Polecat ALES 2014
13-15 June 2014
It's already time to go south and try to grab the Polecat ALES Trophy for 2014! The team from Montreal this year was composed by Jacques, Stephane, Luca, Etienne and Pascal. "Danger Dan" could not join us. Very unfortunately because, I am sure, he would have entered the Fly-Offs this year. Our friends from Gatineau and Ottawa were also there, making up for a huge Team Canada.
And here we are: from left to right: Luca, Brian, Pascal, Rob, Dany, Stephane, Jacques, Gudmund, Isabel, Ray, Jean-Claude, Etienne.
Attendance was important keeping the flight line busy for 10 rounds for the full two days!
The trip has been, as traditionally, quite a thing: we left Montreal on the Thursday and hit heavy thunderstorms all along the path. The weather cast was positive for the week end though, so we were confident that we would not drive 9 hours in a row for no reason! We discovered later on first hand that the field had been transformed in a lake by the heavy rains, and the sky stayed scarily covered by cloud on friday and saturday, while typical local blue sky and little winds would have shined on us on the following sunday.
Friday was practice day and we went to the field to do the final pre-competition checks.
This year our models were reliable and flew well without major setbacks during the competition. The only exceptions were two tail servos that did not function properly. The first one was Luca's rudder on the eBD. Without any apparent reasons the model yanked violently to the left and spinned the model out of the sky. The soil was so soaked with water that after the impact the whole prop-spinner-motor-fuselage was full of mud. The lake in front of the pilots gazebos was very handy in cleaning up the mess!
Jacques had the same kind of issues with his rudder all over the place right before the first flight on saturday. Stephane fixed the problem with martial dexterity: he took the rudder and cranked back to neutral at a few seconds from the start of the round. We changed the servo right after that flight.
Bernard had a problem with his Aspire and smashed it down to pieces right after one launch. Unfortunately his model was a write-off. He kept flying with Dany's Tango for the rest of the competition.
A wide variety of models was on the field: everything from Homebrews to high-end Mouldies, passing through RTFs and Foamies. Here's a selection of the models we could see during the week end with a little preference to Homebrews of course!!!
A very well built Mantis. All kevlar wings and fuselage with carbon reinforcements "where needed". Both thumbs-up!
Three mouldies that impressed me. Aspires were no surprise: the built was, as usual, impeccable, and the use of disser for the wing skins made them rather light. The Cluster was new to me, and if I got this right, it seems that an Eastern European company has acquired the moulds of the good old Tragi and sell it now renamed as Cluster. But the point is: these models were flown very well and in a few occasions circled at less than 30' from the ground like a DLG. Their pilots did a great job on that. Last note: the orange model clearly went through a serious crash but if it wasn't for the paint scheme disrupted by primed repair regions, you could not tell. Whoever repaired that machine masters composite construction perfectly well…oh yeah!!!
The model that attracted our attention the most was this full composite, home made, Bubble Dancer derivative. First of all it was very well built, and the technique used was simple yet effective. The model and its pilot attracted attention since friday: the model was used intensively in landing practice and the precision of the manoeuvres and the effectiveness of its flaps were evident. During the competition then, the pilot went downwind on a launch spiralling the machine while the engine was still running, putting the model in the core of a thermal for a perfect time and hitting the landing with outstanding precision at the end of it. Since that flight I observed the model and was impressed by overall agility and control.
The wing features a strip of carbon 8020 as spar cap (each side). The middle section has a balsa vertical grain web that carries the joiner tube. Skins are made out of 3/4 oz per square yard glass cloth, draped at 45 degrees; 3 layers for the central section, 2 for the middle one, 1 for the tip. Each wing is bagged as a single straight piece, then the upper skin is cut, the foam removed accordingly to the dihedral and bent to final shape. A little strip of carbon for the spar, and glass for the skin, reinforce the joint on the upper skin only. Light, simple and quick to build…sounds like a plan!!!
V-Tail feathers are mounted on the boom via two pins and kept in place with tape. Can't be simpler than that! Also note that the boom on this model is of the size we use on our Omerta. I believe that this extra stiffness is one of the reasons the model was so precise even though it was a RES ship.
