IHLGF - 2004, Poway, CA
IHLGF 2004
Photo gallery


  • Jan Kansky
  • Phil Barnes
  • Joe Wurts

    Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 00:05:36 -0400
    From: "Phil Barnes"
    To: "RCSE posting"
    Subject: IHLGF2004 The Contest
    The Torrey Pines Gulls club has done it again! The International Hand Launch
    Glider Festival has to be one of the best run contests in the country. This
    event is the highlight of my contest season and I always marvel at how well
    run it is. Every detail of organization is attended to and the contestants
    always know what to expect and what the rules are.
    One of the big attractions of this contest is that "good" weather conditions
    for a high level hand launch contest are almost guaranteed. This does not
    mean that it is always calm with tons of easy lift everywhere. There are
    times of "stupid lift" as Joe Wurts calls it, but there are also times with
    strong wind and elusive thermals. What I've never seen in my four contests
    at Poway are times of unflyable rain or strong winds with no lift. So what
    you can count on at Poway is a variety of conditions which may lead to easy
    maxes or may be quite challenging and require great skill and an aggressive
    flying style to get your times. The contest organizers take advantage of the
    well known weather patterns and schedule tasks accordingly.
    The typical morning calm winds/big lift weather is used in a couple of
    different ways; It is expected that most experienced pilots will make their
    times in such conditions so there is no sense scheduling tasks that will
    only cause the inexperienced pilots to get buried early and do nothing to
    separate the experienced pilots. So "total time" and "fast turnaround time"
    tasks are scheduled. These are tasks that can be achieved with relatively
    short flights so that there will not be a big spread in scores from highest
    to lowest and so nobody gets buried unless they make silly mistakes. On the
    other hand, the experienced pilots can still compete for the 1,000 point
    score by going for the fast turnaround (the time between the catch and the
    next throw).
    After lunch when the wind starts blowing, the tasks change to longer flight
    times where the emphasis is on working thermals which are now fast moving
    and possibly elusive. Less emphasis is placed on fast turnaround times,
    which is good since a fast catch and throw by the wingtip is a rather
    difficult, randomly successful event in turbulent, windy conditions.
    This year's event saw the usual calm winds with plenty of lift in the
    morning. Lunch was served after two rounds and the wind began to blow as we
    ate. On Saturday, it became quite breezy and the lift was rather fickle
    after lunch for a couple rounds. There was strong lift to be found but there
    was also plenty of sink and the lift was hard to track, often requiring the
    pilot to require his thermal or find a new one to make his time or to get
    back on field. The winds slacked off just a bit for the final two rounds on
    Saturday and I would say that conditions changed from difficult to merely
    challenging. On Sunday, the wind came up with a vengeance during lunch and
    so rounds 9 and 10 (the final two regular rounds) were very challenging
    indeed. The thermals were once again fickle in that they would
    move/dissipate in sometimes unpredictable ways and quick, decisive action
    was frequently required to find new lift. I came to call the conditions for
    rounds 9 and 10 "wicked" and found myself telling people that "if you
    weren't flying on the edge of disaster, then you were doing something
    wrong". That is just a way of saying that you had to fly aggressively and
    take chances to make your times. It seemed to me that the conditions for the
    three flyoff rounds were still challenging but not quite as wicked as rounds
    9 and 10. Of course, impressions like these are heavily influenced by how
    well you do in those conditions.
    Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 00:05:36 -0400
    From: "Phil Barnes"
    To: "RCSE posting"
    Subject: IHLGF My Flying
    The score sheet will show that I started the contest with seven straight
    1000 point rounds. You would never have guessed that those were my scores if
    someone had first described some of my flying to you before you saw the
    scores. The theme of this contest for me was "how many mistakes can I make
    and still not have to pay a price for it"?
