypinesgulls.org.
My thanks to TPG stalwart Gary Fogel for his contribution to this report and a hearty congratulations because Gary was the 2014 Le Gray Award winner. This award is presented by the League of Silent Flight for Outstanding Service to Soaring.
Until next month, happy landings.[dingbat]
1-Greg Bolton prepares to throw his Snipe high into the sky.
2-Mark Canfield, member of the TPG club, is launching his Polaris. The models are made largely from carbon fiber and Kevlar and are exceedingly strong and lightweight.
3-All 72 entrants at the IHLGF had a great time.
4-These pilots traveled from China to compete in the IHLGF.
5-Making a hand catch an immediately relaunching is essential to making maximum points.
6-Jun Catacutan prepares to launch his DLG. He launched to amazing heights.
7-A good launch will put the sailplane 200 feet in the air.
8-Steve Condon is in the middle of his windup to launch his Concept X2 sailplane. CD Mike Smith is timing in the background.
9-Pilots came from across the US and around the world to compete at Poway. Here Mark Chung from Hawaii launches his glider into the air.
10-It is common to see many of these sailplanes sharing thermals to make their duration times.
11-Mark Canfield surveys the scene before launching. Each pilot must read the atmosphere and other sailplanes to know where the lift is. The best pilots do this continuously during the contest rounds whether in air or on the ground.