Saturday greated the whole team with very good flights, camaraderie and remarkable team work. We consistently coached and timed each other pushing everybody to get the best possible result out of each pilot/machine duo. And all that effort gave good results. We finished the day dreaming of the next day!
Oh well, of course, after all those efforts we enjoyed a little aperitif…I know, I know…but I always dreamt of a drink in one of those brown bags like in the movies!!!!!!
Sunday was characterized by a completely different sky. Bad weather left the field and the surrounding area and blue sky smiled at us the whole day. Despite this, the morning thermals were weak and not well defined and a few pilots were left mocked by the conditions. Our Canadian fellows felt less comfortable than the days before, which were much closer to our northern windy typical days! Only four rounds were run on Sunday. When the day was called-off we all started packing our stuff. Only then Jacques came back from the CD tent saying that we were in the Fly-Offs. Seriously? What? Impossible! And yet, the very good performance of the day before paid-off and Stephane, Luca, Pascal and Gudmund were indeed called to prepare for the three final rounds.
The CD instructed the finalists to change the CAM setup so that maximum height was set to 100m. We didn't expect of being in the Fly-Offs, nevermind re-programming the CAM!!! We ran to our boxes, re-assembled the models, some of which were already packed in the car, and learnt how to program the CAM. In a matter of a few minutes we were on the start line, ready to fly. What a rush!
So here we are: in front of my eBD, Stephane who's going to be timed by Jacques, while Paul is going to be my helper for the Fly-Offs. Behind me Pascal and Etienne. Way back there you can see Gudmund.
Go Team Canada! GO!
Five minutes to the first launch. The air slows down and warms-up. Feels good. We are very close to a thermal. I hope I could fly now that I know where it is but the five minutes seem to last forever. When the horn goes-off the air is cold and the wind has picked-up. So far the cycle has lasted more or less 15-20 minutes. There must be a thermal far upwind. I bet on that. Twenty seconds level at full power, then ten up. The CAM cuts-off at 100 meters. Oh My Goodness…that is so low! If I don't find that thermal I am done. But there she is, nice and strong, and my eBD gets higher and higher. Time and landing are pretty good!
Second flight: same air, same plan. But this time two gliders hit each other on launch and I see them coming towards my glider. I turn right and I try to get as far as I can to avoid the collision. When adrenaline leaves my brain, I realize I am far on the right into a huge sink. Forget the plan, I am low and I need to find a thermal. When I glide over the field I am not low, I am dramatically low. I bet on the club house and CD tent. The left tip pops up for a second over that tent and I decide to try circling left in what seems to be a little thermal. Luck is with me this time: it is indeed a thermal and I scratch that air for minutes. Unfortunately I don't let the model slide downwind enough and I loose the thermal flying upwind of it. Landing is good but a lot of guys have gone upwind and are still high while I am on the ground.
After the conclusion of the round I realize that it is Stephane's Omerta that has been hit during launch. One of his tips gets repaired "quick and dirty" before the last flight.
Last flight: the plan is to go upwind but, this time, avoid traffic at launch. I switch-on the engine at the horn and launch before my neighbours. I go upwind far. Very far. Motor off. I explore what seems to be very calm air. Too calm. I am not going up at all. I fear I took the wrong decision. But it is too late to change plan. I insist and after a while my right wing goes up. I counter full right and I start going up. Feels good. Very good!!! The eBD goes up like crazy now and in a matter of a few minutes it is way too high, to the point of being uncomfortable. Spoiler out. That doesn't seem to affect the model at all. I spin it to force it coming down. It works. I am so focused on trying to get down without disintegrating my wings that I do not realize that the air has changed. I am drifting in the direction I remember the wind was blowing, but indeed it has changed. When I decide the glider is at comfortable altitude it is also into sink. After all, close to a huge thermal there is huge sink, and my manoeuvre put the model into it! And here's the fatal error. I try to get out of it pushing, which is good, but downwind, which is stupid, and I soar into sink inevitably down to the ground. I am not the only pilot that got surprised by such a sudden change, but a few have read the air well and they are still up there. Kudos to them.