    The first round was a "total time" task, meaning that all time with the
    model in the air counted. Only time spent with the model on the ground or in
    hand was not counted. There was a penalty of ten seconds for each throw
    beyond four throws but the only way to lose a lot of points was to land off
    field or break a plane and lose time switching to a backup. There was no
    wind and lift everywhere so it should be pretty easy to fly the entire ten
    minute window with the four "free" throws (a three minute max meant that you
    needed at least three throws). The 1000 point score would be awarded to
    whoever minimized his "turnaround" time (the time spent catching and then
    throwing the model again) and avoided silly mistakes. I began the task by
    flying poorly, reading air poorly and struggling to get close to the three
    minute max, all this while watching other planes sky out around me on the
    many thermals. The next mistake occurred during the second "turnaround". In
    my haste to catch the plane by the wingtip peg and make a quick re-launch, I
    only got one finger on the throwing peg, although I did get a really good
    strong launch from that one finger. The result was a loud cracking noise as
    I released the model which was the result of breaking the throwing peg loose
    from the wing tip. My luck held out as I was able to fly a third three
    minute flight from that launch and only needed a minute or so from my last
    throw to finish the round. The low "baby" launch that I was able to achieve
    with the broken throwing peg would have made a longer flight very difficult.
    Had I broken the peg on the first turnaround I would have had serious
    trouble finishing the task with only four throws and likely would have lost
    quite a few points in the round by switching to a backup plane or taking
    extra throws. As it turned out I got 595 seconds of flying time in the 600
    minute window and won the round. This pattern of "mistakes without cost"
    would continue all day Saturday and into the beginning of Sunday.
    Round four task was to fly three three minute flights (three best flights
    counted with a 3 minute max) in a ten minute window. I elected to launch at
    the start of the window as I thought I had a pretty good read on some air.
    Things started out well as I began circling in lift and others joined either
    by making the same read or observing other planes in the good air. However,
    round four took place after lunch during the "breezy, elusive lift" times. I
    made the mistake of flying carelessly and allowing myself to fall out
    of/lose contact with my elusive thermal. I frantically attempted to readjust
    my flight path to find the thermal again while the other planes happily
    thermalled away. Worse still, I managed to hit the famous Poway power line
    which caused my plane to fall down to an altitude too low to even get back
    on field. I picked up the model about ten feet out of bounds just as the
    round timing CD said "eight minutes" (time left in the round). I looked up,
    saw a Photon circling in lift just overhead and thought to myself "No
    problem, I can still get two threes and a two" which is just what I did and
    that was enough to win the round.
    In fact, I only flew one "clean" round on Saturday. Round five called for a
    four minute, a three minute, and a two minute flight in a ten minute window.
    I finished them in that order and had most of a minute to spare. That was
    the only round where I walked off the field knowing I had the thousand point
    score. Every other time I was at least apprehensive and sometimes surprised
    to see the score when it was posted after the round.
    Bruce Davidson was kind enough to break my string of 1000's by beating me in
    both the eighth and ninth rounds. I remember starting out the ninth round ni
    cely (three 3's in a ten minute window) by launching into a nice strong
    thermal just off to the side of the field. I happily skied out in that
    thermal while watching a gaggle of planes working/struggling in some weak
    lift as they drifted far off field. I came down to launch height after two
    minutes to map some air for my next throw and launched into the same lift
    which had by then drifted just a little farther down range. Another easy max
    and I again mapped the air (or so I thought) for the final throw. Boy was I
    surprised to find nothing but sink where I thought there would be lift. I
    landed off field, as I picked up the model, I heard the timing CD say "two
    minutes" and thought to myself "two threes and a two won this task for me
    last time". I only got about a minute and a half though and Bruce edged me
    I flew poorly in the tenth round, making some flights but missing others by
    just getting out of sinc with the lift and/or flying poorly. So that became
    my drop round and I went into the flyoff rounds with my seven 1000's and my
    two "Bruce" rounds of 959 and 982.
    Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 00:05:36 -0400
    From: "Phil Barnes"
    To: "RCSE posting"
    Subject: IHLGF2004 The Flyoff Rounds
    After six rounds of flying on Saturday and four on Sunday, the top ten
    pilots carried their best nine scores into a three round flyoff. Bruce
    Davidson had pulled into the lead by then but I think everyone knew that the
    scores were close enough that anyone of the ten could win. I was fully
    expecting Joe Wurts to pull out another win.
