World Cup qualifiers for gliders

By David Kavanagh | posted on January 30, 2020

RADIO-CONTROLLED model gliders will take to the skies near Albany’s wind turbines this weekend as the city hosts team selections for the FAI F3F World Cup 2020.

Members from local glider club Southern Slope Soarers (SSS) will race enthusiasts from across Australia hoping to be drafted for the national team, set to compete at the world championship event in France later this year.

F3F refers to a specific division of model glider racing which involves unpowered gliders utilising sustained wind over sloped landscapes to gain speed.

SSS Secretary Steve Revel said the weekend event would mark the first time Albany held the team selection comp and was well worth checking out.

“Radio control soaring is a dynamic sport to watch because while everybody might think gliders are slow and graceful, these things are basically like the formula ones of gliders,” he said.

“The fastest radio controlled model planes are gliders. You’d expect something like a model jet to be quicker but they’re not.

“These can probably reach speeds of close to 200km/h on a good day.”

Only four of the more than a dozen people expected to compete in the February 2 racing event will be selected for the national squad.

Pilots will be required to navigate their gliders for 10 continuous laps over a 100m course, and will be scored based on the time it takes to complete these.

SSS President Glenn Twaddle, who has flown different variations of model planes for roughly 20 years, said F3F gliders could weigh anywhere between 1.5kg and more than 5kg.

He said they generally had wingspans of three metres and took some time to learn to control.

Mr Revel encouraged those interested in the idea of model gliders to get in contact with either the SSS or Albany Model Flyers Club.

“It’s not just about racing, it’s about meeting friends,” he said.

“It does take a while to get into, especially to travel at speed, but eventually you’re just floating around flying and enjoying yourself which is the best part.

“If the weather is nice, which it is most of the time, you’re standing up on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean in the sunshine, and that’s unbeatable.”

The sport’s Bay of Isles Cup, usually held in Esperance, will take place at Albany Wind Farm the day before selections.

While F3F Radio Control Soaring is widely considered a safe sport, an accident that killed a woman in Taiwan on November 2 sent shockwaves through the glider racing community.