Wow…what a ride! The day is over and the CD calls us for the ranking:
Well done!!! I am proud of us!!!
Last picture for the Montrealers and then back home.
See you out there soon!!!!!!!!!
9 June 2014
After having destroyed my Omert-Aspire two weeks before going to Polecat ALES 2K14, I was left with my brave and loyal eBD which I could not fly much this year. It was pretty clear that practice was much needed!!!
The Bubble Dancer is a fantastic flyer but, with its characteristic spoiler, a difficult one when it comes to spot landing. I then asked Duc to put together a training session specific for landing. Steve joined in, and we headed towards the field on a late afternoon. Note for the Montrealers out there: do not hit the 40E at 5pm on a monday…it took us more than 2 hours to get to the field!
A great deal of patience on the road was gratified by a fantastic flying session though: Duc prepared a 2 minutes drill that is going to become our standard when it comes to Landing Practice. So simply, yet so effective: 5 seconds of motor for 2 minutes of flight and a precision landing. The thing is the altitude you are getting by those mere 5 seconds is not much, certainly not enough to comfortably glide the 2 minutes to the landing. You have to read the air and, if conditions are as light as what we got that day, scratch it until the moment has come to prepare for landing.
Another nuance of the drill is that focusing on staying up, you get in that state of mind that sometimes leads pilots to "forget" that the time has come to land and get stressed out so that they loose their cool for that precious few seconds preceding landing.
In an hour flying session you can pack in 30+ landings. Which is a huge amount compared to what we usually do when we go to the field on a typical, casual, sunday at the field.
And here comes the obvious truth of the day: if you prepare well, you land well. You are going to say: "Thanks M. Watson, any other triviality today?" Well, in fact, I am dead serious: if you don't get into the downwind leg at the right time and the right altitude there is no much that you can do to recover. Any too late/too soon at this point means being too late/too soon on the spot. If you try to stretch or shorten the sequence after that point you will probably miss the pin. So you are better off sucking up the fact that your are not going to be on the spot at the perfect moment, instead of getting your last 20 seconds erratic ruining the time AND the spot!
You find here the .mp3 with our personal Siri talking to you through the landing practice!!!
Ou alors ici en Francais.
MATS has got an Aircraft Carrier!!!!!
2 June 2014
I have to admit: in more than 20 years of RC modelling I have never seen something like this!
Awesome job Mario!!!
Omerta 2 Wingtips out of the bag
1 March 2014
Jacques has delivered the second outer panel of the wing of Stephane: the finish is superb. Stiffness and weight at rendezvous. Kudos to Jacques! His production rate is impressive and the final product is up to snuff in all departments. Bravo!
More on the latest wings here!!!
Central Panel Bolt Beam - How to install
4 February 2014
As the good old saying goes: a picture is worth a thousand words. Here it is a nice sequence to illustrate how to install the bolt beam into the latest central panels for our ALES ships.
The full sequence is here!!!
eBD full kevlar fuselage pod
30 January 2014
A new BD fuselage is available with a full kevlar layup. These units can be used with Bubble Dancer wings or, with little adjustments, with the newer Omerta wings. As a matter of fact the new Omerta mould was designed with a longer nose than the BD to allow for proper trimming of the airframe, since the first trials came out tail heavy. The BD fuselage is a bit narrower than the Omerta so that it is difficult to install 2500 mAh 4S LiPo batteries in it. But If you plan on using 3S LiPos or lighter 4S LiPos this fuselage is perfectly fine!
So now we can choose which fuselage to use, depending on the aeroplane geometry and radio setup. Way to go!
New ALES fuselage and wings for our 2014 ALES ship: the Omerta mk2
9 January 2014
Steven has cured a new fuselage pod using the mould we manufactured for the Kuda. This time the layup is all kevlar (with the local exception of the pylon area which is reinforced with carbon cloth) and has a canopy on the upper side. Since the original design for the Kuda sported a nose cone, Steve had to modify the parts after cure to create the canopy and its landing.