    Round eleven called for five two minute flights with a twenty second penalty
    for each extra throw. I began struggling with a flight of about 1 1/2
    minutes followed by three two minute maxes and then another 1 1/2 minute
    flight. That gave me 931 points for the  round which was fourth best. Joe
    Wurts won the round followed by Mike Smith(990),and Tom Kiesling(952). This
    left Joe in first place after round eleven.
    Round twelve called for three three minute flights with 30 second penalties
    for extra throws. With an extra minute in the ten minute round window, most
    pilots elected not to throw at the opening horn. Paul Anderson was first to
    break the stalemate. He launched and began a downwind run. As no lift was
    apparent, the rest of us just watched and some began urging Paul to continue
    his search farther downwind. At about the time Paul reached the limit of his
    downwind range and began turning for home, Tom Kiesling got some inspiration
    and launched. 
    He immediately began circling and this was enough for me to
    decide to pull the trigger. I happen to know that Tom doesn't launch high
    enough to bluff and reads air too well to mistakenly circle in sink. The air
    was soon full of about ten airplanes circling in lift. I'm not sure what
    happened to Paul but based on the scores (Paul got a 990) he must have
    either gotten back upwind into Tom's thermal, found his own or just re-
    launched early enough not to be hurt by the first flight. I was fourth in
    the round again with two three minute flights and a shorter flight for a 900
    point round. Bruce Davidson took the 1000, followed by Paul's 990 and Art
    Markiewicz's 972. Joe Wurts had some trouble and dropped out of first place
    with a  771 point round.
    Round thirteen, the final round, called for a four minute flight, a three
    minute flight, a two minute flight and a one minute flight, in any order but
    with only four throws allowed. As the timing CD counted down to the start of
    the round, I was watching a thermal streamer mounted on top of a mobile home
    as well as the streamer on my transmitter antenna. They were pointing in
    different directions, indicating a thermal directly on the field. I began
    edging my way towards that part of the field and noticed Joe Wurts doing the
    same thing. I told my timer there was a thermal directly over Joe's head and
    launched at the horn. I guess this was a pretty easy read as most others
    launched as well and soon the air was filled with circling models. The
    thermal was nice to me for about a minute but after almost two minutes I was
    low and struggling so I asked my timer (Russ Bennett) for a two minute count
    and set up for a re-launch. It looked like most of the other planes were
    still happily thermalling away and I had just fallen out of the bottom of
    the thermal so I was fairly confident that I could launch again into the
    meat of the thermal and do a longer flight. I launched, cruised the short
    distance to where the thermal was/should have been, saw no indication of
    lift and a sparse population of models by then. I made the quick decision to
    continue straight downwind towards a cluster of circling models. I found
    some spotty lift and began working it. It was not the stuff that could be
    called "happy air" but was rather more like "survival" air. I was constantly
    readjusting my thermal turns trying to find the "sweet spot" and drifting
    ever further down wind as I did so. The other planes in the area were doing
    the same thing. There was not one big definite thermal that drew everyone in
    but just an area of small, broken, elusive, constantly shifting thermals. My
    goal (no surprise here) was to gain enough altitude for an easy ride home.
    That never happened so I finally reached a point where I had to ask Russ to
    help find a route home. He pointed out that some other planes were
    indicating good air on the left side of the field so I pointed the plane for
    that area and headed upwind. About half way back I got some indication of
    lift, probably a wing being lifted, made a couple turns to check out the air
    and then centered up in a very nice, strong thermal. I quickly gained enough
    altitude to cruise quickly back to the field and came down again to launch
    altitude to scout air for the next throw. There appeared to be a general,
    wide area of lift just downwind of the field boundary so I happily finished
    my four minute flight and launched again for an easy three minute flight.
    That left only a sub one minute flight to finish the round and the contest.
    Joe Wurts won this round. I was second with two seconds less time (590s to
    Joe's 592s) for a score of 997. Paul Anderson (993), Mark Drela (992) and
    Art Markiewicz (985) also made all of their times.
    At this point, we all just waited for the awards to be announced. I was
    quite certain that Joe had won. I made a point of checking with him after
    the first and third flyoff rounds to see how he had done. I never asked
    about round twelve and had no idea that he had dropped some points there.
