The 2014 FAI World Indoor F1D Championship was held once again in the salt mine in Slănic, Romania. The 2014 US Senior F1D Team was made up of John Kagan, Yuan Kang Lee, and Bret Sanborn.
This was Kang Lee’s first time on the team and it became a trip he will never forget. His fifth-round flight on the last day of the contest was enough to move him into first place in the individual standings, and by the end of the contest, his 50-second lead made him the 2014 F1D World Champion! Congratulations to Kang!
John and Brett also started their pushes in the last two rounds. Brett’s final sixth-round flight moved him into second position in the individual standings and John put up his best two flights of the championship in the last two rounds, placing him sixth overall in the individual standings. This final drive by all three team members put the US team into first place by more than 7 minutes and set a new World Championship team record.
Evan Guyett and Royce Chung made up the 2014 Junior F1D Team. Both of these young modelers had excellent performances. Evan, who started flying Indoor only a year before the World Championship, finished first in the Junior individual standings, winning by a 3-second margin.
Royce, who started building F1D models in 2008, placed sixth in the Junior individual standings. Their combined scores gave the Junior F1D Team a third-place finish. If there would have been one more team member, who knows how they would have finished in the team standings. Congratulations to Evan and Royce on their World Championship performances.
Tom Sova managed both the Junior and Senior F1D teams. He is an experienced F1D flier and is no stranger to the salt mine, having been there in 2004 as a team member.
Having an experienced modeler as the team manager is beneficial. Many thanks to Tom for dedicating his time and energy to the 2014 team.
Hunting for Balsa
Having good, lightweight balsa for Indoor models can be as easy as a trip to your local hobby shop or craft store. When I first started building models, my father and I would make routine trips to our local hobby shop, which used to carry a good supply of Sig Manufacturing balsa wood. Using a balance-beam scale, we would weigh the sheets of wood and calculate the sheet density to see if it was good enough for Indoor use.
I still use this same technique and I go to my local hobby shop and several craft stores in search of hidden treasures. Digital pocket scales that weight up to 100 or 200 grams can be bought through the Internet for approximately $20.
These portable scales make weighing balsa in a store a breeze and having a small chart with you that lists common wood sizes and weights for various densities makes sorting fast. The chart is easy to use and I have provided a copy.
Along the left side of the table are common sheet thicknesses in which you will find balsa supplied. Along the top are columns for common sheet widths from 1 to 3 inches. These widths are listed under density ranges from 4 to 7 pounds per cubic foot.
The actual tabulated values are what a sheet of that thickness, width, and density would weigh if it were either 36 inches or 48 inches long. For example, a 5-pound-density sheet of 1/8-inch-thick, 3-inch-wide balsa would weigh 17.7 grams if it were 36 inches long, or 23.6 grams if it were 48 inches long. Using this chart you can quickly estimate the wood density of nearly any sheet your local hobby shop or craft store will have on its shelf.
Don’t forget to look over some of the wood blocks and planks sold at hobby shops. I recently came across a 2-inch x 2-inch x 12-inch block that was 3.8-pound density and a 1-inch x 1-inch x 36-inch piece that was 4.0-pound density. Getting the weights can be a little trickier on odd size pieces if you do not have a calculator on hand. For blocks or sheets larger than what is on this chart, I use my calculator to find the density.
Density = (3.81 x weight of sheet in grams) ÷ (length x width x thickness)
Another method you can use would be to find an “equivalent” size wood sheet on the table that corresponds to the volume of the block or plank for which you are trying to find the density. A 1-inch x 1-inch x 36-inch plank would weigh the same as a 1/2-inch x 2-inch x 36-inch sheet, because they have the same volume of wood.
After I get the sheets home, I typically take a caliper and make more precise measurements to get a more accurate density reading. Depending on the brand of wood, the thickness may vary. Often 1/32-inch wood is closer to .040-inches thick; that difference can turn 6-pound pieces of wood into 4.5-pound pieces of wood.
Inspecting the wood sheets over a light can help to detect hard and soft sections. Sometimes I will buy a sheet because I see one section of the wood is very light and that part gets cut out and used. An 18- or 24-inch metal ruler is good for cutting Indoor-size balsa sheets from larger sheets.
If you do not have a local hobby shop or craft store, you can also order wood online. I have had the best luck throughout the years with wood purchased from Sig Manufacturing. I only buy its contest-grade wood, which is advertised as being 4- to 7-pound density. For a small fee, Sig will select grain as well.
Buying 20-30 sheets of each size offers the best odds of getting some decent wood, plus what does not make the Indoor grade can be used for fixtures, building jigs, or even gliders for your kids or grandkids. In a recent shipment of Sig contest-grade balsa, I had several 1/16-inch x 3-inch x 36-inch C-grain sheets that calculated to 5-pound density.
When held up to the light, I saw a light streak down the middle and I cut out that section. To my surprise, it was 3.6-pound density C-grain! I was able to razor-plane off multiple .005-inch-thick sheets for EZB propeller blades. You never know what you may find when you go balsa hunting!