And, the first wing panel of the Omerta mk2 is out of the bags, trimmed and ready for servo installation.
More on the new wing and fuselage here!!!
Paul's BD coming along!!!
5 January 2014
Paul has started building his eBD. As a warm-up he decided to build the horizontal stabilizer first. And here's the result: 19 gr ready to be covered. Great job!!!
Member Cards holders
3 January 2014
As decided during the AGM, each and every member is now required to wear his MATS and MAAC card in a visible way at the field. Card holders will be sent to each member upon receipt of inscription fees. The holder can be clipped easily on your T-shirt, trousers or hat at your best convenience but must be visible at all time.
Please notice that the upper lip of the holder can be taped to avoid any water to get inside damaging your cards, and to make sure that cards will not slip away and get lost!
Winter Flying at Les Coteaux
29 December 2013
Roland and Mario have been flying in the freezing cold this winter. Warm clothes, big determination and a great deal of courage make the incredible happening!!!
AGM 2013 - President's report
21 December 2013
MATS is a Radio Controlled Modelling Club dedicated to silent flight since the very beginning of its history. For many years gliders were made airborne using ground equipment like winches, elastic catapults, hand launch and dedicated tugs. A number of competitions have been run using pure gliders and ground equipment following formats as the TD, SLF and F3J standards. For years the source of great improvement and evolution came from enhancements in structures and from new airfoils. That evolution seems to have reached the best achievable level.
The next evolutionary stage has been set by new electronics: the availability of new radios, on-board altimetry, new battery technology and brushless electric motors have changed the game yet another time. It is now possible to have affordable propulsion set on-board to take off with a very attractive power to weight ratio and to limit the altitude at which the engine will stop turning. In actual terms these new technologies remove the greatest hurdles that the members of MATS have faced together with the rest of RC Gliding community: carrying and installing winches at the field, laying down hundreds of meters of cable, sustaining the tension at launch, retrieve the cable at each launch, and reverse the whole process at the end of the practice day. The need of large flying fields has vanished with the introduction of the new technologies.
Polecat ALES 2K13!
17-18-19 June 2013
The echo of the ORCC crowd going down to Carslisle, PA to fly ALES the last two years in a row intrigued us quite a lot. Plus this is possibly the biggest ALES event of the year, so there is no better place to learn a new discipline than immersing oneself into a high level competition like this one. Therefore we decided to travel down south and visit our friends across the border, and see how our gliders and piloting skills compare to the latest and greatest standard out there.
The flying field was great. The crowd was very kind and joyful camaraderie was the rule! Logistics was impeccable.
Almost 50 pilots showed up, coming from all over North America: from the east coast, including a well populated Canadian group, to the west coast, including a Mexican Pilot!
All kind of different models were present at the event. ALES is probably the discipline with the most varied set of competitive machines, radios, electric motors and batteries out there at the moment. We have seen the most expensive moldies flying together with the cheapest foamies available on the market, with all the range of variations in between these two extremes: home brews, partially home-brews, modified RTFs…you name it we saw it!!!
Etienne has shared with us his pics and aerial views of the contest…
Here you have a picture of the Quebec Air Force fleet…coming from MATS, C2VM and Les Ailerons, quite a few machines out there. Thanks to Etienne for bringing all the equipment in his big van. I cannot imagine how the trip would have been if we would have brought all of that gear in the car!!! As you can see, Omerta was well represented with Jacques and Stephane sporting 3 models of the type. Our Omertas intrigued quite a few fellows on the field. In fact a few times the Omerta outflew the latest Maxa…that was quite a satisfaction for all of us as designers and builders, I reckon!
A few pics of the commercial machines present at the event…
Very well made home-brews…both models flew very well during the whole contest!
And here our pilots at work…
The Quebec Air Force fixing stuff at the field. The boxes you can see were only part of the gear we had with us. We could repair anything, from electrical wiring to main structures. Nice preparation boys!