    The places were called off beginning with tenth and moving up to first. The
    first bit of excitement came when sixth place was called out and Tom
    Kiesling's name had not yet been called. I was very excited to realize that
    Tom had made the top five. The huge surprise for me came when they called
    out Joe Wurts for third place. This, of course, had extraordinary
    consequences and I immediately began thinking who besides me was left. I
    soon realized that Paul Anderson (the guy who beat me out of third place by
    one point last year) was "the other guy". I had no clue at that point where
    Paul was in the standings before the flyoff rounds or how he had done in the
    flyoff rounds. So I just waited until second place was called out. The high
    fives and hand shakes began as soon as they said "our own west coast
    pilot......." A great moment made even sweeter by the total suspense and
    Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 22:52:57 -0400
    From: "Phil Barnes"
    To: "SALglider posting" "RCSE posting"
    Subject: IHLGF2004 people and planes
    The models flown at this year's International Hand Launch Glider Festival
    looked very much like the models flown last year. There has not been much
    new development.
    My models this year were essentially the same as last year. The wing was an
    XP3 (yeah, Denny, I know. I'm supposed to call them XP4 wings now) core with
    just a slightly different layup and some other modifications. I use 1.0 oz
    Kevlar instead of 1.7 oz. This saves a little weight which I put into
    stiffening the flaperons. I use Foamular 600 (higher density) foam aft of
    the hinge line. I use precured bias carbon (the expensive lightweight
    carbon) semi chord doublers on the flaperons and I install carbon torque
    tubes in the flaperon leading edges. Aerodynamically, the wing is just a
    stock XP4 wing. All the flaperon stiffening stuff I do is probably overkill
    even for me. My wing weighs the same as a stock XP4 wing, about 4.4oz
    (125g). The fuselage is the same Logic carbon and kevlar fuselage that I've
    used for many years with an Allegro tail boom. The tails are the usual DLG
    configuration with HT12 airfoils and a layup just like on the Supergee plan.
    All up weight is about 10.5 oz (300g).
    Paul Anderson may be the next guy to win this contest. At least he is just
    as likely to do so as anybody else you can think of. He was one flight away
    from winning it this year. last year he was the only pilot in the flyoffs to
    get all his times in all three rounds which propelled him to a third place
    finish last year. You have to see his demonstration flights during lunch
    breaks and before/after the contest to understand just how good his stick
    skills are. He was doing some 3D flying with a foam electric model that just
    defied belief. Paul's hand launch models this year looked like they might be
    Raptors. They were fiberglass over blue foam wings.
    Joe Wurts is still king of hand launch in my opinion. He's been beaten two
    years in a row by interlopers from the East now, but that's a long way from
    erasing or overshadowing his eight wins. Joe still reads and flies air
    better than just about anybody, certainly better than me. I think there are
    some people around now who are close enough to him that he needs to fly real
    well without mistakes or he leaves the door open for someone else, having a
    good day, to walk through. I suspect that Joe will have his game face on
    next year and will be especially tough to beat. Joe, of course flies
    Bruce Davidson flew very well this year. He was actually in first place
    going into the flyoffs. If not for some difficulties in the first flyoff
    round, Bruce could have won the whole thing. Maybe it was those two nice new
    XP4s that Bruce was flying. Bruce also had a Photon as a backup model.
    Speaking of Photons, Those are some pretty impressive looking models. The
    craftsmanship is amazing. They may give up something on launch and/or
    penetration (at least I read that somewhere) but they certainly would be a
    good choice if you wanted to fly a poly model. I do know that they were good
    lift markers at this contest. They also have very strong wing leading edges,
    by the way. I mid-aired one of them on Friday with my number three model.
    Not a scratch on the Photon but my wing needed actual shop repairs to be
    flyable again.
