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Becoming a Good at F3A - What does it take?

Old 06-02-2016, 05:58 AM
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thermalstudent
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Default Becoming a Good at F3A - What does it take?

Hello

I fly a few foam planes and I am generally bored with RC. but I think I'm having a mid life crisis. Let me explain - I was at an RC show the other day and one of demonstrations was by a world class F3A pilot flying F15 I think. The graceful lines, disciplined flying and esthetic beauty of his demonstration just rocked me! I went home got out a foamy park flyer and tried to replicate some of what I observed at the show - yup this is hard and could take years to get good at this.

So thinking about developing the skills to fly F3A and then competing.

A little about me - I love the discipline and training aspect - regimented behaviors to achieve something - that's me to a T. When I undertake something I have to do it well - I'm generally not interested in being mediocre.

I have time and parks within walking distance to fly small planes (like 1 meter ships) and not far away (20 minuets by car down the road) is a full size flying field and club - I'm not a member yet.

The questions:

A) Is there a training plan that a pilot can follow to develop F3A pattern flying skills?

B) Open ended question - what time, practice or ...... does it take for a pilot to get to competing at a regional level and scoring in the upper half of the pack?

thanks for any replies
./cheers
W
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Old 06-02-2016, 06:43 AM
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I would start with some of the information here...http://suddenlink.net/donramsey/

Also, along with practice, get into learning the rules and criteria of judging. Its useless to to perfect a maneuver if it is not the way a judge would want to see it.

Lastly, you should be able to improve and do well based on your skill and practice. You start in Sportsman and move up as your skill moves up. That way, you can always be fairly competitive.
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Old 06-02-2016, 06:56 AM
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Find out what district you are in, and join NSRCA. http://nsrca.us/ There should be a few pilots in your district that fly AMA/F3A pattern. You may need to travel a distance to their club flying site, but it will be worth it. I'm sure they will be glad to help you get started. You will do fine. You are willing to learn, practice and have a competitive nature. Welcome to the club!

On your questions:..A: Not that I know of
B: Depends on you. How quick you learn, and how much time you dedicate to practice.

Last edited by big_G; 06-02-2016 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 06-02-2016, 07:59 AM
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On the NSRCA site...http://nsrca.us/index.php/new-pilot-info... there is a big blue box on the right side of the page that will answer many of your questions. If you don't find the answers you are looking for, ask them here, the pattern community is all about helping.

Look here... http://nsrca.us/index.php/powerpoint-presentations ....it is a power point presentation of all the maneuvers for all classes.

Last edited by desertrider49; 06-02-2016 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 06-02-2016, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by thermalstudent View Post
Hello
I am generally bored with RC. - The graceful lines, disciplined flying and aesthetic beauty of his demonstration just rocked me! I went home got out a foamy park flyer and tried to replicate some of what I observed at the show - yup this is hard and could take years to get good at this.

So thinking about developing the skills to fly F3A and then competing.

- I love the discipline and training aspect - regimented behaviors to achieve something - that's me to a T. When I undertake something I have to do it well - I'm generally not interested in being mediocre.

I have time and parks within walking distance to fly small planes (like 1 meter ships) and not far away (20 minuets by car down the road) is a full size flying field and club - I'm not a member yet.

The questions:

A) Is there a training plan that a pilot can follow to develop F3A pattern flying skills?

B) Open ended question - what time, practice or ...... does it take for a pilot to get to competing at a regional level and scoring in the upper half of the pack?

thanks for any replies
./cheers
W
You already well ahead of most. The love of a disciplined challenge will take you very far. The desire to put in the effort is truly the elusive quality.
When I was doing a lot of flight training, I would see many students work very hard to solo. Every week at student night, every weekend at the field and lots of questions as they try to learn each of the steps and be able to command the aircraft. Once basic training was completed they were on their own and with no real goal. You would see them less and less and finally they would stop by to tell you about their new hobby.
To me the challenge of pattern keeps me going. The great satisfaction when you find the right trim for an aircraft or that troublesome maneuver finally comes together makes it all worthwhile. If I hadn't found pattern I would have quit this hobby years ago.

How fast you progress is entirely up to you.

The above links to the NSRCA will definitely point you in the right direction. These links are also very useful.

http://www.troybuiltmodels.com/ns/learn/awesomepilot/

http://www.ckaero.net/blog/

Last edited by Anthony-RCU; 06-02-2016 at 08:48 AM.
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Old 06-02-2016, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by thermalstudent View Post
Hello

I fly a few foam planes and I am generally bored with RC. but I think I'm having a mid life crisis. Let me explain - I was at an RC show the other day and one of demonstrations was by a world class F3A pilot flying F15 I think. The graceful lines, disciplined flying and esthetic beauty of his demonstration just rocked me! I went home got out a foamy park flyer and tried to replicate some of what I observed at the show - yup this is hard and could take years to get good at this.