Unfortunately though, we had to use that gear way too many times during the three days, jeopardizing our final results. The Lesson has been learnt and we are preparing the new material for new year setting reliability as a key criteria in our design choice and manufacturing techniques.
Unfortunately in one occasion, we could not do much to help our friend Bernard. He lost sight of the glider for a moment while the model was a great altitude, when he put back his eyes on the machine he was flying somebody else model…and inevitable happened: a 300m vertical dive that left the machine like follows…
A band of techie-crows gathered around the cadaver to inspect the exposed structure and manufacturing technique. Turns out the Aspire has a sandwich fuselage, which explains the extremely high stiffness / weight ratio fuselage and quite a sturd double webbed spar for the main wing. Sad but interesting!!!
One of the best part of the trip…nice food, conviviality, real time scoring updates and the One and Only Miss Peggy…cooked to perfection by a dedicated crew that kept our bellies well fed during the three days.
Thanks to the whole team for the great work!!!
And here we are, wrapping up the event: the well deserved podium, Deni Maize giving the final speech and asking for the name of next year roast pig to the winner. Nice tradition!
And here we come Montreal…the motor is roaring, while chatting about gliders design changes, reliability improvements, new flying tactics…and passing through one of the biggest storms I have ever seen!!!
See you at Polecat 2K14!!!!
NC Router…Marco's latest home brew
Marco has been working on a CNC machine to build precise wooden parts for his (and our!) gliders. The result is a set of ribs and spars for our next generation electric gliders. Kudos to Marco for this great achievement!!!
Built-Up Stabiliser 22 grams ready to fly!
27 March 2013
After a number of tests the under 25 grams stabilizer has been put to life. A rudder also has been made using carefully balsa, carbon and kevlar. The structure has been covered by "heavy weight" oracover waiting for some light mylar to come in for the next units. More pictures of this new achievement on the Projects page!
Built-Up Stabiliser…the seek for minimal weight
26 February 2013
Jacques and Marco have been working on a light version of the stabilizer for the Omerta project. The first step took form removing foam from a traditional bagged part. The material behind the spar was removed and ribs were added as per the shape of the airfoil. The result was promising but our fellows were not satisfied. Marco then cut with his CNC machine a set of ribs and a full built-up version was created. This one weights only 23 grams, only 3 grams more than a full balsa Bubble Dancer stabilizer. Our boys are still not satisfied even considering that our stabilizer is bigger than the BD design. They are looking at another evolution...have a look at the Projects page for more details!
Electric motor selection
27 January 2013
An interesting website showing how to select your electric gear for applications ranging from basic electric gliders to fully aerobatic monsters. A spreadsheet is also available: plug your numbers and find the best configuration for your future electric plane!
Have a look by clicking here!
First production Omerta glider ready for radio gear installation!
16 January 2013
Congratulations to Marco who has finished the assembly of the airframe of his Omerta!
Together with Jacques they have finalized the last few details and Marco is now able to install all the radio gear to get to the ready to fly stage.
Brand new Omerta's coming to life!
10 January 2013
A new set of wings and fuselage is almost ready to fly. The bright yellow and orange unit belongs to Duc: with a colour scheme clearly devoted to long distance high visibility, I wonder if Duc is planning long flights drifting downwind for miles and miles! The new fuselage has been painted in the mold before assembly giving a neat finish.
Marco has put a great deal of efforts in sanding, pin hole filling, sanding, filling. . .you see what I mean. . .and the result is brilliant. His fuselage is crystal white and the finish is spotless! Also his addiction to sparkles has need up with a special paint for his canopy, indeed and again. . .brilliant!
Last but not least, the new Rudder XL is finished and ready to be installed: servos are installed and linkages have been routed inside the thickness of the fin. The hinge is as smooth as can be and the overall finish really neat.
It has to be said that the current building technique and manufacturing sequence have been developed by Jacques and then put at profit to all MATS members willing to take advantage of it. Let's be honest, without his irresistible drive for results we would not be here dreaming of enjoying our afternoons at the field and (why not!?) winning the 2013 ALES events with our home made electric gliders!!!
update 24 June 2014