    Tom Kiesling has been steadily improving over the last three years. He has
    always been an excellent flier and air reader. He has been world class in
    those areas for a long time. His launch has kept him back in the past. At
    this point his best launches are high enough to be respectable. He still has
    moments of "low launch-itis" but he is getting more consistent and those
    moments are becoming more rare. When you combine Tom's air reading and
    thermal flying skills with even just a respectable launch, you get a strong
    contender. Tom has been my timer for the past two or three years. He has
    taught me a lot already about air reading, he's been trying to teach me
    about proper rudder usage in thermal turns and lately, how to keep my
    thermal turns smooth by not "porpoising" the model with excess elevator
    inputs. He also tries mightily to keep me from doing silly, brain dead
    things like flying into power lines and forgetting the task while I fly. Tom
    flies models very similar to mine. Modified XP4 wings just like mine on a
    Logic fuse with tails that Tom bagged himself. In fact I copied my tails
    from Tom's plane. Tom actually was the first person that I know of to fly
    the new Drela DLG airfoils. I bagged a set of wings for him early on and
    sent him a Logic fuselage. Tom built his own tails. I developed The XP3 wing
    from that first wing that I sent to Tom. When I built my first Drela foiled
    DLG model I just copied Tom's tails and have been flying that design ever
    Art Markiewicz is a fun guy to have at a contest. He has a great sense of
    humor and keeps people smiling all day. He is also a great flier and scratch
    builder. He flies very distinct looking models with anhedral stabilizers and
    a fuselage with a drooped nose. I think these features are more style than
    substance but you always know when you are looking at Art's model. Art is
    one of those world class thermal fliers that you fear being in the same
    flight group with.
    Mike Smith was flying XP4s.
    Mark Drela was flying his Supergees, of course.
    Gordon Jennings flew Encores.
    I don't actually know what Jim Pearson was flying but you might expect him
    to fly Encores.
    That finishes out the top ten pilots and their machines but I will not stop
    there. There is a sort of friendly rivalry that has developed between the
    East and the West coast pilots. So I must point out the performance of the
    rest of our East coast crew.
    The East coast (we count Bruce Davidson as East coast) put four pilots in
    the top ten this year but we also had two "bubble boys" in 11th and 12th
    Oleg finished in 11th place but you should not think that he is a
    "has-been". Oleg will be back next year. He had some bad luck this year on
    Sunday. On Saturday he was only about four points off perfect with a drop.
    We think he suffered from distractions this year because he was traveling
    with his family. He is a lock for a high finish next year. Oleg, of course,
    flies Taboos
    Don Vetter finished 12th. He is also a good candidate for a top ten finish
    next year. This year's conditions did not favor Don's flying style. I keep
    trying to get Don to fly more aggressively, his natural style is to be more
    cautious. This year's conditions required some very aggressive flying at
    times. I think Don will continue to improve and be even more of a threat
    next year. Don flies fully scratch built models with Supergee airfoils on
    his own Logic style fuselages.
    Russ Bennett is one of our top East coast pilots. He finished in 19th place.
    Russ was the best in our area in the old javelin launch days. He has only
    flown DLG for a year or two and is still getting up to speed with that. This
    was his first IHLGF. It takes some time to get used to Poway conditions and
    to get over being overwhelmed or "psyched out" by the big contest. Russ will
    do better next year just because it will be his second year. He will
    probably also continue to improve with DLG in general. He has not yet
    learned to use his full potential and to use the full performance envelope
    that DLG launches give him. Russ has always been one of my favorite timers
    for hand launch and he did a great job timing for me in the flyoff rounds
    this year. Russ flew an XP4 and a Taboo I think.
    Jan Kansky is a club mate of Mark Drela up in Boston. I know he is a good
    thermal duration pilot having flown with him on the ESL circuit. I've never
    seen him fly DLG before but I hope he sticks with it and returns to Poway
    next year. Jan flew XP4s to a 25th place finish.
    The invasion from the east will continue next year and I think will only
    grow stronger. You west coast guys should think about recruiting. I have
    heard stirrings that maybe Daryl Perkins is thinking about DLG. You guys
    could use him.
    The International Hand Launch Glider Festival is not all about flying. It is
    also a good place to meet people that you usually only get to talk to on the
    net. I've had great fun talking about scratch building with Encore builder
    Phil Pearson for instance. Aradhana Singh Kalsa was there with his family.
    He had some of the best looking, most authentic Supergees I've ever seen. He
    is new to DLG flying but is a great craftsman.
    The IHLGF is an event that draws the best hand launch people (and scratch
    builders) from a very wide area and is something well worth the trip for
    anyone with those interests.