So thinking about developing the skills to fly F3A and then competing.

A little about me - I love the discipline and training aspect - regimented behaviors to achieve something - that's me to a T. When I undertake something I have to do it well - I'm generally not interested in being mediocre.

I have time and parks within walking distance to fly small planes (like 1 meter ships) and not far away (20 minuets by car down the road) is a full size flying field and club - I'm not a member yet.

The questions:

A) Is there a training plan that a pilot can follow to develop F3A pattern flying skills?

B) Open ended question - what time, practice or ...... does it take for a pilot to get to competing at a regional level and scoring in the upper half of the pack?

thanks for any replies
./cheers
W
A) First step is to attend a contest, probably as a spectator, and keep your eyes and ears open. From there you would basically learn the rules and the maneuvers and develop your own plan. If you have someone you can meet and fly with who is experienced in precision aerobatics (that is, a coach), you make a training plan together. The basic criteria are simple and if you have the basis of an analytical mind plus mixed with surfing this forum, etc you can come up with your own plan pretty easily.

B) If you're dedicated and have support and fly a lot, you could probably place pretty well at a district championship level in the sportsman class in a couple of seasons. Upper classes take longer, the competition is tougher.

What sparked my interest in pattern were the amazing articles in Flying Models by Dean Pappas. I knew from reading these that pattern would be my niche because of the devotion to the purity of the aerodynamic endeavor it requires. Attending a couple of contests sealed the deal!

Good luck and best wishes, Bill
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Old 06-02-2016, 09:54 AM
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I was encourage to get into pattern by one of the best at the time. Basically I figured the following would be needed:
1. A decent, well set up plane - you certainly do not need to spend thousands. I had a Tiger 60 and took many weekends setting it up so it would track straight and roll like an arrow. I found a lot of good info on the internet about how to set it up correctly.
2. A good computer radio to get the set up you need. A 4 channel sport radio won't hack it.
3. A very good coach, preferably a top F3A performer.
4. A lot of practice. I mean several days a week. Being independently wealthy helps. As you get better perhaps you can get a sponsor - just watch out for the FAA rules on hobby versus commercial flying.
5. An understanding significant other. Probably the most important item. Even if you don't spend a lot of money you will spend a lot of time if you are going to get good.
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Old 06-02-2016, 11:52 AM
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rc pattern flying practice is actually boring, you will need to practice different maneuvers and routines; if you are disciplined enough during practice you won't get bored, but lots of peoples will get bored and then start sport flying or 3d fly their plane...

Like they said above, the desire and effort to actually practice and not "fly" your plane while doing the maneuvers over and over again is what will get ya.
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Old 06-15-2016, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for all the help so far.
I'm looking at the schedules/rules etc, .... lots of maneuvers to learn.

I'm wondering about the pattern plane. I've got several pattern planes identified for sale locally for what seem to be very reasonable prices - one is a Vanquish, can't remember the others, They are not the latest and greatest composite beauties but what do I really need to start and at what level (Advanced, Master or ....?) could I eventually work my way up to competing with say a Vanquish?
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Old 06-15-2016, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by thermalstudent View Post
Thanks for all the help so far.
I'm looking at the schedules/rules etc, .... lots of maneuvers to learn.

I'm wondering about the pattern plane. I've got several pattern planes identified for sale locally for what seem to be very reasonable prices - one is a Vanquish, can't remember the others, They are not the latest and greatest composite beauties but what do I really need to start and at what level (Advanced, Master or ....?) could I eventually work my way up to competing with say a Vanquish?
The Vanquish will take you thru Advanced. Masters is a bit tougher...I like your attitude. You think 1 plane will last you thru 3 classes....lol. Typically you will have several hundred flights in each class you participate...learning the routine takes practice. To place consistently at the top of your class takes even more practice. Then as you move up in class, you get to do it all over again. I have some pattern pilots with over 1,000 flights on one plane! Some planes last a day, some live on for years and years.
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by big_G View Post
... You think 1 plane will last you thru 3 classes....lol. .
Hi G

Thanks so much for your reply... can you please explain a little more what the competitors encounter as they move through classes that makes them also move through a lot of planes.
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by thermalstudent View Post
Thanks for all the help so far.
I'm looking at the schedules/rules etc, .... lots of maneuvers to learn.

