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Andy Sweetland's "FLIPant" report



Late in '99 or early '00, a US member of the cl racing e.groups (actually, it's John Bruman of Phoenix Az who should take the rap) suggested that as this year is generally accepted as being the start of the new millenium, team racers ought to do something special to mark the ocassion - something that has never been done before. He further suggested that as in May of each year they have the Indianapolis 500 car race in the USA, team racers world wide should do something similar - e.g. a 5,000 laps race (equivalent to 500KM).

So far as is known, no one has ever run any class of C/L team racer over more than 1,000 laps before. John further suggested that this should be an event to promote beginners' interest in C/L team racing, so the use of "full spec" F2C models would not be allowed.

The soon agreed that a total of around 30 to 35 teams from 9 countries on 5 continents would be seriously interested in FLIP (Argentina, Australia, Chile, Italy, Lithuania, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, the USA) so the idea went ahead, the agreed plan being that all countries would be allowed to make their attempts at any time during the month of May 2000 only.

John Bruman agreed that "prizes" should be certificates issued by himself, "Survivor" certificates to all those completing 5,000 laps, and a "Winner" certificate to go to the team with the fastest time to 5,000. In addition, each country was asked to donate some type of special prize which would go to the eventual winner. After some further electonic discussion, Switzerland's special prize offer (i.e. coordinating everyone's results and attempting to get the names of the eventual winners into the Guinness Book of World Records), was enthusiastically accepted. It was further agreed that each FLIP team would pay a nominal entry fee, the proceeds of which would go to that country’s FAI F2C team travel costs for the 2000 World Champs in France. (As all participants in the Swiss FLIP are members of their C/L team for the 2000 C/L World Champs, this rule was waived for us here in Switzerland).


After more electronic discussions, two classes of FLIP model were defined - "Goodyear" and "Open". Both very much aimed at beginners, being simple profile fuselage models with significantly less "gadgetery" than normally seen on C/L racers. The "GY" class required all models have an outline profile conforming to the fuselage and wing outline of any known US Goodyear sports racing (full size) aircraft, plus some tank size limitations, all with a 2.5cc motor size limit (either diesel or glow). The "Open" class was even simpler, with no "scale outline" requirements, no tank limitations (except a model a.u.w.), and with a motor limit (also either diesel or glow) of 0.19 cu ins. As above, F2C-type multi-function valves, pressure refuelling, etc, etc, were not allowed in either class.

Generally, FAI rules (or the local in-country equivalent) would be used, especially for all safety aspects. But there was also an additional feature - at every 1,000 laps a compulsory 5 minute stop would be made, during which time all models would be pull-checked again, plus have a visual safety inspection

No limits were imposed on the number of pilots and mechanics to be used per team, and change over of team members would be allowed at any time, but ONLY when all models were on ground. During the Swiss attempt at FLIP, changeovers only took place during those 1,000 lap safety stops (apart from the last changeover, made at 4,500 laps, by which time only 1 team was left racing).


The Swiss participants, especially Heiner Borer and Andy Sweetland, are particularly interested in promoting the idea of getting more beginners into C/L team race, and aspects of the FLIP event could well be used to further this aim. For some time the Swiss have been working with other countries to investigate the feasiblity of finding Almost Ready to Fly modes, suitable cheap and reliable motors, and other simplified race hardware, all in an effort to present todays youth with an almost "no effort" package capable of racing reliabably and successfully, thus whetting appetities for the more high-tech classes such as F2C. A Czech model and motor combination first found a couple of years ago seemed to offer good promise, and this fits the above FLIP "Open" class spec. So all the Swiss FLIP efforts were based on that equipment, with a further Swiss decision being to use those models "as supplied" with absolute minimum modifications.


(Winning model immediately after race)

These are produced by Tomas Mejzlik of the Czech Republic and sold as a complete ARTF kit with or without motor. They are based very much on the outline of a typical modern F2C model, but with a profile fuselage and external controls/push-pull rod, tank, and motor. The configuration is again typical of current F2C practice being of flying-wing type, single elevator, no fin, monowheel (but for the "purists", the model does include a transparent canopy complete with outline pilot's head!). Finished weight is approx 450 gr (15.8 ozs) ready to fly, and wing area 13.2 sq dm (204.9 sq ins), in other words, a model that GLIDES after the engine cuts! The models are supplied in "flat pack" form, i.e. all components are completely finished (glass/resin) and the buyer needs only to epoxy the wing into the (prepared) slot in the fuselage, mount all the hardware and motor, and hook up the controls - in other words, a genuinely ready to fly model needing only a couple of hours before really ready to fly. In all cases the motor used was the MVVS 2.5RE (also a Czech product). The model is designed for that motor, and being priced at 70 DM this is both simple enough and cheap enough to appeal to beginners.

From the Swiss "beginners into TR" viewpoint, the only thing missing from the standard off-the-shelf Mejzlik model was a fuel shut off. In the interests of simplicity, various "tube crusher" types have been tried as add-ons, both simple home-made types, and some bought from specialists, though with this particular model there are space problems with mounting any sort of shut-off on the fuselage. More on this anon!

Particularly from the viewpoint of this extra-long marathon, the tank supplied with the original model, approx 15cc, although perfectly adequate for normal 100 lap race lengths (approx 32 laps/tank), was not ideal for this event. Attempts to fit both bigger tanks ran into similar lack of fuselage space as with the shut-off's mentioned above, and this led to problems for both Swiss teams during their marathon attempt.

But those problems are not applicable to a simple/beginners team race class with races run over the normal 100 and 200 laps, and after our marathon experience we are even more convinced that for such "normal" race lengths the model as supplied will be very suitable indeed for beginners team racing.