I'm wondering about the pattern plane. I've got several pattern planes identified for sale locally for what seem to be very reasonable prices - one is a Vanquish, can't remember the others, They are not the latest and greatest composite beauties but what do I really need to start and at what level (Advanced, Master or ....?) could I eventually work my way up to competing with say a Vanquish?
As big_G said, the Vanquish is probably the best entry level model out there right now at that price point. There are several out at our field and you'll usually see a number of them at any Pattern meet you attend.

As to what class; it's normally Sportsman for folks just starting especially if you've never flown any aerobatic competitions like IMAC or something, which would give you a base to judge your capability. I have a friend who'd flown IMAC for awhile and he started with Intermediate but it took him awhile to win a meet. It would really help to have someone with some experience watch you fly and give you an opinion.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:53 PM
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I started in Sportsman with a Big Stik .60 and won several contests early on. Got a Vanquish towards the middle of the season and really did fine, even developing a rival with several good friends on the pattern circuit in District 6. The biggest thing is not only practice, but "quality" practice and asking questions constantly. Anybody at a contest is fair game for advice and I cannot think of anybody in our district that will not pause and answer your questions or give some advice. Frequently, some of the more advanced pilots will offer advice without being asked. Moving from Sportsman to Intermediate is a big step and the manuevers start getting more complex. After competing in Intermediate, Sportsman seems elementary and not so difficult, but when you are starting out it can be quite intimidating.

Try to find some one in your local area to help coach even if it is not at your homefield. Attend a clinic in your area, or even travel to an out of town clinic to get advice and some training. Study the maneuvers and use a stick plane to see what the maneuvers look like, where are the trouble spots, and what is going to be the transition from one maneuver to the next. Remember, even the complex maneuvers start and end with a straight line. Do not be afraid to practice flying straight and level for several passes to get settled in and see that your airplane can fly with your hands off the controls. Start at Sportman with any decent sport plane, smaller pattern plane, or jump in with a Vanquish. Check around the contest and see if you can find a used plane (preferably one that has not been crashed). I recently purchased a composite plane that had three previous owners that was in good shape for a price lower than a Vanquish. Above all, remember we are doing this because it is fun.


Sheldon

Last edited by Smooth Pilot; 06-15-2016 at 05:56 PM. Reason: errors
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by thermalstudent View Post
Hi G

Thanks so much for your reply... can you please explain a little more what the competitors encounter as they move through classes that makes them also move through a lot of planes.
Basically, all planes have an expiration date. Last weekend I saw a very accomplished Masters class pilot stuff an expensive plane. Pilot error or radio/electronics error?...it doesn't matter. The more you fly, the more you risk the aircraft. That's why we run redundant power systems. We (myself included) want every competitive edge I can get. If this means I buy a more current design, then I may upgrade and move my current competition plane to back-up status. Most of us that complete bring 2 planes to an event, a primary and a back-up.

Gary
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Old 06-16-2016, 02:19 PM
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Was wondering about the Lightning by Jeff Carder. My Balsa Building Friend had a look at the plans and he said we could build it. I like building planes too.
Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't Jeff's Lightning be a better acrobatic performing plane than the Vanquish?
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Old 06-16-2016, 05:48 PM
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If you want to build, it would be great. It will not be cheaper, if that is what you are looking at, and you will have to spend the time to build it, too. ARF planes are hard to beat starting out.
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Old 06-17-2016, 12:11 PM
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Lightning is an old design and you are most likely to wind up with a heavy model. I saw one go through four owners here before it finally gave up the ghost. Unless you really know what you're doing and want to spend the money for competition grade balsa, an ARF will always be lighter.
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Old 06-17-2016, 02:21 PM
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Isn't it a given that you build with contest basla? All my research has always pointed that direction.

Ken
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Old 06-17-2016, 06:03 PM
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That is a lot of Competition Balsa . Knowing where you need it and where you want something else is the tough job.
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Old 06-18-2016, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by thermalstudent View Post
Was wondering about the Lightning by Jeff Carder. My Balsa Building Friend had a look at the plans and he said we could build it. I like building planes too.
Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't Jeff's Lightning be a better acrobatic performing plane than the Vanquish?
I'm almost finished with a re-scaling of the old Black Magic down to a 90 four stroke (YS 91 AC). Black Magic 90 size Or you could build it full size. I have those also.

This would be a little less costly and would still be competitive (so I'm told) in the entry levels. There are two versions electric and glow so you go either way your heart desires. The only difference is the firewall. I have the build instructions in an electronic file if you want to take a look.

Ken
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Old 09-16-2016, 10:43 AM
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Try to take everything everyone says on here with a grain of salt, and form your own opinion. I own a 2m Vanquish, and I have started to fly it in FAI recently. It is very competitive in Masters, and " No " it is not the best aircraft for FAI, but it does perform all of the maneuvers ok. Yes, it does take a little extra work, and the side area of the fuse is not the tallest...... In my own Opinion... The Vanquish is an extremely capable airframe for all classes if you want something that will take you from Sportsman to the top ! The quality is much better than some of the other 2meter build up planes out there as well. The only downfall is the weak landing gear plate, however is an easy fix to remedy.
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:48 PM
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If have the funds available, a 2M plane is the way to go. Bigger does fly better. You can look at buying something used or shoot for something new. The Vanquish is at the lower end of the cost scale, but it is not necessarily cheap. By the time I got done outfitting mine I had spent about $1500-1600 (airframe, motor, esc, servos, receiver, etc). The batteries are not included in that total. Based on what you have said it appears to me that you do most of your flying at a local park. I would definitely consider joining a formal club at a proper field. Having people around who have more experience than yourself is always helpful.

Without trying to be condescending I think that an honest evaluation of your skills is probably a good place to start; making good landings become very important as airplanes get more expensive. I know that it sounds silly, but high performance typically means low weight which translates into more delicate airframes. They can take a little bit of abuse, but not much. I always suggest mastering the basics before moving into more capable airplanes. If you have that down pat,then go for it, if not, maybe a larger intermediate plane (say 60-65" wingspan) might be a good stepping stone, specially if you are used to flying the smaller planes at a local park. These .50-.70 sized planes, if electric, can be flown on 5S which is 1/2 a pack of what is normally used in the full blown 2m planes.

Finally, I would suggest patience and perseverance. Unless you are incredibly gifted it will take time and it won't come easily. I have asked a couple of the guys who I considered to be good pilots how many practice flights they get a year, and the answer has been fairly consistent: 500-600. Right now, I am lucky to get 200 so I know that I will probably always be lagging behind (and I have the scores to prove it ), but that does not mean that I do not enjoy it. This type of flying is more of a mental game than simply being good with the sticks and there is where the challenge lies.

Good luck,

Teo

PD. I have seen the Vanquish fly P17 and it can do it, but seems to take a lot of power and skill (Edge 540 is a good pilot by the way...). My personal opinion is that it will get you through Advanced quite nicely but a more modern design might be in order for Masters and beyond.

Last edited by viva_peru; 09-17-2016 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:42 AM
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A couple of things I didn't specifically read here that helped me out.
Get to a contest and see how things are done. Reading aresti's and maneuver descriptions won't get you far. See what scores well, and do that.
Coaching, for sure, is a must.
Don't get impatient.. 1yr. in Sportsman, 2-3yrs. in Intermediate, 4-5yrs in Advanced. Why rush? Enjoy the ride!!
Start with a 2M Pattern plane if you can; those are the two ciritical pieces; large, and purpose built. Age/condition are secondary....Vanquish is probably the staple.
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by time907356 View Post
A couple of things I didn't specifically read here that helped me out.
Get to a contest and see how things are done. Reading aresti's and maneuver descriptions won't get you far. See what scores well, and do that.
Coaching, for sure, is a must.
Don't get impatient.. 1yr. in Sportsman, 2-3yrs. in Intermediate, 4-5yrs in Advanced. Why rush? Enjoy the ride!!
Start with a 2M Pattern plane if you can; those are the two ciritical pieces; large, and purpose built. Age/condition are secondary....Vanquish is probably the staple.
I disagree about starting with a 2M plane for Sportsman. Any decent sport plane in the .60 category or one of the 70 to 110 smaller pattern planes is an economic win. Aftr all you may decide that pattern flying is not your bag after all. Try with a less expensive sport plane and see if you like the competition.

I do agree that the Vanquish 2M plane is the least expensive alternative and is very competitive even up through Advanced. I have not seen any flying in Masters yet. The only draw bak to the Vanquish is that it does tend to accelerate quickly in verticle downlines, but three-bladed prop and a good esc that can brake helps with that. Go to a contest and ask for help from the CD and they will get you set up with someone willing to assist you. The fledgling I am currently helping is going to his first contest with a Kaos .80 from Tower Hobby and wil do well.

Sheldon
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